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8 Marketing Trends for 2018

marketing trends

 

How people interact with brands continues to evolve. User experience and personalization will remain a constant and will be a driving force in this year’s marketing trends. We’ve outlined the top marketing trends we predict will be at the helm of marketing strategy for 2018.

 

1. Leveraging Data and In-depth Understanding of Targeting Audiences

It will become increasingly harder to stand out and reach your target audience if you aren’t utilizing your consumer data. Technology and the growth of marketing tools make it easier to connect with your target audience in ways that were impossible or very expensive before. Today, there are many marketing automation and CRM solutions that allow for marketers to use their customer data and connect with audiences in large-scale, strategic, and affordable ways. Leveraging and implementing the use of data should be the foundation of any good marketing strategy. Your consumer data will allow you to engage with consumers where and when they want on a personal level.

 

2. Native Advertising

Digital ads have been the norm for a while now. In 2018, however, there will be more of a shift in paid media where the ad experience follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. This makes sense as there has been increased emphasis on the overall user experience. A better, seamless experience will increase the response rate of your ads and will improve your ROI.

 

3. Content Marketing

By now organizations have realized that personalized and individual communications are the constant theme that is driving a lot of the trends for this year (and, really, for the past few years).  Consumers continue to favor individual, personalized experiences that are tailored to them, their interests and their immediate need. Your content should be well thought out and provide relevant information. Your content marketing should be focused on creating and distributing well thought out, relevant information that is valuable to your audience. Focus more on the quality of your content versus the quantity – make sure you are providing a value. This will help drive interaction with your brand and lead to conversions or desired action along with retention of your target audience. Incorporating a blog is a good platform for content marketing, read more about incorporating a blog in your website

 

4. Consumer Journey or Lifecycle

Emphasis on the consumer journey and how consumers interact with your brand throughout the decision, action and other various stages of their lifecycle. Implementing a strategy that prioritizes and integrates the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences should be on your to-do list for this year if it isn’t already. Personalized messages, retargeting and other techniques can be employed to support your consumers (and potential consumers) along their path to convert.

 

5. Incorporating Video

Ads on YouTube, short videos on social media, and other video components continue to increase in popularity. Standing out and capturing your audience attention is becoming increasingly challenging for marketers and brands. How can you stand out on social and digital channels? Create compelling visual aspects – especially in video form. The visual aspect of your message, and using video will help you engage your audience and capture their attention.

 

6. Transparency and Trust

Give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and your practices. Humanize your brand – you’re more than a logo, product, or service. Credit Unions and Community Banks are in a unique position. When we speak with Credit Unions and develop campaigns or strategies, we ask “what sets you apart from everyone else?” Often products and services aren’t much different from the competition, with only slight variances in price or features. So what will make a consumer choose your brand over another? Trust. Credit Unions’ brand is trust – members trust your organization, the branch manager, the financial representative that has helped them navigating buying a home or car. Trust and transparency will become more important to consumers’ decisions.

 

7. Location-based technology

You should be taking advantage of location-based technology providing experiences, messaging, and information. Geo-targeting can help you take advantage of your brick and mortar locations or other key service areas. Exploring the possibilities of targeting your audience based on location, both in real-time and historical, will allow for you to provide content that is more relevant to their lives.   

 

8. Convenience

All in all, consumers are flooded with information every day. They look for and will stay loyal to brands that provide them with personalize and relevant information that is convenient for them. The more effortless an interaction the better. Who doesn’t love it when things are easy and convenient?

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Mobile Search and Why Credit Unions Need to Care

Mobile Search & why credit unions need to care

With a total number of estimated smart phone users in the US topping 224.3 million in 2017, there’s no doubt that we’re all doing more and more daily business on our phones. A recent Consumer insight report from Hitwise estimates 73% of potential homebuyers reach for their phone when looking for mortgage information, 65% check best interest rates, and 58% search for car loans. And while we know people have been moving to remote and mobile banking for years now, now they are searching and comparing options for big financial decisions on the small screen as well.

