What a year was 2011 for social media and marketing! Things moved at the speed of light, right? I watched and experienced first-hand the marketing and social media landscape change, consolidate, focus, develop and evolve all at the same time.
As I've said before, social media needs to be INTEGRATED into your overarching marketing plan. It's not the magic pill. It's not the hard sale, it's the soft sell. It's not going to blast your sales from $0 to $10,000 overnight. But social media is a powerful marketing tool that must be used in your marketing tactics today. And other important marketing tactics must not be ignored either.
So here are my 8 marketing trends to implement in your 2012 marketing plan. I think these marketing trends are a must for your SMB this year, following how the landscape "ended" in 2011 and are going to be very powerful in 2012. You need to be implementing them in your business to differentiate yourself from the competition and achieve the success you are looking for.
Trend #1 - Humanize Your Business!
At the end for the day, business is all about people, right? Offline and online. People are thoroughly attracted to interesting, sincere personalities and to the human element and the person behind the business. And surprisingly, so much marketing and branding today lacks personality! So it's about humanizing your business through your personality. As we move more and more to doing business on the Internet, this must be translated online.
So how do you inject personality to humanize your business? Look for your own innate special qualities and bring them out. Find your own voice. Inject your own special personality into your brand, and each piece of content. Don't present a watered downed version of yourself or your personality.
Your personality is the secret sauce in your business. Be authentic. Be real. Be sincere. Be caring.
Engage sincerely with each and every person, like you would a close friend. Make every person/client feel special. It's a time consuming investment, but one that will really pay off, short and long term.
This is how you will turn your casual website or Facebook visitors into ongoing subscribers and fans.
Trend #2 - Know Your Target Customer!
So many businesses don't really take the time to get to "know" and speak to their target audience in their marketing content. They just randomly shoot in the dark. This is useless.
Get to know your customer and what he needs. Find their pain point and ease it or try and solve their problem.
Remember, the emphasis is not on YOU, it's on your CUSTOMER. It's all about the customer and what he needs.
Use power statements to clearly define how you will and can do this.
This is a good example of a power statement: "We help [your target market] to [solve this problem or benefit you in this way]."
This is how you lead your casual website or Facebook visitor to take that call to action: click the link, sign up, register, tell a friend, become a fan!
Trend #3 - Provide Valuable Content!
I know, this has been said over and over again. But it's so true, especially with Google's new Panda algorithm.
Providing consistent ongoing valuable content will build trust, and you will be perceived as a reliable "friend" worthy of doing business with.
This is how your casual website or Facebook visitors will subscribe, register, tell a friend, become a fan!
Trend #4 - Do Email Marketing!
No, email marketing is not going away! With social media booming, many people think that email marketing is dying. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's stronger than ever. Don't make the mistake of NOT building your subscriber list.
This should be the #1 priority in your business, the life blood of your business.
Build your list at every touch point. Nothing generates more online traffic, business and long term revenue like your subscriber list.
These names are your real assets. Email addresses are still the most reliable.
Trend #5 - Make Your Content Sharable!
Remember to make all your content, on all your marketing touch points, sharable with plugins and widgets to help spread your content wide and deep on the Web. Facebook has taken it a step further when it announced Facebook's Frictionless Sharing back in September which means once you approve a media partner app, all of your activity within that app is automatically shared to your Facebook page. No need to click any "like" or "share" buttons. For example, if you installed the Washington Post Facebook app, Washington Post Social Reader, which now has 4 million users, each new article you click on and read is automatically shared on your Facebook page. Although this has raised privacy issues, I think these will be sorted out. There will be more automatic sharing apps available for websites and business, so keep your eyes open. With your subscribers having access to their own circle of influence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, they are becoming your evangelists to spread your content across social networks even more seamlessly.
Trend #6 - Get Serious About Customer Review Websites!
It's a fact: People buy from people they know, like and trust. Recommendations from like-minded buyers build shoppers' confidence and purchasing decisions. User reviews and consumer content are the best ways to influence a purchase or seal a deal. Visitors to websites with consumer reviews are more than twice as likely to buy. This will be even more prevalent in 2012.
There are two ways to get serious about customer reviews:
- Be active on customer review websites
- Integrate customer review software within your website
Customer review websites are local directories that allow users to add and express their opinions about the various businesses in the directory. Visitors to the site can conduct a search for a plumber in San Diego and get listings along with ratings and reviews from customers of that business. No matter how you feel about these social recommendation sites, if you own a small business of any kind, it's time to get serious about playing the game and respond! The biggest players are: Yelp!, Insider Pages, Google Maps, Bing Local, City Search, Yahoo Local, Local.com, Merchant Circle
Integrating customer reviews software within your website is easier than you think and really boosts online sales/services. Check out PowerReviews that offer a streamlined version for small-to-medium sized online businesses called PowerReviews Express for customer-friendly, highly-informative product reviews. And it's integrated with Facebook to encourage new customers with trusted endorsements from Facebook friends to drive more traffic back to your website.
Trend #7 - Make a Mobile Version of Your Website!
Because they are so on-hand we can access information anywhere, anytime, unlike a desktop or a laptop. We share our lives, immediately as they happen, via mobile.
At ANY FREE MOMENT, we can shop on line, post on Facebook or Twitter, send an SMS, share pictures or videos.
People are accessing your website from mobile devices more than you know!
Make sure your webiste is optimized for mobile. And continually optimize your mobile site for speed, image rendering, and accessibility. Make sure vistors can view and do EVERYTHING on the mobile version of your website as they can on your regular website.
Trend #8 - Do Mobile Marketing!
Mobile is massive and growing. The future of mobile marketing is bright. Very bright. Examples of mobile marketing include SMS text message campaigns, mobile advertising, iPhone/iPad/Android Apps, and mobile video.
Did you know:
- 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour. (Source: Mobile Marketer)
- Mobile coupons get 10x the redemption rate of traditional coupons. (Source: Borrell Associates)
- It takes 90 seconds for the average person to respond to a text message - 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email.(Source: CTIA.org)
- 250+ million Americans carry mobile phones-over 80% of the nation's population (Source: CTIA Wireless Association)
- Cell phones subscriptions will top 5 billion globally before 2011 (Source: International Telecommunication Union)
- Four out of five teens carry a wireless device; the majority (57%) view their cell phone as the key to their social life (Source: CTIA survey, Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged)
- 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7. (Source: Morgan Stanley)
- The open rate for text messaging is a staggering 98%, compared to 22% for email marketing (Source: Frost & Sullivan)
- Americans spend 2.7 hours per day socializing on their mobile device
- 49% of mobile owners use their mobile device to interact on their social networking sites
- Twitter gets 55% of traffic, Facebook gets 33% of traffic from mobile
A Few More Mobile Facts (can you tell I love stats...)
- Starbucks "Starbucks Mobile Pay" which allows users to pay for their purchases via their mobile phone has processed more than 20 million mobile payment transactions!
- eBay generated $5 billion in mobile sales in 2011 via mobile apps and smartphones.
- Customers who shop on Amazon via their mobile device has nearly tripled since last year.
- Cyber Monday was more like Mobile Monday, according to eBay & PayPal
WOW! Agreed? And this is only going to increase over the next few years! (some more interesting mobile facts)
So there you have it! Would LOVE to get your comments and what you think 2012 Marketing Trends will be. Please add to this list!
Here's to a great successful integrating marketing year for your SMB in 2012. Of course, you should contact me if you need help with this ;-)