Top 5 Home Improvement Marketing Social Media Trends for 2014

2013 was a big year for social media as more organizations than ever turned to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn from and engage with their customers. As we enter 2014, it’s important not only to look back at the past year to determine what worked and what didn’t in social but also to think about the year ahead: What major trends will persist, which new ones will arise, and how can social marketers make the most of the changing landscape?

Social marketers should keep in mind the following five insights to help their brands and organizations prepare for and succeed in 2014 by connecting with customers.

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How to generate home improvement leads using social media marketing

1. Clever, smart marketing is more important than ever

Recent trends have forced brands to compete for consumer attention unlike ever before. Audience behavior is fragmenting, people’s personal and professional selves are merging, and there is a tremendous shift in how consumers make purchase decisions.

To successfully address those changes, brands must first understand their audience. Despite the ability to pull all kinds of customer data, many brands fail to uncover meaningful audience insights. Making use of customer data allows brands to determine their audience’s preferences, and, accordingly, how to effectively engage them.

In addition, increasingly marketing must come from a place of helping, rather than selling. As we move into the New Year, we’ll see brands continue to focus on content that’s useful rather than solely promotional.

 

2. Social data will guide the future of relationship intelligence

Millions of actions are taking place on social networks every minute, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge lies in actually analyzing and developing meaningful insights from the data, to take advantage of the great opportunity to learn and strengthen customer relationships.

Whether it’s high-level, mid-level or individual-level data, information from social sites, campaigns, or other customer interactions can provide brands with the data necessary to accomplish their goals.

Brands are fully expected to have a social analytics team in place so they can effectively monitor and engage audiences they’re trying to reach on social media platforms, especially because community managers cannot fight this battle alone.

 

3. The next phase of social business is integration

Social media can no longer exist as an entity separate from the rest of the business. Altimeter found although 78% of companies have a dedicated social media team, and the number of employees on those teams is expanding, there is still work that needs to be done.

Marketers must connect social data to other enterprise data sources to deliver actionable insights.

As 2014 approaches, there are several important factors to identify around effectively integrating social media, including which channels are relevant for your messaging, how social data should be handled, and what technology tools you need to implement the tactics behind your strategy.

 

4. Online meets offline for customer engagement

As brands take advantage of social tools to encourage local customer engagement, online and offline will collide. Unique campaigns that focus on bringing online content to the real world will excel and make a splash in the significantly noisy social media world. Moreover, these types of campaigns allow brands greater integration with the communities where they want to have an impact. That said, brands will need to listen locally to determine what the community cares about.

 

5. Relevant, real-time content marketing is here

As we move into 2014, it’s important to keep in mind that more content isn’t the key; it’s relevant content that counts. By waiting for the moment, acting in the moment, and anticipating the moment, brands and marketers can drive traffic, engagement, and high-quality leads. Smart brands already have a handle on acting in the moment, but the trend is only going to grow in 2014. Who will be this year’s Oreo at the Super Bowl?

We’re not exactly there yet, but what if your team could anticipate what topics your customers will be talking about and have content ready for them when they need it? Moreover, brands would be able to not only stay ahead of topical trends but also determine which devices to optimize campaigns for, what product users are likely to enjoy next, and what the most effective calls to action will be.

2014 will certainly be an exciting year for social media!

10 Online Home Improvement Marketing Predictions for 2014

Business marketing last year was like a roller coaster ride. We saw new platforms, new channels, new roles and new tools pop up all over the place. It’s as though innovation and growth is speeding up all around us and we are surrounded by opportunities to reach new customers and delight them.

It’s been an exciting year for sure. But what’s next? We’ve put together a top 10 list of marketing trends to keep an eye on. Combined, these trends should make for huge marketing advantages for our companies, and a chance to grow ourselves, as marketers.

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What is in your home improvement company’s marketing mix for 2014?

1. Omni-channel advantage. This past year we saw huge developments in mobile analytics and mobile marketing, which combines in 2014, enabling us to take advantage of omni-channel marketing.

This year, entrepreneurs and marketers need to go beyond just responsive web design and creating supplementary mobile apps to ask ourselves: how are our companies meeting the mobile challenge?

