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5 Major Lessons Learned from Digital Marketing in 2017

Around this time last year, I wrote a blog covering the top 6 lessons I learned from social media marketing – specifically, for B2B companies. There were a lot of changes made last year. From Google algorithm overhauls, to massive social media feature rollouts, and shifts in how said social media platforms deliver content to their users – it was the year of learning and adapting.

As I reflect on 2017, I think this is the year of stabilizing, testing, and trying new approaches across all business models. As we rapidly approach 2018, I wanted to share some key findings from this year’s digital marketing that may help mold your strategy for next year:

  1. Have the Right Tracking in Place for Everything

Many people jump right into boosting posts, running ads on Facebook, and creating content without a way to measure the results. Sure, virtually every social media platform offers up a dashboard with similar metrics: reach, impressions, and link clicks – but are those the only metrics you want to measure your campaign’s effectiveness by?

Google AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn advertising, and hefty platforms like Hubspot, offer up unique codes that allow you track a user’s behavior when they click on your ad. This is valuable information. You need to understand what results your ads are driving, and be able to attribute the sources of sales, leads, and website traffic. This way, you’re able to get a more accurate understanding for what works and what needs improvement.

Here’s a checklist of things you want to make sure your web development team understands before you kick up your next ad campaign:

  • Setup Google Analytics on your website and connect your AdWords Tag
  • Setup eCommerce tracking through Google Analytics if you sell products
  • Integrate your product catalog with Facebook to allow users to shop directly from your Facebook page – consequently, you’ll also be able to remarket to them once they take action on a specific product!
  • If you’ve got email marketing in place (if you don’t, get on it now!), make sure you integrate your email platform with your eCommerce platform to be able to track sales from email campaigns
  • If you’re using LinkedIn advertising, they’ve got a tracking pixel you can place on your website to track conversions

It’s important to see how everything interconnects together. Your ads, your website, form fills, how people find you – it’s all important to understand the role of each tactic in your overall business goals.

  1. Build an Adaptable Strategy

We’ve said goodbye to lengthy 50 page strategies for quite some time now. Though it might pain you to part with your 5 year strategy – it’s time to burn it. Today’s digital world of rapid innovation forces us to continually adapt. Our strategies must be agile and revisited on a frequent basis. I recommend revisiting your plan on a quarterly basis, and creating content plans on a quarterly basis. This will help you plan for the short term, allow you ample time to prepare content for your campaigns, and allow you sufficient time to gather data, test, and analyze for next quarter. It will allow you to make smarter marketing decisions in the future. Not to mention, if Facebook comes out with an irresistible new feature, you’re able to test it out on the fly for your current campaign. By planning for the short term, you’re able to stay agile and ready to adapt. Hooray, no more wasting hours trying to catch up to the changes made yesterday!

  1. Make Content Your Priority

If I haven’t said it enough already, content is the pillar to your digital marketing success. It is the foundation of everything. You can have the smartest strategy in the world, but if your content isn’t engaging, falls short of communicating your message, or isn’t consistent with your brand and campaign – your campaign won’t drive the results you’re looking for.

Think of ways to creatively communicate your campaign message. Do you need graphic design help? Do you have product photos? Can you enlist the help of influencers, or people who have large audiences comprised of users who are your target customers, to create content for you, in exchange for something of value? Can you take videos on your phone and send them to a video editor for editing? Remember: it’s social media. Not everything needs to be polished and ultra-produced. Be authentically you and stay true to your brand.

  1. Influencer Marketing is Killin’ it for B2B Companies

If you haven’t thought about influencer marketing before, now’s the time, folks! Right above email marketing, in terms of lowest cost – highest return ratio, influencer marketing gives you the biggest bang for your buck.  

For those who don’t know, social media influencers are people who have large followings on their social networks, and consequently, high influence over their followers. If you can get them to endorse your product or service, it’s like getting a testimonial or referral to a whole base of target customers. If you’ve got a major campaign coming up, or are in the midst of planning a major campaign, think about how influencers can help spread the word in an organic way, and reach thousands, or tens of thousands of target customers in a more authentic manner.

Here are some tips in creating an influencer marketing program:

  • Make a list of influencers you think could be great brand advocates for your company. Include the number of followers, note email addresses, and any other information you deem relevant
  • Make a list of things you can offer. Is it product packages? Cash incentives? A combination of both? Set limits before you reach out.
  • Think about what you’re going to expect from them. If you’re going to run a 2 month campaign, how many social media posts are you going to expect from them? Are you going to ask for videos? If so, how many? You need to have all the details spelled out before reaching out.
  • Reach out to them through social media! Keep the introduction brief, fun, light, and personal. Let them know you’ll be following up your message with an email and you look forward to hearing back from them.
  • Send an email to their contact information, and spell out your first offer. They may counter, but that’s half the fun of it! It’s important to set terms you’re both comfortable with.

5. Keep an Active Blog

In a previous post, I revealed some brand new data that revealed just how effective blogging is. Make sure you’re maintaining your online blog on a regular basis. No, you don’t have to commit to a daily blog, but at least update your blog on a monthly basis. Not only does it help with your search engine rankings, but it allows you to shake up your content on social media, and gives you another touch point to generate more website traffic.

I hope that you found these key lessons learned from 2017 helpful as you craft a plan for next year. Remember: try new things, make content your pillar of everything, and be prepared to adapt at any given time.

Tim Lewis is the owner of Iron Springs Design and Website Design Phoenix. He's hired a great technical and design team to develop any online website or software project that you can imagine. Tim holds a BS in Computer Information Systems and his technology career spans 3 decades, including 11 years at Microsoft. He loves working on your websites and software projects!