Marketing Metrics

Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye on in 2016

New_Years_2016

At the start of a new year, three things are common. People like to set goals or resolutions for themselves to improve some aspect of their personal and/or professional life in the coming year. They also like to look back and reflect on what happened over the previous 12 months. And, they like to look forward, predicting what’s to come or what will be trending in the new year.

Predicting trends also can help companies plan for the year ahead, by giving them a sense of what will be worth investing in and what won’t be as popular. Several marketing trends are predicted to be a big deal in 2016.

Say Goodbye to Guessing and Hello to Data

In the past, a certain amount of guesswork was involved in marketing to potential customers. You could place an ad on television or in a newspaper and hope that the right people would see it, based on the audience for that medium.

Lately, actual data has become an increasingly useful tool for marketers, and it’s expected to become even more important in the coming year. In part, that is because there is more data than ever. According to Campaign Monitor, 90% of the data in the world was created over the past 12 months. Marketers in 2016 can expect to be able to sift through data to compare response rates when one message is used versus another or to see which call to action generates the greatest response from customers.

Think Mobile First

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 In 2014, the number of people using a mobile device surpassed the number of people using a desktop for the first time; and in 2015, the number of mobile-only users exceeded the number of desktop-only users for the first time, according to comScore. Instead of thinking desktop first and mobile second (or worse, ignoring mobile) marketers in 2016 should think mobile first. That means making sure everything your company puts online should be optimized for a mobile device, from your business’ website to the emails you send.

Video Will Be Big

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Hubspot dubbed 2015 the “year of video marketing.” But, it’s likely that video will continue to be as big, if not bigger, in 2016. Video made up about 57% of online traffic last year and that number is expected to climb to 69% by 2017. Watching online videos made up about 50% of all mobile online traffic in 2015.

Video allows marketers to reach audiences on an emotional level, which isn’t as easily accomplished with written stories or still images. A recent spec ad created for Johnny Walker, by two graduate students in Germany, left many who watched it in tears. The video ended up getting more than 3 million views in less than two weeks, and raised the profile of the brand. It was a win for Johnny Walker, even though the company didn’t create or purchase the ad, showing the importance of emotional resonance.

In 2016, using video as a marketing tool will mean more than simply creating ads and strategically distributing them, however. It’s also expected that live streaming video platforms, from Periscope to Facebook Live, will be a big deal this year. Live streaming gives marketers a way to directly connect with an audience. For example, a representative from a company can live stream their time at a conference, giving interested parties who can’t attend in person a chance to experience what’s going on. A company can also use a live stream to host a question and answer session or events taking place at their headquarters for customers or clients who can’t be present in person.

Email is Still Important

Don’t expect email to go anywhere in 2016. Although people keep predicting its death, email continues to be a strong marketing tool. Campaign Monitor noted that it has an incredibly high return on investment, generating $38 for every $1 spent. Marketers can continue to use new outlets and methods of reaching customers, such as whatever social media network is the most popular at the moment, but email isn’t going away. In 2016, and perhaps well beyond, they will continue to depend on email to reliably reach out to and connect with current and new customers.

 

 

 

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How to get people to share your content

 When you create and publish a blog post, infographic, or other piece of content, there’s always the hope in the back of your mind that your piece will go viral, becoming a social media sensation that people just can’t help but share. It can seem that having something go viral is based more on luck than anything else, but that’s actually not true.

 Getting more people to share your content has little to do with luck and everything to do with art and science. If you’ve noticed that companies similar to yours have promoted pieces that have had more shares than yours (while not offering the same level of quality), it could be that they are doing some things differently. It’s not just what you write about or how well you write about it. How much you write, the tone of your piece, and who you get to comment on or share your content all influence its popularity.

Find the Influence

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Although high school is years, if not decades away for many people, the world of social media is still a big popularity contest. You don’t have to push your way into the “in” crowd online to get shares and attention on your posts. But, you do want to reach out to the proverbial “cool kids” of the internet, the influencers who have the clout to drive views, likes and retweets to your content.

Over at Kissmetrics, Mark Trueman outlines a 3-step to plan to find and reach out to influencers. Your goal here is to have them share your content, whether it’s a blog post, video or something else. He recommends that you start by finding blog posts or other content that covers a topic similar to what you are writing about. You can find similar posts by doing a Google search for the topic and the name of a popular blog in your niche.

Next, you want to find out who has linked to the post and how influential that person is. Bit.ly will not only shorten the length of a URL for you, it will also show you who else has shared the same link, where they shared it, and how many people clicked on that the link when shared.

