by Kristi Nason, Cultural Anthropology Student, August 16, 2019
Despite the significant roles of power and influence held by Indigenous women traditionally, they are currently the most oppressed and abused populations in North America. They are battling a critical crisis in economic opportunity, physical and mental health, violent crime and a lack of adequate legal protections. Current conditions are due to failed historical assimilation attempts and current stereotyping, racism and a complicated law enforcement jurisdiction problem.
I became interested in researching Indigenous women when I learned that prior to colonization many Native women held significant roles of power and influence within their families, communities and political systems. Simultaneously, and in stark contrast, I learned of the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) awareness campaign and the legal problems around law enforcement jurisdiction gaps for violent and sexual assault victims in Indigenous communities. This paper will summarize my research findings around current issues facing Indigenous communities and provide an overview of the historical circumstances that have led to current conditions. I start with research on pre-colonization gender roles and expectations, then of the assimilation era of the 20th century, and lastly look at current areas of concern.
I’m including a complete listing of resources, not only the ones cited, at the end of this paper. My research included peer reviewed academic sources, ethnographic books, articles available online, the documentary titled “The West”, legal document reviews, personal reflections from my relationships with women in the Nooksack tribe, my personal observations at the “Paddle to Lummi” protocol ceremony and the podcast, “Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo”, where Connie Walker’s search for a family’s missing sister led me to an understanding of the personal implications of the racist assimilation programs of the Canadian and U.S. governments in the mid to late 20th century.
The terms “Native”, “Indigenous”, “Native American”, “American Indian”, and “Indian” will be found within this report. Another term I’m hearing regularly is “First Nation”. Although I sought to find the term that was the current accepted and respectful identifier, I was unable to make a conclusion about which one that would be. Identifiers are impacted by regions, “Native” being more common in the United States and “Indigenous” being more common in Canada (Zovar 2019) and by personal preference. According to a small survey done by Amanda Blackhorse in 2017, “Indigenous peoples continue to widely reject the monikers ‘Native American’ and ‘American Indian’ and, instead, refer to themselves by their tribe, nation” (Blackhorse, 2017, para 1). Opinions from her survey participants actually contradict each other. One of Blackhorse’s sources explains, “when she’s around friends and family she’ll usually use terms such as ‘Natives’ or ‘Ndns’. When she’s among a non-Native crowd, she will use ‘American Indian’ or ‘Native American.’”(Blackhorse 2017, para 10) In contrast, another Blackhorse source, “doesn’t like to use the terms ‘Native American’ or ‘American Indian’ because as she stated, ‘We were here before America was established. It wasn’t America before settlers came in and created their government.’ She also says that the term ‘Indian’ refers to a historical time and ‘is a run off from the days of Columbus’” (Blackhorse, 2017, para 16). Where possible I will identify using specific tribe or nation identifiers. When speaking generally the terms will be used interchangeably with “Indigenous” being the term that appears to be the most widely acceptable in Canada, and “Native” most widely acceptable in the United States. As a non-Native, I do not assume that I can make the determination on acceptable terminology and hope for some grace from the Indigenous community if I get it wrong. It’s clear to me that the best practice is to ask individuals how they prefer to be identified and respectfully follow their preferences.
A caution against over generalizations
Wherever possible I will be clear about which tribe or geographical area is being discussed. Tribes vary widely in customs, cultures, language and histories and generalizations must be consciously avoided. Prior to my research, I made assumptions that the geographical closeness of the Nooksack Tribe and the Lummi Nation meant they were closely related in culture, language and even genealogy. In many ways, I thought of them generally as one population. One example I came across highlights how false this line of thinking is: “In 1873 an effort was made to remove the Nooksacks to the Lummi Reservation. However, the Nooksacks returned to their upriver sites as they were not closely related by linguistic or kinship ties to the Lummi” (NPAIHB 2019, Nooksack Tribe section). There are many important factors that distinguish between them, despite that they are both located in Whatcom County. To further describe my error in generalizing them together, here is a very brief summary of each:
“The Lummi people (the Lhaq’temish ) traditionally lived near the sea and in mountain areas and returned seasonally to their longhouses located at a number of sites on the present reservation and on the San Juan Islands. The Lummi Nation signed the treaty of Point Elliot in 1855 ceding much of their aboriginal lands in western Washington. In return they received a reservation that originally covered 15,000 acres. …The Lummi are a self-governing Nation within the United States, the third largest tribe in Washington State, serving over 5,000 members. They manage nearly 13,000 acres of tidelands on the Lummi Reservation. … approximately 78% of the enrolled Lummi tribal members live either on or near the reservation boundaries” (NPAIHB 2019, Lummi Nation section).
“The Nooksack Tribe is reported to have 1,800 enrolled members and as of the 2000 census, had a reservation resident population of 547 persons living on 2,720 acres of land. They were not federally recognized until 1971 because they did not have a tribal land base. The 1971 recognition included a reservation of 1 acre in Deming, WA.” (NPAIHB 2019, Nooksack Tribe section). Their status as a federally recognized Nation has been tenuous in recent years over council election and power controversies, and a legal battle over the disenrollment of three family lines that started in 2013.
Along with cautioning against generalizing between tribes for language and genealogy, generalizing about gender roles and issues must also be avoided. “Any attempt to generalize about gender in Native America runs the risk of serious distortion when applied to specific peoples. Native cultures differ from one another in significant ways, and, consequently, so do the relationships between women and men.” (Perdue 1998:7)
Pre-colonization gender roles
In Maze of Injustice, Amnesty International claims: “Contemporary scholars on traditional Native American and Alaska Native cultures have found that prior to colonization women often held esteemed positions in society” (Amnesty 2007:16). Early Cherokee economy was greatly influenced by the ingenuity and leadership of women. “During the Mississippian Culture-period (800 to 1500 CE), local women developed a new variety of maize (corn) called eastern flint. … The successful cultivation of corn surpluses allowed the rise of larger, more complex chiefdoms” (everyculture.com). Many Indigenous cultures were matrilineal, meaning that women controlled property rights and hereditary status. Theda Perdue describes the Cherokee gender roles as balanced: “women balanced men just as summer balanced winter… Men did not dominate women, and women were not subservient to men. … Women had their own arena of power” (Perdue 1998:13). “Available evidence indicates that violence against women [prior to colonization] was rare and, when it occurred, was often severely punished” (Amnesty 2007:16). “Brigadier General James Clinton of the Continental Army said to his soldiers as they were sent off to destroy the Iroquois nation in 1779: ‘Bad as the savages are, they never violate the chastity of any women’” (Smith, p.8).
Coast Salish tribes, such as Nooksack and Lummi, were not strictly matrilineal like the Cherokees, but according to Northwest Coast Native creation myths, as told by Anne Cameron in Daughters of Copper Woman, the woman was created before man. Cameron shares her grandmother’s stories of women as the ones who held the knowledge of life. “Then Copper Woman told Hai Nai Yu that the wisdom must always be passed on to women, and reminded her that whatever the colour of their skin, all people come from the same blood, and the blood is sacred.” (Cameron 2002:43). Cameron retells her grandmother’s story about how women in their prime, who weren’t pregnant or breast feeding, defended their community against rapist colonizers by planning an elaborate attack that included seducing the watchmen, slitting their throats, and in the end sacrificing their lives through a group suicide. (Cameron 2002:75-86).
The influence of the white European-Americans is thought by many historians to have had a significant and negative impact on Indigenous women. According to Everyculture.com, “George Washington sought to ‘civilize’ Southeastern American Indians.” This reflects the ethnocentric beliefs of the time that only Western societies were “civilized” and the Indigenous cultures were called “savages”. On top of this racist bias, women were also subjected to the gender bias of western society. “European societies were thoroughly misogynistic. … Native societies were relatively more peaceful and egalitarian (Smith 2003, 8). “Colonization and its aftermath profoundly changed gender roles among Indigenous peoples” (Amnesty 2007:16). Cameron’s grandmother describes the negative attitudes of the colonizers of her tribe, who she refers to as the “Keestadores”: “They started off complainin’ about the kids swimmin’ naked and wound up tryin’ to control our lives. Wound up talkin’ against the Women’s Society, tellin’ the men that women weren’t supposed to be partners, weren’t supposed to pass inheritance, were only there to be ued by men, bosed around and traded like lifeless things. Seems as if everthing about the women just stuck sideways in their throats” (Cameron 2002:73). In Not an Indian Tradition: The Sexual Colonization of Native Peoples, (2003) Smith explains the motive at the heart of the oppression and abuse: “Native women …pose a supreme threat to the imperial order. … U. S. colonizers view[ed] the subjugation of women of the Native nations as critical to the success of the economic, cultural, and political colonization. … Symbolic and literal control over their bodies is important in the war against Native people” (Smith, 2003, 5).
CULTURAL GENOCIDE, 20TH CENTURY NORTH AMERICA
Residential boarding schools, the “Sixties Scoop”, and female sterilization without informed consent
“White” Euro-Americans used several practices to keep Indigenous people from interfering with their economic expansion and cultural norms. In the process, they often performed cultural genocide, taking away the ability for the Native people to live by their traditional customs. Some of this was subtle: eliminating the ability for Indigenous people to farm, hunt or fish on vast expanses of land as they had in the past. Some of it was deceptive: making treaty promises that were not kept. Some of it was purposeful: forcing Indigenous children into assimilating residential boarding schools where they were brutally punished for use of their language or customs; sterilizing women of child-bearing age to reduce the population; adoption programs that put Indigenous children into “white” homes with no access to their inherited culture or their birth relatives; and a continuously shrinking service budget for housing, education, medical care and law enforcement.
The affect of these acts of oppression and cultural assimilation-genocide results in current Indigenous people being trapped dependently on government programs that don’t adequately meet their needs. “By 1874…most tribes were officially confined to reservations. Dependent for their survival on government rations that often did not arrive. And on the whims of government agents, who often did not care” (Burns, S1:E6). Many of these people are still on reservations, living in extreme poverty and under complicated legal jurisdiction systems that don’t protect the most vulnerable within their societies. It has also caused generational trauma that continues in today’s families–visible in the statistics of physical health problems, mental/emotional health issues, addiction issues, poverty issues, and crime levels. And strong racism and stereotyping problems, which are an inherit element of colonialism, are still present today.
As Dustin Louie explains in his prevention education proposal (2018), to understand current social positioning of Indigenous peoples, it is necessary to include the oppression and assimilation efforts of Euro-American governments. “[During] an era of tragic attempts of cultural genocide. … The [Indian Residential Schools] IRS system, which remained in Canada until 1996, forcibly apprehended Indigenous children from their families and placed them in distant boarding schools … designed to both usher Indigenous peoples into Western society and eliminate their communal strength … establishing harmful education systems that would irrevocably damage generations of Indigenous people” (Louie, pg. 5).
I learned from Connie Walker’s Missing & Murdered, Finding Cleo podcast that in the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. and Canadian governments coordinated a campaign to adopt out Indigenous children to white families. It is referred to as the “Sixties Scoop”. Advertised like animals and separated from their siblings, the emotional impact of the campaign was tragic. Many Indigenous children lost all contact with their families and cultures, were in some cases adopted for farm labor or abused in other ways, and endured racism in their new homes and communities. “Death by suicide is an all too common outcome for children who were taken during the Sixties Scoop. … Some say these tragic experiences are a direct result of a system designed to ‘deal with the Indian problem’ in Canada. First in residential schools, then in the Sixties Scoop. A system of oppression that many say continues to fail some of the most vulnerable people in Canadian society: Indigenous children. Children who are more than twice as likely as other Canadian children to live in poverty…four times more likely to become involved in the child welfare system… seven times more likely to take their own lives” (Walker, C. 2019, S2:Ep6).
With failed boarding school and adoption campaigns, government agencies then attempted to reduce the number of Indigenous children. I was shocked to learn that as late as 1976, Indigenous women were sterilized without informed consent. “Dr. Connie Uri (Cherokee/Choctaw) conducted … investigations leading her to estimate that 25 percent of all Native women of childbearing age had been sterilized without their informed consent, with sterilization rates as high as 80 percent on some reservations” (Smith, p.10).
FIELDWORK: ETHNOGRAPHIC OBSERVATION, Paddle to Lummi
The startling statistics around suicide and sterilization reminded me that I’d seen articles about another startling issue, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. During my online research of the problem, I came across the “Paddle to Lummi” event. The event came up in my search because they intended to address the MMIW issue during their protocol ceremony, scheduled for the following day. I immediately rearranged my schedule to attend the event in person. Before attending, I researched what the “Paddle to Lummi” event’s purpose. “The annual Canoe Journey is a gathering of Indigenous nations from the Pacific Northwest and Canada … [2019’s] host is the Lummi Nation, a Coast Salish nation whose reservation is located near Bellingham, Washington. The event includes round-the-clock sharing of songs, dances and gifts by representatives of each nation and concludes with the calling of witnesses and gifting by the host nation. This follows the tradition of the potlatch, which historically was a form of wealth redistribution” (Walker, R. 2019:para 13).
On July 25, 2019, I loaded a free shuttle bus that traveled around the back roads of the reservation, past a good deal of homes in bad states of disrepair and half covered with wild blackberry bushes. After a walk around the beach and a viewing of the canoes, my husband and I walked up the hill to the Lummi School and we attended that protocol ceremony. I stood crammed into a tiny space next to a trashcan, against the wall of the entrance because the protocol building was completely filled. Elders were given a front-row place of honor around the floor. Different tribes took turns going around the perimeter of the gymnasium-sized floor in the ceremony, each having a different group (such as men or women) to honor and celebrate. Men drumming and singing, women and girls dancing and adding their voices, while the MC spoke of the importance of the group being honored and sprinkling in words from the Lummi Native language. Despite my poor vantage point, the opening of the protocol ceremony was incredibly moving and I found myself getting goose bumps, especially from the beating drums and male voices raised loudly in song. The event felt very much like attending someone else’s family reunion, but every person I encountered was warm and welcoming.
Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women was a focus of this year’s event. Many attendees, inside and outside the building, wore the MMIW symbol of a red-paint handprint on their faces. The protocol ceremony introduced the tragic topic with drums, song, dance and chanting as well as two very large fishnet banners with the words “Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women #MMIW” spelled out on them. The mood had me at the brink of tears.
Another of the issues spotlighted at the protocol was opioid abuse. Although we often hear that alcohol abuse is a major issue among Indigenous people, alcohol abuse was not mentioned. Alcohol and drugs were prohibited at the event. As I walked around the event, including the camping areas, the vendor areas and the beach, I did not see one single incidence of alcohol use. I occasionally smelled marijuana smoke, but did not see it smoked openly. However, tobacco smoking was openly and widely used, despite the event being on school grounds. It did not seem to have the same negative social stigma I’m used to seeing at “white” events. Several vendors had long wooden pipes for sale, as well as sweet grass or sage bundles for smudging.