Just imagine what’s going to happen this weekend.  People are going to be out in your community, looking at new homes. They might see something they like, but are concerned about what their mortgage payment might be, so they start shopping for rates online, while they are in the driveway of their potential new home.  Just down the street, another young couple is looking to buy a new car, because they are expecting their first child. While the dealer has financing options, they want to know what they can get- and if they can get a better deal without going through the dealer. They may be checking out loan rates while they are on a test drive- not waiting until Monday morning to call your office.

This means Credit Unions not only have to be concerned about where they show up in search results, but also have to worry about how websites perform on mobile devices. Google estimates that 1 in 5 searches in now location related and over 53% of people will abandon a website choice if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It means you not only have to make sure you have done everything you need to to show up on a search, but then your website pages also have to load quickly and deliver the answers consumers are asking, at the moment they need the answer to the question most.

Google has a project called AMP- Accelerated Mobile Pages. While a lot of the work that needs to be done to make a web page fast-loading is technical and best led to your web developer, you need to make sure you are pushing them to make key pages on your website easy to load and easy to navigate.  Likewise, AMP-powered advertising on other websites also increases conversion rates, so you also want to make sure your pay per click campaigns are likewise AMP’d up, so to speak. Google has a variety of case studies showing how beneficial AMP pages can be for businesses across the board, increasing mobile transactions, click through rates and revenue.

Your credit union might not have extended hours, or long hours on a Saturday. Few banks do, either. However, by having AMP pages for your website that show up quickly on mobile and provide consumers with the information they need, faster and more efficiently than your competitors, will not only increase your traffic, but it will lead to better search position and conversions as well.

If you’re concerned about how your website performs on mobile, and want to AMP up your marketing, give us a call or email us (connect@epicmc2.com) here at Epic Marketing- we’ll bring you up to speed in no time!

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Why Personalization Should Be Added to Your Marketing Strategy

Personalization Marketing

Personalization Marketing is like walking into your favorite restaurant, sitting at your favorite table with your favorite drink waiting for you, while the cook makes a special dish just for you. We love personalization and often crave it. This is why integrating personalization in your marketing strategy just makes sense.

In today’s noisy and crowded air ways, it’s easy to see why we (consumers) love personalization, and now are increasingly beginning to expect it from our favorite brands. Receiving a personalized and tailored message just for you seems less like advertising. And because it doesn’t seem like advertising, instead it’s content about what someone is looking for or what they’re interested in, your audience is more inclined to engage with you. According to a Hubspot study, personalization generates more responses and conversion which translates to a better return on investment. And better return on investment in our marketing is always welcomed.

However, personalization involves more than placing someone’s name on content that you are sending out. Personalization should be incorporated into every aspect of the content and message, keeping relevance at the forefront. Irrelevant messaging and advertising just seems like junk or noise to your audience (your members and potential members). The message, product offering, and overall content should be relevant and tailored to the person.

Credit Unions can really take advantage of personalization utilizing their data, including member relationship information, consumer behavior, and engagement. Also, incorporating personalization in the marketing for your Credit Union will be an extension of the personalized service Credit Unions are known for providing their members. Developing a strategy that cultivates your information into providing the right message, at the right time, to the right person will help drive better results when it comes to your marketing overall.  

Personalization can help your credit union with engagement, acquisition, retention goals, member service and more.

 

Need assistance or have more questions about incorporating personalization in your marketing? Shoot us an email (connect@epicmc2.com),  we’d be happy to chat more.

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Mobile Mania – Thinking About Mobile for Your Business

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone users. This mass adoption of the technology is radically changing how we communicate and how we interact with businesses. …Read More ⟩

Read the full article at: www.bluehost.com

Has your organization conducted a mobile communications audit?

 

If the answer is, “we’re thinking about it,” “maybe in the future,” or “um, what’s that?”, then it’s time to rethink your position.

With over 2/3 of Americans using smartphones, it’s time to get that audit – and the resulting action items – underway.

So what does a mobile communications audit entail?

