2020 is here. For many of you, you’re at a crossroads. Budgets might be set, but the tactics of implementing your strategy may be coming together. Signalfire has assembled a group of 20 helpful ideas to make marketing more effective in 2020.
We’ve broken the 20 tips down into four parts:
- Social Media
- Digital Marketing
- Website Content (blogs, news, etc.)
- Website Optimization
Each one of the tips are ideas you can implement. These ideas are perfect your business’ marketing team looking to improve results. If you have questions about putting these ideas into use, connect with one of Signalfire’s marketing Guides and Outfitters.
5 Social Media Tips You Can Implement
Social media continues to be a rapidly changing environment. Last year saw a lot of major changes in social media such as changes to social algorithms and the elimination of specific metrics such as “Likes.”
Despite the changes, you can still do a lot to improve your social media engagement. There are a lot of tools you can use to “shortcut” the process. Be careful. Social media is successful when you approach it as a marathon and not a sprint. Take the time to connect and engage with your social media community. Remember: you need them more than they need you.
1. Make Sure Your Social Voice Is Consistent
Who does your business sound like? Do you sound sassy? Studious? Do you use short sentences? These important questions impact more than just social media, but are easily demonstrated on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Your social media voice should be in line with your brand’s persona. A brand persona is a characterization or personalization of your business. Creating a brand persona is a helpful exercise that documents who your business sounds like and acts like on social media.
Create a single, detailed description of your brand’s voice. Here are some things you should consider:
- Describe your brand voice in only three words
- How does your brand converse? Are you serious or playful?
- Do you use a lot of technical jargon?
- Find a picture of your brand—something to visually represent your company (a person)
2. Track and Evaluate Your Metrics
Social media metrics or measurements are some of the hardest to define. Is community size or number of page likes important? What was your organic reach? How much engagement is considered successful? Determining which metrics are right for you is important.
To evaluate what you should measure comes down to how you will define success for your social media efforts.
- Have you defined your social media goals?
- Can increased awareness be measured by community growth?
- Does your social media lead generation come to a dedicated website landing page?
- Is your social content getting comments and shares?
3. Be Human
Success in social media is being social. As obvious as it sounds, many businesses lose focus and try to be “all sales, all the time.” Your brand stops the conversation and simply broadcasts. Your social media performance plummets and your community shrinks.
It is important to remember to keep your position in the social ecosystem. You need the community more than the community needs you. Here are some ideas to keep your social media more human:
- Post like a person and not a marketer
- Feature your employees in posts
- Go behind the scenes of your business
- Tell them who is speaking (which teammate)
4. Invest in Your Visuals (Photos & Videos)
Show. Don’t tell. A picture is worth a thousand words. No matter which adage you use, the message is the same. Visuals matter. A real image tells a great story and an authentic video enamors a community.
Using pictures and video on social channels has evolved beyond the perfect or ideal image. Your social communities want to see what you’re really like. Authentic images don’t come from $10,000 cameras and perfectly staged situations. Your social community would like to know what it is really like during a Tuesday night or on busy holiday weekend.
Where can you see a return on your visual investment?
- Hire a freelance photographer or videographer
- If you’re going to do it yourself, learn the basics of photography and videography
- Invest in a tripod or stabilizer for your camera and for sound, invest in a good microphone
- You will never (maybe rarely) get it perfect on the first try—keep shooting
5. Target Your Boosted Content. Then Adjust Your Targeting.
The percentage of your organic reach on most social content doesn’t break into the double digits. You should budget and become accustomed to promoting your posts with paid social reach. There is good news. You don’t have to do it blindly. There is even better news—you can make adjustments.
Popular social channels give you the ability to geographically and demographically target who sees your post—even if they are not following you. For example, you own a dog grooming business and want to run a Christmas special. You’ve created a social post announcing the special and even have a landing page on your website.
You “boost” your post on Facebook targeting everyone interested in pets within a 20 mile radius of your business. By investing in a weekly budget, you see area pet owners clicking and engaging your post. Great! You’re reaching new eyeballs!
