If you didn't like the results you had with your marketing in 2016, great news, you can change it in 2017.
As the great Jim Rohn said, “If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. “
Great marketing is the result of constant evaluation and improvement. Most marketing efforts suck in the beginning, the difference between poor marketers and great ones is that they learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, many small businesses never learn from their marketing mistakes. They keep doing the same marketing tactics year in and year out, often at the advice of the people selling them advertising, and learn little in the process. This lazy approach to marketing often leads to a failed business, or worse, a mediocre one survives just enough to drain the life out of the business owner.
When it comes to online marketing, business owners tend to get misguided advice from lots of different places on what they should be doing. From social media, to SEO, to Pay Per Click advertising, business owners end up chasing their tail, going from one thing to another often with little results to show for it.
The good news is that a new year is also the opportunity for a new start. Why not make 2017 a great one for your business? Who cares what didn't go well the year before, the plans you had that never came to fruition or the goals that were never reached. The only thing that matters now is that you are ready to take your marketing to the next level in 2017.
There are lots of different things to focus on when it comes to marketing and lots of different channels to pursue. I have listed below the ones I believe are vitally important for every business owner and should be the focus of their marketing efforts in 2017. I didn't include social media as a channel to focus on in 2017, not because I don't think it's important, I just think that for the vast majority of businesses, social media activity fails to impact the bottom line and leads to hundreds of hours of time spent that could have been used more effectively somewhere else.
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” – Leo Burnett
When it comes to your website, your email marketing, your print ads and when you speak to people in person, it's the words that sell. Yet most business websites have poor copy that doesn't inspire or sell. They have advertisements that fail to get people to take action and unclear value propositions.
While how your website looks is important, it is the words that will sell. Yet most people focus on the look and treat the copy as secondary, sometimes even outsourcing it to the designer, who is not a copywriter.
If you want to have a big impact on your marketing in 2017, learn how to write compelling copy for your audience. And it all starts with knowing who your target market it, who are you speaking to? Once you understand who your audience is, write them a love letter. Not a real love letter, but copy that has the same passion as a love letter. Let them know why they are so important to you, why you appreciate them so much, and why they should be with you. Let them know you will never let them down and how important they are to you. Copy like that sells.
Understand why people buy from you. Conduct research and surveys with your current customers or ones just like them, find out what makes them buy from a business like yours. Once you have that information, create value propositions and calls to action that speak to this. You want to make a connection with your audience, but you first need to understand what is important to them.
You don't have to hire a copywriter to make great copy, but you do need to learn the essentials of copywriting as well as a lot of practice. If this sounds like too much work for you, then either hire someone to do it with you or be content with your current results.
Good blog for copywriting:
Social media gets all of the attention, but smart marketers know the money is in the list. The email list that is.
Study after study shows that email marketing produces a much better ROI than social media, yet most businesses will spend endless hours on social media and spend little time and effort on building an effective email marketing campaign.
You only own two things online, your website and your email list. All of those followers you have on social media belong to that social media platform, you can't download them, you can't bring them with you to another platform and you can't speak directly to each of them whenever you choose because platforms like Facebook and Instagram limit how many of your followers you can reach without paying them.
Your goal should be to get people to your website and get them on your email list. From there, for just a few dollars a month, you can communicate with them whenever you feel like and nobody can take that away from you.
When it comes to online marketing, email marketing is usually at the heart of any serious conversion funnel. Building your email list over time will build your revenue over time, study after study confirms this.
If you aren't using email marketing software, that's the first step. I recommend Mailchimp for basic email marketing, and Sharpspring if you are looking to get into marketing automation with advanced email marketing features.
So if you want to improve your marketing efforts in 2017, concentrate on growing your email list and writing compelling and engaging emails that you send on a regular basis.
Conversion optimization is when you continually test. measure and improve your sales and marketing funnel. If your current funnel is producing a 1% conversion rate (which is average for an ecommerce store), then working on improving it to 2% can have a major impact on your bottom line.
When you focus on conversions, you study each of the steps in your sales and marketing funnel to find out where the “leaks” are, meaning where and when people are dropping out and losing interest in what you are offering. Sometimes fixing even just one “leak” can lead to a big impact to your bottom line. Conversion optimization is sort of a science where you study every aspect of your funnel and seek to continually improve it.
