Email Marketing for Real Estate Developers

Email Marketing for Real Estate Developers

An effective email marketing strategy is very important for home developers looking to sell lots and fill developments quickly. Email marketing functions for developers in two ways: 1) you can let consumers know about your development before you even break ground, making the selling process much smoother for you, and 2) it allows you to hold on to consumers who may not have been ready to purchase a home in one development, but who may be perfect buyers for the next.

When done properly, email marketing has wonderful potential to get your company in front of the right consumers, at the right time. It’s a wonderful addition to any inbound or outbound marketing strategy because it speaks directly to your target buyer. Here are a few key things to know about starting an email marketing campaign for your real estate development company:

Know Who Your Ideal Buyer Is

The first and best way to email your subscriber list effectively is to know who they are. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at the number of weird spammy emails the average consumer gets in a day. Know a little something about who you plan on sending that newsletter to, and you’ll see better results all around.

  1. Create buyer personas. For most real estate developments, buyer personas are actually pretty easy to pin down. You already know most of the information: the average income of your typical buyer, the average age, marital status, etc. Pool all of that information into two or three buyer personas, and then segment your email lists accordingly. That way you’re always sending out relevant content to the right buyer persona. That will help keep your number of “unsubscribes” low.
  2. Remember that you can’t make everyone happy. When you start sending newsletters out to a list of email addresses, you’re bound to get a few “unsubscribes”, and that’s okay. Not everyone is a perfect fit for your real estate development, and your goal should be to keep the ones who are a perfect fit on your email list. If you’re selling a real estate development for empty nesters, you shouldn’t be upset about a 20-30 year old unsubscribing. They weren’t a good fit anyway. Instead, focus on creating emails that speak directly to those empty nesters your community is built for.

Speak Solutions, Not Services

Email marketing campaigns that get ignored often have almost nothing to do with the buyer. If you’re just talking about how wonderful your development is, most consumers are going to hit the delete button before they even make it through the headline.

Successful email marketing campaigns are ones that consumers actually want to read, and choose to stay subscribed to.

Yes, you build wonderful homes, and your developments are gorgeous and highly exclusive, but think of that from your buyer’s perspective. Why would they want to move into your development? What problems do they have that your developments solve? Do you offer maintenance-free living? A community center? Close proximity to a golf course, lake, etc?

Instead of talking about your development directly, think about the problems your development solves for the people who live in it. Put those solutions in your email campaigns, and you’ll start to see better subscription and bounce rates.

Though your email marketing campaigns are meant to convert people to make a purchase, you have to talk about something more than the homes you have for sale if you want to convince people. Your homes might be beautiful, but so are a lot of others — what makes your development or community stand out for the residents? How do your homes improve their quality of life?

Keep it Low-Key

Don’t email too much, and don’t email too often. Keep emails short, sweet, and helpful. Play your email campaign casual. It’s no surprise that the decision time for purchasing a new home is long, and for most consumers, no manner of persuasion will get them to buy a new house before they actually have the money to do it. Instead, keep yourself on their radar by continuously providing helpful content that they actually care about, in a way that’s not pushy.

Definitely keep your CTA at the end of every email and newsletter you send out, but try not to send out more than one email a week to regular subscribers. If you’re following up on a lead, that might warrant a few extra emails a week, but if they decide they’re not ready to buy, don’t continue to harass them.

Instead, add them to your regular newsletter, where they will occasionally receive delightful content about choosing the right home, decorating a new home, or knowing when it’s time to purchase a new home. When they do decide to buy a home, you’ll be the first person they call, because your name will be fresh in their minds from your consistent, but casual, emails — emails they genuinely liked!

In the end, an effective email campaign is all about being pleasantly persistent, but not pushy. Keep offering up content that your buyers genuinely want to hear, and they’ll know that you’re truly there to help them — rather than just sell them something.

New call-to-action


8 Bad Email Marketing Habits that are Killing Your List

8 Bad Email Marketing Habits that are Killing Your List

8 Bad Email Marketing Habits that are Killing Your List

Love it or hate it, email marketing delivers results, especially when done properly. In today’s world of ever changing technology, email has remained relatively constant as a great, mostly unobtrusive way to get consumers’ attention. The consumer gets the information they’re looking for delivered right to their inbox, and we marketers get leads, and metrics on which email campaigns are delivering results, and which need more help.  