Not so great. You’re getting a lot of calls for cat grooming and you’re not equipped to handle your feline friends.
Good news! You create a new boosted post and make adjustments to your targeting to focus on dog owners and not pet owners.
The critical action is to sample your targeting and continually refine it.
5 Insights to Make Your Digital Marketing More Effective
Digital marketing might be a little murky in definition. For today’s discussion, we’re referring to paid search (PPC), retargeting/remarketing, programmatic display advertising (banner ads), and geofencing.
While these technologies might not be used by everyone, some of the principles described may be applied to a variety of different online marketing strategies.
1. Create Buyer Personas for Your Products and Services
Buyer personas are a humanization of different characteristics common to a customer. While every customer is different, many will share similar traits depending on the product or service being purchased.
Mapping out several of these customer archetypes is helpful when planning your marketing efforts. Do you have a Browsing Bob who wanders the isles? What about Determined Deborah who marches in for a specific item?
Buyer personas are frequently mixed up with brand personas. Your brand persona is the voice of your business. While you will only have one brand persona, your business will have multiple buyer personas featuring different types of customers.
Here are some useful links in creating buyer personas
- Hubspot’s Buyer Persona Examples
- OptinMonster’s Buyer Persona Templates
- WordStream’s Guide to Buyer Personas
- Business-to-Business Buyer Personas
2. Focus on Your Customer’s Challenge and Not Your Product
When your prospects are searching the web, they are not looking for you. They are not looking for a product. They’re looking for a solution—a solution to their problem. This is where top of funnel digital marketing can really succeed in delivering fresh prospects.
Focusing your efforts toward identifying, educating, and solving your customer’s challenge will set you up as both the expert and the solution provider. With your focus on solving the customer’s challenge, there are a few other things to keep in mind.
- The prospect may be nervous or unsure in talking to you
- Educate and don’t ask for anything in return
- Don’t make the solution about you, keep it about them
- Only when the time is right, give them a compelling reason why to buy from you
In the end, make sure your touch points and creatives are focused on the problem you’ll solve and not the product you’ll sell.
3. Decide How and What to Measure Before You Begin
Earlier we talked about website traffic monitoring tools and user experience mapping. This is an area where those tools will become even more valuable. Before starting any marketing effort, you want to make sure you’re setup to track the effectiveness of your actions. These measurements and data will be your justification to move forward or make adjustments to your plan.
What data or metric to monitor to determine success is something you must answer. Here are some examples of important performance metrics to watch.
- What was the click-thru rate (CTR) of your efforts?
- Overall traffic volume compared to previous year
- Where traffic is coming from (social channels, search, etc.)
- What was your conversion rate?
- How many leads or prospects were acquired?
- How much did each lead or prospect cost to acquire?
4. Try One Tool at a Time
There are a fleet of digital marketing options you can try. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to do everything at once. Before committing to a full-blown strategy (see the next segment), you should test some ideas.
Here are some ideas you can do to test some of the different digital marketing options. Before getting started, make sure you’ve settled on which metrics you’ll track to determine success. Click-thru’s? Leads? Sales?
Try Search Advertising
Google Ads for search pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is easy to setup. The keyword tools within the Google Ads platform will even help with suggested keywords. Google can even provide you a recommended budget and expected clicks.
Protip: Don’t get spend happy. If your results aren’t performing, it may be a case of refining your target keywords or selecting different ones. Don’t forget to look at the geographic targeting, too.
It’s Easy to Start Social Media Marketing
Social media promoted posts are literally a few clicks away from your existing posts. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have made it super-easy to promote or “boost” a single post. Each platform will have options to target who sees your post. With your buyer persona built, you will have an easier time testing several posts.
Protip: The first few promoted posts will likely fall pretty flat. Look at your best performing posts and create something similar. A word of warning—don’t simply pump out an ad. Remember to talk about your customer’s challenges and not your product/service.
