By Jeff Rajeck October 4th 2018 from eConsultancy
It’s that time of year again. Christmas decorations are already up at selected retailers and thoughts are turning toward 2019.
So, what are the plans for next year? Besides dieting, exercising and keeping in touch with the family more often, marketers also need to start thinking about how they will allocate their budget in 2019.
This process is often anxiety-inducing as marketers will need to come up with a plan which fends off the predictable annual budget cuts for marketing and perhaps even get a nice increase.
To help marketers with the planning process, Econsultancy is running a Strategic Marketing Planning training course in Singapore on November 26th. For those in Asia-Pacific, you can find out more and book your spot here.
For the rest, here are four options for what you could do next year along with some of the benefits and pitfalls of each approach.
1) Do what you did last year
The most obvious approach is to stay the course and do what you did last year.
This makes sense. If marketing’s performance is satisfying the business and operations are running smoothly, why rock the boat?
Also, at the moment, the digital landscape in 2019 looks a lot like it did at this time last year. While there has been a lot of talk about new platforms (voice, smartwatches, AR), mass adoption of anything radically different has not yet happened.
So, it’s a good bet that the marketing which worked this year will continue working in 2019.
Easy to plan
Saves time and effort
No-nonsense budget approval process (they approved it last year, right?)
Well, first off, doing what you did last year makes you and your team’s jobs a bit dull. Doing the same thing every year is safe and easy, but it also stifles personal and career growth.
Also, you’re probably not maximizing your brand’s potential. Surely, there is some untapped market you could try to win over. Why not try to get the budget for a new growth initiative?
And finally, being safe can be a risky approach. Should the 2018 approach not work so well in 2019, you may end up looking like you took your ‘eye off the ball’.
Not the best option
2) Copy the competition
‘No one ever got fired for buying IBM’, the old saying goes – and for good reason. There is wisdom in the crowds and safety in numbers, after all.
This holds for marketing, too. If you’re not sure what to do in 2019, just do what other brands in your category are doing. No one will judge you for doing so and the approach is easy to justify to the business.
Easy to plan
Straightforward to execute
The higher-ups will understand (“If it’s good enough for …, it’s good enough for us”).
The main problem with this approach is that your competition may not know what they are doing either. And while it’s comforting to think that they do, your marketing performance may be suffering because of someone else’s incompetence.
Additionally, this approach has the same problem as the first one. Should numbers head southward, any reasonably close look at your ‘strategy’ will reveal that it was based on someone else’s ideas, not yours.
And finally, going where your competition is may be expensive. You will be competing for the same audience on the same channels which raises the costs for both of you.
OK, but very in-the-box
Google images search for ‘water advertising’
Google images search for ‘water advertising’
3) Optimize it!
A third approach is to do what you did last year, like option 1, but do it better.
That is, keep the same marketing mix in 2019, but measure, test, learn and optimize across all platforms and campaigns. You and your team will become experts in data ‘munging’, develop intricate Excel spreadsheets and talk about probability distributions over lunch.
And, whatever the results, you will be 95% certain that your optimizations are better than what would have happened otherwise.
Challenging and interesting
You and your team will learn a lot about data analytics
You will become an expert in how to bamboozle with statistics
Because there is so much low-hanging fruit in marketing, there is probably very little downside to focusing your efforts on optimization. You will undoubtedly find countless ways to boost clicks and conversions.
But one issue with having optimization as your only approach to marketing is that it is hard to use it to make a material, long-lasting difference for the business. Marketers tend to be too conservative with their experiments to genuinely change their brand’s digital customer journey. So, while optimizers often get a short-term boost, performance figures often revert to the previous ones.
Also, even when optimization works, it may not produce the ‘optimal’ results. Relying on statistical analysis can lead marketers to what is known as a ‘local maxima’. That is, you may improve an existing tactic to be its very best, but another, radically different approach can improve things even more, and reached a ‘global maxima’.
Good approach for a year or so, but optimization has its limits.
4) Rip it up and start over
The final, and most challenging, approach is to ring out the old, and ring in the new.
