"Change," the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote, "is the only constant in life." More than 2,500 years later, these words still ring true, especially in regard to digital marketing. Who would have predicted the rise of Snapchat, the fall of Vine or the influence of LinkedIn Pulse?
This is what makes digital marketing so exciting. It is impossible to be bored in this ever-changing field. There is always more to learn and new techniques to try.
As digital marketing changes, you need to change too. Last year's marketing techniques won't cut it in the year to come, and they will consume valuable time and energy you could be using on better marketing habits. Here are five digital marketing habits to ditch in 2017.
Habit #1: Not Knowing Your Audience
It has never been easier to learn who your audience is and what they want. Even for the simplest website, Google Analytics tells you whether your audience is technophiles or social media enthusiasts and whether they are into food and drink or news and politics. That's in addition to basic demographic information like age and gender. Social media channels provide similar analytics that don't cost your business a penny (like within Facebook Insights).
With a little effort, you can learn even more about your audience. Many market research tools can get you into the mind of your customer so you can then craft products and marketing strategies that speak to them.
Get to know your audience. Envision your ideal customer, then figure out how your business can delight them.
Habit #2: Not Developing a Voice or Tone for Your Blog
You probably know the importance of content marketing. You may even have an editorial calendar and publish blog posts regularly.
But do those blog posts sound like you? Do they sound like anyone in particular, or are they written in the same generic tone as thousands of other businesses out there?
Brands with loyal followings like Disney and Slack are instantly recognizable simply from the words they use, even without their logo present. They have a brand voice, and your business needs one too. A compelling brand voice attracts your ideal customers to you, and it is an important step of maturity for your brand.
Your brand voice may have distinct tones for different channels - a tweet is likely to be more casual than a corporate email - but it is important that your marketing team sits down to figure this out.
A logo and color palette alone do not a brand make. Your brand needs a voice, too.
Habit #3: Focusing on the Channels You Understand - and Ignoring the Ones You Don't
Yes, there's a learning curve for social media channels like Snapchat. It can be easier to ignore social media altogether, but change is the only constant in life as a digital marketer. To succeed in marketing means learning new technologies and platforms.
Whether it's Twitter, Snapchat, or something else that you still don't "get," 2017 is the year to change that.
Consider these facts about Snapchat:
‚Äö√≥√®Used by more than70 percentof college students daily.
‚Äö√≥√® Fifty-eight percent of college students say they would be likely to purchase a brand's product or service if they received a couponthrough the service.
No wonderbrands like CNNhave prioritized connecting with millennials through Snapchat. If your audience includes millennials, you just can't afford to ignore it.
If there's a channel you've been avoiding even though it's where your audience is, now is the time to tackle it head-on.
Habit #4: Not Using Paid Search
There's no question organic search is great. It brings visitors to your site at no additional cost, and it can also give you valuable insight into what aspects of your content marketing are most appealing to your audience.
But there's a place for paid search, too. Paid search gets more traffic to your website more quickly, and when it's done right, it leads to increased sales and conversions. It is an important tool in your digital marketing arsenal.
Ideally, paid search should be part of a broader paid advertising strategy within your company.
Many of our B2B clients have had success with LinkedIn's paid advertising channel, while many of our e-commerce clients have had success with Facebook ads. Whatever your industry and needs, there are paid advertising channels applicable to your business.
No matter which paid search and paid advertising methods you choose, don't forget to use analytics to track what works best for you.
Habit #5: Doing It Alone
Digital marketing is a big job. In fact, it's way more than one person's job. In large organizations, an entire department typically handles everything from SEO to social media to email marketing to strategy to analytics.
No one person will have the expertise to write copy that converts and engages customers on social media and conduct keyword analysis and all of the other activities and functions. Small and mid-sized businesses with marketing departments of just one or two people should consider reaching out to an agency for help.
Think you can't afford to hire an agency? You may be losing more if you don't. The right agency can figure out how to lower your cart-abandonment rate or segment your email newsletter to sell more to existing customers. When you work with an agency, you make an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Ultimately, that's what good marketing is: making investments in your company that will pay off in the long run. Don't invest in marketing techniques that detract from rather than add value to your organization.
If your business is still practicing these five marketing habits, now is the time to ditch them and head into 2017 with a clean slate.
Ilana Plumer is senior director of marketing executives at Main Path Marketing. Ilana has had a passion for marketing since the beginning, getting both her B.S. and M.B.A with an emphasis in marketing. With over 10 years of marketing experience, Ilana loves to build holistic digital marketing campaigns for her clients. When she’s not at work, you can find her chasing after (or being chased by) her two little girls and enjoying all San Diego has to offer.