Ready or not, here comes 2019.
The start of the year is the perfect opportunity to take stock of the last twelve months.
We learn so much by identifying what worked, what didn't, and using that knowledge to build an action plan for growth and success throughout the next twelve months.
There's a tremendous amount to learn from others, as well.
Here, more than 25 digital marketing experts (all undisputed unicorn-level leaders) share their top tips for the coming year.
I'll kick it off with one of the strategies I'm personally focus on: mixing up your channel strategy.
Mix up your channel strategy.
Want to increase your engagement?
Then say goodbye to traditional strategies, especially when it comes to the Facebook news feed.
The engagement is poor, the competition is high, and the cost of ads continues to climb.
The unicorns among us are using other channels to connect with their customers.
Facebook Messenger, for example, delivers open rates as high as 80 percent!
With free software like MobileMonkey, you can easily create chatbots to automate and scale communications on Facebook Messenger.
(Building chatbots is easy and doesn't require writing any code -- if you can use Mailchimp, you can use MobileMonkey!)
There's a golden era for every channel, and we're currently in the golden age of Facebobook Messenger.
Start following the 90/10 rule.
It's getting harder and harder to stand out online.
If all you're doing is trying new strategies and reaching for every platform though, you're going to spread yourself too thin.
That's why we advocate for the 90/10 rule.
Spend 90% of your marketing efforts doing something remarkably well and 10% experimenting.
By putting your efforts into one thing and doing it well, you'll grow much faster than you would have before.
Rationalize your MarTech stack.
Start by collecting inventory of all the different tools you're using in marketing and sales.
By doing this, you'll be able to figure out which are most important and those you can filter out.
Then, analyze the utilization of each tool -- could you be getting more out of it?
If you're paying for it, be sure to get your money's worth!
Perfect measuring your businesses analytics.
Don't do marketing for the sake of marketing.
Do marketing to achieve some kind of objective.
Take a step away from Google Analytics and go as low tech as possible; use a whiteboard or Excel to write down your objectives.
This will allow you to understand and improve your businesses' analytics.
From there, you can find tools to help you achieve your goals and compare your estimates.
Automate boring work.
Whether you realize it or not, there are many things in your business that can be automated.
If you set up alerts for essential checks in Google Analytics, you'll be able to track revenue, conversion and traffic fluctuation without wasting any time.
Then, you can focus on improving areas of your business that must be done manually, such as writing quality content.
Quality over quantity.
There's a lot of content on the web that serves no purpose simply because companies set KPIs geared towards getting the most views and likes.
That doesn't work anymore.
While businesses thought this would increase exposure, in actuality, it has led people to be more selective of their content.
Analyze your current content to see what gets attention and, most importantly, follow-up from users.
From this, you can change your marketing strategy and produce better content.
Learn how to work with the machines.
For so long, it has been human versus machine.
Instead of having this mindset, we should apply our critical thinking abilities to the data given to us.
By doing this, we can find ways to measure the outcomes of specific data-driven engines and prioritize which ones help our businesses succeed.
Focus on monetization, retention and acquisition.
Companies that focus on these key factors grow three times faster than those working solely on acquisition.
While acquisition is important and seems easier, it isn't the driving factor of growth for most businesses.
By spreading your energy across retention and monetization, you can reap the full benefits from current customers.
Use Google to build your business.
If you established your on-page SEO in 2018, move onto Google to create your dynamic search ads.
This search engine can choose headlines, the search query and landing page -- all you have to do is write descriptions of the extensions and Google will do the rest.
You can also feed Google past pages that were successful and, after a few hours, see how it interprets your SEO.
After analyzing the results, you can continue to improve your SEO and boost traffic.
By following this cycle, you can increase company profits and perfect your overall SEO.
Create more content!
If you're a thought leader and an expert, your voice needs to be heard more frequently.
Many people are not putting out enough content to:
- Get good at the skill of creating content.
- Build momentum necessary to stand out in your space.
When just starting out though, expect to suck at the beginning -- it's okay!
Eventually, the quantity will lead to the quality and the more you do, the better you'll get.
Start using the See, Think, Do, Care framework around your customers.
Create a table with the four column heads: See, Think, Do and Care.
- The "See" column is anyone who could potentially buy your products.
- The "Think" column is the same individuals, only including those who are thinking about your brand.
- The "Do" column are people hot to buy your products.
