2017 was a year of new technology, emerging competition, and better insights. 2018 is all about honing your digital marketing strategy and figuring out how best to stand out. As you gear up for your first quarter of the year, a strong strategy can lead to higher sales, new customers, and sustainable long-term growth.
Things we already know:
Trying to reach 18-35 year-olds? Good luck doing so through online ads and banners. In fact, one study found that users between the ages of 18-35 are more likely to ignore online banner and digital ads more than those on TV and radio or even in newspapers.
“Moreover, 54% of internet users don’t click on banner ads simply because they don’t trust them,” - Jeremy Goldman, Inc.com.
People crave validation and referrals. Need to make a quick decision on what new shoes to buy? Ask a friend. Looking to get a new car? Ask your resident car aficionado. Curious what new country you should travel to? Check out your favorite travel blogger’s site. Customers aren’t spending less; they’re simply asking more questions. Partner programs and channels let companies get ahead of the conversation and help influence whose speaking about their brand and which customers they’re attracting.
As a modern marketer, community manager, or founder; it's up to you to stay up to date and be heard through the mess of online ads and ad blockers. But how? Here are a few things you should try in 2018.
The biggest problem with companies that dive into influencer marketing or large partnerships is that they focus too much on the partner’s brand and not enough on who they’re speaking to. It’s easy to pop open google and look up Instagram’s Top 100 Accounts, but it isn’t always easy to predict how much ROI working with those partners would provide.
It’s okay — we’ve all been there. Social media influencers, large partners, and big splashy campaigns are sexy. Working with people that speak directly to your potential customers, however, is even more enticing. Instead of focusing on a big splash ad or working with large social media influencers, try focusing on partners that connect with your ideal customer.
Start by creating a customer persona: who are they, what do they do, how many times do they need to interact with you before they buy, what problem are you solving for them? Now take a step back. Where do these people hang out online? What do these people do for entertainment? When do you want to reach them? Now, think about who owns the places these people hang out on.
If your ideal customer is a casual consumer that’s interested in wilderness activities and travel, look at travel bloggers that connect with those people. If you’re looking for a young urban professional that’s looking for a date, try thinking about when’s the right time to reach them? Is it on their commute? Is it late at night? What platforms and who are they interacting with at that time?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about ‘what do our customers want to hear.’ Instead of fixating on copy changes and graphics fixes, experiment with timing. There’s nothing more powerful than hitting the right customer at the right time with the right proposition.
Think about a time where you were on vacation, you did something crazy — entirely out of character, not because you overthought at the moment. As a marketer, try experimenting with ‘finding those moments.’
For example, if you’re a B2B software company and you’re looking to influence someone to make a purchase. Think about where your ideal buyer is and what they’re thinking at the time. If your buyer is at work and they’re roaming LinkedIn, they’re more likely to interact with your link than perhaps in their spare time or on another social platform. After all — most people aren’t looking to purchase $60,000/year software while perusing Facebook on their bathroom break (even if they’re the right person). It’s all about timing.
It seems simple, but the content strategy is unbelievably important and challenging to get right (the first time). Creating a balance of helpful content and community-oriented campaigns can improve not only your conversions but also your NPS. If you’ve already figured out who your ideal customer is, now work on making them happy and successful.
Although customer success is a great way to keep your customers engaged and on track — it's better to equip them to be independently successful and excited about your product. Instead of focusing on content for the sake of SEO and sales, try experimenting with feel-good content and spotlights.
Have a client that’s performing super well? Build content around them and share it with your feed and customers. Have a partner that’s performing particularly well? Share their achievements with the rest of your community.
By celebrating the results of your partners and clients (or even your customer stories), you’re setting up new goals for your community to strive for.
An OK metric is when someone becomes satisfied with their performance and doesn’t believe they can improve anymore. A popular example of this when people start learning how to type, they practice, they strive for faster; more accurate results, and then nothing. We’re done improving. Although some people may be happy with their results and quickly forget how they learned in the first place, by pushing to be more than OK you learn new ways to move the dial.
Start by experimenting with a more prominent challenge for your partners, see how they respond. If a few of them exceed your expectations, share their success with your cohort. Often when partners understand where they stand amongst their peers, they’ll challenge themselves to keep up or excel further.
A new year is a great time to start experimenting with new tactics and suggestions. The most important thing to think about while testing out new experiments is how they’ll affect your primary goals. Work backward, explain your thought process to your team, and think about how each experiment is helping contribute to your goals. More importantly, strive to get it ‘a little right’ not perfect.
Modern marketing has been challenged. Potential customers are flooded with endless options and seamlessly endless advertisements. Advocates cut through the noise.
Choosing the right advocates, and making sure they fit with your existing target base and problem set is essential for creating a program that not only works — but scales.
Build a custom partner portal for your program, set rewards, and invite your partners
Rely on automated campaigns, experiment with challenges, and automate the best parts
Generate deep insights on how to optimize, segment, and scale your program