Oxford Marketer Barry O'Brien (Fluent Marketing) joins us to share his top 5 business marketing tips for 2019.
Several people have asked me what one thing they should add to their marketing plan for 2019. The simple answer is that each of them should be improving in different areas and one thing would not work for all of them. They all have different strengths and different focuses.
Obviously, there are other big trends for marketeers on the horizon such as voice marketing through smart speakers and AR & VR, but some of that can be a bit impractical for the typical SME so here are the areas we should be looking at for the next 12 months.
1. The Year of the expert through inbound marketing.
Customers, either B2C or B2B, want to buy from the expert, whoever they see as the best at what they do or whoever produces the best product.
Businesses that share and show that they are experts in their field will come out on top over those that are heavily sales driven or simply rely on advertising.
On top of this, honesty and trust are hugely important in this space. If you are overselling or not being transparent in your expertise, customers will see through it in the long term due to the influence of online reviews.
This is where Inbound marketing comes in, particular for B2B businesses. It relies on producing high-quality, useful content and then using it to position yourself as a trusted authority. This is done through video, blogs, social media thought leadership, automation, speaking at events and so on. By doing this, you invite business in rather than bombarding with outgoing ads.
This allows you and your organisation to build a reputation that is seen as authentic and valuable to customers, therefore positioning yourself as the obvious choice when they want your service.
2. Video will continue to be the best way to drive engagement
Video has been huge for the last year and 2019 will see its importance increase even more.
This is all down to attention span and the fact that people would much rather watch and remember a video than a written blog.
You don’t need lots of expensive equipment to get involved either. A decent smart phone is perfect for live videos and platforms such as Facebook Live is ideal for businesses to target and engage with B2C audiences - if their audience exists on Facebook that is.
Something we’re likely to see a lot of this year are Snack Ads. These are videos of 10 seconds or less mainly targeted towards B2C audiences. Again, it’s an attention span thing, but we’re seeing that videos of 10 seconds lead to twice as much engagement as 60 second videos.
B2B videos are getting stronger and stronger all the time and we’re seeing more of it every day, particularly on LinkedIn. These videos are typically a little longer, because as we talked about already, they are trying to convey expertise and get a more detailed message across that the audience will spend time watching if they think they are getting value out of it.
3. Email post GDPR
So, the landscape has changed somewhat this year with GDPR’s influence on email marketing. (Although I do have to say I’m still receiving a fair amount of unsolicited emails…)
We all know the benefits of email marketing. It’s cheap, easy to use, easy to access your audience because we all use email, and it’s really easy to measure. And yes, GDPR put restrictions in place but really, I saw it as a big positive because it helped shrink overly bloated databases.
We’ve already seen this begin, but over the next 12 months, we’re going to see brands and businesses put more effort into simpler design and more effective segmentation and personalisation.
Simpler design in emails is important. Some imagery is fine, but we’ve really come to a point where heavy imagery and graphics dilute the message and distracts from the expert lead content and good storytelling.
Focused databases are a blessing. It was said that GDPR would kill email marketing, but it made it better. We’re now able to segment databases much better by being uber-targeted. Also, when I say personalised - yes, I mean including their name, but that’s obvious. I’m talking about sending customers content that is a lot more personal and relevant to them rather than a cold email about something they never wanted to hear about in the first place.
This should be a lot easier than in the past through automation and the fact that our knowledge of our databases is a lot clearer.
3. Live Chat
Chat bots have been around for a while but are becoming more and more useful. People are beginning to prefer using them over filling a contact form or picking up the phone.
What brings it forward another step is live managed chat, where the website visitor chats to an actual person, rather than an automated bot – and there are services such as Melu that manage this for you, so your staff don’t have to make sure they are available or get interrupted from other work.
Some experts are saying that up to 85% of customer interaction will soon be via chat bot or live chat – so get moving with it soon.
One warning though – it must be super easy to use on mobile as that’s where most people will be using it.
5. Question: What’s going to happen with Influencer Marketing?
Okay, maybe not a forecast, but I’m very interest to see which way it goes this year.
Influencer Marketing is a sort of word-of-mouth marketing that involves paying influential people to share your message
It’s been massive over the last couple of years, especially on Instagram & YouTube and has seen big returns when executed effectively.
However, there has been backlash over best practices, lack of transparency and serious overkill meaning that it’s been very in your face of late.
It will be interesting to see how that goes over the next 12 months.
So what one thing to add to your marketing plan this year…?
Inbound is the big thing again this year. Make sure your business builds its reputation as a trusted expert through video and other complementary channels. Give people a reason to think of you first and they will come flocking.