We need to be cross-device compatible and raise the bar on mobile customer experience. Are you taking advantage of the feedback opportunities? Are you capturing the data and leveraging it for personalization? This year it’s all about the omni-channel marketing advantage.

 

2. Smart objects take over. By now, you’ve likely heard about the Internet of Things but are you participating as a consumer or a marketer? As business managers, we should keep an eye on how these smart objects change the consumer’s expectations around user experience and engagement.

As new gadgets and technologies emerge this year, there will be new ways to leverage these smart objects in our marketing campaigns and more effectively reach our audiences.

 

3. Content marketing continues to explode. We spent the last year getting our company onboard with inbound marketing and content creation as the way to grow our businesses. From that we saw new tools built, new communities created and new resources emerge to help us make our case.

This next year will bring the solidification of this new arena through things like better content analytics and measurement, new job titles such as chief content officer, and new forms of content grow in popularity. We are most excited to see content marketing bring beautiful, original, inspiring stories to the masses.

 

4. Paid organic social amplification. This sounds like jargon, I know. But, finally, paid and organic marketing meet, fall in love, and have the most beautiful little baby: paid organic social amplification.

This year, marketers will turn their efforts and budgets toward paid marketing on social platforms. Twitter advertising, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising are prime with readership and opportunity for us to meet our next customers. Newer platforms such as Pinterest. Google+ and Instagram will continue to open new ways for us to amplify our content in less intrusive ways to meet customer needs.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly. It just works. If you aren’t testing this out yet, jump on in there.

 

5. Influencer marketing is now part of your job. Rarely do I see a new channel sweep in, go mainstream, and become part of every marketer’s job. I would say these past few years we’ve seen the rise of social media, and then the mainstream adoption of it and now from that we are left with a huge opportunity to leverage influencer marketing. This year will bring teams dedicated to social outreach, outlandish influencer campaigns and — dare I say it — a turn toward offline. (Gasp!)

Marketers are now returning back to “thank you” gifts, hand written notes and tangibles to catch an influencers eye and build a relationship. We will see more of that in the coming year.

 

6. Visual web domination continues. Today’s consumer expects delightful and stunning experiences. Marketers need to raise the bar on their site experiences, product packaging, branding and user experience. No longer will functional design get a passing grade, now we must be functional, innovative and memorable.

How can you message your story visually? We must jump on to photo and video marketing and embrace the power it has to persuade and impress our communities. Design thinking is no longer optional — it’s a market advantage.

 

7. Loyalty marketing takes center stage. In one calendar year we’ve seen the biggest brands in the world announce their key focus is customer loyalty, we’ve seen loyalty teams pop up and marketers have scrambled to understand customer loyalty. We’ve seen a new type of loyalty arise, called reciprocal loyalty, in which not only are customers loyal to a brand through advocacy and brand support, but the brand is also investing back into the customer through rewards, personalized experiences and customer service.

In 2014 we will see this trend take center stage. A genuine investment in the customers that keep you in business? Sign me up.

 

8. Big data personalization. In three short years big data took over. Now that we understand its importance and have tools like Tableau available to us to democratize big data, marketers will begin leveraging these insights for hyper-targeting and personalization.

Things like cohort marketing (the ability to break your audience into like-minded segments), behavioral targeting (targeting based on customer actions) and sequencing (the ordering of campaigns to have the biggest impact) will be critical to your marketing campaign success. No more spray and pray marketing — big data has brought us the insights we needed to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. Marketing euphoria, unlocked.

 

9. Snippet storytelling. This year marketers will be challenged to take image and video marketing and tell beautiful stories in snippet form. Concise messaging, consistent branding and emotional content will be laced in everything we do. We will be expected to share a story faster and make that story digestible in emotion-provoking ways.

The copywriters, brand leads, and video ninja on your team will become your best friends. What will come of it? A flood of brilliant stories told in new mediums.

 

10. Rise of growth teams focused on innovation. This is the trend I’m looking forward to most. The biggest brands have growth teams and the rest of us are following suit. These teams are dedicated to innovation, rethinking protocol and growing new areas of the business. They are cross-departmental and given the resources to make a huge impact in a short amount of time. Marketers will be the nucleus of these teams, if not the leaders, given our performance-driven and creative experiences. Companies will continue to break the traditional marketing team structure and empower growth marketers to think big and, ultimately, win big.

