Online marketing constantly evolves: What worked in years past won't necessarily be the most effective strategy today.
So, what should you focus on as you plan your online marketing strategy for the upcoming year? Here are seven ingredients that you can’t ignore as we enter 2016.
1. Content on platforms beyond your blog
Blogs are a great way to deliver your brand message to your target audience. They will continue to be an excellent platform for content marketing, but everyone has a blog these days. So, think about creating content on multiple channels in order to stand out in your industry.
Consider creating a YouTube channel or engaging with your audience through live streaming. Video content is highly engaging, and best of all, it’s free to produce -- you don’t need fancy camera equipment. In fact, I know several brands that even film with smartphones.
2. A mobile-first focus
Mobile can’t be an after-thought any longer. Back in March, the number of mobile-only adult internet users exceeded desktop-only Internet users. Websites must be built (or redesigned) with a mobile audience in mind -- your forms, calls-to-action and content must all be easily readable and accessible on small screens.
If you are running pay-per-click ads, consider a Google AdWords call-only campaign -- it’s a great way to drive phone calls with buyer-intent.
3. A strong brand voice
Consumers aren’t interested in engaging with a faceless generic brand these days. The social media age almost demands that brands have a face -- T-Mobile's CEO John Legere is a great example. You will often see the brand promoting Legere's tweets on Twitter. It gives T-Mobile that human element consumers love and connect with.
Branding also comes close to home: In 2016 I'll be writing a book as a branding play to continue to get my company and personal brand out there.
4. Website UX and speed
It’s important that your website provide a pleasant user experience -- both in functionality and speed. You want to make sure your visitors can access information and features on your website regardless of what type of device they are using, and you want to make sure your website loads quickly.
Nobody has time to wait around for pages to load and if the UX is poor, you can expect your bounce rate to be through the roof. For feedback on your UX, consider using a tool like SurveyMonkey to get feedback from your users. Ask them what they like, what they don't like and what they would change.
5. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing via social media has the potential to be your most ROI-friendly online marketing of 2016. Leveraging the popularity and social reach of various influencers can help you position your products or service directly in front of your target market.
The trust that’s already established between the consumer and the influencer he or she is following removes the barricade traditional marketing and advertising will typically face. If you want an example of a successful influencer marketing campaign, check out how this hover-board company used social media influencers exclusively to build a multi-million dollar brand.
6. Highly specific paid search remarketing.
Running remarketing campaigns became more popular this past year: Almost every brand running pay-per-click traffic was experimenting with remarketing on some level. I audited my own fair share of PPC campaigns this past year and noticed that many of these remarketing campaigns were not as specific as they could have been. Why? It takes time to really break them down.
If people are viewing a “blue widget” on your website, then, set up your remarketing so an ad featuring that same item follows them and sends them directly to that product when it's clicked on. Sending visitors to your home page or a page with several different widgets will greatly lower your conversion rates. Instead, put your remarketing traffic directly in front of what the visitor was previously looking at.
7. More diverse social media marketing.
Are you currently advertising on Snapchat and Instagram? How about Periscope -- are you taking advantage of live streaming? Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great advertising platforms and will continue to thrive, but you simply can’t ignore Snapchat and Instagram right now.
Nothing works for everyone, but I would highly recommend experimenting with these social networks. Instagram’s self-serve ad platform allows you to use Facebook’s highly favorable targeting options to reach your audience. I would also suggest experimenting with Meerkat or Periscope in your marketing.