by Mona Mangat
Planning out your marketing strategy for 2017 probably already happened in 2016, but despite being ready to meet the challenges of the new year, we encourage you to make sure you have considered these important trends and if you haven’t, then make them a part of your strategy now, since they currently make up the key elements to a successful and effective Internet marketing plan.
It never hurts to make tweaks here and there along the way, especially considering how fast content marketing is evolving—being digital, that’s a given. So when planning and implementing moves, you’re not just setting yourself up for 2017, but also for 2018 and beyond. A macro-oriented view will help you see the bigger picture on where you want your content marketing strategy to take your business. Here are the trends not to miss out on…
Everyone knows that Facebook is a monster when it comes to social communication and social marketing online. No matter how you feel about the Goliath, in terms of content consumption, content sharing, and content discovery, Facebook is king and having a strategy that involves FB somewhere in the plan would be a smart move if you want to see movement and get traction.
Even with a slight decline from last year, Facebook is currently the most-used social media platform for small businesses. Yes, there are downsides, recently many publishers have taken on Facebook’s Instant Articles with a lukewarm reaction, and there’s also limitations with their organic reach. The most unattractive point being having to pay to benefit from the platform, but despite the negatives, ignoring Facebook could cost you big.
The cold hard fact is this: there’s is more traffic online picked up from mobile devices than from desktops computers. So, that means most people are accessing your site and all the content you’ve created on mobile devices rather than on home or office computers.
So, the smart move here is to look at your content as it appears on a phone or mobile device. Ask yourself: what does it look like? Can you download any free media that you’ve posted? Can you easily find help or customer service or your address without straining? Is it easy to read a post on your blog page? What is the navigation life? If you can’t do any of these things easily then there’s a problem and that means your site is not optimized for mobile.
Don’t be left behind, do an analysis of how well your company comes across on mobile, and it’s even smarter to check out how your competitors are doing it so you don’t lose an edge. If you don’t have an app yet, then that’s your biggest investment to make for 2017. Without it you’ll be dead in the water or left at the wayside.
3. Visual content
People are visual creatures. In an age where screens communicate everything to us, making a visual connection is key to attracting attention. Visual content is so fundamental to online business, that the evidence speaks for itself: there are entire social platforms whose bread and butter are images, like Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest.
If you haven’t looked at your content visually yet, then now is the time to embrace using images in your marketing plan, and to use them extensively. You need to make a picture story of your business that is easily identifiable. Get a creative photographer to shoot hundred of photos of your company, or of your products and customers. Make sure they look authentic. Then get those photos edited and designed to suit your brand. Use applications like Canva or Stencil, Brand Strong, UnDullify or Design Pickle if you’re a newbie.
4. Video content
So, of course the next most important step is to take those images and compliment them with moving pictures. Nothing get reactions like moving images and videos. Currently, video is so integral to the online experience that nothing really sells without it. Like images, there are whole platforms devoted to the format who have changed the game, like YouTube or Snapchat, and even the now defunct, Vine. Facebook Live and Twitter’s new video alternative is their answer to meeting the demands that video has put on social media. Nothing is bigger for consumer online traffic than video, and that’s why every big player has it on their homepages.
5. User-made content
Yes, everything has changed with technology, but humanity hasn’t. Word of mouth is still the way people hear about new products and how they buy. Almost 85% of consumers trust content posted by others, such as reviews or articles, more than they trust the brands’ content and marketing efforts.
Building trust is the message every company online needs to hear. It’s the secret ingredient in every good content marketing plan. That’s content marketing main goal and always should be: to build trust. So, when users or consumers create content about your services or products, it’s 10 times more effective at building trust and creating a reputation than by just posting information about your product. Your content marketing cannot compete with word of mouth and that’s why you have to change tactics and get customers talking about you.
User-generated content or ‘UGC’ usually means reviews, social shares, comments on your page or on reviews, and even YouTube videos that ‘test drive’ your product. It’s called influencer marketing, and be sure not to under-estimate the authority micro influencers can have. Every customer is a potential cheerleader for your brand, so create the opportunities for their feedback.
6. Personalize your message
Due to the overload of content online, your content marketing plan will be more successful and competitive if you add another edge that many don’t think about: standing out. To stand out above the rest you’ll have to personalize your content. With more content out there than online audiences can consume you’ll need to relate to your customer more personally. And that means more than just putting their first name in a marketing email.
You need to have personalized content recommendations or special offers, or think about applications that allow them to personalize their buying experience. It’s common knowledge that businesses have consumer contact information, so users now expect you to use it in a way that calls them out and makes them feel special. That is how you can create brand loyalty.
7. Promotion makes the difference
Promoting your content should be a priority since there is no point to create excellent content and then not get it out there. Set up a system to either reformat existing content, republish it, or do both, but get it out there.
Market the content instead of just creating the content. Yes, that means you’ll have to make a small investment into promotion, which is basically paid advertising. Using advertising to promote your content is essential because the most successful content marketers are currently paying to promote their content on all types of platforms, and it’s working. So, don’t leave your quality content on it’s own, get it circulating by giving it a push.
The medium is not the message:
Content marketing is the media that shapes the message, which is basically technology interacting with an audience. But the most important part of the equation to remember is the audience. So, don’t get too caught up in the technology. It’s always been all about the audience. So, find out what content formats your audience prefers, where they get their info from online, and how much they like and trust your marketing performance. That info should keep you sharp and approachable and will show your audience that you respect them.
If you just keep in mind that the technology you use for content marketing, which means the platforms, the formats, and the strategies you use to draw attention, are only employed to engage your audience, then it will be easy to keep your message true and clear. Which in the end, is the best way to reach your audience in 2017 and beyond.
Contact us now to find out how we can help you give a push to your content and help you strategize your marketing plan for 2017.