Bounce Forward – A Guide to Professional Services Resilience in 2021

Bounce Back Forward – A Guide to Professional Services Resilience in 2021

Professional services marketers are at a pivotal time in the development of their businesses. A global pandemic divided their worlds into “before” and “after,” challenged them, and ultimately revealed strengths they may not have known they had. But now come the most significant tests of all: To recognize what will go back to the way it was, identify what may be changed forever, and take the right action to accelerate their businesses – and those of their clients – into a successful future.

At Relish Marketing, our years of supporting law, consulting, IT services, and accounting firms with integrated marketing, external branding, employer branding, and digital experiences have given us perspectives that can help. That’s why we created BOUNCE FORWARD: The E-Guide to Professional Services Resilience in 2021 – including insights into the trends and microtrends driving what’s next for businesses and six action items to help you make the most of them.

Bounce Forward – A Guide to Professional Services Resilience in 2021

Rebuilding Trust: 3 Critical Senior Living Trends + 6 Tactics to Address Them

Rebuilding Trust: 3 Critical Senior Living Trends + 6 Tactics to Address Them

Senior living marketers are in a remarkable position right now. Senior communities and senior serving organizations experienced some of the first and most devastating COVID-19 outbreaks, but they also were among the first to rethink processes and accelerate innovations in everything from engagement to safety and security. Now, however, senior community marketing leaders must face the challenge to reestablish confidence and rebuild trust. It won’t be easy – but knowing three critical trends can ease the path to success.

At Relish Marketing, our years of supporting senior living sales and marketing teams, as well as senior-serving organizations with integrated marketing, external branding, employer branding and digital experiences have given us some critical perspectives that can help. That’s why we created REBUILDING TRUST: An e-Guide for Senior Living Marketers – including insights into three trends essential to rebuilding trust and six tactics to help you address them.

Why Digital Experiences are More Important Than Ever

Why Digital Experiences are More Important Than Ever (and 3 drivers that should guide yours)

Click. You like something on Instagram. You order groceries on the website. You tack on a tip for the delivery person. You receive an automated thank-you message, and pop-up offers to shop again. One of those special offers is the virtual opportunity to cook alongside a local chef via videoconference. How fun! You go to the website and - Click. Date night planned. The next day, you check the weather on your smart home device, log onto your workout app and get in a run with your favorite instructor. You post online about the experience in a Facebook running group. You log onto your computer to check your email and start the day. A chat window pops up – can you join the team for a quick update call on Zoom? You can and you do.

If it seems like nearly everything you do is a digital experience, you’re right.

Digital experiences are increasingly woven into every business at every level. Sure, working, shopping and socializing from home took on new levels of importance this past year. But these experiences are too convenient, immediate and enjoyable to go away.  If anything, they’re only going to become more sophisticated and seamlessly integrated into our lives. They already have.

Websites and apps offer the obvious digital experiences. But chat boxes, emails, texts, payment systems, facial recognition and artificial intelligence are part of them, too. Indeed, you’ll find them integrated into every marketing strategy. Which means that if you’re not already delivering them, you need to get started.

But what kinds of digital experiences are right for your business? Some experiences are designed to be entertaining, with everything from fun flourishes that make clicks feel more tactile to video and music. Others deliver screens that are clean and open, with content that’s easy to find, like our client, Core Dance’s website. They tap into the ability to deliver continual offers, information and engagement, and they allow users to choose how to receive them. These digital experiences may not be exciting – but their seamlessness makes them highly attractive to their audiences.

How to Build Your Digital Experience Strategy

There are practically no limits to the number and types of digital experiences you can offer but three key drivers should guide your digital experience strategy:

  • Your brand and identity. We’re talking about who you are as an organization. If your look, feel and language tend to be flippant and fun, your digital experiences should be, too. If your business is built on a foundation of reassurance and simplicity, those qualities need to shine through everything from your website and social presence to your emails and Zoom backgrounds.
  • Your customers. What are they accustomed to? How do they engage with you, with other organizations, even with each other? If the people you need to reach are on Tik-Tok, they’re used to engaging with short video clips – and while you may find these consumers on Snapchat, you might not find them on Twitter.
  • Your resources. When you define the kind of experiences that make sense for your brand and your customers’ expectations and needs, you’ll need to balance that against your ability to deliver. The most sophisticated digital experiences may be largely automated, but they require constant monitoring, testing and adjustment to remain welcome and relevant. Whether you conduct these activities yourself or partner with someone else who can do it for you, you’ll want to balance the digital experiences you want to deliver against what you’ll need to invest in their success.

