A survey given to professional marketers in the United States reveal that in 2017, the most crucial digital marketing investment to seriously consider is a brand website. More than 62% say that having a website is the most effective way to reach your target market although one must not exclude email marketing and the use of social media. This three-prong approach is, by far, a must-have when defining your marketing goals for 2017.

The Unbranding of a Brand Website

There is nothing new about having a brand website. It is a long-term investment that demands time, resources, and fresh dollops of creativity and uniqueness in order to attract your desired market. Probably the main reason why anyone would balk at creating a brand website is the overall cost. In 2017, the trend will be to “uncommercialize” your brand website so you focus more on the soft sell rather than the hard sell. It will still require some investment and possibly a mindset adjustment.

Fortunately, there are ways to build your brand website without spending a fortune or making ghastly unbranding marketing errors. The basics of branding for 2017 include:

  • Branding is constantly evolving, a mental perception others have of your business
  • Effective branding will sell your business as one of the – if not the go-to website – in your respective industry
  • Subtle digital branding affirms your credibility and boosts loyalty

Branding should supply the following answers:

  1. My business is known and appreciated because ______.
  2. People share and talk about my product because _____.
  3. My products can influence the positive actions of others because _____.

Your brand website should be able to establish a connection between you and your customers. If you can do this, you will make it easier to realize your 2017 business goals.

Enhancing your eMail Marketing Plan

Still connecting to the trend of humanizing business in the global market is the new trends in email marketing. Instead of trying to solicit interest and business by sending out digital flyers through the email channel, the idea is to tell a story without misleading or falsely representing your business.

Today, people would rather follow an unknown brand that is truthful and transparent but able to emotionally connect with its visitors than follow a brand that is cold and demanding. Thus, instead of flashy advertising and marketing gimmicks, consider real tones from real people veering away from the strategy of “Buy, buy, buy!”

Focus on the value rather than the quick sale.

Social Media in 2017

This year will be the year of personalized content.  This will require the intense use of analytics and profiling to get the marketing mix right. Businesses with a defined market (doctors, architects, mothers, students) will have an easier time finding the perfect content compared to businesses that cater to a wider spectrum. However, with good organization, personalized content is very manageable.

At the same time, there is a move towards more interactive content which should help tremendously in building brand awareness.

Marketing in 2017 should also include venture into virtual reality or the 360 degree video. Using one of the GoPro cameras (or its equivalent) makes it easier for small to medium business owners to improve their content with quality videos.

Finally, Livestreaming has taken a life of its own as more and more people are using it to market their brand. This option makes it easier to “tell your story.”

If you are planning your marketing for 2017, do consider these ideas and add them to your goals for the year. These are certain to help you develop deeper relationships with existing customers and expand your customer base by offering value over the typical hard sell.

Most businesses go through at least one period a year when sales are low and there is hardly any activity in the office or store. The dreaded off season is a challenge not only in trying to stretch your dollar to meet all financial obligations and business overhead expenses, but in staying busy and keeping the business from looking like a 24/7 graveyard shift.

There are four goals you can work on during off season which will pay huge dividends for when your sales start to pick up. In fact, it is even possible that by achieving at least one of these goals, you will be able to cause sales to pick-up and shorten the off season period!

Goal Number One: Start working on upgrades and/or renovations

If your business sorely needs a facelift, this is the time to do it. You will have to plan this carefully during your peak season so your cash flow does not suffer.  Although if you want to work on upgrades right now because it is your off season, start with low-cost changes. These could be:

Goal Number Two: Expanding your network and database

The time to grow your database is when you don’t have to go heavy on marketing. Build your email marketing list, convert visitors to your website to subscribers, get in touch with previous buyers and remind them you are still around, and push hard on new and valuable content to generate leads.

You can also work on improving your calls-to-action or CTAs with a blog or tempting offers. Basically, you have to work on improving traffic and quality of traffic. You want to get the right people to your business site; potential customers or clients.

Goal Number Three: Solicit Reviews and Testimonials

If you have been in business even for a few months, you will be able to gather reviews and feedback from previous customers. Just be careful not to overwhelm them with requests for reviews or you could get tagged as a spammer. This is a critical phase in any business because today’s consumers are using reviews to help them decide on a purchase. Around 70% check online reviews before buying while 88% say that reviews have changed their buying decisions.

There are different ways to generate customer reviews:

  • Chat with them if possible through email or when they are on your website
  • Make it easy and simple for people to post reviews
  • Post comments and thank those who offer reviews. In fact, answering negative reviews show a pro-active stance of a business owner who is not close-minded and willing to listen

Goal Number Four: Keep your social channels active and dynamic

There is one huge misconception about social media. A report released last September revealed that Millennials are not shopping through their social media accounts! However, this does not mean that social media should be abandoned. On the contrary, social media is all about branding and brand awareness. Thus, keep working on your social media marketing because consumers are learning about exciting products and promotions through their social media accounts – and they are on their social media accounts at least one hour a day.

