What’s coming in 2021? Five marketing trends that will shape the year

It goes without saying that 2020 was not a normal year, for marketing or anything else. Widespread disruption has impacted and changed every industry, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, as we head into 2021, we are able to get a clearer image of what is happening in the marketing industry and what we can expect from the year to come. In this article, I look at five predictions for marketing trends in 2021.

1) Agility

Though we have a clearer view of what to expect moving forwards, one thing that 2020 has taught us is that we can never assume we know for sure what tomorrow will bring. Change is always inevitable, and the changes that 2020 have brought will not be going away in 2021. Agility and the ability to respond quickly to a changing business environment will be more important that ever in determining how well your business is able to navigate this changing landscape and take advantage of the opportunities it will present.

2) Remote service

One of the lingering impacts of the pandemic response will be a much wider use of remote services, whether that be telecommuting, video conferencing, or home delivery of goods. While it was necessity that introduced a wider market to remote services, their convenience and ease of use will retain that market, meaning that utilising new channels to reach customers will be an essential part of the coming year.

3) Tracking results

As home services increase, ad spend from companies will shift towards promoting ecommerce and remote service options. For marketers, this will mean even greater focus on being able to track and measure specific results. Ecommerce brings with it the ability to truly follow the customer’s journey from beginning to end, making it possible to optimise every aspect of your marketing in ways that are difficult to achieve with other sales channels.

4) Trust and security

In a changing world, customers want to know that their interactions with businesses will be stable, predictable and safe. Customers in 2021 will be more insistent than ever on reliable products, great customer service and frictionless interaction with your business. Take the time and effort this year to make sure that every part of your customer’s journey is optimised to present the best experience possible and your customers will reward you for it.

5) Sincerity

Calls for increased inclusion and a fairer society ran throughout 2020, and will continue to do so into next year. Companies across the world have reacted to these sentiments, but in too many cases these were seen by customers as transparent attempts to capitalise on the issues. In 2021, it will be important not just to say that your company cares about the issues facing your customers, but to show that you are genuinely taking action to help deal with those issues.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing look forward to helping you with all of your marketing needs in the year to come. To find out what we can do to help your business, visit us online at JRDM.com.au.

Seasons greeting to all our customers – the JRDM blog will return with new content on January 6th 2021.

Experience is everything – five tips to improve your user experience

If you’ve spent the time to put together an effective and engaging campaign that works to bring customers to your site, the last thing you want to have happen is for those customers to lose interest or leave your site before taking action. A good user experience (UX) on your website and landing pages is vital in making sure that your campaigns succeed in the goals that you have set for them. In today’s article, I look at five ways you can improve your customer’s user experience and get better results from your campaigns.

1) Consider customer knowledge

Not every customer comes to your site with the same information. Some customers will already know everything they need to know about your product and will want to move through the sale process as quickly as possible, without interruption. Others will be looking for information and guidance before they make their decision. Most will fall on a spectrum somewhere in between. In setting up your campaigns and building your landing pages, bear in mind the different types of customer you have and the differing amounts of information they will need, and try to lead the right person to page that gives them what they need to make their transaction with you as easy as possible.

2) Make it flow

The core of good user experience design is making sure that the customer is lead though the page, following the layout and information without interruptions and without them having to search for what they need. Make sure that key information is at the top of the page, above the fold, and that your layout encourages the user to move their attention from one element of your page to the next. Place your calls to action regularly throughout the user’s journey, to ensure that no matter how far through your content the user progresses, they are encouraged to take action.

3) Know what you want

Every marketing campaign should be pursuing a specific goal, and your user experience should be driving your users to complete that goal. Make sure that you know exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve, whether that be an email sign up, to contact you for more information, or to purchase an item. Knowing what you specifically want to achieve means that you know what to emphasise within the page, what your call to action should be, and what to test for.

