In Part 1 of this two-part blog series, we touched upon 10 resolutions marketing professionals should consider making on behalf of the business(es) and brand(s) they represent. From content and message strategy to social media practices, data analysis and goal setting, and even experiential marketing; these pledges follow the marketing trends we believe will be the most important for 2020.
Continuing on that thought, here are 10 more marketing practices you should adopt to help shape a stronger, smarter marketing strategy for your business this year:
- I will remember that failure is still a valuable learning opportunity.
Too many times, we see our clients get hung up on the positive ROI of their marketing campaigns. Now, we know what you’re thinking: why would any marketing company tell their clients NOT to focus on achieving success? Obviously, as marketing professionals we DO work tirelessly to ensure our client’s marketing messages are well received and that their SMART goals are attained. But there is no silver bullet in marketing. That’s why it’s just as important to see the value in a low-performing campaign: you can learn just as much (maybe even more) from failure as you can from success.
Perhaps it was in the email subject line, or else the video content you shared. Maybe your conceptualized buyer persona doesn’t hold up against the “real thing.” Whatever it was that drove your marketing efforts to miss the mark, PAY ATTENTION to it. Get a better understanding of why it happened (something we talked about in resolution #6 from Part 1) and use that knowledge to pivot your strategy accordingly.
Remember: There are no wasted marketing dollars when you learn from both success and failure.
- I will remember that I am not my brand.
While there are some exceptions to this resolution, by and large it’s crucial to the success of your marketing strategy to represent your brand consistently and with its defined identity. While this sounds as easy as pie, we still find business owners and marketing professionals are making the faux pas of extending their own personality into their brand. Think of your brand like it’s your child. Sure, it will share some of your personality, tone of voice and values, because it was born from you. But it will also have its own characteristics, behaviors and interests—ones that clearly define itself as its own identity. And when you blur the lines on brand identity by inconsistently representing the brand, you’re diluting the brand’s relevance with its core audience. So, before you associate one of your personal qualities to the identity of the brand, ask yourself: is this a truth that makes sense to what my brand offers, and how my brand is perceived by its core consumers?
- As a marketer, I will play nice with sales in the sandbox.
For those businesses with separate sales and marketing teams, 2020 is going to be all about breaking down those silos and collaborating to increase sales. In fact, “agility” and “agile marketing” are two of this year’s big buzzwords in the conversation of marketing success and are the drivers behind the move to bring these historically separate departments together. It’s one of those “why didn’t we think of this sooner” moments: saying the right thing to the right person at the right time as they move down the sales funnel from awareness to consideration, so that when they’re ready to buy, they know exactly who to call. Especially as we continue into this age of personalization and content experiences, the power in working together should no longer be left to the wayside.
- I will only use QR codes for unique brand experiences.
In every industry, there’s always a fad that somehow sticks around even after it’s no longer trending. In marketing, it’s the QR code. While QR code technology was first developed in 1994, it didn’t become mainstream in advertising until the last decade or so. And then BAM—no matter where you looked, QR codes started popping up. everywhere. The problem was, up until a few years ago, the operating systems of smart devices weren’t smart enough to make scanning a QR code easy. And, most QR codes were being used to drive people to websites or other “hard sell” content. Consumers began experiencing QR code fatigue and started ignoring them.
While we don’t agree on the use of a QR code to push sales or web traffic for a business, there’s still merit in using QR codes to deliver a unique experience shared by the brand and its consumers. The smart device technology has caught up, and branded experiences are more important than ever in differentiating your business from your competition (as discussed in Part 1 resolution #8).
- I will add as much information as I can to my Google My Business listing(s).
This sounds like a no-brainer, but we’re still finding businesses that only list basic information in their Google My Business listing. We’ve even discovered businesses with multiple locations (and therefore multiple Google listings) that have included robust content in only one of the listings. In terms of search ranking and visibility, this does your business a disservice. Voice search is starting to overtake manual search, and Google first presents only those listings that best answer the search query, which means the content in your Google listing is now just as important (and maybe more so) as the content on your website. It also means marketers need to be cognizant in how they phrase content so that it aligns with how people speak, not how they write. The more information you provide to Google that aligns with voice search queries, the more visibility your brand will have.
