6 Steps to a Facebook Ad Campaign That Delivers

6 Steps to a Facebook Ad Campaign That Delivers

Facebook is the leading social media platform for marketers, and for good reason. It’s intuitive, it has a direct line to nearly every consumer you’d want to share your product with, and it’s convenient.

The fact is, when you advertise on Facebook, you have the opportunity to reach a huge number of qualified buyers who are already interested in your product or service. It’s a pretty attractive outbound marketing method, and it’s easily paired with your inbound marketing strategy too. 

So what’s the catch?

Well, it does cost money.

There’s also the fact that a ton of marketers already use Facebook’s platform to advertise, which can drive Facebook advertising costs up.

But what if we told you there was a way to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns that could minimize spending and maximize performance?

It sounds wild, sure, but it’s actually something our social media advertising experts do every single day. And we’re going to tell you how they do it.

Here are six methods our social media experts use every day to minimize Facebook ad campaign spend, and maximize performance:

#1 Know Your Goals

Facebook offers a massive platform of opportunity. There are more than 5 different types of Facebook ads to choose from, and the Facebook ad manager lets you pick from a variety of campaign goals for each ad you create. It’s important to know what your goals are going into any Facebook Ad campaign, so you can optimize everything to fit that specific goal.

For example, if you were hoping to drive traffic to your website, you wouldn’t choose Facebook’s app install ad or an event promotion ad template. Instead, you’d want to choose a clicks-to-website ad or even a web conversion ad.

If your goal was to boost your brand’s awareness or get more likes for your company Facebook page, then a conversion or lead generation ad wouldn’t make sense either. You’d run a like campaign or sponsor a few of your favorite, eye-catching posts to reach a greater number of potential followers.

While these examples might seem a little obvious, it’s important to remember that every aspect of the ad you create should work towards your campaign goal. With a campaign goal in mind, you can better develop content, creative, and design that work to direct consumers to whatever your goal might be.

You need a solid goal for each Facebook advertising campaign before you start building the ad if you want to see quality results.

#2 Understand Your Facebook Ad’s Audience

We’ve already talked about Facebook having a huge platform on which to advertise your product or company. There are millions of Facebook users, and the fact is, they don’t all want your product. So don’t market to all of them.

If you’re hoping to minimize your budget while still maximizing Facebook ad performance, you might want to look into microtargeting. It’s a thing the HA Digital Marketing ad team does really well (if you don’t mind our saying so), and it’s produced some impressive results for our clients.

Microtargeting is the art of narrowing down your ad campaign’s audience to just the very key consumers who are likely to be interested, or who already are interested in the product or service you’re offering. Effective microtargeting can take a little bit of practice and market research, but when it’s done properly, the results don’t lie.

Whether you’re up on the microtargeting trend or not, it’s good to know at least a few defining factors about your target buyer — their age, their occupation or industry, and maybe even one or two of their interests. These qualifiers make for targeted ad campaigns that can produce better results, for less money.

#3 Don’t Forget About Creative

It’s easy to get caught up in the goals and targeting aspects of Facebook advertising, but it’s important to remember that in the end, your ad is going to real humans. Make sure your creative reflects that.

Consumers respond to images and videos that tell them a story and make them feel something. Click To Tweet

Try not to forget that the content — both visual and written — that accompanies your ad is what’s really going to sell you. Take the time to get it right, and be sure to keep in mind that audience you’re targeting and your goal for the ad campaign as a whole.

#4 Link to Something Good (Like a Landing Page)

If your Facebook advertising campaign’s goal is to drive traffic or web conversions to your site, you have to offer something good, and you need to link to a page that will perform well.

It’s pretty obvious that you need to offer something attractive to get people to click on your ad. What’s not always obvious is how you offer that content or promotion when they get to your site.

Let’s say you wrote a killer ebook that will solve your target audience’s pain points, like right now. That’s life-changing content they need.

Too many advertisers miss out on a quality opportunity by just serving up that content as soon as a Facebook user clicks over to their website. Instead of sending those users to a general page, send them to a landing page.