4) Make sure you look good everywhere

The ways that your users have to access your content are now more varied than they have ever been, with users accessing media from smartphones, laptops, smart TVs and more. Responsive web design is absolutely essential in making sure that your content looks its best on any platform. Make sure that you incorporate responsive design into the creation of your pages, and make sure that your content still looks good and flows correctly no matter what platform your users might be using.

5) Test everything

As with everything else in a marketing campaign, never simply assume that your user experience is perfect. There are a wide variety of tools available to help you test and optimise your material. A/B testing, click maps and scroll maps are all vital to helping you understand how your users are navigating your pages, what is getting their attention, and where they are disengaging. Test everything, make improvements, then test again.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing is a Sutherland Shire based company offering marketing and design services to businesses throughout Sydney and Australia. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you achieve your goals, visit us today at jrdm.com.au.

Getting Hyped – four ways to use anticipation in your marketing

At some time or another, everyone has had an event they’re counting down the days they have left to wait for. Whether that’s a new Apple product, a movie premiere, a holiday or an event, we all know that as the days go closer our minds wander back to what we’re anticipating time and time again. Who wouldn’t want to get their customers to be that excited about their business? In today’s article, I look at four ways to use anticipation to boost customer engagement with your campaigns and your business.

1) Tease what’s coming

The first step in building anticipation for an event is letting people know what’s coming. You’ve seen media companies do it for movies and videogames; a simple, short teaser trailer letting you know just enough about a coming product to whet your appetite. The same tactics can be used in your own campaigns. Letting your customers know a little about the event or product you want to promote lets them know what is coming down the line, the first step in building excitement and intent for what you have. Don’t let all the information out at once – put out just enough through your social media channels to pique the interest of your audience and make them curious to know what comes next.

2) Let your audience spread the word

Anticipation for a product spreads the more people are talking about it. If you are running a large campaign this is the point that you would reach out to influencers whose audience matches the market you’re trying to reach, to share key information about the product with them for them to discuss and promote to their followers. If you’re running a smaller campaign, a similar effect can be had by reaching out to the customers you know are most active within your community. Sharing information or product samples with these local-scale influencers will let the people that your customers know and trust help to spread the word about is coming up for your business, making sure that your audience will stay engaged and interested.

3) Build excitement

The closer you come to the big event, the more your audience should know about what to expect. Just as you released a teaser at the start of the process, you should release information about what is coming up on a regular basis, letting the product come into greater and greater focus throughout. This slow build of information will let your audience piece together what to expect themselves, keeping them involved and building their hype as they get closer and closer to the final date.

4) Drop the mic

When the day comes for the event you have been building to, make sure that all of your customers know it. Send out information on every channel you use, on every platform. Offer incentives to make sure that your audience will engage with what you are promoting right at the start; offer discounts, add-ons or promotional items for the first customers to engage. Make the event you have been promoting an event, and your customers will channel the excitement they have been building for your product into attention, business, and strong word of mouth.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing is a Sutherland Shire based marketing agency helping companies across Australia to get the most out of their campaigns. If you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au and speak to us today.

5 ways to build better customer relationships

The most important asset that a company can develop is a positive and understanding relationship with its customers. Understanding your customers means that you understand their needs, where to reach them, and what messaging will be most effective, saving you time, effort and money when it comes to creating your marketing campaigns. In today’s article, I look at five ways you can improve your understanding of your customer base and build better relations.

1) Talk to your customers

This is a simple point, but it can’t be overstated enough. Talking to your customers about their experiences and their needs is the best and simplest way to improve your understanding of them. Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do.

To get the best results from your customer contact, you need to have a plan for what you want to achieve. Ideally, you should choose one or two key points you want to get more information on, and ask questions specifically addressing those points. Without focus, you’ll be limited to a very generic understanding of your customers, which is of limited use in improving the customer experience. Take care, as well, to try to remove biased or leading questions; you want the real and honest opinions of your customers, not something influenced by what you might want to hear.

