October 9, 2015
If you have been running a business for some time, you may have noticed that core business strategies do not change with each passing year. Nevertheless, technological advancements and the explosion of data intelligence have caused the marketing landscape to change drastically for business owners over the past two or so years.
Today, you can connect with a global audience 24-7, thanks to the internet. Not only that, you can build value for each audience segment by serving up personalized messages and content – in their language, according to their income, interests and needs, etc.
Given the speed of technological advancement, information spreads fast and becomes obsolete just as fast. For businesses looking to maintain their brand equity and competitive edge, staying current on up and coming marketing strategies is critical, five of which are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Mobile, mobile, mobile
Last year’s research showed that more than 60% of total time spent on the internet happens on smartphones, tablets and other portable internet-enabled devices, up from 50% in 2013. As technology and the “Internet of Things” advances, mobile usage continues to rise. Tablets have made a full comeback, and are becoming more affordable for the average consumer as are high-tech smartphones.
According to reliable predictions, by 2017, there will be approximately 2.97 billion people accessing the internet through mobile devices, representing 91% of all internet access. Given the mobile-friendly rollout by Google in April, virtually all websites should be mobile friendly by now.
If you haven’t fixed it now’s the time to do so given that mobile device access accounts for more than half of your entire viewership. However, it’s more than just making your site mobile friendly, it’s about understanding the needs of a mobile audience, which are different from the needs of a desktop audience.
Your mobile audience must be given the highest consideration for all future marketing strategies. Consider creating an app, QR Codes, beacons and other mobile-targeted strategies. Take time to collect data on and study your mobile audience, and find appropriate ways to leverage this information to provide value for your mobile consumers.
Today’s consumers have a firm grasp on their true value for companies and businesses, which extend far beyond the money they can bring. The average consumer today is empowered; just one complaint by a customer on social media can cost a business millions of dollars in potential revenue, and one review by a dissatisfied customer can dictate the future of a restaurant.
In today’s world, customer experience is everything, and customer feedback can make or break a business. As the year progresses and into the future, business owners should be concerned with implementing strategies which will enrich customer interactions with the business at all levels: personally, online and otherwise. These are:
- Getting personal – improve personal interactions with your customers by training your staff accordingly; collect their feedback and re-engineer your business accordingly.
- Customizing experiences – having a wealth of information about your consumers. It is no longer enough to send messages titled “dear user/customer” or promote your products and services to people who have no interest in them. Instead, provide personalized ads and message, as well as product information that suits their interests, income levels, buying habits and preferences.
- Building clout – creating brand clout develops a sense of ownership in the brand, builds brand loyalty and encourages friendly competition. Create schemes to reward customers for continued loyalty and hence earn positive reviews from your consumers.
- Offering entertainment – this is a useful way to increase brand recognition and awareness, as well as attract and retain customers.
The main message remains going the extra mile, creating value for your audience, whatever that means in your industry.
Getting back to the basics
While it’s important to remain informed about new marketing trends; industry experts caution against the trap of merely chasing fads and trends. On the contrary, it will be more effective over the long term for business owners to approach every new trend with the big picture in mind.
Analyze your short, medium and long-term goals and then map out your own unique blend of marketing strategies that will get you there. Depending on your line of business, this might include merging yester-year strategies like direct mail with the more recent ones like automated customer relationship management (CRM), SEO, PPC advertising, Facebook Advertising, content marketing, among others.
Digital marketing is undergoing a continuous metamorphosis involving fragmentation of promotion channels. Don’t go for any strategy because some blog or industry authority lauds it. Rather, reevaluate your target consumers and find out what will effectively reach and connect with them, and what won’t. Reallocate your resources and investments accordingly.
Content is now a product
Content marketing has come from an obscure past to become one of the most important strategies available for businesses today. Today, content is like a product – the main product – that a business is ‘selling’ to their audience. This content is about more than just the words and/or images shared on webpages. It refers to everything your audience looks for.
This means that more corporations and businesses will focus on creating content brands as opposed to branded content. As Google focuses more and more on in-depth, relevant, long-form content from thought leaders, content branding is more than just creating content and then throwing in brand mentions.
Content branding that will last is about attracting your audience by giving them an enhanced experience with your content, which is the first point of contact between you and the customer. This will increase their appreciation of the brand, which eventually trickles down to sustainable revenue increase and value addition for both the business and consumer.
Investment towards education and training
This is not only unique to marketing; more than $ 130 billion was spent in corporate training last year, which proves that many organizations have a deficit of requisite skills to remain competitive in the future. If your business lacks certain skills important for your overall productivity, consider training your own practitioners and employees in the required skillset, which can then be used to add value to the organization.
If you don’t train your employees to keep them current with the latest technological and marketing trends, you cannot expect to have a team that will develop business strategies for the future, and you’ll be stuck in a lag where things just keep happening to you, when you should be able to read the environment and lead change.
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