For a business owner, it starts with measuring all of your marketing and advertising campaigns. If you spend $500 on a Facebook ad, how many visits to your website did it produce and many sales were made? Once you understand these numbers, you can work on improving them, which can be better targeting, better ad copy or a better landing page. As you dive deeper into what is happening in each step, you will start to see areas for improvement and ways to improve your conversion rate.
Good blogs on conversion optimization:
“A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable.” – Charles S. Lauer
Direct marketing is action oriented marketing where the goal is for people to take some sort of action after seeing your advertisement. Success for a campaign is tied directly to how many people take you up on your offer, whether that's a sale, phone call or online form. You see direct marketing all the time in the form of mailers (think ValPack), the Home Shopping Network, Infomercials, and online sales pages.
Every small business should have a direct marketing mindset when it comes to marketing their business. It makes you much more diligent with your marketing dollars and ensures that you are earning a return on your marketing investments. It also forces you to really think and analyze your marketing and advertising strategies, where many businesses prefer the “spray and pray” approach to marketing, where they eventually run out of money and stop marketing altogether.
Before you begin any marketing campaign, whether it's online or offline, make sure you set specific goals ofr your campaigns and ways to track and measure its success. This is the only way you will ever improve your marketing skills.
Remarketing is an advertising method where you add a tracking code to your site that allows you to track and advertise to people after they have left your website.
Many ecommerce stores practice since the average conversion rate is about 1% for ecomm stores and remarketing allows them to bring people back some of that 99% that didn't buy. Go to a site like Zappos.com and then search the web or go to Facebook after leaving their site. You will begin to see ads appearing from that brand, often showing you the exact product you were looking at before you left. What's happened is that a tracking “cookie” was placed on your computer or device and that website can now serve ads to you on Facebook or other 3rd party websites for a period of time that they determine.
Remarketing works great for a number of reasons. It essentially allows you to continually market to them after they leave your website even though they never gave you an email address or other personal information. It works great for businesses that have a longer sales cycle or a product or service where consumers spend a lot of time comparison shopping. Remarketing allows you to stay top of mind with consumers and let's you reach them with additional messaging that may bring them back to your website.
The best part of remarketing is that it has a great ROI since you are reaching people who are already somewhat familiar with your brand and have expressed interest in the past. Remarketing allows you to improve your overall conversion rates and lets you get more mileage out of your other marketing and advertising campaigns.
At 1.79 billion, Facebook has more monthly active users than WhatsApp (500 million), Twitter (284 million) and Instagram (200 million)—combined. (Source: CNBC)
Facebook Ads present an enormous opportunity for small businesses to do some laser targeted advertising. There is no other advertising platforms that allow you to get so specific with your ad targeting. Pretty much anything you can think of is a targeting option when it comes to Facebook ads.
Want to target men aged 40-50 in California who recently purchased a motorcycle and love the Beatles? Yes, you can target them. Looking for baby boomers who recently moved to a new home in Colorado and have a habit of making high-ticket purchases? Yes, you can target them. The sky is the limit when it comes to you targeting options.
So how do they do this? First off, they know your interests and likes based on everything you do on Facebook. Joined a breastfeeding group? You are now in an advertising bucket for new moms, breastfeeding, etc. Every time you join a group, like a fan page or like/share a post, you are giving Facebook valuable data on what your interests are.
They also take your email address, phone number, schools you have attended and match it up with 3rd party data providers who give them a windfall of information about you once they can confirm it is you. Ever wonder why Facebook asks you to confirm where you went to school or takes a guess at something personal about you? It's because they have 3rd party information about you and want to confirm it with you. Scary stuff if you use Facebook but great for advertisers.
Like we spoke about in the copywriting section, the more you can target and focus your campaigns, the more successful you will be and Facebook gives you the best targeting options anywhere on the web.
Get focused with your marketing in 2017
Hopefully, this article gave you some news ideas and inspiration for your marketing efforts in 2017. Most of the above are interconnected in some way, especially with the copywriting, so doing them in conjunction with each other will make each of them more effective.
If you want to really get good at marketing, be stingy with your ad dollars, scrutinize everything, and be prepared and test and measure everything you do. This is the only way you will cut out the marketing fat, improve your marketing and really grow your business.
Cheers to a successful 2017 for your business!