Happy New Year!
While everyone is making predictions on marketing trends, let me look back on the year that was, and share what I learned in marketing in 2013.
Entire businesses and careers are built around search engine optimization. As an online marketer, I am very lazy about SEO. I don't panic when Google changes its algorithms. And strangely enough, the traffic of the websites I manage don't seem to be affected much by the whims and dances of search engines.
What does affect traffic? The amount and quality of blog posts I publish. As I've mentioned earlier, when I published daily in one blog, this is what happened to the traffic. I've observed the opposite to be true: When I neglect a website and post infrequently, the traffic goes down.
You also have to produce your own content if you want to succeed in social media networking. Why? Because you've got to have something of your own to share. You can't just curate other people's awesome content and hope the awesomeness rubs off on you. People want to know what you've got to share, too. Create something wonderful for them.
If you want to increase traffic to your business website, then start blogging, if you aren't blogging yet. If you do blog, commit to publishing blog posts regularly. I've found once a week to be the absolute minimum. It may be different for your audience. Test and experiment, and, of course, do what's realistic for you. Remember, quality is better than quantity. Don't churn out poorly written, uninteresting, and irrelevant blog posts just for the sake of publishing them more often. At the same time, don't get fixated on writing The Perfect Blog Post. Good enough is, well, good enough.
Pictures and other images took centre stage in marketing last year. Studies show social media posts with pictures get more clicks and other forms of engagement than plain text updates. Pinterest and Instagram certainly caught my attention. I hardly use Pinterest, and yet it has become one of the top 10 sources of traffic for one of my niche sites.
Invest time and money in creating and/or acquiring good images — and learn how to use them. Be careful where you get your images. Make sure you have permission to do so, or you could get in big trouble! In most cases, you'll have to pay for the right to use images for marketing. I use Fotolia and it's not very expensive.
Better yet, create your own images. I've been using my iPhone almost exclusively for taking pictures and use a number of apps to enhance them to make them more attractive and compelling online.
Also, don't forget to optimize your images for the search engines (I may be lazy about SEO, but I'm not *that* lazy!). Use a plugin to make your images pinnable on Pinterest, and learn how to use Pinterest and Instagram more.
I still hear people whining about having to watch videos online, especially sales letter videos. Well, sorry my lovelies, but online video is here to stay. Web users are consuming more video than ever before, and they're doing so on their mobile devices. Services like Netflix are changing the way we're consuming video. People are getting used to having video at their fingertips, available when they have the time and on whatever device may be handy.
Think of ways to use video effectively in your business. Don't create videos just for the sake of joining the bandwagon. And please, don't make awful videos. But do find out when video would be the best medium in your marketing or communication strategy. For example, video is great for showing off your new software or app, demonstrating how a gizmo works, or teaching something step by step. I wish more realtors would use video to show off their listings, instead of those horrific house pictures.
And by the way, YouTube continues to be a significant source of website traffic. So if you're publishing video, might as well learn how to use YouTube properly and optimize your videos for the search engines (see? I'm not very lazy about SEO after all).
Those are my the marketing lessons I've learned in 2013. It seems pretty obvious where I'll be heading in 2014, isn't it? More, better, and *easier* content creation, including eye-candy images, and video — I may even give Vine a try.
What did you learn about marketing in 2013? What will you be doing more of in 2014? Do tell!
Image by Starmanseries on Flickr
Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.