From here, you can ask for just a little bit of information from them, like an email address and a first name, before they download that awesome ebook. This way, your Facebook ad campaign is proving legitimate, tangible ROI — a qualified lead, with all the contact information you need to keep pulling them through the rest of the sales funnel.

It’s important to remember that your ad is bigger than just a little advertisement on Facebook. That ad should be working on every level to deliver you more leads, for as little money as possible. By linking your web conversion and traffic ads to a landing page that can capture key lead information, you’re boosting the campaign’s overall value to your company.

#5 Keep Optimizing in Real Time

Facebook ads can run for as long as you’d like. Set them to run until you’ve spent your budget, or choose instead to let them run for a few weeks of your choosing.

What’s important is to check back and optimize those Facebook ads in real time.

Facebook ads offer some incredible insights into your target buyer’s ad preferences as well as the effectiveness of the ads you’ve created. Best of all, Facebook lets you optimize those ads in real time. If one ad set is outperforming the others, you can stop the others and let that one use the majority of the budget.

If another ad starts slowing down, consider changing the creative to bump up audience interest.

Take a look at your stats while your ads are running, and optimize them based on the data you’re receiving in real time. These adjustments will help you minimize your ad budget while optimizing the ad’s overall performance.

#6 Think Big-Picture

Our last tip for optimizing your Facebook ad performance is to always keep the big picture in mind.

We’ve already talked about placing a priority on your ad’s objective, but it’s also important to think about how your Facebook ads fit into the bigger picture of your digital marketing strategy.

You might not be able to prove precise ROI from one Facebook campaign or track a campaign's immediate effects on your bottom line. That's okay. Click To Tweet

If you’re able to keep the big picture in mind, it’s easier to realize that a Facebook engagement or awareness campaign can help get the word out about your company and generate more traffic for your website in the grand scheme of things. Your Facebook advertising campaigns are just one part of your digital marketing strategy and should function as such.

Facebook Ads: One Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

A Facebook campaign can help you get more traffic, more conversions, or raise more awareness for your company, but it can’t do everything for you. If your Facebook ad campaigns are returning good metrics, and aren’t costing you much money, they’re working in your favor. It’s the rest of your digital marketing strategy’s job to convert those positive results into future leads, contacts, and sales.

Facebook advertising is an important part of any digital marketing strategy. Facebook offers one of the most comprehensive targeting platforms, allowing you to develop and deploy ads that are specific and relevant to key audiences.

That said, Facebook ads take a bit of time and finesse to get just right. If you’re not sure you’re there yet, or if you’d like a little help microtargeting Facebook ad campaigns that deliver exceptional results, the Evenbound team can help. Let’s chat about how we can optimize your Facebook ads and digital marketing strategy for overall company growth.

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7 Ways to Apply Inbound Marketing Tactics to Your Facebook Ad Strategy

7 Ways to Apply Inbound Marketing Tactics to Your Facebook Ad Strategy

Optimizing Your Facebook Ad Spend With Inbound Marketing

In recent years, a solid social media ad campaign has become just as important as a PPC ad campaign for many industries. The fact is, most people spend a great deal of time on social media sites, and because of the exceptional targeting power of social media giants like Facebook, the platforms offer the segmentation data and the exposure many inbound marketers are looking for.

If your company is thinking of starting a Facebook ad campaign, or already has a Facebook ad strategy in place, applying a few inbound marketing tactics can help optimize your Facebook ads for ultimate results. Here are 7 inbound marketing tactics you can use to boost the effectiveness of your Facebook ad strategy:

#1 Target Facebook Ads To Your Buyer Personas

Remember those buyer personas you spent so long drafting and editing? Well, they’re good for a lot more than just your website content. Use your buyer personas to determine your Facebook ad targeting settings. You can’t make content (or ads) perfectly suited for everyone — so don’t try.

Instead, segment your ads based on buyer persona, and build different Facebook ad sets to target different personas with different interests. Facebook offers a vast suite of targeting tools, so you can set ads to go out to people with specific likes, dislikes, hobbies, job titles, and more — all things you probably already have outlined in your buyer personas. Use those buyer personas to develop Facebook ad campaigns that go out to consumers you already know have an interest in the products or services you offer.

