When I sit down to develop my marketing budget for the coming year, I begin by looking at what worked and what didn’t during the past year. I review my business plan and reflect on new tactics that may help achieve business objectives in a new way. I review my budgeting notes from the previous year to see if there is anything I cut out last year that I might be able to include this year.
For 2016, here are the top eight things we’re recommending for our clients:
1. Native Content Advertising and Sponsored Content
Sponsored content consistently generates higher click-through-rates than banner ads. Though we still include more traditional web advertising, this sponsored content is a bigger part of the pie than it used to be. Many of our clients sponsor trade journal articles or webinars in conjunction with banner and skyscraper ads.
However, sponsoring other people’s content isn’t enough. You must take the time to develop your own content as well and promote that across the web. This year we’ll be exploring the use of Google AdWords to promote form-protected content as well as sponsored social media posts promoting native content.
2. Responsive Design
If you haven’t done this already, it’s time. Most companies moved to take care of this before mobilegeddon, but if you weren’t one of them, it is past time for your website to become responsive. This means your web design will adjust to the screen that a visitor is using, be it a desktop, tablet or mobile device. Though, fortunately, no one saw the traffic rates drop as much as they expected when Google made this algorithm change, the analytics available demonstrate time and again that your exit rates on mobile devices will be twice as high if your site design is not responsive.
3. Lead Follow-Up
Many companies see the value in devoting budget to generated leads on the web. However, if you’ve begun generating leads but have not reworked your lead follow-up process, it is likely that these leads are not being contacted as quickly or as frequently as necessary to move them through the pipeline properly. It takes an average of 8-12 touches to reach a new prospect; however, reaching out to a new prospect within 5 minutes of capturing that lead will dramatically increase your ability to connect with them.
If you can’t expand your inside sales team to contact these leads, or if you aren’t ready to commit to hiring additional staff until you’re sure these leads are going to generate revenue, consider contracting with an outside service to do lead follow-up. We have found this technique to be highly effective for some of our clients.
Download our tip sheet for more advice on improving sales lead follow-up.
4. Sales Coaching Refresher
The core consultative sales process hasn’t changed, but people change and skills erode over time. As technology and the way we do business changes, it is important to update your skill set and refresh your approach to both growing relationships and closing deals.
5. Keyword Optimization
There is a reason that Google is a verb. When we interview customers on behalf of their clients, one of our favorite questions to ask is how they do research on new products and services. The answer 9 times out of 10 includes the internet, and at least half of the time, Google is the only resource mentioned by the respondent. We know they are looking online, but what they are looking for is what we really need to know. In order to turn these internet searches into revenue, we need to understand what keywords are driving not only visits but conversions.
Using tools like Hubspot’s Keyword Report (one of the many reasons we recommend Hubspot to our clients), we can examine the keywords that generated the most revenue last year. It’s important that your web content utilizes those keywords and is written in a way that appeals to the person searching for that term.
6. New Photography
Too many websites are still using photos that are five or even 10 years old. These photos make your facility, technology, and capabilities look as old as your photos. As our media consumption becomes more visual, our expectations grow. The prevalence of cell phone cameras has turned social media feeds into photo sharing tools rather than just the sharing of ideas in word form. In addition, display screens have become more advanced, and the visual resolution allowable has improved. A photo that looked clean and crisp five years ago may look pixilated and blurry on a new monitor.
When searching for a photographer, be sure to look for someone with experience in your industry, and examine their portfolio with your own needs in mind. Someone who takes amazing headshots may not have the equipment or skill set necessary to photograph your manufacturing floor. If you don’t work with a marketing firm that has connections with local photographers, check out Thumbtack, a great resource to find someone with the skills you need in your area.
Remember fun? It’s an often overlooked factor in both your marketing and your business as a whole. Aiming for fun forces you to think outside of the box and allows you to experiment with new ideas that may ultimately help you generate revenue. Your goal should be to delight your customer, and adding something fun to the mix, whether it’s an experimental campaign, a giveaway, or a customer event, can help you achieve that goal.
This past year, we introduced a bit of fun ourselves. Sending cookies or fruit baskets at Christmas seems so overdone. We were looking for a new excuse to send our customers a treat and, working in the sciences, decided that National Pi Day might make our customers smile. We shipped more than two dozen pies to customers across the country with a note from our team. The positive response was outstanding. We also began our “A Beer & A Blog” series which lead to increased engagement on our company’s blog. By pairing business ideas with a local brew, we kept things fun.
A photo posted by Launch Team Inc. (@launchteam) on
Your marketing strategy needs to be aligned with your business strategy, and your business strategy needs to be aligned with the marketplace. Devoting necessary time and budget for strategic planning is a must.
Any path you choose will be the wrong one if you don’t even know where you’re going.