3vocusTo tailor your marketing strategy to support your business goals, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses in each area. Understand them by assessing last year’s results through key performance indicators (KPIs).

In the following, we summarized the Vocus Guide to Marketing Succes in 2013 for your convenience.

1. Social media referrals to website:

  • Engage influencers. Become a trusted source of information. Within your industry, there are experts and commentators whose networks are larger than your own. In turn, you will be cited in blogs and on social networks, and your site will benefit from inbound traffic.
  • Expand your networks. Monitor which social networks are driving the most traffic to thank customers for good reviews, respond to questions, remedy negative feelings, and encourage customers to leave feedback. Expand your presence in the most valuable ones.
  • Provide value. Social networks are not the place for overt marketing messages. Rather, people use them to share great stories and exchange useful information and advice. The content you publish on your website and social networks needs to be helpful, interesting, sharable and stimulating.

2. Search engine ranking:

  • Publish content: These days many companies improve their SEO by doubling as a publisher. Don’t worry about publishing daily content: start small and build up to it. You can get even more search visibility with online news releases. The great thing about publishing content is that it stays there, meaning that you’ll reap the search benefits throughout 2013 and beyond.
  • Earn links. Inbound links are critical for your search rankings, as links from high-quality websites are seen as “votes of confidence” by search engines. The best way to earn new links is to publish unique content that resonates with your target audience. You can make your content work even harder by including social sharing buttons in your posts and pages.
  • Optimize your website. As you work to improve your ranking, it’s vital to work with your web designer or web hosting provider to optimize your website for SEO.

3. Social media comments and questions:

  • Track and respond. Create a process for tracking and responding to customer queries to make sure no comment or question goes unanswered. Other customers will see this and be encouraged to leave feedback of their own or share with others.
  • Give people what they want! Measure and keep track of what drives the most conversations on your social channels and use the data to give customers more of what they want. People will be more likely to comment on and share your brand’s content if they’re interested in what you’re saying.
  • Be proactive. Don’t just wait for people to post comments or questions on your brand’s social network channels. Comment on others’ profiles. Stimulate conversation by posing questions to your audience and encouraging responses. Contests and giveaways that challenge customers to engage with your brand’s social presence creatively often generate loads of engagement.

4. Email list size:

  • Start fresh. In order to make sure your emails reach the most relevant people, start off 2013 with an audit of your current lists and make sure they’re up to date. Are all of the addresses on your list valid? Are they categorized and organized appropriately into prospects, customers, location, types of products and interests, and more?
  • Grow your list. Revisit your most successful list-building achievements from 2012. Did you see a substantial increase to your list size from social networks or your company website? Did you encourage customers to enter their email addresses for a contest or giveaway, via value-added content, or while completing a purchase? Don’t forget to collect email addresses from customers in your brick- and-mortar storefronts and on your social media landing page. Keep using the techniques your customers prefer, while trying new ones.
  • Encourage sharing. Customers trust people within their personal networks for advice and opinions on purchases. Encourage customers who currently subscribe to your emails to share them with their friends and other connections by providing valuable, share-worthy content.

5. Blog readership:

  • Shout it from the (social media) rooftops! Whenever a new blog post goes live, share it from your company and personal social network accounts. Send out social media alerts two or three times over the following week, to allow people to quickly determine whether or not to visit your site.
  • Make it easy to find. Make your blog easily accessible on your homepage and provide links in emails and other marketing materials. This helps you reach new customers who haven’t connected with your brand on social media, yet. For search engines, be sure to optimize your blog posts with the keywords and search terms that your target customers use. Wordpress provides a free SEO checker that can help with this.
  • Be a resource, not a showroom. Successful business blogs are a useful resource for industry information. Try using your blog to answer questions about your industry. If people are asking about something, there‘s a huge opportunity to “own” the question, and get found by new customers.

6. News and blog mentions:

  • Share your news. In addition to more news mentions, using an online distribution service can increase your online visibility. Use the keywords you’ve identified for your business in your release and link them back to your website. You can also increase news mentions by building a list of relevant publications, blogs, and journalists to email when you have news.
  • Use trends to publish and pitch. Keep your eyes open for news stories and trends related to what your company does. This allows you to publish searchable content (or pitch journalists) offering an expert opinion on the story and showcasing your business in the process.
  • Reverse the pitching process. Thousands of journalists and bloggers use free Vocus service HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to find sources from the business community.

7. Positive online reviews:

  • Be present. The Internet and social networks allow customers to post reviews quicker and more easily than ever before. Having a presence on review-specific networks like Yelp! is essential to monitoring reviews and responding swiftly.
  • Encourage feedback. Provide a feedback forum on your website or Facebook page. Make it clear that you’d like to receive both positive and negative feedback.
  • Be responsive. Be ready and able to respond to negative things consumers might say, and demonstrate to them and other customers what you’re doing to make it right. The way you handle a bad review can lead to more good reviews. You should also acknowledge people who post positive reviews, and they’ll be inclined to leave more positive reviews in the future.

8. Email opens:

  • Write better subject lines with a clear, short message. People decide whether or not to open your email based on only a few words. Creating a sense of urgency or hint at value within, while keeping terms like “free” and “discount” to a minimum: they can make people think your message is spam.
  • Test what’s best. The day of the week and even the time of day you send emails can affect your open rates. Use split testing to find out which combination of external factors leads to the highest open rates for your audience.
  • Update your lists. If your lists aren’t current and up-to-date, your open rate will reflect that. Update your email list now to make sure your information gets to the people who actually want it and are more likely to open your emails.

9. Inbound media/blogger inquiries:

  • Create. Content creation is key to establishing yourself and your company as a “thought leader”. Over time, journalists will learn to consider your company as a reliable source for information.
  • Engage and add value. Work to maintain relationships with members of the media even when you don’t have news to share. Comment on articles directly, and share those pieces on social networks. You can even send them information relevant to their beat, even if it’s not a direct pitch for your company. You can become a trusted member of a journalist’s or bloggers’ Rolodex.
  • Do your research. Determine which outlets and journalists will be interested in what you have to say. Look up their most recent articles to find what they cover and how they cover it. Who are the local reporters that would cover your business? Don’t be afraid to reach out. Showing that you’ve done your research by identifying the most appropriate journalists for your company is the first step in positioning your business as a credible source of information.

10. Online sales:

  • Focus on calls to action. Make a customer’s life easy by including calls to action on every piece of content. Emails should encourage people to click through to your website and social channels. Press releases and social media entries should link back to your website, putting them one step closer to conversion. Web pages should funnel people to conversion pages. Use active language and encourage immediate action. It can be as simple as, “Register now!”
  • Nurture with content. Helpful content attracts and converts customers, especially when used to nurture your prospects through each stage of the buying process. The content you publish in 2013 should take a variety of formats, ranging from expert tips and guides (for attracting attention on search and social media) to customer case studies that help validate a new customer’s final buying decision.
  • Integrate your marketing. A marketing campaign isn’t complete until it integrates search, social media, email, publicity and other channels. Each single marketing channel has benefits for your business – but combining them and making them work together enhances their power. Try integrating social media with email, or amplifying your next publicity hit with a news release. (Source: www.vocus.com)

By MediaBUZZ