It’s awfully tempting to think that the best way forward is to continue on as before, but sometimes real progress is only made by taking an entirely different approach. A man was not put on the moon by flying airplanes higher, after all.
So, instead of using 2018 as a template, take a step back and look at marketing from first principles. Ask yourself questions like: Who is your customer? How do they buy from you? How can you make that process easier? How can you find more people like them?
Such questions are not easy to answer and may involve doing difficult and expensive things like surveys, focus groups and qualitative analytics. But once the hard work is done and you have well-researched answers, you can take a blank sheet of paper and rewrite your marketing approach from scratch. Do you really need that Facebook page? Are Google Ads delivering profitable clients? Should you focus more on traditional media? And so on.
(This, by the way, is the approach we work on during our upcoming Strategic Marketing Planning course on November 26th in Singapore.)
Interesting, new, and different
May produce game-changing results
Highly-motivating for the whole marketing team
Excellent for advancing in your career
The hardest part of this approach will be getting buy-in. Most organizations expect marketers to somehow know everything about a brand’s customers and their buying habits already, despite never having done first-hand research.
Yet with a plan and sharp elbows, it is possible to convince management to budget for some research and experiments. Then, it can be argued, that any new income should be reinvested in more research and experiments.
And, in time, who knows, you may no longer be anxious about budgeting time, but actually look forward to new opportunities each year!
Whitepaper by Marketo Team.
Original article by: David Karel of Principal, OutLeap Marketing via Linkedin post.
Over the last decade, the marketing function has experienced a massive transformation in both its perceived and real potential to help scale revenue growth. B2B marketers have benefited from advances in a variety of areas:
But, what’s the flip side of all this progress? Confusion. The No. 1 pitfall implied by the dizzying array of available and emerging strategies, programs, channels, frameworks, and technologies (...and yes, opinions!) is that in their quest to cover all these bases, marketing leaders risk a debilitating lack of focus. Every incremental initiative they add to their team’s plate has the potential to dilute the rest.
With so many paths open to the b2b marketer, is there some common DNA to great marketing that can shine a light on the right path? Here’s my take on six core ways of approaching your marketing effort that can make a real difference for the sales team, and the business.
1. Take messaging rigor seriously
At the core of any winning marketing strategy is positioning. The factor that will largely determine whether you lead or follow the market is how you position your company and products. Indeed, your message is what fuels your programs, your content, and your sales conversations. That said, for many teams, messaging is not treated with enough operational rigor in terms of how it’s rolled-out. Far too many prospects experience multiple versions of your story throughout the buyer’s journey. There’s inconsistent messaging used on your website, your tradeshow signage, your email promos, the voicemail left by your SDR team, the slides used by your sales reps. The net effect is that instead of each subsequent impression you make on a prospect amplifying or creating lift for the next one, the very opposite is happening: Each prospect “touch” is actually creating drag. In other words, applying some basic math, instead of 1+1 = 3, you’re lucky if 1+1 gets you 1.5.
Prevailing marketing wisdom says that the company with the most differentiated message that clearly articulates the outcomes you can create for a customer will win in the market. However, without rigorous follow-through on how you “activate” your positioning strategy, even if you’ve come up with an “A-grade” message, you leave a ton of room for a competitor’s clearly and consistently-driven B-level message to break through the noise to gain mindshare and business that should have been yours.
2. Don’t be data-driven, be results-driven
It’s near blasphemy to deride the value of data-driven marketing. But hear me out.
The blessing and curse of marketing as we start 2018 is that almost every program your team runs can be measured and optimized. As we’ve continued to add new shiny toys to our marketing tech stacks, there’s even more that we can measure and optimize. The trouble is nobody has time to optimize, let alone deeply review, everything that can be measured. Raise your hand if someone on your team has come to you exasperated, tired of spinning cycles pulling information for reports that nobody reviews or takes action on.
