Sites like Klout and Kred emerged to provide aggregate rankings about user’s influence levels, while others like Quora crowdsource opinions and answers for any topic imaginable. Tools like Buzzstream help us curate and group contact information for PR purposes. Application-specific sites like Circlecount and Tweetreach help us understand the social fabric for particular networks.
At the end of the day, your goal should be to come up with an outreach plan to grow your brand’s social network. To learn more about how to approach this, I recommend checking out this great MOZ article:http://moz.com/blog/identifying-online-community
2. Social Advertising
The world of social advertising really grew up this past year, and has become a valued asset by brands and consumers. Facebook and Twitter rolled out some very effective new platforms for advertising, which have proven to be highly effective. By offering extremely targeted placement – for example, you can publish a sponsored Facebook post and display it to only women, aged 40-45, who are also fans of Wine Spectator and Janice Robinson – brands have the ability to laser in on their exact market. Recent IPOs suggest further improvements will come, as brands large and small adopt these digital platforms into their arsenal. Instagram recently announced a new advertising program, as did Pinterest. Even Snapchat has been getting a lot of press lately for its ability to leverage a connection between brands and consumers.
3. Local Search Marketing
It’s estimated that at least 50% of search queries have some local intent, meaning people routinely use their mobile phone or desktop to find a nearby business. Google continues to modify their search results, and serves up highly targeted local results for these types of queries. Any business that’s trying to bring customers through its doors should focus on how to improve their local search marketing. The first step is to claim a Google+ Places page, which is ground zero for ranking. Google uses these pages to rank businesses, and if you don’t have a Places page that’s completely tuned up with your business details, you probably won’t appear in search results.
Of course, that’s just the start. It’s important to build business listings on major sites like Citysearch, yp.com, and others. Services like Localeze and Yext can help aggregate your business data to major websites for a cost. It’s also important to consider building a presence on relevant regional sites. GetListed has a great resource of the top local citation sources by city, which I highly recommend checking out. For a thorough understanding of how to rank in local search results I would check out this article, which is filled with resources.
Another interesting aspect of local search marketing comes from new technologies that help you geo-target nearby consumers. These tools allow brands to connect with people by offering them a special promotion or message when they’re nearby. For example, when I’m using Waze to get directions somewhere, I might get a message offering me a 2-for-1 special from a Starbucks that I’m passing.
4. Content Marketing Strategy
This past year brought a deluge of bloggers declaring “content is king” – a phrase we’ve heard many times. Yet, the value of content has never been higher. As individuals and brands look for recognition, content is the backbone that helps them rise above. By creating useful and usable content, brands can extend their reach to new heights. On the other hand, the deluge of “thin” content can result in wasted efforts and disappointment. Your brand can no longer remain a static entity online; the content you create and share with others must flow steadily back and forth.
This section really deserves an entire book to fully explore in detail, but I would recommend starting out with Neil Patel’s giant resource – The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing. Or here: Content marketing strategy for wineries from Mike Meisner.
5. Personalization and Segmentation
Big data has been a buzzword for a few years, and it’s been hard for smaller companies to put it into action. In effect, big data is just that – big and hard to wrangle. With some deliberate focus, and help from various tools out there, it doesn’t need to be. The first priority for any brand should be to identify goals. Are you trying to build your subscriber list, get users into your checkout funnel, or understand the best time of day to launch an email marketing plan?
Start by identifying your main priorities, and then you can focus on how to measure that data. Use tools like Google Analytics to understand user behavior on your website. They recently introduced some amazing demographic reports that allow you to measure the age, gender, and interests of your website visitors. Once you understand that males between the ages of 35-45 come to your website on Tuesday morning and have 3x the conversion rate of other shoppers, you can use that information to your advantage. For example, you might then create a targeted Facebook ad campaign that runs on Monday/Tuesday and displays only to users who fit that profile. Email marketing is another area where you can make huge improvements by segmenting your audience to better understand their behavior. Email remains the number one way to connect with your audience, and by tailoring your messaging to specific groups, you’ll extract the most value from your list.
Remarketing is another great way to take advantage of personalization and segmentation. Have you ever been shopping for a pair of shoes online, and then seen those same kicks in a banner ad on the side of an entirely different website? That’s remarketing. It’s actually quite easy to set up a campaign like this using a service like Perfect Audience or Adroll. You can define visitor segments down to the product level, and create matching ads to show those people once they leave your site. It’s simple, smart, and very affordable.
My advice is to pick one or two areas that you’re interested in, and that you feel could really make a difference. Stick with it, and put in some earnest time trying them out. The worst thing you can do is launch a campaign half-cocked, and then decide it was ineffective and a waste of money.