The new year is upon us and there is no better time than now to take a look at your marketing strategy to see what is working or not working and where to make tweaks. Should you put more focus on Instagram than Facebook? What about Pinterest? If your business is visual (products, food, etc) then Pinterest may be worth your marketing efforts. Do you rename your photo files before posting for search engine optimization? Are you taking a humanistic approach to your social media efforts or just posting advertisements?
Lets take a look at some core parts of your marketing strategy and where there may be potential to add or tweak:
E-Newsletters: E-news is a great and low-cost way to keep in touch with your customers but are you abusing it? Does your e-newsletter offer anything of real value or is it straight advertising? And how often are you sending them out?
I know of one company where the folks that receive their e-newsletter actually talk about how they enjoy receiving it. It’s from a clothing distribution company called Throat Threads that announces by email 4 times a year when they are having a 3 day sale. They only announce by email and they only do the sale 4 times a year and its the only reason they contact you. Period.
Most e-newsletters suck. They abuse the inbox and I, myself, am spending a moment each day unsubscribing from those I never signed up for and those I did, and now regret doing so. However, if done properly, e-newsletters can be an incredibly valuable marketing tool.
Don’t. Just. Advertise. Offer a daily inspirational quote like Notes to Inspire from Simon Sinek at StartWithWhy.com, or information like from Data Doctors whose ‘Tips, Tricks and Warnings E-NEWSLETTER‘ has given me valuable tips. Appearing daily in one’s inbox claiming yet another sale that is really not a sale is annoying.
Think about what you have to offer and decide on the schedule of your e-newsletter from there. Most companies do NOT need to email anyone on a daily basis and weekly is questionable depending on the business and the type of relationship you want to have with your customers. If you are recapping NFL games and looking at the week ahead in football then weekly makes sense.
Influencer Marketing: Consumers want authenticity. A survey by Stackla revealed that authenticity is an important factor to 86% of respondents when it comes to choosing and being loyal to brands. Celebrities holding up your product in a video or podcast is just not cutting it. Think more about creating long term relationships with users – have your product or service organically promoted by real users and interlaced naturally into articles, blogs and social channels.
Influencers with a high number of followers do not necessarily generate meaningful ROI. Think micro-influencers. Find talent or online users that align with your brand. It may be a fitness persona you align with or a mom that will use your product daily and share that experience with her followers. Create social media contests with your customers and award them for participating. A small restaurant in Toronto, Morso Me, runs a contest monthly where customers are encouraged to share pictures of themselves taking a bite out of food from the restaurant. They get customers to create fun and unique content for them.
Live Streaming: This ain’t new and should have been a part of your strategy for at least this past year. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram’s live video platforms have been making waves for quite some now and, in 2018, Instagram launched IGTV – Instagram TV. IGTV is a new app for watching long-form, vertical video on your smart phone. Videos on IGTV can last longer than a minute and run up to one hour. Why vertical? People prefer using their smart phones in the vertical position.
Don’t let the idea of having to create fully crafted, well polished video stop you from live streaming; people want real and authentic. If you have not made this a part of your marketing strategy perhaps 2019 is the year to do so.
Social Media Posts: Take a few minutes to learn the basics of each platform and how their algorithm’s work. Not all social media channels are created equal and what works on Twitter does not necessarily work on Facebook. With Twitter you can post more often (and should) than Facebook and Instagram (2X or 3X daily). Facebook gives more ranking preference to posts that come directly from its platform as opposed to platforms that let you automate posts. Do you notice how some posts on Facebook lack an image but will show a link to an Instagram photo? The cross-posting features of social media channels makes it easy…but this does not necessarily translate to being effective in regards to engagement. Be aware of how cross-posting looks on the various social media platforms. If an image you are cross-posting only posts a link to the original post on a different platform, I suggest you don’t cross-post that way.
Keep personal pages personal and keep your business posts for your business page. It is very likely the bulk of your friends and family do NOT want to endlessly see your business posts.
