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The CMOs Guide to Digital Marketing in 2017 Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

February 13th, 2017 min read

As marketers, it's our job to stay on top of trends and ahead of the curve. 

Digital marketing changes constantly, as we shared last week, many of the strategies we trusted in the past, may not be as effective (or effective at all) in 2017.

Now that we've all had some time to review 2016 and create a vision and plan of action for 2017, I want to share with you the things we are going to be focusing on and what we believe all CMOs and marketing leaders should be prioritizing this year.

Some of these marketing tactics are things you might already do, while others you will probably be hesitant about, but I encourage you to keep an open mind.

There isn't a single tactic on this list that hundreds (and thousands) of other companies haven't used to grow their bottom line successfully.

1. Investing in Facebook Advertising

With 1.23 billion daily active usersFacebook has exceeded all expectations for a social media network -- even in spite of enormous competition.

The company might have hit some snags along the way, but from a digital marketer's perspective, their Ads platform continues to shine above any other form of online advertising.

In fact, Facebook Ads perform better for B2B brands than ever before.

With the platform's comprehensive demographic information, its targeting capabilities are unmatched. You can segment those who see your ads by age, education, occupation, interests, location, and so much more. 

Ranging from Sponsored Posts to Facebook Messenger Ads and Sidebar Ads, there are number of different options available to reach your ideal buyer persona, but the one I encourage you to focus on most is Video.

Facebook is investing huge resources in video as they attempt to dethrone YouTube as the king of online video.

In an effort to not just host video, but be a go-to destination for quality video content, Facebook has even adjusted its algorithim to give preference to longer videos that people are actually watching all the way through. So, it's not a tactic to be taken lightly. 

2. Using Facebook Live

While we're on the subject of Facebook, I'm sure you've seen Facebook Live blowing up!

Video has always been one of the most engaging media formats, but Facebook Live kicks it up a notch. It's real, there are no do-overs, and paired with Facebook's comment tools and reaction buttons, it's interactive.

According to Facebook, people comment over 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos, most likely because they know you can see their comments in real-time.

I know what you're thinking -- live video seems scary. What if something goes wrong or you make any mistakes?

The reality is that people want more transparency and little mistakes and glitches only add to the authenticity of your video.

Of course, you might be camera shy, in which case it would probably be best to have someone on your team who likes being in front of the camera do your Facebook Live videos.

3. Prioritizing Video Marketing

One of the reasons Facebook Live is so hot right now is because of the bigger movement at play. Video marketing, in general, is the fastest growing medium for content marketing right now.

Consider the following statistics:

  • In 2017, online video accounts for 74% of all web traffic
  • More video content is uploaded to the web in a single month than TV has created in three decades
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than 3/4 of a video
  • 33% of tablet owners watch about an hour of video on their devices every day
  • 28% of smartphone users watch a video on their devices at least once a day
  • 75% of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly
  • When marketers included a video in an email, the click-through rate increased by 200-300%
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI

As CMO, if you're looking to gain the biggest competitive advantage from inbound marketing, video marketing is no longer optional.

Encourage your team to showcase your product or service, introduce peers, or give consumers a peek behind the scenes. There are a number of different ways you can make video marketing work for your strategy

4. Podcasting

When podcasting started exploding around 2014, there was a lot of speculation that the market was getting too saturated and the best opportunities were gone.

Fast forward to 2017 and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Podcasting has steadily grown over the last few years and presents a variety of opportunities for digital marketers.

If you don't like the camera, but love talking, podcasting might be the best medium for you to create content.

You can follow the standard interview format, host a question & answer segment or you can simply talk by yourself or with someone else on your team about a specific topic for each episode.

The upside to interviewing well-known people in your industry is that you can capitalize on their existing audience.

With this in mind, you can also consider appearing on already established podcasts within your industry. This approach allows you to leverage texisting audiences to grow your brand awareness and win people over either as leads or future listeners of your own podcast

If you're determined to get the most value from podcasting, you'll most likely want to host your own podcast and be a guest on others.

5. Creating Long-Form, High-Quality Content

We discussed this on our blog many times in 2016, but it's worth repeating. The typical 300 to 500-word blog post program doesn't cut it anymore for most industries.

Markets and the search engines are just far too saturated.

Long-form, high-quality content is the only way to not only rank on the first page of Google but also to provide the level of value that the market expects in 2017.

There's no magic number, but you should aim to publish blog posts that are as long as possible without sacrificing quality. 

1,000 or even 2,000 words just may be the new 500 words.

6. Working with Bots/Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Marketers have been using "bots" to hack social media growth for years. Although this practice used to be generally frowned upon, it's becoming incredibly common in other ways and will only become more prevalent in 2017.

Bots and AI enable us to deliver the experience of a one-on-one interaction for our prospects and customers without actually having someone man the controls at all times.

We're at the point where marketing software like Drift and HubSpot can get to know our website visitors and personalize content to their interests without much work on our end after set-up.

These automation services help make personalized interaction more efficient and also more scalable for growing businesses.

7. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

CRO is another tactic that's been around for a while but has often been overlooked because of its complexity. Fortunately, that's all changed in the last couple of years thanks to several robust CRO and testing tools on the market today.

The beauty of CRO is that it lets you increase the value of your website visitors, without necessarily requiring you to get more traffic. Of course, as your traffic does continue to grow, the value of CRO is amplified, but the tactic is more focused on getting more out of your existing audience. 

Since focusing more on CRO on our own website, we've been able to identify weaknesses we never recognized and significantly improve our conversion rates.

Learn more here: Conversion Rate Optimization 101: How to Test Your Way to Greatness

8. Tripwire Offer

If you aren't familiar with the Customer Value Optimization (CVO) System, a tripwire is a lower-priced product or service that you use to introduce a new customer to your brand and to experience your value, in hopes of following up with an upsell down the line. 

This is something we overlooked for far too long and most businesses we work with don't even know exists, but it is unbelievably effective. 

Lead magnets work in a similar fashion, making it much easier to convert prospects into leads and creating a strong, favorable initial impression for your brand before you go in for the sale, but there's one big problem with them. 

Getting someone to download something for free is completely different from getting them to buy something worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

A tripwire is the perfect middle ground.  

A tripwire is like a lead magnet for paying customers.

It makes it easier or less intimiating for them to convert into a customer because what they're buying is relatively inexpensive compared to your main product or service.

Once they become a customer, the relationship tends to change. They get to experience your value firsthand and it's easier for them to justify a more expensive purchase from your company.

Learn more about creating an irresistible tripwire offer here.

9. Business Development Representative (BDR)

Marketing and sales are too closely related to keep them separated any longer.

While the specific activities of marketing and sales may differ, the underlying goals are virtually the same with inbound marketing.

One of the most valuable jobs that you're going to start seeing more of in 2017 is the Engagement Manager or Business Development Representative (BDR), similar to our Kyle Bento.

A BDR is essential to mastering the "hand-off" between sales and marketing. They are responsible for managing leads at the bottom of the marketing funnel and the top of the sales funnel. 

Their roles creates a smoother transition from marketing to sales by supporting leads along with their purchasing journey. A BDR also makes your pipeline more consistent, predictable, and scalable.

Conclusion

2017 is an exciting time for inbound marketers who aren't afraid to ditch old tactics and ways of thinking for smarter strategies that reflect the market as it is today.

In many cases, you will want to double down on things that are producing great results for your business, but I encourage you to test new marketing tactics that you've never used before to see how they work with your customers.

After all, inbound marketing is data-driven. At the end of the day, you have to run your own experiments to know what will truly make the difference to your bottom line. 

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