The motivation and inspiration behind the notion of data-driven marketing is well-founded. As “modern marketers,” we’re all determined to create as much distance as possible from the old days (way back in the 2000s!) when most marketers spent lots of money on stuff without the ability, or perhaps the inclination to measure. In the quest to forge data-driven marketing teams, we find ourselves investing a lot of money in systems that can track more stuff, and a lot of our team’s time pulling reports from those systems to share with others. But, the resulting information overload leaves dangerously little time for marketers to actually take advantage of all this new data to do their jobs more effectively.
So, do we stop measuring? Of course not. But here’s what we should do when we measure: Instead of hanging our hats on the notion of being a data-driven team, we should strive to be results-driven. This seems obvious and what marketing leader would declare that their team is not results-driven? But, to be truly results driven requires you and your team asking a couple of the simplest but most important of questions before investing significant cycles or dollars on any initiative or program: “If we do this, how do we know it’s working? How will we know to stop doing it or to start doing a lot more of it?”
Basic stuff, yes. But, if most of us take an honest look in the mirror, we're likely getting distracted in trying to get it all done in the limited time we have, and we are not asking this question. We must ask the question and ensure that there’s clear team alignment around the answer and around the specific metric that you’ll use to grade success of a program or initiative. By simply asking the question and pegging the target KPI, you’ll quickly narrow the pool of data you need to go after, as well as the systems and process work you need to implement to consistently get at the answers that matter.
3. Focus on clearing bottlenecks
If the ultimate aim of your marketing effort is to help the sales team close business, the best way to move the needle in any given time period is to focus on clearing bottlenecks. Since every marketing org has limited cycles and budget to invest, the marketing teams that leave their sales partner cheering are the ones that resist just executing “the plan.” Instead, the most effective marketers are constantly working with their sales partners to identify the factors creating a drag on sales growth so they can prioritize the programs and initiatives that deliver results.
You identify bottlenecks by getting really close to your sales team, their challenges, and the data that matters (see No. 2 above!). Are a lot of “qualified prospects” falling out of pipe, or eventually disqualified? Are reps getting enough meetings? Are your reps having a hard time articulating a differentiated, compelling story? Are qualified leads falling through the cracks? Is there a basic awareness issue (e.g., when your sales team calls in to target prospects, how often have they heard of your company)?
With a proper diagnosis in hand, you put your marketing team in position to quickly make the difference by creating the programs that can address the major issues. It can be the difference between the company missing and hitting the number.
4. Identify your team’s “core,” then double-down
Whether you’re just kicking off the marketing engine at a start-up or driving a scaled marketing effort at an established public company, no marketing team or budget is large enough to do everything well. And, as mentioned above, if you’re focused on clearing bottlenecks and getting good at answering the question “what’s really working,” it seems you’d naturally start to focus the effort and put more emphasis on the arrows that are having the most impact.
That said, many marketing orgs get caught in the trap of going into auto-pilot, executing a whole bunch of programs. They feel they’re leaving potential impact on the table by neglecting a channel (e.g., How can we NOT do paid search?). Or they have a hard time defending a decision to not sponsor the big event where the CEO is concerned the competition will grab all the mindshare. Or they hesitate to push back on the board member questioning why you’re not investing more in PR.
Great marketing will come out of those teams that bring focus to a few key efforts. These effective teams know where they want to double-down and where they want to take chips off the table. Based on the product or market you are serving or the unique perspective your CEO brings to trending subjects, traditional PR may pay-off. For others, putting on a marquee event might be a foundational piece of the demand-creation puzzle. Some teams go all-in on content development, direct marketing, customer marketing, ABM, best-in-class website optimization and/or building a social presence. Very few teams do all these things really well.
Sure, it can be painful for most marketing leaders to admit that they’re not in position to score an A+ on everything. But, the ones that identify the “core” of their program mix early on and then test/learn/optimize from there will help their sales teams win.
5. Apply peer pressure
Any marketing team worth its salt, has some form of customer marketing in its toolbox. But a couple of case studies does not a great customer marketing effort make. It’s about really putting your customers in the lead to credibly articulate the value of your solutions in context of their broader challenges and goals. This serves two purposes. It enhances your credibility as a company that has earned staying power by adding real value to other companies that your prospects respect. But, it’s also about peer pressure. You want your target prospects to feel that there is a real “movement” under way. You want them to feel increasingly uncomfortable that there’s a train that’s leaving the station and they’re at risk of being left behind.
