A new year brings a unique opportunity to spotlight your brand, supercharge your outreach strategy, and build connections that empower long-term success.

We all know that marketing is essential to business growth. However, an ad hoc approach involving a spur-of-the-moment podcast or rapid-fire blog post generally isn’t that effective. 

To achieve the highest ROI on your marketing investment and jumpstart your growth, you need to develop a robust marketing strategy–a clear vision for maximizing reach and impact over the long haul.

What is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy is a structured, well-coordinated plan that maps out your company’s promotional efforts across all media and channels. It includes objectives, profiles of your target audience, and key performance indicators. It also incorporates online content creation steps and SEO components that maximize impact at critical customer touchpoints, and taps into marketing trends that work best for your business.

Here are some steps and tips on building a marketing strategy to propel your business forward.

Know Your Audience

Your business plan likely already includes detailed information on your target audience. Regularly reviewing those buyer personas and tweaking them to align with demographic and behavioral shifts is critical to an optimized, impactful outreach approach. Continual analysis of new customer data ensures your marketing strategies are stat-driven and primed for maximum reach.

In the past, marketers often learned about consumer web behavior through third-party cookies. However, many applications, browsers, and privacy settings are currently blocking these cookies. Fortunately, you can still learn about consumer behavior and target your campaigns through advanced technology.

Artificial intelligence provides a wealth of customer data your team can use at each stop of the customer journey. It can help you understand your customers’ browsing history, improving your ability to create content that engages and compels action.

Artificial intelligence and other analytics tools also help analyze which aspects of your current marketing strategy are working and which need a review. For example, natural language processing (NLP), a branch of A.I., can help you better understand audience intention and create more effective strategies that deliver the goods.

Another way to gather info and learn about your target audience is by investing in third-party data. This data can provide a clearer picture of consumer behavior and how much consumers typically spend in your industry. You can then calculate whether you’re getting your fair share.

Know Your Competitors

You likely conducted a thorough competitive analysis before writing your business plan. But it’s important to understand that the competitive landscape changes over time. Ongoing research ensures you know what marketing channels and messages your competitors are using and what they’re leaving behind.

While you want to avoid copying the competition’s strategy, competitor research can provide ideas and inspiration that keep your strategy relevant and on pace with others in your space.

Set Your Goals and Objectives

After you’ve studied your audience and competitors, you’re ready to set goals. Your goals inform the other components of your strategy.

Try to create SMART goals around every tactic and strategy. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Based. For example, one goal might be to reduce the website bounce rate by 10 percent by the end of the year. Another might be to increase your success at converting leads by 40 percent.

Establish Your Budget

To gain the full benefits of marketing, you’ll need to know where and how much to invest in those efforts. Determining your marketing budget is best done in one of two ways:

The first way is to allocate a percentage of your revenue. The CMO survey can tell you what most marketers are spending.

The second method involves setting aside a fixed amount, then prioritizing your marketing spend based on which campaigns will have the most impact. It’s this method that often makes the most sense for small businesses or startups.

In many cases, digital marketing is less expensive than more traditional marketing strategies. Indeed, industry experts say that more than two-thirds of all marketing spending will be digital this year.

Choose Your Channels

In today’s expansive digital marketing sphere, omnichannel marketing is critical. Different channels provide unique opportunities for reaching audiences, sharing messages, and maximizing brand potential. They also allow you to meet customers at different parts of the customer journey. Here are several channels and digital marketing trends to consider building into your marketing efforts.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a popular way to encourage customers to consider your brand. You don’t have to invest big bucks to find a celebrity influencer that will praise your product. Working with micro-influencers with thousands or sometimes even millions of followers can be an effective way to build brand awareness, especially when those followers are within your target audience.

Social Media Marketing

Marketing teams have used social media platforms to promote brand awareness for years. They also are beginning to use social media to send qualified leads to their websites.

However, you also can use social media as a customer service tool. Millennials and Gen-Zers, tend to seek support using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. And more than 25 percent of companies currently offer support via direct messaging.

Facebook and Instagram are also expanding their e-commerce capabilities, making providing customer support on these platforms even more critical.