In today’s fast-paced world of electronic communication, email marketing remains one of the most effective outbound marketing tools available to get your brand in front of interested eyes — but it’s still an art form. The average consumer gets hundreds of emails a day. Many have multiple email accounts — one for personal use, one for work use, and maybe even one for “spam” like their coupons and sales alerts. That makes it tough for marketers to get ahead, and it means your email marketing game has to be on point, at all times. So, if you’ve noticed a recent uptick in “unsubscribes” here are a few things that you might be doing wrong, and what you should be doing instead:

#1 Unsegmented List

If you’re email marketing to your entire list with the same emails, you’re going to lose subscribers.. Today’s consumers are particularly sensitive to irrelevant sales pitches, which is why it’s so important to segment your list based on consumer wants, needs, and demographics.  

Let’s say you’re a homebuilder who does new builds, renovations, and works with realtors to sell developed homes. When you send an email out to your entire list about a home you recently renovated, only one third of your list is going to care.  The other two thirds of your email marketing list, homeowners looking to build a new home, and realtors looking to partner with you to sell a new home, your email is not applicable. They don’t care about renovations, so they’re going to delete your email.

Worse, they might start to think that “this is a builder who doesn’t care about what I’m looking for, so I no longer see the value in subscribing to this newsletter. ” Herein lies the benefit of email marketing segmentation. You can send that awesome home renovation to subscribers you know are interested in renovating, and send your full-build subscribers information that’s more relevant to them. That way, everyone is happy. Sure, you sent out an extra email, but you’re more likely to get a better response rate from emails that are precise and relevant, than blanket emails that go out to your entire subscriber list.

#2 Not Testing Your Emails

People pay attention to details. If your emails aren’t functioning properly, if you commonly misspell words, and often forget to include links, your subscribers will notice. It’s important that you test every single email you send out, before you send it.

Today’s consumer will move on in the blink of an eye if the link they wanted to click on doesn’t work — and that’s a big miss for you. A simple test before you send out emails to your various segmented lists can save you a lot of trouble, and maybe even win you one or two more sales. Don’t forget this very important step in your email marketing strategy. Even if it feels like you’re running out of time and you just want to press the send button — give it one test before you send it out. It’ll help maintain your authority, and a well made email can help many consumers convert to leads.

#3 Sending Too many Emails

Almost every consumer hates spam. No one wants to go through their inbox every day and clear out hundreds of spammy emails. Unless you’re an e-commerce site with a new sale every day, you shouldn’t be sending out more than one email a week. If you’re in an industry with a longer lead time, like manufacturing and home building, you might want to cut your emails down to just a few a month.

Remember that when it comes to inbound marketing, consumers prefer quality over quantity. Minimize the number of emails you send out, and make sure the ones you do send out have worthwhile, high-quality information that people will actually be able to use. The better your content, the more likely people are to read it, and the more likely they are to click through to your site.

#4 No CTAs

If you don’t include CTAs in your emails, you’re seriously missing opportunities. The point of email marketing is to draw some of those potential clients into your website, and into your sales funnel. The only way to make that happen is to give them a way to get to your site. A click through button, a call to action, or a “get your free consultation today” button can work wonders, and will boost the number of digital leads you see, especially if you’re putting out quality content that’s relevant to each specific segment of your list.

#5 No Unsubscribe

If you email market, you have to have an unsubscribe button. Besides the fact that it’s the law, most consumers abhor being trapped in an email subscription that they can’t get out of, and aren’t likely to subscribe in the first place if the know it will be difficult to get out.

Try not to hide the unsubscribe button either. As tempting as it may be, the average consumer is likely to give your company more respect if you continue to give them control over the communication they’re getting from you. And really, you don’t want to be sending out emails to people who don’t want them, and don’t care — it’s a waste of everybody’s time.

#6 Sending Unsolicited Emails

In a similar vein, don’t send unsolicited emails. If someone hasn’t expressly signed up for your newsletter, or given you their email address, don’t email them. Again, you don’t want uninterested consumers subscribing to your newsletter, because it’s really only going to interfere with your metrics. If they don’t have an interest in your product, and never will, it’s not worth it to keep shouting at them about this really awesome product you’re selling. That’s called push marketing, and it’s so 1994.

#7 Sending at the Wrong Time

If you’re sending your emails out to your subscribers at the wrong time, you might not be seeing the kind of engagement you were hoping for. Again, most consumers are inundated with emails constantly, from spam to work emails, and if you send at the wrong time, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of “final sale” “This is your last chance” emails that no one actually wants to read. So, pay attention to your subscribers’ habits.

When do you get the best engagement, and when do your emails slip through the cracks?

The best time to send an email varies for every business, depending on what you’re selling, and who you’re selling to, so it’s just a matter of observing the metrics, and choosing a time to send an email when you have the best possible chance of getting read.

