Summer signals the beginning of budget season. Before diving into the details of your marketing plans, examine how the marketplace has changed, where your business is headed, and how to integrate evolving marketing strategies such as social media, content marketing, and mobile into your mix to make your marketing more effective.
According to IBM’s State of Marketing 2012, marketers face an array of challenges. Top on marketers’ lists are channel and device choice expansion and customer collaboration and influence. Given social media’s exponential growth, increased smartphone usage, and the quick adoption of tablets, this is no surprise. These elements require new ways of engaging and selling prospects and customers through content marketing and social media delivered via various mobile devices.
At a time when marketers need additional funds to test these emerging channels and platforms, over a quarter of those surveyed believe their biggest challenge is financial constraints and ROI accountability. In light of weak economic growth, this is to be expected. Further, many businesses using social media, content marketing, and/or mobile are still testing these strategies and haven’t developed effective tracking yet. This challenge is acerbated by consumers’ ability to gather better product and pricing information via social media, content marketing, and mobile, resulting in reduced margins.
3 Must-Have Marketing Investments
Before making marketing investment decisions, analyze this year’s three marketing must-haves: social media, content marketing, and mobile. While aspects of these marketing formats may not have direct costs, they all require budget and resources.
Social media provides platforms, enabling marketers to interact with their target audience. Social media involves more than a Facebook page or Twitter account. It requires an integrated social media strategy including a social media persona to ensure it’s an integral part of your marketing.
- Assess current social media presence. Is your brand present on appropriate social media networks? Are you actively managing your presence? Are there emerging social media platforms relevant to your firm, focus, or target market where you must establish your presence?
- Evaluate your brand’s portrayal across social media platforms. Is your brand consistently presented? Do your branding guidelines need to be enhanced?
- Determine the engagement level you need on social media platforms. Remember, you can’t rely on three tweets a day written by your agency. You need a human face behind your social media presence. Ensure you’ve got appropriate in-house resources to respond to social media requests.
- Create relevant content to feed social media needs. Assess requirements across content formats and social media platforms. Include formal content marketing as well as social media interactions like Facebook comments and Twitter responses.
- Support your social media presence with targeted advertising. Do you need to enhance your social media presence with related paid advertising? Consider the use of social media ads.
Content marketing is promotion-free information that fuels social media and overcomes purchase decision hurdles. (Here’s an outline of content marketing’s basic steps.)
- Analyze content marketing needs. Assess the existing content within your organization. Then determine where you have content marketing needs and where you have holes in your existing offering. Specifically examine the entire purchase process and social media interactions.
- Integrate content marketing into an editorial calendar. Determine where content is needed, the format and topic required, and the timing of its creation based on your assessment. Incorporate this information into a plan across platforms to ensure it’s synched with your promotional calendar. Plan for content reuse to extend the life of each element.
- Acquire appropriate resources for your content creation team. At a minimum, you need an editor and a copy editor. While you can encourage employees and customers to contribute content, determine where you need additional support. Don’t underestimate the need for designers, photographers, writers, and technology support. These resources can be internal, freelance, or agency-based.
- Expand content marketing reach. Make it easy for readers to share your information with social sharing buttons. Where appropriate, use advertising to promote your content and build an audience.
- Ensure content marketing closes sales. Content marketing by itself can’t drive sales. It needs calls-to-action and related dedicated promotional codes. Further, create tailored landing pages and streamline the sales process to efficiently convert prospects to sales.
Mobile is a must-have for every business with a retail presence or that competes with a business that has a retail presence since mobiles and tablets go shopping.
- Be present on mobile search. Mobile search is separate from web search. Local businesses that people seek on-the-go must be findable on mobile search.
- Build a mobile website. Don’t just assume people can read your web-optimized site on a mobile device. Create a streamlined mobile website focused on the information customers want on-the-go.
- Build a mobile phone number house file. If you don’t have a mobile phone list, start building one now.
- Optimize your emailings for mobile devices. Email is the primary content consumed on mobile devices. Ensure readers can easily read and take action on your emailings via a connected device.
- Assess need for a mobile app. In the past year, mobile app usage has surged ahead of mobile web, according to Flurry. Depending on your business, this shift may require investment in a mobile app.
After allocating resources to social media, content marketing, and mobile, make sure you integrate these elements into your overall marketing plans and strategies to maximize your effectiveness to achieve your business objectives.
Are these three marketing elements, social media, content marketing, and mobile, in your 2012 and 2013 plans? If not, where are you focusing your investment and why?
P.S. This article is dedicated to our ClickZ colleague Ron Jones who passed away last week. We’ll miss his intelligent insights that showed marketers how to connect the different elements of their marketing through the strategic use of search optimization principles.