Online marketing isn’t for the faint of heart.
Every week brings news of another algorithm tweak, ad policy change or software version release that upends what we think we know about the business, tearing down long-established models and threatening drawing-board ideas with equal abandon.
When change is the field’s only true constant, what’s a digital marketing professional to do?
Disclaimer: this post doesn’t answer that question. Analyzing and obsessing over the minute-to-minute changes buffeting digital marketing is a lucrative cottage industry for thousands, probably tens of thousands, of brilliant thinkers from San Fran to Shenzhen.
If you’re looking for expert-level insight into what the most recent online marketing shifts mean for your prospect pool (and bottom line, let’s be real), look to people like Neil Patel or Brian Dean. They know what’s up, and they’re wrong a lot less often than most so-called “experts.”
If you’re more concerned with building a future-proof digital marketing plan that still makes sense and gets results two, three, maybe even...ehhh...five years down the road, you’ve come to the right place. Pull up a chair and read on.
Related Article: Into the Crystal Ball: 4 Online Marketing Predictions for 2016
What’s Old Is Still Old, But Also Proven Effective
In a technology-driven industry, it’s natural to be seduced by flashy new tools and tricks. (Sometimes literally — remember the Flash boom a few years back?)
Some such tools and tricks have staying power. Landing page automation, to pick but one random name out of the hat, is a legit thing that’s going to make online marketing a lot easier in the years to come.
Others (ahem, Flash) fade. Rather than try to keep up with the endless cycle of creative destruction, why not fall back on tried-and-true strategies that can adapt to granular programming changes and big-picture consumption shifts alike without compromising results? The risk-averse marketer’s tortoises to the go-getter’s hares, if you will.
In 2016, let these three oldie-but-goodie marketing tactics be your tortoises. Just don’t put your hand too close to their mouths.
1. Blogging Early, Often and About Stuff That People Actually Care to Read
Blogging was the hot new thing back in, oh, 2001 or so. But it’s still pretty darn effective. Here’s why:
- Your blog is all-purpose: Don’t have a company news or announcements section? No worries. Your blog is a natural place to announce and spin news, from new product releases to workarounds to hosted events.
- Your blog has tremendous search value: Search-optimized, high-value blog content covering a mixture of evergreen and trending topics is an inbound traffic machine.
- Your blog is your place to do you: Blogging’s secret sauce, and what makes it (still) the best thing since sliced bread for a time, is its versatility. Unlike high-level website content, blog content isn’t necessarily constrained by business imperatives. It’s your place to show your softer side, talk up topics that are incidental or tangential to your core business objectives, and just generally connect with your prospects. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a versatile, if not quite free-form, medium such as a company blog.
2. Cultivating Positive, REAL Online Reviews
Emphasis on REAL here. Cannot emphasize REAL enough. Real, as in DO NOT PAY FOR FAKE REVIEWS.
The benefits of real reviews are perennially understated.
- They’re search-positive: Product and service reviews, particularly on high-authority sites (Google, Facebook, Yelp, so on), boost your search ranking. This is obviously a double-edged sword: When they’re displayed prominently above the search fold, bad reviews are really bad. Highly visible good reviews, on the other hand, are really good.
- They’re actually informative: Online review sites are crowdsourced information databases. Every review is another data point for customers to evaluate, digest and act on. The more reviews you have, the better (usually). If you don’t have the time or resources to curate customer reviews, you can write your own. For example, this pet insurance reviews page offers no customer reviews but still provides specific, actionable intelligence, making it valuable for potential prospects.
- They lend authority: According to Search Engine Land, positive reviews are bizarrely effective sales tools: Roughly three in four people trust online reviews (...written by random strangers) as much as personal recommendations from friends and colleagues. The more reviews you attract, the more trusted “vouchers” you have in your corner.
Absent major changes in human psychology and the Internet’s information delivery infrastructure, these three facts aren’t likely to change anytime soon. And that means reviews are fair game from now until who knows.
3. Dropping Informational Videos Like They’re Lukewarm
Thanks to Web 1.0’s bandwidth constraints, video marketing is definitely the youngest of these three blue-chip marketing tactics. But, like many brilliant young troublemakers, it probably has the most room to grow.
Despite its tactile, engaging nature, video is best when understated. Forget full-page interstitial video ads (which, wouldn’t you know, probably won’t be around much longer in their current form) and opt for boring, informational vids that quite literally show — and maybe tell, too:
- Interviews: Chats with the founder or key employees, media spots and more. One-on-one interviews are the oldest trick in the short-form video book, and they’re not going away.
- How-tos: Show them how it’s done, step by step.
- Behind the scenes: It’s a meta world, and somebody’s got to film it all. Give your prospects a look at (non-proprietary) goings-on behind the scenes at your company. This is a particularly powerful tactic for “black box” companies without widely recognizable customer-facing brands.
- Informative animations: Animate and jazz up slide deck presentations, or just mash up new or existing digital content.
Related Article: How To Make Content Marketing Work in a Boring Industry
The sky’s the limit, really. If you haven’t already, carve out a video section on your website (assuming you can spare the bandwidth), open up a YouTube shop, and start dropping those videos like they’re >lukewarm.