6. Put a real focus on team development
So much of B2B marketing as we know it today didn’t exist a decade ago, and best practices continue to evolve at a blurring pace. There’s been a ton of specialization within the marketing organization, and the war for marketing talent makes it difficult to hire and grow a team that can do everything well. So, what’s the answer?
The profile of the individuals you’re looking to hire needs to be indexed towards athletes hungry to learn and grow, and you need to invest in their education and growth. Encourage your team to get out the office, to spend time in the field, at events with structured or informal learning opportunities, and to network with other marketers If you set a development goal that every member of your team create a support group of at least three peers at other companies, they’ll bring new learnings into your org, they’ll benefit from marketing “plays” others have already experience running, and they’ll feel some real developmental growth which is key, especially on small teams where near-term promotional opportunities may be limited.
These are just some of the elements that you can weave into your marketing strategy to set it up to impact the business in a big way. In upcoming posts, I’ll be digging in further on how to build each of these into your team’s own DNA.
To keep pace with the latest in digital marketing, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Blog today.
In our research we don’t accept on its face a consumer’s statement that a certain product attribute is important; instead we explore what underlies that statement. For example, when someone says her bank is “convenient,” its value derives from some combination of the functional elements saves time, avoids hassle, simplifies, and reduces effort. And when the owner of a $10,000 Leica talks about the quality of the product and the pictures it takes, an underlying life-changing element is self-actualization, arising from the pride of owning a camera that famous photographers have used for a century.
The elements of value approach extends Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.”
Three decades of experience doing consumer research and observation for corporate clients led us to identify these 30 fundamental attributes, which we derived from scores of quantitative and qualitative customer studies. Many of the studies involved the well-known interviewing technique “laddering,” which probes consumers’ initial stated preferences to identify what’s driving them.
Our model traces its conceptual roots to the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” which was first published in 1943. Then a faculty member at Brooklyn College, Maslow argued that human actions arise from an innate desire to fulfill needs ranging from the very basic (security, warmth, food, rest) to the complex (self-esteem, altruism). Almost all marketers today are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy. The elements of value approach extends his insights by focusing on people as consumers—describing their behavior as it relates to products and services.
It may be useful to briefly compare Maslow’s thinking with our model. Marketers have seen his hierarchy organized in a pyramid (although it was later interpreters, not Maslow himself, who expressed his theory that way). At the bottom of the pyramid are physiological and safety needs, and at the top are self-actualization and self-transcendence. The popular assumption has been that people cannot attain the needs at the top until they have met the ones below. Maslow himself took a more nuanced view, realizing that numerous patterns of fulfillment can exist. For example, rock climbers achieve self-actualization in unroped ascents of thousands of feet, ignoring basic safety considerations.
Similarly, the elements of value pyramid is a heuristic model—practical rather than theoretically perfect—in which the most powerful forms of value live at the top. To be able to deliver on those higher-order elements, a company must provide at least some of the functional elements required by a particular product category. But many combinations of elements exist in successful products and services today.
Most of these elements have been around for centuries and probably longer, although their manifestations have changed over time. Connects was first provided by couriers bearing messages on foot. Then came the Pony Express, the telegraph, the pneumatic post, the telephone, the internet, e-mail, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites.
Consumers perceive digital firms as offering more value.
Well-designed online businesses make many consumer interactions easier and more convenient. Mainly digital companies thus excel on saves time and avoids hassles. Zappos, for example, scored twice as high as traditional apparel competitors did on those two elements and several others. Overall, it achieved high scores on eight elements—way ahead of traditional retailers. Netflix outperformed traditional TV service providers with scores three times as high on reduces cost, therapeutic value, and nostalgia. Netflix also scored higher than other media providers on variety, illustrating how effectively it has persuaded customers, without any objective evidence, that it offers more titles.
Brick-and-mortar businesses can still win on certain elements.
