Did you make any new year’s resolutions for 2016? I’ll admit: when December 31 rolled around for me, I was so busy that I didn’t take the time to sit down and think of any. And good, realistic resolutions do require careful consideration. They require space away from the rush of the work week. To get a clear view forward, you need to stand a little bit apart and above. I don’t think it’s too late, though. When it comes to marketing your business, it can be especially easy to just keep moving forward without really stopping to reassess, doing more and more of the things you already know how to do. It’s great for your marketing to build momentum, but every so often it’s wise to stop and make sure you’re on the right track. There’s no better time than a fresh new year to rethink your marketing and adopt new habits that will set you up for success. What follows is a list of 12 marketing resolutions to consider—one for each month of 2016. See which ones make sense for your business this year (or simply let them inspire you to keep up the good work if you’ve already got these down pat). With the right tools and approach, keeping these resolutions shouldn’t be all that hard—and sticking to them will make finding new customers a lot easier in the long run. To help, I’ll be pointing out free resources along the way that you can download to get started. I’m calling it now: for you and your business, 2016 is going to be a stellar year.
Resolution #1: I will stop treating my website like my business card and start treating it more like my front door.
By now, even the smallest of small business owners understands that having a website is crucial. But too many of them put up a website and then proceed to treat it as a digital business card or brochure, passively waiting for people to find it and then figure out some way of acting on the information that’s there. If you instead view your website as the front door to your business, everything changes. You realize that a person who visits your site is standing on your doorstep, and you need to invite that person in. That might mean they can press a button to contact you immediately, download something valuable, join your email list, or take any other action that turns a visit into a true visit, rather than a drive by. Resource: One of the simplest ways to turn any page of your site into the start of a new customer relationship is to add a LeadBox™ opt-in form. Click to download our 10 best tips for creating opt-in forms that work.
Resolution #2: I will focus on getting and nurturing leads, rather than waiting for sales to materialize on their own.
It’s natural—and in a very important sense correct—to focus on revenue above all other marketing metrics. Making money is probably why you’re doing marketing to begin with, and if that’s not happening, positive numbers anywhere else don’t really count. But to actually make those sales, you often have to widen your field of vision and take a look at those potential customers who aren’t quite ready to buy yet. Maybe they haven’t heard of your company. Maybe they’re just now becoming aware of the industry in which you operate. Maybe they’re the kind of people who do a lot of research before they feel comfortable spending money. These people are almost certainly going to become somebody’s customer. Catch their attention and their permission to be contacted with content they want at this stage, and it’s much likelier that they’ll become yours.
Resolution #3: I will develop content that makes sense for my audience at every step of their journey toward becoming customers.
To nurture leads, you’ll want to present them with content that both enriches their lives and helps them understand how your business fits into their lives. That could mean standard white papers, but it could also mean …
- Creative emails
- Blog posts
- Tools such as worksheets, quizzes, and calculators
- Videos and webinars
- Podcasts and audio recordings
Recently, we even heard from a LeadPages® customer using a virtual reality game as part of their content marketing strategy. This year, spend time investigating your audience’s information habits and the choices they make at different stages. I predict you’ll be inspired to reach them in totally new ways. Resource: To get started brainstorming content resources your audience will love, download our list of 25 content upgrade ideas.
Resolution #4: I will stop treating social media as an afterthought or a necessary evil and start using it deliberately to get leads.
“You’ve gotta be on social media” is the new “you’ve gotta have a website.” But it probably isn’t worth even the time you invest in setting up profiles if you only use your social media channels to send out the same few links to the same few pages on your website. Instead, aim to spark conversations that can develop into more than just talk. Post ideas, not slogans. Rather than linking to your homepage, link to landing pages or blog posts that contain strong calls to action. Some LeadPages® customers have even found success by embedding a LeadBox™ opt-in link directly in tweets and other social posts. Finally, to effectively widen your audience, thoroughly investigate the paid options each channel gives you. You may be able to vastly expand your reach for just a few dollars a day. Resource:Download our "Social Media Platforms at a Glance" guide to help you decide where to start getting serious about social media.
Resolution #5: I will create a unique, targeted landing page for each marketing campaign I run.
Assuming you target different groups or advertise different products with different marketing campaigns, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you funnel all your traffic straight to your home page. If it’s like most home pages, it offers a number of different exit points and tries to serve the basic needs of whoever stumbles across it. It’s not great at directing traffic in a specific direction. Instead of trying to make your core website do more and more things, try creating a simple landing page that focuses specifically on what you want the audience for each campaign to do. When you use a landing page builder like LeadPages®, this may add as little as 10 minutes onto your campaign planning process.
Resolution #6: I will set up a thank you page for every opt-in or sales opportunity I create.