Try Some Geofencing Ideas
To test this, you may need to coordinate with a digital marketing partner. Geofencing is a method of delivering display advertising to mobile users based on their physical location. The ads are displayed on mobile websites and in mobile apps (weather, games, directions, etc.). When the user enters the geographically defined location, the ads are served. You’re not wasting budget on extra impressions.
For example, we work with a local veterinary clinic. To help them reach more prospective clients, we geofenced the local dog parks, pet stores, and even the local animal shelter. By creating ads targeting pet owners we can build awareness.
How can you test this? Here is where your buyer persona helps even more. Where do you have a gathering of ideal customers? A trade show? A sporting event? Opportunities abound when you are focusing efforts on only your prospective buyers.
5. Plan Your Digital Marketing for a Marathon, not a Sprint
We could just eliminate the “digital” from the heading and remind you that marketing is about playing the long game. Yes, there are tales of “doubling my leads in 30 days” but the reality is that applying data-driven marketing practices will be about setting the pace.
Looking at the specifics of targeted display advertising and other “top of funnel” marketing efforts, creating awareness within a specific community is key. The use of buyer personas (you just created those) allows you to focus your efforts, but there are other reasons why you want to be in it for the long haul.
Let’s pretend your business is about to embark on this marathon. It’s all about training.
Know your business before you start. Know your prospects. Research your business landscape the same way a runner will study their route. Where are the hills? Who are the other runners? How do you need to run?
- Commit to the plan. The plan will change as you better understand the race but your commitment to the overall strategy needs to remain firm. There will be rainy days. There will be under-performing periods.
- Do the work. You will need to update content, rebuild landing pages, A/B test creatives. You will be regularly making course corrections. Putting the time in will deliver better results.
- Understand how to pace yourself. Many businesses diving into digital marketing want to go “all in” right away. After three months of furious activity, many throw in the towel. You’re smarter than that. Identify the pace you need to keep. You’ll make adjustments and may even seize opportunities, but the right pace will separate winners from wannabes.
- Don’t get distracted. There will be squirrels along your path. Recognize the difference between a squirrel and an opportunity. Don’t compromise your training chasing the “next shiny thing.”
- Finish the race. See your plan all the way through. Learn and start training for the next race.
5 Website Content Tips You Can Do
Social media, email newsletters, pay-per-click search advertising, and all of the digital strategies you can think of have one thing in common. They’re marketing vehicles. In order to make those vehicles perform, you need fuel. Your website’s content is the fuel to power all of your marketing vehicles.
Website content fueling your marketing can come in several forms. Web content can include industry or geographic specific landing pages, insightful case studies, and educational blog posts. The right content can get used across all your marketing vehicles.
1. Create a Content Plan and Make Sure You Stick To It
Successful businesses using content to develop leads and deliver sales don’t sit at their keyboards pondering “what should I write about?” They have developed a plan. It’s a plan you can create and implement yourself.
Every business has milestones or waypoints through the year. A customer’s spring trade show, customers with fiscal budgets, planting season, or even back-to-school are examples of major points during the year. Of course, your business will have specific “seasons.”
Developing and utilizing targeted content ahead of those timelines allows you to fuel your web content, your social media, and the rest of your marketing. How does it work?
- Print out a full year calendar and spread it out on your conference room table
- Mark your critical milestones or dates
- Highlight your promotional timeline (six weeks, ten weeks, etc.) when you’ll be using social, email, or other marketing channels to feature your event(s)
- Plotting your promotional timeline easily maps deadlines for your content creation
- Work backwards to outline when you need to start writing, create graphics, and schedule posts
WAIT! You are now realizing a lot of these begin overlapping one another. This is why you might be writing next spring’s pre-trade show website content right now. You are also realizing that your social media schedule is filling up fast.
A couple hours of planning and preparation will save you insurmountable hours of rushing and panicked marketing efforts later.
2. Use Basic Keyword Research Tools
Just as effective content writers aren’t sitting at the keyboard pondering their next blog post, successful businesses aren’t leaving headlines and titles to chance. Let’s say you own an auto parts store. You’ve mapped out some great website content, but how do you know what people are actually putting into a Google search?