 

1. Check your website for mobile responsiveness

Pull up your website on your tablet and mobile device to see if it responds to the different screen sizes. Also check it on an alternative mobile device so you see it on several mobile operating systems and screen sizes. Your website shouldn’t just show as a miniature version – it should be readable and navigable on all screen sizes.

Still not convinced that you need to view your website on mobile? Check out your Google Analytics to see exactly how much of your traffic visits from a tablet or mobile. You’l be surprised. (Oh, you don’t have Google Analytics installed? Contact us for some help with that and get valuable intel on your site and its performance.)

 

2. Check search engines

Be close to your organization (but not at it) and search for your business category. Where did you rank? You may need to tinker with some Webmaster Tools to dial it in if you didn’t show up near or at the top of the search.

While you’re in the search results, make sure you’re listed as local and that the map and information are correct. If not, head back to Webmaster Tools to fix asap.

 

3. Check your social ads

Does your organization have paid ads or promoted posts on a social channel? Check them out on your mobile to make sure they appear as you intend. It’s amazing how an image and text can appear unreadable on a smaller screen.

 

4. Check eblasts

Does your organization send out email blasts? Whether they are sent from an in-house server, Constant Contact, MailChimp, or another provider, it’s imperative that you view them on your mobile to see how they appear. Some users only want to receive text emails on their phones, so be sure to look at the eblast in both HTML and text on your cell.

 

So how did your organization fare?

If you need assistance with any of the above, we can help. We’ve made mobile our mission and strive to help our clients meet the changing demands of a connected society. Contact us today and let’s have a conversation about your audit results.

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Marketing Mistakes to be Avoided on Instagram

“Follow this method,”  “do this,”  “do that”  are all you hear when it comes to online marketing. Instagram has grown into one of the largest social networking sites. Just like you, many companies are struggling to make their presence felt. They are stuffed with “what to do” and fail to concentrate on “what NOT to do.”

 

Instagram for Business

 

The most common mistakes that people make while marketing on Instagram and how to avoid them…

These factors make a difference:

 

1. Improper usage of hashtags

Over usage of keywords in hashtags is a big– #turn-off. Hashtags must be short and sweet. Get to the point quickly; do not bore the pants off your followers by posting irrelevant descriptions.

Avoid using hashtags for posts which do not require them. Also, many fail to take advantage of the geo-location tag. Make sure you don’t overuse them and also don’t use the wrong ones.

 

2. Your posts are not good enough

Check this list before you go ahead and post:

  • Not posting quality pictures and videos
  • Posting at the wrong time
  • No variety in your posts
  • Over-posting
  • Posts that are unrelated
  • Posting things that have already gone viral
  • Re-posting old pictures or videos
  • Posting someone else’s photos as your own
  • Posting pictures you shared on other social networking sites

 

Make sure your posts don’t fall under these categories. You’ve been warned.

 

3. Lack of followers

Without followers, your Instagram account will be buried among the millions of other profiles that are active for name sake. So you have to work on increasing the followers to promote your page.

Don’t expect followers to come to you, you have to attract them. Followers are the main part of Instagram, without them there is no value or purpose for your account. Just for the sake of increasing followers don’t follow every profile, you won’t look credible.

 

4. No response to comments

Let’s say all your posts get a lot of comments, it doesn’t hurt to reply to at least a few of them. Not responding to the comments is rude. This is one of the main reasons for losing followers.

Make excuses or make changes, the choice is yours. If you want to increase followers and promote your page, you have to engage. This will also make you look committed.

 

5. Don’t juggle frogs

Many will advise you to be active on all social networking sites, but take this with a pinch of salt. It sometimes does more harm than good. If you are receiving good responses on Instagram, concentrate on promoting your brand on it.

You might run out of post ideas if you spread yourself too thin with post ideas on different social media avenues. And as a result, you will lose the reputation you have created if you juggle more than you can handle.

 

6. Trying too hard

As a rule of thumb in marketing (and in general) – too much of anything is bad. Don’t stuff your feed with unwanted and inappropriate posts just to get the attention of your followers. Get hints from your competitors’ feeds, and find out why their posts are doing better.

