2012 was a pivotal year for online marketing. SEO stopped being a series of tricks. Social media marketing matured into brand community building. Online content became a integral part of the buying process. Data became so meaningful that it’s impossible to make strategic marketing decisions without it. – in fact, NPR says that “big data” should be the word of the year.
Like keeping up with the latest cell phone technology each year, your marketing strategy needs to evolve as well, so start the year right with the following resolutions:
1. Think in terms of step-wise functions
Where to begin online marketing (if you have yet to really dig in), or what to tackle next in online marketing efforts (if you’ve been at it for a while) are both valid and common questions.
If you jump into everything at once, you run the risk of sacrificing the precision that’s necessary to yield strong results. It may sound counterintuitive, but you should stop trying to tackle everything at once – approach your marketing as pieces to the bigger puzzle (lead generation, customer acquisition, account growth and retention). Focus on quality, not quantity. Be thorough enough to create a strong foundation so that your marketing can build on itself. Test your marketing efforts. Adapt!
Start by making your website a strong home base for your marketing efforts. Without that integral marketing tool optimized, any other marketing effort put forth online will not achieve optimal performance.
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When your online home is optimized, it is then time to start thinking in step-wise functionality. For example, you may find more value in marketing automation over social media efforts if your website traffic and lead generation are already strong. Need to generate more traffic? Focusing on content marketing may be a better first step. No two marketing campaigns are the same. And there is no cookie-cutter formula available. Test what works best for you and optimize. Eventually all online marketing efforts should come full circle.
2. Adopt a 360-degree view
All online marketing is interconnected – content attracts visitors, social media spreads your content and connects you to your audiences, PR continues your brand story, and SEO gets you found by new potential customers.
Every time you tackle a new approach, make sure you understand how it fits into the bigger picture. When you write content, make sure to share it through social media. Make sure that your press releases link back to your blog or website. Keep monitoring your performance on social media to identify key areas of growth and opportunity. Leverage all aspects of marketing to invest and re-invest in your brand.
3. Make an investment in something new
There are plenty of case studies to help make data-driven, strategic judgment calls. Now is the time to invest in content pieces, lead generation initiatives, and PPC campaigns. All you need is a small budget to start – when you find an approach that works for your company, scale it. Just make sure that when making an investment, you know how to measure your results and calculate your ROI. All online marketing efforts need to be measured.
4. Choose metrics that matter
You consider yourself data-driven, but are you focusing on the metrics that truly matter to your business? Stop relying on vanity metrics to gauge your marketing success. While you may notice a high number of social media shares or blog comments, you need to tie this data into what matters most to your company’s objectives.
Pay close attention to conversion rates, and make an aggressive effort to grow the number of leads that you’re generating and sales that you’re closing. More content, more landing pages, more value based opportunities for your audience.
5. Final thoughts: be unique – stand out
There is absolutely no cookie-cutter approach to marketing, so it’s essential to forge your own path. Listen to what industry experts, thought leaders, and consultants are saying and consider how their thoughts effect your business. Run tests, question the status quo, and reach out for help when you need it. The Internet is only getting more and more crowded. Stand out. Be remarkable. Don’t be afraid to let 2013 be your best year yet.