So, 2014 is in full swing and by now, you probably have a solid idea about your marketing initiatives for the coming year. With more pressure being placed on marketing executives to do more with less, a sound digital strategy will definitely work harder for your brand than most traditional methods (i.e. print advertising, mailings etc).
For all marketers, it’s important to ensure that any digital marketing campaign leverages all channels in which consumers interact with the brand—social, web, mobile and email.
The following tips are just a few ideas to consider when executing your digital campaigns this year.
When creating content, keep in mind it should be information that consumers want to read and not just information that you want to push out to them.
You also want content to be searchable so define key words and include them in the content that is being created and shared via social channels.
Equally important is to follow the conversations that are being had in the respective industries. Take notice of what consumers are talking about. Also bear in mind where are they talking about it.
Armed with this information you can provide answers and respond to the fodder whether it is positive or negative. The ultimate goal for you is to be informed and create content that is aligned with your goals and represents your brand’s image and voice.
Leveraging Online Reviews
A recent report from Nielsen—the same company that tracks TV viewing ratings—shows that 90% of consumers say that recommendations from personal acquaintances or consumer opinions posted online influence their buying decisions.
Small businesses need to encourage their customers to post positive reviews about them on appropriate sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to create positive sentiment about their brands. You need to understand when it comes to referrals and recommendations people care and trust them more than what the brand has to say about itself.
This is the new “word of mouth,” but instead of one person telling a friend during lunch, she is now telling everyone via these new social media sites.
It is critically important for businesses to have a consistent voice across social media platforms. Social networks are platforms for businesses to create a personal connection and conversation with their customers.
It is important for brands to establish a voice and decide the way in which they will execute it on various platforms. For example, Flooring America’s voice on social channels is friendly and informative about everything related to home décor to engage its consumers—everything from inspiring design ideas to home improvement tips.
The brand deliberately chooses not to focus just on flooring information.
The No. 1 mistake small businesses make when it comes to using social media to strengthen relationships with consumers is their lack of time dedicated to proactively initiate conversations. To avoid this mistake, establish goals that are manageable.
For example, set a goal that you will target conservations with customers on social platforms twice a week and then build from there once you and your business have a feel for how it is working.
Spend time “listening” to what customers are saying as well. This will allow you to identify opportunities to contribute or comment in a meaningful way.
At the end of the day, you as the marketer need to be focused on building stronger relationships with your company’s customers and leveraging social media platforms in a focused and strategic way can allow you to create positive awareness for your brand and ultimately drive sales.
Make sure to consider new and emerging social channels as a way to interact and engage with your customers. A recent article in USA Today, reported that Google+ has seen a 58% increase in users in recent months, up from approximately 150 million active users to more than 300 million active users.
If you haven’t created a Google+ profile, this should be a priority for 2014.
Pinterest, Instagram and Vine shouldn’t be overlooked as other great platforms for you to engage with audiences in 2014. Both Vine and Instagram allow users to create short, compelling videos that grab consumers’ attention.
At Flooring America, members have a presence on these platforms as well as Houzz.com. Members who have leveraged this and Pinterest have started to see results from their efforts. In fact, one member secured a $20,000 sale as a result of pictures being seen on Houzz.com.
Video content is a must for 2014. There is a reason why YouTube is recognized as the No. 2 search engine and that is because consumers gravitate toward watching and listening to videos.
Videos allow brands to make an emotional connection with consumers that can’t be achieved via print. You can easily integrate video into your marketing strategy by leveraging applications such as Vine and Instagram.
For more elaborate videos, you should partner with a professional production company. Once video content is created, share it on your website, post it to your YouTube channel, include links to video in your email campaigns and, lastly, share it on your social platforms.
Last year, at Flooring America, we embarked on a mobile tour where we shot over 250 hours of video customer testimonials. These videos are now being used on members’ websites, YouTube channels and our national television ads.
Consumers are connected like never before. Baby Boomers, moms and millennials have become accustomed to viewing content via their mobile devices. In fact, research shows that the much sought after mom demographic prefers email over all other marketing mediums.
In order to better understand the millennial market, Flooring America tapped into its own members to form a “30 Under 30” council to gain insight into the buying habits of this younger audience.
Keep in mind growing market segments such as the Hispanic and LGBT audience as you look to expand your reach. According to an article in Forbesmagazine, “Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic segment expected to grow 167% from 2010 to 2050, compared to 42% for the total population.”
Your digital strategy can help you cost effectively target these varied audiences by leveraging email, web, mobile and social to create awareness.
The bottom line is as marketers it is our job to create and execute digital strategies that will allow us to achieve the No. 1 business goal—to grow our businesses. Staying ahead of the curve and understanding the latest trends in digital will give you an advantage to acquire new customers and raise awareness for your brand.