 

Another important thing to note is that you cannot set your account to private and have any hope of attracting people to your feed. It just won’t work. I hope you found these tips useful to some extent for your Instagram. A lot of people have followed these basic guidelines to effectively market and promote their products on social media.

 

Guest post from Sara George

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4 Ways To Use Content Marketing To Grow Your Business

Content Marketing

 

A business that is not growing is often one that is dying. It is impossible to stand still in a dynamic economy, so you need to make sure that your company is always well-positioned for growth. One important tool for doing so is content marketing.

Essentially, this form of marketing involves using content, such as articles, infographics or videos to attract visitors and persuade them to become customers. By creating or curating the right content, you can enhance your brand and reach a large audience.


Lead Generation

Generating new leads is a major challenge for many businesses. Using content to bring in new leads is a very effective strategy. By providing the type of valuable information that people are looking for, such as how-to articles, tutorials, or expert interviews, you can increase the amount of traffic that comes to your site.

Sites that are regularly updated with new content tend to generate many more leads than those that only add new articles or content irregularly, or not at all. However, it is important to select the right type of content for your target audience. For example, if you want to reach people who are interested in cooking, then recipes or instructional videos are going to be most effective. You can re-purpose the video content by converting it to a podcast or transcribing it and posting it as an article on your site.

A blue thumb's up symbol with words Great Content to illustrate

 

Increase Interest In Your Products

If no one is interested in the products or services that you provide, you will have a hard time staying in business for long. By providing free samples or trials, you can significantly boost the level of interest in a short period of time.

One effective technique for doing so is to offer free trials or free samples. This is particularly effective if you are in the business of selling content. Offer a free sample chapter of an e-book or the first video in a series of instructional videos. If people like what they see, they will be more likely to come back and pay for the rest.

 

Creating A Vibrant Community

Too often, businesses think of their customers in isolation, as separate individuals with no connection to each other. In fact, companies that work to connect their customers and to create a lively community focused on their brand tend to do very well in the marketplace. Content marketing is an excellent tool for building such a community.

Do not just publish your content and forget about it. Instead, ask people to respond to it and to let you know what they think of it. Social sites are an excellent place where people can get together and discuss a particular article or video. Encourage people to provide their own ideas that expand on your content.

When people feel as if they are part of a larger community, they naturally come to feel loyal to that group. By working on building such a community, you can turn casual visitors into loyal customers. Of course, you need to make sure that you keep providing new content so that the community remains active.

 

Grow Your Business written on desert road

 

Building A Brand Image

Your brand is one of your most valuable assets so you need to protect it. A great deal of hard work can be destroyed overnight by a careless tweet or thoughtless post. You need to make sure that all of the content that you post is consistently aimed at creating a positive image for your brand.

Because of this, it is often wise to centralize the production of content. Instead of letting a half-dozen people write articles or create videos, it may be more sensible to put these tasks into the hands of a few trusted employees. This way, you can make sure that nothing is posted that will harm your brand image.

Content marketing needs to play a central role in your strategy for growing your business. By making judicious use of these techniques, you can make sure that your company is able to take advantage of any growth opportunities that may arise.

 

Guest post by Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels has been an online entrepreneur since 1996. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur and Opportunity magazines, as well as other respected periodicals and regularly posts internet marketing strategies to his website.

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Top 10 Marketing Planning Mistakes

marketing planning mistakes

 

Organizations have more marketing choices than ever before, making it easier to maximize your marketing budget. However, even the most seasoned professionals sometimes fall prey to mistakes that are easily avoidable. The list below details 10 common pitfalls to avoid when planning your marketing initiatives for the year ahead.

1. Failing to continually monitor your marketing programs. The phrase “you can only manage what you measure” is true. Online marketing offers you the ability to measure your marketing programs. This allows you to know what components of your marketing program are working, and what you should consider refining.

2. Staying on the same path. Sometimes the only constant is change. Objectives shift to align with business goals, new marketing channels enter the mix, and prospects begin using different resources to obtain relevant business information. Therefore, unless you’ve proven your current program is optimized for today’s marketing environment, your plan needs to evolve accordingly.

