Can you believe it? This year is nearly done.
Watching the calendar tick over is such a great prompt to take stock of where you are, and of where you're heading.
So, with that in mind, I reached out to talented web marketing professionals - of different specialisations - with a simple question:
What advice will you give clients in 2017?
I was thrilled by how willing these guys were to share their best stuff!
A team this diverse and experienced might normally cost you a bit to work with..
But today, you're getting their top tips for free.
If you do any of your business on the web, there's definitely something here to improve your 2017.
Let's jump right in:
Edward Dennis is a digital marketer at Core DNA, a provider of web applications for Software as a Service businesses. He is the author of Core DNA's excellent $0 Guide to Content Marketing.
Last year and the year before was the year of long-form, 10x content.
This trend isn't going to die any time soon, but you can only one-up your competitors so many times.
Instead of creating long-form content for every topic, mix your content calendar with “snackable” content. These could be short how-to videos, GIFographics, etc.
Identify a few overlooked hardcore/loyal sub-niches in your industry.
Let's say you're in the fitness industry. Rather than creating another generalized curated content, focus on a few angles that haven't been served well. For example, home workout routines for 40+ dads or home workout routines for budget-deprived students.
You almost want to create a “Us vs. Them” mentality.
Influencer marketing with a focus
Instead of going wide, go deep.
What I mean by this is instead of creating an expert roundup of, say, 50 people, focus one just one, and milk the heck out of it. Do things like, in-depth interviews, analysis, etc. Identify influencers with whom you share the same values and audience.
Leverage each other's authority and promote each other.
Grame Watt is a digital marketing executive, overseeing SEO, social media marketing, PPC and content marketing at The Zen Agency, a full service digital agency in Glasgow, Scotland.
Optimise your content for user intent
Keywords are still important.
But your content should now focus on answering the query of the user. Keywords should come naturally from doing this.
Focus on page speed
Google continues to have a large focus on mobile searches and page load speed will most likely become a more significant ranking factor due to this. New technology such as AMP pages support this theory.
Voice search is here
The way people are searching is changing, this is due largely to voice search. The likes of Siri and Amazon echo are changing the way people search for things online. Its really important to consider this when optimising your content and web pages.
Jessica Humphreys is a Communications specialist at Social Concepts, a digital communications agency in Melbourne, Australia. With years of experience in both traditional and digital PR, and social media, Jessica also lectures on social media and digital public relations at both Monash University and Federation University.
Influencers are GOLD!
Engaging in influencer marketing - if done correctly - can be a hugely successful strategy for businesses of all sizes.
Focus less on how many followers the influencers you are approaching have. Instead, take notice of their engagement.
Try to build genuine connections. Demonstrate that you have done your research and you understand what the influencer is about. Make sure that the influencers audience would actually be interested in the product and or service you are asking them to promote
Don't always expect collaborations for free. Sometimes there will be a cost involved. Make sure you -have a budget and that if you do spend, you spend in the right places. If an influencer is asking for payment, make sure you take a look at their media kit and see if the numbers are worth what they are asking for.
Plan for Success
Trying to maintain a consistent social media and PR presence is hard for businesses at all stages and sizes. Often, small business owners are reactive and miss vital opportunities that could have been secured through proactive planning.
Use January to assess your content schedule for the year ahead. Whilst this most likely won't be a concrete plan, it will provide you with a framework to leverage upon.
Identify some key themes to base your content on. For example, if you are a fashion retailer your themes may be seasons, events, celebrity inspiration etc. From there you can determine topics that fit within these themes and are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, social media and media releases.
Look at your FAQs - what do clients and prospective clients ask you on a regular basis? Is there an opportunity for you to create content that answers these questions?
Have a loose content calendar for 6-12 months that allocates one key theme for each month with a few content ideas that fall into that category.
Be Flexible, Be Creative
People like to consume content in different ways. Mix it up! Your blog post could be the foundation for a really great podcast, a quote from an interview may be great for a customised Instagram image and so on.
Creativity is crucial to creating and keeping an engaged audience. Apps like SnapChat, Instagram Story, Boomerang enable anyone to create fun and engaging content on the fly.
Quite simply: create content, create lots of it and use the same idea for different formats so you can capture different audiences.
Andrew Davis is a founder of The Worst Kept Secret, a social media consultancy in London, England. He also publishes advice on social media marketing and content promotion at Thinking Outside the Blog.
