Ready or not, 2016 is here. Our in-house marketing experts have put together a list of the top five online marketing recommendations for high impact results in the New Year. As online marketing continues to change with web user expectations increasing and technology advancing at a rapid rate, a business must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive. Make a point to implement as many of these five key marketing objectives this year to build a solid foundation that will boost your business marketing and extend the reach of your promotion.

Content Marketing:

It has been said that “Content Is King” and this statement has never been more true than in current online marketing campaigns. Content works on several levels to attract potential clients at various positions within a sales cycle. Web searchers are internet savvy and search patterns have changed from keyword phrase searches to those that are question based to garner information. With 85% of searches being information-ally driven, web sites that provide solution based content have a much higher rate of lead generation. Content that turns a site into a valuable resource for potential clients and that is consumer focused gains far more attention in search engines and social media than company focused sales copy. This is called “Inbound Marketing” which provides informative content that reaches a market on their terms, their timeline and when they need a solution. Web sites that offer the best solutions and help consumers have higher conversion rates… the law of reciprocity is in effect, what you give or offer is what is returned to you. The more information and solution based content a site can provide, the higher the consumer attraction will be.

Have you ever really looked at which sites Google returns at the top of their search listings? If you were to take the top 10 ranking sites for almost any search term and analyze those sites based on the number of pages a site has and the length of the content on those pages you would find that, quite simply, more is better. Web sites that have more words on the home page rank better than those that don’t. Web sites that have more pages of content rank better than those that don’t. There are hundreds of factors that go into determining how a site will rank on search engines but the common factor in high ranking site are more pages and more content.

Takeaway: The best thing a business can do in 2016 is to pay close attention to their site Blog. Make sure that your blog is filled with articles offering solutions to consumers that provide valuable insight but also gives them a reason to return to the Blog or to even recommend it to a friend. Each time a blog post is added, it creates an additional page for your web site increasing the size of the site. Quantity is important but never sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.

Track Your Marketing:

Data Driven Online MarketingAll online marketing decisions should be based on data. With technology today, there is really no reason why each social media post, Blog article and marketing campaign cannot be measured. For a small business with limited marketing funds this is especially important. Marketing metrics should be able to track each interaction with a potential client from the first connection through to the final sale. Good metrics allow a business to determine the return on investment for each marketing campaign and how to allocate funds for the greatest return. Most of our new clients have attempted some kind of social marketing but very few can tell us if any of their attempts had traction. In order to make the best use of time and resources a business must know the results of each social media campaign, conversion rates of traffic and which marketing channels have the best results.

Takeaway: This year I encourage every business to incorporate a system that can track interaction with potential clients, determine which marketing channels have the best results for lead generation and adopt a system to nurture those leads throughout the sales funnel.

Social Marketing Calendar:

Social Media Posting CalendarNot only should your social marketing interaction be tracked but having a detailed plan in place for posting is crucial to success. For most small businesses social marketing takes a back seat to the day to company needs or other marketing campaigns but the truth is that social marketing is critical to a good marketing campaign. The majority of our new clients do post on Facebook and Twitter from time to time but they often struggle with what to post and when to post it. Setting up a Social Marketing Calendar can be a valuable asset for building a powerful campaign. We typically instruct new clients to start with Facebook and Twitter and post once a day. We can then look at these posts and start to pull some data. Maybe posts with images gain more Likes and Shares or maybe we can see that content posted later in the afternoon gains more traction than those sent in morning hours. Analyzing social interaction for 30 days can give a good starting point for putting together a calendar.

Once a full 30 days of social posts have been analyzed we can begin putting together a plan with the time of day to post, days of the week with the best interaction or type of content that has the highest return. This calendar can then be reviewed every 30 days and reworked until the best times for optimal results are solidified. We may find that a humorous post with an image generates social shares and can increase followers while problem solving content with a call-to-action generates site traffic and leads. A post with a special sale or product offering may perform better at 4:00 pm than at 9:00 am. A calendar should continue to grow with data becoming more accurate and precise that it should be easy to decide what to post, when to post and what the expected results can be from that campaign.

We post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to reach a target market. Each market segment responds to different social platforms and this should also be tested based on your target demographics.

Takeaway: There are a lot of variables that go into a successful social marketing campaign but a social marketing calendar can save a business a lot of time and energy while increasing productivity. A detailed calendar can help a company increase conversions and take control of their social marketing.

Call To Action:

Call To Action (CTA)Blog posting is great, social media marketing is valuable and good web page content is critical to marketing but without a Call-To-Action, the impact of content marketing is minimal. The majority of blog posts online are insightful and offer abundant information but many of them leave the reader hanging without an offer to read more or connect further with a business. Sure, every site has a contact form or phone number but that isn’t an effective way to build leads. Good content builds trust in a product or a company but reading information on a web site is at the early stage of the sales cycle. A site visitor isn’t ready to pick up the phone and close a deal just yet. This is where a Call-To-Action comes into play. Every blog post, every site page and every social media post should be leading a potential client in the direction of a call-to-action.

A Call-To-Action could be as simple as signing up for an E-book, Newsletter or White Paper or as complex as entering an email address to view a 30 minute video created to offer information or to be sent a 10 part email course on a specific industry topic. Good content is important but the Call-To-Action is what offers enough of an incentive to a potential client to give you their email address or personal information. When considering what to offer for a call-to-action think hard about the needs and questions of a potential client and what they really could need or want… so much so that they will hand over an email or phone number. I don’t give out my email address unless it is something really worthy of acquiring.

Takeaway: Add a Call-To-Action to all of your Blog posts or site pages with the goal of enticing potential customers with quality information so that they gladly send you their contact details. Once you have their contact information you can send additional content or put them into an email drip campaign to nurture the lead until they are ready to buy.

Business Authority:

business-authoritySite authority is the hidden gem to online marketing. It is often overlooked and rarely is much attention placed on it but the value of it is highly underrated. Authority really just means being a trustworthy company.

Business trust comes from business transparency. Web sites that have a phone number, email and full address on their web site have a higher level of trust and quality than those that keep contact information hidden or that only allow visitors to fill out a contact form to reach them. Simple things like a Terms Of Use page or a Privacy Policy statement can also build a positive level of trust.

The most important aspect of building trust is to list a business in as many local business profiles as possible. Local business profiles such as Google Places, Yelp, MerchantCircle and hundreds of other local business directories show search engines and consumers that a business is legitimate. The real trust building factor of these sites is that they allow consumers to leave reviews about a business. A company with poor customer services or that treats customers badly will receive damaging reviews. These local business profiles hold a business accountable by allowing consumers to voice their opinions and rate a business in a forum where other consumers can see. Businesses with positive reviews are rewarded by local profiles ranking higher and consumers can make quick decisions about a business by glancing at ratings and reviews.

Takeaway: This year make an effort to list your company in as many local business directories as possible and encourage your clients to leave positive reviews.