Statistics of alcoholism and alcohol abuse within Indigenous communities don’t support the common stereotype messages. According to Claire Gordon, “alcoholism is the most well-known health problem in the Native community, and a source of ample stereotyping” (Gordon 2014, para. 3). However, Erikson reported, “in contrast to enduring stories about extraordinarily high rates of alcohol abuse among Native Americans, University of Arizona researchers have found that Native Americans’ binge and heavy drinking rates actually match those of whites [and] Native Americans were more likely to abstain from alcohol use.” Erikson quotes Cunningham who points out that a consistent alcohol abuse problem exists within “[a]ll major U.S. racial and ethnic groups.” Alcohol abuse issues are amplified by other factors for Indigenous peoples. Erikson’s source, Solomon, makes the point that “Native Americans, as a group, have less access to medical care, safe housing and quality food, which can amplify health problems connected to alcohol” (Erikson, 2016: para 1,5,7).
Native communities suffer more of the usual predictors of poor health, such as poverty, unemployment and a steep high school dropout rate. These issues are a great source of stress and concern for Native women who oversee the health care and education of children. Federal funding for health care is vastly inadequate to meet the needs of Native communities. Claire Gordon quotes Colorado State University’s Irene Vernon as saying, “The money we get for health is less than the money given to prisoners” (Gordon, 2014: para 7). Gordon’s statistical research shows American Indians and Alaska Natives with the highest rate of diabetes and the incidence of tuberculosis as five times higher than for non-Hispanic whites. She explains that risk factors–such as inadequate medical services, alcohol and tobacco use, subsidized food and poor nutrition–are common in low-income communities. “Native Americans and Alaska Natives die younger, on average, than other Americans. In addition, “Compared to white Americans, Native people are twice as likely to die in a car crash, three and a half times more likely to die as a pedestrian, twice as likely to die by fire and three times more likely to drown” (Gordon 2014, Injuries).
I found the suicide statistics alarming and sad. “Young Native Americans are more likely to kill themselves than any other group … young Native women in Alaska were 19 times more likely to kill themselves than other women their same age” (Gordon 2014, Suicide section). According to Potter, in 2014, John Yellowbird Steele, the president of the Oglala Lakota, declared the youth suicide rate an emergency on the Pine Ridge reservation. “By June 2015, he was testifying in front of Congress, citing the loss of 11 lives in just seven months, with an additional 176 youth attempting suicide. Girls in particular are at risk” (Potter 2016: para 8-9). Her Many Horses, Oglala Lakota tribal member, proposed a possible explanation for the high youth suicide rate on the reservation: “Poverty is so widespread and so is joblessness. These kids need jobs. Our kids are not prepared for the system. Some cannot even get a drivers license” (Larsen 2015). Many communities have implemented teen suicide prevention programs and those run by tribes often include cultural education programs to assist young Natives in feeling connected to their tribal communities. Potter describes one such program on the Pine Ridge reservation: “Each summer, elder Inila Wakan Janis and his wife, Jennifer Janis, a teacher at the local middle school, present a math camp there for the girls. It’s a way to keep them up with studies during the summer as well as a chance to imprint the spiritual and cultural practices of their people” (2016, para 2).
Violent Crime, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
In addition to suicide, violent crime on many reservations has “skyrocketed in the last decade, even as it’s dropped across the country. Too few tribal officers and federal police, and deeply underfunded tribal courts, have created a pervasive sense of lawlessness“ (Gordon, 2014). Gordon shares this tragic statistic: “One in three American Indian women is raped in her lifetime, … more than twice the national average” (Gordon 2014, Sexual Abuse section). The sex trade is of special concern for Indigenous girls and young women and appears to be a factor in the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women numbers. Dustin Louie, examines which life experiences increase the threat of sexual exploitation and how Indigenous girls are recruited into the sex trade in his 2018 prevention-education proposal. Louie also explains how the sex trade is especially dangerous for Indigenous girls who are “more likely to experience physical abuse and rape … while also being less likely to have their reports pursued by the police“ (Louie:3). “Colonization, realized through IRS [Indian Residential Schools], assumptions of white supremacy, and systemic oppression, establishes an environment in which Indigenous girls endure the [exploitation] pathways at an increased rate. … [and] influences predators to recruit Indigenous girls as a result of societal devaluation of Indigenous femininity” (Louie 2018:24). Identifying the Needs of American Indian Women Who Sought Shelter details areas of need for victimized Native women and challenges to meeting those needs: “[A] wide variety of specific personal needs (e.g., safety, housing, transportation), needs relating to their children (e.g., safety, education, socialization), community needs (e.g., relating to their tribe), as well as legal needs (e.g., help obtaining a restraining order or divorce). …The nature of native culture presents unique challenges for victimized women –especially among those living on the reservation– including increased social and geographic isolation and a lack of community resources” (Fox et al 2018: 1).
Law Enforcement and Legal Jurisdiction Problems
Even after a good deal of research on my part, I’m still confused by the legal jurisdiction issues that complicate the ability to enforce laws against violence and sexual assault. It appears that formal legal agreements can be written between law enforcement agencies, (state, federal and tribal) to fill the gaps, but I was unable to conclusively find any for the Lummi Nation or Nooksack Tribe. Limited budgets for tribal law enforcement and court systems create a dangerous lack of available protection and justice services. Maximum sentence restrictions for tribal courts, set by the federal government, is another area that limits the ability for victims to receive justice for the crimes against them.
The Indian Law and Order Commission points to “the archaic system in place, in which Federal and State authority displaces Tribal authority and often makes Tribal law enforcement meaningless.” (ILOC, 2013, p.14). The Indian Law Resource Center explains that Indian nations are unable to prosecute non-Indians, despite the fact that they commit the vast majority (86%) of sexual violence crimes against Native women. Some of this number is non-Native men who live directly on tribal land “non-Indians now comprise 76% of the population on tribal lands and 68% of the population in Alaska Native villages” (Indianlaw.org). “An unworkable, race-based criminal jurisdictional scheme created by the United States has limited the ability of Indian nations to protect Native women from violence and to provide them with meaningful remedies” (ILRC n.d.:Racial Discrimination section). It is disturbing that non-Native men can live on tribal land but be outside the jurisdiction of tribal police. But the lack of response from U.S. attorneys, who have the jurisdiction to prosecute non-Natives and don’t, is even more disturbing. “[B]etween 2005 and 2009, U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of the Indian country matters referred to them involving sexual assault … many of these crimes in Native communities are not even investigated” (Indianlaw.org, n.d.). Several attempts at updating legal jurisdictions have been presented and a few laws have been passed. However, resources for tribal law enforcement, such as funding, are still lacking. “On paper, President Obama closed that loophole when he signed the Violence Against Women Act in March. But not one tribe is currently [as of 2014] capable of enforcing the new law” (Gordon 2014: Sexual Abuse section). Amnesty International claims “Indigenous peoples in the USA face deeply entrenched marginalization–the result of a long history of systemic and pervasive abuse and persecution. Sexual violence against Indigenous women today [is] …compounded by the federal government’s steady erosion of tribal government authority and its chronic under-resourcing. … It is against this backdrop that American Indian and Alaska Native women continue to experience high levels of sexual violence, a systemic failure to punish those responsible and official indifference to their rights to dignity, security and justice” (Amnesty 2007: 14).
The power once held by Indigenous women has been systematically stripped by Euro-American conquest, racism, and assimilation practices that resulted in cultural genocide and generational trauma. Indigenous communities today are under-funded, under-resourced, and under-supported. Despite epidemic levels in violent and sexual crimes, tribal police are crippled by complicated legal jurisdiction problems and a lack of resources to protect their communities. The Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women awareness campaign is highlighting current racism in the media (with under-reporting, and victim blaming) and within the judicial system (with lack of diligent record keeping, lack of communication with tribes, and lack of response to reported crime). Non-Natives are mostly unaware of Indigenous challenges and often believe the false stereotypes and respond with racist attitudes. We must do more to support our Indigenous neighbors–vote for laws that support and protect their safety, well-being and culture; demand legal jurisdiction clarification and cooperation agreements between law enforcement agencies; stop telling history from a biased “white” perspective; and stand against white privilege attitudes and negative stereotypes. It is our responsibility to learn about the true history of how we treated Indigenous peoples in the past, and how we are treating them today. We must also support and encourage their fight for self-determination and the strengthening of their nearly lost beautiful cultures and languages.
Amnesty International USA, 2007, Maze of injustice, The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA
Fiske, Jo-Anne. 1991. “Colonization and the Decline of Women’s Status: The Tsimshian Case.” Feminist Studies 17 (3): 509. doi:10.2307/3178288.
Fox, Kathleen A., Bonnie S. Fisher, and Scott H. Decker. 2018. “Identifying the Needs of American Indian Women Who Sought Shelter: A Practitioner-Researcher Partnership.” Journal of Family Violence 33 (4): 251–56. doi:10.1007/s10896-018-9953-8.
Gordon, C. (2014) 5 big Native American health issues you don’t know about america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2013/8/28/5-huge-native-americanhealthissuesyoudontknowabout.html
Indian Law Resource Center, Ending Violence Against Native Women | Indian Law Resource Center. [online] Available at: https://indianlaw.org/issue/ending-violence-against-native-women [Accessed 23 Jul. 2019].
There’s no question, the digital marketing revolution is here — and it’s moving quickly. But with new technologies emerging every day, and digital advertising techniques changing in real time, it’s no longer enough just to keep pace. Staying ahead of the curve requires looking forward to what’s coming next and then taking the right steps to get your business where it needs to be.
Getting – and Remaining – Ahead of the Game
Following are six important developments that are sure to impact the world of digital marketing in 2019.
1. The World Is Quickly Turning to Virtual and Augmented Realities. Remember the hysteria around Pokémon Go a few years ago? People of every age walked into cars and slammed into one another on the street as they immersed themselves in this new and exciting reality. Gaming may be how the masses interpret and understand augmented and virtual realities (AR and VR), but there’s also tremendous opportunity for brands to use these technologies to improve the customer experience.
IKEA has been experimenting with VR gaming technology since 2016 when the well-known furniture brand announced the Virtual Reality Kitchen, IKEA VR Experience—a shopping app designed to let customers’ try out different IKEA solutions before buying them. Users can experience the look and feel of a customized kitchen, for instance, with just a click, moving about the space easily while testing different finish or cabinet solutions.
More recently, Nickelodeon entered the VR and AR landscapes by adding an AR mode to its mobile app and launching SlimeZone, “its first multiplayer, social VR experience.” The children’s channel hopes that these new high-tech additions will “keep kids on board in the face of distractions elsewhere.”
In 2019, we’ll likely see more brands take bold steps such as these to revisit VR and AR in ways that add value to consumer experiences.
2. Voice Is Becoming the Ultimate Search-Marketing Tool. ComScore estimates that, by 2020, half of all search queries will be voice-based — a prediction that’s causing shrewd brand marketers to sit up and take notice. Voice recognition technology is only expected to grow bigger and better, and consumers are welcoming the convenience of intelligent voice search with open arms.
To get in front of this trend, think about the differences between text and voice search. More specifically, consider what your customers might speak, rather than type when making an inquiry. It also makes sense to start writing in a more conversational tone to develop content that better aligns with voice search. Finally, if you haven’t done so already, optimize your site for mobile — like, yesterday.
For now, the majority of voice search usage is based on utility — people use it most when their hands are full or when they’re driving. But as word accuracy rates improve over the next year, and consumers become more accustomed to having their needs met, expect to see brands competing on yet another platform, as they struggle to understand how to be found in voice searches.
3. AI-Powered Solutions Are Everywhere — From Small Businesses to Large Enterprises. If 2018 is the year brands started to experiment with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications, 2019 will be the year they get it right. From chatbots to robotic process automation, the value of improved efficiency, increased productivity and higher customer satisfaction is becoming clear.
In 2019, AI-powered technologies will take customer-centric marketing to a new level. Huge differentiators, expect better trend analysis, enhanced customer profiling, and even more sophisticated personalization strategies.
“Marketers should look to how they can use AI as a way to understand what content a potential customer is consuming, whether it is marketing generated content, support or technical documents or user generated, which will allow for more personalized customer experience and high customer satisfaction,” says Lisa Matherly, VP of Content Marketing at McAfee.
As you start to dig into the data you collect and store, deploying smart AI-powered applications will help you reach targeted audiences with precision, increasing efficiencies and paving the way for extraordinary customer experiences.
Digital workflow will become easier too, as simple-to-deploy AI-powered solutions are made available to more businesses looking to maximize the technology. For instance, media agencies can optimize paid advertising campaigns for their clients by using smart algorithms to analyze the performance of campaigns in motion. With automated A/B testing and algorithms that update themselves in real time, necessary improvements can be made on the fly to increase marketing ROI.
At the enterprise level, software-as-a-service companies provide AI-driven automation and workflow solutions that dramatically improve digital operations across healthcare, banking, insurance, and more.
4. Video Views Lead Internet Traffic. Video is eating the web — a phenomenon we recognized years ago when the Washington Post predicted that video would account for 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2019. That makes sense, because the average attention span is short, and most people would rather watch a video than read a blog post.
Realizing this, brands enthusiastically publish video from live events and behind-the-scenes moments. They create video tips and tricks and anything else they can scrape together in a pithy two-or three-minute piece. Yet, video marketing only succeeds if it delivers what consumers want, when and how they want it.
Done well, video marketing produces amazing results. According to HubSpot, simply adding a video to an email boosts click-through rate by a staggering 200–300 percent, and putting one on a landing page increases conversion rate by 80 percent.
Next year, live video feeds will continue to explode, but the real differentiator going forward will be originality. Interactive video and imaginative video marketing that encourages user engagement will quickly outpace video for the sake of moving pictures. Consumers become bored quickly — brands that use video to engage and excite users will win.
5. The Onslaught of Native Advertising Is Pushing Marketing to Be More Creative. Today’s consumers are resistant to advertising, and the sudden increase of ad blockers has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to send out their messages.
If companies want to reach new consumers in 2019, they’ll have to work on making their advertisements blend more naturally into content.
Native ads provide a much-needed break from in-your-face techniques like banner ads. However, as brands work desperately to become less annoying, they’ve successfully blurred the lines between native and traditional ads.
“It can be difficult to know if that article you are looking at on Mashable is a real article or a sponsored native one,” says Bernard May, CEO, National Positions. In the future, “Platforms may run into a situation where customers might request a clearer differentiation between various types of content … pushing marketing to be more creative, less disruptive, and a bigger part of the conversation.”