If a few people got a lot of clicks when they shared a post similar to yours, it can be worth your time to reach out to them about sharing your own post. Keep your email note short and sweet. All you need to say  is something along the lines of “Hi, I saw that you shared this post on this topic. I wrote a post on a similar topic here, that I thought you might be interested in.” Trueman notes that it can be helpful to make contact with the person before you ask for a share, such as by leaving a comment on his or her blog, but you can also try cold e-mailing people.

Look on the Bright Side

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It turns out that people like to feel good when they read or look at content online.  A study conducted by BuzzSumo looked at 10,000 of the most shared pieces of content on the web. As part of its analysis, the company assigned an emotion to each piece. It turned out that the pieces that caused people to feel awe, amusement or to laugh were the most likely to be shared. A quarter of the popular pieces awed people, while 17 percent made them laugh and 15 percent caused amusement.  Joy was another popular emotion, at 14 percent.

On a similar note,  research from Dan Zarrella, a “social media scientist,” finds that people are less likely to follow social media accounts that use a negative tone. Looking at more than 100,000 accounts, he found that the more negativity on the account, the fewer followers it had.

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Go In-Depth

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While you might think short and sweet pieces end up being more popular on social media, BuzzSumo’s research suggests the opposite.  The longer a post or article is, the more likely people are to share it. The company’s research found that pieces with more than 3,000 words were more likely to be shared than pieces with fewer than 1,000 words.

Part of that might have to do with the fact that there isn’t much online when it comes to long-form, in-depth posts. According to BuzzSumo, there are 16 times more short-form (1,000 words or fewer) posts than there are posts with 2,000 or more words. It does require more time and effort on your part to write an article or blog post that is more than 2,000 words. But, if it ends up increasing the reach of your content, the extra effort can be well worth it in the end.

Getting more people to see your content is a worthwhile goal, especially in the competitive world of content marketing. But, remember that getting shares is just part of the process. You want to keep producing content that is high quality and that will keep people coming back for more.

How to make the most of content marketing

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As more and more people are able to skip or otherwise avoid the commercials that play during TV shows or bypass ads online, marketers have gotten smarter about the way they reach out to consumers. With content marketing, the focus is on providing useful information to a consumer, instead of directly pitching a product or service to him or her.

When well done, content marketing builds trust with consumers, ultimately converting them into customers. Selling isn’t the direct focus of content marketing, even though the goal is to win people over.  Although it can be more effective than traditional marketing and advertising, there are a few potential issues with content marketing.  For one, it’s getting to be a crowded field out there, so it can be tougher to make your company’s content stand out. There’s also a tendency to “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” when it comes to content, instead of figuring out which methods make the most sense for your company. Whether you have been using content marketing for some time now or are just getting started, there are ways to make it work best for you.

Find the Balance Between Quality and Quantity

There was a time when having the most content was better than having the best content. But, now the focus is on quality over quantity. That said, there is still some value in finding the best ways to reach your audience and in trying multiple approaches. For example, putting out one blog post per month, even if it is well-written and fun to read for your audience, is probably not going to help you  make the most of your content.

Along with producing top-quality content, you need to find the way to get it in front of your customers. That can mean writing a blog post, then promoting it over social media and email. It can also mean turning the subject of an excellent or popular blog post into a video or a podcast, so that it can reach an even greater audience.

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Know Your Audience

Different demographics consume content differently. For example, as this infographic from NewsCred shows, the Millennial generation is most likely to find content through a Google search or on Facebook and is most likely to share content they like on Facebook. That means that if your goal is to reach people in their 20s and early 30s and you’re not focusing on Facebook, you’re missing the a big part of your intended audience.

Focus on the Memorable Aspects of Your Content

Once you know who you’re directing your content to, the next step is to find a way to make your content memorable or to make it stand out in what’s most likely a very crowded sea of content marketing. The best content does three things:

  •  Tells a storyContent that tells a story not only stays with a customer longer, it also creates a fuller picture of what your company is doing and makes your business more relatable. When reading a story on your blog, a customer might be able to put him or herself in the shoes of the person the story is about or otherwise relate to it.
  • Uses descriptive language or imagery. Descriptive language or eye catching imagery also makes your content worth reading.
  • Sparks the customer’s imagination. No one wants to read a blog post that’s just a bunch of numbers or raw data. They want something that sparks excitement and something that helps them imagine what working with your company or otherwise being part of the story would be like.

