Now that 2014 is winding down, it may be a good idea to start crafting your strategic marketing plan for 2015—if you haven’t already. Although the principles of effective marketing never change, there are always some changes in technology and the way consumers interact with businesses online that may change the way you want to approach marketing next year when it comes to your marketing strategies. Consumers now expect to interact with your company on a variety of devices, including wearable technology.
Here are some of our favorite tips for attracting more online consumers next year:
Entertain and Inform
These days, it’s not enough for local internet marketing professionals to simply get their message online. The bar has been raised, and now you need to entertain and inform your customers through your original content.
Marketers who spend most of their time on hard sales pitches will likely come up short, as consumers tune out these types of messages. Instead, focus on delivering valuable content to your customers and answering their questions online.
Also, 2015 will be the year in which marketers will need to abandon marketing speak in favor of finding a human voice for their company. Businesses that are already doing this have been setting themselves apart from their competitors and getting attention on the web.
Get Back to the Basics
Although you’ll need to focus a substantial portion of your energy on writing messages for various online platforms, in 2015 it will also be imperative that you get back to the basics. Take the time this year to re-evaluate your customers’ needs and to reprioritize your goals if you need to. Analyze what works and what doesn’t so that you’re marketing to the right people in the right way.
Merge Marketing and Sales
Traditionally, marketing and sales have operated separately, often in different departments. Sales departments typically specialize in one-to-one contact whereas marketing works to reach a large audience of consumers. But according to local marketing experts, in 2015 these two groups will continue to converge, enabling them to work together to create effective messages.
Focus on Your Employees
Now it’s time for branding to permeate throughout the entire company. If your employees don’t, ‘live the brand,’ so to speak, your marketing efforts will become ineffective. It’s also important to remember that employees who embody your company’s brand often take to the Internet to share positive information about your company—even during their free time. So 2015 is the year to train your employees and hone in on what distinguishes your company from the rest.
The Bottom Line
Change is constant, but in the marketing world, it’s happening gradually. As always, concentrating on finding out where your customers are and what they want are keys for effective online marketing strategies.
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Now that more and more of your customers are using their mobile devices to find local businesses, it’s more important than ever for internet marketers to make sure their websites are mobile friendly with a responsive web design.
Google knows the importance of mobile friendly websites, too. Without mobile users, it would lose more than half of its user base. That’s why it’s practically begging businesses to make sure their websites are mobile friendly.
How to Determine Whether Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
Not sure if your website is mobile friendly? Helpful as always, Google has provided a tool that evaluates whether your website is mobile friendly or not.
Fortunately, if the Google tool finds that your website is not mobile friendly, it will tell you how you can correct the problem. For instance, the results may tell you that your text is too small to read on a mobile device or that your links are too close together. Some business owners may have only one problem that’s keeping them from getting the Google stamp of approval, so it’s good for all businesses to out this tool to use.
Unfortunately, there are some bugs in the new Mobile-Friendly Test tool that Google still needs to work out, but it’s likely that Google is working to correct these problems. Within the mobile friendly test tool, you’ll also find guidelines that will help you make your website mobile friendly.
To learn more about the other tools that Google offers to businesses, and how to improve your Google search engine rankings, see our Ultimate Google Magnet Handbook.
What Customers Want—and Expect
Mobile friendly websites not only help Google, but they also help your customers, who might be looking for your business hours, locations, prices and other basic information while they’re on the go. Consumers are frustrated with companies with websites that don’t enable them to find this type of information quickly without having to zoom out to try to read the small print of a website that isn’t optimized for mobile.
In fact, Google has launched a new feature that will help customers sort out which websites are mobile friendly and which aren’t. In its search results pages, websites that are mobile friendly will be labeled as such so that people don’t get stuck visiting websites that aren’t suitable for mobile devices.
Also, websites that are optimized for mobile devices generally have a quicker load time, which improves their ranking on local search results pages and ultimately produces more leads and increased revenue.
