Content Marketing on the blog

This is a fascinating time to be working in the field of marketing. Technology has given us so many interesting options to market our brands and attract our target audiences. One of the things that I love most about my job as digital senior manager for a senior home healthcare company is that the services we provide are very personal. Technology is advancing in ways that help me infuse my company’s message of providing personal care into our digital marketing efforts.

Blogs are a good start toward educating our audience about the benefits of in-home care, but that isn’t enough. We want our customers to get a sense of caring even before they decide to work with us. and infographics, provide a foundation for building that personal relationship.

I have used many different formats of content marketing in my digital marketing strategy, including articles, infographics and videos. Content marketing has helped my company strengthen our brand, earn natural backlinks and increase organic traffic.

Modern content marketing repurposes digital marketing.

When digital marketing became vogue, it was all the rage to maximize keywords to win top SEO rankings. Today’s content marketing approach ties many forms of digital marketing together in a cohesive way. This concept requires bringing people with many different skill sets together.

Our marketing team consists of people who are skilled in production, content distribution, branding, optimization, advertising, social media and analytics. Their combined talents create a synergy that unites our message across content marketing channels. These efforts work together not just to attract our target market, but to actively engage them and interact with them in a personal way.

Content marketing involves telling stories that help people relate.

Some people within our target audience are looking for information about our services. Scheduling in-home care is new territory for many of our first-time customers. That’s why we post blogs on informative topics, like health concerns, costs and more, to help them reach a comfort level with our services.

Our audience also wants to read facts about senior in-home care on the fly and in a succinct format, so I added colorful, well-designed infographics to our content marketing plan. Infographics are eye-catching and jam-packed with useful statistics that keep potential clients engaged and wanting to learn more.

One of the hottest new trends in content marketing is short, informative videos. This is one of the best ways to establish a personal connection with your audience. Through our videos, potential customers see people who are the same age and in the same stage of life. Our videos demonstrate to them that they are not alone in needing a little help or in asking for help for a loved one. Videos engage our audience because they get to see the types of services that we provide in action and how they provide a sense of comfort, help and relief to our customers. Our goal is to create a beautiful picture of how helpful our services could be for them. Video is also a good format for sharing testimonials. If your existing customers are willing to share the positive experiences they’ve had, include their testimonials on your blog, infographics and website.

Content marketing successfully delivers our message of caring for people across multiple digital marketing channels. Through collective and consistent messaging, our clients learn that they can trust us to deliver the personal care that our branding projects.

Content marketing is getting smarter.

As a digital marketer, keep a pulse on new trends in marketing, especially regarding artificial intelligence, Siri advancements, virtual assistants and the Internet of Things. The future of content marketing is sure to be even more interactive. I’m continually seeking new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance my company’s branding efforts.

Content is a base that marketers use as inspiration for other marketing vehicles.

Content in a written format is no longer our company’s entire platform. It’s an integral part of our expanded platform. I consider written content a springboard for developing other forms of digital marketing media. The challenge is taking the best parts of written content and learning what other media formats can take it to the next level. For example, we use much of the same content in our free, educational blog posts as we use in our ebooks. We may highlight the value that our service brings in other formats like infographics and video. The overall results bring the highest level of communication and engagement to our brand.

Moving from digital marketing to content marketing is only the first stage in marketing strategy. Advancements in technology will guide the direction of the next phase of content marketing. As a dedicated marketer, I’ll be on the lookout for the skills that our agency needs to keep our marketing efforts fresh and relevant. One thing that won’t change is my commitment to content marketing that keeps our target market connected in personal, caring ways.

Developing A Marketing Plan

During my tenure as a marketer in the senior in-home healthcare field, I’ve learned that aging adults want to live in the comfort of their own homes for as long as they can, and their adult children would be happy to be their caregivers if they weren’t so overwhelmed by their duties.

Where did I learn all this? From our clients.

In my role as the digital senior manager for a 24-hour senior home-care company, I’ve taken feedback from clients and used it to develop our marketing plan.

Use client feedback to develop a marketing plan.

Your salespeople interact with clients and prospects every day, so you can leverage their knowledge base to access client feedback. I have a weekly call with our sales team when they share insights about our clients. We talk about challenges and look for solutions. You should keep your sales team engaged and updated about what you are doing so they know what to ask and can address client challenges. We engage our sales team with a monthly newsletter and internal contests.

