Happy New Year!
If you are like us, January is a time for goal-setting and planning meetings to set our clients (and ourselves) up for success for the entire year. The start of the new year is also one of the busiest for our clients and agencies. Though time-intensive, planning is invaluable for both our clients and our team members because it provides a strategic roadmap for the year ahead and helps us work more proactively and strategically all year long executing PR, advertising and marketing campaigns.
Because communications and marketing tactics have evolved and increased so much over the last 20 years with infinite ways to promote your business, it can be daunting trying out new ideas or platforms, changing up tactics that work well to work even better or shaking it up by stopping some tactics altogether.
While different types of businesses need different communications strategies depending on their audience, products and services, there are a few areas we see time and again that everyone (including us) can do.
No matter your business type, size, product or service, there are 5 things you should do now to help market your business better this year:
1. SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.
So often, businesses feel the need to talk on and on about the features of a product or service, the accolades they receive or how good they are at what they do. And sometimes, the message uses endless acronyms and complex sentences that are not easy to understand. When we do that, we’re not putting our customer’s needs first.
It’s so important to talk with your customers, instead of at them. When we shift our thinking and flip that concept, we can start understanding their problems and needs and be their guide to solving those. Empathizing with their needs helps gain a customer’s trust and more thoughtfully positions you as the authority (without ever saying it directly.)
2. AUDIT YOUR COMMUNICATIONS.
Do a comprehensive review of every communication your customers, vendors or employees see. An audit is an excellent way to see whether your branding and messaging are consistent throughout those channels.
All too often, we see inconsistent branding – and even a business name used differently – throughout their website, social media channels and marketing materials. So, when a customer sees these inconsistencies, they not only are confused, but they also start to question the professionalism and the credibility of the business.
- Steve Jobs chose white for the Apple logo for two reasons. With his passion for design, Jobs knew white is the color of purity and aligned with his vision of beautifully-designed products.
- McDonalds chose their colors because red is stimulating, increases the heart rate, and as a result, fuels your appetite. Yellow is associated with happiness, and is the most visible color to spot from a distance.
3. INVEST IN PHOTOGRAPHY.
Your brand is made up of both words and images that create your brand’s personality. While stock photography is quick, easy and inexpensive, it doesn’t capture your brand essence, and you are likely to see those same images in a competitor’s marketing efforts.
Professional, custom photography personalizes your brand. Customers want to get to know you and your brand so the best way to do that is to show photos of your business, team and products. Good photography not only elevates your brand but also helps improve conversion rates on your website and in social media, some stats show as much as 40%.
Our agency schedules at least one photo shoot every quarter (and sometimes more) to have new photography to use on our website, social media and emails. My team will tell you these photo shoots are a lot of work, but the rewards are worth the time and effort every single time!
4. SPEND MONEY PROMOTING YOUR BUSINESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Social media is one of the best ways to promote your business to your customers. But we know all too well that even though it is “free,” creating content for social media takes a whole lot of time and planning. And now, to be seen, it takes money too.
Any content you create and share on social media organically including posts, videos, stories and more is most often only seen by a portion of your followers, people who are following any hashtags you use and followers of anyone who shares your post. With the changes to algorithms organic reach has declined significantly due to the many people and brands competing for attention on social media in this day and age.
In December 2022, the average organic reach rate (ORR) – or people who see your content without spending money on ads – was only 1.66%. For example, if you have 1,000 followers on Instagram, regularly only about 10% are actively liking, commenting and seeing your posts.
However, when you use paid social media to promote a post or your business page, you can ensure your posts and page are getting seen, not only by people who already follow you but also by new people who are your ideal customer. Social media advertising can help you strategically place your brand in front of your ideal customer by targeting them by geography, demographics and special interests.
5. MEASURE YOUR EFFORTS.
Measuring how your PR and marketing efforts are meeting the goals of your business is a must. Take a look at the reach, actions and leads you are getting from each channel of your PR and marketing efforts.
For your social media:
- First, take a look at the awareness your social media content is generating.
- What is your reach, or the number of people seeing your content? Take a look at the reach of each post, story or video. Another reach metric to note is the percentage of reach of followers versus non-followers. A high percentage of non-followers means your post is being shared, performing well in algorithms or both.
- How many impressions are your social posts getting? If you have impressions much higher than your reach, it means you have content that is being looked at numerous times by the same people.
- For brands to grow, you need to increase your audience. Take a look at the rate at which your audience is growing, not just your new followers. A math tip for you: to calculate the audience growth rate on each platform, divide your net new followers each month by your total audience on that channel then multiply by 100.
- Next, look at your engagement, or how many people are interacting with your content.
- There are many ways to measure engagement including likes, comments, reactions, shares, saves, DMs, mentions, replies, clicks, profile visits, use of a branded hashtag and more. You can calculate your overall engagement rate by taking the number of total engagements with your content, dividing it by total followers and multiplying by 100.
- Amplification, or the rate of shares per post to the number of overall followers, is also key to engagement because followers who share your content are helping you expand your reach to new people.
- Video views are another great way to measure engagement. What’s even better than views? Video completion rates. These tell you if your content is resonating with your audience. One thing we know is that social media platform algorithms favor videos with high completion rates.
- Dive into the click-through rate of your social content to see how many people are clicking to read more or to take an action such as visiting a website, going to your shop, or another action you want them to take.
- And I could go on and on with more metrics for social content.
For your email marketing:
- How many sign-ups, social media profile visits, and website visits are you getting?
- What is the bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of emails not delivered to your list. 10.28% was the overall average for all industries in December 2022.
- What are the open rate and click-through rate? The open rate is the number of sent emails opened divided by sent emails multiplied by 100. To benchmark your current efforts, the average open rate for email marketing across all industries for December 2022 was 34.51%.
- What is the click-through rate (CTR)? CTR is total unique clicks divided by the number of delivered emails multiplied by 100. The December 2022 average CTR for all industries was 1.33%.
- Look at other rates as well such as the rate of sharing, spam, unsubscribes, list growth, leads, leads converted to sales and more.
- Also, take a look at the types of content that your highest-rated emails are getting and create more, similar content to continue engagement with your customers.
For your public relations:
- Track actions toward your business goals such as increasing traffic to the website or increasing positive media coverage in a specific market or more awareness and engagement on social media.
- Measure referral traffic or visits to your brand channels from other websites, news stories about your business in the media, social media channels and blogs. PR articles posted months (and even years) prior can continue to drive referral traffic.
- Another great way to track PR, and connect it back to sales, is to ask customers how they heard about you by adding “news article” as an option on your website, social media or information requests. This can show a direct ROI from your PR efforts when an inquiry converts to a customer.
No matter what your business or industry is, these 5 things can help drive success for every story you tell and generate more sales.