Creating Content is 20% of the Job
Most people like creating content. It can be fun.
But if you want results as a marketer, then this is only 20% of the work.
The other 80% is filled up of getting people to find your content, getting people to talk about your content and getting people to take action on your content.
The next 18 months we will see a huge push towards social being a pay to play platform for businesses.
You will still be able to get organic reach but without knowing how to advertise, you will struggle.
Unfortunately the main social media sites will be dominated by larger companies for organic reach so small businesses will have to learn advertising.
Nothing has Changed / Everything has Changed
I have been doing digital marketing for 16 years and for businesses, nothing has changed. You still need something to sell, somewhere to sell it and someone to sell it to.
What has changed is the technology and people's behaviour. So my advice to my clients has been to keep your business objectives in line online and offline but look at tech and behaviour changes.
John Rosato is an SEO and inbound marketing specialist, currently heading the digital marketing team at Wolf Interactive, a boutique digital agency in Melbourne, Australia.
Optimise for Mobile
More and more websites in 2016 saw mobile traffic overtake desktop and tablet for the first time. Your website should already be mobile friendly - this coming year, optimise for it.
Don't just see mobile as the step before a consumer moves to desktop. Make it easier for your users to browse, buy and enquire.
Reset Your Budgets
2017 is as good a time as any to review your PPC campaigns and set realistic goals for the year ahead.
From November 1st, Google started running their Adwords business in Australia as an Australian entity, so you will now be charged GST on top of your current spend. Sit down with your agency or specialist and work out what a profitable conversion is worth to your business.
From January 2017, Chrome will start to actively call out websites as 'unsecure' when collecting payment information and passwords.
If you're running an online store or collecting personal information, it's a good time to take advantage of the small SEO benefit of switching to HTTPS.
Mitch Hills has founded several companies, from startups to entertainment businesses. In 2016, he founded Mastered Marketing, a digital marketing agency in Brisbane, Australia. He also runs The Exceptions, a community for entrepreneurs, freelancers and startups in Brisbane.
VIDEO is Where it's At for 2017
Syndacast predicts that video will account for SEVENTY-FOUR percent of internet traffic next year. Those are some BIG numbers!
I create regular 'how-to' videos, short and sweet pieces of content that are well received by my audience and it's only continuing to grow.
Personal Branding is More Important and Influential Than Ever
This never used to be a thing for everyday businesses. I think the reason being that if 'John's Butcher' is popular, when John leaves - the business is ruined!
However, these days your personal brand can represent your business in a way tha wasn't before possible.
People naturally relate to other people more than a brand name. You should leverage that.
We're big on this, which is why I set up the Rapid Personal Brand Establishment Program
Content is Not a Phase
More businesses need to start catching up: marketing today is about being a part of the conversation, not interrupting it.
You need to be add little bits of value to your audience so that they know, like and trust you.
That way, when you do put up a sales post, the chances of it connecting are radically higher.
Reeva Cutting is the owner of Cutting Edge Digital, a digital marketing agency in Perth. She specialises in SEO, Google AdWords, content marketing and blogging services for small business.
Marketing Is Personal
Everything today is becoming less about business to consumer or business to business, it's all about the people behind the brand, making all connections more human.
People want to know about who a company really is, what they stand for and why they should trust them.
Step In Front Of The Camera
Video is one of the biggest new forms of online content and it's only going to get bigger.
Facebook Live videos are currently getting a ridiculous amount of traction and reach organically, compared to other forms of posts.
Many people (including me!) are either terrified of getting in front of the camera or think that nobody cares about what you have to share but as with my first tip, everything is becoming more personal precisely because people actually DO care!
Understand Your Analytics
Not everyone has the budget to pay for SEO and other forms of digital marketing.
But the number of websites I come across today that still don't even have Google Analytics installed is crazy.
If you're a small business and you have a website, please install Google Analytics!
And don't just install it, learn how to use it - even if there are just a few key metrics you focus on, like conversions, pages visited and sources of traffic.
Knowing who comes to your website, what they do and where they comes from is invaluable when it comes to marketing plans and deciding where to focus your energy.
Lachlan Wells is an account manager and content marketer at Optimising, an SEO agency in Melbourne, Australia.
Ask Your Customers for a Google Review
So many of my clients put this in the too hard basket.