2) Take advantage of analytics

This isn’t the first or last time that I’ll praise the usefulness of analytics on this blog. Every website owner has access to vast troves of information on how their customers use and interact with their website. Analytics can show you what your customer like, whet they don’t, what pages are attracting the most views and what content is working for your audience. All of this is vital information, and something you should always take advantage of. Use analytics to see where you can improve your sites user interface to draw more attention to the pages you want to see more traffic on, what content to focus on developing, and what your customers most want from your business.

3) Know your customer’s interests

It might not seem important to know what your customers are interested in beyond the scope of your business, but there are definite advantages that you can take from knowing the other habits and interests of your customers. Understanding what your customers engage with gives you an understanding of their values and their drives, and is an incredible mine of opportunities for content marketing or cross-promotional campaigns. Being able to talk with your customers about the things that matter to them makes it easier to capture their interest, and positions you as an organisation they are more likely to trust.

4) Take personas further

Customer personas that are only based on simple demographic data such as age and gender are of some use, but personas can be taken much further. If you have followed the advice in this article, you should have a much deeper understanding of your customers, incorporating information on how they use your product, how they use your website, their attitudes towards your company, their purchasing habits, and their interests beyond your business. All of this is information that should shape how you interact with your customers. Once you have it, use it, and incorporate it into customer personas that more closely capture the types of customers you have.

5) Understand the customer journey

Mapping the customer journey lets you understand exactly what is needed to turn a customer from a prospect to a closed sale. That journey might be simple or complex, but the only way you will understand it, and how to improve it, is to take the time to map it out. Look at each step in the journey and consider what you can do to reduce resistance, improve the customer experience, and provide better service. An improved customer journey will increase your sales volume and create happier, more loyal customer from your leads.

If you want to build an in-depth understanding of your customer base, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au and find out what we can do for your business.

Funny business – using humour in your content marketing

When you work on your content marketing, what tone of voice are you using? For many businesses, its easy to fall into the trap of creating volumes of dry, corporate content that might sound good in the boardroom, but will leave your customers cold. In today’s article, I discuss ways that you can use humour and tone to make your content connect with your audience.

1) Don’t be afraid of humour, especially on social media

How much should you be using humour in your content? To a great extent, that depends on the platform you are using. Social media is one of the most natural homes for funnier content, with users looking for bite-sized, entertaining content more than in-depth solutions or stiff corporate communication. A more informal tone when communicating with your customers is ideal here, and helps them to feel that they’re connecting with a person, not just a company. Short-form video content that showcases your business in an amusing way works well here too, helping you to stand out from the crowd and win audience attention.

2) Don’t ignore the power of memes

Memes are about as far from traditional marketing and communication as you can get, which means that many businesses shy away from using them out of a fear that it will make them look ‘unprofessional’. But used well, memes can connect with your audience on a personal level, and their easily-sharable nature means that a meme that connects with your customers will go on to be shared with their friends and family, widening your reach without any further effort – the holy grail of content marketing!

3) Be natural

Like everything else in content marketing, humour needs to feel genuine and natural. Whether you’re creating memes, email headlines or social media posts, forced humour will turn your audience away just as fast as fake enthusiasm or unnatural language would. Don’t reach for jokes. If something isn’t offering up easy humour, or if humour isn’t your strong suit, then don’t force it. But if you or someone in your business has a gift for comedy, take advantage of it!

4) Make the content fit the context

It goes without saying that humour isn’t appropriate in every context. While most products and services can benefit from occasional humour, there are a few that would never touch it. Trust that you have a good enough idea as a business owner of your company and your customers, and go with your instincts. Additionally, remember that some situations – customer complaints chief among them – are not good times to use humour no matter what your business provides.

If you want to widen the ways you promote your business, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. To find out what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au.

