In 2016, I saw a lot of successes and a lot of failures in my businesses. Some of them grew, while others closed down. After figuring out what worked and what didn’t, I’m implementing them into my business plan for the next year. Check out my 17 Marketing Tips for 2017 to see how you can grow your own business.
I’ll share with you some of the most important digital marketing lessons I’ve learned from the past year and how you can use them to improve your own business.
Marketing Lessons from 2016
1 – Clear is Better Than Catchy
We try so hard to come up with the perfect phrases and slogans that are creative. It usually just wastes a lot of time and isn’t as effective on viewers. Start by stating your message as plainly as possible so people actually understand it.
2 – Emotions Come Before Logic
This occurs across all marketing, but the elections this year made me realize how much more powerful it is. People make decisions on emotions first, and then find the facts to justify it. Before listing out your features, convince people at an emotional level why they need your product.
3 – Address People’s Pain Points
It’s easy for brands to get obsessed with talking about themselves and what they offer. But people don’t care about what you have until you care about what they need. Find out what people are hurting from or really desire, and speak directly to that.
4 – Make Getting Leads a Priority
I waited a long time before trying to capture email leads on my website, and lost out on a lot of potential leads. Even if you have a low traffic website, start capturing leads on it – they are your most qualified potential customers.
5 – Blogs Are Forever
I’ve created a lot of content in different forms over the years, from videos to social media posts, on a a lot of different marketing channels. Yet none of that past content has any effect today – except my blog articles. Articles I’ve written years ago still bring in traffic and still get me leads. That’s why I believe blogging is the best marketing investment you can make.
Design Lessons from 2016
6 – Use Google Material Design Colors
People can waste a lot of time nit-picking over the perfect color. Or they flippantly pick ugly ones. Use Google’s color palette to quickly and easily choose colors for your next project. I’ve used it multiple on most of my projects this year and it’s saved me so much time.
7 – Use (Good) Free Stock Photos
Traditional stock photos stick out like a sore thumb and cost a lot of money. But your options are getting better. This year, the free stock photo world exploded and you can get great, authentic images for free. Check out this list or visit my own resource at Good Stock Photos.
8 – Design for Usefulness, Not Flashiness
I see a lot of people opt for a lot of graphics and content on their website to make it look “flashy” or “full.” But in doing so, you lose potential customers who can’t navigate your site. Make your site clear and easy for visitors to know what actions to take.
9 – Mobile First is a Standard
I showed my own of my websites on my phone to a friend. There was a section that I had overlooked and it displayed really funky on the phone. It was an embarrassment I that I’ll be sure not to go through again. Making your site mobile friendly shouldn’t be an afterthought – it needs to be the priority in your website design.
10 – Stop with the Sliders
People love to put sliders on their website. They think is catchy and engaging. But studies have shown they don’t help at all. Sliders present multiple conflicting messages that distract, people ignore them, and sliders slow down the load time on a website. I’ve fought hard this year to convince my clients to do away with sliders, and it;s something you should remove too.
Strategy Lessons from 2016
11 – Adapt to Social Media
The type of content that was successful on a social network a year ago isn’t necessarily going to be successful now. There are social media strategy that don’t work anymore that I should have changed sooner rather than later. If you see your engagement start to drop, change your strategy with something new.
12 – Automate as Much as Possible
The more you can put parts of your marketing on autopilot, the more time you save and the better you can scale. This past year, I started automating more email marketing funnels, social media posting, and analytics reports a lot more, and it’s allowed me to free up time and do so much more. Look at the repetitive tasks you’re doing and see if there’s a way to automate it.
13 – Get Out of Email
When communicating internally with a team, things can fall through the cracks with email. I’ve fallen behind on so many projects and missed deadlines or failed to respond because messages get lost in my inbox. Try moving your team to a central messaging platform like Slack or GroupMe.
14 – Set Measurable Goals
You often set out with intentions of completing projects, but don’t actually get them done. This has happened to me when I have generic goals like “do social media” or “update website.” To really get things done, make specific, actionable tasks that have a due date. Using task/project management systems like Asana or Trello can be really helpful.
15 – Do What You Do Best, Pay for the Rest
You shouldn’t be responsible for doing all of your company’s marketing – that’s just a waste of your time. Instead, maximize your time by focusing on the things that you do best or actually require your attention. Delegate your other work to your team members or hire a contractor.
Overall Business & Marketing Lesson from 2016
16 – Keep It Simple
People tend to ask, “What more can we add?” Instead, ask, “What do we still need and what can we take away?” In web design and digital marketing, the temptation is to add more stuff to make it look flashy. That only distracts the user and clouds your message. Keeping your design and messaging simple will help the user accomplish the goal you want them to.
Did you resonate with these lessons and find them useful? Check out how you can turn them into practical actions steps in my next article: 17 Practical Marketing Tips for 2017
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