 

 

Robot Running FastWhen we hear the phrase “artificial intelligence,” what comes to mind is often the stuff of science fiction movies. Robots that take over the world, computers that drive cars, and robots that become our friends.

In the world of business, however, artificial intelligence is the next big thing in digital marketing, but its uses are a little less romantic. First, what exactly is artificial intelligence? According to Wikipedia, “Artificial intelligence” (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines…. when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving.”

So what are a few ways AI is used in real-world marketing?

  1. Chatbots, or bots, are basically computer programs that allow people to chat with computers. Businesses can use them to provide automated, human-like customer support, e-commerce recommendations, and other interactive experiences. One bonus is that it’s available any time of day or night. The bot can be programmed to provide product suggestions based on the conversation, or even display relevant ads during times when the “agent” is “researching” an answer to a question or finding a solution to a complaint.

 

  1. Speech recognition is something AI can be programmed to do, which can translate (pun intended) into widening a company’s customer base. When more people can talk to a search engine or communicate with customer service using their native language, business can be enhanced.

 

  1. If you use Facebook, you’ve already likely noticed ad targeting. Advertisements relevant to your last comment or “like” almost magically appear in your newsfeed. AI is used for ad targeting, and Facebook is just one platform where it’s used effectively.

 

  1. Website design is an exciting, new way that artificial intelligence is being used by businesses. One company, Grid, boasts that companies can have a website that builds itself and evolves as content is added over time.

 

  1. Finally, and maybe obviously, AI is put to good use via search engines. Users are just regular people asking regular stuff, and they may not know the most eloquent way to get good results. Artificial intelligence can help figure out what people are trying to ask, and can quickly get them the search results they probably need. This technology can help businesses when they use search engine optimization (SEO) to build their sites. And with websites that build themselves, SEO is seamlessly integrated.

 

Want to take your company to the next level? Spend some time researching artificial intelligence and how you can apply it to your marketing ventures. If you don’t, you’re sure to miss out on this soon-to-be essential digital marketing tool.

 

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Any serious Internet marketing strategy should include social media as critical to its success. While having a website is the bare minimum, it’s unlikely to get much traction without social media. Just like any other marketing technique, however, there are several choices of platforms and methodologies to consider.

First, you need to know who your audience is (or who your audiences are). Where do they prefer to hang out online? Each platform has a mixture of users, and your business may also have a mixture of audiences. But without this information, you may wind up focusing on the wrong platforms, missing out on others that would be better for your business.

Research whether or not your audience uses a platform to take action or just to find information. And decide if this aligns with your company’s goals. While many users may be on one platform, they may be just hanging out for entertainment purposes. You may have to spend more money to place ads or maintain a presence there than with another.

This article just touches on some of the major social media platforms for marketing, but it’s only a start. If your budget allows in-depth marketing trials and analyses, thoroughly investigate each one. If not, try a few that make the most sense. Just start somewhere.

Facebook

Facebook is a household name, and most major companies have a presence. Businesses can put up a simple page or launch full on campaigns. Surveys, polls, daily (or even hourly) postings, conversations with readers, and even Facebook apps are all examples of ways to enhance a Facebook presence. Even though there should be a link to your company’s website, some companies use Facebook as a makeshift website.

Twitter

Millions of readers use Twitter to find out about news as it happens. Having a Twitter account lets companies interact almost immediately with their customers and prospects. From writing witty content during major events to using hashtags for people to follow, Twitter is a major player in marketing businesses. Like Facebook, written content is the main way it connects with readers, though images and video are quickly gaining favor.

Instagram

Instagram’s platform uses primarily images/photos and videos to communicate messages to its users. This works really well with a company whose products are interesting, or those who have a message that is enhanced with the spoken word. It’s growing in popularity, and it is often shared to other platforms.

LinkedIn

What’s notable about LinkedIn is that many of its users don’t use Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn caters to businesses, so if your company is B2B, this is the platform for you. Like the others, it can be connected to other platforms, but don’t overlook its power as a marketing and networking tool. And LinkedIn is always testing new ways to build its brand and increase its value.

Blogs

The last platform we’ll cover here is blogs. Blogs are just websites that post new content on regular basis – sort of like an online newsletter or magazine. Businesses can teach readers about their field, give them tips, entertain them, or even converse with them in the comments section. Other bloggers share blog articles, search engines rank them just like any other website, and they are a great resource for keeping customers coming back for more. Regular websites tend to be more static and out-of-sight/mind.

Finally, though there are other platforms to consider, this is a good list to get started. As other social media platforms gain in popularity and influence, research their pros and cons. Give them a trial run when time and money permit. Most of all, good luck in the world of Internet marketing. It’s truly a web – easy to lose your way but not hard to find a connection.