Spoiler Alert: don't tell Virginia, but some of us are suspecting there may, in fact, not be a Santa Claus.
Actually, let's amend that statement. There very well may be a Santa Claus, but he's clearly not getting our letters. For example, in our letter to him last year, we were pretty explicit, atop our list was our perennial request — ponies for everyone in the office — plus world peace, a belt sander, and a "Married with Children" DVD box set. What did we get instead? Socks and underwear!
So this year we're taking a different approach. Christmas is apparently about giving, charity, etc., so this year we're asking Santa to help us, help our clients. After all, our clients are overworked and tasked with creating a "marketing plan" with a limited budget and not much time. Furthermore, technology — particularly social media — is changing on an hourly basis. Is it any wonder why marketing mangers are so overwhelmed?
Wouldn't it be neat, we thought, to focus on, the crème de la crème: the five most important 2014 marketing trends that will give them the most bang for their marketing buck?
Indeed, it would be neat. So here they are, the five things marketers should be most focused on in 2014:
1. Facebook advertising. The social media behemoth has a plan and it involves their paid advertising platform, Facebook Exchange. It's a better, more organic retargeting platform than Google Adwords in that (when created properly) your ad will seamlessly appear in a user's news feed. Better yet, Facebook's brilliant algorithms are crunching mountains of unique user data to make sure the ads are perfectly attuned to the user. And guess what? It's working. According to AdRoll — who, full disclosure, is a Facebook Exchange partner — users click Facebook News Feed ads 21 times more than standard web retargeting ads.
2. More interactive retargeting ads. Pursuant to the previous point, using precise user data to target the right users is only half the battle. If the user doesn't click the ad, what's the point? So don't forget the power of a good, ol' fashioned ad. This involves crisp, clear copy, powerful and engaging graphics, a pleasant color scheme, and most importantly, a strong call to action that directs the user to a logical landing page.
3. More real-time social engagement. We're sticklers here about scheduling: all of our clients should have a content marketing strategy that spells out what days to publish what kind of content. It’s important to stay focused on the present, especially if you're blessed with social media chatter. Make sure to respond to most positive comments, throw questions out there to get conversation going, and be strategic about responding to negative comments.
4. More consideration for mobile in the marketing realm. Speaking of the present-tense, the "mobile future" is already here. Our clients — especially those in the financial sector — should roll out their own mobile apps. All clients need to embrace a mobile marketing strategy because, after all, that's where most customers now get their information. And web design teams need to make sure their web site and shopping cart pages are user-friendly across multiple mobile platforms ("responsive design," in industry parlance.) In other words, as far as 2014 marketing trends go, this one arrived early.
5. Better content. Every year we ask Santa for strength to go the extra mile. For example, riding the stationary bike instead of watching "The Real Housewives of Miami," eating an avocado instead of a pack of Twizzlers, and summoning the wherewithal to create unique and compelling content rather than simply sharing a photo of a kitten with a hamster on its shoulder (so cute!) Our point: content isn't king anymore. Rather compelling content is king. Search algorithms reward content-rich sites, and at the least, it conveys a sense of expertise to customers and prospects. So we'll tell our clients, "Listen. You, more than anyone, are an expert in your field. You understand industry trends, customer concerns, and what products resonate the most. Don't let this knowledge go to waste — create compelling blog posts and market them aggressively."
You know, it's strange. For all our lives we always thought Christmas was about us. What we wanted. What would make us happy? But after so many years without a pony under the office Christmas tree we thought, hmm, maybe Christmas is about other people.
So Santa, if you're out there, a thank you is in order. Thanks for letting us see the real meaning of Christmas: in this case, the importance of helping our clients focus on five critical 2014 marketing trends to reach new customers, increase brand awareness, and build a successful social media presence — all on the cheap, no less!
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