#8 Not Measuring your Success

The absolute best way to kill your list when you’re email marketing is to never look at your metrics. Every email marketing tool provides some level of metric reporting for a reason — so you can evaluate how well your outreach is doing, and what your ROI is. If your emails aren’t generating any results, you need to try something different. On the other hand, if the emails you send out at 3pm on Thursdays are seeing remarkable engagement, that’s something you need to know so you can keep doing it.

To have a successful email marketing strategy, you need to look at the data, and often. The more informed you are about the hits and misses of your email marketing campaign, the more prepared you’ll be to succeed in the future.

Email marketing is a key aspect of any digital marketing or inbound marketing strategy. If you’re having trouble segmenting and getting your list just right, give us a call. We’re email marketing pros, and we’d be happy to help!

If you’re not ready to chat just yet, check out our Smart Ass Guide to Inbound Marketing. We promise you won’t be disappointed — or at the very least, you won’t be bored.

New call-to-action
New call-to-action

What’s the Inbound Marketing Funnel Anyway?

What’s the Inbound Marketing Funnel Anyway?

What’s the Inbound Marketing Funnel Anyway?

Here at Evenbound, we’re always talking about inbound marketing. It’s kind of our thing, so you’ll notice most of our blogs talk about how your inbound marketing strategy can attract more clients, produce more leads, and boost your ROI. What we only occasionally talk about, however, is what exactly the inbound marketing methodology is. While HubSpot used to describe this methodology using the inbound marketing funnel, that’s recently given way to a less-complicated inbound marketing flywheel. 

If you’re new to inbound marketing, or just aren’t quite sure what the terms mean, then this is the blog for you! We’re going to break down the basics of the inbound marketing funnel and compare them to the new inbound marketing flywheel:

What is the Inbound Marketing Funnel

Also known as the inbound marketing methodology or inbound flow chart, the inbound marketing funnel looks like this:

The inbound marketing funnel refers to where a lead is in their process of choosing your company over the competition. If you’re familiar at all with the generic sales funnel, or buyer’s journey, the inbound marketing funnel offers a similar way of looking at things. The inbound marketing funnel labels clients with a different title based on how interested they are in what you have to offer — so you know what types of content to send them, and when. 

  • Strangers – Consumers who don’t know about your brand or your company. 

  • Visitors – Strangers who come to your site and learn a bit about your company

  • Leads – Visitors who have progressed further into your site, and eventually give you their contact information. 

  • Customer – Leads who convert into customers by purchasing your product or service.

  • Promoters – Customers who are delighted by your continued efforts to make sure they have everything they need, and who are so pleased with your company and your service that they love telling their friends and family about you.

While it’s fairly easy to understand these 5 stages of the inbound marketing funnel, especially as they line up with the old, traditional sales funnel, HubSpot has recently transitioned to a flywheel model instead. 

Bear with me for a second, I promise the flywheel is a little less complicated to understand. 

What is the Inbound Marketing Flywheel?

The inbound marketing flywheel offers an easier way to conceptualize how customers feed growth. Instead of thinking of each individual customer making a journey from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel, and then dropping out, the flywheel offers a more holistic look. 

Customers are a driving force for any business, and the flywheel illustrates that. Take a look at what HubSpot has to say about replacing your funnel with a flywheel

Instead of focusing so much on pulling customers through a funnel and forgetting about them, the flywheel puts the focus on customers at all times, relating to them in three different ways: 

  • Attract: Pulling in strangers to your website and brand. This stage is also used to illustrate the process of attracting existing customers with a new content offer, product, upgraded service, etc. 

  • Engage: How you interact with those customers, leads and prospects. Sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time is a great example of how you engage with people in your flywheel to close more deals. 

  • Delight: What you do to keep those customers in your flywheel. Excellent customer service, personalized follow-up and check-in emails, and even rewards programs are great ways to delight your existing customers and turn them into promoters.

To keep your flywheel spinning, you should be attracting, engaging, and delighting all at the same time, rather than just focusing on one small piece of the pipeline. Click To Tweet And when you focus on retaining the customers you’ve already worked so hard to convert, your flywheel spins even faster. 

#1 Attract

Perhaps the most difficult-to-target are strangers. Strangers don’t know you from Adam, which means it’s your job to somehow catch their attention. In today’s oversaturated world, consumers are constantly barraged by advertisements and non-relevant content that makes your job just that much harder.

It’s important to attract key buyers that you know want or need your product or service, and the best ways to do that are:

Social Media Advertising

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have super powerful advertising capabilities. When you put out an ad on social media, you can choose exactly who sees that ad, from age to occupation and even to what type of content they “like”.

