A new year is upon us and with it comes some shifts in many marketing platforms, including digital marketing. A recent survey of experts by Forbes Magazine suggests new trends entering the marketplace as companies of all sizes strive to become more visible and reach more customers.
“The digital marketing of tomorrow,” Forbes says, “offers advancements in emerging technologies as consumers demand a more integrated experience.”
We asked digital marketing experts in a variety of countries that are on the forefront of digital transformation to provide their insights on what businesses need to focus on with their marketing this year. The question we asked them to answer is:
For businesses with limited resources what are the two things you’d recommend they focus on with their digital marketing in 2018?
American Digital Strategist Ted Rubin, Co-Founder of Prevailing Path, gives this message to businesses, “tell your story in a way that people will care.” By doing so, Rubin says, “you create a relationship, a connection, a value that goes beyond immediate dollars and cents.”
With every post, update and comment ask yourself, is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise? – Ted Rubin
“Fight quantity with content and engagement quality,” Rubin adds. “With every post, update and comment ask yourself, is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise?”
VIDEO IS KING!
Michael Stelzner, CEO of Social Media Examiner & Social Media Marketing World based in San Diego, CA recommends putting video at the center of a smart social strategy in 2018. “We recently launched a video documentary called ‘The Journey’ and found that there is real interest in short form video storytelling. I would also consider live video, as a low production high engagement content that can really develop a strong relationship with your community.”
Consider live video, as a low production high engagement content that can really develop a strong relationship with your community. – Michael Stelzner
“Live and recorded video is the best low-budget investment due to its massive return on engagement, reach, and revenue,” says Rebekah Radice, Chief Marketing Officer, Post Planner & Founder, RadiantLA in Los Angeles, CA.
“In addition, Less-Interruptive Advertising: In 2018, we’ll look to native ads, bots, and messenger ads to create a more organic, fluid, and natural conversation. Each one brings big returns, even on a small budget.”
“Video and specifically… live video,” is the recommendation from Ian Anderson Gray, Social Media & Live Video Specialist, Keynote Speaker and Founder, Seriously Social in Manchester, United Kingdom.
“Live video allows your audience full access to you, breaks down barriers and communicates the human side of your business. In addition, put personality and authenticity into your digital marketing. Have fun with it! Show your personality and dare to embrace what makes you different.”
Don’t Get Caught Up in “The Flavor of the Week Mentality”
“Choose one home social channel and own it,” advises Canadian Steve Dotto, Founder, and Host of Dotto Tech. “I am not saying that you don’t have to have multiple social networks, that you engage in, I am saying choose one that works best for you and constantly invest in it. When you design campaigns, design them for that channel.”
“If you can become a content publishing machine, consistent, reliable and trustworthy, you will see real growth, and chances are it will be incremental. Every success story I know of in the social marketing space is known for one channel and consistently produces excellent content.”
A Roadmap is Key to SME Digital Marketing Success
Keynote Speaker and Social Selling Expert Melonie Dodaro, Founder of Top Dog Social Media
and author of The LinkedIn Code says, “No small to medium size company will succeed at SME digital marketing without a roadmap that details each step of the process.”
“The first two steps in our seven-step roadmap are messaging and visibility.”
“Messaging needs to be more about the audience, and rarely about you. Talking non-stop about how great you are won’t get you very far. Instead, focus on understanding your audience and speak directly to them.”
“Visibility is all about being where your customers and prospects are and reaching them with messages that are important to them. Your B2B buyers are certainly going to be on LinkedIn, but where else are they going to be? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else? Wherever they are online, that’s where you need to be.”
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IS KEY
Halifax, Canada Social Media Strategist, Speaker and Business Coach Lisa Larter echoes the sentiment that focusing on people and building relationships is the key to success when resources are scarce.
“It’s critical that you double down and focus on what generates the best return on your investment of time and money. Over and over again, relationships pay back huge dividends in business, but I rarely see people invest in that as a digital marketing strategy. Keep your customers close, and strengthen relationships with the people you want to do business with every single day.” – Lisa Larter
“The second thing I’d focus on is quality content and communication so that your message stands out from the crowd and the noise they are making. You can’t expand your reach online if the content you create is less than stellar, and in 2018, people expect your communication to be more catered to their needs, and less automated and for the masses.”
Focus on Quality Content & Communication
“My first reaction is: BEGIN! Don’t feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by the options. Social media marketing is really just an extension of the thing you do best, which is build relationships with your customers. Just use that helpful mindset and watch how easy it can be.” – Mark W. Schaefer
“Second, I think it’s time businesses to re-discover Twitter, which is going through a renaissance and offers many amazing way to discover people who need you and your services.”
Content is King but Changing!
“Content is and will remain king but content is shifting,” says Kim Garst, Co-Founder of USA-based Boom!Social. “It’s all about content that is useful and snackable. People don’t have a lot of time and they want information, quick and easy. Focusing on creating bite-sized content that solves a problem for your community is the key. In addition, social media has evolved to a place where end users are looking for a person or brand that ‘sees’ them. They are looking for a personal experience in the sea of information overload that exists today.”
Begin with video is the recommendation from Donna Moritz, a Digital Content Strategist and the CEO of Socially Sorted in Queensland, Australia.
“Start creating social video,” she says. “I see so many people pushing small businesses to go live, and there’s no doubting it’s powerful.”
