It’s that time of the year. We’re winding down a wild 2016 and looking forward to 2017.
For marketers, this means reviewing successes from the year and determining where to focus efforts for 2017.
So, what are your marketing goals for 2017? More traffic? More qualified leads? Better followup or nurturing leads to get more in the sales process? A better customer retention strategy? Increased sales?
Whatever your goals are, your company website should factor in as an important tool in helping you reach them. A results-driven website must align with your overall strategy. This means allocating time and budget specifically to your website.
The question then is – how much should you invest in your website and digital marketing in 2017?
CMO Reported Trends for 2017
Before we give our list of things that we feel every B2B company should budget for in 2016, let’s look at trends reported by a survey of chief marketing officers. According to The CMO Survey from August 2016, we learn the following:
- New customer acquisition is a top priority.
- Marketing budgets overall will grow 7.2% in the next 12 months as compared to 6% in the prior 12 months.
- CMOs report budgeting for the direct expenses of marketing activities (for example, advertising budgets or costs associated with delivering marketing services) and social media.
- Digital marketing spending is growing (+9.9%) but at a slower rate than the last 24 months. Conversely, traditional advertising spending for 2017 is expected to be down 1.3%.
- Companies are spending 7.5% of company revenues on marketing, which is up over the same time period last year.
- Social media spending as percent of marketing budgets is expected to rise significantly in the next 5 years, especially in B2B industries.
- 45.7% of companies use customer behavior data collected online for targeting purposes.
- Digital marketing capabilities remains an opportunity for most companies. CMOs report that digital marketing, including digital strategy, social media, and mobile marketing activities is a high priority but a large organizational gap.
Suggested: Want a customized plan for your company? Request a marketing opportunity review today.
Our List for Top Digital Marketing Priorities in 2017
Now let’s take a look at things that we at Whittington Consulting believe are items that should appear as priorities in your digital marketing strategy for 2017.
Any digital marketing that you do in 2017 will rely heavily on your website to deliver information and add value to the customer interaction. It’s critical that your website be set up for success.
Full Website Redesign vs. Other Website Strategies
A website redesign requires a great deal of strategy, time, and expertise. The payoff? A lead generating tool that works 24/7 to deliver new business to your company. But, to be frank, it can be a significant investment.
Not everyone has the time or budget for a new website in 2017. Even if you’re not planning a full redesign, you should still allocate funds for website updates. By budgeting for website upkeep, you’ll keep your site running efficiently, keep it secure from spammers and hackers, and full of new information to keep visitors (and potential customers, of course) engaged.
New Lead Generation Offers
It’s important to launch new lead generation offers every few months. These offers could take the form of gated eBooks, webinars that require registration, or tools like checklists and calculators. Fresh offers on your website give prospects a reason to visit and convert as well as keep current customers engaged.
Research conducted in October 2016 indicates that lead generation is an important goal for companies — only slightly behind increasing sales revenue:
If your management is expecting more leads from the company website in 2017, then adding new lead generation offers to the library is the best way to accomplish this. In fact, HubSpot’s research found that “businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages generated 7 times more leads than businesses with only 1 to 5 landing pages. And the numbers get even more impressive: “businesses with over 40 landing pages generated a whopping 12 times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages.” Building targeted offers to live on those landing pages is what will drive new business next year.
Beyond just the immediate website benefits, lead generation offers serve as the cornerstone of other content marketing efforts. For example, let’s say you develop and produce a webinar. That webinar could be recorded and shared on YouTube. The slides could be shared on SlideShare. The notes from the webinar could be turned into 8 blog posts. Those 8 blog posts could then be edited together into an eBook. Each blog post gives you fuel for a slew of social media posts. You get the idea…
If you already have great content available, repurpose it. You know that presentation that you gave at your last conference? Turn that bad boy into an eBook. You will save time as well as costs on the writing/editing side.
