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As a business owner, you’ve probably already identified your company’s marketing goals for 2018. And, like most business owners, you’re probably optimistic about keeping—and meeting—those goals.
But, let’s be honest—it’s hard for most business owners to stick to the plan they made in January because, well, life happens. Your operations manager takes maternity leave. Your top salesman gets poached by another company. A burst pipe causes your office to close for a week.
I’ll let you in on a secret—there is a playbook that will make your digital strategy execution run like a well-oiled machine. Our clients who have successfully executed their goals used this playbook to help them stay on-track and focus. So, what is this playbook? How can you implement the right habits to see your goals through? What are the top digital marketing trends in 2018? Allow me to fill you in.
The Key to Any Successful Digital Marketing Strategy in 2018
Here’s the thing about playbooks: they’re tailored to the team and the team’s competition. Your 2018 digital marketing strategy should be no different.
Let me put it this way: Have you ever gone to a party to find that you were embarrassingly under-dressed? I’ll bet in that moment you wished you had found out what others were wearing beforehand so you knew what the baseline was.
Same principle goes in the digital world. If you don’t establish a baseline of where your company stands vs. your competitors, you’ll have no idea of the areas you need to focus on in order to beat them.
The best way to establish a baseline and get a good handle on where you stand compared to competitors is to have a digital competitive analysis done. It dissects every aspect of both you and your top competitors’ digital presences and spits out an easy-to-understand summary of the playbook you need to adopt and execute.
Learn more about digital competitive analysis here.
The Importance of Properly Executing Your Digital Marketing Plan
Once you’ve established the baseline of where your company stands, it’s time to get to work executing your plan. It doesn’t matter how great your strategy is—if you aren’t able to put your plan into action, there’s no way you’ll see the results you were hoping for. In fact, strategy implementation can be one of the biggest challenges a small business faces. The way I see it, the heart of your strategy isn’t the plan itself—it’s the execution.
Here are five things you need to practice in order to get the execution down pat.
1. Your Business Needs to be Findable online
Let’s start at the beginning: you need to be easily found online, which means you need a website. But, you can’t just toss up any old website and call it good—people need to be able to find it. After all, how can a potential customer call you if they can’t even find you? The first place in which you need to be findable is where these potential customers typically look for businesses: Google. After all, 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. If that’s not reason enough, people use search engines to find an answer—and your services just might be the answer if you pop up.
Not sure how to determine whether or not you’re “findable?” Try this trick: plug your top keywords and service areas into Google. If you notice you’re not on the first page for any of them, don’t worry. This gives you a great opportunity to focus more effort on SEO or PPC. No matter what you end up trying, consistency is of the upmost importance. Learn about Google’s ranking factors here, and we recommend you check your rankings at least monthly—if you need help doing this, drop us a line.
2. Website Accessibility Is Key
When you go to a business’ website, you want to be able to easily navigate the site, load pages quickly, and find a clear call to action in case you want to call the company for services. In other words, user experience is important—arguably one of the most important parts of your online presence. After all, if users aren’t able to easily use your site, they’ll move on to another company.
Here are just a few questions you can ask yourself when determining whether your site is user friendly:
- Is your site mobile friendly? 2015 was the year of Mobilegeddon, but it didn’t stop there. Now that 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone, consumers are now using mobile phones for what used to be restricted to desktops and laptop PCs. Mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic in late 2016, and the gap will continue to widen.
- What is your site speed? Did you know that with every second it takes for your website to load, you lose revenue? It’s true. After three seconds, 53 percent of mobile consumers will click the “back” button. Take a look at how speeding up your website can impact your bottom line: Below is an example of a website that has an average of a 5-second load time. Look what happens when we increase site speed to three seconds:
And then to 1.5 seconds:
That’s more than $100k this company is throwing out your window! Learn more about how fast your website should be here.
- Is your website secure? In 2017, website security was front and center. Google began labeling secured and unsecured websites with either green or red/gray labels right there in the search bar. Would you click on a website with a bright red “unsecured” label on it? Most consumers won’t. Learn more about HTTPS here.
- Is the navigation and the font on your website easy to read and click through on a mobile device? If not, you’re in trouble—48 percent of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business. Your font should be large enough to read on a mobile device, and your navigation should be large enough that it’s easy to tap on.
Once you can confidently say yes to those questions, make sure you keep up to date with Google’s recommendations for a user-friendly site.