Clearly, we’re passionate about this subject. If it’s captured your curiosity, too, we should talk. Drop us a note or give us a call. We’d love to hear about your business and join you in exploring the digital experiences can help you take it forward.


Virtual Events

Project Spotlight: Digital is Here to Stay

How the Lenbrook Senior Living Community Transitioned to Virtual Events for Marketing Results

Rochelle Valsaint
Manager of Brand and Communications
Lenbrook Senior Living

The trend toward virtual events and online meetings is everywhere – even where people didn’t seem ready to adapt to digital experiences. Lenbrook, a senior living community in Atlanta, Georgia, had not tried to engage their primary target audience of seniors with many new media efforts. But as Lenbrook has transitioned from in-person to virtual events, they’ve found new success. They've matched previous attendance metrics and found new ways to continue the marketing conversation with prospects.

We recently sat down with Lenbrook’s Manager of Brand and Communications, Rochelle Valsaint, to discuss Lenbrook's embrace of digital experiences and how their success will help carry their marketing past today’s limitations into the future.


Relish Marketing: Let’s start with the basics. What kind of marketing events did Lenbrook host for prospective residents before the pandemic?

Rochelle Valsaint: Before the pandemic, we would hold two or three in-person events per quarter. At most of them, we would provide lunch, bring in speakers to discuss specific topics related to senior living and create opportunities for prospects to meet residents. We’d have as many as 50 attendees at each. They were great ways to connect people with Lenbrook.

RM:     How did COVID-19 force a change?

RV:      We had been talking about ways to do online versions of our luncheon events even before the pandemic. Then, it became clear that COVID-19 would keep us from bringing people here in person. So, we canceled our March 2020 event. Additionally, we went from talking about virtual events to actually exploring available technologies and producing them. We chose the GoToWebinar platform because of its security strengths. And, with the support of Relish Marketing, we produced our first event in June of 2020.

RM:     What stands out for you about the process of pivoting to that virtual format?

RV:      Looking back, it was an exciting time that pushed us into a direction we needed to go with our digital marketing and experiences! We worked closely with Relish to make the invitation easy to read and follow, no matter how people might read it. We were strategic about scheduling communications and using our RSVP platform to strengthen our connection to our audience, as well as track responses.

Internally, we had to get everyone from the branding and marketing team to residence advisors and sales on the same page about how everyone would use the technology. We also needed to align on how the virtual format would affect things like the way we follow up on leads.

RM:     Can you talk a bit about lessons learned?

RV:      Oh, we definitely learned some lessons. For instance, we learned that today’s seniors - Baby Boomers, especially - are used to tech in a way that previous generations weren’t. Their adult children and grandchildren are very tech-savvy, which motivates seniors to learn new platforms that can help them stay connected and in touch. With that in mind, we saw good reasons to raise our digital marketing efforts to new levels.

We also learned that postal mail gives us better results with some audiences and email delivers better results with others. But an integrated, multiple touch approach can deliver even more. The more deeply in conversation we are with a prospect – across multiple media – the greater the response.

RM:     How have you found producing a digital event different from in-person events?

RV:      They are completely different. In-person means determining food, inviting people to a luncheon, arranging seating, inviting speakers to cover a topic as people eat, and maybe conducting a tour.

Digital events are more of an actual production. We've pre-recorded tour content that’s closer in tone to an HGTV style walk through. We record panel discussions. There’s a whole editing process involved, combining prerecorded content with opportunities for people to feel like they’re participating in something live. But we can also have more attendees. Initially, there was concern that shifting from in-person to virtual experiences might cause a drop in interest and attendance. But we've seen no such decreases. In fact, in some cases, we've even seen increases.

RM:     Do you see this type of event continuing to be part of your marketing, going forward?

RV:      Let me put it this way – digital experiences are here to stay. Even as we have more in-person events, following up with virtual content and virtual events, can only be helpful. In-person events may be more social. But virtual events provide another form of education and engagement that’s simply easier for our prospects. Virtual events are also helping us capture how attendees feel, while they’re still feeling it. We didn’t get that feedback from physical events, even though we handed out surveys.

That said, I don’t think that it’s an either-or kind of thing. Virtual events will continue to give our residency counselors a powerful way to connect with people who don’t attend in person – for any reason. And, the content we produce can continue to support our customers’ journeys. For instance, right now, we’re editing our virtual event about the myths of moving to senior living into searchable pieces that address each misconception individually. The combination of virtual and in-person can only deliver advantages.

