The 5 Requirements of a 2017 Marketing Plan

Another year older, another year wiser—or so we hope. But can we say the same for our marketing strategies?

If your business is gearing up for another trip around the sun with the same old marketing plan full of product promotions, scheduled social media posts, and the occasional sponsorship, it’s time to reevaluate your approach.

Here are 5 ways to evolve your marketing strategy so 2017 won’t leave you behind:

1. Consumer-Created Content

The need for creating high quality content is never going to go away. Ever. But now, that need is joined by the demand for user-created content. That’s right—content you don’t write for yourself. That means, first and foremost, reviews. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, ConsumerReports, and Glassdoor are all prime examples, but there are countless more, depending on your industry. Your marketing strategy for 2017 should include innovative ways to encourage your customers to leave you glowing reviews online. Additionally, important customer-created content includes blogs, where your product or business may be mentioned, and social media posts, where users may be posting about you or commenting on your own content. Consumers trust online reviews now more than ever, and what your customers say about you matters just as much, if not more, than what you say about yourself.

2. Collecting Data

You have the ability to collect more data about your customers and market than ever, and it’s time for your marketing plan to reflect it. In fact, it should be a major part of your strategy for the year. Start by collecting data from your active users. Come up with some ways to encourage your users to fill out a form that collects their zip codes, emails, occupations, or other relevant information about themselves. This works best if you offer an incentive for filling out the form, like a discount or free content. You also need to utilize mobile technology, by creating an app for your business—if you don’t already have one—and using reliable software to collect data. Free resources like Google analytics can also offer powerful insight into your customers’ behaviors. Additionally, you should be taking advantage of online survey tools to gather feedback (again, more effective with an incentive), and looking to newer, more sophisticated methods, such as GPS data collection.

3. Visuals

This is nothing new, but it’s an area where your business needs to continue evolving. Don’t get left behind with the same boring stock images and drop shadows you were using a few years ago. Look for new, striking visuals, including cutting-edge graphics, a healthy portion of video content, and even the potential for Augmented Reality (AR—think Pokemon GO) and Virtual Reality (VR), which are only going to pick up speed in 2017.

4. Targeted, Personalized Advertising

Stop looking for the one-size-fits-all marketing solution, and start embracing segmentation, and thinking of your audience in groups. Depending on your market, that may mean targeting varying age groups differently, dividing your customers by their household incomes, or even grouping users based on their behaviors on your website (which you know from the data you’ve collected). A narrowed approach will create far better outcomes in your overall marketing efforts, and can be easily supported by marketing automation tools, such as Eloqua, HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, and more.

5. Improved Customer Experience

This should be part of your marketing plan every year, because it can always be improved. Some things to look at this year:

  • Consistency—Are your customers getting a consistent experience with the same, recognizable brand across all channels? You need this not only across multiple locations (if you have them), but also across all of your digital outlets, including your website, social media, app, blog, etc…
  • Touchpoints—Do you have enough existing customer touchpoints, or do you need to set up a method to provide more positive interactions throughout the customer experience?
  • Nurture campaigns—Even if you already have some set up through automated email marketing, there is always room to add more targeted nurture campaigns for your existing customers. It might also be time to update some existing ones that have become outdated.