Smarter SEO Strategies
Search Engine Optimization done the right way increases qualified traffic to your website. However, SEO requires constant attention in order to see the benefits. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” In today’s modern marketing landscape, content is king. Enhance your site by researching new keywords, optimizing website pages based on that research, and writing new content to convert leads.
Another tip for better SEO is to build and maintain links, check your site regularly for search engine crawl errors, and fix links that are broken. No one likes clicking a link and seeing the infamous “page not found” error pop up. Broken links prevent search engines from going deeper into your website. Visitors also tend to stop browsing a site once they click a broken link.
Broken links can not only negatively impact your search engine rankings, they can create a negative user experience, resulting in lost leads and sales.
If you’ve never run a link checker or checked search engine crawl errors, then the first time could be a wake up call. It may take several hours to correct links each month if you have a large company website.
Invest in Blogging
We often refer to marketing activities as “builder” or “driver” activities. Builder activities are foundational must-haves to set the stage for success. Driver activities, on the other hand, are the activities that really move things forward and drive results.
We see SEO as a foundational activity that ensures that your site is being indexed appropriately and that you don’t have any roadblocks for a positive user experience. Blogging is a driver activity that, if done right, will deliver substantial incremental traffic.
In fact, a HubSpot study showed that 60% of marketers said that blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority, just behind SEO at 66%.
It’s no coincidence that these two activities ranked closely at the top of this list. In another study, HubSpot notes that B2B marketers that blog 11+ times per month had almost 3x more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month.
Foundational SEO activities and traffic-driving blogging work hand-in-hand. We think that this potent combination should be a major focus of savvy marketers in 2017.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO ensures that you get the most out of your marketing efforts and your website.
Follow our four steps to CRO: Develop new initiatives and test new ideas by choosing pages to alter. Make changes, and measure the results. Even if you think your homepage and other pages on your website are optimally designed, you can always improve. You’ll notice that you pick up new business opportunities throughout the year as a result.
Make Better Use of Your CRM
For starters, your B2B website should be connected to a CRM that can not only track customer interactions, but can also store prospect behavior.
For example, your marketing and sales teams need to be able to see not only contact information for your opportunities, but also what pages on your website they visit, where the prospect found your company website, what emails they open, what content they download, and what forms they fill out.
Your CRM should also be able to identify companies that visit your website, giving your business development team a warm lead list. You can sort through these lists and identify companies that are good targets, then find the right people at those companies to connect with.
Increase Your Social Media Presence
While it’s true that CMOs report not being able to measure the quantitative impact of social media on their businesses, companies still need to find ways to gain awareness and communicate via social media.
Would you believe that Facebook is the most effective platform for B2B companies?
While we’ve seen evidence that amplifying content (like blogs) on social media improves search engine rankings, advertising on social media can be effective for B2B companies. Consider allocating budget to social media advertising in 2017, and consider using video to deliver the message.
Website Software Upgrades, Backups and Performance Enhancements
Keeping your website software (I’m specifically thinking about WordPress here) up to date has never been more important. As of November 2016, WordPress runs 58.5% of websites with content management systems. This makes them a target for spammers and hackers.
Regardless of your content management system, you need a plan to keep the software up to date so your company doesn’t have an embarrassing experience with malware, spam and hackers.
Website performance (page speed and load time) is an important factor for SEO. The more pages, images, etc. you add to your website, the more you need to pay attention to optimizing for faster page load time for better user experience and SEO.
If you feel like you’re not getting the most from your content management system, you may want to consider migrating to a new content management system in 2017.
Next Steps and Questions for Digital Marketing Budgets in 2017
Digital marketing budgets are increasing for 2017, and you need to be careful to make sure you spend your budget where you’ll get the greatest return on your investment.
- How much as a percentage of revenue will you budget for digital marketing in 2017?
- If you had to pick 3 top marketing priorities, what would they be and why?
- How will you measure your results? Note: we recommend setting goals yearly and we made a goal template available for your use here.
- What internal resources can you tap to accomplish your goals? Do you need to supplement them with other talent? Should you call on a digital marketing firm to help?
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