Also, you can develop a marketing plan based on buyer personas. We have multiple buyer personas: the adult child, the referral source (social worker), and the senior who oversees their own home-care plans.

Here’s an example of the information we’ve used to create a buyer persona for adult children caregivers: We heard the concerns of family caregivers when they told us that the requirements of taking care of seniors are more demanding than they could have imagined. I’ve seen the adult children try to do it all – provide quality care to their aging parents while managing their own family and affairs at home. Adult children of aging seniors are exhausted and burned out, placing their own health at risk. Not knowing what to do, they get their own families started on the day, spend the rest of the day caring for their parents, and return home in the early evening to tend to their own families. Before long, chronic stress and fatigue set in and they’re ready to throw up their hands and seek out alternative means of care.

Keep an eye on trends and practice active listening. 

As a senior in-home care marketer, I keep my eye on trends in senior care. No matter your industry, attend webinars and read publications. There are many resources available to stay on top of trends that will impact your marketing efforts and your ability to help your customers.

Another key to learning about the types of products and services your target audience needs is practicing active listening skills. For example, I listen to family caregivers and steer them toward the funding sources that they have available to them. Most people are familiar with some of the more common resources like Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Benefits, but those programs don’t help everyone or cover all services.

Learning more about a family’s circumstances tells me whether they have a life insurance policy with accelerated benefits or a long-term care insurance policy that allows flexibility of funds to be used for in-home senior care, and I can use this information to better advise them on their options.

Feature success stories and educational content.

Listening to our clients as well as the families and showing them how they can arrange for in-home senior caregiving helped us to develop a marketing platform that quickly directs senior caregivers to the services they need most. And with the launch of our new website, we can share our successes with prospective clients.

To optimize your website for conversions, you can create a success stories page to feature successful testimonials from your clients. This is a great way to convert website visitors into customers.

Educational content that answers frequently-asked questions is another way to appeal to potential customers. We are working on a price page to educate people about the cost of home care. This page will show referential price depending on the state. You can also build an online content library (with blog posts, articles and infographics) where users can navigate and find answers to their questions. After all, you are there to help!

The clients that I’ve worked with have taught me a lot, from how collective sibling agreements work when caring for aging parents to the unexpected demands of senior care. And by learning from them, I can constantly improve our marketing efforts to show how our services can be of assistance. That’s why you should always be listening to and leveraging feedback from your customers.

Topic Clusters Top Rankings

Marketers are always looking for strategies to gain top rankings in search engines. Just when you think you’ve tried every keyword and linking strategy known to man, the search engines change their algorithms. You find yourself going back to the drawing board to beat your competitors with a new strategy.

The latest algorithm updates put a new spin on SEO ranking. Keywords and linking are still relevant, but SEO is evolving and favoring a new model called topic clusters. Using topic clusters requires new ways of thinking about SEO. It also requires changing the architecture of your content.

Why Search Engines Keep Changing

Search engines keep changing because consumer behavior keeps changing. Technology is evolving, and consumers are evolving with it. They’re learning how to use it, which also means they are expecting more from it. For example, people are no longer putting the word “housekeeper” into the search box. They’re more likely to input a sophisticated phrase, such as “find me a reputable and reasonably priced housekeeper in Boston.” The customer will be looking for results that are accurate and relevant.

Every time there’s a change in consumer behavior, search engine developers get busy redesigning their algorithms to match consumer behavior. The Google Panda update in 2011 forced digital marketers to stop overusing keywords and start producing quality content. Some marketers thought that the Hummingbird update was the official switch to changing SEO patterns because it focuses on phrases rather than keywords.

In 2015, the RankBrain update broke the mold with a machine-learning algorithm that could understand phrases in search queries and put them together with the customer’s intended context. Google picks up multiple phrases and keywords from past searches on similar topics. In this way, the search engine “sees” what the consumer is looking for within the intended context. According to HubSpot research, after the RankBrain update, websites that had greater numbers of interlinks got better placements in search results. Sites with a lot of interlinks also got more impressions. 

Using topic clusters creates many interlinks. This new marketing strategy tells the search engine that you’re an authority on the subject because you have the highest quality of content, and it links to many other pages of high-quality content on the same topic. I like to think of topic clusters as spokes on a wheel. A single pillar page acts as the main hub.