Welcome to keyword research.
Doing some basic keyword research is your secret weapon in making a good piece of website content a great piece of website content. Your auto parts store? You’ve just written a great article about sourcing vintage car parts.
By doing some basic keyword research, you see that car parts have a monthly search volume of nearly 370,000 searches. Looking into some suggestions, you check the search volume for auto parts. Monthly search volume: 1 million. Which term do you think will work best?
Here are a couple free keyword research tools:
- Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest
- Google’s Keyword Planner (requires you to log in to your Google account)
- Keyword Sheeter
3. Update Your Top Performing Blog Posts
No one enjoys reinventing the wheel. Do you have an existing blog post or piece of web content that is pulling in great traffic? If it is more than a year old, you’re ready for an update.
Instead of rewriting it, you can make updates. A solid update will be more than just changing a couple words. Use your insight and add what has changed in the previous year. Here are some ideas of what to add:
- Obviously, more content—a couple paragraphs can make a difference
- Add images that matter (hint: don’t just add a couple stock photos)
- Re-research your title and header phrases’ keywords
- Check the technical stuff like broken links, old dates, and image alt tags
Just a little bit of work can make a big impact on content already loved by Google.
4. Go Long. Go Deep. Create Long Form Content
According to several resources (Google, Medium, etc.), the ideal blog length for impactful search engine performance is about 1,800 to 2,000 words. Writing that much content might be more than you want to take on, but here are some ideas.
- Look at one of your recent big projects and write a case study that covers the challenge, your process, and how you delivered a successful outcome
- Combine several smaller blog topics into a broader white paper or e-book
- Interview one of your team members about answering the most common questions about your products or process
- Create an infographic about your customer journey and include critical considerations to make the process easier
5. Mix Up Your Mediums with Videos or Podcasts
You can have too much of a good thing. If you have been hammering out great written content, perhaps it is time to change it up. If you’re holding a smartphone, you’ve already got both a sound and video studio at your disposal.
How do you decide which topics you should cover?
- Select blog posts or pages that have the most traffic on your website
- Make a list of the most common questions your prospects ask and answer them one by one
- Show what happens behind the scenes
- Focus on your customers’ pain points and how you help
5 Tips for Optimizing Your Website
We’ve been talking a lot about social media and content that goes on your website, but what about optimizing your website. Don’t be afraid to “pop the hood” on your website and get your hands dirty. Most websites that have a CMS like WordPress give you incredible access and tools for you to get your website humming. If you start diving in and feel you’re in over your head, just give Signalfire a call. We’ll be able to support you.
Protip: Always make sure you run a backup of your website before doing anything. If your website hosting provider doesn’t provide backups there are several backup plug-ins that work well. We recommend checking out:
Here’s a list of things you can do to make your website run better and deliver better results.
1. A Technical SEO Checkup You Can Do
Search engine optimization (SEO) used to be this complex maze of smoke and mirrors controlled by a mad scientist behind a curtain. Not any more. If your website is built on a CMS platform such as WordPress, you likely have the tools you need to give your website a solid SEO foundation.
Here’s a list of things you can do to give your website a technical SEO tune-up. The links shared here are just my opinion. I have no affiliate agreements.
- Run a free test to evaluate your website such as this one from Neil Patel
- If you’re running WordPress, I recommend using the Yoast SEO plug-in to keep tabs on things
- Rewrite headers to include high search volume keywords (remember the keyword research discussion)
- Make sure you create critical metadata such as descriptions and page titles for every page
Protip: Don’t copy and paste the same material for each page because Google will ding you for duplicate content
- Run a broken link checker to make sure you’re not sending site visitors to dead links
If you’re interested in getting more into SEO, we’ve got a couple great articles to help get you started:
2. Monitor Your Traffic and Site Visitor Experience
Measuring your website’s performance is a fantastic way to see if your marketing is paying off. But not all website traffic is created equal. You can monitor and track traffic that is delivering leads and what traffic is just passing through.