3. Forgetting to “fish where the fish are.” Virtually all professionals now use the Internet throughout their work processes. Are you reaching this target audience where they can be found looking for products and services like yours?

4. Ignoring frequency. “Fishing where the fish are” is only one component of a successful marketing campaign. Equally as important is how often you are reaching your target audience. Are you pushing your message out to the market on a regular basis, or are your efforts sporadic at best? Are you attracting professionals while they are looking and where they are looking for the products and services you have to offer?

5. Working “in a bubble.” Are the results you are seeing from your marketing campaign in line with what your sales team is looking for? It’s vital for marketing and sales to work together to ensure that your campaigns are delivering measurable results.

6. Focusing on quantity versus quality. Leads that provide intelligence to begin a relationship and gain a customer are more valuable than piles of nameless, faceless clicks. Be sure to capture relevant information.

7. Neglecting to maximize your media partner relationships. While accountability is a necessary component of any marketing program, you shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the burden on your own. Look to your advertising media channels for detailed reports delivered in a timely manner.

8. Overlooking timing. Are your marketing initiatives in sync with company-wide events such as product or service launches or trade show appearances? Neglecting to keep timing in mind can result in missed opportunities.

9. Abandoning branding and exposure. An increased emphasis on leads has resulted in some businesses shifting their focus away from branding and exposure. However, continuous exposure to your target audience will ultimately result in qualified sales and marketing opportunities. Are your media channels keeping you in front of your desired audience?

10. Moving into the year ahead without a plan. Still haven’t developed a road map for the future? It’s a good idea to set aside time to brainstorm your goals and objectives, and plan your tactics for the year ahead, including marketing channels that align with your plans.

ViaGlobalspec

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Analyzing The Success of Social Media Marketing

analyzing social media success

 

Guest post from Jonathan Leger

 

Social media is a modern phenomenon that presents incredible marketing potential. The problem lies in knowing just how to harness that potential to get the results you want. That’s why it’s so important to have a game plan in place for measuring the results of your social media efforts. In this article, we will share some doable tips and provide advice on keeping track of and increasing your return on investment (ROI) in social media marketing. Read on to learn more.

 

Six Smart Strategies For Assessing & Improving Social Media Marketing ROI

1. Set goals! Before you begin, decide exactly what you want your results to be. In that way, you will have some sort of guideline in place for measuring your success. Decide how much effort you want to focus on concerns such as lead generation, brand awareness, networking and reputation building. Set a target for the precise number of leads, fans and followers you want to generate in a given time period.

2. Make good use of tracking codes. Be sure to include tracking codes in every part of your social media marketing campaign. That way you will be able to tell which parts of your campaign are generating the most interest and you can tweak accordingly.

3. Do a thorough cost analysis on each lead. Determine how much each conversion costs as compared with how much you earn on each lead you generate.

4. Perform thorough demographics analysis. Be sure to use all the tools put at your disposal by Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to determine who is showing the most interest in your product or service and why they are attracted. Track interest from start to finish to determine the interests of your visitors, their location, age and gender. This information will help you target your best prospects.

5. Provide plenty of opportunity for feedback. Ask questions and encourage discussion. Create surveys, questionnaires and contests to engage your visitors. These activities will provide you with valuable information about what it takes to encourage and excite members of your target audience. It will also help you avoid doing things that will discourage them.

6. Find out how your visitors get to you. Use tools such as those provided by Alexa or Google Analytics to determine where your visitors come from and where they are headed. This will help you perfect your content to both attract and direct them.

 

Social Media Background

 

Is That All There Is To It?

While quantitative measurement of the success of social media marketing campaigns is important, it is also necessary to understand that qualitative results are even more important. The six simple techniques discussed above can help you get people to your social media pages where you can direct them in ways that will help you increase your ROI, but there are also many important aspects of customer service you should practice to optimize your results.

Remember that a very big part of social media involves making friends and building trust. There is a certain amount of finesse involved in this and success can be elusive if you are too focused on your business. You have to learn to set just the right balance between building authentic relationships with your followers and mentioning your product or service naturally and in an encouraging manner.