Our pillar is in-home care for seniors. I set up several subtopics, such as senior care costs, quality senior care, care for Alzheimer’s and memory loss, etc. These topics form the center of the hub. Then, I expand on each topic with many more articles, linking each one to the center hub and to the others. A content hub about in-home costs for seniors might include interlinked articles about how much in-home care costs, how families fund it, how to blend family caregiving and professional care, and more. I then do the same with the other subtopics to create cleaner, more streamlined content architecture.

These topic clusters signal to the search engine that my company’s website covers our industry with a wide lens. It tells them that we’re a leading authority on in-home care. The result is that they’ll reward my efforts with a higher ranking.

Tips And Tricks For Topic Clustering

Try to keep the subtopic broad enough that you could easily add 30-40 posts on topics related to it. The topics that you add to the subtopic hub must have some type of connection. Each subtopic should cover one area of knowledge related to your industry. The interlinking topics connected by spokes (links) take your audience into greater detail.

Put solid thought into your subtopics. Are there any topics that you need to compete with other companies over? What do your customers need to know more about? Map out the problems that you know your customers have, and create subtopics around problems that you can help solve with your solutions. Take a look at your frequently asked questions to spark your imagination for even more topics. If your customers are asking the same questions, you need to create content to answer them.

Using topic clusters doesn’t mean that you should forget about other marketing strategies like keywords. I still use them in the content of the articles I create and add to the subtopic hub.

Looking Toward The Future Of Topic Clustering

Give yourself time to create new clusters for topics. A helpful resource for creating your new content architecture is to repurpose and revamp existing content. After it’s been on the web for a while, you can measure the results and restrategize if necessary.

Developers are also taking a look at how new tools can help website owners analyze and master cluster topic strategies. As a marketer, I look forward to these resources.

User Intent For Online Searches

Each new Google update sends me and every other digital marketer back to the drawing board to re-strategize on how to use keywords and content to get the best traffic. The sophistication of Google’s algorithm rises to new levels with each update, which presents interesting challenges for marketers. I’m always up for the challenge, and the latest update was no different.

Some things at Google haven’t changed much at all. Its algorithms are still interested in SEO and keywords. Numbers, which have always held a crucial place in my marketing plans, are also still an important part of its algorithms. My strategy places a unique focus on SEO as it relates to user intent. “User intent” is a term that gets the strategic wheels turning in my head. So, what is user intent?

Defining User Intent

User intent is changing how search engines see content and has made it more difficult for marketers to decipher and build new strategies. Essentially, Google isn’t just taking the words in the search box literally. It wants to know and understand, “What is the user’s intent?”

Obviously Google’s algorithms aren’t smart enough to read a user’s mind. The search engine is smart enough, however, to figure out how to get behind the categories of user intent. I recognized two categories of user intent and SEO that helped me revise my marketing plans accordingly.

User Intent And SEO

Thinking about some of the idiosyncrasies of the English language helped me understand user intent and SEO. We can’t always take words at face value unless we know the proper context. For example, what do you think of when you hear the word “jam”? Were you thinking of this morning’s traffic jam? Maybe you jammed your toe in the door, and you’re still feeling the pain. Perhaps you packed a delicious sandwich for lunch with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

If a user puts the word “jam” in the search box, Google wants to know which context the user intended. Typically, users are looking for information based on the keyword, or they’re just looking for general information on the topic.

When the word “jam” appears by itself, Google has to find a rating in terms of how it meets the needs of the user. That rating falls somewhere between “fails to meet” and “fully meets.” The search engine would likely pull up queries regarding all three meanings because“jam” is an ambiguous word with multiple meanings. Google’s rules won’t allow this word to be “fully met” under these circumstances.

User Intent Vs. Query

Google doesn’t respond well to words with unclear meanings. The new algorithm looks for clues regarding user intent vs. query words. User intent usually goes along the lines of:

• Something they want to do

• Something they want to know

• Someplace they want to go

Do, know, go is the user intent that Google tries to uncode. Search words can indicate that a user wants to make a transaction or do something — book a hotel, buy a book, find a job or buy a jar of that amazing strawberry jam.

