As 2011 draws to a close, we at Angled End thought it would be useful to summarize the hot trends of the year that we believe will continue to gain serious momentum in 2012. In addition, we will look at some dark horses you may not have considered allocating budget for – but could be well worth using if the investment leads to more inquiries, leads, and new business for your company, while keeping in mind that all-important ROI metric which us marketers are increasingly being measured on.
1. Inbound Marketing
We have already discussed inbound marketing at length in previous posts. Essentially, it is the act of attracting prospects and your customers to your site, rather than pushing them to engage with you. Arguably the most important tactic in your inbound marketing arsenal is blogging. Generally, the rule of thumb is the more you blog the more visits to your blog you will get – especially if you are utilizing social sharing correctly (another vitally important component of inbound marketing discussed below). So, ideally you want to blog at least twice per week on topics that your target audience not only find interesting, but are also related to your product/service offering. Try to make the copy sound informative rather than “advertorial” – it’s not hard to distinguish a vaguely disguised sales pitch from a genuinely useful list of tips for example.
Once you’ve got 300-500 words of interesting copy, make sure it goes viral by using social sharing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and their new company page feature, publishing briefs on Focus.com, Quora, InsideView, and so on). The more your company is seen as an authority in your industry (both by potential customers and the major search engines), the more prospects will start reaching out to you and are far more likely to become a customer than if you initiated the interaction through a “disruptive” or even “annoying” sales call, mis-targeted email, or InMail on LinkedIn. Not only are these “traditional” techniques becoming less and less effective, and thus more and more expensive, they can actually harm the reputation and good-standing reputation of your company. After all, if you’re so great, why do you need to call me to get new business?
2. Marketing Automation Software
Two of my new favorite acronyms are ToFu: Top of the Funnel and MoFu: Middle of the Funnel. Some marketing automation systems are really good at helping you set up automated-email campaigns based on trigger events to help push “stuck” leads through the sales funnel.
For example, I signed up for a free trial on your site, but haven’t logged in once to use it in the 30 days I got it free – so I get an email asking me to participate in a webinar to help me understand the functionality better, or if I’m considered a higher quality lead, perhaps a call from a sales rep asking if they need any help getting started. This would be considered MoFu because the lead is already in my CRM, but as Mike Volpe, HubSpot’s VP Marketing, points out in his “Death by Marketing Automation” webinar– if you continue to spam your list over and over again without adding new contacts, the number of unsubscribes and “dead contacts” in your CRM will eventually outnumber the number of live ones – so your list will eventually become obselete. This is why it’s imperative – as any good sales person knows, but perhaps fewer marketing people need to get up to speed on – to constantly feed new inquiries, contacts and leads (not necessarily sales-ready ones but fresh contacts nonetheless) into the ToFu. If you are evaluating a Marketing Automation solution, like HubSpot, Marketo or Eloqua – make sure it has both ToFu and Mofu functionality covered.
3. Mobile Marketing
We’ve already discussed this trend in a previous post, so I will just summarize the 3 key points of successful mobile marketing below:
i. Companies that layer a mobile marketing campaign on top of their existing marketing campaigns see a 30-60% increase in conversion rate to sales.
ii. Collecting mobile numbers is not only free and can be done either at the point of sale or on a reg form on your site – but allows you to create a high-quality “opt-in” list. Always make sure you have a check box that enables your prospect or new customer to decide how they prefer to engage with you, and never text anyone who has not specifically requested to have been contacted in this way
iii. Use QR codes to allow those with smartphones to quickly download information or apps that allow users to quickly and easily engage with your brand. Offer a free skin, game, or free-trial if you are marketing a mobile app – and ensure you have the analytical and contact data to feed into your CRM – thus swelling your ToFu and MoFus.
In Part II…
Make sure you don’t miss ‘5 Top Marketing Trends in 2012 – Part II‘ at the end of the year when we will cover two more exciting trends to watch out for, as well as summarize what they mean for us as marketers. If you don’t want to wait to start the conversation with us, click here to get in touch now!
Sandy Gans is Director of Sales and Internet Marketing at AEI. Feel free to contact Sandy with any questions, or to get a quote for a design or internet marketing project – firstname.lastname@example.org.