RM:     What advice do you have for other marketers looking to transition to digital events?

RV:      First, I’d say that just because virtual events are faster for your audience that doesn’t make them faster for you. Making a virtual event feel seamless requires more energy up front, not less. You still need strategic timelines and strategic thinking to produce something great.

I’d also tell people to work with great partners. Relish’s guidance was invaluable to our ability to execute. Knowing what was required for a successful virtual event, designing for digital and working with our digital team to execute. What it would look like, how it would work and how we would measure success – that was critical to our success.

The senior-serving world has been slow to shift to more digital experiences. But this very challenging time reminded us that we can stay smart and stay aware of what’s possible going forward. If we can stay on our toes, this is a very exciting time for marketers!

Whether you are already taking full advantage of everything that virtual events and meetings can offer or you’re still figuring out the basics, talk with the Relish team about the best ways to make digital experiences work for your business.



Mid-year pivot

Mid-Year Pivoting in the Era of WTF?

To say that 2020 has thrown everyone a curveball is a massive understatement.  Global pandemic. Nationwide protests and demonstrations. Political divisiveness. None of it is simple, but one thing is sure: everyone has been and will continue to be impacted. That includes you, your team members, your customers, and your partners.  And, if you aren’t driving your marketing strategy and communications to a mid-year pivot, you probably need to be. The question, of course, is how to do it.

Under normal circumstances, a mid-year brand strategy audit requires marketers and other business leaders to ask some fundamental questions: What did we plan to achieve this year? Are our results on track with the marketing strategy? If not, why not? And how should we adjust what we’re doing in response?

Today, however, those questions and their answers need to be addressed in five essential ways:

  1. Respond to the obvious. There isn’t a corner of the world untouched by COVID-19. Protests and demonstrations against racism are in every state of the U.S. To attempt “business as usual” could be insensitive at best and might severely marginalize you in your marketplace. Take steps to make sure that your actions and your communications recognize what everyone is going through – from your customers and partners to your employees.
  1. Get beyond the obvious. Telling your audiences, “We’re all in this together” and “We care” will only get you so far. If your business is taking a stand, say so. If you’re changing the way you do business to better serve customers – from holding meetings via teleconference and forwarding office phones to employees at home to compensating customers for order cancellations and postponements – say so. If you’re having trouble getting materials and components from overseas or delivering products on time, tell your customers. They’d rather understand what’s going on and adjust than be unexpectedly disappointed.
  1. Avoid assumptions. You may think you know what other people are going through. But it would be a mistake to allow your experiences to inform how you perceive anyone else’s. You may have many things in common with your employees, partners and customers, but that doesn't mean that your experiences are the same. Do the research – whether through analyzing trends, conducting surveys or simply picking up the phone to ask the questions, “How are you doing through all this?” and “What do you need?”
  1. Listen. Listen. Take great care to do your research with an open mind. People may not want to tell you hard truths for fear of offending you, or simply because they don’t want to reveal an embarrassing or private situation. More likely, they may try to share important information that your personal biases may not allow you to understand. Be aware of your expectations so that when you learn something that doesn't match them, you can explore it, rather than dismissing it as irrelevant. Then, from there, you can explore and determine if and how your business can help.
  1. Balance comfort with courage. Let’s say that your research reveals that the way you have always done business is out of alignment with your customers' current needs. One approach would be to assume that an imminent return to normal will correct the misalignment. But what if you could meet your customers where they are with what they need? It might take a bold shift in strategy. And, if everything in your market stays the same, that bold shift might be what allows your business to stand out and succeed in ways you might never have considered before.

We would be remiss if we didn't remind you that this is our wheelhouse, from brand evaluation, planning and metrics to responding to the unexpected. 2020 may wind up being the year that divides many businesses into “before” and “after.” But the right approach to addressing the “right now” may give your business what it needs to ensure success well after current stressors are behind us.

6 Ways to Help Manage Project Timelines

Marketing Through the Pandemic? 6 Ways to Help Your Agency Work Faster

“How long will this take?” It’s a fair question that we expect all our clients to ask – especially now, as so many businesses are marketing at light speed through the COVID-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstances, we design integrated marketing strategies and project timelines with interconnected components that must work in the context of multiple scheduled industry events, corporate meetings, planned product releases, programs and promotions. Many such plans are being delayed or canceled – but until those changes are confirmed, our clients must be prepared to go on as planned and to be ready to respond to shifts with alternative communications. Likewise, many businesses must suddenly adapt strategic communications programs to online only and virtual meeting formats – which means altering existing communications tactics and stepping up creative workflow.