#2 Set Clear, SMART Goals

Inbound Methodology tells us that we should always set SMART Goals. That is, goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

This principle is directly applicable to your Facebook ad strategy as well. Whether you’re looking to boost engagement, or drive traffic to your website, it’s important to define a goal for each Facebook ad you create, so you understand immediately when your ad is successful, and when it’s not. Here’s how you can apply SMART goal setting to your Facebook ads:

  • Specific: 500 likes, or 100 new followers. A specific, ultimate goal for your campaign to work towards.
  • Measurable: If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, is there a certain percentage of traffic you’re looking for? Do you want a certain number of new contacts? How will you measure the success of your Facebook ad?
  • Attainable: If your last campaign resulted in 15 new followers, you shouldn’t set a new campaign goal of 100 followers. That’s just unrealistic. While it would be amazing if you reached 100 new followers, you need to make sure your goals are set based on real, hard data, and are possible to reach. Otherwise, your results will always be discouraging, and you may not be able to see the benefits that your ads are creating.
  • Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to the campaign you’re putting out. If your ad talks about the story behind your company, your goal might be engagement focused. If you’re advertising a free ebook or webinar, your goal might be more conversion-based.
  • Timely: Don’t let your Facebook ad run in perpetuity, but don’t set it to run for just a few hours either. Plan for your campaign to run for a specific amount of time that will help your company work to its goal, and that will produce enough data for you to learn from and implement on your next ad campaign.

#3 Tell, Don’t Sell

When it comes to creating ads for social media, especially for Facebook, it’s key to keep inbound marketing best practices in mind. That means forget about the hard sell. Especially if you’re a B2B company, a “Buy Now” ad isn’t likely to convert the way you want.

The best way to get today's consumer to interact with your brand is to offer something that's actually attractive to them. Instead of running an ad with your company logo and description, offer a free ebook or whitepaper. Click To Tweet Write a bit of compelling content that tells a story, rather than tries to “sell” your company or your product.

Consumers run from the hard sale like the plague, so put effort into drafting a narrative, and offering up something unique and worthwhile. The more interesting and compelling your offer, the more effective your campaign will be.

#4 Test, Smartly

Always test for your goals by sending out more than one version of your ad. You never know what photo, what content, or even what call-to-action button consumers will respond best to, so it’s always good to test your ads.

How to test multiple Facebook ads:

Let’s say you have two different graphics for the same ad. Create one ad set, targeted to your specific buyer persona, and upload the first image to that set. Launch the first set, and then go back into your Facebook ad manager. You can now duplicate that set — so the ad with the other graphic goes out to the exact same consumers — and simply change the image. Set both ads to deploy simultaneously, and you’ll be able to watch the ads progress, and see which graphic performs best in your targeted audience.

When you’re testing your ads, it’s important to only change one aspect at a time, so you know exactly what is driving more or less engagement, and so you can accurately apply those results to future ad campaigns.

#5 Adjust in Real Time

The digital world is fast-moving. Don't wait for your ads to end to determine their success. Click To Tweet

Facebook allows you to adjust and tweak ads at any point in your campaign, and you should take advantage of that. If you’re a few days into an ad that’s just not performing, you can pause it or adjust your settings for better performance. On the other hand, if you have an ad that’s facilitating a ton of conversions and boosted engagement, you can extend it or bump up the budget slightly. Making adjustments in real-time allows you to maximize your budget on the spot. This way, you’re not wasting money on an underperforming ad.

#6 Focus on Long Term Value

While your immediate budget and spending goals are important, it’s equally important to keep an eye on how much you’re spending relevant to your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). When you’re just starting your Facebook Ad campaign, it’s easy to worry that the money you’re spending isn’t worth the leads you’re getting. A surefire way to figure out if that’s true is to consider your customer lifetime value.

For example, let’s say it costs you $80 to acquire a customer. Let’s also say that your average loyal customer spends about $800 over their lifetime as your customer. Even if you don’t make $800 immediately from each customer, you know that over their lifetime as your client, you have essentially spent $80 to earn $800. That’s a pretty attractive ROI, if you ask us.