Any way you look at it, investing the time and resources to build a mobile website—or to update your current website—will surely pay off for any business that’s looking to improve their local internet marketing.
In fact, a large percentage of LinkedIn users visit the site every day, thanks in part to its recently added news feed. Besides this robust news feed, which is often filled with intriguing articles from the business world, LinkedIn also makes it possible for people with similar interests to join groups where they can engage in discussions and share information that matters to them.
For any type of business, whether it’s a general home contractor, roofer or insurance company, these groups are the key to building relationships and ultimately increasing your online presence.
Provide Valuable Content
The first rule of local social media marketing is to say something meaningful, and this is even more critical on LinkedIn, where most of the users are professionals whose time is precious. According to LinkedIn, the average user is part of seven groups, so it’s clear that Groups are a key piece of the LinkedIn experience.
Before you begin posting in a LinkedIn Group, it’s a good idea to spend some time observing how the group operates and what kind of content they post. If they’re posting every three days on average, for instance, you probably don’t want to jump in with daily updates.
Also, don’t limit yourself to text articles. As LinkedIn continues to grow, more and more businesses are using the platform to host webinars, post how-to videos and publish white papers. As long as it provides some value to the other group members, feel free to post a variety of content.
Encourage Employees to Get Involved
Besides sparking online discussions, LinkedIn is an ideal platform for small businesses that want to boost their online presence. Even with the multitude of LinkedIn Groups, much of the activity on LinkedIn happens at the individual level through profile pages. Small businesses that encourage their employees to create profile pages of their own generate more notoriety for the business, and they also might become some of your most engaged LinkedIn followers.
Integrate LinkedIn with Other Marketing Channels
All successful marketing plans involve the coordination of several marketing channels. That’s why LinkedIn should only be one piece of your social media and marketing strategy. The content you create for your blog can be used on social media sites including LinkedIn, but remember that your LinkedIn audience is different from your Facebook audience, which is different from your Twitter audience. Keep your audience in mind when you’re sharing your content; each message will have to be customized.
LinkedIn users appreciate high-quality content that helps them do their jobs better, and getting involved in LinkedIn Groups is one great way for local internet marketers to provide this content to business people who are interested in your industry.
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Although email marketing may seem outdated, it’s still an effective way for businesses to attract more customers to their website. In fact, nearly 70 percent of consumers make purchases as a result of an email. Because more than 90 percent of consumers check their email at least once a day—and many check several times a day—it’s the ideal way to reach your customers with limited time offers that lead them directly to your website.
Craft a Winning Subject Line
Since most local marketing experts are aware of the power of email marketing, consumers are bombarded with several messages each day. That’s why you need to craft a winning subject line that will grab your customers’ attention before they have a chance to send your message to their ‘Trash’ folders. Only about 25 percent of marketing email messages are opened, according to recent research; make sure yours makes the cut.
To write the perfect subject line, local internet marketers should start by analyzing the types of subject lines that yielded the most clicks in the past. You’ll likely find that shorter subject lines have led to more opens than longer ones. Ideally, your subject lines should be no longer than 10 words and 50 characters.
Also, it’s important to view your subject lines on different mobile devices to make sure that the subject line isn’t cut off in a way that makes it confusing for the user.
Many businesses have found success using personalization within subject lines, especially when they use the consumer’s first and last names.
Keep It Simple and Easy to Read
When it comes to email content, shorter is better. Break up large blocks of content with bullet points and headings so that consumers can scan it quickly to find out what you’re offering and how it will benefit them.
Don’t Forget the Call to Action
With any marketing piece, a strong call to action is often critical to the success of your campaign. Make sure that your customers can find the call to action without having to scroll through lots of text. Also, the call to action should be visually distinctive from the body of the email so that they can quickly take advantage of your offer.
No matter what type of product or service you’re marketing, you’ll find success if you keep the user in mind. When people check their email, they’re usually pressed for time. Show them you value their time by explaining your offer quickly and providing them with the opportunity to take advantage of it.
How successful has your email marketing been? Are you finding that one specific theme of email works especially well?
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