5 ways to be a better content marketer

Content marketing is the backbone of any digital marketing strategy. Used well, content marketing is cheap, effective and engages your customers in a way that no other marketing can. However, getting it right can take a lot of work. In today’s article, I look at five ways to make sure that you are putting your effort into the right areas and making content that will meet the goals of your business.

1) Write with passion

If you’re creating content for your own business, this should hopefully be an easy thing to achieve, but it’s worth saying all the same. The first and most important thing when putting together content marketing is for you to have a genuine passion for what you are writing about. The aim of content marketing is to create material that will draw your customer’s attention. If what you are writing is flat and uninspired, or if you are trying to fake an interest, your readers will know it. Make sure that you care about the topics you are covering, and you’ll be well on the way to creating content your readers will care about too.

2) Write with a goal

Always remember that content marketing needs a specific purpose. While it’s important that your readers will be interested in what you’re saying, you also need to bear in mind exactly what you are trying to get your reader to do with each piece, whether that be to sign up to an email, to engage with your website or to buy a product. Keep your intended goal in mind as you create a piece of content, and make sure that your content is leading the customer towards that goal.

3) Use analytics

If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll notice this is a piece of advice that I’ve given again and again, and it’s worth repeating. Pay attention to your analytics. You need to be sure that the content you create is resonating with your audience, and you need to know which pieces you have created are getting the most attention. Using your analytics will show you what your best performing content is, which means you’ll know what works for your audience and what doesn’t.

4) Master research

The internet is a treasure trove of information that can be used to inspire and provide material for content. If you’re not already great at research, take the time to try to improve your skill in the area. Ideally, you should be able to look through the data available to identify trends in your industry, analyse market data, identify new opportunities and generate new content to take advantage of them.

5) Make use of marketing automation

As I said at the beginning of this article, content creation can take a lot of work. Marketing automation takes some of that work off your shoulders, not just scheduling content for your website but also letting you set up email and content flows that will automatically send your leads the content to nurture them from their first interest to becoming a potential client, saving you time and energy.

If you want to build a better content marketing strategy for your business, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au to find out what we can do for you.

Planning for the unexpected

If recent years have shown anything, it’s that we can’t guarantee that tomorrow will continue to look the same as today. Unexpected change can come from any angle, and like with any section of a business, your marketing needs to be able to adapt to the changes that might come along. In today’s article, I look at four ways that you can prepare yourself and your marketing to deal with unexpected change.

1) Leave room in your plans for change

A marketing calendar gives you the opportunity to lay out the content that you will be using ahead of time. This is a great tool for any marketer, helping to ensure that you have material on hand at all times, and that you are prepared for predictable events such as holidays, sales and your businesses regular sales shifts. However, a good marketing calendar should not be so packed with content that it leaves you with no room to manoeuvre. A good rule of thumb to follow is to break your content down into three main categories; one third of the material is new content, one third is repurposing that content for other formats, and one third is left open, allowing you to create material that is relevant to your needs at the time it goes live.

2) Plan for possibilities

While you can’t predict everything that might come up to disrupt your usual marketing plan, there are some things that you can assume will happen even if you are not sure when. Things like a disruption in foot traffic, a very visible customer complaint or an increase in demand for one of your products can all impact on what you might need from your marketing. Take the time to think through some of the events that you might encounter and come up with contingency plans you might use to offset any issues or take advantage of any opportunities.

3) Have a growth strategy

It’s surprising, but many businesses don’t have a plan in place for the one thing that they most want to happen – the growth of their business. This is a more specific version of point two, but it covers something that every business should be able to expect, even if you don’t know exactly when and where it will happen. Be sure that you have a plan in place for what will happen as your business grows, and how you will orient your marketing to best handle and manage the opportunities that growth will give you.

4) Take advantage of evergreen content

Sometimes, no amount of planning will prepare you for what has come up. Sometimes, nothing you have planned will fit with current events, and there isn’t much your marketing can do to take advantage of the situation. At those points, don’t be afraid to run some of your evergreen content, such as general advice or guides, to at least keep your content fresh and updated.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you build a marketing strategy that works for your business. If you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Are you working too hard on your content marketing?