3. Be Informative and Answer questions
Once you know your site is easily findable and boasts great user experience, it’s time to ensure the information your potential customers find is helpful. Consumers are more empowered than ever before, and they like to do their research. In fact, B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site, and 81 percent of shoppers conduct research online before buying.
Does your website answer every single question they might have about your product or service?
Do you have a page for each of your services? Are you targeting the right service areas? Do you blog at least monthly? If you don’t do any of this, don’t worry—you’re not alone. We’ve worked with a lot of small business owners who didn’t know the importance of consistently uploading relevant, quality content.
I recommend you add pages and blogs that target your top keywords and service areas to your site a few times a month. Whether you make it a task in your calendar to blog bi-weekly or you hire a digital marketing agency to handle it for you, adding content to your site will only help your digital strategy.
4. Establish Trust
Now you need to establish authority by clearly communicating who your company is. Think about it—when you’re thinking about hiring a company, isn’t it comforting to see a list of their awards and certifications? Perhaps you take a moment to look at the “meet the team” page to put a face to the business. These small touches can help separate your company from the rest and ultimately create a trustworthy digital presence for your business.
Here’s a tip: Add testimonial videos on your home page, and video introductions to your employees on your meet the team page. Prominently display any sort of awards or certifications on your home page as well.
5. Stay in Touch with Your Customers
I’ve been preaching consistency in this blog post—and this last tip might be where consistency is the most important! After you’ve provided services to a customer, how can you make sure you stay in touch with them throughout the year?
Make communication with your customers a priority this year by sending an email newsletter. Whether you send it weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, your customers will simply have to check their inbox to be reminded of you—it’s that easy.
Digital Marketing Trends 2018: Themes to Capitalize On
There are four big digital marketing trends shaping 2018. While it’s not necessary to dive in head-first, if you want to dominate your local market acting now could pay dividends for years to come.
Customer Loyalty: Customers are getting more involved with brands that show them loyalty. I highly recommend you bank on this trend now and start remarketing to your existing customers as well as engage with them on social media. Tons of business owners are so focused on getting new customers that they neglect their current ones. That’s insane—the cost of keeping a customer vs. the cost of acquiring a new one just doesn’t compare! Use email marketing, social media, and videos to stay connected with your customers even when they don’t need your services.
Voice Search: You’ve seen the commercials—the ones that make virtual personal assistants seem like they’re the answer to all your problems. While voice search isn’t technically advanced enough for consumers to ditch their screens altogether, that’s certainly the direction it’s headed. Experts even predict that at least 30 percent of searches will be done without a screen by 2020. What this means for you is that you need to start thinking about optimizing your website for natural questions and requests. Instead of “AC repair in [city]” think more along the lines of “Find an AC repair contractor near me.”
Learn more about voice search here.
Video Marketing: technologies like VR, AR, and 360-degree videos are already mainstay for Fortune 500 companies, and soon the trend will trickle down to the rest of us. While you may brush off platforms like YouTube because it’s “kid stuff,” think again—Gen-Xers account for more than 1.5 billion views on YouTube every day. By 2019, video content will be the driving factor behind 85 percent of the search results. If you don’t have video content that ranks by then, you’re going to be left behind by competitors who thought ahead. We recommend getting started with testimonial videos, how-to videos, and videos that highlight your company’s history and culture.
Big-Data Personalization and Segmentation: Marketing used to be about mass messages. Now, we’re seeing a shift in the opposite direction—hyper-personalized campaigns. Thanks to big data and the age of assistance, you have more information about your target audience than ever before—so put it to good use. AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning are taking much of the legwork out of creating personalized campaigns—by setting up advanced tracking and analytics, you can deliver an automated, personalized ad experience that matches where they are in the modern buyer’s journey.
Here’s an example: If both Sally and Joe are your target customers, they each see different ads and messaging that’s tailored to the web pages they’ve visited, how they’ve behaved on your website, and what their messaging preferences are.
It’s Go Time!
And there you have it—you’ve made the strategy, and now you know how to make it happen. Of course, if this seems like a lot, give Blue Corona a call. We LOVE helping business owners both implement and execute a smart digital marketing strategy (and it’s always fun to see the exciting growth and victories that come along with it).
Fill out a contact form today and we can talk about the best execution plan for the next year. Until then, happy 2018!
Author’s Note: This post was originally written in 2017, and has been updated with 2018 digital marketing trends, statistics, and strategies.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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