But the number and favourability of Google reviews are a big contributor to the visibility of your business listing on Google Maps. Once you get to 5 reviews, your star rating will display on the listing, which encourages a lot more clicks.
To maximise your chance of being reviewed, ensure you're asking customers at the right time. Include a call-to-action and a direct link to your Google profile at the bottom of an email at the end of the sales process, include it in a card in your delivery box, or display it on a sign in your reception. Free tools like this one will allow you to generate a direct link to your review page.
Compress Your Images
There's a direct correlation between bounce rate and load time. The longer your site takes to load, the more visitors you'll see abandoning the page and returning to Google's search results.
Oversized images are one of the biggest culprits for long load times. Unless you're displaying full screen photos, there's no need for your images to exceed 150kb each.
Filter Spam from Your Google Analytics Account
Analytics is a fantastic tool, but only if it has accurate data.
Unfortunately it's easy for spammers to fake traffic coming to your site, with the aim of having their domain name appear in the Referral Traffic or Landing Pages sections. We wrote a guide for how to filter out referral spam from Google Analytics so you see accurate visitor numbers.
Leanne Nicholson is a graphic designer with 8 years experience across print and digital media. She currently provides graphic design and branding services with Oraco Marketing, a Melbourne based creative studio.
Explore Influencer Marketing
Connecting or collaborating with an influencer in your industry will not only gain you brand awareness, but also credibility. Whether that influencer is someone with a large following on social media, someone well respected in your industry, or a customer that shares your product with their friends.
You could reach out to popular bloggers offering them free products in exchange for unboxings/reviews, engage customers to share their experience with your brand, or simply write a guest blog on websites your customers would visit.
Tell Your Story
As technology grows, it's becoming more important for businesses to resonate with their audience. With the constant influx of information fed to us on a daily basis, we are becoming selective and making more informed purchasing decisions.
We want to relate to a brand's story, its people and its values.
Storytelling is a great way to increase the human element and connect with your audience by consistently delivering an authentic brand story.
Create Valuable Content
Creating valuable content through blogging, podcasts and video will not only grow your audience and increase your credibility, but will play a big role in Search Engine Optimisation too.
Regularly blogging and adding content to your site will help drive traffic.
Make sure your content is of real value and substance to visitors, and share through social media and email marketing. When your audience expands, business will grow!
William Siebler is a consultant and direct response marketer who helps businesses grow through Adwords, Facebook marketing, video SEO, and conversion rate optimisation.
In any marketing there is roughly 3% of people ready to buy now and this is where most people focus their marketing.
They ignore approximately 67% who will buy if nurtured.
So making sure you have strategies in place to follow up the 67% is vital. The three top ones are re-marketing (Google and Facebook), push notifications and lead capture (email or SMS).
A good partnership can grow a business faster than virtually any other strategy.
Two things you need to do are:ask “who deals with my ideal clients but offers non-competing products/services?”, and then take responsibility for making the partnership work.
If you do all the work and make it easy for the partner things will move. If you rely on them to do things it will stall.
Seek to Deliver 10x Value With Your Product/Service
That is, customers get back ten times what they spend in perceived value.
Note it is perceived value - in their eyes - that matters.
If you can design your offer this way and prove your claim of a 10x return then marketing becomes easy.
Brandon Schroth is a Digital Analyst for seoWorks, an SEO company headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
A growing trend that I see for 2017 is live streaming.
I believe this will grow in popularity as technology advances. While recorded video will of course still remain popular, apps like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Snapchat and Instagram Stories offer user friendly platforms that make content like product briefings, tours, tutorials, launch events and more easier than ever.
If you're not using video platforms, I suggest you start.
I see push advertising fading away. Expect to see native advertising take its place.
Things like banners, pop-ups and paid ads are being intercepted by ad blockers because consumers have simply had enough. Consumers don't appreciate or value this kind of forced advertising.
This doesn't mean that ads are going away. Rather, they are simply going to evolve.
White Hat SEO
As we move into 2017, it will become even more critical for businesses to invest in search engine optimization for their websites. As more and more companies advance into the digital marketing space, website ranking and visibility will become increasingly competitive.
If you plan on reaching your audience through your newly designed and developed website, make sure you invest the time and money into SEO as well.
Do your research and select a company that employs “white hat” strategies and tactics, and your return on investment should be desirable.
