Originally appeared in The Globe and Mail
It’s that time again where we all resolve (and then fail) to drink less, get fit and read more books. But have you considered what your business resolutions will be in 2016? Here are a few I’d recommend.
Move 2 per cent of your budget and mind share into emerging platforms.
New channels are popping up all the time. If you want to stay relevant to younger demographics and be positioned for breakout hits (like Snapchat), you need to keep in the game. Devote 2-10 per cent of your budget to experimenting with new channels in 2016. Have you ever run an Instagram campaign? Ever hosted a Blab? Ever run Facebook lead ads? You’ll never know if it’s right for you if you don’t try.
One easy way to get into this is to decide how many hours per month you’re willing to spend as an investment in future channels. Even just 2 per cent of your work month will give you 3.5 hours (essentially, one afternoon each month) to experiment, learn, play, make mistakes and maybe – just maybe – knock it out of the park. You won’t know if you don’t try.
Try engaging with everyone. Just for a day.
I can’t say it enough: Engagement is directly tied to results online. This is especially true on Facebook, where the more people engage with your content, the more they’ll see it in the future.
Try this: Just for one day, respond to everyone who retweets you, posts a comment on your Facebook, tags a friend on Instagram, etc. There are great tools like Sprout Social that can tie all your channels together so you can find all incoming comments. Then, resolve to reply to everyone – even if it’s just a “Hey, thanks for the share!” You’ll be surprised how far this goes toward people really feeling connected to your brand.
Enough with set-it-and-forget-it.
Far too many online ad campaigns are set up once, deployed and then never looked at again until the program is over. This is foolish, and you should stop doing it. Remember that nearly all online advertising operates on an auction-like basis – the price fluctuates based on how many other advertisers are lined up to target the same people you’re after. You wouldn’t leave your bidding paddle with the auctioneer with instructions to “just keep bidding higher and higher until I win; I don’t care what the final price is.” So resolve to stop doing it with your online advertising in 2016.
Gratefully, this does not mean you need to be refreshing Facebook’s ads report every hour to make sure you’re getting the latest metrics. One tools set we love at my digital marketing agency is AdEspresso.com, which has a nifty “automatic optimization” feature – if the price starts to get too high (or your results too low, or any other parameter you prefer), it will automatically adjust your mid or pause the campaign entirely. Using this feature on many small campaigns, we have saved our clients thousands of dollars.
Reduce the size of your images.
I know, I know. Your website needs a lot of work. But just like how you’re not going to drop those 40 pounds in a week, you will not perfect your website to your satisfaction in 2016. If you have to choose what to focus on, take a look at the size of your images.
Among Google’s many factors in determining your website’s ranking is the speed at which your site loads. In many websites, large images are the culprit here, as amateur Web administrators just upload images without reducing them first. Spend a moment in Photoshop, reduce their dimensions to the space they’ll occupy on your website and save them as low a JPEG as you can without sacrificing quality.
Add Google Tag Manager.
As the digital marketing space matures, you’ll be hiding more codes, pixels and tags on your site to facilitate retargeting and other tactics. Stop screwing with your site’s code each time. Put the single Google Tag Manager code on your site, and manage all the plug-ins there. Besides being simpler, Tag Manager can also hide your pixels’ specific (and sometimes confidential) account numbers.
These resolutions will set you up for a strong start in 2016 for your business.
Now, let’s talk about that gut of yours.
Tod Maffin is president of engageQ digital, a Vancouver- and Toronto-based digital marketing agency, specializing in online advertising, digital marketing and social engagement. His website, todmaffin.com, has many more resources.