Despite consumers growing wiser, native ads are becoming an essential component of the marketing mix for several major brands, including Airbnb, Lexus, and Visa, says Nedelina Payaneva, digital marketing specialist at Asian Absolute.
In the coming years, Pavaneva believes businesses will leverage native ad strategy through social media like Instagram Stories, showing content that users hardly recognize (or mind) as ads.
6. Programmatic Advertising Is Going Mainstream. In 2018, we’re seeing the growth of programmatic advertising. The technology that was once reserved only for media-buying is on fire and predicted to account for two-thirds of the world’s digital display advertising by 2019. Buyers and sellers are investing heavily in automated ad buying — and they will continue to do so.
Digital display is well on its way to becoming 100 percent programmatic. But what’s really interesting is how traditional media is following suit. You can expect to see this shift from programmatic to traditional media begin to take shape in 2019.
Wrapping It Up
The future of digital marketing is bright. With virtual and augmented realities inspiring new engagement, and marketers tapping into greater creativity, brands will find it easier to be authentic and responsive to their customers’ needs.
As businesses become more familiar with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, they will deliver better, more sophisticated, more personalized experiences. With access to more data, better insights, and new opportunities, the future will leave no smart businesses behind.
The Top 7 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2018/2019
Gordon Donnelly | Business 2 Community
1. We’ll see the rise of 360-degree video/virtual reality campaigns
If you checked out our post on the best video editing software for beginners, you might remember reading a lot of about 360-degree video. That’s because nearly all the top pieces of video editing software now offer 360-degree video support—a development that occurred in the last year or so—giving marketers, amateurs, and surfer bros alike the ability to get radical:
If, you’re skeptical about the benefits of virtual reality (VR), and worried that too much virtual immersion could devolve into a never-leave-the-house-type situation, a quick scan of some of 360-degree content around the web might put your mind at ease. Ex-military men and women afflicted with PTSD are using virtual reality to reclaim their lives; those afraid of flying are therapeutically exposing themselves to take-offs and other in-flight experiences; this dude climbed a tree—think of the marketing possibilities! The best video marketers will leverage VR to seamlessly evoke the feeling—be it joy, comfort, whatever—they want their customers to associate with the purchase and use of their product. Sound more effective than a text ad? We think so too!
We still might be a few years away from widespread, effective use of VR in marketing; but innovators will get the ball rolling this year.
2. The potential of chatbots will finally be realized
While lead generation still gets the glory, customer support brings home the days-simmered bacon. Nurture doesn’t stop once your prospects pass through the funnel. Do you know much easier it is to sell to an existing, happy customer, than to a new prospect? 14 times easier.
The chatbot was in bold atop most marketers’ “2017 predictions” lists, but it proved more a shy debutante than an all-out party-crasher. This year, companies are expected to put more effort than ever into testing and implementing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The global chatbot market is predicted to grow substantially year-over-year—one report has it reaching $1.23 billion by 2025 (a compounded annual growth rate of 24.3%). And an Oracle survey found that 80% of chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, senior marketers, and senior sales executives already use chatbots, or plan to use them by 2020. Put simply, the customer service revolution is already in motion.
Given improvements in AI technology, the growing understanding of the importance of customer support, and the anticipated market trajectory, we predict chatbots are going to have a huge year in 2018.
3. Brands will allocate more budget than ever to influencer marketing
Notice that 90% increase in “influencer marketing” related queries from 2013 to 2016? Well, that number more than doubled in the past year.
Influencer marketing is quickly establishing itself as one of the most effective ways to increase brand exposure and credibility. It allows brands to skip countless hours of targeting and nurturing, and has become a more time-effective (and often cost-effective) way to reach new potential customers. The majority of marketers rate influencer marketing among their most cost-effective channels; ditto, among their fastest-growing channels for online customer acquisition. Look for more brands to get in on the act in 2018.
4. SEOs will finally be forced to take voice search seriously
I was riding alongside my sister’s boyfriend, John, on the way to Christmas Eve this past week, when The Cranberries’ “Zombie” came on the radio. John wondered aloud whether the song was released in the 90s (it was), and, pulling out his android, asked Google Assistant. That’s the wonderful thing about voice search. You no longer have to keep your Zombie-related queries IN YO’ HEADDD.
For real though: not convinced voice search is a trend worth paying attention to? Take a look at the number of articles published in the past year about “how to optimize for featured snippets”:
Up 178% from 2016! The biggest reason for the influx? Systems like Google Home and Google Assistant get their information primarily from featured snippets. They even cite the name of the site that answered the query. Have you heard that ridiculous stat that by 2019, video will account for more than 80% of all video traffic? Well, ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. 50% of all searches. If that number comes anywhere close to fruition, the SEO community is in for some serious voice search optimization in the next year plus.
5. Digital advertising will continue its pace to supplant traditional advertising
Data shows that consumers continue to spend less time with their television sets, and more time with their devices. Gone are the days of getting home from work and settling in for 2 hours of Seinfeld reruns. We now have more power than ever to personalize our viewing experience. Evidently, it’s power we intend to wield.
That’s great news for digital marketers. 49% of organizations do not yet have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy. About the same amount of small-to-medium-sized businesses have just a basic understanding of SEO. 60% of consumers still don’t even know a PPC ad when they see one. What does all this amount to? A digital landscape that’s ripe for cultivation, and a whole bunch of budget heading there in the near future.
6. Gated content will get all liberated
It’s a bit dramatic to say that the digital marketing world does whatever HubSpot does; but hey, they run a tight ship over there. To say nothing of the experiments! One very interesting experiment this year tested the effects of un-gating content to see how SEO and conversions would be impacted. Their method was to convert gated PDF pages into HTML pages, optimize the HTML content to convert, then re-gate the pages just when the content was (supposed to be) getting good—a la, “click to read more,” and such.
What HubSpot found was an increase in organic traffic exclusively for the already-highly-visible (in the SERP) PDF pages. Other pages, however, experienced negligible impact; and conversion rates more or less plummeted across the board.
Still, such an experiment opens the door for all kinds of experimenting with un-gating and partially-gating content; and with the potentially exponential return on SEO, we anticipate more brands will get in the game.
7. The ad revenue gap between Facebook and Instagram will shrink
While Instagram’s ad revenue still lags behind Facebook’s by quite a bit, you should fully expect that gap to shrink in 2018. 20% of Facebook’s total mobile ad revenue this year came from Instagram, an increase from 8.4% in 2016. And while that number says a lot, take a look at Instagram’s user growth rate in the past year plus:
Not only did the platform double its number of monthly users in the past two years—hitting 800 million this September—but from March 2016 to March 2017, its advertiser base grew by 500%. Expect that number to continue to rise astronomically as marketers realize how much money they’re leaving on the table by excluding the platform from their marketing budget. Ultimately, as Instagram’s number of advertisers catches up to its number of monthly actively users, clicks and impressions won’t be so cheap/easy to come by; but until then, the race is on.
We put this list together in the hopes that it would help you try to anticipate the year to come in marketing, and plan accordingly. Of course, no prediction is guaranteed to come to fruition. Take a look back, find a trend or two you strongly believe in, and get optimizing!
It is time to put everything together. This week, you will encounter a variety of slightly different approaches to developing a digital marketing plan. However, all the approaches share common elements.
Chapter 10 introduces a digital marketing strategy and planning process to maximize the chances that your campaign will be a success. After studying the chapter this week, you will able to:
Explain and implement the 3i principles
Describe how to gather essential information on the most important elements of the campaign: the market, your competitors, and your audience
Define and segment your target audience
Identify the exact objectives for your specific business plan
Describe which digital tools to use for every type of business plan
Explain how to separate your budget and identify the most useful resources to spend money on
Manage and monitor your campaign with the suitable digital tools for the entire iterative process
Details the benefits of monitoring and analysis
Describe the importance of calculating ROI
Explain the importance of keeping the iterative process in motion
Good luck and have fun! Please keep in touch, especially when you become the next digital marketing superstar!
In short: Your digital marketing strategy is the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing. The term ‘strategy’ might seem intimidating, but building an effective digital strategy doesn’t need to be difficult.
In simple terms, a strategy is just a plan of action to achieve a desired goal, or multiple goals. For example, your overarching goal might be to generate 25% more leads via your website this year than you drove last year.
What is Digital Strategy?
In an ever-changing digital landscape, success in business can often depend on what you do (or don’t do) in terms of marketing your company online.
From SEO to content marketing and analytics, it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start — and, more importantly, what’s going to have the biggest impact on your business. To be effective at digital marketing, you’ll need a strategy.
Now depending on the scale of your business, your digital marketing strategy might involve multiple goals and a lot of moving parts, but coming back to this simple way of thinking about strategy can help you stay focused on meeting those objectives.
Despite our simplification of the term ‘strategy’, there’s no doubt it can be difficult to get started actually building one. So, we’ve put together a series of seven building blocks to help you create an effective digital marketing strategy and set your business up for online success.
What is a Digital Marketing Campaign?
It’s easy to confuse your digital strategy with your digital marketing campaigns, but here’s how to distinguish the two.
As we’ve already outlined, your digital strategy is the series of actions you take to help you achieve your overarching marketing goal. Your digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks or actions within your strategy that move you towards meeting that goal.
For example, you might decide to run a campaign sharing some of your best performing gated content on Twitter to generate more leads through that channel. That campaign is part of your strategy to generate more leads.
It’s important to note that even if a campaign runs over the course of a couple of years, it doesn’t make it a strategy — it’s still a tactic that sits alongside other campaigns to form your strategy.
Now we’ve got to grips with the basics of digital strategy and digital marketing campaigns, let’s dig into how to build your strategy.
How to Build a Comprehensive Digital Strategy
1) Build your buyer personas.
For any marketing strategy — offline or online — you need to know who you’re marketing to. The best digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas, and your first step is to create them. (Need help? Start here with our free buyer persona kit.)
Buyer personas represent your ideal customer(s) and can be created by researching, surveying, and interviewing your business’s target audience. It’s important to note that this information should be based upon real data wherever possible, as making assumptions about your audience can cause your marketing strategy to take the wrong direction.
To get a rounded picture of your persona, your research pool should include a mixture of customers, prospects, and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience.
But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer persona(s) to inform your digital marketing strategy? That depends on your businesses, and is likely to vary depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, or whether your product is high cost or low cost. Here are some starting points, but you’ll want to switch them up depending on your particular business.
Quantitative (or Demographic) Information
Location. You can use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to easily identify what location your website traffic is coming from.
Age. Depending on your business, this may or may not be relevant. It’s best to gather this data by identifying trends in your existing prospect and customer database.
Income. It’s best to gather sensitive information like personal income in persona research interviews, as people might be unwilling to share it via online forms.
Job Title. This is something you can get a rough idea of from your existing customer base, and is most relevant for B2B companies.
Qualitative (or Psychographic) Information
Goals. Depending on the need your product or service was created to serve, you might already have a good idea of what goals your persona is looking to achieve. However, it’s best to cement your assumptions by speaking to customers, salespeople and customer service representatives.
Challenges. Again, speak to customers, salespeople and customer service representatives to get an idea of the common problems your audience faces.
Hobbies and interests. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, it’s helpful to know if large segments of your audience are also into fitness and wellbeing, as that can help inform your future content creation and partnerships.
Priorities. Speak to customers and people who align with your target audience to find out what’s most important to them in relation to your business. For example, if you’re a B2B software company, knowing that your audience values customer support over a competitive price point is very valuable information.
Take this information and create one or more rounded personas like HubSpot’s Marketing Mary, and ensure they’re at the core of your digital marketing strategy. If you need more detail, check out this comprehensive buyer persona guide with templates.
2) Identify your goals & the digital marketing tools you’ll need.
As a marketer, your goals should always be tied back to the fundamental goals of the business. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 20%, your goal as a marketer might be to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year to contribute towards that success.
Whatever your overarching goal is, you need to know how to measure it, and more importantly, actually be able to measure it (i.e., have the right digital marketing tools in place to do so). How you measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy will be different for each business and dependent on your goal(s), but it’s vital to ensure you’re able to do so, as it’s these metrics which will help you adjust your strategy in the future.
(HubSpot Customers: Reporting in HubSpot brings all of your marketing and sales data into one place so you can quickly determine what works and what doesn’t. Learn more here.)
3) Evaluate your existing digital marketing channels and assets.
When considering your available digital marketing channels or assets to incorporate into your strategy, it’s helpful to first consider the bigger picture to avoid getting overwhelmed. The owned, earned and paid media framework helps to categorize the digital ‘vehicles’, assets or channels that you’re already using.
This refers to the digital assets literally owned by you. Whether that’s your website, social media profiles, blog content, or imagery, owned channels are the things your business has complete control over.
Quite simply, earned media refers to the exposure you’ve earned through word-of-mouth. Whether that’s content you’ve distributed on other websites (e.g., guest posts), PR work you’ve been doing, or the customer experience you’ve delivered, earned media is the recognition you receive as a result. You can earn media by getting press mentions, positive reviews, and by other people sharing your content on social media, etc.
Paid media is very self-explanatory and refers to any vehicle or channel that you spend money on to catch the attention of your buyer personas. This includes things like Google AdWords, paid social media posts, native advertising (like sponsored posts on other websites), and any other vehicle which you directly pay for in exchange for visibility.
Gather what you have, and categorize each vehicle or asset in a spreadsheet so you have a clear picture of your existing owned, earned, and paid media.
Your digital marketing strategy might incorporate elements of all three channels, all working together to help you reach your goal. For example, you might have an owned piece of content on a landing page on your website that’s been created to help you generate leads. To amplify the amount of leads that content generates, you might have made a real effort to make it shareable, meaning others are distributing it via their personal social media profiles, increasing traffic to the landing page. This is the earned media component. To support the content’s success, you might have posted about the content to your Facebook page and have paid to have it seen by more people in your target audience.
That’s exactly how the three can work together to help you meet your goal. Of course, it’s not compulsory to use all three. If your owned and earned media is very successful, you might not need to invest in paid. It’s all about evaluating the best solution to meet your goal, and then incorporating the channels that work best for your business into your digital marketing strategy.
Now you know what’s already being used, you can start to think about what to keep and what to cut.
4) Audit and plan your owned media.
At the heart of digital marketing is your owned media, which pretty much always takes the form of content. Everything your brand says is your content, whether that’s your ‘About Us’ page, your product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, social media posts — it’s all considered content. Content helps convert your website visitors into leads and customers, and helps to raise your brand’s profile online. Whatever your goal, you’re going to need to use owned content to form your digital marketing strategy.
To build your digital marketing strategy, you need to decide what content is going to help you reach your goals. If your goal is to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year, it’s unlikely that your ‘About Us’ page is going to be included in your strategy (unless that page has been a lead generation machine in the past!)