In short: coronavirus crisis or no, project delays can throw your entire marketing plan off schedule.

Here at Relish Marketing, we aim to pre-empt the “How long will this take?” question by building marketing schedules and communicating timelines based on:

  • Known corporate and industry goals, plans, trends and events
  • Our experiences working on similar programs and projects
  • Our knowledge of the client’s teams and work processes

It’s an approach that should enable any marketing team to balance its workload and workflow with the critical needs of multiple clients – even in stressful times. Even so, some circumstances can jeopardize the schedules of even the most organized, well-planned projects.

What Slows Projects Down?

Successful agencies know how to work rapidly and efficiently enough to stay ahead of deadlines. But project bottlenecks still can develop when a project hits a milestone requiring feedback. You send in your comments and corrections on time. But if you’re not the only person involved in providing that feedback, one of these scenarios might happen:

  • You forward each stakeholder’s feedback individually, as it comes in, which requires the agency to compare similar revisions and make changes multiple times.
  • Most of your reviewers know how to use the build-in revision tools in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat – but others mimic those changes by using strikethrough, underline and text-color formatting. Or, they write in changes by hand and send them as a scan or fax.
  • You consolidate all edits in one PDF or Word file without resolving contradictory feedback. Unless the agency is privy to your company's internal politics, they won’t know how to determine whose comments and revisions carry the most weight.
  • Some reviewers reach out directly to the agency with feedback that you may never see.
  • Midway through the overall project, new people need to join the review team – and bring totally new perspectives to the table.
  • Someone – maybe a senior executive conducting “final” review – re-opens issues that were previously resolved or even forced a complete change in project scope.

Sound familiar? If so, we understand. It can happen anywhere, even with highly productive teams and talented leadership. But – good news – there are ways to limit unnecessary delays and keep your marketing programs and projects on schedule.

You Can Drive Your Agency’s Productivity Higher. Here’s How.

We know that internal dynamics and politics happen. And there will always be some people who won’t get their feedback in on time. Those are things you probably can’t change. But here are six things you can do – which will go a long way toward keeping your agency projects on track:

  1. Define one point of contact. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s someone else on your team, but that person should be responsible for requesting, collecting, consolidating and providing clear feedback to your agency. Make all your stakeholders know that this is your role. And empower your agency to keep you in the loop when anyone else goes around you to contact them directly with feedback.
  2. Manage your busiest stakeholders. If a project matters to one or more high-level executives, you have to perform a delicate balancing act. They don't have the bandwidth to review every little content point or design decision as it comes up – and you shouldn't expect them to do so. At the same time, if the project goes too far without their review and input, they may be surprised by wording, images or even due dates that don’t match their expectations. And that can derail a project. Define the critical junctures when their input will be necessary, and keep them informed, even as you help to protect their time.
  3. Set internal deadlines in advance of the ones you establish with your agency. Remind internal stakeholders when those deadlines are coming up. And don’t be afraid to communicate how late feedback may have financial repercussions (in the form of out-of-scope revision rounds or rush charges).
  4. Use Microsoft’s and Adobe Acrobat’s review tools. Microsoft’s commenting and track-changes tools and Adobe Acrobat’s annotation tools offer a great way to clearly show recommended changes and share questions, observations and explanations. It's worth taking the time to provide a "lunch and learn" or quick review session to make sure everyone knows when and how to use these tools as fully as possible.
  5. Use the “Compare” tools in both Adobe Acrobat and the Microsoft suite to combine recommendations and comments from multiple stakeholders, when they don’t work on one common file together.
  6. Avoid holdups due to conflicting feedback. Review all the comments before sharing them with your agency. Work with your stakeholders to resolve conflicts and help your agency understand which revisions take precedence over others. And, if you can't do that – maybe multiple points are valid, or the weaker idea comes from someone too high in your organization to ignore – ask your agency for help. They may recognize opportunities to craft a creative solution that makes everyone happy.

Of course, sometimes, the problem is within the agency. It could be a matter of productivity (someone isn't doing timely, quality work). Or maybe it’s a project management issue (agreeing to do work within an unrealistic timeframe). There could be a communications problem (in which they fail to tell you about issues that may impact deadlines promptly). If any of those are the case, you might need a new agency.