Content marketing is a lot of work. Creating enough material to ‘feed the beast’ and keep your content channels lively can demand a lot of any marketing team, but like any other aspect of business, simply working harder isn’t always the right answer. Pouring too much effort into the wrong aspects of content marketing can severely hurt your success and waste energy that you could better spend elsewhere. In today’s article, I look at signs that you might be working too hard on your content marketing, and how to better focus your energy to get the results you want.

1) You’re over-thinking your content

As marketers, we have a range of data and information on our customers, our products and our campaigns, and we spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that we incorporate that data into what we produce – and that’s not a bad thing. But that can turn sour when we find ourselves relying only on data and forgetting the passion and drive that we have for the product we are selling. Content marketing goes out to an audience that cares about your products, or that cares about the problems your product solves. They live that experience, meaning they have a genuine connection to what you offer… and they’ll be able to tell if you don’t. If you find that your content is more about numbers and data than it is about a belief in your product, then you’re likely creating content that won’t resonate with your market. Always remember to put the passion you have for what you do into the content you create, and you’ll create content that will resonate with your audience.

2) You’re focusing on the hard-sell

There are a lot of marketing mediums where a hard sell can work, provided that it goes out to the right customer. Content marketing isn’t one of them. While you might be passionate and excited about having a new product and eager to tell your customer every feature that it has (and good for you if you are – see point 1!), no customer comes to content marketing to be sold to. Content marketing is about showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, providing content that is entertaining or helpful, and then introducing a connection between those needs and your products. If your content is falling anywhere outside the 80:20 ratio – 80% content, 20% sales, then you’re focusing too much on the hard sell, and you’re going to lose your audiences’ attention.

3) You’re not using internal resources

No marketer is an island. If you find that you’re struggling to come up with ideas that will connect with your customers, remember that other parts of the business have access to information on what your customers think and feel on a daily basis. Whether you’re a one-person operation or a part of a larger business, consider the information you can take from the customer-facing parts of the business – sales and services. Salespeople know exactly what your customers want and need, because they talk to them every day about those needs, and they know what aspects of your products are most important to those customers. Service staff know the issues that customers encounter with your product and the problems they most often need solutions to. If you are a sole trader, then consider the things your customers tell you and incorporate them into your content marketing. If you’re a part of a larger organisation, then take the time to talk with your customer-facing colleagues and find out what they know about your customers, and you’ll likely come up with dozens of new ideas for content that you can be sure will be relevant to your audience.

4) You’ve lots of content, but none of it is performing well

This can be one of the most insidious issues that you can face in content marketing. In the rush to fill the void, you’ve created page after page of content, but none of it is seeing the type of results you would like. While it’s important to create content on a regular basis to keep your business visible, it’s also important to make sure that content is relevant, and that it is targeted to the right parts of your audience. In many ways, this is the other side of the coin to my first point; don’t ignore the data that you have on your customers either. Make sure that you have built a strategy for your content marketing, and that everything you create is speaking to the customers you want to reach. Always know who you are trying to reach, what you are trying to say to them and why you are using the content platforms you are. Use the right platforms, the right formats, and talk about the right issues to reach your customers, and you’re more likely to create content that will perform the way you want it to.

Want to go further? John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to develop content that will connect with your customers. To get started with your new content strategy, visit jrdm.com.au today.

Four surprising content marketing facts

Content marketing is an ever-changing field, and what was true yesterday might not be true tomorrow. On top of that, even for a field as new as content marketing, common wisdom doesn’t always match up with reality. In today’s article, I look at four facts that might change what you think about content marketing.