Omnichannel retailers win on some emotional and life-changing elements. For example, they are twice as likely as online-only retailers to score high on badge value, attractiveness, and affiliation and belonging. Consumers who get help from employees in stores give much higher ratings to those retailers; indeed, emotional elements have probably helped some store-based retailers stay in business.
Each day users scroll through 300 feet of content, giving brands a very small window of time to grab the users' attention. Therefore, how can your brand start building ideas that work for the speed of feed? Here are five key trends we believe will have the biggest impact on your social media strategy in 2018.
Download Premium Resource – Digital Media options cheatsheet
The sheer number of organic and paid media options and updates makes it difficult to know whether you're missing out on the best targeting options and whether your marketing budget could be better spent. Our Digital media cheat sheet is aimed at helping you keep track of the free and paid media options so that they're not missing out on any of the latest developments.
Access the Digital Media Options Cheatsheet
For more digital marketing trends, see Dave Chaffey's 10 digital marketing trends to act on in 2018.
Chatbots will make customer service fasterChatbots are no longer the robotic, clunky machines they once were. They are bots that are able to provide an instant connection with customers from all over the world - solving customer issues and even ordering pizza. This year we have seen many brands are testing chatbots with varying degrees of success.
According to Gartner, 20% of business content could be machine-generated by 2018. If machines can be taught to create stories that are genuine and relatable, the advertising and marketing potential is certainly worth investigating.
Chatbots give brands the chance to interact quickly with their audience in a way that feels personal. As bots become smarter and more human-like you can customize your brand voice and send personalized messages directly to users. Facebook reported that they now see 100,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger, offering a whole new platform for marketers to connect with audiences.
The quickest adaptors to chatbots are currently millennials, with nearly 60% having already used chatbots and 71% saying they would like to try a chatbot experience from major brands.
Recommendation: If you aren't already, 2018 might be the year to test chatbots for your business. While it’s easy to design chatbots with only Millennials in mind, don’t forget older users who are slower to adopt new technologies. Before you launch a chatbot, test it out on a range of potential users.
In my recap of Social Media Week, I give tips from We are Social as they shared some of their advice on creating and using chatbots:
Ephemeral content allows you to be more authentic, we are seeing many brands using their Instagram profile for their best, high-quality content and stories for more real-time content. Because of the nature of stories content is lost within hours, making your followers take fast action and marketers gain from it.
Having a high-quality social content strategy is a must! We have taken a look at why storytelling is the future of social content marketing, using National Geographic as a prime example of how to engage 350 million combined social followers.
Having stories that appear at the top of your follower’s feed helps keep your brand at the top of their minds. There are 250 million stories everyday, you need to find ways to make yours count.
Recommendation: Have a plan in place to reach audiences with the help of an ephemeral content marketing strategy. Look to be more authentic and offer real-time content to engage audiences in the shortest possible time. Create a strategy around your story and invest time and thought. Use this guide on how to craft an engaging Instagram story to help.
Rise of augmented realityThe use of Augmented Reality on mobile devices provides a niche and engaging way for marketers to reach their target audience - it's quick, easy and very interactive.
This year Apple announced the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X which provides users with new augmented reality experiences. Therefore its likely more social channels will plan on introducing new ways of integrating AR into their platforms. We have already seen Snapchat roll out a new AR feature allowing users to their Bitmoji and project themselves or images into the real world through the app’s camera.
Similarly, brands could soon project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters. For example, IKEA rolled out 'Place' an app for users to preview furniture in their home before buying. This is a great way to increase conversions by showing customers how their products will look in the surroundings of their own home, before buying.
As AR grows ‘Virtual FOMO’ will become a reality. People will start to feel like they are missing out on this new world and want to become part of it. Therefore social media will help AR go mainstream. Look at the features and tools big social platforms like Facebook are introducing and find ways of tapping into this trend.
Recommendation: If you are planning on using AR make sure it adds value for the user and is shareable. Don't use AR for sake of it. It's important to consider how your strategy fits in and what these new features and tools might facilitate in time.