Bottom line — Don’t get caught up in the immediate shock of spending, unless you’re shelling out a lot on ads that aren’t producing new business. Your goal should always be long-term success, and to accurately measure that, you need to look at the ratio of what you’re spending compared to what you’ll make in the long run from each of those new customers you’ve acquired.

#7 Inbound-ify Your Facebook Ads — Turn Them Into Funnels

Finally, if you want to apply really successful inbound marketing tactics to your Facebook ad strategy — embrace the funnel.

If you’re familiar with inbound marketing, you’ll know that it’s best practice to create content for consumers in every stage of the inbound marketing funnel. From a stranger to your brand to an interested lead, each consumer at each level of the funnel will be seeking different information. Traditional inbound marketing targets leads moving through the funnel with email workflows that provide the right content, at just the right time. You can apply this idea of nurturing leads through the funnel to your Facebook ad strategy too!

Facebook Ad Funnel Basics

Facebook allows you to create ad funnels, which work much the same as an email workflow.  You start with a top-level ad that tells consumers a little bit about your company. Let that ad run for a few days.

Then, send out a second ad to the consumers who interacted with the first ad. If your first ad was a video, then you can send your second ad to just the people who watched say, 20 percent of your video. If your first ad was a static image, you can send the second one to just those consumers who clicked on or in some way interacted with the first.

From there, you can keep your ad funnel going about as far as you want, until you’re targeting only the most interested, engaged consumers for that particular ad set. This is a great way to optimize your spending, and it also helps to pull people through the inbound marketing funnel, ensuring they’re even more qualified for your products and services by the time they make it to your website.

Though it’ll take a bit more work to set up a Facebook ad funnel, it’s a useful tool that will give you increased insight into how your ideal customers and target buyers react to your social media advertising strategy.

Why Inbound Marketing Tactics Work for Facebook Ads

Inbound marketing tactics are so effective for Facebook advertising campaigns because they are already designed specifically for today’s consumer. The average consumer (who just so happens to be the exact same person you’re targeting on Facebook) prefers a warmer sales experience than the traditional hard-sell. Since inbound marketing is already geared to those consumers, it’s easily applied to a Facebook ad campaign to boost your results and maximize your spend. Learn more about using outbound marketing to attract, engage, and close qualified leads here. 

The foundation of inbound marketing is getting to know, on a personal level, your ideal consumer. If you’d like to know a little bit more about how you can use inbound marketing to grow your company in 2019, let’s chat. We’re a HubSpot Gold Certified Agency Partner, and we’ve been doing inbound marketing for about as long as it’s been around. We’d love to help you grow, so schedule time with our president, John Heritage to see what Evenbound is all about.

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How Digital Ads Sell Homes

How Digital Ads Sell Homes

At this point, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you home builders out there that digital marketing is the best way to get new clients and sell homes. That’s old news. You’ve likely heard all about how you need to have a high-quality, mobile responsive website that features high resolution photos; how you need a blog that offers quality content; how you need to get in on conversations on Houzz and Facebook and other social media platforms, etc. And that’s all still very true — if you want to get consumers’ attention, and if you want to get Google’s attention, you need to complete all of those key SEO activities. But if you’re a results driven person — that might not be enough for you.

It’s also no secret that the homebuilding industry is exceptionally competitive. Even if you’re implementing all of those great, whitehat SEO techniques, it’s possible that you’re still in tough competition with a number of builders in your area, and some big national names who have overarching clout online. With all of the noise, how’s a local builder to get ahead?

One of the answers is digital advertising.

It’s an attractive answer for a few reasons, but if you just made a face and thought “ew, I’m not paying for online advertising” just stick with me for a second.

Digital ads sell homes. There’s no getting around it. (We wrote a whole guide to digital advertising and outbound marketing, it’s that serious.) If you’re hoping to cut through the noise and put your home building company above the competition, you’re going to want to give digital ads serious consideration. Here’s why:

Benefits of Digital Advertising for Home Builders:

Easy to Use, Easy to Turn on And Off

When it comes to digital ads, whether you advertise on Google, Facebook, or even Bing, you have total control. This means if you’re trying to fill a development or a spec home, you can put the ad up for only exactly as long as it takes to sell. As soon as the homes are gone, you can take down the ads. That’s a lot easier than making a total website for your development, and then having to adapt or take it down after the development is full.