With social media, you can build your reputation as a trustworthy human being who has the best interests of others at heart. This may take a while and it is difficult to measure precise results. In this area, you will simply have to believe that with the passage of time, your consistent honest and trustworthy behavior will eventually pay off.

 

Frequent Involvement = Higher Numbers!

A successful social media marketing campaign will result in increased numbers of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media sites. It will also result in increased and positive activity. If you are simply attracting people to “follow” you and then never hearing from them again, your campaign is not successful. Your goal should be to have lively, active interactions on all your social media pages.

Be sure to visit your pages frequently and update your information on a regular basis. Create positive, interesting posts that engage your followers and encourage them to open up. Always keep in mind that you are working on building an ongoing relationship based in trust. Even if your potential customers are on the other side of the world, this is possible and desirable thanks to the internet.

 

Social media graph chart in 3d on blue and black

 

Think Of It As Building A Long-Term Relationship!

Don’t become discouraged if your sales figures do not climb as rapidly as your social media interactions. Your profits may not initially be an indicator of your success. Social interaction is a delicate activity. Success takes time to develop.

Focus on courting your target audience and building trust. This is a long-term investment that will surely pay off handsomely with the passage of time. By tracking and monitoring all of your activities closely, you will be able to look back through your records and see which of your efforts had the most success. This will allow you to repeat these efforts and improve your rate of conversion and ROI in a steady and reliable manner.

 

Jonathan Leger has been a successful Internet Marketer for over 11 years. He owns an SEO Tools suite at KeywordCanine.com.

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Get Your Emails Ready for the Holidays with These 11 Email Templates

email marketing

The holidays are coming.
And if you’re like most small businesses and organizations, email will play a big role in how you communicate with your audience and get the word out about everything you have going on this holiday season.

Read the full article at: blogs.constantcontact.com

 

Check out some really nice holiday email templates from our friends over at Constant Contact.

Email marketing can be some of the most effective and least expensive options, especially for a small business at holiday time.

So, get your list shined up, head over to Constant Contact, and get the email blasts ready!

Need some help or want a full service solution? Contact epic Marketing today. We can help you with anything from lists, templates, copy, imagery, custom coding, or a full service mailing.

 

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5 Aspects of a Successful PR Measurement Plan

successful PR plan

The constant state of flux within the PR discipline makes a solid measurement foundation all the more essential for communicators.

Read the full article at: www.prnewsonline.com

 

A leading industry publication recently conducted a poll of PR pros and asked about the hardest part of their job. An overwhelming majority cite the lack of having a measurement plan in place as making their job more difficult.

PR News followed up the poll with a great article outlining five aspects of a successful PR measurement plan. It includes:

Do preliminary research

It is vital to have an understanding of the overall marketing goals in addition to the brand’s business goals. This will help establish synergy between all communications efforts. Good research will determine if the company’s marketing goals are vastly different than the goals PR needs to achieve, and only solid measurement will demonstrate conflicting outcomes.

Think about budget, resources and timescales

Consider how measurement will be conducted. PR measurement often fails because PR pros are responsible for campaign elements and measurement at the same time. By assigning a separate, dedicated resource to measure campaigns, you avoid cases where one merges into another, clouding measurement outcomes.

Set clear goals

Whether you’re in an in-house or agency role, work with your brand or client to establish clear goals PR needs to achieve. Use the Barcelona Principles as your guiding compass.

Establish the baseline

Is the existing PR activity meeting some business goals, or is PR activity non-existent? If already used, does the existing program need to be ramped up?

Define measurement methods

Consider what PR goals need to be achieved. Then define the most appropriate measurement methods that will provide the level of detail required. For example, media results should account for impressions within stakeholder groups, as well as the quality of the message and media itself.

With the plan outlined, it’s time to execute – then track, measure, and report.

Still feel like you’re missing something? Contact Epic Marketing. We can help. We’ve helped clients with their public relations needs for over eight years and counting. Whether crisis communications, pitching, setting goals and budgets, or handling product rollouts, our experienced staff is here to help when you need an Einstein sized solution.

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