I’ve learned that I have quite a lot to learn about marketing.
Being content with what I know about SEO and content marketing is not enough. It’s been helpful at every step, but it won’t propel me into digital success. Regularly learning and employing the latest and most effective digital marketing techniques are the only things that can do that.
Since technology and marketing tactics change every year – really, every day — you must always be learning. Although we are aware that the marketing field is ever-changing, we often fail to change with it. So, in order to adapt to a new digital environment and possibly grow beyond it, you need to learn from your marketing mistakes and build off of your website data.
I’ve enlisted the help of others in the industry to share what they’ve learned this year, so that you may learn from it too. As awareness brings you a step closer to change, you can prepare your marketing strategies and budget appropriately for 2016.
Use our 2016 Digital Marketing Checklist to make sure your website isn’t left behind in search rankings.
“The most important marketing lesson I learned this year was the power and potential of industry specific LinkedIn advertising for our B2B clients. I learned that when a client has content specific to one industry, we can hone in and target our key audience with messaging and images that apply to their industry. This way, it resonates more deeply with the audience, leading to higher CTR and conversions. Our team has seen amazing improvements for clients just by doing this instead of broad, generalized targeting and messaging.”
“We definitely tried to avoid paying for Facebook posts as long as we could, but we just weren’t getting the traction our competitors were or that we were prior to when paid Facebook posting was available. When we finally gave in, we saw that our readership was up 100%. Though, at first, it may seem better to hop off the Facebook business page train altogether than to dish out money for Facebook every time you post something, but you really do get what you pay for and you see results.”
“In general, young people are turning inward toward their devices and friends and away from outward sharing to the masses. How to reach them on more private and anonymous social networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and YikYak will be our primary challenge for the next few years.”
“As for new things that we’ve discovered in 2015 for marketing, it has to be Instagram. Engagement on Instagram has been 4x greater than our already successful Facebook marketing. It’s definitely a force to be reckoned with, and there are bargains now since not a lot of businesses are advertising there yet.”
“I would say the biggest lesson of the year is that optimizing your landing pages for mobile goes beyond making them responsive – you have to think about the asset you’re advertising and whether or not it is convenient to access on a mobile device, and if it’s not, you need to make it explicit to your audience that they can access it at a later time, and it will be emailed to them.”
“This year’s most important marketing lesson for me was discovering how prevalent page speed issues are. When evaluating client sites for page speed issues, none were absolutely perfect. With a handful of relatively simple tweaks, your user’s experience with your site can be vastly improved. Although this applies to desktop, it applies particularly to mobile now that mobile web usage broke the 50% mark. The icing on the cake is that Google takes page speed so seriously — it is now an increasingly important ranking factor for search results.”
Our service-oriented visitors will visit our staff pages before they visit our blog or other resources. That tells us that our potential customers care more about who we are than the content we produce on our website.
“Our Director of Web Marketing recently had an adorable baby girl. We’ve had a lot of success connecting with our audience by posting pictures of her in and around the office. When Baby Ava was promoted to “Director of Cuteness,” that post received 300 shares. In the two to three days following the post, we gained as many Facebook followers as we did in the previous two months combined.
We discovered that people want to see behind-the-scenes. They want to see the personalities and people that make our business run. In 2016, we will continue to take this approach!”
“The most important marketing lesson I learned in 2015 was not to over-automate. A couple years back, marketing automation was all the rage, and rightly so, it still happens to be on fire. However, marketers are realizing that if they set too much on “autopilot,” they risk losing the authentic and human elements of their brand. At a recent marketing conference I attended, this theme was strong among the speakers. Automation is fantastic when used in moderation. But at the end of the day, we cannot automate our way into our customers’ lives. We have to earn their attention, trust, and loyalty through great content and tremendous value.”
“I learned this year to differentiate between what I do and the problem I solve. In the past, I used to just say I was a trademark lawyer when asked what my occupation was. Now, I have shifted it to say, “I help businesses ensure they have the right to use the name, logo, or tag line they have chosen.” If you are in a professional service, most people won’t understand your line of work if you just provide your title. Put it in plain English!”
“The most important marketing lesson I’ve learned in 2015 is to never assume your target market owes you; no matter how great you think your product is or how awesome of content you think you produce, your job is always to give more value that you could possibly ask for in return. Too many marketers, especially in the world of startups, can’t understand why people aren’t flocking to their new app, piece of software, etc., when they haven’t really earned anyone’s patronage yet.
Companies should be first focusing on positioning themselves as the most helpful, educational, and responsive brand in their market before actually trying to hawk their wares, so to speak.”
“Be generous. There’s an impulse in marketing, in business, to want to protect and hide your most valuable intellectual property, insights and experts. To tease what you know, but not share anything of value. This is persistent even with content marketing, where you download useless white papers or sit in on webinars that are really just sales pitches. But if you share freely, if you give away what you know and how you do things, people will want to buy it from you. Give first, then ask.”
“SEO alone is not good enough, and PPC alone is not good enough if you are striving for growth. When SEO and PPC work together, both will grow.”
“It used to be that you could see solid results running an AdWords campaign, or a Facebook campaign, etc., but now cross-channel campaigns have become the only viable option for real results. Multiple forms of remarketing, different social channels, and updated targeting options are all required to successfully introduce a product/brand, and follow the user through the buying process until they decide to make a purchase/contact.”
“Far too many marketing “plans” are based on “we’ve always done it this way,” or because “everyone else in the industry is doing it.” This almost always leads to money being poorly invested and invariably also leads to losses in opportunity costs. The marketing world is changing far too often and far too quickly for any of us to not plan properly, often and with a sense of fluidity.”
“I learned that proper analytics implementation continues to be a problem for many new clients. How can you measure the success of any SEO or digital advertising initiative without accurate analytics? Surprisingly, this issue seems to be more prominent on larger corporate sites, but I understand, measuring things correctly gets harder as operations grow – that’s why having a solid analytics foundation is so important.”
“When customers reach out to you (even if it is to complain), it’s an opportunity to create a positive outcome for them. People who have had a great experience tend to be happy to convert those good feelings into recommendations and referrals. Changing customer service from a tedious chore into a marketing strategy means that we do a fantastic job of keeping existing clients happy, and they spend a lot more time talking positively about us. This brings us more referrals who are high converting because they’ve already heard great things.”
What’s your marketing lesson of 2015? We’d love to hear them below! You can also tweet them to me at @rchapdel.
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