Basic like campaigns or simple banner ads are cheap, and they’re one of the best ways to get your name out there. That is the point of this stage of the flywheel, after all. 

Since you’re marketing to strangers, the first step is introducing yourself. Your goal for the attract phase is to increase your awareness, which means you need to look for social media advertising campaigns that can get you plenty of impressions. 

Clicks are great, but most people won’t click on your ad until they’ve seen it a few times, or they’ve heard about you somewhere else. For consumers at the stranger level of the inbound marketing funnel or flywheel, focus on ads that cast a wide net, and get your name out there. 

Attract Qualified Visitors with Google Ads

Another paid way to introduce your site and company to strangers is to invest in Google Pay-Per-Click Ads. If you think about it, most people looking for information are going to search Google before they do anything.

From there, they’ll make their decisions based on the results they get. If you’re the first to pop up, even as an ad, that’s a major step to brand recognition, and getting someone to click through to your site. Check out this blog for information on optimizing a PPC campaign, and see this one for more information about what PPC actually is

Attract Organic Traffic with SEO

Another key way of making yourself visible to strangers is ensuring you have impeccable SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of making your website highly visible to search engines. The more search engines like your site, the more likely they are to show it to consumers. 

Improve your SEO, and you’ll improve your online search engine ranking. The higher you show up in rankings, the more eyes you’ll get on your site, which means more strangers turning into visitors. Best of all, SEO is free. No paid ads here!

Improve your SERP Rankings with Blogs

Another key, free way to attract strangers is to start a blog. The more you blog about topics that are relevant to your target buyer, the more of an authority you’ll become in the industry. 

When you’re the company everyone turns to for information about the next big thing in your industry, you’re also the first company they recognize, think of, and then buy from once they get around to making a decision. 

Create blogs that are interesting, relevant, and content rich. Don’t just write listicles every month, try to put out some deep content that answers questions and proves useful for your target buyer.

The more content you have out there, and that’s promoted on your social media platforms, the more consumers you’re speaking to, and the more likely they are to come to your site to see what you have to say. 

#2 Engage

Visitors are strangers who’ve made it to your website. They want to learn a bit about you, and see what it is your company has to offer. Once they make it to your site, your goal is to engage with them. Learn what they’re looking for and what their pain points are, so you can nurture those leads with personalized marketing that provides the solutions they need. 

Here are a few ways to engage with visitors in a meaningful way that keeps them interested in your company:

Content Offers

Content offers are often put on websites in the form of gated content. Gated content is content that requires an email address and name to access it.

It is a key way for any inbound marketing agency to pull potential clients and visitors through to the lead stage of the funnel. Offer up some amazing, in-depth content that you know your key buyer just wouldn’t be able to resist, and simply ask for their email address in return for the downloadable PDF. Once you have their email, that visitor becomes a lead, and you can target them in other ways. 

Today, it’s becoming more popular to leave those content offers ungated. This is a more natural, seamless engagement for your customer. You can still offer up a PDF version of the content in exchange for an email, which means you’re still getting the info you need, but you’re guaranteed a qualified lead when you do get their contact information. 

Remarketing

Engage with visitors outside your website with remarketing campaigns. Extremely effective, these campaigns most often show up on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, and remind visitors they looked at while they were on your website. 

If they added a pair of shoes to their cart, but bailed before making it to checkout, a remarketing campaign will show those shoes on other sites they frequent, like Facebook and Google, and remind them of the purchase they almost made. 

This is a great way to get visitors to come back to your site, where you’ll have another chance to engage with them and further nurture that lead until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.

In-depth Content

Longer, more in-depth content is a key way to engage with and nurture a lead until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Leads in the “engage” phase have a lot of questions. They’re considering the best options to solve their pain points. 

By providing answers to their questions, and by providing as much detail as they can stand, you’re assuring them that your product really is that great, and you’re eliminating any fears of buyer’s remorse they might have. 

Create thorough content that genuinely helps them make a decision and stay away from the b.s. — consumers can smell it from miles away. 

Calls-to-action

If you want someone to make a purchase, you have to make it easy for them. Make it super obvious how a lead or prospect can purchase your product or service with calls-to-action. 

Whether they need to simply checkout, or call your office, or fill out a form, calls-to-action can get them there. These colorful buttons are everywhere these days, and they’re perhaps the best tool to convince a lead to convert. Make it easy for leads to buy or pick up the phone, and they will.

#3 Delight

Finally, after a long journey through the inbound marketing funnel, you’ve converted a lead into a customer. They’ve made a purchase, and now you can wipe your hands of them. 

Not so fast! 

This customer can be useful to you. More than that, who’s to say they won’t buy from you again? Customers who are delighted by your helpful service can become your best promoters. 