Influencer marketing will continue to take overInfluencer marketing is not a new thing anymore. Due to the vast majority of marketers wanting to tap into the influencer market, there are far more challenges faced by agencies and brands. The popularity of influencer marketing has made it hard to know who to trust.
Consumers want authenticity from influencers, brands who seek to work with real influencers or industry experts will find a higher engagement rate. Viewers will become bored of seeing brands use any influencer with over 10,000 Instagram followers to promote teeth whitening or protein shakes.
Secondly, with so many brands wanting to work with influencers they will become more thoughtful on who they want to work and be associated with. Therefore, building meaningful relationships with influencers will be key in 2018. Maintaining these relationships is complex and requires personalized messaging based on who the influencer is.
The future of influencer marketing will see brands turning to real experts. This is due to too many brands wanting to work with social influencers and their opinions no longer being trusted.
Recommendation: You will need to set clear objectives of why you are wanting to work with influencers and consider whether or not they will help deliver the best ROI. Know who your audience regard as influential and build solid relationships with them.
Video Video VideoIn a mobile-first culture, video is our main consumption. In 2017 90% of all content shared by users on social media is video. The biggest challenge is how you can capture your audience's attention in the first 3 seconds.
At Social Media Week London Facebooks Creative Strategist, Kat Hahn quoted 'Not doing short video is not an option'. Brands who are not yet using video as part of their social media strategy need to start.
The way we consume video is changing. According to Sean O’Neal from Adaptly mobile, video is the number one fastest growing ad format in the world and has been doubling YoY. By 2020 video will make up 80% of all online consumer internet traffic and will eventually be the closest you get to a face to face conversation with your audience.
David Wilding, Head of Planning at Twitter said ‘video isn’t a strategy, it’s a tactic’. Before you dive into video you need a strategy behind what you're doing. Make clear objectives and don’t just use video for the sake of it.
We have seen Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter all investing in video to help generate engagement and build followers. Use these tools such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live to create new and exciting content.
Recommendation: Soon almost all the content we consume will be video, therefore ensure all your video content is high quality and engaging. Research into exactly what your target audience is looking for and test different content to see what works best. You need to follow the rule of 'design for sound off, delight with sound on' - more people are starting to watch with the sound on and is still valuable.
We also asked 10 experts 'What do you believe the key trend for social media will be in 2018' here are their predictions.
Diana Rayfield, Social Media Strategist - Harp Interactive
"2018 will see a significant rise in businesses and brands using Facebook Messenger as a proactive marketing tool vs. simply a responsive private messaging app. With over 1.2 billion people on Messenger every month (according to Facebook), marketers using Messenger, especially those who are first on the trend, can expect explosive reach and engagement rates. Smart Replies, chatbots and embedded apps create a trifecta of marketing opportunities on Facebook Messenger."
Neal Schaffer, Social Media Strategist and the author of 'The Business of Influence'
"The key trend for social media in 2018 will be influencer marketing. With the continued democratization of content publishing, traditional marketing channels have less influence while social media users and content creators have more. Anyone can yield influence and thus, as social media becomes more and more pay to play, every business need to incorporate some type of influencer marketing strategy to become more effective in their 2018 marketing. The trend towards brands leveraging user-generated content is one example of this, and if you are going to curate content to represent your brand, why wouldn't you use that of an influencer?"
David Christopher, Director of Marketing and Growth - Tailwind
"If I was going to point to a trend for 2018 it would be diversification of ad spend across networks. There's so much money in Facebook advertising today that smart marketers are having to get extremely efficient to get results when targeting new prospects on the network. Any time a lot of money enters an auction you're wise to enter other auctions where there's less money sloshing around. I think in 2018 we'll continue to see smart social marketers diversify and learn how to effectively spend ad dollars on other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and even Reddit. In our experience at Tailwind, these different networks each offer valuable and unique ways to target (handle targeting on Twitter and keyword targeting on Pinterest for instance) and can be wonderful for filling the top of your funnel for a fraction of the cost of Facebook ads."
Mike Alton, Content Marketing Practitioner, Author, CMO - The Social Media Hat
"While video, particularly Live Video, will continue to increase in importance in the coming year, a key differentiator will be the creation of high-quality, relevant video.
