It’s that time of year again; when just about everyone we know is talking about what resolutions they have set or plan to follow for the next year. And while friends, family members and colleagues alike are pledging to eat healthier, exercise more and maybe even put more effort into self-care this year, we wonder if anyone else has noticed the conversation around new years resolutions typically focuses on the individual at a personal level. Sure, people have set resolutions for the workplace before (stand-up desk, anyone?), but it likely had to do with change on a personal level at work—not change for the benefit of the business.
What makes this even more interesting (at least, to us marketers) is that over the last decade, businesses have become synonymous with their brand identity, to the point that consumers look to buy from businesses that act like people, not things. Which begs the question: If consumers perceive businesses to exude human qualities and characteristics, and business owners and marketers put forth efforts to proliferate this perception, why can’t resolutions be set on behalf of the business? True, these resolutions would be set by people for people within the business, but the promises made would positively affect the brand, not the person carrying out the pledge.
That’s why we’re sharing our top 20 marketing resolutions for 2020. Below, you’ll find 10 ideas and promises that we believe all marketing professionals should consider and follow for the brands they represent.
- I will repurpose and reuse existing content rather than create new.
The widespread availability of internet access, coupled with a plethora of social media channels, has made it easier than ever for literally anyone to publish content (AKA data). Over the last decade especially, we’ve witnessed the exponential boom of data that has become available on the internet. In fact, “the IDC [International Data Corporation] predicts that by 2025, the total amount of digital data created worldwide will rise to 163 zettabytes.” (One zettabyte equals ONE TRILLION gigabytes, by the way.) What does this mean for your brand’s content strategy?
There is no room anymore for random, irrelevant or otherwise “just because” content. Moreover, consumers are looking for increasingly personalized experiences with their brands, which means every. single. piece. of content you put out there MUST have a purpose, and it MUST be relevant to your audience. That’s why it’s crucial to your content strategy for 2020 to develop content that can be repurposed—so that you can maximize your brand’s digital visibility.
- I will take my organic social media in-house.
A digital marketing company telling potential clients NOT to work with them to develop native/organic social media content? Why yes, yes, we are.
The reason being: people want to feel intimately connected to real, authentic experiences. This holds true for content shared by businesses and brands as much as it does for content shared between individuals. Sure, your customers want to know about current sales promotions and new products. But we’d go so far as to bet, sight unseen, that the posts on your brand’s social channels that have the most comments, likes and shares are those candid, in-the-moment photos and videos of the people behind your brand. These are the posts that can’t be planned; content that can’t be staged or overly produced. Essentially, the most important social content for your business to develop cannot be done by an outside source. Which means (if social media is appropriate to your marketing goals and business strategy) it’s crucial to your business to invest in internal support for your native/organic content development.
Where a digital marketing company such as ourselves SHOULD come into play for native/organic social media is in the planning and strategy for your content. In a consultative role, the digital ad agency or marketing firm becomes your powerful partner and think-tank for how to maximize your top engaging content as part of a greater marketing strategy.
- I will focus less on the number of likes and more on quality of engagement.
Part and parcel of the conversation around harnessing the power of native/organic social media is the value we attribute to the type of engagement we receive on our posts. To exemplify this, let’s take the old 80/20 rule. If 20% of your customer base accounts for 80% of your revenue, who are you going to put more effort in reaching: the other 80% of your customer base who may make one or a few purchases and also buy similar products from your competitors, or that core 20% who will buy every product you put on the market and will follow you to the ends of the earth? (We’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that the latter is chosen over the former.) Consider also, the time it takes for someone to tap the “like” button for a post versus the time it takes for that same person to comment or enter a query related to the content posted.
The point is: A post or even a social channel with a high number of likes does not equate to increased revenue for your business. Not to mention, with Instagram’s move to test hiding likes from followers (businesses would still be able to see the total number of likes), the writing is on the wall for how even social channels are weighing the importance of engagement over likes. Especially as we move into this next decade, a brand’s social media power is going to be all about the quality—not quantity—of the conversation with their consumers.
- I will think quality content over keywords for my website’s SEO.
While this resolution isn’t a new idea, it’s still an important one to share, and one that still comes up every now and again. Businesses are still getting hung up on what the “right keywords are” for their website to maximize their organic search presence. And although keywords certainly do still play a part in search optimization, it’s no longer as simple as listing off those words on your site wherever you feel like it. Nor is it as simple as choosing keywords that the business wants to be found under. Instead, and going back to resolution #1, the power of the keywords is in the context of the content they appear in (as in, they make sense to the content as a whole) and that the content is what’s most relevant to the consumer. (Check out our earlier blog for more background info. on how Google and other search engines work.)
Over the next decade we will likely see voice search overtaking manual search, and so this trend is only going to become more important to follow as content and keywords are developed to how people speak, not write.
- I will segment email lists based on audience personas (or at least interests), to provide only the most relevant content to each audience.
Marketing automation tools have made it easier than ever to streamline email communications and target audiences with the content they want. Moreover, we all know that people’s attention spans have severely shortened and that most people are using multiple devices at once to consume content, and that the majority of emails are read on a mobile device over a desktop computer. Which means that jam-packed email you drafted for desktop is going to look like a never-ending novel to the person who receives it. They’re more likely to tap the “trash” button than they are to finish scrolling and reading through all your content to find the nugget that’s actually of interest to them. (Going back to resolution #1 and #4, why invest in content that has no purpose and that is not relevant to the audience you’re communicating with?)
