3 Internet Marketing New Year Resolutions
It is a new year and everybody is back into the office with some new ideas, hopefully not too much of a hangover, and of course some Resolutions. Of course, resolutions taken at this time of year tend to have a bad reputation, how many of them are completely forgotten by the end of January?
Unfortunately, quite a lot, and one of the places you can see that is in Gym memberships. Just as with reading the Classics, attending Gym regularly is something that everybody wants to have done but nobody really wants to do. I’ll admit to that as much as anybody, my exercise regimes never seem to get to the point of being on-going habits. But maybe the near year is the time to reset and try again whether the topic is healthy living or organised internet marketing for your business.
Google searches for "gym membership" peak every January, but drop off rapidly after that. Don't let your online marketing efforts suffer the same fate! Data from Google Trends, a great tool for identifying seasonal topics.
And organised is the “keyword”, if you’ll excuse me putting it that way, because it isn’t hard to do internet marketing, but far too much of the time it is a rather random process that basically is whatever comes along, whatever happens to happen.
But just as a regular exercise schedule can help, at least for a while, to get some motivation to be consistent then so an internet marketing plan, with a schedule, some targets and some aspirational goals, can really go a long way to making it be effective.
Too often the online marketing of a business takes a back seat to actually doing the business. And that’s natural enough for the smaller or medium sized enterprises that can’t run to a dedicated marketing department. If you are a plumber, a restaurant or an accountant then your business is pipes, covers and audits. You have to get the business done, and if you are any good at what you do that will take up most of the energy for you and your staff.
That means the digital promotions and marketing efforts tend to go by the wayside when times are busy, and then when things slack off there can be a gap before new promotions start generating leads and customers.
So, a regular schedule of activity is a great way to avoid that but it isn’t as easy as simply making a resoultion to say “I’ll do internet marketing regularly”. That works just as well as “I’ll go to the gym regularly” (and if you are a regular gym user then good on you, but you get the concept anyway I’m sure as we all have something we should be doing that we are missing out on).
Bringing all those thoughts together here are three resolutions that you can use for your internet marketing efforts this year that will be practical, sustainable and may actually get you all the way to the end of the year!
First up: If finding the time to do things regularly is a problem, then consider using some internet marketing automation tools. There are a bunch of processes around digital marketing which can be partially or entirely automated, and while going fully automatic risks isolating your customer and reducing credibility there are places where you can automate safely.
Top of the list would be the scheduling of social media posting. This is a time consuming and fiddly activity that is still essential if you are to provide the always-there and 24x7 persona that is what the millennial customer expects from businesses today. But while actually creating those posts is a manual endeavour there is no reason why some simple automation shouldn’t be used to actually make the posts go out the door according to a schedule that fits the customer attention windows, rather than your availability. For a lot of customers browsing social media it is in the evenings or weekends that they have more time to see and read your posts, but if you are a business that closes for the weekend or a restaurant that is busy in the evenings, these times may not be good for you.
For twitter promotions, and if you are in the F&B industry then you know how important Twitter is in HK just for engaging with the many HK foodie bloggers if nobody else, then there is a multitude of options from the built in twitter scheduling (which needs a credit card, but doesn’t actually charge you) through to the third party apps such as http://futuretweets.com/ and https://twuffer.com/ you won’t have to break the bank, even if it is a piggy bank with 10 cents in it, to get scheduled.
Facebook aficionados should just read the instructions at https://www.facebook.com/help/389849807718635 or simply click the schedule button on a Facebook page post to see how it works.
There are fewer choices for Instagram but as long as one works then that’s sufficient and LATERGRAM.ME is the one you need. For the price of a glass of air, not oxygen enriched but just your typical Causeway Bay smog filled tasty Hong Kong air, then you can schedule your latest filter soaked product or lifestyle posts to go out while you are busy doing something, anything, other than watching Instagram.
All the above are great choices if you need to schedule posts to just one of the big three, twitter, FB or Instagram, but if you have a little more complex need and want to do all of them then look for a suite. And the big boy on the block is, of course, HootSuite. No relation to the very questionable Hooters restaurant, this product is both tasteful and perfectly safe for work. Sign up for free and get a range of basic scheduling options that will cater to most small businesses, or pay a very affordable US$15/month for their basic plan to get really all the tools you’ll probably need.
2. Create a content marketing calendar
If you have capacity in your schedule for more than just scheduling, then consider creating a calendar for your content marketing. This is more of a motivational and organisation task, which could just as easily be done on a Filofax (remember them?) as using an online calendar. But whichever tool you use, be it an A4 calendar posted on the office fridge or a set of reminders that pop up on your phone, the idea of a calendar is to get you to actually turn out that all important content which brings in customer attention and gets you the attention need from online sources.
Reading great tips from James at Post Planner and more from and this oldie-but-goodie article from the good people at Buffer.com, which incidentally is one of the main competitors with HootSuite which I mentioned above.