In addition to monitoring your traffic, you should consider how site visitors are interacting with your website. Where are they clicking? How far down are they scrolling? Insight into your customer’s experience is hugely valuable.
What are some tools for monitoring traffic and site visitor experience?
- Google Analytics to monitor traffic, site visitor goals, and conversions
- Google Search Console to monitor your website’s performance with Google search
- Moz.com or SEMRush.com to monitor overall site performance compared to competitors (plus they have some super-useful keyword performance tools)
- HotJar will provide user experience tracking such as click-mapping, scroll-mapping, and even experience recordings
3. Free Page Load Speed Testing Tools
In our current world of mobile-focused traffic, how quickly your page loads for users on any device is impacting your website’s performance. In fact, slow loading pages are actually pushed down in search results. Even if you have a mobile responsive website, how can you check if your website is loading as it should?
Here are some tools that test the speed and give some insight into performance.
- Google – mobile specific testing tool
- Google – general site testing tool
- Pingdom – speed testing, but also shows where the “hang-ups” are for slower speeds
For websites that are very mobile-focused, we recommend getting familiar with Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP. Google and other search platforms have long stated they deliver preferential treatment to AMP-enabled pages in mobile searches. If your business has a lot of mobile traffic, AMP might be a good investment. Here’s a great summary!
4. Prioritize Your Email Newsletter Signups
Imagine if Facebook decided to shut down business pages. If LinkedIn got shut down by Microsoft, what would you do? Out of all of your marketing vehicles (social media, etc.), email is one of the few direct links you have with prospects or customers.
Email remains one of the most impactful and effective ways to reach buyers. Most businesses under-utilize email or simply do it wrong. Delivering the right content to the right people is the name of the game. If you’re looking to get more out of your email efforts, give Signalfire a shout.
One tactic that stands out from the others is the need to continue gathering email addresses. Here are some ways you can gather more addresses.
- Ask for it. It might sound overly simple, but how often do you ask customers for their email addresses? Collect business cards?
- Pop-ups. I know that everyone hates them, but they’re crazy effective when set up right
- Incentives can make a fantastic lure. Extra savings, early access, or special giveaways are ways customers feel the value of being connected to you
- Email address in exchange for high-value content. Secret Method to Guarantee Repeat Shoppers! Download this guide by submitting your email address. Sometimes called “gated” content, it is a value-focused way to get that prospect.
Protip: Tell prospects or customers who are signing up for your email exactly how you will use their address. Reassure them it won’t be sold, you won’t bombard them with spam, and you’ll respect their wish to unsubscribe.
Once you have the email addresses, you need to treat them with respect. Give that list actionable content that is valuable to them!
5. Optimize Your Call to Action / Contact Forms
Congratulations! You have fought hard and spent significant time and treasure to get the user to your contact, lead, or signup form. Don’t blow it at the finish line. Overly complex or excessively detailed forms will have your prospects bailing on you.
You need to keep your online forms simple and focused on a few critical elements.
- Design the form for mobile users
- Keep the form short and sweet — get additional details from later conversations
- Single column layout—easy trumps cleaver
- Be clear on which fields are required or optional
- Use action text for your completion button (sign me up, download e-book, etc.)
- When done, take them to a separate page that says thank you and what will happen next
This is the single most important page. Ever. The “thank you” page should be treated like the winners circle in racing. Just think of all of the hurdles that prospect has overcome and how far they’ve come through the buyer’s journey. Reward them. Thank them, but also make sure they know what to do next.
- How soon will you hear from us?
- What are the next steps?
- Follow us on social media
- How to contact us immediately?
This is your chance to establish expectations and chart a path for your newest customer.
How Can You Get It All Done?
This is a lot to accomplish! It can be scary to get started. The good news is that there are four sections to our list. One for each quarter of 2020. You can do it! You can use this article as a map or schedule to attack each of these items in turn.