By Stacey Piper
We’re already halfway into the first month of the New Year, and I’m behind on my resolutions, like having this blog ready to post as soon as the calendar turned to 2024. But this year, I’m trying to embrace the Work Smarter, Not Harder mantra, and in marketing, we certainly have the tools to do that…if we make a commitment to use them efficiently—and mindfully.
This is where the Anti-Resolution comes in, a rebranding of our typical New Year’s resolutions, the ones we abandon, oh, right around now, realizing we were a bit overzealous and unrealistic in our end-of-year optimism. Rather than always trying to add more to my plate, I’m trying to Do More With Less, that is, less manual effort and less of the old ways of doing things to better achieve my goals. Let’s look at this year’s marketing trends and best practices and see how this can play out over the next 12 months.
Marketing Automation: Set It & Forget It
Go after the low-hanging fruit, the things you can easily automate, like your webinar campaigns. There are so many repeatable actions in a nurturing sequence leading up to a webinar, and there’s no good reason you’re relying on your team to manually pull lists and send emails. You know you need to run a waterfall or drip campaign, a series of emails triggered whether the recipient signs up or not: Announcement, up to three Reminders including the day-of webinar link, Recap with highlights, Post-webinar recording. This is one of the simplest email automation campaigns, one you can program in advance so your automation platform can do the work for you.
Except, let’s be honest, you don’t quite have your act together. You keep moving the date, or you can’t find a speaker, or you haven’t agreed on a topic. Trust me, I’ve been there. Or maybe your team isn’t up to speed on your new automation platform. This is truly the simplest form of email automation, not based on any triggers, segmentation, or conversion data, so it’s worth mastering sooner rather than later, maybe with a short stint with a consultant. The bottom line is, if you’re not organized, own your issues…then do better, so you can spend your team’s time on more substantial work than triggering emails.
Granted, these tactics take mindfulness on your team’s part, but you’ll thank me later when you see how much more you can do with your time. Other one-and-done, best-practice email nurturing campaigns include:
- First-touch welcome: The first time someone submits a form, generate an automated email. You can customize these emails based on email domain to target government clients.
- Preference check: Once or twice a year, send an automated email requesting updates to content interests. You’ll need a subscription preference page in place with your different content options and easy-to-use checkboxes. This goes a long way toward complying with CAN-SPAM and GDPR and cleans up your metrics so your campaigns are optimized to improve conversions and reduce cost per click.
- Reengagement: Pull a list of folks who haven’t engaged with you in maybe nine to twelve months and send an automated email with some fresh information about your company. Again, this will hone your list to ensure you’re engaging with interested people instead of a disinterested Junk folder.
Data Privacy: Focus on Relevancy & User Experience
While targeting potential leads will become less granular, it’s not a dark apocalypse. The good news is that first-party data is more reliable, allowing for a better customer experience and personalization. Prepare for this shift with robust collection and consent strategies.
- Cookie consent: At the very least, your website should have an opt-in notice to allow for third-party cookies. Just like marketing automation, you can set it and forget it.
- Contextual advertising: Browers are phasing out the use of third-party cookies for display ads. Browsing history will be grouped by broad interest so embrace the Google Topics API for future ad targeting. And stay informed with changes in the industry so you can pivot your strategies. I will share more information on the privacy changes and how to adapt in a future blog.
- First-party data: It’s more important than ever to have gated content and calls-to-action to build your email list. This means prioritizing quality content and providing an engaging user experience on your website. If you haven’t refreshed your website lately—within the past two years—or your other digital forms of engagement with clients, it’s time to take another look. You need to be on the top of your game on any device. Think value driven, appealing, intuitive, and user friendly. If the experience isn’t appealing and the information isn’t useful or misses the mark, you’ll lose an opportunity for gathering that first-party data, and more importantly, a potential client.
- AI & search: It remains to be seen how the Search Generative Experience (SGE) impacts website traffic, as AI-powered search engines keep users on the search page by displaying AI-generated search content, rather than directing them to the informative sites themselves. One study of 23 technology sites tracked an 18-64% drop in traffic, but there are tactics to optimize your content for SGE carousels and mitigate risk of lost traffic. More on this in a future blog.
New Avenues for Engagement: Mobile & More
Throughout 2023, I beat the drum about mapping content to the customer journey. In 2024, you’ll need to work smarter in order to establish those connections and nurture them, building your customer relationships thoughtfully. Audit how you’re doing this now and add other mediums to surprise your current audience and attract new attention, such as:
- Hosting a live-streamed or in-person event.
- Creating behind-the-scenes videos to leverage your thought leaders as brand ambassadors.
- Upping your presence on the top three social media advertising channels for govcon: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll find you have more granularity of keywords and locations, and you can even create an integrated campaign across different channels since Google owns Gmail, Search, and YouTube.
- Maximizing your mobile marketing. Mobile plays well with privacy, allowing users to self-select for push notifications and allowing you direct access to customers in real-time, for example, at a conference where you want attendees to visit your booth and join your session. You can even enhance targeting with geofencing within a specific radius of your event so your Google and social campaigns are displayed based on location data. It’s another powerful way to create a comprehensive campaign.
While AI is transforming marketing strategies and customer experiences through AI content generators, you can go deeper with your traditional tools—now enhanced by AI—to forge deeper connections. Authenticity is more important than ever. Build genuine connections and garner trust through storytelling, videos, in-person networking, and talent branding so your visitors know your values and purpose and choose to be a part of your journey. A well-nurtured seed, even without constant monitoring, can still blossom into a loyal customer.