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If you’re a Marketing Manager who has started the year by being tasked with building a Marketing Plan for 2018 – you’re not alone. Some of you will be ahead and will have started this before Christmas, some of you will be finalising this as you read this, whilst some of you may not have even started! (get a move on!)

I know this as I’ve tasked the Marketing Managers of my organisations to do exactly this. How are we going to attract new visitors this year, and how are we going to convert them from unknown website visitors into full paying customers – and all of the inbetween!

I’ve put together five things that your marketing plan for 2018 can’t afford to miss.


1. Put marketing automation software in place

Marketing Automation provides your business with the ability to scale up its marketing and sales through intelligent process automation, enabling you to market more effectively on multiple channels and automate more ‘repetitive’ tasks, such as social media scheduling, blog posting, social media monitoring, lead nurturing and much more.

Need an example? Well imagine an unknown website visitor downloads a brochure or an eBook on your website. Without marketing automation, it would be up to a marketing or sales employee to follow up with more information, and remind themselves to reply and email this person over a potential six week period.

With marketing automation, the contact who downloaded the brochure online would be automatically put onto a lead nurture pathway where they’ll receive content related to the brochure they downloaded. Once they’ve interacted with some of the items, the sales owner will be notified via email that it’s time to reach out via the telephone. All of that happens in the background without any employee input – saving time & removing the possibility of being too busy. 

The benefit of Marketing Automation is that:

  1. You maximise your marketing and sales resource, as they spend less time micro-managing every aspect of your campaign,
  2. Scale up your activities as you can automate them on each channel and instead focus on refining activities and the revenue-generating elements of the business,
  3. Deliver a consistent experience across channels, nurture leads more effectively, access lead scoring tools that identify the most ‘sales ready’ prospects and, as a result, optmise where you put your precious sales resource.

More and more businesses are embracing Marketing Automation. Statistics from CMO show that, on average, 49% of companies are currently using marketing automation, with more than half of B2B companies (55%) adopting the technology. Of those reviewed, 91% of the most successful users agree that Marketing Automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels.

This article may help in reviewing the market leaders.


2. Adopt the Inbound Marketing methodology

The way in which customers – your potential prospects – engage with your business has changed. In the era of the Internet and Google, the buyer has all the power and has little time for unsolicited phone calls, spam email and low-quality mail advertising.

The modern buyer is also increasingly time-poor but also incredibly resourceful; they will use what little time they have to investigate your business, its products and services via the Internet; they will read articles, reviews and blogs to determine if you have the solution to their business problem; and, finally, they will engage with you when they are ready (not just because you called them!).

Outbound tactics (cold calling, blast emails, mail advertising) are quickly losing effectiveness. You need to be able to draw interested parties to you and ensure your business can be found when they have a problem you have the solution to.

You need Inbound Marketing. But what is Inbound Marketing?

Synonymous with permission-based marketing – first brought into parlance by Seth Godin – Inbound Marketing is about earning the attention of customers through useful and interesting content.

According to Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot (who is credited with coining the phrase in 2005), Inbound Marketing is all about:

“using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and Inbound Marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, Inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.”

Inbound is a more effective and prospect-orientated approach that puts value on what the customer wants and needs. In a world where the customer is king, this kind of approach is increasingly the only kind that works!


3. Increase the use of Video marketing

Video marketing is quickly becoming an essential ingredient in the digital marketing mix; 79% of consumers say they would rather watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page. In addition,  online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020!

In the past, creating video was both time-consuming and complex due to the expertise and software required. Businesses would have to hire professional photographers and video editors, taking hours to produce just one video!

Nowadays, however, making video is not only easy and cost-effective, but also a great way to generate interest in your business. The arrival of free and low-cost video editing tools, as well as high-quality cameras on affordable smartphones, has made the creation of video content much more accessible and a viable option for businesses.

Now is the time to think about incorporating video marketing into your business’ marketing strategy. There are a number of free, high-quality video editing packages out there. If you want to find out more about how you can use video marketing for your SME or start-up, please see this blog.


4. Ensure your website is mobile-optimised

When it comes to your website’s design and structure, you now need to be thinking mobile-first and responsive. According to statistics from StatCounter, mobile search exceeded desktop search back in 2016 and has shown no signs of slowing down since. Google identified the trend toward mobile browsing several years ago and from then, put greater emphasis on optimising search for mobile. As mobile smartphone penetration grows year on year, it’s likely that the majority of your website’s visitors will be accessing the website via their mobile device. If your website and its content is not mobile optimised, it is fair to say that you will lose a large chunk of website traffic and enquiries as a result.  

If you want help optimising your website and its content for mobile devices, please see this blog.


5. Take control of your content management system (CMS)

Content is still king – and as new content formats become more accessible, enter video, the amount of high-quality content your business creates will increase. Today’s searcher is looking for answers to the questions that they have, and expect quality content that can provide a solution. They have little time for websites which do not offer informative content.

With this considered, web pages, blogs, eBooks, infographics, video, support pages and much more, help you to demonstrate your specific industry expertise and help your website visitors. In addition, the more quality content you create, targeting specific keywords and addressing topics, the more opportunities your website has to be found via search engines.

Without full control of your content management system (or without one at all!), creating content at scale, creating new web pages and measuring the performance of your content will be difficult. If you’re using a partner who restricts your use of your CMS by even 5% you really should be looking elsewhere – you need to be able to create, optimise, modify, monitor and enhance your content on a daily basis. With a content management system, your business will be far more efficient and have access to reporting tools to evaluate the performance of content.


So if that's the sort of thing that you're already doing, you're well ahead of the game. If not, you're probably in the situation where investing a little time on marketing technology will pay clear dividends in 2018. 


Tip #46 - Good salespeople and good marketers are really hard to find. So, investing in technology to do the simple but vitally important routine tasks will save you valuable and expensive time, which can be put into developing your strategy, building new campaigns and closing deals!


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