Whatever your calendar is, whether it is for daily blog comments, weekly Instagram posts, or monthly long-form publishing the point is that it is achievable, doable, and within your capabilities. Although setting aspirational goals might be good for diets it isn’t great in Internet Marketing where you have to have targets you can meet, and of course, aim to exceed.
Despite one’s best intentions, and at this time of the year intentions are always at their best, it isn’t always possible to keep to them. But if they start to slip, or even if you are expecting them to slip, then time to consider the next of our 3 new year resolutions for digital marketing.
Now yes, Outsourcing can be a dirty word. Not as dirty as some perhaps, but we’ve all seen the problems that happen with services get outsourced in ways that perhaps they shouldn’t have. After spending hours on the phone with “John” from the bank customer support hotline who has a suspiciously southern Asian accent, we may well wonder if anybody is actually benefiting from outsourcing.
Apart from those Chai Wallahs outside the call centres in Hyderabad of course who now sell so much more caffeine-rich wake-up calls to those brave workers trying to answer puzzled calls from Aunt Mildred from Newcastle with an impenetrable Geordie accent.
Outsourcing can work, though, it all depends upon where you outsource to, and how you control the quality of the work that is to be done.
By definition, outsourcing means taking parts of a process and giving them to someone else to do, and unless your process has definable segments that are easily detachable and stand-alone it may not work well. So, consider your current processes, and see what parts can be cut out.
Content creation is usually at the top of the list, and if you have a content marketing calendar then you will need to be creating it regularly. Although at first it may seem that you have to do all the content yourself, or at least in-house, because you are the subject experts on whatever your business field is, to be honest not that many businesses are unique. And even if your business is, or at least your approach is unique, then your customers are not. Customers are regular folk who can potentially be understood by a writer and that writer can then make meaningful content that appeals to the customer.
How do you find a good content marketing outsourcer? Well, those are also known by the rather old-fashioned term “writer”. And it isn’t that hard to find writers, check out some of the many online marketplaces for freelance work such as freelancer.com, upwork.com or for some Hong Kong specific stuff try http://www.2easy.com.hk/ and the HK Freelancer Facebook group.
There are two key steps to make sure that outsourcing writing work is successful:
Hire native speakers of the language you want to be written. Don’t be distracted by the idea that certain low-cost-of-living countries share languages you may want, yes we are looking at you India and the Philippines because it isn’t just about knowing how to write and spell. The unexpected cultural background comes across in an “accent” and can just cause things to not gel the way you would want. So if you want English written, go to England, the USA or even Australia if ‘strine doesn’t bother you.
Similarly, if you want Chinese written then go to a native Chinese speaker, but take care that you are selecting someone from the right cultural background. It isn’t just Simplified vs Traditional characters, but different terminology and style. Mainland writers do not use the same terms as Singaporean readers, even if they are officially both writing simplified characters and speak Mandarin. The same goes for traditional characters in Taiwan and Hong Kong, they might seem similar but once you get to a 1,000-word article on any modern topic the word usage diverges.
The trick here is to understand that just because a writer is a native speaker from a first-world country does not automatically imply they are going to be out of your budgets. Yes, people who write regularly for the New York Times or The Atlantic are probably going to be pricey, but they are an awful lot of perfectly good writers who for one reason or another don’t have booming careers and will accept quite modest payment. Sometimes so modest that it is embarrassing actually, but that’s another story. And potential for giving people a “rise” while staying within your budget, which is a good feeling for everyone.
So, if the first step is hiring writers from the correct societies and cultures, then the second tip is to test test test.
Allow in your budget for the time and the money to throw away the first 10 articles you write because it will take time to find the writer that fits your needs. So go out to one of the freelancer sites mentioned above and ask for a 1,000-word article on a topic of your choosing, and be prepared to simply throw away any that don’t fit. Don’t stress it or do more than one attempt to have a writer who is off-track “fix” what they have written.
You are searching for those writers who naturally come out with the voice and style of material that can work for you, and they are out there unless you have some particularly strange requirements. Within 10 tries you’ll find at least one, hopefully two or three, writers who can meet your budget and style requirements. Efficiency and ability to write on schedule are also good, but can take a back seat if necessary when you consider that material can be prepared in advance and scheduled, by calendar or by automatic tools, for use later.
So there are your top 3 Internet Marketing New Year Resolutions. To use some automation tools, to create a content calendar, and to outsource some work.
I haven’t looked in this article at other uses for those automation tools, or different types of automation such as customer service automation (facebook bots anyone?), email marketing automation techniques such as auto responders. Creating calendars for other types of promotions other than content marketing and outsourcing different parts of the process, not just content creation, are also topics I’ll be covering in other posts.
Until then enjoy your dry January and make the most of it to get a good start for the year!
What great ideas do you have for Internet Marketing New Year Resolutions? Share them in the comments below!
Internet Marketing Consultant
Raymond Lowe is an Internet Marketing Consultant in Hong Kong.
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