1) Content marketing builds brand loyalty

As anyone who has ever looked with jealousy at Apple’s dedicated customer base knows, brand loyalty is a hugely valuable resource. Loyal customers aren’t just people who will regularly return to you, they are also frequently evangelists for your business, letting their friends and family know just why they should come to you. Word of mouth is some of the most powerful marketing available; people may be sceptical of your advertising, but they’ll almost always believe a trusted friend.

Good content marketing helps to create brand loyalty by showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, and by providing them with a reason to get excited about your business. If you can create content that forms bonds between you and your customers, you’ll go a long way towards building a relationship that will have a massive potential payoff.

2) Repurposed content can often beat original content

Not every piece of content marketing needs to be completely original. Over half of all content marketers will utilise content they have culled from other sources and repurpose it rather than relying entirely on original material. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other articles or pieces of content that you have seen. Provided that the content is re-worked to suit your audience and your needs, and provided that you are taking elements you have seen and not lifting content wholesale from other creators, a repurposed piece of content will perform as well as, or better than, a wholly original piece.

3) Email is still the leading form of content marketing

Despite the growth of other platforms, from social media to video to blogs and beyond, email marketing is still the most popular form of content. Remember that email has several benefits – it will be delivered directly to your customers in a place that they regularly check, it can combine the best elements of social media and blogging, and if you are doing it correctly it will only be delivered to people who have specifically opted in to communication from you. By communicating to an audience that already has an interest in your business, you are putting your message in front of people who are the most likely to act on it, meaning a higher chance of them making a purchase. Though it may seem outmoded, email should always be a key part of any content marketing strategy.

4) There’s no one right way to handle content marketing

If the world were a simpler place, marketers would be able to rely on one simple method for their content marketing – one correct strategy, one best platform, one best message. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. Your content marketing strategy will always be as unique as your business is. The platforms that work best, the messages that most resonate and the types of content that will be most effective will always be different for every business. In practice, like with everything in your marketing plan, this means never assuming anything will be a success. Test everything, find out what works best, use that to shape your content, and then test again. Even a successful strategy will shift and change over time, so keeping on top of your data and tracking your content’s performance is a constant priority.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to build a content marketing strategy that works for your business. If you’d like to take your content marketing further, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Taking every advantage

When building a marketing campaign, it’s important to make sure that you stand out from your competition and take advantage of every opportunity you have to set yourself apart. In todays article, I look at how to identify and utilise your competitive advantage to build stronger and more effective campaigns.

What is your competitive advantage

Every business is different, and every business has something that sets it apart from its competitors. Correctly identifying what points of difference exist between you and your competition mean that you can focus your business and marketing efforts in highlighting that difference, giving your customers a reason to chose you over your competitors.

You might differentiate yourself based on your price, your location, the expertise of your staff, your hours, the range of products you stock, the service you provide or any of a multitude of other options. Identifying what specific advantages you have means investigating your business and comparing it to your competitors.

Perform a competitive audit

To identify what makes you different from your competitors, you need to understand what they offer as well as what you offer. Take a look at your competitors and at their marketing and identify what they offer to their customers. Contrast them against your own business and see what they do differently. Evaluate the differences between your business and theirs and try to understand the business reasons behind their differences, what problems their products and services solve for their customers, and how they do so. Once you know the key differences between business and your competitors, you can more clearly see which aspects of your business offer benefits to your customers that they can’t get elsewhere.

Talk to your customers

Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do. Talk to the people who use your business and find out why they come to you. Find out what needs they have that aren’t being served by other businesses, and what they would look for in an ‘ideal’ business. This is also a great time to make sure that your marketing is reaching the right people in the right way; talk to your customers about your marketing and see if it is discussing the things that matter to them.

Showcase your advantages

Once you know what sets you apart from your competitors in a way that matters to your customers, focus on those points. Make sure every piece of marketing you create clearly communicates the things that your company excels in. Focusing on the competitive advantages you have, in a way that solves your customers problems, will lead customers to you faster than anything else.

If you want to build campaigns that showcase the best of your company, JRDM can help. To find out more, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.