In fact, it’s much more likely than an ebook that’s hidden behind a form on your website drives far more leads, and as a result is probably something you want to do more of.
Here’s a brief process to follow to work out what owned content you need to meet your digital marketing goals:
Audit your existing content
Make a list of your existing owned content and rank each item according to what has previously performed best in relation to your current goals. If your goal is lead generation, rank them according to which generated the most leads in the last year. That might be a particular blog post, an ebook, or even a specific page on your website that’s converting well.
The idea here is to figure out what’s currently working, and what’s not, so that you can set yourself up for future success.
Identify gaps in your existing content
Based on your buyer personas, identify any gaps in the content you have. If you’re a math tutoring company and have discovered in your audience research that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is finding interesting ways to study, but you don’t have any content that speaks to that concern, then you might look to create some.
By looking at your content audit, you might discover that ebooks hosted on a certain type of landing page convert really well for you (much better than webinars, for example). In the case of this math tutoring company, you might make the decision to add an ebook about ‘how to make studying more interesting’ to your content creation plans.
Create a content creation plan
Based on your findings and the gaps you’ve identified, make a content creation plan outlining the content that’s needed to help you hit your goals. This should include:
Why you’re creating it (e.g., ‘Marketing Mary struggles to find time to plan her blog content, so we’re creating a template editorial calendar’)
Priority level (to help you decide what’s going to give you the most ‘bang’ for your buck)
This can be a simple spreadsheet, and should also include budget information if you’re planning to outsource the content creation, or a time estimate if you’re producing it yourself.
5) Audit and plan your earned media.
Evaluating your previous earned media against your current goals can help you get an idea of where to focus your time. Look at where your traffic and leads are coming from (if that’s your goal) and rank each earned media source from most effective to least effective.
You might find that a particular article you contributed to the industry press drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which in turn converted really well. Or you might discover that LinkedIn is where you see most people sharing your content, which in turn drives a lot of traffic. The idea here is to build up a picture of what earned media will help you reach your goals, and what won’t, based on historic data. However, if there’s something new you want to try, don’t rule that out just because it’s not yet tried and tested.
6) Audit and plan your paid media.
This process involves much of the same process: You need to evaluate your existing paid media across each platform (e.g., Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to figure out what’s likely to help you meet your current goals.
By the end of the process, you should have a clear idea of which paid media platforms you want to continue using, and which (if any) you’d like to scrap.
7) Bring it all together.
You’ve done the planning and the research, and you now have a solid vision of the elements that are going to make up your digital marketing strategy. Here’s what you should have so far:
Clear profile of your buyer persona(s)
One or more marketing-specific goals
A spreadsheet of your existing owned, earned and paid media
An audit of your existing owned, earned and paid media
An owned content creation plan or wish list
Now, it’s time to bring all of this together to form a solid strategy document. Let’s revisit what ‘digital strategy’ means — ‘the series of actions that are going to help you achieve your goal(s) using online marketing’.
By that definition, your strategy document should map out the series of actions you’re going to take to achieve your goals based on your research to this point. An Excel sheet is probably the best format. For the sake of consistency, you’ll probably find it easiest to map out according to the owned, earned and paid media framework we’ve used so far.
You’ll also need to map out your strategy for an extended period of time (usually 12 months or longer, depending on how your business is set up) so it’s helpful to overlay when you’ll be executing each action. For example:
In January, you might start a blog which will be continually updated once a week for the entire year.
In March, you might launch a new ebook accompanied by paid promotion.
In July, you might be preparing for your biggest business month.
In September, you might plan to focus on earned media in the form of PR to drive additional traffic during the run-up.
By taking this approach, you’re also creating a structured timeline for your activity which will help communicate your plans to your colleagues — and help keep you sane!
Your strategy document will be very individual to your business, which is why it’s almost impossible for us to create a one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy template. Remember that the purpose of your strategy document is to map out the actions you’re going to take to achieve your goal over a period of time — as long as it communicates that, then you’ve nailed the basics of creating a digital strategy.
Preparation is key. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Whether you are chopping down a tree or executing an integrated marketing plan, the steps you take ahead of time to lay out your plan and ensure you have all of the proper (and optimized) tools, are crucial to your marketing success.
Your marketing department might encompass digital marketing, print advertisement, paid search, website optimization, visual identity/branding, event marketing, etc. As a digital marketing agency, this marketing plan discussion will focus mostly on the digital marketing aspect, but the strategies and concepts in this post can be expanded to encompass your entire marketing department. For today’s marketers, creating an integrated marketing plan that includes social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing and SEO — all tenets of a strong digital marketing, or inbound marketing strategy — is necessary in order to attract and convert buyers in a digital age.
Maybe you work for a large corporation and have been tasked with developing next year’s marketing plan, or perhaps you are launching a new start-up and need to craft a plan from scratch. Maybe it’s been 20 years since you graduated from business school or wrote your last marketing plan, and realize that times have changed a bit. Whatever the case, the steps you take today to create a functional and straight forward marketing plan will lay the foundation for your year ahead, helping you to get results that are measurable and quantifiable.
But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at an overview of how the marketing plan should be structured.
How to Structure Your Marketing Plan
List your Goals First
While developing goals may not be the first step you actually take when forming your marketing plan, listing them first on your final marketing plan document sets the stage for everything to come.
Explain Your Research
Research will be the foundation of your marketing plan and should include:
SWOT Analysis – This is an analysis of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, standard to any business or marketing plan
Understanding Your Buyer Personas – This will include the demographics of the buyers you are targeting as well as include any personas you want to avoid.
Learning Your Buyers’ Buying Cycle – Understanding how, when, where and why your target market buys is key to converting leads.
Explain Your Strategy
Once you have a clear grip on the landscape and understand your buyers, it’s time to explain the strategy. This phase includes:
Defining Your Goals
Knowing Your USP (unique selling proposition)
Ensuring You Have a Strong Brand
Making Sure You Have an Optimized Website
Creating Kick-Ass Content
Defining Your Distribution Channels (email, social, etc.)
Having an SEO Strategy
Define KPIs and Measurement Methods
After all the heavy lifting is complete, your strategy is in place and you have begun pulling together and implementing your tactical plans, it’s time to measure. In fact, even before you have implemented your strategy you should be measuring to establish your baseline. What have you done in the past and what were the results? How can those strategies shift to improve ROI? Measurement should be done before, during and after — throughout the year, on a monthly or even weekly basis — to ensure your plans are showing positive results and to shift them if they’re not.
List Overarching Strategy and Tactical Plans
Having tactical plans and calendars gives life to your ideas and strategy. Try focusing on 4 or 5 main tactics for the year and create execution plans around these tactics. Keep in mind that your tactics may or may not be the same as your goals. If your goals are high-level, i.e. to increase traffic by 50%, then your tactic would drill down more on how to get that result — and be as the name implies, more tactical.
It’s a Guide, Not a Bible
Nobody can predict the future, which is why it is vital to remember that your marketing plan should be a living, working document. This is not a style book, a brand handbook or a book on company policy. A marketing plan should be a reference that is used throughout the year, is malleable to a certain extent and is shared with all stakeholders and contributing members of the team. Transparency is important when developing and finalizing the plan. By getting feedback from all departments and being clear on goals, your marketing plan is more likely to be of value and to be seen as a successful tool.
A marketing plan left to collect dust is useless. What’s not useless is a fluid marketing plan that allows for change and is looked upon as a guide, not as a bible.
Do Your Research
A common mistake that many make is starting on the tactical plan before they have ironed out the strategic plan. In order to formulate a strategic plan, you need to do research.
If you don’t know who you are, what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, you’re going to have a pretty hard time convincing people to buy your product or service, never mind figuring out what tactical initiatives you should be working on. So, if you haven’t already, do your homework. Start with researching your competitors and audience; examine your customers’ buying habits; and do a SWOT analysis (more on that in a bit). These steps will help you lay a sturdy foundation for your tactical plans and allow you to develop reasonable expectations and goals.
Feel Out the Competition
In order to determine the likelihood of success and define your marketing strategy, you need to understand the competition. Researching your competition first will also help you through your next step of creating a SWOT analysis.
In the new world of inbound marketing there are a handful of strategies that are paramount. These strategies can also be useful when researching competitors. Using email and social media, and surveying the content landscape, will give you an immense amount of knowledge about your competition. Here are some quick tips on understanding who you’re up against:
Subscribe to your competitors’ (or those you perceive to be your competitors) email lists.
Follow your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram… any social site you can find them on.
Examine what content your competitors are creating — who it is aimed at, how often is it produced, who is writing it, what the content topics are, etc. MOZ recommends using Wordle to get a pulse on the competition and keep your data organized.
For more on why these tactics are important, how to implement them and what data you can glean from them, read Competitor Research in an Inbound Marketing World.
Perform a SWOT Analysis
Standard to any business or marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis should help you clearly define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so that you can develop goals and objectives that are on point and tied to your overall mission. The SWOT analysis will also enable you to understand what differentiates you from your competition and how you should position yourself in the market. It will also help in developing your messaging and your unique selling proposition. Brutal honesty is imperative to a truly insightful SWOT. Use bullets and aim for 4–5 in each section. Limiting your lists will help you to focus on the most critical points and help retain focus.
In addition to completing a SWOT for your overall marketing plan, it is often helpful to do a SWOT analysis for the different segments within your marketing plan. For example, as we will discuss further down in this piece, content marketing, social media and SEO will all be important parts of your overall inbound marketing plan and would benefit from SWOTs of their own.
Create Your Buyer Personas
The days of outbound marketing have come and gone. No longer are we looking at audiences en masse. Instead, inbound marketers are honing in on the segments of those audiences that they want to target. This is a crucial step in developing an inbound marketing plan.
Creating buyer personas, in order to understand your target market, will let you see who you are marketing to, what their pain points are, where they live online and a number of other demographic traits. This information will help you to personalize your marketing materials so they are targeted and highly relevant to your audience segments.
And remember, you aren’t trying to catch every fish in the sea. You are only trying to catch the ones you want, the ones you are targeting because they have the strongest potential to turn into leads. Your net doesn’t need to be wide — it needs to be precise.
Learn Your Buyers’ Buying Cycle
After you have identified your buyer personas, the next step is figuring out how these personas think and ultimately make the decision to buy. According to Hubspot and adopted by all those who believe in the inbound marketing methodology, there are three steps in the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, Decision. Each of these stages are major opportunities for you as a marketer to nurture your potential customer by providing valuable content about the product and or problem they are trying to solve for. Here are three stats from a Forbes.com article that prove just how important content is in nurturing a prospect throughout the buyer’s journey:
70-90% of the buyer’s journey is complete prior to engaging a vendor (Forrester)
A consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase (Forrester)
Consumers are 5x more dependent on content than they were 5 years ago (Nielsen)
To learn more about the buyer’s journey and how you can align your marketing plan with your customers buying habits, read Understanding the Buyer’s Journey. And if you are a B2B company, read B2B Lead Generation Starts with Mapping the Buyers Journey.
Create a Strategy
Now that you’ve done your research, you’re ready to start formulating a marketing strategy for your plan.
Whittle Down Your Goals
Goals are the most important part of your plan. If you have completed your research, you should have been able to identify your weaknesses and areas of opportunities. Setting both quantitative and qualitative goals around these findings, as well as developing KPIs, will be essential. They will help you to set a clear path, understand your marketing ROI and redirect your tactics as you move through the year, if you find certain strategies are working better than others.
Goals should be obtainable, but not easy. You want to make sure you are reaching for growth but not shooting for the stars and ending up discouraged and overwhelmed.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when developing marketing goals and objectives:
Evaluate your current position in the market and set realistic goals
Understand your growth year-to-date and set attainable but challenging goals accordingly
Tie your goals to your businesses overall mission and vision
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick no more than 2 main goals and 3-5 supporting goals
Accept that sometimes you will fail and not reach all of your goals. Be OK with that and learn from your failures
Create goal milestones to make reaching the goal more digestible
And remember, we are marketers, not heart surgeons. Have fun, get creative and don’t take yourself or your marketing too seriously.
Know What Makes You Unique
Knowing your unique selling proposition (USP) and marketing that USP is essential to beating the competition and solidifying your company’s value in the marketplace. Your USP ties in closely with your brand and your content because those are the conduits your USP will be communicated through. And communication is key. Clearly state your USP and do it often, on your website, in your emails, through your ads etc. For tips on formulating your USP read The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition
If your brand encompasses several sub-brands or subsidiaries, have you strategically audited your brand architecture to leverage maximum brand equity? Not only will a well-designed, cohesive brand architecture benefit you in brand value and recognition, but an online brand strategy will benefit your SEO/Search rankings will improve as well.
Optimize Your Website
Website design is more than just a pretty page. Your website is often the first impression your prospects will get of your company. That means that your website has to be more than pretty (that helps), it needs to be clear and functional. If your site is cluttered and hard to navigate you will automatically lose potential buyers. Just think about the last time you went to a poorly designed and over cluttered site. Did you stay long? Did you get an immediate impression of that company? Similarly, if visitors can’t tell what you sell or what your value proposition is, they will leave. All it takes is the click of a button and they are on to the next provider. There’s often a direct correlation made that if your website is hard to work with, your company must be hard to work with.
So be clear in your messaging. Make sure your site is a place that people want to stay, not only because it is pretty but also because the information they need is easily found. There is an entire science and methodology behind website design including where to place buttons on the page, what content works best where, what colors convey certain feelings and so on. Read, 4 Examples of Fantastic Web Design for inspiration and consider hiring a web designer who specializes in Inbound Marketing and SEO to ensure your website is reaching its full potential.
Create Kick-Ass Content
If you have read anything about inbound or content marketing you have likely heard the overused phrase “content is king.” While it may be overused, when it comes to inbound marketing, it’s pretty spot on. Content is the meat that will attract your buyers. It is what Google uses to search for keywords and drive users to your site and what buyers use to glean information and knowledge about their problem as they move through the buyer’s journey.
Content is all of the written words used to convey your brand, from the copy on your site to the landing page users arrive at, to the blog posts, newsletters and emails you write. But it’s not just having content that matters, it’s having quality content that is consistent. Content marketing is about providing useful information to your customer base. It’s not about selling but about informing.
Think of it this way. If you write intelligent and thought provoking blog content, say on a weekly basis, that in some way solves a problem, answers a question or simply entertains your target audience, you will become a go-to resource for those potential buyers. They will come back to your site time and time again because you are providing a free service for them, all the while building trust and establishing brand clout in a non-intrusive way. And when these devoted followers realize they need the product you sell, guess who they are most likely to buy it from? You got it. They are going to go to you. The company they trust. Read Is Youtility the Future of Marketing by Jay Baer, New York Times best selling author and social media and content strategist, to learn more about this important concept.
