Where has the time gone?! More than half the year is over. Have you been hitting your goals for sales, leads, traffic, or whatever KPI you have to hit? If so, well done. This article will help you crush those numbers even harder. For everyone else who is staring at the analytics of your site and screaming in despair, don’t worry, I’m here to help with a few sure-fire promotional strategies.

First, let’s explore the landscape of this year in digital marketing. Google slammed the non-mobile optimized websites and devalued them in their rankings. They also started indexing tweets, which has opened up a plethora of opportunities, more on this one later. Also, Facebook continued to lower the organic reach that companies can achieve in order to force them to pay Facebook more money. And native advertising hasn’t taken over the world like a lot of people predicted.

So, did you blow a couple of thousand dollars on Taboola and Outbrain, only to have a bunch of untargeted traffic come pouring into your site? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of people fell for that.

You see, the problem with those native advertising networks is that they have poor tracking and very little demographic data. So, you’re metaphorically stepping out on your front porch and blindly shooting a shotgun into the air in hopes that you shoot some dinner.

But after reviewing a couple of hundred campaigns and thousands of ads and millions of impressions, we have some data for you on what’s working.

Social really is eating the world

Nom Nom

Social media is that hot breath that Google feels on the back of its neck. With Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook acting as content curation tools for their users, less and less people are turning to the search engines to find their content.

Yes, people still go to Google, Yahoo, and Bing (forget AOL, they haven’t had someone log in for over a decade) to discover events, products, and companies. But think to yourself, when was the last time you searched for an article and read it from the search results? It’s probably been a while. And that’s because our content is now curated by our social circles. We hang out with people that like the same stuff as us. So, if one of them posts an article, you probably read it.

In fact, Facebook announced that it will now be hosting content directly on their site for major media outlets like The New York Times. This will either flop completely or change entirely how media sites operate. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But back to social media being the new bully on the block. With this new level of influence on traffic, companies need to embrace social promotion. Unfortunately, most people believe social promotion to be “Buy Now!” or “Let’s Talk!” plastered all over ads on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But direct response social promotion actually has very poor results.

Give until it hurts

You get a car!

Instead of constantly asking for something from your potential customers, instead give them something. What I mean by this, is if social media is a content curation tool, then use it for that purpose. Create ads that promote your latest blog post, or have a promoted post that encourages people to attend your upcoming webinar. But stop hounding them for a sign up. That gets old and they tune you out quickly.

And don’t make this content superficial. Instead, really inform your potential customers and help them with the problems they face. This will help build trust and belief in your expertise. And both of these will be critical during the sales process.

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!

“But Mike, I don’t have the budget to just sprinkle my content willy-nilly around the internet!”

I hear you. And I’m not suggesting that you burn your marketing budget like that. Instead, you should be using social promotion of your content as a top of funnel traffic driver and then capture everyone that visits the site via retargeting and remarketing. Retargeting is done through cookie tracking and remarketing is done through marketing automation. And both will cause your ROI on your marketing budget to go through the roof.

But you need to ensure that the people you’re driving to your site in the first place are in your target audience. Otherwise you’ll just be retargeting a bunch of people who have no interest in your product anyways.

How do you do this? You craft custom audiences by utilizing your contact lists and through granular demographic targeting. This means that you take all those thousands of emails you’ve accumulated over the years and you upload them into Twitter and Facebook. If those users have linked those emails to their *social accounts, then you can now advertise to them at your leisure.

*Pro Tip: with all the talk of mobile marketing, this is one of the most effective methods to market to mobile users since Facebook and Twitter users largely access their accounts via mobile and your ads are tied to their account, not their device.

The other method, that you’ll have to rely on with LinkedIn, is demographic targeting. You ensure that your target audience is precisely defined, and then you begin marketing to them. And don’t make the mistake of only advertising to the decision makers in your target organizations. You also need to be targeting the champions and influencers. They’re the ones who usually make first contact.

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you dooooown

Now that you are attracting the right customers and using the right content, you can begin a robust retargeting and remarketing campaign. You should look to capture emails for remarketing through marketing automation by gating content with a form. You can do this with eBooks, whitepapers and newsletter sign ups

Now input that contact info into your marketing automation suite and create your custom audiences and make sure that your marketing message is persistent across all digital devices and mediums that your customers utilize.

Oh really, Mr. Smarty Pants

Another trend that is quickly picking up steam is thought leadership. It’s the act of disseminating your knowledge and expertise to your client base in a scalable fashion. Thought leadership helps promote your company brand and build trust with your customers. It’s a difficult strategy to quantify in exact returns, but when you’re doing it right, you notice – big time.

To begin your thought leadership campaign, start creating content on an individual level. This can be as basic as tweeting your thoughts about industry trends which, as I mentioned earlier, can worm their way into the Google search results, to much more advanced content such as guest posts *ahem* and becoming a contributor for media sites.

One of the best ways to get the ball rolling is to utilize the LinkedIn long-form post feature. Every LinkedIn user has access to it and it allows you to get your thoughts out there and share them with your network. There’s also a chance your writing can get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse, which is LinkedIn’s content curation tool. When this happens, you’ll notice you reach a lot of readers that are outside of your usual circle of influence.

The trick to thought leadership is to start small and keep growing it. If you give up because people don’t start shoving money in your face right away, then you’ll never experience its potential. But if you stick with it and really zero in on your voice and your topic, then you’ll notice speaking engagement, interviews, and other great opportunities start cropping up.

These are two surefire strategies to get those numbers up in the latter part of 2015. If you implement them now, maybe you’ll get that set of steak knives you’ve been coveting.

Second place, steak knives