“But start with what you are comfortable with. Social video is huge, and you don’t necessarily need to be face-to-camera to create a great video with the tools available. According to Facebook, we are living in a ‘video first world’ so start creating short videos.”
Building “reliable reach” is vital, according to digital business advisor and keynote speaker Jay Baer, the founder of Convince & Convert in Indiana (USA).
“Think more like a TV network.”
– Jay Baer
“The first thing digital marketers need to focus on in 2018 is building reliable reach. Competition for attention is so fierce now, that you cannot just press ‘publish’ and hope to succeed. Marketers must build an audience that they can reach when they want to, with messages that matter.”
“Think more like a TV network,” Baer says. “You must STOP random acts of content, and instead focus on creating distinct, defined and consistent content. Give your audience something to tune in to on a routine basis in 2018.”
“Content is still king,” says Oregon (USA)-based marketing innovator and bestselling author Ekaterina Walter.
“Visual storytelling, in particular, is a must for any business nowadays with video leading the way,” she adds. “On a low budget, you can set up a basic studio and with editing tools like Camtasia you can produce high-quality consistent content that will draw in and engage your community.”
“Every single piece of content should have a call to action leading folks not only to follow you or to check out your site but also to subscribe to your email list, etc. Lead nurturing is as important to any business as community nurturing and valuable and fun content will lead to both.”
Money, Time & People!
“Limited resources can mean many things including not much in the way of a budget, little time or not having the right people to do the essentials.” That’s the conclusion from Australian social media marketing blogger and strategist Jeff Bullas.
“Twitter has been my principal social network source of traffic, connections and list building.” – Jeff Bullas
“If you don’t have much in the way of financial resources I would first test Facebook ads which generate leads for your business. For those with little time I would hire someone to create great content on your blog that adds value to your prospects and customers and share it on your social networks and to your email list.”
“Who doesn’t have limited resources? No matter your business size, you always need more time and more money,” Bryan Kramer, Tedx and Keynote Speaker and author of Shareology in San Jose, CA (USA).
“In addition, ask people what they want! Develop a feedback loop where you can get the answers you need through a survey, quiz or feedback form that gives you what you need in order to move faster with what the customer wants. Remember, you are not the customer so stop guessing and ask!”
“For companies with limited resources, it is imperative that they take a team approach to their digital marketing and embrace employee advocacy by being social from top to bottom,” according to John White, Founder of Social Marketing Solutions and Social Media Director, beBee.
“It starts with executives being active and visible on social media to establish thought leadership in the industry. For far too long executives have been silent and mostly anonymous on social media. They prefer to hide behind the corporate brand and let the marketing department do all of the branding. Customers love it when executives from the brands they follow are active and sharing on social media.”
“Second, companies should encourage employees to be active on social, promote the company’s marketing message and establish their thought leadership. This strategy doesn’t cost a company any money and can be done 100% organically.
“In my experience limited resources are often a matter of perspective,” says Heidi Cohen, Content Marketing Expert and author of Actionable Marketing Guide based in New York City.
For 2018, approach your marketing holistically. Specifically, plan, document and share your marketing plans to get the best results from your existing and new marketing and content while avoiding last minute time crunches and one-off promotions.
Another Vote for Facebook and Video
United Kingdom Social Media Marketing Strategist Julia Bramble is also enthusiastic about using Facebook along with video to reach a large number of people.
“For businesses with limited resources the number one thing I’d absolutely urge them to do in 2018 is to tap into the power of video combined with Facebook ads, which allow you a way of reaching hundreds, if not thousands, of the right people for you with a budget of a few dollars.” – Julia Bramble
Keywords and email can be a tremendous asset in building your business in 2018, according to Ireland Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of the Digital Training Institute Joanne Sweeney-Burke.
“Undertaking keyword research is time very well spent. Use these insights to build out your content calendar for 2018. I suggest you document a list of the top keywords relating to the pain points of your customer. This, of course, should lead them to you because your product or service has the solution.”
“You have to create your own community of loyal followers beyond your social media fans. To achieve this, you must focus on building your email database.”
“My suggestions would be that they need to have a strategy in place to guide them so they don’t get side tracked and chase shiny objects,” says Australian Fiona Lucas, Social Media Educator and Digital Awareness Futurist.
“Secondly that strategy must include customer centric communications which add value and inform – so live video, video and to streamline, leveraging AI through the use of carefully structured chatbots which can also provide relevant information in response to questions.”
Keynote Speaker, Social Media Influencer and Facebook Marketing Expert Mari Smith from San Diego, CA encourages businesses to focus on video content “above all other types of digital content.”
“Video content gets the best reach and engagement on Facebook for both organic and paid. Share your story in your videos: the story of your business, your team, your clients’ success stories, behind-the-scenes, your vision, what your business stands for, etc. Draw your audience in. Use simple tools, including your own smartphone to record and broadcast with Facebook Live.” – Mari Smith
Digital marketing experts agree that building strong relationships, putting out quality content on a regular basis and utilizing video to reach others are the keys to successful digital marketing in 2018. Facebook continues to be a channel that should be utilized to reach the masses as part of your digital transformation, but the marketer’s message must be about the customer and not about the company or service provider.
“Focus on understanding your audience and speak directly to them,” Melonie Dodaro reminds marketers. “Visibility is all about being where your customers and prospects are and reaching them with messages that are important to them.”