- The "Care" column includes customers who have bought from you more than twice.
After breaking down your audiences, think about which signals your customers provide during their digital touch points in their journey -- this can include keyword searches, page views and visual content clicks.
Record these signals within the columns and analyze how you're assisting customers in their journey!
Act more like a friend on social media.
In the world of social media, we have lost people's attention.
But who do we look out for on social media?
Businesses must begin to share the tips and information that our friends need.
That means sharing a funny story, asking questions, being empathetic, following up and raising a smile.
The more businesses can go out there and emulate being a friend on social media, the better their results are going to be.
Focus on your own brand and expertise.
Make sure that you're an expert within your niche and your opinion is getting to the right audiences.
This can be done through being interviewed on podcasts, doing guest bloggings or running expert roundups on your own website.
Ultimately, it's about creating content, providing value and taking the time to promote that to audiences.
Experiment with new techniques.
Experimenting with strategies can help strengthen the weak areas within your business, as long as you create actionable goals and record the new method's impact over time.
It's important that you measure your results because, then, you'll learn more about what works for you and what doesn't.
Keep an eye on artificial intelligence.
Marketers need to be aware of how predictive analytics can understand and see the behavior in retail, or any aspect of business.
If you look at the way Amazon can determine what customers are going to buy or how Netflix can make assumptions on behavior, it's clearly a key factor in digital marketing.
Consumers enjoy the digital conversation we are having and it's important to further incorporate that next year.
Quit worrying about content strategy.
Many people get hung up on not having a detailed content plan and end up delaying production for months.
Instead of having some complicated strategy, create a simple plan, commit to that and iterate.
Refocus content to appease the mobile user first.
For a long time, we've been creating content solely for the desktop, which generally meant long form content.
Going into 2019, we have to put the mobile user first.
The types of queries mobile users are looking for are fast, trendy and actionable.
At the start of next year, ask yourself, "is your content satisfying those requirements?"
Do fewer things better.
There isn't a prize for hitting publish and it's unrealistic to think that, just because we publish something once, it means your entire audience has seen it.
Your audience is diverse and has a variety of different content consumption preferences.
I would recommend spending 20% of your time creating content and 80% distributing it.
Don't forget to go back and measure results before you begin the next thing!
Look at how automation can save time.
We are entering a phase in digital marketing where we have more platforms to manage, but less time and money.
Tools like Google Data Studio can free up time in three areas: reporting, bidding and analysis.
Investing in such tools will allow us to focus on more important work.
Stop trying to do everything yourself.
Ask your customers if they are satisfied with your services.
If they have a great story about how your product impacted their life or work, use that for your marketing.
This is a great strategy for small businesses or start-ups because you don't have to have a huge team.
There are three things your company should focus on in 2019: systems, automation and centralization.
Create a system for the different moving parts of your business, like your content creation process.
From this, figure out steps within this process you can automate.
Lastly, whenever possible, avoid jumping from different tools and merge all of your data into a single dashboard (Cyfe is a great tool for this).
Focus on making information services accessible on new technology.
At the moment, Google and Amazon are releasing chipsets for new devices.
This is will increase the number of items that have smart technology and, by 2020, 75% of U.S. households will have smart devices.
Because of this, it's important for brands to slowly shift their marketing from Google SEO to thinking about how they will be discovered in new technological environments.
Keep your skills up to date and invest in your knowledge.
There's so much going on in the world of online marketing, so it's important to keep up with everything.
On your days off, take Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager courses (they're free!).
For those that aren't able to do upskill online, attend a meet up and learn tips firsthand from people in the industry.
Get more from your existing content.
Audit your content -- this will drive more traffic to your existing material.
If a piece isn't producing the desired results and doesn't have any value, delete it.
Redirecting pages or adding links will help push content that should be promoted.
For pieces that are driving content successfully, expand and re-release it.
Understand how your competitors work.
It's important to create content that will be found.
To do this, go to the website alexa.com and use the competitor keyword matrix.
This will show you a gap analysis against other businesses and help you create a content calendar for the upcoming months.
Stop thinking of marketing like a funnel.
Rather, marketing should be seen as a loop.
To do this, identify the ways you attract, engage and delight customers.
Then, analyze your company's programs to ensure everything serves your customers' needs.
If it doesn't, identify your points of friction, what can be automated and addressed by sharing goals with other teams.
This cycle will essentially will lay out your action plan for 2019.