Engage – ask meaningful and relevant questions and care about the answers. Share information that matters. Respond to comments as much as you can.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Consumers research brands online and most of that search is done in search engines or through online platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Facebook. Unless you are in a unique situation, potential consumers need to find you online and search engine optimization, if not already a focus, needs to be a priority for your marketing strategy.
Voice Recognition Search: I wrote an article in June 2018 on how important voice recognition search was becoming and how to revamp your websites SEO for voice recognition search. According to Search Engine Land, voice-based commerce sales in the United States reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022.
Primarily, the technology is used to obtain information regarding a place we want to go, such as “find Mexican restaurant close to me.” Or, when we are in another city, “Find a Holiday Inn in Austin.” The words “near me,” or “close to my location,” are recognized by voice search, then your physical location is accessed to give you the results of your query. Because more and more people are using voice search, it is imperative that your website be optimized for such a search, and that you are as specific as possible with your business information and relevant categories.
Next-Level Image Search: Using photos to help in your SEO efforts is a key part of any SEO strategy that many businesses miss out on and now more than ever it needs to be a focus. The increased use of Visual Search is improving and ‘snap and surf’ is taking off especially via Google Lens and Pinterest Lens. These applications allow users to snap a photo and search the internet for information about the subject matter just using that photo.
Though Image Search is still in its infancy, you should already be optimizing your photos for search engines. How do you tell Google what your photo is about? Start with the file name. Photos automatically save your photos with a file name like img123456. That doesn’t say much to Google as to what is in the photo therefore does not help in search engine rankings. You need to rename these files to be search engine friendly. If your picture is of a special dish at your restaurant instead of img123456 it should be renamed to something like Toronto-lasagna-restaurant-name. Now it means something to Google and to your website rankings.
Image Alt Text or Alt Attribute: These are short descriptions of about 100 characters that you can assign to images on your website or blog. Utilizing alt text or alt attributes on your photos helps search engines know what the photos are about. People are more likely to search best lasagna Toronto, or yellow Kate Spade bag 2019 as opposed to img123456.
Since launching early in 2017, the Pinterest Lens feature has experienced more than 600 million visual searches every month. That’s a 140 percent increase year over year and a high volume of search that business can’t ignore.
Adding Gen Z: Gen Z is getting older, their purchasing power is increasing and they want the world to be a better place. They want to do business with brands that think along the same lines. They live on their phones, have apps for finding the best deals, they apply ad-blocking technology and watch Youtube more than traditional television.
What can you do to reach Gen Z? Be truthful, care about mankind and the environment and be where they are. Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. Don’t hard sell to Gen Z – become an organic part of the fabric with Gen Z.
Experiential Marketing or Engagement Marketing: Experiential marketing focuses on helping consumers experience a brand and goes beyond handing out postcards at an event. Brand in-hand experiences lead to an 85% intention to purchase. They create emotional connections to potential consumers, create trust and foster customer loyalty.
A great experience creates new brand warriors that will share your message with their friends effortlessly. Think about how a consumer would experience your brand. A great example I like to use, because I love the Simpsons, is in the case of The Simpsons Movie. 7-Eleven actually transformed several location into Kwik-E-Marts to help promote the film.
Another example of engagement/experimental marketing is from the Covenant House, an agency serving at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth. The service helps change lives by providing the widest range of services and support under one roof. The Covenant House does all of this by influencing public policy and delivering prevention and awareness programs. One of the ways Covenant House raises money is by holding a ‘Sleep Out’ – a fundraising event where one hundred professionals spend a cold, damp night outside to raise awareness of the plight of homeless and trafficked youth. Equipped with sleeping bags and cardboard, participants in the Covenant House Sleep Out: get a small glimpse into the hardships youth can face on the street raising close to 500 000 each event.
2019 should be about creating valued, two-way relationships with your customers. Engaging them to be a part of your company’s process and encouraging them to make you and your product a natural part of their lives. Focus on consumers and their experience first and your marketing strategy should deliver wins in 2019.