In my experience, users who search for something they want or need use their mobile devices about half the time. It’s common for them to do some online searching and finalize the transaction later on a desktop or laptop. Google picks up on the idea that a lot of mobile users are just doing preliminary browsing.

Other words tell the search engine that users want to know something in real time. They are information words. For example, what time is it in another time zone? When does the store close? What time will the train arrive? When will that traffic jam lighten up?

Google often puts know-something posts at the top of the page in position zero, giving users some of the information they’re seeking without giving it all away. Position-zero posts might give you an idea of traffic flow at a certain destination, but you have to click through to find the state of the traffic in real time.

If people aren’t looking to do something or know something, they know right where they want to go — online, that is. They know enough to tell Google almost exactly the type of site they’re looking for. The user with an aching toe is going to tell Google they need to go to a site that tells them how to make it feel better.

Voice activation is starting to play a big role in go searches. The general public is just getting acquainted with Siri and Alexa. As more people gain familiarity with voice activation, and as voice activation becomes more sophisticated and translates more accurately, technology will make it easier for Google to identify go searches in addition to do and know searches.

Moving forward, be strategic about ambiguous words and words with multiple meanings. I’ll still be optimizing my content for keywords and SEO. I’ll just be selecting my keywords from the perspective of user intent and considering the impact of do, know, go. Google updates and data analysis will tell me when I need to modify my strategy.

email marketing generate leads

As the general public became familiar with electronic communications, mass postal-mail marketing campaigns gave way to email marketing campaigns. If you have been working in marketing prior to the social media boom, you surely remember when emails were the top marketing platform.

Over time, the popularity of email marketing campaigns resulted in personal email inboxes that were overflowing with the latest and greatest offers. Email campaigns grew and people grew tired of them. Laws that allowed customers to unsubscribe breathed new life into email marketing campaigns as customers could easily pick and choose the companies they were interested in.

Email marketing has long been a tried-and-true method for generating leads. This approach continues to enjoy a strong track record in spite of the rise of social media platforms. Email marketing is still an efficient way to generate leads at a reasonable cost.

One thing that hasn’t changed with email marketing is that you need to be strategic about how you word every part of marketing emails. One of the best things about email subscriptions of today is that you can count on your prospects having some level of interest in your product or service that encouraged them to sign up for your subscription list to begin with.

Write email campaigns that get results.

One of the first lessons that I learned about email marketing campaigns is to give sincere thought to how a customer perceives every component of the email, starting with the subject line. Media headlines grab your attention and get you to listen longer or read further. A meaningful subject line for an email offers the same punch. Subject lines should be relevant, interesting and genuine.

Journalism students quickly learn how the inverted pyramid style of writing gives readers the most important information first. The rest of the paragraph or article supports the initial information or offers additional details. Your email marketing customers will respond to the same style of writing. They want the big news first because they’re often reading your email while they’re commuting or at work. If they want the details, they’ll read the email again just before they buy.

Keep your emails simple and minimal. Just as a crisp, pressed business suit sends a professional message, a clean, uncluttered email tells consumers that you are professional. If you can’t create a professional-looking email, look for professional-looking templates where you can fill in the blanks.

Be cognizant of your purpose. Each of your emails should have a clear goal such as educating your customer, asking for referrals or getting them to follow your company’s social media platforms.

Engage your email readers with content that is short and to the point. Wordiness and fluff have no place in email marketing campaigns. Reveal your purpose up front and talk about how your purpose relates to the customer to get a connection started. Choose large fonts in an easy-to-read style. Your readers may be people who constantly read while they’re on the go or they may have poor eyesight. You’ll want them to be able to read and scan the email quickly.

Move the wording in your email toward your call-to-action section quickly and make the action that you want them to take ultra-clear. Try to think about the ways emails in your inbox grab your attention and those that cause you to hit delete.

Create customized emails for cold leads from all sources.

The main sources from which I get our leads are our blogs, organic traffic, pay-per-click ads and salespeople. No matter where you source your leads, use several email chains that are customized according to what those leads are looking for. Next, categorize them and get them in the right automated email chain. This places them in your sales funnel to warm them up and get them ready for sales.

Generate leads from blogs.

Our prospects love our informative blog articles. Use your blog as an opportunity to send them related articles. This primes the prospect for a call to action asking them if they want you to call them.

