Recently, I have been looking back at how much has changed in the last few years. In doing some research for this post, I discovered that the original iPhone was launched about seven and a half years ago. Specifically June 29th 2007, which happens to be the day before I married my lovely wife.
Seven and a half years. How much has changed since then? Not just in marketing, but in life?
Since I got married, I have had three different vehicles, three different houses, and two different jobs. I bought and remodeled a historic 1920’s fourplex in Fort Worth, TX and started a marketing agency. These experiences changed me. I have evolved.
Before I got married, I carried a flip phone. For some reason, I remember the model number; it was the Sony Ericsson z525a. It had vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, a stopwatch, a timer, and a notepad. But we now expect more from our mobile devices. We expect to be connected to all the world’s information in an instant. That’s a pretty radical change from the expectations “Single Chris” had. The iPhone came in and changed the meaning of Smartphone, while inspiring a myriad of new devices that are transforming the way we communicate, learn and make buying decisions.
Are you still running your marketing department like it is 2007? Maybe it’s time you revisited your marketing mix and did a quick self-check. In this post, I’ll be outlining some things you need to start paying attention to this year if you haven’t already. It’s time to start staying ahead of the game, and not waiting years just to catch up to everyone else.
Driving Traffic: Out: Spammy SEO > In: Helpful Content Marketing
As marketers, getting our websites ranked highly by search engines like Google is an important initiative. Many companies used to pay SEO companies to do their dirty work. Many still do, and its hurting them.
Not too long ago, the way to get ahead in Google was to game the system by buying back-links, and putting incoherent keyword rich content on our websites just to rank for certain search terms.
Then Google changed the game with their first two “Animal Updates”, Penguin and Panda. These updates penalized websites for paid links and plagiarized or otherwise spammy content. Now companies have to pay to get those spammy links (that they paid for) removed to get relief from the lowered rankings in search results.
In 2013, Google introduced the Hummingbird update. This made search work better by dishing up better contextual results for natural language searches. This was in response to the behavior shift we have had as searchers over time. The more years we have spent with search, the better we have gotten at refining those searches. The more we refine our searches and learn how to drill down to get exactly what we want, the better we get at searching the right way, the first time.
A quick example: You are building a birdhouse, and planning to look for information online. A primitive searcher from 2007 might have had to search “birdhouse construction plans”. The more sophisticated 2015 searcher can ask Google a question: “How do I build a birdhouse?” and be delivered relevant results. Google’s Hummingbird update made these contextual results pages even better.
What does this mean for you as a marketer?
You need to be answering the questions that your ideal customers are asking online. You don’t have to solely create brochure content for your website. In fact, the problems you solve with content need only be tangentially related to your product or service.
Using the birdhouse example from above, you might have a hardware store where people can purchase the materials they will need to build a birdhouse. Just because you don’t sell birdhouses, doesn’t mean that your customers don’t come to you for birdhouses.
Search engines are evolving all the time. The best way to optimize for them is to share what you know on your website through entertaining and relevant content.
Focusing on creating content around solving your customer’s problems is a real marketing strategy, that you can’t afford not to start this year.
Generating Leads: Out: Purchased Email Lists > In: Permission Marketing Automation
We, as a people, are pretty fed up with SPAM. Our email inboxes filter it out for the most part. If we didn’t ask for it, we certainly aren’t going to read it. Let alone click on it and send money to the company that sent it to us.
In fact, sending me unsolicited marketing emails is a pretty good strategy if you are looking to rub me the wrong way. So why are so many marketers still buying email lists? While you may see some short-term gains, odds are that you will damage your e-reputation irrevocably by continuing this practice.
For every one person that clicks through to your campaign, you had better assume that there will be 10 marking your campaign as SPAM in their email client. Did you know that this could affect future deliverability of your emails? Email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo mail, and corporate mail servers monitor this behavior and start to hide your messages from other users who haven’t even marked you as spam yet.
So what’s the alternative?
Offer valuable resources on your website that your ideal customers will gladly sign up for.
Let’s say that after you read the article about how to build a birdhouse, there is a kind offer to have a pre-built shopping list sent straight to your phone along with detailed diagrams and step by step instructions on the proper building techniques for your birdhouse. That’s a pretty compelling offer right? I’d gladly sign up for that, and would not mind receiving information for related projects from the hardware store because they helped me out when I needed it. The hardware store now has permission to speak to me, and I won’t be marking their messages as SPAM.
Instead of spending money on a list of people who don't know you, start cultivating a permission-marketing list. These are people who opt-in to your messages in exchange for valuable content and expertise. Invest in a great lead nurturing system and a CRM to help send relevant messaging that your audience will actually want.
As things change, some others stay the same.
The way we get our information as consumers has evolved dramatically over the past seven years. But some things don’t. We still focus on doing business with people we know, like, and trust. So stop cutting corners, and start spending your dollars more wisely. The content you invest in becomes a sustainable asset that will only grow in value over time.
Earlier I told you how much had changed in my life since I got married. The marketing landscape has too.
Over the last seven years, I have learned that the key to success in marketing (and marriage) is to put in a little bit of work every day. Your hard work will net huge dividends over time.
Start your 2015 marketing efforts off right by setting SMART goals with our free template.