This isn’t part of a “be more polite in 2016” mission (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, it’s about pointing your new leads or customers toward the best next step they can take. Here are a few sample pathways a thank you page can create for you:
- Someone opts in for a free download → thank you page links to a paid product they may want to check out
- Someone subscribes to your blog on a particular post → thank you page encourages them to share the post on social media
- Someone purchases a product → thank you page asks them to leave a review
And those are just a few options. Visitors’ engagement with your company is generally at its peak right after they’ve opted in, so it makes sense to capitalize on that engagement with a thank you page.
Resolution #7: I will run my first webinar (or start using more effective signup pages for the webinars I already run).
Webinars are far and away the most successful sales technique we’ve found at LeadPages. They can educate a large, attentive group of potential customers at once while clearly demonstrating the benefits of what you have to offer. They offer as close to a captive audience as you’re likely to find online: in 2014, a study by ON24 reported that viewing time per attendee averaged 56 minutes—extremely impressive considering that the average webinar length was 45–60 minutes.
If you’re running webinars but aren’t getting the number of attendees you want, try switching up your promotional strategy. Make sure your webinar registration pages have strong calls to action and urgency-driving elements such as countdown timers. And don’t forget to hint at the kind of webinar presenter you’ll be. Strike a friendly, personable approach in the page’s copy, and try to include a welcoming photo of yourself. Resource:Click here to explore the Webinar Funnel Course.
Resolution #8: I will assess ROI carefully and be willing to invest in tools that will save time and money in the long run.
Take any marketing campaign from any of the biggest companies in the world and you could probably recreate most of its elements for nearly free … if you had unlimited time and half a dozen specialized skills on your hands. And even then, you’d probably have trouble getting initial attention without spending a little cash to kickstart traffic. In order to grow, most businesses need to find ways to harness more speed and volume than they’re capable of producing with their hands and brains alone. It can be scary to contemplate a $500 charge from an advertising service or a software tool. But rather than instinctively locking your credit card away, take some time to break down the return you’d be likely to get on any investment you’re considering. For instance, would it let you reach 5,000 new people? Run 5 more promotions a year? If the increased revenue you’d get by unlocking the potential of a new tool or channel substantially outstrips the amount you’d pay, see if there’s a way to fit it into your marketing budget.
Resolution #9: I will continuously collect data to track whether my marketing is really working.
There’s an old joke that goes: “I know half of my marketing is working, but not which half.” For many business owners, it’s not so funny. They send marketing messages out into the world and can only guess whether any new customers they receive are a result of those efforts. In some cases, they’re probably using the wrong tactics and relying too much on hard-to-track strategies such as print ads. In other cases, they may just not know where to look for data. It’s worth making a fresh start in the new year: choosing tools that make data easily available, finding your way around the dashboards you already have, and taking the extra time before any campaign to decide what numbers you’re hoping to see. Resource: One freely available but admittedly complex source of great data is Google Analytics. Download our guide, “10 Metrics That Matter Inside Google Analytics,” to navigate it with more confidence.
Resolution #10: I will start making decisions based on the data I get from tests and experiments, rather than relying solely on best practices and gut impressions.
“That never works!” “Well, we haven’t done it that way before …” “I’ve always heard that you should …” If phrases like these tend to fly through the air whenever marketing tactics come up, you may be stuck in a marketing rut. In 2016, consider breaking out of it with intelligent experimentation. You don’t need to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks or sink a lot of money into overhauling the way you do things. Start small: launch one new kind of email campaign, one different approach to a landing page, or one offbeat promotion. Then keep a close watch on the data to see if the experiment is worth repeating. An easy way to determine your success is to use split testing. Speaking of which …
Resolution #11: I will start split testing concepts that can inform the entirety of my marketing strategy.
For some people (myself included), split testing is really, really fun. It’s like a game: set up a couple of variations and watch the numbers rise and dip until a winner is declared. But it shouldn’t be just a game. To get the most from your A/B testing, start by thinking carefully about what you want to learn. If you’re testing your messaging, try creating 2 pages with distinctly different headlines, rather than changing a random collection of words or muddying things even more by making unrelated changes to images or layout. In other words, you should always be able to fill in these blanks: Concept A: __________________ vs. Concept B: __________________ If you can’t do that, resist the urge to test for testing’s sake. Wait until you have a larger question that data can resolve. Resource: Not sure what concepts to start with? Download our free guide, "25 Easy A/B Tests to Help Uncover Your Landing-Page Success Formula.”
Resolution #12: I will start mapping out campaign funnels that help me understand what I need leads to do at every step of the way.
And then? That’s the question you should be asking yourself after implementing any of the resolutions above. So someone joins your email list. And then? They attend a webinar. And then? They make a purchase. And then? To help link these different events together, it can be helpful to lay out your entire marketing campaign—from getting traffic to closing a sale to making a bigger-ticket sale—as a unified campaign funnel. It’s just a planning tool, but in the business of making resolutions you’ll actually keep, planning goes a very long way. Resource: For more on the principles of funnel-building, check out our 8-part series: "Funnel Building: The Re-Education—The New Way to Understand and Build Campaign Funnels That Convert."Did you make any resolutions that will affect your marketing this year? Share them in the comments!