Move warm email leads to hot leads and make the sale.

It’s important to give your warm leads as much attention as your cold leads. When our emails move from the cold list to the warm list, I have a specific email that I send to nurture the relationship and make it a little warmer. I also include a thoughtful testimonial to help gain credibility.

After sending the warm email, follow up with a second email asking if they’re still looking for your services. Include a sale offer or coupon to move the lead closer to a sale.

Test and analyze email marketing campaign results.

There’s still a lot of power in A/B split testing. Testing emails reduces bounce rates, tells you more about your customers, increases conversions and is cost effective.

In analyzing my email marketing campaigns, I look for open rates at 30% or higher to know if they were successful. I don’t expect as much from click-through rates, where I like to see around the 5% range.

When a new approach to marketing takes marketers by storm, some marketers make the mistake of moving into new strategies full force, leaving methods that have worked well in the past smoldering in the dust. The best marketing campaigns use several marketing forms simultaneously. The key to maximizing results with every effort is to know your purpose, target the right customers and learn from your results.

local reviews can help local seo

Many facets go into a marketing strategy, and that’s what makes it so interesting. Marketers need to think about who their clients are and what their online search and shopping habits are. They also have to keep a keen eye on the competition, create similar angles that are better than the competition or break out of the box and do something completely different.

Factoring all of those issues and more, marketers have to accomplish their marketing strategies using the funds and resources that are available to them.

For smaller companies, the term “marketer” is often loosely applied to a company owner, employee or intern because of budgetary constraints. Some companies don’t even have the funds or technical wherewithal to put up a company website. Others create a simple, no-frills website and spend little or no time updating it.

A basic website is better than no website at all. Small companies with small budgets don’t need to break the bank to advertise online. A few great reviews, written and posted by local customers, go a long way towards helping new customers find your business among the local pack.

Get acquainted with Google My Business.

Your business can get some attention online, even if you don’t have a website, as long as you’re willing to take a few minutes to complete a Google My Business page. Google has done you the favor of setting up a blank template of a page that you can easily customize for your business — for free.

Google My Business is a user-friendly template that lets you add your company’s name, address, phone number, fax number, email address or other contact information. Your Google My Business page will enable your customers to call you right from the site and give them directions to find you in person.

When you’ve got new and exciting information or events to share with your customers, you can easily edit the page and let your customers know about it with a few short paragraphs and some images.

Business owners that have any amount of marketing know-how can also take advantage of linking, keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions and other search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most importantly, your customers can leave a review on your Google My Business page. Whether the review is positive or negative, it gives you the chance to connect with them to thank them or offer to turn a negative experience around.

Google My Business has an easy-to-understand section called “Insights,” which tells you how your customers found you.
The platform can increase your business’s ranking, even if you don’t have a website or have one without many bells and whistles.

Reviews mean a lot to business owners — and Google loves them, too.

Local SEO Guide conducted its annual study of local SEO ranking factors and found that customer reviews were big players in search engine ranking for local search. The study analyzed more than 200 factors as they related to 100,000 businesses. 

The study also looked at other factors that help local businesses rank well. It found that local ranking factors are highly connected with organic ranking factors. Businesses that ranked well in organic searches also showed high in Google’s local pack. This leads me to believe that businesses can rank well in local packs even when website owners or marketers aren’t taking advantage of SEO strategies, like keywords and linking.

Exactly how do reviews correlate to local search?

What we can learn from this is that smaller companies may think that they can’t have a huge presence online, but a Google My Business page with lots of positive reviews on it can change all that quite nicely. Google will see lots of reviews on a Google My Business page, indicating that it is a local business that does well and has a great reputation with local customers.

Essentially, Google uses crowdsourcing to tell it whether a site is a company with a strong reputation. Google has a specified format for reviews, so that customers know how their review will appear. The tools for Google My Business make it hard for spammers to get in on the action and damage the customer’s reputation. If they get through, Google will crack down on unscrupulous spammers and hackers.

Quality and quantity matter equally in reviews.

The Google search engine takes a look at what reviewers are saying before making a judgment on rank. Google gives special attention in the local pack to reviewers who mention any of the keywords or the name of the city where the business is located.