Say it with us: Blankets are for babies, not emails.
- I will draw a story from my customer data; not just analyze numbers.
Numbers don’t lie, and they can surely provide insight into your business model and profitability. But when it comes to drawing conclusions about your consumers, numbers alone won’t help you to paint the picture of why they’re buying from you or not. You need to be able to connect the dots from what the numbers are telling you to interpret what the consumer is saying on an individualized level about your brand. After all, consumers are humans (even if you’re a B2B company, it’s a person within the target company that buys from you) and you can’t provide relevant content unless you understand your consumers on a humanistic level.
Another reason for drawing stories from your customer data: stories are easy to remember. (There’s a reason why history has been passed down in stories, not just listed facts.) In championing the business’s sales goals through a memorable story about the consumer’s relation to the brand, marketing professionals will find it a lot easier to achieve buy-in from upper management when they look to initiate new marketing efforts.
- I will set SMART marketing goals.
Another oldie but goodie that keeps resurfacing; SMART goals are those objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. Every now and then, a client will come to us with a goal in mind, but with no plan for how they will track and attribute the success of achieving that goal. Sometimes, it’s simply the person’s frame of reference for posing the goal. For instance, there’s a clear difference between the goal of “becoming a household name for millennials” and of “increasing brand recognition online among people ages 18-25 over the next year.” The latter includes information that can be measured against to accurately attribute action to the desired results.
As another example, Trigon’s social media strategy and goals currently focus on delivering quality content on a consistent basis to demonstrate our industry expertise and our employee culture over our first year. (Trigon Creative, an affiliate of the BlueHive Group, was formed in July 2019 as the formal brand carrying out BlueHive’s established marketing capabilities.) Note that this goal has nothing to do with achieving a certain number of likes or followers. In one of our recent review meetings, our Social Media Manager, Eric, pointed out that in accordance with our SMART philosophy, the way in which we measure the success of this goal is in the calendar of content we develop and in the increase in follower engagement with our page overall; not to certain posts over others. (Find us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to see for yourself!)
- For experiential marketing efforts, I will develop an experience that means something to my brand and my customers AND that makes sense to my brand’s story.
Across the board, businesses are feeling the squeeze in market share as their competitor landscapes thicken with like-products from new brands. While experiential marketing isn’t appropriate for all brands and business goals, it certainly seems to be the new way to attract customer attention. In fact, it’s forecasted for this year that consumer experiences are going to trump price and product as the key differentiator between brands. And yet, so many brands are missing the point of experiential marketing over their haste to vie for market share.
Rather than develop an experience that communicates the story of the brand and attracts only those customers who support the brand and its story, many businesses are creating flashy or otherwise gimmicky events and experiences with the sole focus of attracting as many people as possible. Going back to our 80/20 reference in resolution #3, doesn’t it make more sense to attract your core audience with an experience that will surely have them spending more with your business, over attracting every Joe Schmoe and tire-kicker on the block who just wants to “see something cool” regardless of the brand or their products? We think so.
- I will communicate with my consumers based on what they want to hear about my brand, and not what I want to tell them.
Remember the golden rule you were taught as a child: Speak to others how you would like to be spoken to? Good. Now, forget it.
The reality is that we all communicate differently based on our life experiences and environments. So, if a person has not shared our life experiences or our environments, they can’t be expected to understand the meaning behind our words. This is especially true for marketing communications. Let’s look at bank marketing, for example. A bank wants to sell deposits; it’s their means of bringing in money to be able to give out loans and make a profit. The bank’s customers, however, don’t want to buy “deposits.” They want to buy a checking account with interest or rewards to fit their lifestyle. Therefore, the bank must be sure to describe their deposit products using the vernacular and communication preferences of their target audience in order to successfully communicate their message. (This is why resolution #6 is important to a successful marketing strategy.)
- I will include extra spend in my digital ad budget for A/B testing of the creative.
Digital advertising provides many advantages over traditional advertising including the ease of running multiple sets of ads to test which perform the best. Even the best creatives will tell you they can’t guarantee that the messaging, design and overall experience of the ad they created will 100% resonate with and drive the desired results of the target audience (just ask Peleton about their “Gift that Gives Back” spot). Moreover, testing digital ad creative is reactive and therefore takes little planning (excepting the variety of ads that need to be created first). Like flipping a switch, you can stop running a poorly performing ad immediately and reallocate the unused funds into the ad(s) that is(are) performing well.
Even though you’re adding extra money into your budget, testing your creative in the beginning will help you to spend your money smarter down the road. And, you’re able to zero-in on the messaging and creative strategy that DOES resonate best with your audience, which will cut down on time and effort for future campaigns.
If you put into practice any one of these resolutions for the brands you represent, you’ll surely notice a difference in the ROI of your marketing efforts. Resolutions are all about making positive change, after all.
Want to know what our other 10 marketing resolutions are for the new year? Check out Part 2 of our blog, 20 Marketing Resolutions for 2020.