So, your content is essential in nurturing your customers as they move through the buyer’s journey, but in order to do this successfully you need to know what types of content to use and when.
Here are the recommended content types for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Expert and Solution Oriented Guides and White Papers
Product Focused Content
But it doesn’t stop there. Buyers aren’t the only ones that like helpful content. Google does too. Creating solid content is hugely important for your SEO strategy.
So if content is the meat, your distribution channels are the arms that feed that meat. As important as content is, without distribution your content goes to waste. It is useless. So it is essential to have a clear understanding of how each channel works and to use a mix of paid, owned and earned media.
In the world of social media it pays to have an overall strategy that is tweaked depending on the social channel you are working in. For example, the way you market on Twitter will differ from the way you market on LinkedIn or Facebook. They are different sites with different purposes and your messaging needs to reflect that. One strategy, however, that does work across them all is using photographs. Posts with pictures get higher clicks and engagement across the board. And because social media is all about getting your content and your messaging seen, timing is important. According to sumall.com the key is to catch people in their downtime, early in the morning, on their breaks or at night. Here is what they recommend for timing:
Twitter 1-3pm weekdays
Facebook 1-4pm and 2-5pm weekdays
LinkedIn 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
Tumblr 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
Instagram 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweetspot at 6pm
Pinterest 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
Google+ 9-11am weekdays
Of course, depending on your industry and audience these times could vary. The key is to test and re-test in order to see when your buyers are engaging. Look at the competition. See who is doing social successfully in your space and note their patterns. And remember, your engagement on social media is key. When you interact with your audience you are telling them you heard them, you are enhancing your brand and you are showing authenticity.
Much like your content plan, your social media plan needs a strategy of its own that is then integrated with your overall marketing plan.
Email marketing is yet another tactic in your inbound marketing arsenal. Email is used most effectively as a lead nurturing tool, in that it is used to engage with potential customers as they interact with specific content on your website. For example, should a prospect visit your website and download an eBook, they will then begin to receive a set of triggered emails related to the eBook topic, encouraging them to further interact with the brand. Email is also commonly used for announcements, newsletters and promotions. Just as with social media, email frequency and timing matters. While incorporating email into your marketing plan is important, overdoing it can backfire. People don’t want to be overrun with emails and if you are overzealous you could risk losing potential buyers.
As we have already established, the content you create is important to your strategy but it is only useful if it finds its way into the right hands. SEO is what Google and other search engines use to index your pages and allow your content to be found by your prospective customers. In a digital world, SEO is hugely important. You could think about it as another distribution channel with a whole different set of rules.
In order to use SEO effectively, you must optimize your content and when we say content we mean all your content – from your blogs to your landing pages to your social tags. In order to do this you need to create a keyword list, which will then allow you to create messaging around the words and phrase you are targeting. But SEO is much more than just targeting keywords. Link building, content and social media all play key roles in a successful SEO strategy
This is the phase of your plan that should be ongoing. As soon as you put your marketing plan into action start tracking, measuring and reporting.
The ability to measure your inbound marketing efforts is one of the most valuable parts of your plan and the beauty of inbound marketing. The amount of things to measure and test are endless. And that’s a good thing because when you are able to test and measure you are able to improve areas of weakness, report quantitative results and prove the value of your marketing efforts to the broader organization.
You should be measuring, reporting and testing your inbound marketing on a monthly basis to see what is working and what isn’t and to learn more about your buyer base. It might sound like overkill, but this actually can be the really fun part!
Once you have your strategy in place its time to decide what tactics are most important to the success of that strategy. For example, a company might decide to focus on four main tactics for the year: blog creation, a website re-vamp, SEO improvement and custom list development for email campaigns. While they may still want to work on their social media strategy and PR, for the year in question, they will devote the majority of their budget towards the four main tactics listed while continuing to allocate smaller budgets towards social media and PR, to keep them running. In addition, tactical calendars will be needed to help lay out the specifics of each tactic. For example, an editorial calendar will be needed for the content blogging strategy.
There is a lot that goes into creating an inbound marketing plan. But when it’s done right it can be one of the most valuable assets your marketing department has.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Structuring a Digital Marketing Plan
Elissa Hudson l Hubspot
How can you successfully create a digital marketing plan for your firm? Your digital marketing plan has to consider SEO, analytics, web positioning, strategies, social media, goals, and metrics.
Putting digital marketing actions into motion without a previously-devised plan or strategy could lead to failure for not considering all the aspects that could impact their development. When developing a digital marketing plan, you have to include components such as determining your target audience business objectives, and an adequate value proposition.
What is a digital marketing plan?
A digital marketing plan is a document sharing the details for all the planning for your digital marketing campaigns or actions. It details, among other things:
– Short, medium and long term business goals.
– The strategies to achieve the goals at the digital level.
– The channels to use.
– Action and development plans.
– Investment and budget.
– The timing and roadmap.
According to Philip Kotler, considered one of the fathers of modern marketing, a traditional marketing plan serves: “to document how the organization’s strategic objectives will be achieved through specific marketing strategies and tactics, with the customer as the starting point. It is also linked to the plans of other departments within the organization.”
With this in mind, does your company need a digital marketing plan? According to Puromarketing and in our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes: 100% yes. You need it to:
Attract, convince, convert, and make your customers fall in love with your product or service.
Plan all the strategies and actions to reach your target customer.
Segment your marketing campaigns to provide value in every stage.
Before developing the steps that define a digital marketing plan’s structure, you need to feel comfortable in your corporation’s online domain, your target, the channels where you should be present, and who your competition is and what they do.
Next, we’ll give you a break-down of the step-by-step structure for your digital marketing plan:
Structure a digital marketing plan step-by-step
Step 1: Situational Analysis
The first thing you need to do when developing your digital marketing plan is to carry out an internal and external analysis (SWOT analysis) of the firm. A useful framework for this is the SWOT analysis that allows you to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and weaknesses for your company and the market at large.
We need to be familiar with the ecosystem we operate in, what our customers’ needs are, and where they get addressed. This analysis is equally qualitative as it is quantitative through looking at factors such as digital habits, intermediaries, influencers, and more.
We also need to conduct an internal study to know what our company’s situation is like in the digital age: is our website customer-oriented? How is the usability and browsing experience? Do we update our blog periodically? What is our website’s current positioning? And what is our social media presence?
In this HubSpot infographic, you have a checklist for when you run your analysis of your digital presence.
Step 2: Establish Digital Marketing Goals
Once you have your place in the market and your strong points in mind, work on establishing some goals to have a clear idea of where your actions should take you. Everything you plan has to work towards meeting those goals.
You can work on developing this part of your digital marketing plan with the SMART goals framework in mind: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
Here’s an example:
Not a SMART objective: “I want to increase the number of visits to my website.”
SMART objective: “I want to reach 20,000 visits a month on my website every month within three months. To do so, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z.”
Step 3: Define the marketing strategy
Once you’ve defined your business objectives, what are you going to do to achieve them? Personalization is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. Therefore, when it comes to defining your strategy for carrying out your plan, keep these factors in mind:
Once you’ve defined your business objectives, what are you going to do to achieve them? Personalization is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. Therefore, when it comes to defining your strategy for carrying out your plan, keep these factors in mind:
Segmenting your target audience:
Know who you want to address, what their tastes, needs, or preferences are, where are you looking to meet their expectations, etc. This is the time to create your buyer persona.
To achieve proper positioning, it’s crucial that you are very clear (and reach your audience in the same way) about what your value proposition is and what it entails. In short, it’s why the consumer should choose you and not the competition. You need to know how you’re going to communicate your unique value proposition and how to do so appropriately in the channels where your audience is present (social media, blogs, email marketing, and more).
This is important for creating, distributing, and managing original content that attracts users and positions the brand as referential in users’ top of mind. Besides, you also have to map out a specific communications plan (content marketing) for every channel. Some of the tools we use to execute this strategy are:
Keyword research: This involves identifying appropriate keywords for us to use correctly in our content to organically improve our SEO positioning. This is imperative for every content strategy if you want users to find you on search engines.
Content calendar: A content calendar is key for ensuring your strategy makes sense. It provides value; it lets you think long-term and optimize your resources, help create ideas, and more. In a content calendar, you should include the date of publication, author, post topic, keyword, the tags to use/take into consideration, and so on.
Social posting: Writing an article and not promoting it on social media is a mistake. It’s not spamming but instead planning out what you are going to publish and when on every social media platform with the copies best suited for each one, all while having the ideal number of characters, links, hashtags, and more.
You should also consider:
What your audience is like.
What topics you’re going to talk about.
What tone you’re going to use.
How frequently you’re going to publish.
Step 4: Digital Strategies and Tactics
Based on our objectives (attraction, conversion, and loyalty), we’ll start to carry out different strategies: email marketing campaigns, social media, CRM, web optimization, SEO strategies, Paid Media advertising, etc.
Today, considering that the number of channels to manage is multiplying and the amount of information we get about our customers is increasing, it’s critical we use Marketing Automation tools that let you automate your marketing campaigns.
Thanks to these tactics, you’ll be able to create workflows that will allow you to create hundreds of campaigns with mere clicks. You’ll be able to personalize messages based on your buyer persona, increasing your chances for success; not only that, you’ll be able to take them, depending on their interactions with the brand, towards the moment of purchase.
Technology has turned into a fundamental tool for implementing digital strategies, making it critical for you to learn to get the most out of it.
Step 5: Measuring Results and KPIs
The work doesn’t stop after you’ve designed and implemented your digital marketing strategy. The next step is one of the most important: analyzing the results. Analytics has turned into a critical pillar for successfully optimizing digital marketing performance and spending.
Make sure you have an effective real-time data visualization system. The digital world evolves rapidly, so you need to be on the lookout at all times to identify opportunities and room for improvement in an instant.
Keep these steps in mind when creating your digital marketing plan and don’t leave anything to chance; it’s your greatest enemy if you’re looking to position yourself and boost your presence in the digital space.
Likewise, keep in mind that technology can turn into your greatest ally to create personalized, automated, and ultimately, successfully marketing campaigns. As the task gets complicated, the new tools out there let you simplify your work and boost your performance.
As you draft up your campaign or strategy, always ask yourself this question:
Can I measure this?
For the most important components of your project, the answer will likely be yes. So before you begin executing, make sure you’re laying down a solid foundation for how you will measure your success.
When you’re wondering if your efforts were worth it later, or speculating over whether you’ve done a good job, these metrics will be there for you, answering your questions, providing proof, and cheering you on to greater altitudes.
The metrics you’ll want to track will actually be dependent on your most important goals for a project or campaign. Although all projects are different, here are some great, mainstream metrics that I measure as a rule of thumb:
1-5: Digital Marketing Staples
6-10: Additional Proven Metrics
New vs. Returning Visitors
Top 10 Organic Landing Pages
Digital Marketing Staples
1. Overall Traffic
“All Traffic” (from Google Analytics) will show you how many people visited or engaged with your site in total. It can be broken up into source/medium, which describes where your traffic comes from.
Overall traffic will give you a bird’s eye view of where you stand. It’s a good idea to benchmark or keep an eye on your total traffic over time. You may begin to see similar patterns emerge—like seasonality—that can put you ahead of the game later. The rule of thumb here is that if you’re doing a good job, your overall traffic from all sources should steadily increase over time.
How to Measure:
First, enter your Google Analytics dashboard.
Go to the Acquisition report section
Go to Overview
Look in the Sessions column in the table
2. Channel-Specific Traffic
These metrics depend on where people were immediately before arriving at your site. The channel is the type of door they used to enter your site.
Looking at your top mediums is important to measure for full-scale digital marketing campaigns. It allows you to see what’s causing a drop in visits (if you see dips in overall traffic) and where your campaign excels.
Channels to Watch:
Direct: This is when people directly type in your URL to visit your site or who began to search in the omnibox but visited your site before. The omnibox automatically fills in because they’ve been there before.
Referral: These are people who came to your site from another website. It’s external traffic. People followed a link on a different domain to get to you.
Organic: These are people who performed a search on a search engine such as Google or Bing, and clicked on your website’s listing in the organic (non-paid) search results.
Social: People who came to your site from a social media platform. It’s also a great indicator to gauge the general effectiveness of your SEO, social engagement, content, and integrated campaigns.
3. Total Conversions
Traditionally, a “conversion” is when someone evolves from a simple user visiting your site to a paying customer. However, in today’s digital world we want to track engagement and what our customers are doing on our website to get them deeper into our funnels. More generally, it’s when users complete any desired action, such as filling out a form, clicking a download button, sign up for a trial, download an ebook, create an account, etc. Put simply by Kapost here is another interesting way to think of a conversion:
“The number of anonymous visitors who become known records in your marketing database.”
Low conversions can speak to bad design, unappealing offerings, or a disinterested audience. Tracking conversions helps you point out exactly which components people are interacting with on your site, and which components they just aren’t.It’s also hugely informative on the quality of your UX and other less-tangible creative areas. Low conversion rates can spark a push toward updating your sales funnel, or indicate that it’s time to invest in modernizing your website.
How to View:
Go to Conversions > Goals > Overview
Click “view full report”
4. Bounce Rate
Your site’s bounce rate is the average number of visitors who left your website after only visiting one page—the page they came in on (the “entrance page”).
Each page can have its own bounce rate. You’ll find different pages tend to have different bounce rates, and not all bounce rates are equal.
Bounce rate can tell you whether your site content is relevant or if you are using the right landing page for a paid campaign. The number is very relative, however.
On one hand, a bounce rate for a specific page may be high because users leave the site after viewing the single page after finding the precise info they needed, and had no interest in going further. Perhaps they even called in and became a paying customer after bouncing off a contact page.
On the flip side, users that experience issues with usability or site design might leave the site from the entrance page and never go to a second page.
How to Track:
Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
Choose a specific channel to see just that channel’s performance
Check the Bounce Rate column
Go to Behavior > Site Content
Select either All Pages or Landing Pages
Check the Bounce Rate column
5. Search Trends
Looking at search trends can explain a lot that you don’t have control over. For example, if you are an apartment rental company, search trends for “apartments in city X” might dip in winter and spike again in spring.
Cross-check this with your overall or organic traffic and voila, that’s why Q4 traffic looks so bad compared to previous quarters in the same year. You will want to compare Q4 in the current year to Q4 the previous year to track your true progress.
This can be a great way to tell whether you’re targeting the right keywords for your campaign. If you’re targeting a word that was quite popular five years ago but has since fallen in interest, you may be spending your efforts chasing a highly competitive phrase that really shouldn’t be so competitive anymore.
Google Trends is a good place to start. Dig around and get a feel for how people engage with your industry on a global, chronological scale, or narrow your focus to your own region for even tighter insights.