That control also means that if you need to save a little money, you can stop your ads from going out. If you know your ads don’t perform well on the week days, stop them Monday through Friday, and turn them on for the weekends. With digital advertising, you have total control.

Spend Only What you Want

In the same vein, you only spend what you want with digital advertising. You can create budget limits on each and every ad you create, no matter which platform you’re choosing. Daily limits are great if you only want to spend so much per day, or you can set overall campaign limits, and just let an ad run until it’s used up all of its spend.

The key benefit of digital advertising spend is that you’re only paying for the people who click on your ad. So, unlike traditional print ads, you’re not paying just for exposure. You’re paying for people who make the conscious decision to click on your ad, and are taken to your website, where you can gather their contact info.

Precise Targeting

Beyond the fact that you’re only paying for people who click on your ad, targeting options on digital ads are exceptionally specific. You can choose who gets to see your ad, based on age, demographics, interests, likes, even crazy things like job title and occupation. This means you can set your digital ads to go out to the people you know will be interested in, and can afford your homes.

This increases the success rate of your ad campaign, and decreases the money you have to spend to get qualified leads. Best of all, your digital ad campaigns put you ahead of your competition. Your houses, and your ad will show up above all the other homebuilders who aren’t advertising, meaning you get the first look from your target buyers.

How to Create Digital Ads that Sell Homes

At this point, it should be pretty clear why digital ads sell homes. They’re a cheap, effective, and precise method of advertising that sets you above your competition, and can target your key buyers. So now, how do you create effective digital ad campaigns that actually get the clicks?

Platform

The first choice to make is where to advertise. You can create digital ads for nearly any digital platform these days, but some will always be more effective than others. At this point, Google and Facebook seem to be the best bets for home builders.

Facebook Paid Ads

Facebook has one of the most intuitive targeting options available. You can so specifically choose the target audience for your ad that anyone who clicks on it is guaranteed to fit your target buyer’s profile. This seriously bumps up the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

What’s more, Facebook is highly visual, giving you the chance to show off your beautiful homes in an ad experience that seems relatively organic to the users. Most Facebook users are already looking for photos and visually appealing content. If your ad has great photos of your homes, you’re likely to see a lot of engagement, and photo ads do tend to perform best on Facebook.

Google Paid Ads (PPC)

Google is obviously the most well known platform for digital ads. It’s a great place to find those end-of-cycle buyers, who already know they want a new home, they know what they want it to look like, and they just need someone to build it for them.

Google is also a great tool in your toolbox because of the advanced metrics it provides. You’ll be able to tell which of your ads are doing well, and which aren’t, and most importantly, Google can help you discover why. As a result, you’re able to tweak and optimize each of your ad campaigns to ensure you’re spending the least amount possible for the greatest number of qualified leads.

Target to End-Of-Cycle Buyers

The best way to boost your ROI with digital ads is to write and deploy ad campaigns that target end-of-cycle buyers. These are the people who have already made the decision to buy a home. They’ve done research, they’ve decided how much they’d like to spend, now they just need to choose a builder.

Building ad campaigns that target these buyers is easy, if you know your target buyer well. Generally, end-of-cycle buyers are going to search for home builders in their area, and they’ll be looking for reviews of each candidate so they can make an educated guess about which builder is the best fit for their dream home. Bid on more specific keywords like “best custom home builder in Grand Haven, MI” or “craftsman-style homebuilder near me.” These are searches that will only be done by someone who’s legitimately looking to build a home in your area.

Use Demographics to Target your Ideal Buyer

We mentioned earlier the exceptionally advanced targeting options that both Google and Facebook offer. Use these as fully as you possibly can for effective, high ROI digital ad campaigns. You should know who your ideal buyer is first:

Do you build smaller, lower cost first homes for young couples just starting out?

Do you build custom dream homes for doctors and surgeons on the lake?

Do you build something in between, or something totally different?