Generally speaking, however, the six recommendations above will help you deliver better, clearer feedback and direction to your marketing partners. You'll go a long way toward keeping projects on schedule. Oh - and side benefit – your agency will love you for it.


Website design

5 Trends for 2020 Website Design

Web design is moving away from pages and toward spaces. What I mean by that is, the web is getting more immersive, blurring the lines between reality and the virtual world. It is important to keep this in mind for user experience (UX). When everyone is using their fingers to literally reach out and touch your website, here’s what you need to do:

Prepare for 5G Speed

Designing for speed is more important than ever in 2020.We see “5G” everywhere – commercials, social media, neighborhood flyers – it’s coming and, in some places, it’s here. Most people already expect near-instant load times. Even more important, search engines factor load times into their search result rankings. In other words, you can – and should - invest time and money into SEO copy and tagging. But, large video and photo files will drag down your search result rankings as well as your UX – even over a big 5G network. Especially as 5G technology becomes the standard, speed will become more important to UX. Which means that web designers and developers will need to accommodate for smaller files and flexibility to strike a balance between look and functionality.

Simplify everything. And I mean everything.

Since speed is important, it’ll be essential to minimize the number of elements on each page. This applies to photos, graphics, plugins and even text. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more is better, however as you refresh or rebuild your new website you must strike a balance between hitting the appropriate amount of keywords and making it clear to the user the journey they should take through your website. Don’t overwhelm your users. Give them a proper path to follow and anticipate how they will interact with your website. Clutter will just distract from your website’s strategic goals (i.e. more sign-ups, phone number to call, sharing, requesting a visit, applying, etc.). If you want to add extra visuals or text, be aware that doing so could slow down the site or negatively affect the user experience.

Know that Skeuomorphism Isn’t Dead

Skeuomorphism – design that represents a real word counterpart (think the “trash can” icon) -- is very much alive and revived. Although flat design rose to prominence in the mid 2000s, we can no longer expect to engage users with flat icons and static images. While web designers can get carried away with adding more realism to their sites (don’t slow that load time down!), it’s important to immerse the user in their interaction with your site. Egg them on to roll their cursor over elements, tap and slide. In other words, plan your designs around modern skeuomorphs that are increasingly lifelike, so when people visit your site, it will feel more like an extension of their real word.

Think Touchscreens Over Rollovers

As web design has evolved, designers have been told to design mobile layouts after designing the desktop version of the website. This is no longer a valid process. Depending on the nature of your site, it may be best to design the mobile and tablet experience first, if not alongside the desktop experience. With all the different screen sizes in mind, gesture-based navigation is already making the internet a hands-on space (i.e. swiping left and right, dog and cat ear filters, etc.). Stay close to trends by taking into consideration touchscreens first.

Break the Grid

When creating a website, designers base their designs on a grid system. Grid variations can alter in number value and structure, but the concept of the grid has remained, in part because the grid makes placement of page components easier for developers. However, designers want more freedom than even a 12-column grid allows. The idea of breaking the grid was on the 2019 trends list and is a desire for most website designers. In 2020, we will start to see this more flexible coding structure manifested in ways that elevate the customized user experience.

Go create!

As you design or work with teams for website design and development, think about how you can make your digital space mesh seamlessly with your customer’s real world. Your customers, partners, investors, and employees move fast. It’s critical to accommodate their need for speed – but also design a space that makes people slow down and take notice.

How to Set Your 2020 Marketing Goals

A 5-step process for leaders of corporate, product and employer brands

Fall always seems like the right time for new beginnings. For some of us, it goes back to the “fresh start” of a still-new school year. Maybe it’s the feeling of crisp cool breezes and brightly colored leaves, or the smell of all those “pumpkin spices” at the coffee shop. And, it’s definitely the time to set your 2020 marketing goals and plan for the coming year. Which sounds great in concept, but doing it is another matter. Is there a best way to set marketing goals? How should you even get started?

Here at Relish Marketing, we’ve got your back, with a proven, five-step process for setting marketing goals that connect to measurable results.

1. Align with Strategic Objectives

It’s likely that your corporate leadership has given you a head start with strategic business objectives. They probably have been asking questions having to do with historical performance and necessary next steps for the future. And, that’s the right place to start when you’re developing the coming year’s marketing goals. Look carefully at those objectives and determine how marketing can best support them.