Sam Williamson is an SEO specialist at AIMS Media, a digital agency in Glasgow, Scotland.
Stop Trying to Go Viral
Over the past year, I've had so many clients come to me asking how they can go viral online.
They seem to think of it as some kind of holy grail that will transform their business and have customers kicking down their door
But that is not the reality at all.
What really happens is that they get some press for a day, then people forget about them.
There are very few long term benefits to going viral, and it is a very time consuming process that will require huge amounts of work and probably monetary investment too, all of which could go towards more concrete marketing efforts that would result in long term benefits for the company.
Mick Simpson offers web design and SEO services to small businesses in Melbourne, Australia.
Find what your clients want to learn from your industry and create content for them that's still relevant to what you're doing.
The idea is that you want them to want to read what you've got, and if you're lucky, share it.
Take heaps of good pictures, and load up your social media with the beauty of your industry.
In a world of short attention spans, an image is going to be the first thing that draws most people in. If you suck at photography, get a student in to help!
People want to know you've still got your thumb on the pulse and care.
Search engines want to display only the most relevant information - it's why people choose to use them - so of course Google is the popular choice!
This is why bad SEO business practices have just been smashed out of existence. Most black hat ranking techniques just fill the entire internet with garbage.
Opt for a white hat approach that adds value to all corners of the world wide web.
Ben Desailly develops digital marketing and SEO strategies at Loud&Clear, a digital agency based in Melbourne, Australia. He has worked with clients like Kayser, Strike Bowling, Skyzone and The Inside Project.
Customer Centric Campaign Strategy
2017 should be all about the consumer.
Today, we have unparalleled opportunities to connect with different audiences and segment our offerings and language to each group. To make full use of this opportunity, we need to build digital campaigns around the benefits to the user rather than the specifications of the product.
We deal with businesses every day that ask us to advertise their services or products. The conversation usually begins with, “we want to tell people that we do this/sell this”. Before we can do this, we need to correctly understand why the user would choose your business or product.
By asking the right questions about your offering - do my customers have a set demographic profile? What problem does my business solve for my customers? What is an incentive that will motivate a customer to interact? - you will gain a clearer understanding of your customer and be able to orient marketing strategies around those insights, providing customers with a more relevant and useful message.
Segmenting offerings and campaigns will result in much higher returns and engagement levels. Having such a structured approach will aid in identifying what elements of the campaigns were successful and what needed updating.
Data Driven Insights
Data and analytics can seem vast and complex.
But it shouldn't.
Assuming your website has a basic level of analytics installed, your users will provide highly relevant insights into what they want through how they behave on the site.
For example, for an eCommerce website we recommend:
- Choosing your featured products based on which one's users view the most, rather than which ones the business has the most in stock.
- A homepage banner is often the first thing a user sees on your website. Use the number of clicks to find patterns. E.g banners with more images and less text get clicked 30% more.
- Be very clear about what your website goals are and their value. If no-one is filling in your email subscription option, but email newsletters typically result in lots of sales, try offering an incentive to sign up.
- If you're sick of fighting with colleagues over what should be featured on the website, why not A/B test the options and let your users decide. This is a lot simpler than most businesses think.
- Set aside time to analyse different hypothetical user journeys. Data analysis is all about the ability to explore possibilities rather than proving yourself right.
Try new opportunities
The worst thing a company can do is assume that what has worked the best in the past will always work the best.
We recommend allowing some discretionary budget for exploring new opportunities. This doesn't always have to mean creating new assets and setting up expensive new platforms; it can often be done by leveraging existing assets and ideas.
Do any of these situations match yours?
Do you have video assets that were created for one campaign sitting on the server gathering dust? Why not leverage these videos for a YouTube campaign. Better yet, get short 30 second versions built from the start that will work better on YouTube.
If you have always run Adwords ads but nothing else, why not experiment with some ads on Facebook or Instagram?
Do you have any mobile-only ads? With mobile internet usage now exceeding desktop usage levels, it makes sense to tailor your offerings to mobile.
Have you approached other businesses about partnerships and cross promotion?
The key is to very clearly identify business objectives and ensure the necessary tracking is in place to accurately record and evaluate the results. The worst case scenario is spending money on new opportunities with no idea whether they're working or not.
Big thanks to everyone who contributed!
2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year.
Did you find anything of value here?
If so, please share!