They’ll leave 5 star reviews, tell their friends about you, and share all your posts on social media. Be good to those customers, and they’ll be good to you. (It’s way cheaper to retain customers than it is to go out and find a brand new one, too.) Here’s how to help them out. 

Email Marketing

After someone’s made a purchase, don’t just forget about them. Send them emails about add-on products or services they might like now that they have your other offering. If you sell something that pairs really well with that purse they bought, let them know! 

The more customized and tailored your follow-up emails, the more likely they are to purchase again. Another good way to turn your customers into promoters is to ask them for reviews after they’ve received their product. 

A simple “how did you like your socks?” email, with a link to write a review on your site or on Google can go a long way in boosting your reputation, and making it easier for the next consumer to convert to a sale. 

Exclusive, personalized messaging

People love to feel like they’re getting the inside scoop. If you have a newsletter that’s exclusively for people who have purchased an item or service, and if you offer occasional exclusive deals, people will start to talk. The better you take care of those existing customers, the more they’ll tell their friends about you, which will start that inbound funnel all over again. 

The inbound marketing funnel and the inbound marketing flywheel were both designed to make it easy for you to align and optimize your sales and marketing teams. 

If you notice you’re getting plenty of site traffic, but visitors seem to drop off before offering up their email address, start focusing on more valuable content, and maybe consider remarketing. 

The inbound marketing methodology offers an easy, clear way to attract, engage, and delight your leads and customers — keeping your flywheel spinning as quickly as possible. 

We know this is a lot of talk, and it’s not always as simple to implement an inbound marketing strategy as it might seem. If you’re looking to move into pull, inbound marketing methods, but aren’t sure how, let’s chat! A simple one-on-one conversation might answer more questions than you’d think. 

New call-to-action
New call-to-action

How are Clients Discovering your Law Firm?

How are Clients Discovering your Law Firm?

How are Clients Discovering your Law Firm?

Do you know how clients are discovering your law firm? It used to be paper advertisement and literal word of mouth, but with the explosion of the internet and the digital space, all that is changing. It’s no longer bench ads and billboards that are bringing in new clients, it’s digital marketing.

Internet Search

Online searches are one of the top ways that people are finding service providers in every industry, and the legal field is no exception. As of 2017, 55 percent of people used online searching to find service providers. Think about the last time you needed something you didn’t have a regular service provider lined up for, like a car repair or landscaping. Chances are, you went straight to Google and searched for “Landscaping companies near me” or “Car repair in X city.”

When those outside of the legal profession need an attorney, they’re doing the same thing. Having a strong digital presence that makes use of SEO (search engine optimization), keywords that your potential clients are using as search terms, and paid search ads, which put your listing at the very top of the search results page, will get your firm found.

Website

Once potential clients search for your services online, they’re going to check out your website. In fact, 58 percent of people mention websites as a factor in their process for finding a service provider such as a law firm. Having a website that looks like it was made at the dawn of the internet is going to make you look bad, as is one that is difficult to navigate, incomprehensible or hard to read and understand, or lacks the information they need about your services and how to get in touch.

Online Industry Articles

Fifty-three percent of people say that they’ve found service providers through online articles. That’s a huge segment of the population. If you’re already getting good industry press, that’s great, if that content is online, even better. Want it to reach future clients? You need to promote it on your website and on social media, otherwise, they might never see it.

Another way to take advantage of this trend is to create your own articles: write a blog. If you’re writing about the things your clients care about and the questions they have, such as “Do I need a lawyer for a DUI case,” “How do I file a workers’ comp claim,” or “How do I prove medical malpractice,” they are more likely to find you and to trust your advice enough to give you a call.

Online Reviews

What people are saying about you matters, and your online reviews, whether on Google, Yelp, or anywhere else are factoring into potential future clients’ decisions about you. The online review is the new word of mouth, so ensuring that you provide excellent service to all clients and potential clients is essential to getting a good rating and preserving your online reputation. Satisfied clients will provide good testimonials, not only to the people they know, but to others online.

If you want new clients, you’ve got to reach them where they’re looking: online. That means having a robust digital presence and using digital marketing strategies. As professionals, you know a lot about your legal specializations, and you know the value of expertise. Let Evenbound put our expertise in digital marketing and web design to work for you. Contact us online or give us a call to get started.

New call-to-action
New call-to-action

Inbound Marketing vs Marketing Automation

Inbound Marketing vs Marketing Automation

If you’re unfamiliar with marketing, terms such as digital marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, marketing automation, digital strategy, and so on can be utterly confusing and practically indistinguishable from each other. In truth, each of these terms has a specific meaning. Inbound marketing and marketing automation are two which are often confused by newbies to marketing jargon. So what’s the difference?

