Happy New Years! 10 Things I Learned in 2012

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The beginning of a new year always sets a good time to reflect on trends and experiences from the previous year. In spirit of the season, I decided to share 10 things that I learned from 2012.

1. Define your social networking

Social networks have been around for nearly a decade now and its users are becoming more advanced. Users are now familiar with what each network offers and what content they want to be exposed to. If your business’s social networking plan consists of linking all your accounts and posting the same content to each network, then your business is not benefitting.

Either eliminate some of the accounts in your system right now and focus more on those networks seeing the most return or start diversifying the content delivered through each medium. As a shake-up trying giving different employees control of a network.

2. Simplify your customers’ choices

Customers are less patient than ever before. We want answers now and we want them to come easy. Evaluate your current offerings of products and/or services and remove the ones not getting much action. By simplifying the options, it allows businesses to better target clients and then ultimately up-sell them to those other products and services later down the road.

3. Email is NOT dead

Many experts believed that social networks would be the end of email, but it looks like it has made email marketing that much more important. Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial have proven just how profitable email marketing still is if you are publishing content users are interested in.

With all the various websites and social networks, people are starting to use their email as more of an alert system for information they want to know right away. Analyze your current content and determine an email marketing strategy. What content can you publish on a regular basis that users would need to know right away?

4. Responsive design is NOT for everybody

Responsive design was a big rage within the web design world in 2012. It was important to make a website that properly formatted to the growing number of devices and browser sizes being made available; however, a key part of this argument that was missing was exactly who needs a responsive design.

With my experience, responsive design is only needed for e-commerce websites. All other type of websites are mostly able to be automatically resized by these smarter tablets, and the cost does not justify any benefit coming from a responsive design.

5. Make customers do less

The days of long forms are over with. When asking a customer to sign up or create an account, ask for as little information upfront. Get the user to opt-in and then ask more questions later. Evaluate your current forms and decide if any questions can be asked later or removed all together.

Also, consider using customer’s history to provide recommended items. By creating an automated function to facilitate this process, it allows businesses to sell more product to the customer with no extra effort.

6. Video is NOT the answer

Text and images are still king. Video is great, but, unless you are producing a quality video, most users will not stay around long enough to watch.

7. Get to know your customers through analytics

Data gathering is getting much more sophisticated by the day. If you have not already, start diving more into the analytics of your website. Better understand where your customers are coming from, what page they landed on, and when they left. Determine what pages are not being visited and make tweaks as necessary.

8. The time of day IS important

The time of day that you post new content is extremely crucial to the success of your content marketing plan. Users are subscribed to several things. So if you post a new piece of content at 3 am, it will get push to the bottom of the pile by the time it reaches the user’s eyes. Use analytics to help determine the ideal time for your customer base.

9. Infographics are addicting

You probably come across at least one infographic a week. These images are packed with valuable content that make it a great piece of content to share on any platform. Decide what kind of data you can share and turn it into an infographic.

10. A great product makes everything easy

If there is one thing from this list you choose to implement, then make it this last point. A great product makes marketing it 100x easier. Customers will be more inclined to share and recommend your products. Bloggers will start writing about the product on their own. It will even make content generation for your business that much easier.

Take a top down view of your product or service and determine the strengths and weaknesses. Ask your current customers how you can improve. Soak up all this information and devise a game plan.

2013 will undoubtedly create its own share of trends and issues, but the need to constantly stay ahead of the curve is what makes all this so exciting. I am always open to helping, so please contact me to discuss any problems your business might be facing.

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