I get it. You're over 2016. It's so last week.
And, you know what that means - it's time to make your digital marketing resolutions for 2017.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some suggestions to amp up your business's digital marketing strategy this year.
1. Get organized
Is your online information all over the place? If so, it's time to clean up and organize so you can build brand consistency and boost your local search ranking.
How can you do this?
- Clean up your online information by creating complete, accurate citations with the same name, address and phone number on relevant directories and getting rid of duplicate listings
- While you're at it, clean up your social media pages with correct business information
- Define and clean up your brand messaging: items such as: logo, slogan and brand voice in written content and the way your employees communicate with customers
2. Try video marketing
Don't get stuck in a marketing rut. This year, try something new, like video.
According to this video marketing infographic, a third of all online activity is now dedicated to viewing video, while Facebook and Instagram give preference to video and live video in their algorithms. Friends and followers on these platforms will receive a notification when you go live, and Facebook's rolling out an entire tab dedicated to video, with precedence given to popular content.
Here are some video marketing trends we expect to see more of in 2017:
- Live video
- Video ads
- 360 video
In case you missed it, this year Mark Zuckerberg's daughter, Max, took her first steps.
Zuckerberg captured the event on 360 video, noting that:
"When I was a baby and took my first steps, my mom wrote the date in a baby book. When my sister's children took their first steps, she recorded it with photos and videos. When Max started walking, I wanted to capture the whole scene with a 360 video so our friends and family can feel like they're right there with us."
Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Snapchat are great ways to get started with informal live videos which you can create on your own. Use them to promote specials or show customers how to use your products or services. Give tutorials on small things your customers can do to maintain products, homes, automobiles, etc in between maintenance services or for specific times of year.
3. Refresh your social media marketing strategy
Surprise, another year has passed, and social media isn't dead. Time to dust off that Facebook Page.
Start posting more regularly on your top performing social platforms - depending on your business and industry, this could be any of Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat or Pinterest.
Reply to comments and messages promptly. Share posts just for fun, but also share relevant, industry or location specific posts.
Our social media coordinator, Emily Anthony, says being transparent and telling your story is a surefire path to success.
"Tell your story. Instead of focusing on selling, really commit to telling the story of who you are and why you do what you do. And don't forget to create a cohesive brand image on social media so that your brand is memorable."
4. Start asking for reviews
Have I mentioned that online reviews are extremely important?
I know I sound like a broken record, but reviews are the new word-of-mouth. 91% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and in order for reviews to seem relevant, they shouldn't be more than a few months old.
Digital Strategist Kellie Hanna stresses the importance of reviews:
"Reviews can be the difference between someone choosing your business or going to your competition. Even when a friend refers someone to your business, they will still search online to see what other people think and say about you before walking in to make a purchase."
If you're having trouble getting a steady stream of new reviews, all you have to do is start asking - 70% of consumers would leave a review if asked. So start asking. Here's how:
- Ask customers for their email addresses and send them an email later asking them to review your services and/or products
- Mention at checkout that you'd appreciate a review on Yelp, Facebook, Google or whichever site is the most important for your industry
- Post signs inside your business asking customers to review you
- Leave links to your business's profile on Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. on your website
5. Optimize for voice search
You know the importance of mobile optimization, so I won't bore you by nagging you to do it. Instead, take a look at optimizing for voice search.
With the prevalence of products such as Amazon Echo and Google Home (not to mention on all our smartphones) voice search is more important than ever.
How do you optimize for voice search?
- Research long tail keywords using a free service such as Ubersuggest
- Add those long tail keywords to your website and blog posts
- Keep producing fresh, relevant content to improve your website's SEO and drive traffic to your site (and your business)
- Make data-driven decisions
Once you've got the basics of local marketing down, it's time to optimize and improve your strategy. 2017 is the year to start tracking what's actually working. If you want to be successful in digital marketing (and who doesn't?) you need to know where your money is wasted and where it's well spent.
How do you do that? Follow the data. Keep track of your analytics, and make marketing decisions based on that data, rather than how you're feeling. Track calls in paid ads, dive into the analytics on your website, check out those Facebook insights you've been neglecting all year.
And don't forget to ask customers how they found you. Track sales that happen in the physical world to see how your customers are finding you, so you can weed out what isn't working, optimize your best marketing channels to drive even more sales and use paid ads to be found where you see opportunities.
6. Keep an eye out for trends and updates you can take advantage of this year
Last year, we experienced plenty of digital changes (such as Google's "Possum" algorithm update) and fun trends to take advantage of.
Pokemon GO took the world by storm, and many local businesses capitalized on the Pokemon GO trend. Instagram and Facebook introduced live video, while Google added tons of new features, including plenty of useful AdWords updates.
One of our strategists, Ben Hogenkamp advises that businesses need to keep an eye out for new features to ensure they're maximizing opportunities.
"Take into account all the changes Google made with the AdWords platform in 2016. For example, expanded ad text in search ads and the addition of local search ads in the maps section. Make sure your business goals align with your marketing efforts in 2017, make sure any promotions you are doing in 2017 are represented in your online marketing efforts."
Keep an eye out for those trends in order to constantly improve your marketing and advertising strategies.