Imagine the person you most often sell homes to. Are they young? Old? Female? Male? Employed at the local hospital or nearby manufacturing plant? Answers to each of these questions are demographics you can target when building your ad campaigns. The more specific your ads, the more qualified leads you’re likely to get. Remember though, if you exclude too many people from your ad campaigns, you might shrink the amount of engagement you see from that particular campaign.

Make Sure Your Ads Lead to a Landing Page

The final component of a successful ad campaign that gets you the qualified leads you’re looking for is a quality landing page. We won’t go into the nitty gritty details here, but what’s most important is that each of your ads send leads to a landing page. If you don’t have a landing page for your digital ads, you’re basically wasting money, because it’s your landing pages that will capture email addresses and other necessary contact info.

You use information from your landing pages to reach out and close deals, and without it, your ad will do little more than raise awareness for your brand — which is great, but not really the goal of a digital ad campaign that’s supposed to convert leads. Not every ad you create needs its own unique landing page, but each ad should connect to a landing page that’s relevant to whatever you’re advertising. Again, for more info check out this blog.

Digital ads sell homes. There’s really no question there. If you create intuitive digital ad campaigns that are well targeted to people who want the homes you’re offering, you can reach a wide range of qualified potential leads, using very minimal funds.

That said, digital ad campaigns can be easier said than done, so if you’re worried about building a successful campaign, or you’d like a bit more help getting started, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Evenbound. We’re digital ad experts, and we’re happy to offer a few getting-started tips, or even help handle your ad campaigns for you — just let us know what you need. And if you’re not sure where you’re going with your digital marketing plan just yet, check out this Smartass Guide to Inbound Marketing. It’s got the information you need, and it’s not boring:

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B2B Manufacturers: How to Get More Social Media Followers, and Why You Need ‘Em

B2B Manufacturers: How to Get More Social Media Followers, and Why You Need ‘Em

If you’re not on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn these days, it’s almost like you don’t exist. Nowadays, social media is just as crucial for B2B companies, including industrial manufacturers, as it is for B2C companies. Sure, social media marketing seems more intuitive for B2Cs, but the truth is that nearly everyone is using social media, which means that your customers, and the decision-makers at those companies, are using social media.

And just having a profile for your business isn’t going to cut it. If a page exists on the internet and no one reads it, does your company get more leads? No, it doesn’t. That’s why you need to invest in your social media presence and attract followers on the platforms you use. Your social media presence will create the network where you can share and promote your company and your digital content, attracting and converting leads.

LinkedIn: A Great Place to Start

If you read our blog regularly, you know how we feel about LinkedIn. For B2B manufacturers, it’s the social media platform you should be using to reach your potential clients, for a variety of reasons; most importantly, it’s where your target audience is networking and researching suppliers. Getting more followers on your company LinkedIn page requires that you regularly post relevant, insightful content specific to your industry and your potential customers’ pain points. You can even target each of your different types of client with specially tailored showcase pages (read more about how showcase pages work for B2B marketing here).

On your personal LinkedIn account, you can search for specific people in specific positions at the companies you’re looking to make clients out of, and then connect with those people. Joining discussion groups relevant to your industry and sharing your knowledge and expertise is also a great way to establish your credibility and gain new followers. For more on LinkedIn, read our 6 Easy Ways to Make LinkedIn Work For Your B2B Marketing Strategy.

Social Media Campaigns

Another critical aspect of gaining, retaining, and making leads out of your social media followers is by executing targeted social media campaigns. Just like other advertising campaigns, strategy is necessary to make your efforts successful. Well-planned social media campaigns will help you accomplish goals such as increasing brand awareness and promoting your digital content. To do this, you’ll need to determine the exact type of client you want to attract, and target them specifically with content matching their place in the buyer’s journey and their needs and pain points, through indirect (social sharing) and direct (PPC ad promotion) means.

Don’t fall behind the competition by neglecting your social media presence, either by failing to have one at all or by not investing time into engaging with your followers and working to attract new ones. If you’d like to learn more about social media marketing for B2Bs, or digital marketing in general, you should talk with the team at Evenbound.

Be sure to check out our other posts on how to make social media work for your B2B, such as this one on LinkedIn Ads and B2B Marketing, as well as the free case study below, that shows how paid search and social worked wonders for one B2B:

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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.

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