Measure Your Marketing

If you aren’t measuring your content marketing in some way, you have no way of knowing how it is performing or whether it is worth your time to keep going in the same direction. One way to measure your marketing is to look at who is coming to look at your content, how long they are staying, and whether or not they take the time to look at other pages on your site.

One tool that can help you measure your marketing’s data is Google Analytics. When you placing a tracking code on your webpage, you are able to see what types of content are doing the best and what sources are directing the most people to you.

Although it’s a useful tool, content marketing can be a big waste of time if it doesn’t ultimately convert readers into customers. Finding what works and measuring results allows you to maximize your content marketing without putting too much stress or strain on your company.

It’s 2015: Four PR and marketing New Year’s resolutions to make (and keep) for your company

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The champagne corks have been popped, the clock has struck 12, and the ball has dropped. That means it’s another new year, and time to make resolutions to improve your business, your marketing strategy, and your overall reach in 2015.

New year’s resolutions can fall into the realm of cliché — who hasn’t resolved to lose 10 pounds or to spend more time at the gym, at least once?– but they can also be a useful tool for revamping your company’s marketing and PR strategy in the coming year. As 2015 gets underway, a make resolution or two to enhance your company, increase its reach, and broaden its customer base.

Reflect and Plan

The start of the new year is a time for looking forward, as well as a time for looking back and reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in terms your marketing and public relations strategy in 2014. You can look back on a particular campaign and examine the aspects of it that brought in more customers or aspects of it that were more challenging than needed or that didn’t pan out the way you had intended.

Once you’ve looked over key events from the past year, resolve to lay out a plan for the year to come. What’s on the calendar for your business in 2015 and what do you hope to achieve over the course of the next 12 months? Your plans for 2015 don’t have to be set in stone, but it is helpful to have a basic outline to serve as a guide.

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Tweak Your Social Media Strategy

Take a look at how your company is (or isn’t) using social media and resolve to improve upon it in 2015. A first step to take is to look at each social network you are (or aren’t) using and determine the type of customer your company reaches, or could reach, on that network.

People use different social media sites for different reasons, as this report from Business Insider demonstrates. Someone is likely to turn to Twitter for news, to LinkedIn to connect with fellow professionals, and to Pinterest or Instagram for lifestyle help.

Figuring out what you’ll say to your audience on various social media platforms is just step one. If you haven’t been the best at actually posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like, 2015 is the year to get that underway. Start small and resolve to post at least once a day to the social network that’s most likely to appeal to your customer base or audience. As the year goes on, add new networks to the mix. One way to figure out the best social media networks to use is to take a look at where your website is the most popular. SocialCrawlytics crawls your site and provides you with a report that lets you know how often it has been shared and on which networks.

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Commit to Blogging

What’s one way to generate more leads for your business in 2015? Start a blog or commit to posting to your already existing blog more often. According to an infographic from Digital Insights, B2B marketers generate 67 percent more leads by blogging. The majority of people online, 77 percent, read blogs. Blogging also gives you something to share on social media, and keeps your audience in the loop about what is going on in your industry and in your business.

Make Your Goals Measurable

You’ve made your resolutions and now the big question is: “How will you keep them?” The answer is by setting trackable, measurable goals. If you’ve resolved to blog more, for example, set a goal of creating at least one post per week. If you’ve resolved to make better use of social media, set a minimum number of posts per week, then track how well each post performs.

Your goals don’t have to be directly related to your resolutions, either. In 2015, you might aim to expand your company’s media coverage, for example. A measurable goal might be to have your company mentioned in one additional print or online media piece per month. Another measurable goal might be to increase your customer base by 10 percent over the course of the year.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t necessarily made to be broken. Use yours as an excuse to improve upon your company’s marketing and PR strategy. You might not know what 2015 has in store, but making resolutions and setting goals will give you at least some insight into what lies ahead.

We’re all in this together

It’s a long-standing conundrum in Public Relations and Marketing: how to measure the impact of your efforts on the bottom line. According to a new study, “only 26 percent of marketers are capable of determining their impact on the business, despite advances in data, analytics and technology.”

Ouch.

But there are some interesting insights in the study that can help marketers endear themselves to those watching the bottom line. Not surprisingly, it all boils down to aligning marketing objectives to business goals, which, in turn, can help marketers choose the right tools to prove the success of their efforts.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, particularly in sales or financially driven environments where marketing is often viewed as a cost center to be controlled, as opposed to a critical resource to be leveraged.

But the reality is that we’re all in this together. By keeping the lines of communication open between the marketing team and the C-suite, it’s possible to not only improve marketing and public relations effectiveness, but also to assign a dollar value to these efforts.