2019 is shaping up to be a challenging year for businesses, with the global economy struggling to sustain single digit growth and Britain poised to go through a painful decoupling from the European Union in a move that has brought consumer confidence to its lowest level in half a decade.
While it is right to be realistic about the obstacles that exist today, organisations which want to get ahead and improve their prospects this year will need to think carefully about their marketing efforts.
There are a multitude of means available to businesses that are keen to promote themselves to prospective customers and clients. But with so many platforms on offer, it can be tough to choose the right techniques and strategies.
Here are just a handful of potentially potent business marketing options that are available in 2019 and could make a real difference to performance in the current climate of uncertainty and instability.
Boost your social media clout
The chances are that if you are reading this article, you are a social media user. You may even have encountered it through a post on one of your preferred social platforms. Services like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the hubs for communication that most people rely upon to engage with the wider world. This means that social media is also an ideal outlet for your marketing efforts this year.
If you are intimidated by the social media sphere, it makes sense to dive in headfirst to get a better idea of how the most prominent platforms operate and the kinds of content that businesses and brands are publishing on them.
It is also important to remember that there is a place for every conceivable kind of organisation in this arena. A 13 per cent increase in users was recorded in 2018, resulting in almost 3.2 billion people around the world having access to such services. So, whether your organisation focuses on selling electric hoist equipment to the construction sector or the latest computer equipment to consumers, there is ample room for industry-specific niches to be filled. Of course it is not simply a case of cracking on and creating accounts on every service out there; you need to think about where your audience will be and tailor your social media marketing strategy to fit this.
Finally, you need to consider the ways to raise engagement and improve the prominence of your presence on social media so that when you do publish a post, it actually garners some attention. For example, videos can influence buying decisions and achieve conversion rates across social media and email of up to 80 per cent. Developing your own AV content which is unique, sharable and entertaining will help you climb to the top of the slippery pole of social media.
Make your website work for you
The expectation that every business should have a website is near universal, although with social media stealing a lot of the limelight in recent years it is also unfortunately common to see organisations neglecting their sites in favour of investing all their efforts elsewhere.
Unfortunately, a killer social media presence will only get you so far; when it comes to the crunch, you need a website that is capable of wowing even the most savvy, jaded visitors. Achieving this is not a mammoth task, even for smaller firms, since by focusing on just a few key areas, you can see significant improvements.
It’s important to have a professional web design which covers your entire site, but take your key landing pages for example. These need to be carefully tuned to give you the best chance of catching the eye of anyone who has casually clicked through to your site after seeing it appear in search results or on their social feeds. Clearly, the layout of the page needs to be intuitive, containing all the information a visitor will expect. It also needs to be suitable for mobile users, since 48 per cent of e-commerce sales are now generated via smartphones.
In terms of actually converting visitors, video holds a similar power when embedded on websites as it does when appearing on social media. You do not even need to splash out on a bespoke video if you are selling products that are produced by third parties; adding a manufacturer’s promotional clip can have the same impact with none of the associated costs.
On a technical level, your landing pages need to load quickly, or else people will give up trying to access them and head elsewhere. Google offers a tool to check up on performance, which should give you a better idea of where issues lie and where improvements could be made. It is only by working on customer-facing and behind-the-scenes aspects of your business website that you will be able to get a better ROI for your marketing efforts in 2019.
Use data to your advantage
In an age when digital marketing tools are widely available, along with the analytical solutions that let you measure and assess how well particular campaigns are performing, it is foolish to ignore the potency of this data as a means of identifying actionable issues.
To put it another way, there are lots of ways to find out when your marketing is missing the target.
Firstly, take a look at the sources of the traffic to your site and see which channels are proving to be especially effective or noticeably weak. If you see that clicks through from social media are outpacing your paid search ads, it might be worth considering a shift of focus to capitalise on this trend, for example.
Secondly, look at how visitors behave once they arrive on your site. Are bounce rates higher from one source and not another? If so, why might this be and what steps can you take to rectify this issue? All of these insights and many more besides can be gained by drilling into the data and plucking out the most pertinent points that it reveals.
There are plenty of different analytical tools out there, from mainstream options offered by Google and the tools baked into all major social media platforms, to solutions that serve a more specific purpose, such as the SEO-oriented Moz. You can also make use of visualization tools to better understand your data. For example, you could use heat mapping software, to discover where the majority of your customers are from.
Give your brand a voice
Customers and clients are more likely to become interested in a business if it has a consistent brand that is packed with personality. The shape that personality takes can vary from industry to industry, but whatever approach you adopt it is vital to make sure that consistency is at the top of the agenda.
When using your brand for marketing purposes, it is sensible to adhere to the same tone of voice throughout. No matter the nature of the content or the platform it will occupy, your brand needs to be able to speak as one, rather than feeling like it is jumping between different tones.
This voice should foster a sense of approachability, although again the tactics you use might vary wildly. A business which wants to market itself as professional and competent might want to steer clear of informal or wacky messaging. Likewise a firm that wants to appeal to a particular demographic or niche market should not be scared to embrace a vocabulary that such groups will understand, even if it might not hit home elsewhere.
Be more responsive
Since everyone is perpetually connected to the internet and jacked in to social media services, the expectation of being able to engage with businesses as you would with any other individual in the online space is commonplace.
Because of this, marketing has become a more responsive and agile discipline. You need to be prepared to field questions, deal with complaints and keep up with ongoing conversations about your products and services, rather than taking a back seat and letting potential problems build momentum without intervention.
This state of affairs is why many businesses have dedicated social media professionals on their staff who work with marketing and customer support employees to ensure that the firm remains both responsive and reactive in a way that will please customers.
You may not want to take on a permanent member of staff to fill this role, so working with a freelancer or hiring a digital marketing agency to grab the reins could be a good solution.
In 2019, the world of business marketing will continue to evolve and become more diverse, which creates both challenges and opportunities for firms that are hoping to keep their heads above the water this year. Your responsiveness needs to apply to the trends that shape marketing as well, since this will allow you to get onboard with the most impactful new strategies while being sure to steer clear of the tactics that are heavily hyped yet incapable of delivering desirable results in practice.