Top Five Email Marketing New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year. Time to make some resolutions and changes in our lives. Resolutions don’t need to just be about losing weight, take some time and reflect on this last year of email marketing and think about making changes in 2014. Here are five things you can do to improve your email marketing in the New Year.

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  1. Slim Down Your List – cut the fat and get it healthy!
    Every year many people do their best to lose some weight or get in shape. Why not hold our email lists to the same standards? It is becoming more and more important to get rid of email addresses that are no longer taking action (opening or clicking) on your emails. The risks of keeping them include:

    • Hitting potential Spam Traps
    • Disinterested subscribers complaining rather than finding an unsubscribe option
    • Missing the inbox – ISPs like gmail and yahoo are starting to measure your list engagement more to filter to inbox vs junk

    If those reasons aren’t enough, just think about this: You are paying to send to someone who will likely never buy from you, visit your website or be an advocate – get rid of ‘em! I recommend removing six month non openers at least twice every year.

  2. Revamp your look – Your template might need a facelift.
    After seeing the same look for all of 2013, why not brighten up your template with a new look? Make changes to the layout, color scheme and maybe add some new Call to Action buttons! Once you’ve created this fancy new template, test it out. Split testing is a great tool to use here if you have access to it.If your new template gives you better opens, clicks or conversions as a result – keep it! If not, you can go back to your old trustworthy look. Your subscribers love you for a reason, right?!
  3. Play nice with all devices – Your customers are going mobile and you should too.
    Part of your New Year template make over might include a mobile friendly design. With technology continuing to progress, the majority of your readers may be opening your messages on cell phones, laptops, tablets and more! Why not play nice with these guys and create a design that will render well on all of them.While the set up can be tricky, your pay off will be worth it.
  4. Socialize whenever possible – You’re customers want to talk to you!
    Facebook and Twitter are not the only big players anymore when it comes to social media. Make sure your emails are social media friendly. iContact allows you to post your emails to your Facebook page and Twitter feeds and also allows you to add “like” buttons to your emails with one click. However, there are plenty of other things you can incorporate into your emails this year:

    • Run a campaign to your email subscribers asking them to follow your social media outlets
    • Promote a Social Media contest to your email list
    • Include your latest social media interactions from followers as a sort of testimonial in your emails

  5. Spend time with those you value – your most engaged customers, of course!
    We all could afford to spend more time with those we love and sometimes the New Year is a perfect reminder to start doing just that. Think of your most engaged subscribers as your closest friends and family. Talk to them more often and maybe give them something special every once in a while. Targeting your best and most engaged subscribers frequently is becoming more and more necessary as many ISPs start placing more importance on your list engagement. Sending to your engaged subscribers more often than those who are less active will strengthen your domain reputation. This is especially true with ISPs like Gmail and Yahoo!. To keep those subscribers active offer them more enticing promotions and specials. Think of it as a “Thank you for being a friend” gift to them.

Your email New Years Resolutions should be easy to attain! Plus, raising your email marketing to the next level will do wonders for your success in 2014. Happy New Year!

Top 10 SEO New Year’s Resolutions for a Successful 2014

1. Drink Less SEO Kool-Aid

In the SEO world, there’s a fire hose of information. It’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid of popular industry experts.

Although there are some folks who are worthy of quoting and following, I’d lay off the hard-liquor-high until you’ve actually tested “expert” recommendations and seen the results for yourself.

It’s easy to get intoxicated with the SEO practice du jour, but it’s sobering when you’re trying to justify a bad outcome to a client by saying, “but [enter SEO expert name here] said it worked for [enter big brand website name here].”


2. Eat Healthy SEO Fare

The Internet is fueled by great content, and the healthiest of content is unique, valuable, authoritative, and share-worthy.

Google’s Matt Cutts said recently that 25-30 percent of the content on the web is duplicate. Although that might make you feel a little peckish for some long form articles, you need to focus on the best in healthy snacks; link-inspiring user-generated content, educating prose, expert opinion, multimedia munches and share-demanding content desserts.


