We’ve done our reading and come up with the five most important online marketing strategies to help your company succeed in the new year.
1. Social Media: That houseguest who’s not leaving anytime soon
Whereas 2014 brought forth cries of ‘get yourselves on social media,’ 2015 means that paying someone to set up that pesky Twitter account and post something for you every few days won’t cut it anymore. 2015 calls for a more integrated social media strategy. And just so we’re clear, strategy doesn’t mean companies blasting content out of any outlet they can find (forced Instagram pics for the win). Assess your goals and think about what platforms best fit. For businesses targeting investors, think LinkedIn. While you were sleeping, LinkedIn became a great place for business-to-business communications. Take part in industry conversations to increase awareness and start positioning your company as a thought leader.
Here come the slow-pokes
Forbes predicts that 2015 will be the year “the laggards will finally adopt” when it comes to social media. “Businesses will finally wake up to the fact that social media and mobile marketing are no longer a new phenomena and should be integrated right from the start of any marketing campaign”. Basically, this is the year everyone’s going to smell the roses and start tweeting, so make sure you’re smart about it.
2. Mobile sites: when ‘be more responsive’ became more than relationship advice
There’s no doubt about it, technology won’t stop creeping into our pockets. Russell Glass, the head of B2B Products for LinkedIn, predicts that ‘B2B marketers will see their audiences cross over to ‘mobile first’ for the first time in 2015 where greater than 50% of their marketing content will be consumed on mobile or tablet devices”. It seems that 2015 will be a year where we’re all even more addicted to our phones.
So what do these mobile zombies mean for me?
Well, if your website doesn’t have a responsive design by now, you better find that bunker. ‘Responsive design’ may sound like a tricky concept, but it just means this: your site should work well and look impeccable on any type of device. A great mobile site is especially important when targeting investors because it makes your company’s info accessible anywhere. Basically, you want to be what investors are reading on the go. They’ll appreciate an expertly designed site on any device they choose, allowing them to click through company info and download presentations in a cinch.
3. Content Marketing: does this paragraph make my website look fat?
People want to read content that’s the deadly mix of being skimmable but still high quality. Oh, and completely original. That’s tricky to do (and gets frustratingly ironic for many content writers struggling to find a more innovative word than innovative). Constantly changing web trends all influence content marketing strategies. Sadly there’s no magic word count to master, or genie lamp to rub, to tell you what type of content and what length gets your stuff noticed.
Who are you writing for?
A timeless question that will really save you a lot of time. Forbes writes “before you make a single keystroke of content, make sure that you really know your potential customers–their identity, preferences, interests, and journey…the content emerges form this knowledge and will be far more relevant”.
Did you say thought leadership?
We’re about to. “The no. 1 way to amplify [content] is to make sure it’s valuable and engaging to the audience”. The best way to have valuable content is by creating an environment where you educate others not just about what you do as a company, but also about what you know. Think guest blogging, CEO insights, and expert advice. This will also help you begin to formulate yourselves as the ‘go-to’ guys in your sector.
4. Native Advertising: I’ve just written marketing gold, now how do people find it?
I’m sorry, native what?
This is a phrase you’re definitely going to hear more of in 2015, and even if you aren’t sure of the exact definition, you’ve definitely come across native ads while browsing a favourite website. Here’s an example of a regular article on BusinessInsider.com next to a native advertisement.
Both look almost exactly the same. The native ad appears in the same formatting as Business Insider’s original content, except for the word ‘sponsored’ at the top of the article. A short line also lets the reader know that “this post is sponsored by HSBC Bank USA”. These are native ads; ‘native’ because the look and feel is coherent with all other media on the platform. Unlike traditional advertising which can be obtrusive to the user experience, native advertising is a more organic way to reach an audience.
That’s cool and all, but how can this information help me?
We thought you’d never ask. This form of advertising will get even bigger in 2015, so at least be aware of what native ads are. Want some numbers? An eMarketer report states ‘spending on native ads on social sites alone is expected to increase from $3.1 billion to $5 billion by 2017”. Entrepreneur writes that native ads are “giving brands a way to help their messages cut through the noise online and get in front of their target audiences”. Reflect on those last words a bit. Your company’s thought leadership article or newest whitepaper will garner a lot more attention on a well-trafficked website with similar content. Where does your target audience hang out online? Come up with some quality content and advertise it in a place you know people are looking.
5. Data Visualization: because people will stare at videos and images until they’re blue in the face
Video and infographics are the new black. 2015 will see an even bigger push towards visual content on websites, especially in images and video content. For those naysayers who believe that adding infographics or video elements is misplaced in a more corporate environment, check out this example we provided in a blog post a few weeks ago. GE implements infographics for their annual reports to really get the information to connect with both casual browsers and potential investors.
Are you not entertained?!
Let’s just get one thing straight right away: corporate should not be synonymous with boring. Why wouldn’t potential investors also like to be engaged and entertained? (Insert Russell Crowe Gladiator voice here). Anything that increases the visual impact of your site is good. Use your discretion, of course, and think about what elements of your website might be enhanced with a little data visualization. Image and video based content also helps decrease bounce rates and improve traffic metrics. And finally, Forbes notes that video content “is one of the fastest ways to spread information” and will really help to get your message out there as people start sharing what you’re showing.