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Now that the holidays are behind us and the first month of the new year is under our belts, it’s time to get serious about making some marketing resolutions for 2017. Take some time to reflect upon your marketing strategy. Analyze the successes and failures of 2016. What did you do that increased sales or leads? What actions did you take that didn’t produce results? What can you change in 2017 to make this year better than the last?

Marketing strategy is complex and what will work for you depends upon many factors. However, there are some universal recommendations for actions you must take in 2017 to insure marketing success.

1. Make sure your website is effective. Not just sufficient, but effective.

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Make sure your website is well-designed, easy to navigate, SEO-optimized and looks great on all devices

Websites can be monster projects. No wonder many companies get theirs up and then resist making anything more than minor updates. Happily, websites have become much easier to build and manage. So that fear of “messing with” your website is really unwarranted. Plus, your website is one of your most important sales tools, so it better be good!

When evaluating your website ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is it appealing? Is it well designed? A website that is unattractive will drive customers away faster than onion breath on a first date.

2. Is it easy to navigate? Is your navigation easy to find? Does it intuitively make sense?

3. Does it get across your sales message? Do visitors know what your selling and why your products or services are special?

4. Does it make it easy for a potential client to take action? order, contact, etc. This is often a combination of a clear sales message and navigation working together.

5. Does it measure up to your competitor’s? If you haven’t checked out what your competition is doing – get on it. That’s information you need to know.

6. Is it SEO optimized? Very important. You can hire a company to do this, or many web building programs come with SEO optimization apps that are easily integrated and can guide you through what to do step by step. You just need a little time and patience.

Here’s a link to some great free SEO tools: http://bit.ly/2kjRZId

7. Does it offer valuable content? Will visitors feel compelled to come back? Are you adding content regularly that customers will enjoy? Fresh photos, blogs and social media feeds can keep your site feeling lively and invite repeat visitors.

8. Does it look good on all devices? Most customers will visit your site while on their mobile devices. If your site doesn’t look good on mobile they will move on.

2. Establish a regular and healthy email marketing campaign.

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Email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools for gaining new customers

Surveys show that email marketing is still, despite the rapid growth of social media, perhaps the most effective marketing tool you can employ to attract new customers.

If you’re not already doing it, add an email sign up button or pop up to your website home page. Every visitor should be encouraged to join your email list. They’re already on your site which means they are interested in what you have to offer. These are the low hanging fruit, take advantage.

As far as email design, instead of burying your Call To Action at the bottom, put it prominently at the top. People reading email are quickly scanning. You need to instantly relay your message and let them know what action to take. For the same reason keep your text short and sweet. No long drawn out passages. Fast, quick bits of info are best. Also, consider adding dynamic content. Many email programs now support animated gifs. So use them to add visual stimulation to your email marketing and get more interaction.

Pay attention to email marketing etiquette. Try to gage how often your subscribers want to hear from you and follow suit. Too many emails is a sure turn off. Too few and you’re forgotten.

Don’t send emails that recipients can’t reply to. You’re sending an email to communicate. By having a don’t reply back you’re telling customers you don’t want to hear their input. Not the right message.

3. Make sure your social media marketing strategy is on target.

Research which outlets are best for your type of business. Social media is complex and changes rapidly. Take some time to dig around online and find out which social media platforms are best for what you are trying to accomplish. Instagram is growing like wildfire, but is still used primarily by people under 45. Teens are steering clear of Facebook, but love Snapchat. Figure out where your desired audience is hanging out on social media and establish a presence there.

Post regularly. Make sure your content is fresh and interesting. Tap into what’s trending currently, breaking news, etc. Create social media posts that are relevant and timely. Establish a look and feel for your social media posts that is in line with your overall brand image. Be selective in what you post and your messaging. Social media shouldn’t be a quick fire exercise. You need a social media marketing strategy. What you put out there is how you will perceived. Only high quality images and well thought out messages should be posted on social media.

Not sure what direction to go in with social media? Check out what your competition is doing. Take notes. See what is working for them. Be creative and do it better.

4. Make sure your branding is interesting, appealing and makes sense.

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Your branding must be well-designed, unique and appealing to attract customers and encourage brand loyalty

Just like a bad website, an outdated logo can cause major damage. Think of your logo as your company’s wardrobe. Dress it well. Your logo has to look good if it’s going to gain the trust and loyalty of customers.

Speaking of quality, anything that’s stock must go. Stock gets used over and over. If your logo was created from stock art it will appear in lots of places and variations over and over. This lack of differentiation is the exact opposite of what a logo should do. You want your logo to stand out. To deliver a message. To elevate your brand above the rest.