Email Marketing

Email marketing can help nurture leads, especially in industries with long sales cycles. It also can help you with customer retention.

Email campaigns work best if you segment your customers and target their interests. Short is best. Aim for no more than 200 words in each email. Be sure to include a link where customers can obtain more information or buy your product or service.

Affiliate Marketing

Another excellent marketing tool is affiliate marketing, also known as online referral marketing. The referral partner or influencer will insert a link in their content. Then you’ll pay a commission each time someone clicks on the link and buys your product.

Paid Ads

Paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms can also be part of a marketing campaign. These ads are usually available in one of three formats:

  • Cost per action, where you pay every time the visitor takes an action
  • Cost per view, which charges you every time someone watches your video
  • Cost per impression, which typically incurs a charge every 1,000 views

Website Personalization

Consumers increasingly expect a personalized experience when visiting your website. Every year, review and update the sophistication of your website personalization.

Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy

When wielded correctly, content marketing can be a powerful tool for educating consumers throughout the customer journey, as well as for generating leads. Developing a content strategy ensures a unified message across all platforms. Each year, you’ll want to research content marketing trends and include them in your overall marketing strategy.

SEO

Search engine optimization is central to any content marketing strategy, particularly when generating website traffic. SEO marketers are becoming more sophisticated as search engines refine their algorithms. SEO has several components, including claiming your Google profile, determining key search terms, and having user-generated content such as online reviews.

Video Content

Videos on your website and YouTube pages help educate customers about your brand. Expect brands to use more short-form videos this year. Short-form videos cater to the shrinking attention spans of today’s customers and can quickly move consumers closer to purchase decisions.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality can be great for personalizing the customer experience and providing engaging content. It allows customers to try before they buy in a virtual fitting room. It also can allow you to provide customers a tour of your store or auditorium. Virtual reality also can increase create buzz around the brand.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are increasingly central in driving sales. Marketing professionals refer to mobile device shopping as m-commerce.

Marketing trends show increased use of m-commerce. Indeed, U.S. m-commerce as a percentage of retail sales will nearly double by 2025, according to some forecasts.

Optimizing mobile experiences will be a key part of marketing campaigns. Mobile customers want content that is easy to read and digest, such as lists and images.

Mobile customers also are increasingly using voice search. About one-third of U.S. consumers own smart speakers. Forecasts suggest that by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units, which is more than the world’s population.

Voice search technology translates the user’s spoken word into text. The search engine handles the text just like standard search queries and delivers relevant results. Machine learning will continue to advance over time, increasing the utility of voice search technology. To stay ahead of your competitors, you’ll want to use SEO practices explicitly tailored to voice searches for mobile devices.

Blogs and News Articles

Most users like to see news articles, blogs, and content in general, and digital marketers can gain a competitive edge by thoughtfully planning content around user interests and marketing goals. This year, creating content that follows the Google framework EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is becoming more important than ever.

Online Classes

In many industries, users seek access to online classes or product tutorials. You can provide these tutorials through webinars, podcasts, short-form videos, or guided images. Improving the customer experience with these online features can help increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Practice Social Responsibility

Social responsibility involves any business operation, approach, or philosophy centered on making a positive social impact. Social responsibility in marketing attracts customers who want to make a difference through their purchases.

About 70 percent of consumers believe brands should take a stand on social issues, and over half are willing to pay more to buy from brands committed to making positive social change or undertaking sustainability initiatives.

Consumers, however, are quick to judge when they feel companies lack authenticity. Companies that gain a competitive edge from their initiatives are those whose activities consistently come out of the company’s core values.

Become Agile

Agility is one of the key drivers of business success now. Agile marketing uses general business agility principles. According to the 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, over half of marketers use Agile ways of operating.

Agile marketing involves having cross-functional sales and marketing teams who work in several iterations based on feedback. These marketing teams break down traditional silos. They also

  • Are passionate about customer satisfaction
  • Focus on frequent releases
  • Experiment

Need Help Developing Your Marketing Strategy?

My team can help you develop your marketing strategy. We understand the marketing trends and can work with you to find those that will deliver the best ROI. Let us help you discover how to make your sales team more productive.

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