Additional Proven Metrics
6. New Vs. Returning Visitors
Come in, and come back often!
An increase in new users could be a response to getting mentioned on a popular website where you earned a guest blog, a freshly published press release, or increased budget for a paid campaign (Facebook, PPC or Banner Advertisement).
This metric tells you whether your site is sticky enough to encourage repeat customers, and tells how effective your outreach efforts are. For example, if you launch a new email marketing campaign to your database, you might see an increase in returning visitors to your website. That reveals your email campaign was well received.
Check out the % New Sessions column in most reports.
The good news is, there are other ways to get some insight. Start by connecting your Webmaster Tools property with Analytics. (Note: Google Webmaster Tools is now known as Google Search Console.)
You can see keyword query data start pulling into Analytics, including organic impressions and clicks.
Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries
Click “Set up Search Console data sharing”
Scroll down to the bottom and click “Adjust Search Console”
Click “Edit” (small link, hard to see) – this opens a new tab (Search Console)
Select your website using the radio button; click save, then click “Yes” to save the association
In the previous tab (Google Analytics), click “Done” and return to the Reporting section
Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries – your Search Console data appears (including search terms)
8. Top 10 Organic Landing Pages
Also known as “entrance pages,” these are the individual pages where visitors enter your site after performing a search on a search engine. This metric tells you which pages on your website are the most visible in search engines.
Your top organic landing pages will show you what the missing keywords might have been. If the #1 page visited from organic results is a really specific article, you can glean what people were popularly searching. (This also highlights the importance of specificity in your content strategy!)
Your top organic pages can also tell you how well they’re optimized, and whether you need to refocus your SEO strategy.
Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
Click the “Secondary Dimension” drop-down and choose Acquisition > Medium
Near the search bar, click “Advanced” and create an advanced filter – select the option to show only “Medium” and type “Organic” into the containing-only field
9. User Demographics
Google Analytics will give you a little demographic information, with easy views to age, gender, location, and even some interest information. What’s important here is the location information.
See where your users are coming from, and whether it’s relevant to your goals.
Go to Audience > Geo
Scroll down to get actual number values for location by country, city, continent, or sub-continent
10. Brand Sentiment
Hey, not all publicity is good publicity. You should be gauging sentiment of online conversations regarding your company.
Set up a Google or Talkwalker Alert for your brand’s name, employees and other related topic areas where opinion leaders actively mention you. You’ll be notified when Google finds new content on whatever topic or keyword you select. (This is not actually a specific metric, but it’s definitely a good way to keep a pulse on your digital reputation.)
It’s also important to have a response plan in place. This ensures timely, well-planned handling of unsavory voices while staying in line with the brand tone and voice. You will also be able to track the positive side of your mentions.
Create alerts about your brand name, your products, whatever you think you ought to monitor
A Final Word on Metrics (For Now…)
While it’s helpful to learn from example, no two companies are the same. The metrics you measure should matter to you and answer questions that are important to your business.
Some people call them Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), others simply call them metrics. No matter how you want to define it, these data points are the vehicles that make your goals real and concrete, and make your attempts at reaching them observable and quantifiable.
Measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations. According to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report, 42% of marketers cited “proving the ROI of our marketing activities” as one of the biggest challenge they face within their company.
The trouble is, when most marketers hear ‘digital analytics,’ they tend to think of the metrics you’d typically associate with a web analytics tool like Google Analytics — traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, etc.
While web analytics can provide you with a wealth of insight and data into the performance of your website, marketers really need much richer data to understand the impact of their marketing campaigns on conversion rates and a person’s journey through the marketing and sales funnel. Looking at top-level web analytics metrics like traffic is only part of the puzzle.
Enter digital marketing analytics which offers a much more comprehensive view of what’s working when it comes to your marketing strategy, and what isn’t.
Why Digital Marketing Analytics Matter More Than Web Analytics
So why exactly do digital marketing analytics matter? Quite simply, because web analytics (like traffic and website performance) just isn’t enough. The data web analytics provides just don’t cut it for marketers who need to understand how their work makes an impact throughout the entire marketing and sales funnel.
Let’s face it: Today’s marketing goes well beyond the bounds of your website. It’s the intersection of what happens between your marketing channels and the outcome on the other side that provides the most marketing insight, and your reporting needs to reflect this.
Web analytics measure things a webmaster or technical SEO specialist cares about, like page load speed, page views per visit, and time on site. Digital marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like traffic, leads, and sales, and which online events influence whether leads become customers. Digital marketing analytics includes data not only from your website, but also from other sources like email, social media, and online PR.
With digital marketing analytics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their marketing, not just the effectiveness of their website. Using marketing analytics allows marketers to identify how each of their marketing initiatives (e.g., social media vs. blogging vs. email marketing, etc.) stack up against one another, determine the true ROI of their activities, and understand how well they’re achieving their business goals.
As a result of the information they can gather from full-stack digital marketing analytics, marketers can also diagnose deficiencies in specific channels in their marketing mix, and make adjustments to strategies and tactics to improve their overall marketing activity.
You can spend hours and hours slicing and dicing data in web analytics tools, comparing new vs. repeat visitors month over month, but when it comes down to it, you’ll never have a comprehensive understanding of how your marketing is doing. Marketers have known this for a long time – Check out the explosion of people searching for the term ‘digital marketing analytics’ taken from Analytics Trends here:
Trend #1: Deeper Digital Transformation (DX)
Trend #2: Importance of Data Curation (Self-Service Analytics)
Trend #3: Custom Data Integrations (ETL/Data Warehouse)
Trend #4: Rise of the Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Trend #5: Focus on Data Ownership (Clickstream Solutions)
There’s no doubt that marketers are aware there’s a deficiency in how they’re able to measure the effectiveness of what they do; here’s how full-stack digital marketing analytics makes up for that deficiency.
Why Digital Marketing Analytics Gives You the ‘Full Picture’
1. Integration across different marketing channels.
With digital marketing analytics, you have a good, solid look into the direct relationships between your marketing channels. It’s great to be able to see how each of your individual channels (e.g., social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, etc.) are performing, but the true power of analytics comes into play when you can easily tie the effect of multiple channels’ performances together.
For instance, let’s say you did an email send to a segment of your database. Digital marketing analytics not only tells you how many people clicked through from your email to your website, but also how many of those people actually converted into leads for your business when they got there. Furthermore, you can compare the impact of that individual email send with other marketing initiatives. Did that email generate more leads than the blog post you published yesterday? Or was the content you shared via Twitter more effective?
As we mentioned earlier, a key differentiator between web analytics and digital marketing analytics is that the latter uses the person — not the page view — as the focal point.
This enables you to track how your individual prospects and leads are interacting with your various marketing initiatives and channels over time. How did an individual lead first come to find your website? From Google? Via Facebook? From direct traffic? Is that lead an active part of your email subscriber base, often clicking and converting on marketing offers presented via email? Do they read your blog?
Full-stack digital marketing analytics can tell you all of this and more, providing you with extremely valuable lead intelligence that can help inform the direction of your future campaigns.
Looking at all of this information in aggregate can help you understand trends among your prospects and leads and which marketing activities are valuable at different stages in the buyer’s journey
Perhaps you find that many customers’ last point of conversion was on a certain ebook or whitepaper. Having this data makes it possible to implement an effective lead management process, enabling you to score and prioritize your leads and identify which activities contribute to a marketing qualified lead for your business.
3. Closed-loop data.
One of the most useful functions of marketing analytics is its ability to tie marketing activities to sales. Sure, your blog may be effective in generating leads, but are those leads actually turning into customers and making your business money? Closed-loop marketing analytics can tell you.
The only dependency here is that your digital marketing analytics system is hooked up with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform like the free HubSpot CRM for example.
Having this closed-loop data can help you determine whether your individual marketing initiatives are actually contributing to your business’ bottom line. Through it, you can determine which channels are most critical for driving sales. Perhaps you find that your blog is your most effective channel for generating customers, or conversely, you find that social media is really only powerful as an engagement mechanism, not a source of sales.
The Digital Analytics Challenge
Most marketers know they need to be looking at more than just traffic and website performance to get the insights we’ve talked about so far, but why do so many of us still struggle to measure the impact and prove the ROI of our online marketing activities?
B) We don’t have the means to successfully measure our success.
Quite often, you’ll find it’s a combination of the two.
The fact is, most marketers need to have a number of different digital analytics platforms in place in order to get all the insights they need to understand their marketing performance and make sound decisions. They gather data about their email marketing through the analytics provided by their email service provider, information about their social media performance through their social media monitoring tool, blog analytics from their blogging platform, and the list goes on.
This fragmented approach to reporting makes it really difficult to connect the dots and make informed decisions about the future of your digital strategy. The ideal solution is to implement an all-in-one marketing and reporting platform that offers end-to-end visibility on your marketing activities, allowing you to measure everything in one place.
How Digital Analytics Impacts Your Business
All of the insights, information, and data you can gather from your digital marketing analytics tool(s) is really only useful if you do something with it. The true value of analytics isn’t just to prove the value of marketing to your boss; it’s also to help you improve and optimize your marketing performance — on both an individual channel-by-channel basis as well as an overall, cross-channel machine.
As mentioned above, you’ll also be able to implement closed-loop reporting, making it easier to prove how your marketing efforts are positively impacting your sales team, who are being fed much higher quality leads.
The important thing to realize here is, if you’re relying solely on top-level web analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of powerful data that can help inform your marketing strategy. So when evaluating digital analytics tools for your business, be sure you’re looking for evidence of digital marketing analytics, not just website analytics.
8 Cool Marketing Analysis Tools for Data Junkies l Dan Shewan
Data is every marketer’s best friend. Without data, we couldn’t identify what’s working well in our campaigns, diagnose potential problems, or decide upon which areas to focus our efforts. However, some data is more valuable than other data, and knowing which metrics to monitor can mean the difference between success and failure.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of marketing analysis tools available to marketers of all disciplines. Some are free and do one thing really well, whereas others are subscription-based and offer a broad range of functionality. All of them promise the sweet, sweet data you need to run more effective campaigns, but which ones are worth your time?
In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at eight marketing analysis tools to see what they do, who they’re for, and what they can offer you.
1. Mixpanel – Advanced Web and Mobile Analytics
First up in our list of marketing analysis tools is Mixpanel, a powerful suite of analytical tools that can offer invaluable insights into audience behavior.
Image via Mixpanel
What Does It Do?
Mixpanel offers users a wealth of information about how people use websites and mobile apps You can monitor user interaction with your app or site as a whole, or drill down to individual buttons and features to see exactly how your users are interacting with your product. All of this functionality is possible without requiring a single line of code, meaning that even non-technical personnel can access important data about your site or app.
Who Is It For?
Mixpanel has some impressive clients, including Autodesk, Salesforce, and Twitch, but its competitive pricing (see below) puts it well within reach of even small businesses. Users with complex websites or mobile apps could potentially benefit greatly from the insights offered by Mixpanel.
How Much Does It Cost?
For analysis of up to 25,000 data points per month (a data point is any defined user action, such as clicking a button or taking a specific action on your site or app), Mixpanel is free. The monthly subscription changes depending on the volume of data being analyzed. Check the official pricing page for more details.
2. The AdWords Performance Grader – A Complete PPC Audit in 60 Seconds
PPC is a great way to reach new customers and grow your business, but to say there are a lot of variables that can determine your success would be an understatement. For those new to the world of paid search, even identifying the right areas to focus on can be overwhelming, which is why thousands of small-business owners and advertisers have turned to the AdWords Performance Grader for help.
What Does It Do?
The AdWords Performance Grader quickly and securely evaluates the strength of your Google Ads account (formerly known as AdWords) in 60 seconds or less. Once the Grader has performed its audit of your account, you’ll be presented with a detailed report showing the strengths and weaknesses of your account according to 10 key metrics, including mobile optimization, ad text optimization, and impression share.
This information allows you to zero in on the elements of your account that need the most work, offering a strong potential lift in immediate account performance.
Who Is It For?
Anyone with an active Google Ads account can benefit from the insights provided by the AdWords Performance Grader, from small businesses to mid-sized agencies.
Web forms are an integral part of using the web, but their prevalence doesn’t make them any less of a challenge from a conversion perspective. That’s what makes Formisimo so potentially valuable to marketers.
What Does It Do?
Formisimo provides users with actionable data about why people fail to complete web forms. The software analyzes real-time data from your site and compiles intuitive reports according to analysis of your forms against 54 individual metrics. This level of insight can tell you which parts of your forms are deterring prospects from converting, among many other things.
Who Is It For?
Anyone whose website or app uses web forms can benefit from Formisimo. Similarly to Mixpanel, Formisimo is used by some of the web’s leading brands and sites, such as Toyota and Uber, but small businesses may benefit even more from the kind of actionable data promised by the software.
How Much Does It Cost?
Formisimo costs $50 per month for the “Startup” package, to $180 per month for agencies.
4. CrazyEgg – Heat Maps Done Right
There are few marketing analytics insights more valuable than heat map data. Seeing precisely where your users are focusing their attention on your site (among other uses) can provide marketers with remarkable insights into their audience’s behavior.
What Does It Do?
CrazyEgg tracks and analyzes user behavior on websites. It tracks which elements of a page users are interacting with, which creates a heat map visualization of this behavior over time. CrazyEgg can also measure the scroll depth of web pages, revealing at what point you begin to lose visitors’ attention. (This is one of the so-called “attention metrics”).
Another really cool feature of CrazyEgg is that it can tell you a great deal about where your clicks came from in the first place. In addition, you can augment your existing audience profile data with information from CrazyEgg, which can offer amazingly granular data and reporting, depending on the plan you opt for (more on this below).
Who Is It For?
If you want to stop guessing what your users are doing and start seeing actual data on what they’re doing, CrazyEgg is for you. Heat maps – and the decisions you can make based upon them – can have an immense impact on your conversion rates, as you can literally see what people are doing on your site, as well as revealing areas that are being ignored.
How Much Does It Cost?
Notably, all CrazyEgg plans are completely free for the first 30 days, which is pretty awesome. Beyond that point, CrazyEgg plans start at $9 per month (paid annually for an up-front one-time yearly payment of $108) for the Basic plan, which includes data for 10,000 visits per month across 10 active pages with daily reporting.
Apparently, digital marketing is all over the place. Website owners insist on the importance of having a solid marketing strategy for their website or SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. In 2019 the competition between companies based on their marketing strategy is not only high – it’s rather intense. Such “old” marketing instruments as sending emails to leads are no longer enough to start getting decent sales.
The job of today’s digital marketers includes a lot of tasks and responsibilities – from old-but-gold email marketing to web analytics, SMM, SEO, ads placement, and much more. Such a long list of responsibilities can terrify everyone not knowing about the existence of super helpful marketing instruments free at your disposal. All of them are meant to ease the marketers’ workload and increase their productivity in times.