Inbound Marketing

in•bound marketing \ ˈin-ˌbau̇nd ˈmär-kə-tiŋ \ ▶ noun. A marketing method that uses content to attract potential customers, then convert them into leads and sales. In opposition to traditional marketing methods, which push advertising copy onto consumers through interruptive advertising (hence the term push marketing), inbound marketing seeks to pull consumers in with compelling content that speaks to their needs. Inbound marketing is therefore customer-centric, rather than marketer-centric.

Inbound marketing employs techniques such as blogging, social media promotion, gated content offers, and SEO (search engine optimization) to attract clients on platforms like search engines and social media sites, which they are already using to research products and services before they make purchase decisions.

Marketing Automation

marketing au•to•ma•tionˌ\ ˈmär-kə-tiŋ ȯ-tə-ˈmā-shən \ ▶ noun. software which automates marketing processes. Includes email automation software (MailChimp, Aweber).

Marketing automation software is a tool, whereas inbound marketing is a methodology. In fact, marketing automation software is a tool that is extremely useful in inbound marketing. Marketing automation software can be used to capture visitors’ information when they convert to leads, and from there, these leads can be segmented based on criteria such as industry, role/position, and place in the buyer’s journey and then be delivered relevant and timely content. Rather than dumping all of your contacts into an email list and sending the same content to everyone, marketing automation allows you to target a specific group of leads or clients, ensuring that you’re not spamming those to whom the content doesn’t apply, and that leads receive content that is specific to their particular needs.

Using marketing automation software to automate some of your lead nurturing marketing processes can be a major component of an effective inbound marketing strategy. Combining compelling, engaging, and pertinent content with targeted promotion and delivery is key to reaching potential customers in the changing marketing landscape.

Want to see what inbound marketing can do for your company? Interested in how you can better use marketing automation? Let’s talk. Click the button below to schedule your free inbound marketing evaluation:

New call-to-action

Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

The inbound and digital marketing sphere has changed quite a bit in the past year. Where last year, we were just hearing about personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, this year, they’ve been fully installed in thousands of homes. Fewer consumers are searching with desktops, and the great majority of all web searches are conducted via mobile device. In addition to all the technology improvements and changes, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer habits to the hyperlocal. More and more people are searching businesses, restaurants, and services within their own area, which provides a lot of opportunities for digital marketers but does require a bit of a change in tactics.

As inbound marketers ourselves, we’ve been reviewing our progress this past year and looking forward to new trends likely to arise in 2018. If you’re working on optimizing your inbound and digital marketing strategies in the new year, here’s our inbound marketing forecast for 2018: a few of the biggest changes we expect to see that will directly affect how we do our jobs and help our clients.

Greater Focus on Mobile

Mobile devices continue to function as the number one way consumers search the web, meaning mobile search is going to change the game in 2018. No matter whether they’re looking for a nearby restaurant or searching for a video on how to change their own oil, most people Google their questions first via a mobile device. The idea that searches are primarily done on mobile devices first isn’t a huge surprise; Google has been optimizing their indexing system to prioritize mobile users for a few years now. Just because it’s old news, though, doesn’t mean digital marketers shouldn’t pay attention. All SEO initiatives should be implemented with mobile users first in mind, and anyone without a mobile responsive website should really consider an update within the year.

It’s good to remember that Google launched their Mobile-First Indexing system in 2017, and we’re just beginning to see the full effects. That system prioritizes mobile versions of sites first and foremost, and indexes websites based on the content hosted on the mobile version, rather than the desktop version. So, if you’re still running an “m.” mobile site with abbreviated content, you’ll want to make some changes to ensure your site continues to rank well for competitive keywords.

New SEO Trends to Watch For

When it comes to SEO, digital marketers are always aiming at a moving target. 2018 is no different, and new technology like personal assistants, as well as the rise of video marketing, shift our target yet again. Google also holds a heavy influence on SEO best practices, so we’ll start there:

Nix Mobile Pop-Ups

As part of Google’s revamped mobile-first indexing, they’re frowning upon mobile pop-ups that interfere with user experience. Where in the past, pop-ups were a great way to get the user’s attention and convince them to give you an email address, Google has determined that they frustrate mobile users. Now, mobile sites using pop-ups that cover a certain percentage of the screen could receive slight penalties that will affect search rankings. Check Hubspot’s article on pop-up mobile marketing for the nitty-gritty.