Ditch the weird. Anything that’s too crazy, ornate, or unreadable must go. Your logo must be appealing! If it’s too funky, detailed or undecipherable it won’t be effective.

Once you have a great brand identity be consistent with it. Decide how it will be carried out across all media. Develop a corporate brand standards guide and distribute it to everyone who will work with your brand.

Not sure if your branding is up to snuff? Read our blog about the Seven Signs You Need a New Logo.

Keep reading for more tips that are vital to your marketing success in 2017!

5. Make sure you’re using content marketing.

Face it, we are inundated with ads. The competition to get noticed is fierce. These days people don’t want to be sold on something. With content marketing you can get your message out there without being in your face about it. If you offer valuable content that interests your target audience and encourages engagement, you can keep them interested and talking about you.

Be consistent with your content marketing. Regularly publish pieces. The more a potential client sees your name associated with a valuable piece of information the more favorably they will think of you.

If you’re unsure of what content to publish, ask. Find out from friends and family that fit the image of your target demographic what they would find useful. Establish yourself as an expert on your subject and industry. Research trending topics online and develop content around those topics.

Find the need to create regular content overwhelming? Do your research to figure out which topics to focus on. Devote some time to researching and creating a great piece of content. Then use content marketing tools to repackage that same content and repost it several times in different ways.

You can get a lot of mileage out of one piece of great content.

Here’s an article with links to many useful tools for developing and distributing effective content marketing campaigns. http://bit.ly/2jvTcYF

6. Include video in your marketing strategy.

Just as an animated gif offers a richer experience than a still photo, video has even more impact. As we are increasingly isolated due to our use of technology, finding ways to give a human face to your company and brand is vital. Video offers loads of sensory information which is why it’s such an important tool. Find ways to integrate video into your marketing via YouTube, on your website, or with other social media networks like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.

Not convinced video is a good way to connect to your customers? Here are some recent YouTube stats to think about:

• 1,300,000,000 -The total number of people who use YouTube – yup, that’s over a billion!

• Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day – more billions!

• YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day – Wow!

Creating videos may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can repackage written content as video. You can use video to tell the story behind your business or a certain project. How-to’s are popular video posts where you show how to do something step by step. You can use video to give an inside peak of your company, without the big sales pitch.

Here are some tips from Facebook about using video on Facebook to promote your business: http://bit.ly/1Lq0tBa

Here’s a fun video by Sunny Lenarduzzi about how using video can boost your business: http://bit.ly/2kL4X2F

Here’s an article and video about using Instagram stories: http://bit.ly/2k9Kils

7. Find ways to develop a personal touch.

As the world has grown more digitally dependent people are seeking more personal connections with those they do business with. Your customers want to know the faces behind the business. They want to understand what makes you tick. Finding ways to personalize your experience with your customers is growing increasingly important.

You can achieve this personal connection in many ways. Social media happily offers lots of opportunities to connect and display the personality of your brand. Use social media to show the inner workings of your business. Introduce individual employees, highlight special days like employee birthdays, or an occasion when a company goal has been achieved. Take photos and video of company events and post them on social media. Reach out to customers and start conversations. Ask questions of your audience. Engage.

You can also add a personal touch to your email campaigns. Program your emails to use the name of the recipient. Personalized contacts yield a greater response studies have shown. If a customer makes a purchase, follow up via email. Send an email to let them know that the item has shipped and another to see if they are satisfied with your product.

Consider segmenting your email lists. Only send emails that directly relate to what your customer has shown interest in.

Here’s a great article from the New York Times about how companies are using data to create curated, personalized content for users and even shopping for them! http://nyti.ms/2kjQE4u

Add dedicated landing pages to your website. So if you send an email with a special offer your customer can click on the offer and land right on a page about it instead of on your website home page.

Finally, one great way to personalize your connection is to actually mail a personalized letter or note. Yes, believe it or not regular mail still exists. A handwritten note is a rarity in this day and age. Take advantage of that uniqueness and use it to stand out! Too busy? Too many customers? Believe it or not you can actually outsource this task.

Here’s a website that will do all that heavy pen lifting for you! www.maillift.com

Conclusion

Get excited! – It’s a new year and a brand new opportunity to get your marketing right! Follow the guidelines above, develop your marketing strategy and stay on top of your marketing plan. You now have more ways than ever to engage your customers. Use those tools to create trusted, long lasting and enduring relationships.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please use the form below to send us an email. Is there a particular marketing strategy or tool that has worked well for you? We want to hear about it.

Nest Media Company offers an array of marketing services and is available to help you make 2017 your best year yet! Please use the form below to contact us for more information, or call 772.766.4926.