More to say, the necessity to keep up with current trends forces every marketing specialist to keep searching for more convenient and advanced tools for their arsenal.
Today, I offer you to compare your own list of actively used digital marketing tools with mine. I’ve got 55 must-have digital marketing tools that I believe every marketer needs to have at one’s disposal in 2019.
I also sorted the tools by relevant categories for easier browsing:
Let’s see which of these tools you can no longer imagine your work without and which ones will be your new discovery.
SMM – Social Media Marketing
What’s the actual power of social media? It opens a door to large groups of users that you would hardly reach in any other way. Today’s social media platforms have progressed a lot in terms of digital marketing. Reaching a target audience with certain interests, hobbies or age by making a targeted ad and monitoring its success is a matter of several minutes.
It’s clear that SMM continues to rule the digital world and becomes even more advanced with each year. My advice for every SMM specialist is to start using at least several of these 10 social media marketing tools:
Hootsuite – a perfect instrument for scheduling posts on various social media accounts and tracking them all in a single dashboard. You will be able to set up so-called “streams” for scheduled messages, posts, mentions, and many more. Last but not least: you can assign a comment/message to a team member for them to reply later.
Buffer – with the same concept as Hootsuite, this social media management tool allows you to automate manage posts for all accounts in one place. By using the platform’s analytics, you can track the performance of each post and thereby make conclusions on whether a certain type of content works well or not. Buffer is used by over 5 million! users worldwide and offers 3 plans (free, Pro, Business) with a different set of available features.
Meltwater – this tool will help you explore and track your social media activity as well as best-performance keywords and the latest trends in real time. Among the useful features are 1) the ability to monitor your brand in real time; 2) all search results collected in one place; 3) monitoring your brand mentions; 4) analyzing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns; 5) creating drafts of your publications for days, weeks or even months; and 6) statistics.
Google Alerts – a handy tool to keep track of the latest news and references about your brand, competitors, and opinion leaders. Quite easy to set up, this is considered a nice option for beginners. Every time Google finds mentions or keywords related to your brand in a blog, forum, or a news site, it sends you a notification.
Simply Measured – this social analytics system lets you discover the interests of your audience, and customize your interaction with visitors using data collection, analysis, tracking, and measurement.
SumAll – sign up for this free tool and you’ll start getting daily newsletters with an overview of your account statistics and a comparison with the previous week’s stats. This way, you’ll be able to react quickly to the issues like low activity, an increased number of negative comments, etc.
Wyng – a popular SMM instrument for powering digital hashtag campaigns and other promotions for companies and brands. The platform has a built-in analytics dashboard responsible for tracking the performance of all currently running campaigns.
Facebook Page Insights – it’s the ultimate tool for leveraging your Facebook ads. By using FB Page Insights, you can analyze customers’ behavior and utilize these stats for more targeted ads, even outside of Facebook.
Promorepublic – allows you to not only schedule posts but also create killer content for your social media accounts. The tool currently offers over six thousand handcrafted templates and over a hundred thousand images at your disposal!
Sales Navigator – use this instrument to view social media profiles, in particular, LinkedIn, and track your activity by getting Gmail notifications. The other main task of Sales Navigator is to help businesses establish their connection with potential customers.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
One of the main reasons why brands get known and respectively increase their sales is their well-thought-out SEO strategy. Keeping your website highly-ranked by search engines will help you gain a solid reputation from potential customers. Now, let me introduce you to the 10 coolest SEO tools that you should definitely add to your arsenal:
Google PageSpeed Insights – Google pays huge attention to how long it takes to download a single website page. The visitors’ behavioral factor depends a lot on this factor; if the load time exceeds 3 seconds, the user will most likely leave. Google PageSpeed Insights allow you to analyze the download speed of the separate website pages (both mobile and desktop versions). Besides, the service gives you suggestions on how to improve this indicator.
Keywordtool.io – Too lazy to come up with hundreds of relevant keywords for your next SEO campaign? Or you’re already aware there exists such services as Keywordtool.io allowing you to save time on keywords generation? Here you will find plenty of useful keywords to specify your niche and help you find target customers.
Ahref – Do you need to see how effective backlinks are? Then start working with Ahref free backlink checker. The database with more than 16 trillion links is updated at least once a day allowing you to monitor newly emerging backlinks. Aside from backlinks, you are allowed to check five of the top anchors and most linked-to pages on the target site. This is totally one of the few tools an SEO specialist should use on a daily basis.
Netpeak Spider is a desktop tool for day-to-day SEO audit, quick search for issues, systematic analysis, and website scraping. It analyzes incoming and outgoing links, finds broken links and redirects, escapes duplicate content: Titles, Meta Descriptions, H1 Headers, and presents all the data in graphics and diagrams.
QuickSprout – a free online tool for webmasters to get a quick look at their website insights like SEO, page load options, and the impact of social media. One may also be useful for comparing your site to competitors and finding out why the latter have a better place and what you can do to catch them up.
Alexa – although launched back in 1996, this analytical service can still boast of outstanding deep analytical insights. Alexa still remains one of the most useful instruments for website optimization and “stalking” competitors. The service is no longer free, but you can use a 7-day free trial.
SimilarWeb – Marketing is all about competition and tracking competitors whether they’re doing better or worse. When it comes to SEO, SimilarWeb may come in handy – it lets you compare traffic between two different sites. So easy to get exposed these days, huh?
Siteliner – If your site is an oldie or it has a lot of content that you fear can be duplicated (repeated content is super bad for SEO), visit Sideliner. This tool will quickly browse through each webpage to find relevant keywords and share with you the immediate results.
Browseo – a special, effective and, most importantly, free web service allowing you to view websites without any distractions and emphasize on all the website parts that have to do with SEO. Also, the tool has many more features to conduct a deep SEO analysis.
Google Trends – Before using potential keyword phrases, check them in Google Trends. It is possible that some may not be as relevant as some other keywords with much greater potential. As you enter a query, you’ll access graphics that should help you predict whether those key phrases will be demanded in the near future. You can also check the relevance of other keywords in the Google Keyword Planner.
DeepCrawl – the tool for super deep website analysis. The service literally inspects each webpage to provide you with tons of useful data, from the number of H1 tags on each page to the number of external/internal or social media links and so on. For a better perception, all the information is shown in graphics and diagrams.
Web Analytics & Report
Nobody can doubt: analytics is the core and the foundation of everything. Not even the smallest $20 advertising campaign can be launched successfully without proper web analytics. So let’s talk about the most efficient analytics tools (both free and paid) for all kinds of website traffic.
Google Analytics – no need to describe how great Google Analytics is. According to Marketing Land, in 2015 this service had been used by 30–50 million websites! Google Analytics has excellent multichannel sequence reports that show how many times one user visited a site before leaving a request and which resources they come from.
Facebook Analytics – Facebook is about to turn into a single marketing platform, so go ahead and learn how to use Facebook Analytics right now. Many experts consider it one of the most powerful analytic apps. This is where you get all the information about users: demographics, interests, and any other segmentation.
Based on the following statistics (and the scene at any Starbucks), I’m willing to bet you are.
Inbound marketers have been following the rise of mobile marketing for years, but considering how ingrained mobile devices are in our lives as both consumers and professionals today, it shouldn’t really be considered a “trend.” It should be a staple.
Optimizing for mobile (if not creating a dedicated mobile marketing strategy) is something you should’ve done by now, but if you haven’t, it needs to be done in 2019. No excuses.
The mobile marketing statistics and facts below will help you understand why and also provide some guidance when shaping your mobile marketing strategy in the coming year.
Rather watch? This video contains five of our favorites.
1. As of March 2017, 80% of top Alexa websites were mobile adaptive. (Mobiforge)
This is pretty cut-and-dry. If you want your site to perform well, it needs to be optimized for mobile.
Marketers and advertisers are heavily investing in mobile, which means, most likely, so is your competition. If you want to stay competitive, you need to have a mobile optimization or marketing strategy in place.
3. By 2019, mobile advertising is expected to represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending. (MarketingLand)
But at the same time…
4. 70% of people report disliking mobile ads. (HubSpot)
In fact, mobile ad blocking has increased 90% year-over-year.
5. By 2018, American adults are expected to spend on average 3 hours and 23 minutes on non-voice mobile media. (eMarketer)
That’s up more than 1 hour from 2013. It has increased steadily every year since.
With so many cell phone services giving away free smartphones with their contracts, this number is only going to keep increasing — which is good news for companies with a mobile marketing strategy.
7. 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine –but 33% go directly to the site they want. (Smart Insights)
This is why you want to produce valuable content that makes it easy for your buyer persona to find you online. You also want to optimize for mobile search results.
8. Users spend on average 69% of their media time on smartphones. (comScore)
As a marketer, you need to align with the buyer’s behavior. With more than half of people consuming media via smartphones, you need to make sure yours offers the best experience possible.
9. Google drives 96% of mobile search traffic, followed by Yahoo at 2% and Bing at 1%. (NetMarketShare)
Google doesn’t just dominate search on desktop, but mobile as well. If you want to increase your mobile search traffic, optimize for Google on smaller screen sizes. That means truncated titles (55 to 60 viewable characters including spaces), meta-descriptions, and careful consideration of Google AMP
10. Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites. (Smart Insights)
17. 68% of companies have integrated mobile marketing into their overall marketing strategy. (Salesforce)
All of the data has shown that mobile marketing is profitable and shouldn’t be ignored.
18. 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. (Salesforce)
For many of our tech clients, mobile marketing is the top priority and it has shown to have a high ROI.
19. 58% of companies surveyed have a dedicated mobile marketing team. (Salesforce)
If you have the resources, it makes sense to have a team of people with an expertise in mobile marketing to get the most benefit from your marketing efforts.
20. Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. (MicKinsey & Company)
Is your company “phoning in” the mobile experience of your website? Not only are you turning away potential customers, but you’re sending them straight to your competitors that provide a better mobile experience.
21. Tablets account for the highest add-to-cart rates on eCommerce websites at 8.58%. (Smart Insights)
1. Sender: What Can You Do? Try sending important emails from the name and address of an actual team member, rather than an unfriendly “noreply” or impersonal “ABC Corporation.”
2. The Spammy Subject Line. What Can You Do?
Avoid “Red Flag” Words: Sale, Free, Deal, Save; though these may seem like words that would pull in a crowd, they’re drastically overused. Most savvy consumers see them and know that the sender is just looking for the final sale. Be Brief. Create Intrigue. Personalize It.
3. The Preview Text. What Can You Do? The subject line introduces the topic of the email and the preview texts adds a bit more detail about the value inside – optimize this real estate.
4. Your Delivery Time. What Can You Do? Test and analyze, then test and analyze again.
5. Your List. What Can You Do? Take the time to segment your contact database. Some suggestions for segmenting: Geographic Location, Past Buyer Behaviors, Job Title.
24. 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important. (Wolfgang Jaegel)
This is something that Apple has mastered and proven to be very effective. Consumers now expect a seamless experience and brand consistency.
25. 91% of mobile users say that access to content is very important. (Cardtapp)
The people have spoken. Your mobile site should make it as easy as possible for your persona to access your content.
26. Average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates. (CMS Report)
28. 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
Just like your mother told you as a kid, first impressions really do count. People use their mobile device to find a local business when they’re ready to buy and a great mobile website makes the decision even easier for them.
29. 83% of B2B marketers said mobile apps were important to content marketing. (Strategy Trends)
Remember when having a website was cool and not all businesses had one? We’re seeing the exact same trend with mobile apps today.
30. By 2018, 8 in 10 email users will likely access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices (emailmonday)
Mobile marketing isn’t just about apps and your website; even your emails need to be fully optimized to offer the best experience on the go.
Consumers are more likely to recommend and buy from the business that has a better mobile experience.
The majority of money spent on digital advertising is targeted towards mobile.
Most social media activity takes place on mobile.
8 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business
Mobile marketing is constantly moving forward and evolving, stay on top of the trends
By Megan Totka | Business.com
Mobile marketing is different than other methods of marketing because it lets businesses get directly in front of customers on devices they use all the time – tablets and smartphones. From mobile check-ins to text messages, to emails and social media, mobile marketing may help small businesses boost sales when they send coupons or offer discounts, sales, or promotions to customers. It’s smart to reach out to customers on the devices they constantly have in their hand – this is why mobile marketing can impact both online shoppers and walk-in customers, too.
Luckily, more and more companies and individuals realize the benefits of mobile and want to lead the way into the mobile future – and the first stop is adopting mobile marketing solutions for your small business. Take a look at these 8 mobile marketing tips that can help your small business.
The professional side of texting is something to embrace. SMS [Simple Message Service, aka, text messaging] is for more than casual conversation – even financial institutions now send sensitive data via SMS and it’s pretty powerful. Now that more than three-quarters of the world’s smartphones are SMS-enabled, it’s time to make sure your small business is, too.
Create opt-in campaigns that allow customers to sign up and receive alerts and rewards for joining the campaign. The platform is a great way to encourage customers to take specific action in exchange for a reward, such as a discount on a purchase. There is a greater chance that people will open their texts than read emails, and texts are opened more rapidly than emails, too.
A mobile-ready website
Responsive design is crucial – if you don’t have it, you risk text that doesn’t fit on the page and may notice that your customers come up missing, supporting a competitor who can offer a site that is mobile-ready. Make sure your website reads beautifully whether it is accessed on a laptop, desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.
Create a mobile app
Mobile apps aren’t inexpensive to build – they can easily cost a pretty penny if you’re willing to pay. Like anything, though, with some time and effort, you can make sure the process is affordable. Your app doesn’t have to be super fancy, and you don’t have to join forces with a well-known firm that will charge you a lot of cash. Find new creators who are eager to get business and showcase their talents. Pay them reasonably and offer referrals and site recognition, too.
No matter how you do it, make sure you get an app built, around 80 percent of smartphone users use apps every day. You can’t let your business miss this simple way of making sure your brand is in front of all of those people.
Incorporate mobile payments
Small businesses have either a product or a service to offer consumers. As a result, your strategy should include acceptance of mobile payments – know what to look for in a payment processor before you rush to make a decision. Payment processors offer various benefits when it comes to service, security, ease of use, and cost efficiency. Make it easier for customers to pay you with modern payment options.
Have meaningful social presence
Facebook isn’t all about fun and games, and while it is a lot of fun, it’s also a great way to gain new customers. Marketing is about first giving to your customers. This means you should give your audience on social media what you would want yourself. Share posts and start meaningful conversations. Leave comments and ask and answer questions. Work to make sure your brand is where people see it and appreciate it; it doesn’t take much time out of your day.