SEO for Voice Search and Personal Assistants

Probably one of the biggest trends we see coming down the pipeline this year are voice searches and searches via personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. They’ll be a big game changer for SEO experts, but if you get ahead of the game, you’re likely to rank highly for relevant long-tail keywords with low competition.

When it comes to voice search, the name of the game is intent, and it’s actually a great boon to digital marketers. Basically, instead of typing in keywords like “blueberry pancakes” or “snow shovel”, a consumer is going to ask Alexa, “Where can I find the best blueberry pancakes near me?” or “Where can I purchase a snow shovel?”. The difference is that in the voice search, you know exactly where a consumer is in the buyer’s journey, and you can bid on long-tail keywords that you know point to qualified leads who are ready to buy.

It’s all well and good to bid on paid ads you know will get you leads, but you’ll have to do a little bit more work than that if you’d like to rank for some of those key voice searches. Digital marketers and inbound marketers alike will be focused on creating more natural content that’s centered around questions and phrases a human would actually use, rather than Google’s search bots.

Social Media Shift

As you’d imagine, the social media world has continued to shift into 2018. Facebook has long been the primary platform for marketers, but other social media sites are beefing up their advertising platforms to remain competitive. What’s more, because consumer needs and desires have changed, the way we’re using social media is set to shift this year. Here’s a look at a few of the bigger changes we expect to see in 2018:

Instagram for B2Cs

Since no one’s really figured out how to monetize Twitter, and possibly never will, many B2C companies have turned to Instagram, and the numbers are looking pretty good. Though Facebook will continue to be the social media ad-king through 2018, thanks to its exceptional targeting tools, many B2Cs have been seeing increasing success with Instagram. In less than a year, its new Instagram Stories have become more popular than Snapchat, and companies are seeing a great deal of engagement from brand influencers on the platform. What’s more, you’ll see Instagram continue to bulk up its advertising controls to ensure that digital marketer’s messages get through to the target consumers.

LinkedIn for B2Bs

No surprise here: LinkedIn continues to be a key social media platform for B2Bs. What’s new, though, is LinkedIn’s improvements to the platform. They refreshed their interface, for starters, but they’ve also made significant, positive changes to their advertising platform, which is looking pretty slick. Marketers can choose the shape, size, and style of their ads, target the ads to certain industries and even specific companies, and LinkedIn also offers an expansion feature, where they choose audiences similar to the ones you’re targeting, so you can expand your ad’s reach in an educated way. This improves LinkedIn’s worth to B2B advertisers and makes it easier to speak to those target buyers where they live.

Increased Engagement Across Social Media Platforms

Social media marketing has long been an integral part of any marketer’s toolbox, but in 2018, it’s looking like increased engagement is what sells. Today’s consumer wants their experience with any company to feel genuine, rather than pushed on them. That’s why companies like Starbucks are seeing tons of positive engagement from campaigns like the “White Cup Contest” where consumers were invited to draw on Starbucks cups and submit their designs to social media platforms via the #whitecupcontest hashtag. The winning design was then printed on a reusable Starbucks cup and sold across the country.

Today’s consumer wants to feel like they’re a part of the process, and have a say in what their favorite companies do and produce. Customer reviews have long held a great deal of sway in Google rankings, but in 2018, we’ll start to see consumer engagement surpass just reviews. If you’re looking to get the word out about your company, we suggest you invite increased engagement across social media platforms in whatever way you can, whether that’s asking for consumer opinions, or starting a contest like Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, that gets consumers invested in your brand.

New Marketing Platforms to Explore

New technology invites new marketing opportunities. In 2018, we expect to see a great deal of changes as to where, and how we market digitally thanks to video media’s rise in popularity, and the ease of use that home assistants provide. Again, technology isn’t the only thing that’s causing a shift in how marketers get their jobs done. Changing consumer habits will affect how we market as well this year. Here are three big changes we expect to see in 2018:

Voice Marketing

We’ve already talked about voice marketing a bit, but it really is a burgeoning aspect of digital marketing that we can’t ignore. If you’re looking for new ways to expand your digital marketing efforts, keep voice search and personal assistants in mind. Consumers are searching with those long-tail keywords, which means content that’s targeted to more natural, native phrases will start to see better rankings and more engagement.

Video Marketing

In addition to the fact that mobile internet use will increase, mobile video consumption is predicted to grow by more than 25% in 2018. Live video was one of the biggest new trends to hit social media this past year, and as attention spans grow shorter, many marketers are finding that video marketing is a key way to grab and hold onto new leads. Video marketing also speaks to the transparency that younger consumers appreciate and search for.