As the novelty of being able to "go live" from any device, anywhere, wears off, audiences will begin to tune out creators and broadcasts who share nothing more than their day-to-day activity.
Stories, regardless of whether they're shared on Snapchat, Messenger, Facebook or Instagram, will follow suit. Simply put, as audiences become more inundated, businesses and marketers will have to become more skilled at creating truly valuable content. Therefore, I do expect the overall quality of video content to improve in 2018."
Pam Moore, CEO - Marketing Nutz
"More brands will turn to influencer marketing to reach audiences they struggle reaching today. According to Linqia, 86% of brands are using influencer marketing as part of a content strategy.
Given the rise of micro-influencer marketing, brands no longer need to depend on million dollar marketing budgets and top celebrity influencers. Marketers can now instead tap into the power of micro-influencers. These influencers are not only more affordable but often have more time and are more eager to partner with the right brands, big and small, that are interested in collaboration and serving their audience incredible value. This can bring a high ROI for brands since 82% of consumers follow recommendations made by a micro-influencer (Source Expert City)."
Katy LaLanne, Content Marketer - Sendible
"Every employee is their own brand but also an extension of your organization. As social culture in the workplace expands, I think we’ll see an increase in company-wide involvement and storytelling across social media in 2018. 64% of millennials believe that social media is one of the most effective channels for connecting with brands (Source: Microsoft) but messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when they’re sent by employees instead of the brand itself.
Trust between customers and brands is deepened when there is a face and a story behind a brand, which is often where influencer marketing comes into play. Don’t disregard influencer marketing opportunities, but look for leaders throughout your organization, from top to bottom, who can deepen trust with your audiences by educating and entertaining."
Richard Sunley, UK Marketing Lead - Talkwalker
"We now have so many more options to link social activity to business impact through data integrations and a better understanding of how social media can affect the bottom line. Successful companies will implement robust measurement systems that create a direct link between social activity and predetermined goals – whether it’s email, sign ups, e-commerce sales or spreading a specific message.
Social media analytics platforms now provide the tools and expertise to help companies do this, so reliance on vanity metrics like retweets, likes and follower count will no longer be enough to please clients and/or senior executives. Greater adoption of new technology like image recognition and analytics will also help brands measure the impact of things like sponsorship activity and user-generated content that have previously been difficult to calculate accurately."
Lilach Bullock, Social Media Specialist - Lilach Bullock
“I think that 2018 will be the year of Artificial Intelligence - it’s been gaining popularity and steadily growing, even though it’s still in the early stages; in 2018, though, we’ll be seeing even more of this.
Chatbots, for example, have been implemented to great success in the past year, and are starting to see more widespread use. Plus, we’ll likely see more augmented reality, especially considering the new iPhones - which has enormous implications, both for the regular user and for brands and marketers.
Personally, though, I can’t wait to see what new tools pop up as AI becomes more accessible!”
Luke Brynley-Jones, Founder - OST Marketing
"Companies will continue to invest in social advertising and, in particular, video advertising to capitalise on the low-cost, highly targeted reach available from Facebook, in particular. At the same time they will ignore the interests of their customers, the benefits of relationship-building and regular engagement, and fail to measure any worthwhile KPIs beyond web-clicks, much as they have in 2017 and previous years.
On the plus side, influencer marketing combined with employee advocacy will deliver great things for those willing to invest in it."
Veronika Baranovska, Content Marketing Specialist - Sendible
"Personal, deeper connections between brands and social media users. Less automation and repetition, more real-time engagement and capitalisation on micro-moments with the aim to delight your social media followers. The popular adoption of live video and the Snapchat/Instagram Stories type of content will push marketers to create and publish content as they go.
The advice then is to plan campaigns and schedule what you can, but spend more time connecting with your audiences, even once or twice a week will pay off. Play around with tools like Canva and Adobe Spark to pick up design and video editing skills."
Whether you plan on introducing video into your strategy or want to start using chatbots, make sure you have a solid plan in place to implement these tactics. Do you agree with these predicated trends? Do you feel marketers need to be focusing their attention in other areas?