Offer up deals
Your business can continue to make money while sending out digital deals. Send messages straight to your consumer’s smartphones, SMS coupons have redemption rates 10 times higher than print coupons like the ones we see in the Sunday paper. The other good news: it’s nearly impossible to lose the smartphone version of a coupon.
Consider mobile customer service
More businesses are jumping on the mobile customer service bandwagon to track orders, take payments, share shipping details, and respond quickly to questions via smartphone. This is easy and convenient for both the small business owner and customers. Plus, customers really enjoy the quick response time mobile customer service offers.
Register with mobile directories
The days of thick phone books with yellow pages are just about history. Instead, the majority of people now turn to mobile directories. To ensure your small business is found, register with various mobile directories. Think along the lines of YP, Yelp and Google+Local. Remember to include the details of your business such as its name, the products and services offered, business hours, a contact phone number, a link to your site, and your physical address.
Mobile marketing is constantly moving forward and evolving. Stay on top of the trends and times and make sure you know what your competitors are doing in the mobile marketing arena. Try not to fear the cost or changes that accompany mobile technology — Smartphones and small businesses are a perfect match.
In addition, realize that mobile marketing isn’t going away – it’s actually our future — so now is the time to get on board and don’t look back. While some small business owners shy away from mobile because they perceive it to be complex or time-consuming, many realize it’s simply another way to market a small business. After all, small business owners are in a better position to utilize mobile for customer engagement. It’s all about connecting with customers, and mobile allows that to happen.
As the impact of innovations and disruptions of years’ past come into focus, leading players will battle for dominance in several key areas.
The impact of mobile marketing innovations and disruptions of years’ past will continue to come into focus in 2019 as markets mature and leading players battle for dominance. That’s forecast to be particularly prevalent for mobile video and augmented reality (AR), where strong adoption could hatch some winners, some losers and several acquisitions or mergers. Mobile marketers will also continue to see how social commerce and voice technology can affect the entire customer journey and, when executed well, shorten the sales funnel. Meanwhile, the rollout of 5G will elevate network speed and marketing capabilities across a newly supercharged mobile landscape.Below are six key developments set to shake out this year in the mobile marketing world.
A fight for dominance in mobile video
The numbers confirm what many already know: Mobile video set records in 2018, with even more growth predicted to come. Smartphones became the dominant channel to watch online video, with mobile’s share of online “video starts” crossing 50% for the first time. In tandem, mobile is forecast to account for 72% of the growth in spending on online video advertising. As video continues to blossom, 2019 is likely to see big players in the space fight for dominance.
“You have some major forces like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Quibi who are now getting into a premium, Hollywood game for a mobile-first vision. Major brands will continue to invest significantly in mobile video and perhaps step up the game in production, quality and budgets, following the lead of those major forces.” –Peter Csathy, CEO of consulting firm Creatv Media, told Mobile Marketer.
The next 12 months could prove make-or-break for new players and for two big names that launched in 2018: Facebook Watch and Instagram’s IGTV. Despite Facebook’s billion-dollar investment in these platforms, they have so far underperformed. Facebook clearly sees Watch as a driver of growth, having expanded its ad sales to 40 countries, but the service has struggled to drive viewership. The company will have to prove that both Facebook and Instagram are sources of original content, not just social platforms, Csathy explained, lest they join the mobile-first video graveyard populated by failed efforts from Samsung, Comcast, Verizon and more.The road to success will require “continuous experimentation,” regarding every facet of content. It could also push platforms further into M&A (Merger & Acquisition) of other content sources and brands.”Brand-driven and content-driven M&A will accelerate through 2019,” Csathy said, as platforms look to secure “targeted audiences that [they] can own and really serve.”
Voice tech’s blossoming role in the household
If this year was about testing smart speakers’ usability in the household, 2019 will be the year of brands proving their voice tech’s value. By the end of 2018, ownership of smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home was forecast to hit nearly half (48%) of Americans, up from 32% in August, per Adobe Analytics. Smart speaker adoption is driving consumers’ voice tech usage and pushing marketers to explore how to tap into this burgeoning channel — something that will only evolve this year as people grow more comfortable conversing with devices and the technology becomes increasingly predictive, according to TetraVX’s director of marketing Becky Linahon.”We’ll see these smart home devices searching on our behalf,” she told Mobile Marketer. “Instead of asking ‘can you order almond milk?’ maybe my fridge will remind me I’m almost out, suggest the brand I purchased last time and tell me where I can get it for the best price nearby. “One challenge as voice technology evolves will be customer acquisition because many voice assistants recommend products and brands based on a user’s purchase history. But what about non-brand loyalists, or those already keen on a different brand? “When I tell Alexa I need laundry detergent, she’ll say ‘you bought Tide last week. Do you want to buy Tide again?’ Out of simplicity, I’ll say ‘sure,'” Linahon said. This will push marketers to get more creative in acquiring new customers or luring them from competitors, she suggested. In 2019, organizations will need to understand their voice tech’s place in a household and make sure it plays a role so purposeful, users just can’t turn it off, Devbridge Group’s president Aurimas Adomavicius said in emailed comments.
Social commerce: the new price of admission
While social commerce initially was slow to catch on, social media as a sales channel will soon springboard from a “nice to have” to the “price of admission” for savvy marketers, Columbus Consulting CEO Jon Beck said in comments to Mobile Marketer. About 66% of brands analyzed by researcher Gartner have adopted social commerce strategies within the past year, but according to Elastic Path CMO Darin Archer, brands in 2018 primarily used Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat for acquisition efforts — boosting awareness, generating leads and advertising products. This year, the industry is set to break that tide and focus on engagement, experts said. The goal was once to attract attention and drive consumers to an online store, Archer told Mobile Marketer. In 2019, more social channels will open their platforms to host these journeys natively. “We can’t change these paradigms overnight, but now these platforms are stepping back and saying, ‘hey we need to make this easier,'” Archer said.
“It needs to be more of a convenient, one-click experience on your favorite social app versus being directed off-site to a lengthy checkout. Marketers will need to continue to adapt to how people interact with social media, including through formats like product cards, shoppable pins, chatbots and other fresh features 2019 has in store. Stories have redefined the way brands communicate on Instagram, and creative marketers are now learning to use this format to address each stage of the customer journey, from awareness to direct purchase,” said Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman. “We’ll see even more investments in this channel in 2019.”
Influencer marketing gets bigger but goes small
Significant growth and a few changes are on the road map for influencer marketing this year. The market size for the strategy will exceed $8 billion in 2020, according to InfluencerDB’s State of The Industry Report. “What will be a big shift in 2019 is traditional dollars — whether it’s from traditional media or PR budgets — going directly into influencer marketing,” Jamie Reardon, CEO of Find Your Influence, told Mobile Marketer. To support their increased investments, marketers will continue to fine-tune their benchmarks for influencers in order to keep a “pulse” on the space, she explained.
“For the last five years, often times influencers have been looked at as incremental dollars, but moving forward, big brands and agencies will be putting together plans for the full year because they have the benchmarks,” Reardon said. With the budget reallocation will come the need for the advertising industry to get serious about increasing trust, transparency and measurement in influencer marketing, as outgoing Unilever CMO and industry thought leader Keith Weed called for at Cannes Lions last year. “When it comes to the entire industry as a whole, guarantees are an aspect brands need and require, whether it’s engagements, impressions or video views,” Reardon said. As campaigns become more robust, brands and agencies will increasingly look for ways to stand out. That will require finding the right influencer for the right campaign. In 2019, brands could leverage localized micro-influencers to better serve campaigns that require a more authentic, specific and local touch, per InfluencerDB’s report.
5G set to supercharge mobile ecosystem
While the 4G mobile network set the stage for more powerful video streaming, programmatic marketplaces, artificial intelligence and a first taste of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), experts said ultrafast 5G is set to bring about even more capabilities in the mobile world. Faster download speeds up to 10 times that of 4G will enable marketers to dive deeper into interactive ads, such as playable and AR formats, to offer richer experiences without network latency for mobile users and gamers, according to Tal Shoham, COO at mobile monetization and marketing company ironSource.”We’ll also see an increase in games offering demos of their games before download, as this heavier ad format will no longer be constrained,” Shoham said. “The app stores will therefore open up to these bigger games, leading to richer gaming experiences on mobile devices as the type and number of available games increases.” 5G’s ability to process data more swiftly is predicted to supercharge marketers’ capabilities around personalized content and real-time ad targeting at a more granular level, as well as power the evolution of connected devices like cars, speakers and wearables. An October Intel and Ovum study forecasts that video will comprise 90% of all 5G traffic in 10 years, signaling major opportunity for marketers to develop quality mobile content and better engage audiences. Last month, Verizon and Samsung said they plan to start selling a 5G-capable smartphone within the first half of 2019. Apple is reportedly unlikely to release similar hardware until 2020, potentially giving rivals a chance to woo Apple users to trade in their iPhones. Meanwhile, the 5G ecosystem is expected to see steady expansion this year and beyond. “In 2024, we project that 5G will reach 40 percent population coverage and 1.5 billion subscriptions, making it the fastest generation ever to be rolled out on a global scale,” Ericsson EVP Fredrik Jejdling wrote in a November report.
AR moves out of native apps and onto the mobile web
AR continued its disruptive streak in 2018, becoming a key element of both mobile ads and shopping on social platforms. Forecast to develop into a $83 billion market by 2021, the next 12 months will see the AR space continue to balloon. “AR is going into its grown-up phase,” Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder of AR platform Zappar, told Mobile Marketer. Platforms like Apple, Google and Facebook will continue to dominate the space, either by forcing smaller firms to collapse (as Blippar did, innovate (as TikTok has) or be acquired outright. Perhaps Amazon and Snapchat’s already cozy relationship gets even cozier as the former moves into AR shopping. One key development is likely to be a broader move to the mobile web, which will help brands untangle their AR campaigns from connection partners like Facebook, Snapchat and Shazam that offer platforms for AR — for a price — and are able to keep their data within walled gardens. “The best AR is still a preserve of native apps in terms of performance and functionality, and the big change that we’re going to see is a gradual a move to mobile web AR,” Thykier said. “That’s significant for businesses and brands, especially for consumer-packaged goods brands, who are looking to leverage connected packaging and passive print but can’t really command having an app on the user’s home screen.”
Integrating Mobile Marketing into your Marketing Strategy
Source: Hallie Moser
We are living in a world where “Nomophobia” is a real thing. For those who don’t know about nomophobia, it’s “no-mobile-phone phobia”––the irrational and intense fear of being without your mobile device.
The fact that this definition even exists (and that 66% of people would consider themselves having it) goes to show that in today’s world, mobile importance cannot be underestimated.
Your customers, whether they are individual consumers or businesses, are going to be finding your services through their mobile devices, so you need to make sure that your marketing strategy makes using their devices easy and enjoyable.
Follow along as we dig deeper into integrating trends for a stronger mobile presence.
Adapt to an Evolved Consumer Behavior
I think we can all agree that consumer behavior has evolved. With the unprecedented availability of technology, how could it not? As a business, you are selling to sophisticated buyers who are doing product research before they even walk into a store.
Not to say impulse buying is a thing of the past — as I look at my $20, once-used, sandwich maker — but it is not the norm anymore. In fact, more shopping is done through apps preventing customers from even walking into the store. I can order my lunch, groceries, and home decor from my house and not have to worry about seeing any impulsive purchases at the end of aisles.
But fear not, entrepreneurs – this can still be a great thing for you! The more knowledge a customer has, the more comfortable they will feel buying goods at higher price points. They have justified that this item is needed, the best in the industry, and have assured themselves they will not regret their decision.
Your job now is to give them the “big picture” of why your product or service is great. They will be more likely to buy the idea of something rather than the product – so show them how they will benefit from it in their lifestyle (or business), instead of listing the features.
Ensure Synergy Between Channels
See, read, watch, find, buy, review → what do all these words have in common? They’re all the actions consumers are doing from their phone. Using their mobile across their entire journey.
You can improve this journey of theirs by making sure all of the digital assets translate well to different kinds of smartphones and tablets. You should synchronize your multi-channel campaigns for a seamless user experience by testing out site navigation on the different devices. Also, be aware of the aesthetics and functionality of your website by clicking through your navigation bar and links.
Your customers will let you know if your site isn’t as mobile friendly as it should be (even if they don’t tell you directly). Keep an eye out on the analytics and reporting of your site for clues like high bounce rates or low conversions. These are indicators that people are getting to your page, but are either not able to process their orders, or are not convinced the order will fill their need.
Prioritize Most Important Features
All of your mobile assets, from mobile- and tablet-friendly websites to apps, should cater to the mobile user’s experiences by prioritizing the most important features.
If you’re not familiar with your customers’ mobile preferences, these features are usually at the top: easy viewing, product reviews, mechanisms for providing feedback and quick ordering.
The foundation of your site strategy should be mobile friendly with each page having a clear and valuable Call-To-Action (the buttons customers click to get your offer) above the fold. Have these CTA’s front and center of your web page.
When prioritizing your strategy for your site, remember: keep it simple. The most minimal you can make it, the faster your load time will be. You can do this by having a concentrated message, simplified page items, minimal script, and compressed images.
All additional media measurements, scripts, animations, and non-beneficial videos need to go away.
Clear Homepage and Site Navigation
As we just touched on, minimization is key.
Doesn’t it feel like general attention spans are getting shorter? As they balance mobile games, television, and conversation at the same time, it’s hard to keep customers looking at something they’re interested in, let alone an advertisement.
A recent study found that mobile pages that load 1-second faster see up to 27% increase in conversion rates. 1 second makes all the difference.
Your homepage will probably need the most restructuring. As I mentioned briefly, take out unneeded scripts and media, and present CTA’s above the fold. Your primary task is to make it clear where your customers can:
Find what services/products your organization offers,
Order that product/service, and
Give and read feedback.
Your navigation menus should reflect this simplistic strategy. You might have an inclination to break everything down in your menu, but long menus are overwhelming on mobile devices. Instead, include a search bar for your users to quickly search and navigate to the information they are looking for.
Also, make it easier for new users with third party payment systems, like Paypal, to login without having to re-enter all of their information. For your registered users, remember and pre-fill their preferences.
Optimize for Local Searches
If you market for a lawn company that only services a 50-mile radius, why wouldn’t you filter to reach those people in your radius? Then you’re more likely to impact customers that will benefit from your service, easily and efficiently.
Big businesses like Target take it a step forward by using these geo-filters to monitor customer behavior. By allowing customers to use their free Wi-Fi, they are able to track behaviors like what departments users visit, how often they return, etc.
The big picture here is that strategizing around mobile technology is the direction every business is going. It’s not a limitation, but a gift. If you make the effort to jump on the mobile bandwagon, and configure your website and digital strategy accordingly, you will have greater conversions and a better understanding of your customers.