3. Get a Better SEO Education

Set up an RSS feed of your favorite resources and spend the first 15 minutes of the day reviewing, interacting, asking questions, and learning a little more about the constantly evolving landscape of search, social, display and paid search.

The future is cross-channel attribution, and learning more about more is a sure way to stay on the cutting edge and in demand.


4. Get Your Site Fit, Lose Excess Code Weight

2014 is sure to (finally) be the year of mobile, right after the year of mobile that was 2013. And if your business relies on localized, mobilized, and focalized customers, then a mobile optimized site is a necessity!

To get your site fit, focused, slimmed down, and ready for a mobile push, get implementing responsive web design, a specialized mobile site, or app based experience. Whichever you chose (and Google recommends in most cases a well-engineered responsive site), make certain to trim excess code, optimize images, squeeze scripts, and lighten server loads to deliver the best (and fastest) mobile experience you can.


5. Manage SEO Stress

As SEO professionals, I’m not sure we’re ever not stressed with Google updates, client requests, deadlines, and migrations where redirects were “overlooked” by tech teams, but that leads to the best stress management recommendations: stress testing every recommendation and implementation! Twice. At least.

SEO isn’t an exact science, but it is something that requires technical savvy, sophistication, and strategy to ensure alignment with search visibility goals.

The best way to manage technology stress is to test, test, and keep testing, everything from user site engagement, to site usability, to server stress tests, to guarantee an optimal onsite experience.

Managing stress is easy… you just have to plan to do everything perfect.


6. Give Up Bad Habits

Everyone has vices, easy “go-tos” when the going gets tough; the link schemes, overseas outsourced content, or short cuts for short-term gains. Now’s the time to resolve to “never puff again” by implementing long-term strategies via sustainable tactics to ensure online success.

Go cold turkey and you’ll find the world of fresh thinking (and fresh air) opens up, and you can return to the fundamentals of:

  • Understanding the customer’s journey.
  • Creating content that connects with individual intent.
  • Leveraging engagement to drive loyalty, visibility and discoverability.

Give up the bad habits, and adopt a fresher, longer-term outlook!


7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The popular resolution to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” might very well be made for eco-friendly reasons, but applies equally well to your website content strategy.

Panda bought us thin content awareness, and recent messages in Google Webmaster Tools underscore the need to reduce or remove content that isn’t user-focused, user-useful or share-worthy.

As for reusing and recycling, for content that connects with core intent (and context), your focus should be on intelligent repurposing of content copy, content elements, content themes and content ideas, to create unique and aligned articles, rejiggered for different platforms, mediums, formats and audiences.

No piece of written content is an island. If you aren’t promoting worthy content in the most appropriate formats across your social channels, then 2014 may not be your year!


8. Save SEO Money

Many folks look to the New Year as a time to be frugal, put some cash away for a rainy day, and generally be more careful where they spend.

The goal for SEO professionals isn’t to save money. Rather, it’s to leverage data, metrics that matter, and broad analytics to spend smarter and/or justify budgets and efforts.

Although the initial outcome may be more less money in the bank, investing in data-informed areas of opportunity will almost definitely pay off in the long term, through additional revenue, valuable insights and happier customers.


9. Take a Trip to an Industry Conference

I can’t put a value on the information, networking or camaraderie I’ve experienced through some of the great industry events I’ve attended (including SES conferences!) It’s one of the easiest ROIs in SEO to return from 2 or 3 days of intensive learning and impart the knowledge gained to work colleagues and your boss.

Taking a little trip doesn’t have to be expensive either. With conferences that offer East and West Coast venues (and everything in between), inexpensive airfares when you book in advance, and advanced conference ticket deals, you’ll find the value of taking a learning trip gives you the tips, knowledge, and tools to help both your site or your clients sites succeed.


10. Help Other SEO Folks

It’s simple. Give back!

For those starting out in search, you have a unique perspective and valuable insights in the questions you ask. For those seasoned folks, it’s important to realize that your experience has value to the industry as a whole.

Some of the best information I’ve learned has been from both these groups, beginners asking hard questions, and SEO pros sharing a trick I hadn’t thought of. In a season of giving, write a blog post, conduct a webinar, share some survey results, or take an SEO newbie under your wing to share the wealth of knowledge!

[Via Search Engine Watch]