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5 Marketing Tips for the New Year

It might be February already, but there’s still time to think about what you’re going to do that’s new, fresh and exciting in the New Year when it comes to marketing.

The following are 5 marketing trends that you should take into serious consideration (and implementation) when it comes to your organization’s marketing this year:

1. Engage on an emotional level with your audience

It’s not about you, it’s about them. Seriously. Your customers are only in it for one thing–themselves. And this isn’t a bad thing. Whether you sell a good, a service or membership, you should want your audience thinking about themselves; this is how they will engage.

Your challenge this year? Think outside the box in terms of what you can offer your customers, members or audience when it comes to  personalized support, products and experiences. Pay attention to big data to help you figure out just what your customers want. Heck, any data is going to help you boost engagement and figure out what triggers emotional responses from your audience.

Track whatever you can and use this information on a routine basis to make informed business decisions. Get personal. Get emotional. Your customers will appreciate it.

2. Content marketing. It’s a must.

It’s no longer good enough to just be “on” social media or to have set up a blog (that might not be updated on a regular basis).  Content marketing is a must and need to be incorporated into your organization’s entire marketing strategy (check out some of my tips to get started here).

2014 will also see changes in terms of paid and earned media. Organic content is great, but think about setting aside some of your marketing dollars for digital advertising and promoted posts when it comes to your content marketing strategy. A solid mix of organic and paid content will push you to the frontline and only add to continued brand recognition for your organization.

Think beyond the likes. What makes your organization different? How can you be more creative? How will you truly appeal to your customers? This year, your content needs to be about engagement, conversions, originality and consistency.

3. Combine traditional and digital marketing. Think teamwork.

Digital marketing, traditional marketing, sales, brand marketing–whatever you want to call these pieces, they need to work together. Your entire organization needs to not only understand your overall business goals, but what the sales and marketing goals are–regardless of the channels being used.

In addition, everything you do should be tied to digital. It’s fine if you need to keep your printed brochure, but edit it in terms of online content. Is there a mention of social media? Do you make it easy for your readers to find you other places online? And when people do find you online, do you have a means to track where they came from?

Always be thinking about integration. Your team. Your brand message. Your channels.

4. Get mobile.

Mobile marketing is here to stay. All organizations need to think about how and when their customers access information online (hint: it has to do with tablets and smartphones) and produce content that supports the “always on” mentality. Mobile makes up the majority of email open rates (so even if you finally got that business e-newsletter going, you now have to make sure it’s primed for mobile viewing…is it?)

Responsive website design. Text messaging. Easy share options. Social networking widgets. Visual content. All of these pieces should work together to create engaging experiences that showcase your brand in its best light while, at the same time, making it as easy as possible for the consumer.

5. Multiple paths to purchase

There is no longer a flat sales funnel. Your organization must really think about multiple points of entry and strategize your marketing according to this. Think emotional engagement. Think outside the funnel.

The purchase funnel we all learned in Sales and Marketing 101 is no longer. The way for brands to communicate on an emotional level and provide value to customers is to choose the right (multiple) platforms and engage on the customers’ levels. What they want. What they need. How they connect.

And because of this, there is no one direct path to purchase. There is no one ultimate tool that persuades a purchase.

All of a company’s efforts–traditional and digital–solidify additional connections and emotions that lead to engagement, trust and ultimately, the sale. It truly is a multi-path-to-purchase cycle. There is nothing flat about it.

This is what your leadership must understand. This is how you will engage your C-suite and get them on board with everything you need to be doing in 2014 and beyond.

Are you ready?

This guest post was submitted by Melissa Harrison, founder and CEO of Allee Creative, LLC, a content marketing and branding firm in the Twin Cities. Melissa has more than a decade of experience in content management and strategy, branding and design, working with organizations to build strategic social media and online content strategies. Listed as one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute, Melissa believes that organizations must adapt to what customers want, which includes using social media and creative online content to provide relevant, consistent information, in order to survive.

Melissa is also a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a regular speaker on the topics of branding, content strategy and social media. Melissa is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals. Follow Melissa on Twitter.