When you show consumers how your product works, what your employees look like, and exactly what you do every day at your company, you’re providing a genuine experience for new potential leads, and that’s what younger consumers appreciate, and are latching onto more often. Break into video marketing easily with a simple tour of your company’s store, factory, or facility. People love to see “how things are made” and an up-close look at what you do makes it easier for consumers to associate you as more than just a brand—a marketing strategy that’s proven to sell.

Local Marketing

With the rise of voice search and local-first movements encouraging consumers to support their community by purchasing from local, small businesses, local marketing has begun to see a significant increase in the past few years. Expect to see considerably more local marketing in 2018, as Google has now rolled out Google Posts for small businesses, Facebook’s introduced Facebook Local, and Google has rebranded their home services advertising platform to Google Local Services.

There’s a huge push to stand out in the local area, and these advertising options are making it much easier for local businesses to be seen, and discovered by local searchers. Continue to optimize your local marketing strategy by pushing keywords focused on location, ensuring NAP is consistent across platforms, and regularly updating your business’ Google Business Page, as well as your Facebook Page and website.

Inbound Marketing Strategies to Implement in 2018

At HA Digital Marketing, we’re firm believers in the power and success of inbound marketing, which is why we apply the inbound philosophy to everything we do for our clients. Inbound is proven to draw in qualified leads, and turn them into long-term customers, which is why we’ll be implementing the following inbound marketing strategies as we move into 2018:

Better Understanding of Buyer’s Journey

Today’s consumer values transparency, trust, and information. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they do appreciate information that’s relevant to their specific pain points. That’s why in 2018, digital marketers should strive to use data to identify pain points for each and every step of their company’s buyer’s journey. Learn what sort of content they appreciate, and when, and use that data to better inform your overall marketing strategy. Potential clients will thank you for the attention, and your optimized marketing strategy will shorten the sales cycle.

Personalized Content

In the same vein, 2018 is the year to forget mass email blasts and generalized ads. Consumers can spot them from a mile away, and they don’t get anyone’s attention anymore. Instead, focus on hyper-segmenting your content and emails, and ensuring you’re generating a personalized experience for each potential client. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. There are a number of tools out there that can help you automatically incorporate each lead’s name to different landing pages, emails, and advertisements. From there, it’s a matter of segmenting your content by industry and job title so that each lead is receiving content that speaks specifically to their job, and their unique pain points.

Topic Cluster Content Strategy

Another inbound marketing strategy that’s on the rise in 2018 is called topic clusters, or content clusters. A topic cluster content strategy offers an organized way to create content that hits every major long-tail keyword related to each major focus area of your company and boosts your search engine rankings by linking those different pages of related content together. It sounds confusing and difficult to implement, but it’s probably not all that different from what you’ve been doing, if you’ve got a comprehensive content strategy already. Here’s a visual of what a topic cluster for content strategy looks like:

Not so scary after all, right?

Start with a pillar page. This is a page that offers a general overview of one topic in the broadest terms. Think of it like a topic 101 page: the basics that everyone should know about your topic. Let’s say you’re the owner of a coffee roasting company looking to generate some online traffic. Your first pillar page might be “Roasting Coffee 101: The Basics.” You’ll give your readers the most general information about roasting coffee. Then, your subsequent topic pages will be related to that pillar page, but will offer more depth on one specific subject, allowing you to target a long-tail keyword like “The Best Way to Roast Arabica Beans.” Each cluster content page like that one will link to the pillar page, offering your readers more information on the subject they’re already interested in.

But helping your readers dive further into your site, and understand your product more fully aren’t the only benefits of topic clusters. Topic clusters also function to link content for one target audience or buyer persona together, and they link all of those similar-themed keywords together as well. This helps you boost your search engine rankings, as if one page does really well, the others linked to it will also see a positive boost in rankings, thanks to your strategic hyperlinks. So, if your company’s New Years resolution was to boost your Google rankings, know that topic clusters are an ideal place to start.

Conclusion

We’re going to see a ton of changes to the digital marketing sphere this year, some we can predict, and others that we can’t. What we know is that mobile traffic will only continue to rise, as will local marketing and targeted advertising via social media platforms. Savvy digital marketers will recognize these trends early in the year, and work to optimize their marketing strategies to accommodate them, as well as newer technology like personal assistants and live video. As we mentioned before, digital marketing is always a bit like trying to hit a moving target, and 2018 will be no different.

If you’ve got any questions on the trends and strategies mentioned in this article, or if you’d like more information about digital marketing in the new year, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be optimizing our digital marketing strategy to fit with new 2018 trends, and would love to help you out too! If you’re interested in making use of our years of experience and digital marketing savvy, it all starts with a conversation.

New call-to-action