- I will include emojis in my email subject lines and preview texts.
Email is still one of the top-rated methods to connect with consumers and drive buying behavior. The trick now is how to make sure someone opens your email and reads it over the hundreds of others in their inbox. The other day, we actually had an internal discussion about the use of emojis in email subject lines as a means to stand out. The catalyst question was whether it is acceptable for B2B marketers to use emojis or if it’s still too whimsical for a commercial audience. Our collective answer: yes, B2B industries can also use emojis in email subject lines without detracting from the brand’s credibility. This is due, in part, to the wider acceptance and use of emojis across ages and demographics.
The catch is to make sure the emojis used are relevant to the audience, the content of the email and to the brand. It means choosing emojis with purpose, just as you would any other visual associated with your brand. And it’s essential not to overdo it. Emojis in the subject line are a great way to gain attention in the inbox, but if all your emails contain emojis, they start to look and feel like spam.
- For any online social platform that allows my customers to message the business, I will make sure responses occur within several hours of the received message.
A few years ago, we would have told you that you could still operate within the Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm “business hours standard” when replying to customer feedback. Not anymore. The simple reason is that there’s just too much technology readily available now for businesses to streamline communications during “off hours.” And consumers know it. As a society, AI technology is becoming so present in our daily lives that we’ve come to expect businesses to be savvy enough to put it to use. Whether it’s a chat bot for your website, or a similar automated system for Messenger or What’s App, it’s essential to your business strategy to incorporate some way to immediately respond to customer queries.
Instant gratification isn’t a new concept, nor is it new to the marketing industry. And as we enter into this next decade, consumers are only going to be more expectant of immediate, personalized customer service online.
- I will make sure my website content speaks to what my core audience is looking for, and not what I want to tell them about my business.
While we covered the importance of content relevancy and communication preferences in your marketing in Part 1, and we touched upon the significance of crafting your content for voice search as much as for manual search, we thought it would be beneficial to drive these ideals home one more time. That’s because your website is your digital storefront (and for a lot of businesses these days, the only storefront). We cannot stress enough how important it is for your marketing strategy and business goals to make sure your website provides a positive user experience. One in which they find exactly what they’re looking for with ease, while simultaneously learning more about what you can offer them.
Going back to that bank example we used in Part 1, if your customers are looking for “free checking accounts that earn interest,” why pose those products as “no-fee, high-yield deposit options?” (That’s certainly one way to leave money on the table, instead of with your business.)
- I will remember that Facebook ads will not save my business’s sales.
As is true for anything shiny and new, it seems many business owners have all jumped on the Facebook ads bandwagon in the hopes of grabbing more market share and increasing sales, without doing their homework first. We’re not saying social media ads are a bad thing, and in fact, we’ve seen just how powerful they can be in driving consumer purchasing behavior. But what’s often skipped over is the catalyst for that success: a demonstrated following of consumers who are buying that product already. It sounds intuitive, right? Your brand sells a product, and people are buying that product from you; there’s clear interest in your product and therefore opportunity to expand your audience reach. And yet, marketers will still ask us why their Facebook ads promoting a low-performing product failed to gain traction and drive sales of that product. That’s because Facebook ads enhance your sales, not establish them. The point is, running Facebook ads to sell a product that hasn’t demonstrated sales success elsewhere will not move the needle for that product. (For a new product line, that demonstrated success comes from your competitors and their like-products.)
Remember back in grade school when you learned about multiplication rules? What happens when you multiply anything by zero?
- I will not underestimate the power of local partnerships.
As we wrap up with this last resolution for 2020, it may seem strange to bring up a promise that (seemingly) has nothing to do with the digital age we’re in. Except local partnerships have become extremely relevant in the digital age. People will always carry with them a sense of community and need for belonging, and the internet has only made that easier to fulfill. Moreover, technology and the internet have allowed brands to connect and create conjoined experiences for their consumers like never before. Add in the ease in which people can access and publish content to the internet, and now that local partnership can reach anyone across the globe. Demonstrating your commitment to the community tells your consumers that you care about what they care about, and they will pay you back tenfold in loyalty.
So, there you have it: Our take on marketing trends to follow for 2020, and marketing resolutions you can make right now to bring more success to your business this year.