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Keep These Digital Marketing Themes in Mind for 2016

by: Erin Presseau Director of Digital Marketing

As we approach the end of the year and sit with clients to counsel them on progressing their digital marketing strategies in 2016, we’ve seen a few common themes emerge in our recommendations that we’d like to share.

1. What Should a Company Focus on to Provide a Great Online User Experience in 2016?

Great content! As User Experience (UX) becomes more of a mainstream digital marketing focus, we see many blogs and articles written around how online search, navigation, and design all contribute to a successful user experience. And they certainly play a large role. However, it surprises us that even industry veterans forget to talk about the most important driver of a great experience – good content!

A great user experience can be defined as a pleasurable user journey that is relevant, personalized and impactful. No matter how successful your users are at finding the right page through the navigation or search, or clicking on the right button due to a design with high usability, they will not have a relevant, personalized, and impactful experience without relevant, personalized, and impactful content! Think of a user journey as a series of conversations your users have with you along their decision-making path. If what you say to them (through great content) is relevant to their needs/situation, is personalized so they can relate to the solution and is impactful enough to encourage them to continue speaking with them, you will have happy users. The takeaway is that a content strategy is absolutely imperative to a great user experience.

2. Marketing Automation Requires Work

No matter how easy the software vendors make it seem, buying a marketing automation software license, loading your lists, and adding a few email templates is not going to instantly gain you the returns you were promised – and that really are quite possible with MA over time. Marketing Automation is not just a tool – it’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention, testing, and refinement. Your automated lead nurturing solution requires you to nurture the process. It takes strategic planning to configure and set up workflows, to integrate data to feed into or with other systems (such as CRM or CMS), and to develop content that nurtures leads and directs them to online or offline conversion points.

Obviously, most marketing managers certainly know MA isn’t plug and play, but many tend to underestimate the amount of work to truly get the most benefit. It rarely works as someone’s side job and that’s why companies are seeking the help from companies like ours. In 2015 alone, we’ve added several new clients to our roster who had purchased the tool but haven’t utilized it to even a fraction of its potential. To get the most out of your marketing automation efforts, make sure you have a strategy that includes data cleansing, a content calendar and workflow, a testing/tracking plan, and dedicated resources to make it successful.

3. Numbers Can and Will Lie to You

Or, at least they don’t tell the whole truth all the time. If your SEO traffic is up, that’s good, right? But, what if the page you are directing traffic to all of a sudden also shows a higher bounce rate? Or, should you be happy that your SERP (search engine results page) is up for keyword targets even though further analysis shows click through is low? And the one we hear all the time is that clients measure success in ‘time spent on page’ but what does that really show? It could show a user is really engaged with your content or company or could also mean that they are confused and have no idea what to do next. As we sit with clients to help prepare 2016 digital marketing plans, we recommend they do not rely on a single Google Analytics data point to make a business decision or to validate spend. We look at trends, multiple data points, and indicators together to truly get the real story so that we can trust the data is telling us the truth.

In this constantly evolving digital ecosystem, if you aren’t looking ahead you are already behind. What’s your take on 2016 trends? Let us know what you think.