Sell something, you make a customer; help someone, you make a customer for life!
Great marketing is all about ‘helping’ and not ‘hyping’ your customer and that’s what truly customer-centric organisations will be doing in 2014 to gain competitive advantage. The new digital marketing culture is about making yourself useful and invaluable to the customer. So in 2014, think ‘altruism’ - you should be shaping your marketing efforts around the watchwords ‘how can I help?’ - from the content and design of your website to how you listen and respond to customers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other communications channels.
So what else should you be doing on the PR and marketing front to build business sales in 2014? These are our top 14 recommendations.
- Website: long gone are the days of adding a few tags to a website and having it rank on the first page. Google continues to make search ‘think’ more like a human being and less like a machine. That means your website rankings are going to be driven by genuinely useful and well-written content, user friendly design and solid coding. You will need to be creating compelling and textually rich content that includes images, video, and audio, and that fully explores what attracts new customers and keeps them coming back. In other words, if you take care of your customers, Google will take care of you. You can out-position your competition by simply having a better, more helpful/useful website that delivers a better user experience.
- Link content: cross-pollinate your content with teaser links across all media which includes linking to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other social media pages from your e-newsletter, blog and website.
- Search visibility: online press releases, features and blogs – these are now essential for internet ‘visibility’ and you want your business, products and services to be found quickly and high ranking in internet searches. Google’s desire, of course, is to give search engine users great results.
- Images matter! You should be using eye-catching, high resolution images on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and in other online communications. This will lead to higher engagement, more click-throughs, and better response rates to your marketing efforts.
- Personalisation: will continue to grow in 2014 making relevant content and precise marketing more important than ever and not just on Facebook. We can see this trend taking hold on personalised search engines, hyper-relevant e-commerce and even traditional news feeds.
- Short and sharp messaging: consumers are overloaded with digital information so you need to be making your marketing messages short and to the point (the average person’s digital attention span is four seconds!). We'll be seeing a lot more of this type of messaging in 2014.
- Social listening: in the digital world, two-way dialogue mandatory so make sure your Tweeting, LinkedIn and Facebook communications aren't ‘all about you’! Listen, respond and learn from your customers and critics. It’s the only way to build long-term and meaningful relationships with your customers. In fact, you should now be listening to and learning from your customers and critics. Social listening is vital now to product innovation, sideways marketing and sales.
- Leverage your YouTube channel. Add calls-to-action and email links at the end of the videos you upload to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter and include links to your website landing pages in your videos’ text descriptions.
- Social advertising: social media now accounts for the majority of time consumers spend on the internet with 60% on mobile devices. The primary format for engaging on these social networks is the news feed. Your PR and advertising needs to be highly relevant and newsworthy to the audience you’re targeting and not ‘one-size fits all’.
- Think ‘local’: expect to see much more location-based marketing which uses GPS technology to enable local advertising and marketing promotions to be sent directly to a mobile phone in a specific geographic location. This again ties in with the growing ‘personalisation’ trend in marketing strategies enabling organisations to zoom in on customer needs unique to a specific area and moment in time. Already there are social apps including Ban.jo, Path, and Foursquare that provide vital consumer data.
- Mobile phones: 91% of mobile phone owners now have their devices within arm's reach all the time and location-based marketing could exploit this massively. Tools such as Google Wallet are being perfected which will enable people to buy with their credit card right from their smart phone so make sure to integrate the mobile users experience into all your marketing campaigns – from responsive design to compelling images that look great on mobile screens.
- The rising importance of Google+ is something really worth watching. Although it hasn't got to the level of Facebook, it’s being embraced by more and more marketers and consumers.
- Empowering employees and fans: this is about enabling (not mandating!) your best employees and fans to tell your brand story in the digital world. Providing creative content marketing and product innovation through social listening, and giving your brand advocates the means to share stories about your brand.
- Don’t forget email! Last but certainly not least of our recommendations for 2014 is email which continues to be one of the biggest drivers of sales conversions for businesses. So make sure you exploit your email contact list - one of your most valuable marketing assets.
Wishing you a very happy and successful 2014.