Original article by Kimberly De Silva @ BiznessApps
When people hear new year’s resolutions, they often think of “exercising more”, “spending more time with the family”, or “traveling more”. Besides these personal resolutions, you can also create impactful resolutions for your small business. A resolution, after all, is a decision to do something differently to bring about positive change. It’s a good time to reflect on your business’ progress and plan how you want to grow your business in the new year.
1. I will learn how to delegate and do more of it
As a small business owner, you’re to-do list probably doesn’t even fit on one page. There are so many things to do, and it’s easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them ourselves. You can only work so many hours in a day. As a result, you’re probably exhausted, stressed, and don’t have any free time outside of your business. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance. However, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort and requires a loss of control. So how do you let someone else do certain tasks, while making sure it’s done correctly? The answer is simple: communication and training. Make sure your employees are trained enough, to the point where they can take over some of your tasks. The next step is to clearly communicate the objectives and deadlines, so that you don’t end up micromanaging.
2. I will learn how to manage my cash flow more effectively
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. In fact, a prominent study from the financial services company U.S. Bank found that 82 percent of startups and small businesses fail due to poor cash-flow management. According to The Balance, “This is a great resolution for small business owners who have drastic ebbs and flows in their cash flow, have been unable to create enough capital to invest back into the business, or those who don’t really understand the day-to-day finances of the business.”
3. I will take steps to improve my digital presence
If it’s been more than a year since your site has been updated, if you haven’t taken action to make your online presence mobile-friendly, if you still haven’t created an email marketing list, or if digital isn’t part of your marketing strategy at all, it’s time to add this to your new year’s resolutions. You could even take a step further than mobile-friendly and use a mobile-first approach to your digital presence.
4. I will charge what I’m worth
Do you feel that your product or service is undervalued? If so, then it might be time to raise your rates to correspond with the value you bring to the table. You might be thinking that raising your prices will alienate certain people from becoming a customer. That could be the case, but you can’t be all things to all people. “Your target market will pay what the marketplace has proved it will pay”, says Entrepreneur. How can you implement this? Depending on your business, you can shift to a “packaged value” approach. This is where you provide tiered packages that give potential customers choices, so they can focus on the value you offer rather than the amount of time you spent. Your prices can then reflect this value.
5. I will learn something new
New year, new skill. Choose something new to learn in 2018 – it may be directly related to your business or completely unrelated. Learning a new skill will add a dimension of interest to your life that will help to maintain that work-life balance. It will also help you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, if you decide to take marketing classes or learn a new language.
6. I will make business strategizing a weekly event
Planning is vital if you want to foster a growing business. But running a small business can be chaotic and it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day operations. Business strategizing allows you to take a step back and highlight what worked and what didn’t, while adjusting old goals and setting new ones. So why do it just once a quarter or once a year? Set aside time each week to review your strategies. This will help you stay on track and allow you to have a clear hold on your business.
7. I will drop what’s not working and move on
After all that business strategizing, you will know exactly what’s not working for your small business. Maybe your sales method isn’t performing well, one of your products isn’t selling, or a specific partnership isn’t working out…. If this is the case, it’s time to drop it. As The Balance states, “If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn’t working for you, stop using it. Don’t invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.”
8. I will promote my business regularly and consistently
Since small business owners wear a lot of hats, you might not always have “marketing” at the top of your to-do list. While you should definitely focus on delivering that amazing small business experience, you shouldn’t forget to market that amazing experience to to the outside world. To attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan or, even your funds allow it, hire a marketing expert to help you set it up. To get started, try some of these ways to get press coverage for your small business.
9. I will enhance my technology footprint
Few things frustrate employees – and customers – more than working with outdated technology. Slow internet speeds, clunky operating systems and inadequate tools can eat up valuable time. Make an inventory list of all your company supplies to see what needs replacing. Maybe it’s time to implement that online food ordering system, or maybe your employees could use new computers. Start the year off right by upgrading your technology footprint.
To a better year! To your small business success!