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Digital Marketing: Will 2017 Be a Game Changer for Your Brand? Or Will You Be Left in the Dust by Your Competitors?

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Whether you’ve come to embrace it or not, digital media is here to stay. And to be perfectly honest, it’s becoming MORE vital to the future of your brand, not less.

And if you’re still not buying it, let us explain the major impact a digital plan can have on your overall marketing plan.

  • It shortens your sales cycle. Did you know that it takes anywhere from 8 to 20 interactions with your brand before a customer is ready to buy from you? The more those interactions build trust with your brand, the shorter your sales cycle will be. Because a strong presence online indicates a solid, reliable brand, people are more likely to trust that you’ll provide the experience you promise over time when they see this reflected across your online presence.
  • It builds deeper relationships. Growing a brand isn’t just about finding new customers. It’s about cultivating your relationship with your current customers. Digital tools offer the ability to connect with your audience with a one-to-one feel, in a way that’s actually one-to-many. Which is to say, it’s a huge time saver.
  • You’ll see better conversion rates. Brands with a strong digital strategy are growing anywhere from 25% to 50% faster than brands without one. There’s no question that people are living their lives online more so than ever before. If your brand isn’t connecting with your audience while they’re spending time online, then you’re missing an opportunity to connect with them in a meaningful way, through a mechanism that’s already part of their daily routine. Or worse – letting your competition step in where you’re not even participating.

So what does this mean for you? For starters, it means you need a strong digital strategy guiding your path into 2017. This is a plan for digital marketing that melds with your traditional marketing tactics, maximizing all of the ways you’re currently finding new business. Below, we’ll walk you through the basic steps that go into identifying what digital tools are right for your brand in 2017.

Figure Out Your Goals for 2017

Before you start identifying HOW to reach your target market, you need to know what you’re working towards. Solid, tangible goals are the best way to start off any kind of marketing plan. What are your revenue goals for 2017? How much new business do you need to take on between January and December to hit those goals? What do you want to change about customer relationships with your brand? Lay these out in concrete terms before you move on to anything else.

Identify What’s Working Now

The first step to planning your digital strategy for 2017 is to figure out what’s working for your brand today. Where are you currently generating new business? What’s your click thru rate on social media, your blog, newsletter, articles you author for other sites, ads you’re running, etc.? Here’s where you should be looking for that information (or what you should be setting up if you don’t already track ROI…):

  • Google Analytics: Possibly the most important tool for tracking how people find you online, Google Analytics tells you the demographic of who is visiting your site, what they’re looking at, where they drop off of your site, and how they got onto your site in the first place.
  • Newsletter metrics: Your newsletter service should be tracking the basic metrics of who opens your newsletter, what they read, what they clicked on, etc. This tells you what’s working and not working in terms of the content you’re pushing out to your audience.
  • Social media metrics: If you don’t already have business accounts set up on your social sites (i.e. Facebook PAGE for your business, Instagram business account, etc.) do that now. This is valuable information that you can use to track what’s interesting to your audience over time, and specifically when your audience is most likely to view your posts.
  • Ad tracking: depending on how you run your ads, review your click thru rate and cost-per-click. Conversion rates are important to understanding how much it costs you to gain a follower, customer, subscriber, etc.
  • Frequency of posts: Internally, you should be keeping an eye on how frequently you send out content, and what the engagement on that content was. This is more of the 10,000 foot view – for example, if you sent out a newsletter sporadically three times last year, and expected to see 25 new clients out of that newsletter but only got 5, the issue is probably the inconsistency of your send rate, as opposed to content. However, if you diligently sent out one newsletter a month and only found 5 new customers, there’s probably something that needs to be tweaked in the type of content you send out.

Next, you have to decide what’s working well, what needs to be fixed, and what needs to be scrapped. The metrics above, along with the time invested into each tactic, can help guide you through this process.

Check Out the Competition

While you don’t want to simply copy what your competitors are doing, you should be ready to take their ideas and make them your own if they do work. Fore example, keep an eye on how they tie their digital strategy into their live events or tradeshow booths. How are they getting – and staying – in front of their target audience? What does their social media strategy seem to be? These are things that can help you refine your strategy – or find new tactics to try.

Evaluate Your Time Investment

Remember that anyone can create a plan for the new year that sounds great. But if it’s not realistic for you or your team to implement, then it’s not worth anything for your brand. Figure out how much time you have to dedicate to marketing each month, then prioritize your tactics by month to make sure it’s actually attainable.