I’ve noticed that websites that have high-quality link profiles nearly always rank well in local search. I’ve also noticed that sites with few or no links, and those that have poor-quality links, also rank well in the local search pack if the business has good reviews on Google My Business.

Here are a few final clues about local reviews.

Creating a website should be the highest priority for companies that don’t already have one. Website platforms are relatively easy to set up. Many templates have automatic updates, so some of them require little or no maintenance if that’s what you’re looking for.

With or without a website, ask your best customers to rate and review you on your Google My Business page. Encourage them to mention your services and your city.

With Google picking up the cost for the site and you putting forth some effort of your own, new clientele may be clicking and calling because they loved what other locals said about you.

SEO As A Primary Marketing Tool

Paid advertisements have long been a staple of the marketing industry. Advancements in technology showed us how to organize content so that potential customers could more easily find our offerings on the world wide web. This began the great debate of whether it was better to attract customers by educating and enlightening them or by splashing attention-grabbing ads where they couldn’t miss them.

In my career as a digital marketer, I’ve learned the pros and cons of search engine optimization and pay-per-click through experience. Marketers can use both for any type business if they master one important concept — understanding why they need to put more effort and resources into one rather than the other.

Going Back To The Basics

SEO and PPC can complement each other nicely. Are you marketing a product or a service? How well-established is your business? I’ve found that answering these questions are good places to start when making decisions about which marketing approach is likely to be more effective, or whether you need to use some combination of both.

This is when it helps to go back to Marketing 101. Are you clear about who your target market is? Where will your potential customers be looking to find the products or services that you’re offering? What words would you type into the internet search box if you were looking for the same product or service?

PPC As A Marketing Strategy

PPC tends to work well for companies that are offering products. Paid ads also work nicely when you have a new angle or new use for an existing product or service. When paid ads are designed well, PPC helps attract new customers quickly.

PPC puts your brand front and center right at the top of your webpage. Google will typically show four paid ads on a desktop. Mobile apps leave room for three paid ads topping the page. Paid ads give you a lot for your money because they give you room for a brief written description and a few “sitelinks.” Sitelinks are subsections of your ad that will take your customers directly to a page on your website for locations, specials, blogs, news or your about page. PPC ads also allow you to select your target audience by day, time, location, language, previous visits and other important parameters.

You need to keep a tight handle on your budget when using PPC. Many clicks are bound to bring you new business, but they can also waste your budget. I’ve found that it’s important to set a realistic budget for paid ads and monitor them often.

Another nice thing about PPC is that analytics make it easy to see whether your PPC ads are effective in real time. Getting quick feedback helps me make decisions about pulling ineffective ads. It also gives me an opportunity to increase my budget for ads that provide a strong return on investment.

SEO As My Go-To Marketing Strategy

I tend to use SEO as my primary marketing tool. That’s because I’ve found that SEO works extremely well for our business, a senior home care company, as well as companies that are primarily service oriented.

Over time, I’ve worked diligently to build a strong brand within my company. My current goal is to keep the brand in front of our target market. I want to establish Caring People as the authority on home health care and continue to build trust and credibility in our brand. Organic searches deliver greater volume to our website than paid ads. SEO is the most cost-effective strategy for us at this time because content is working great for us.

Using PPC To Enhance A Strong SEO Marketing Strategy

I believe that SEO offers a better value for the home-care industry because we offer personal services. Our customers want to know more about our company before they’re willing to invest their money in our staff. Articles, reviews and positive testimonials are the key to getting clients to make that first call asking for more information.

Despite the fact that SEO takes center stage in my marketing plan, I still regularly manage a medium PPC campaign. I’ve found that adding PPC ads to my marketing strategy adds enough spice to our efforts to draw in some new clientele. I use PPC at various times to highlight certain campaigns or to tie our services into current events. For example, this year we had a huge marketing campaign for National Grandparents Day. In using SEO and PPC together, we get more clicks overall. Greater numbers of clicks lead to conversions.

As a rule, PPC tends to work better for e-commerce companies. SEO tends to work better for services businesses that want to keep their brand visible while getting new clients. PPC can strengthen your SEO efforts nicely and vice versa. Of course, there are always a few exceptions to the rule. After SEO and PPC, monitoring and analytics are your next BFFs.

