For many, New Year’s means a new start; a chance to make things even better than the year before. But your body and your mentality aren’t the only things that can benefit from this outlook. Around the world, businesses are looking for opportunities to shape up and ring in the New Year with positive change, and setting the right resolutions can mean big returns in 2014. Here are eight ways to usher in a New Year, and new potential, for your business.
Know Your Goals
Success on the Internet is a nebulous thing. For some, it’s 5 million YouTube hits that ultimately translate into no material gain or following. For others, it’s understanding the aims of your content and website and gearing efforts toward fulfilling analytics that indicate success. The latter are the ones you should listen to.
Google Analytics, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and myriad other Internet kudos can give the impression of accomplishment, but without knowing what your ultimate aim is, little will come of these digital atta-boys. If your goal is retention, focus on the percentage of new visitors versus returning visitors. If engaging content is your goal, focus on bounce rate and time spent on page. Know what you want and watch your barometers to determine whether it’s happening instead of chasing vanity metrics to nowhere.
Welcome to the new world order. The marketing wisdom of the past simply does not cut it anymore. New users, bombarded by information and cheap sales pitches every day, are becoming wise to the tactics of salesmen and want something more substantial from their brands and their browsing. What do they want in their place? Content. This means informative articles, slideshows, presentations, and infographics that enrich their lives and demonstrate an understanding of their needs in a real way. With more businesses adopting this innovative new strategy every day, it’s clear that content is here to stay, so plan on engaging your customers and leveraging your know-how to great effect.
Build User Profiles
These same users demanding greater value from the firms that supply their needs are doing so with increasingly high standards for personalization. With social networking, news feeds, and browsing experiences tailored to individual needs, it’s no wonder why customers are driving this paradigm shift. But while you can’t cater to the highly specific whims of every member of your consumer base, you can develop an understanding of their personalities. Intelligent businesses are creating buyer personas that drill down to the circumstances, interests, and mentality of the types of users that frequent their site in order to help fulfill their specific needs. This not only helps guide content, but also can shed light on why particular products, methods, and sentiments are, or are not, increasing sales.
The modern customer sees the world through a multitude of lenses. Tablets, mobile phones, television, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are just a few of the channels through which content is delivered. Behind us is an era when a single ad spot on a prominent TV program meant sales and here is a greater challenge: grabbing the attention of the perpetually distracted. The solution, as it turns out, lies not in shining a spotlight on one piece or another, but in creating a coherent and intelligently tailored brand experience on all channels. Your organization should have profiles on all major social networks with content optimized for the particular platform. The aesthetic and messaging between them should be uniform in order to imbue the same sentiments consistently. Doing so builds brand perception and association by working with customer habits instead of against them.
Tap Into Video
With mobile phones, tablets, and even laptops connected to televisions, video has become more available than ever. But the medium’s potential isn’t fulfilled simply by its ubiquity. Showing your organization in motion quickly conveys information, emotion, and a human appeal. A well-crafted YouTube channel can house everything from product demonstrations to documentaries to quick, viral clips, presenting effective marketing without the arduous task of reading lines of text on a small screen. Furthermore, posting video enables comments, feedback, and video replies that get the conversation going and engage customers in the process.
Tablets and mobile phones have been mentioned multiple times already, and for good reason. According to research, mobile Internet usage is surpassing desktop Internet usage as we speak. And while pinch-and-zoom browsing capabilities are available on phones, the more elegant approach to addressing mobile needs lies in responsive web design.
Responsive web design uses media queries to determine the size of the browser viewing the page and adjusts the layout to optimize the experience on respective platforms. Why make the change? Simple. Mobile customers have a distinctly limited interface and form factor context that makes viewing of desktop sites difficult. By creating large-format text for easier reading, large navigation buttons for more accurate selection, and a layout optimized for vertical scrolling, customers are not only more likely to view content, but build a positive brand association in the process.
Location, Location, Location
As our understanding of mobile increases, the capabilities of mobile devices follow suit. Mobile applications have already put deals and product catalogs in user pockets, but the next wave in commercial innovation is being ushered in by location services. By implementing new technologies at brick-and-mortar stores, customers passing by or entering businesses can receive coupon codes and information about special deals. Not only does this take the bargain hunting out of their hands, it adds extra incentive for in-person and post-visit sales conversion. Offering the right deals remains your responsibility, but these new solutions will make distribution much easier.
Focus on the Customer
With evolving technologies, increasing demands, and new challenges for meeting consumers’ changing lives, it’s a buyer’s market. With the ubiquity of firms vying for attention (and money) and the ease with which customers can find other shops offering similar wares, the onus lies with you, the business owner, to fulfill their wishes. Savvy shoppers are no longer interested in cheap ploys for attention or sales, but instead want real deals, real communication, and a real relationship with the establishments they patronize. Above and throughout all things listed here, make the customer priority number 1, and rest assured that the New Year will be a happy one indeed.
After hitting the gym and pledging to drink more water in 2014, focus on improving your business with a little know-how and elbow grease. Know what you wish to accomplish in the New Year and develop enriching content that helps facilitate those goals. Focus on your customer and know who they are and what they want. Tap into new technologies through responsive web design, location services, and video, and make your presence known everywhere that customer attention is directed. Much like a gym membership, it takes time to see results, so prioritize your business’ success and enjoy the dividends in turn.