Digital Marketing Strategy For 2018

As I look at my digital marketing calendar for the year ahead, I’m equally enthusiastic and challenged by how I’ll need to fine tune my company’s digital marketing platform in 2018. My past and current marketing efforts have helped me further brand recognition, increase online leads and establish my company as an authoritative resource in the home-care industry. Next year, I want to push our marketing efforts even further.

In 2017, my main focus was on content marketing, SEO, PPC and PPL. Based on data collected over the last 12 months, I’ve decided that I need to shift my focus to organic search. Planning my content marketing strategy in advance and having great writers and graphic designers on hand makes a big difference.

In 2018, marketers should focus on anticipating user questions, needs and emotions in order to engage with them. To that end, I’m planning to focus my efforts on researching relevant topics that can answer user questions. Becoming a reputable source where people go to learn more before making the decision to purchase helps you build trusted relationships with customers, and happy customers become evangelists of your brand. Using data will help marketers develop great content, not only based on keywords but also on developing topics. A good marketer knows that this is the key to a long-term client/company relationship.

As a marketer, my audience has trained me well. I can tell what information they want and how they want to receive it just by watching and monitoring their behavior. The key to captivating your target market in 2018 is creating content that is not only engaging but also smart, timely and personalized.

Striking The Right Tone On Your Website

What would your website homepage say to a visitor if it didn’t have any words? Marketers need to choose their colors and images intentionally so that they deliver the right message that speaks for the brand. Today’s consumers have a sharp eye for overused stock photos. They’re more likely to be drawn in by photos, images and videos that blend in naturally with the webpage design. I intentionally chose photographs of active seniors socializing with caregivers and family members to enhance our website, which we designed in warm, pastel colors. The total effect feels personal and homey — just like our brand.

Having a website that balances user experience with SEO is a game changer. Simple language and the right call to action encourages customer interactivity. Big blocks of content, on the other hand, will overwhelm your visitors. A quick fix is to break down content with images, bullet points, icons and other graphic elements. Make sure that your website is intuitive and easy for users to navigate. Visitors to your website who can’t find information quickly won’t be back.

Make sure your content is relevant. Every section of your website should add value and have a purpose. For example, I added testimonials from our valued clients because our clients are looking for first-person assurance of a positive experience. When in doubt, leave it out.

Marketing In A Micro Moment

Technology has made it easier for marketers to learn the behavior of their customers. Making the most of micro-moments and smart technology will place you well ahead of the marketing pack in 2018.

Apps can tell us the geographical location of potential customers, the types of products they usually buy and the times of day that they tend to be on the internet. This is exactly the type of information that marketers need to pay attention to in the coming year.

One of the challenges of 2018 is how marketers can tap into this information to get their messaging in front of clients exactly when and where they need it. Why would someone shop around to the competitors when the perfect product or service popped up on their cell phone just as they were about to search for it? These are called micro-moments. Micro-moments attract shoppers who are ready to buy on impulse.

Here are a few tips for designing micro-moment ads:

• Give the shopper the main idea at a glance.

• Add a clear call to action.

• Make the call to action accessible in one touch.

• Optimize content for mobile apps.

Have you been delaying getting an online chat application for your website? Customers in 2018 expect to be able to chat with a knowledgeable professional right away. An online chat box is a valuable addition to your digital marketing efforts, if you haven’t implemented one yet.

Smart content also means differentiating content for prospects and current customers and personalizing the experience for each. Greeting someone by name when they revisit your site makes it a more personal experience. At my company, that personal experience ties directly into the mood of our brand.

Focusing On Content Development

Creative groups, either in-house or remote, are the digital marketing thought leaders of 2018. Creatives who specialize in writing, graphics or design know how to create meaningful content to attract prospects from all types of industries. Good writers know that the right words combined with the most appropriate images can tell the story of your brand in that micro-moment that ultimately captivates a prospect. Experienced writers and designers create the tone and voice that helps your prospects connect with your brand on a personal level.

The Wrap-Up On Digital Marketing Trends

As you finalize your marketing plans for the new year, the best advice I can give you is to think like your customer. Your customers are searching for your products and services while they’re waiting in line for their morning coffee. They’re commuting on planes, trains and ride-sharing services. Their downtime is your prime time. Challenge yourself to create a marketing plan that makes interacting with your business as easy as buying a cup of coffee.