 2. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure how – and how well – you achieve your objectives. So, if the objective is to improve sales by 50 percent, look at your past lead generation and conversion stats. Consider what your top competitors have been doing and follow industry research aggregators, so you can see how you compare to the rest of your industry.  To what extent should you seek to improve the number of leads you generate and convert? And to what extent will you aim to improve the rates at which those leads are generated and converted? Likewise, if your goal is to strengthen your workforce, define KPIs around the number of qualified applicants you attract in each job category, the rate at which applicants become hires, and the cost of hiring. Either way, define those metrics.

3. Identify Tactics and Deliverables (plus what you’ll need to complete them)

For each KPI, determine what marketing tactics will best accomplish the desired results. Ask yourself: Who are the audiences for each one of your marketing efforts – and what channels will best reach them? What deliverables will you need to support each tactic? And what resources will be required to activate each one? Consider costs – both in the context of what you can afford to do and in terms of likely returns on investment (AKA what you can’t afford not to do). What should your team tackle in house, and what may make more sense to do with an outside partner? This part of the process is what turns specific goals into tangible ways to achieve them.

 4. Prioritize Activation

It would be great if prioritization were simply a matter of organizing your tactics and deliverables according to high, medium and low business priorities. And make no mistake, that scale is important. But you should also sort that same list according to other criteria. Determine what must get done immediately, within the next six months, and by the end of the year. Then sort it yet again on a continuum of ease. That is, which activities are "low hanging fruit" that you can address quickly and easily? And which ones will require more time and effort? Finally, consider dependencies – what projects must be completed before other projects can begin? Look at your tactics and deliverables through all of these lenses. That perspective will help you position your goals to generate as much success as possible.

5. Put it All Together

Armed with all this information, you should be able to set your 2020 marketing goals, including strategies, tactics, deliverables, audiences, responsibilities for your internal and external teams, and budgeting for each. It almost doesn't matter whether you use a detailed time management program or just a simple spreadsheet. Having everything delineated and scheduled for all partners to see makes it easier to get buy-in, track progress and ensure accountability.

Does it still feel a bit daunting? If so, you’re probably doing it right. But you don’t have to do it alone. Full disclosure: This is the process we at Relish Marketing follow to help our clients develop their corporate, product and employer brand marketing plans. But even if you’re tackling this process internally, we’re genuinely happy to help you do it. Email us as you work through thoughts, ideas and concerns. For instance, are you seeing prices for strategic, creative and production work that seem unusually high or low? We deal with these numbers every day. Go ahead and ask us if they're on target. We can tell you if they are – and if they're not, we can help you determine what questions you should be asking about them.

Either way, the time is now to set your marketing goals for 2020. So, grab yourself a coffee (pumpkin spice optional) and get started.


Get Out of the Silo: Integrate Your Marketing in 2020

One-off marketing is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make. We understand why it happens. Sometimes, it's because they're afraid to commit to more than one thing at a time. Other times, it occurs when the marketing team doesn't have a seat at the strategy table. So, they're forced to work in reaction to short-term sales needs, or leadership’s "idea of the month." But, whatever the reason, not integrating your marketing in 2020 may be expensive on three levels.

First, individual, disparate marketing efforts are inefficient. They require new strategy and new content every time, whereas Integrated marketing allows you to develop strategy and content designed to leverage across multiple media. It's the difference between taking a 50-mile drive in which you stop the engine every two miles and one in which you simply drive the distance.

Secondly, one-off marketing is ineffective. Few prospects, if any, will make a buying decision based on reviewing one piece of collateral, visiting the trade show booth, reading one blog post, seeing an advertisement, noticing mentions on social media, or going to the company website. For them to get your message, you have to reach them multiple times, at critical moments in their decision cycle. If you put all your money into, say, your website, how do you expect to get people to click to it? If all you focus on is your trade show, how will you keep visitors' attention the week after the show is over? How about the month after the show?

Thirdly, siloed marketing efforts can cost you brand equity. By treating each new project as its own entity, you put your brand continuity at risk. It's easy to inadvertently "evolve" your core messages before your audiences have had a chance to grasp them. Shift your messaging even a little bit, and before long, your content will be off-brand, serving a short-term need at the expense of long-term presence and recognition.

The time has come to put a stop to all that. Here’s how to integrate your marketing for success in 2020:

1. Start with your 2020 marketing goals. Even the most ingenious concepts and messaging will be useless if they don't connect directly to your strategic goals. Consider where your content should feel fresh and new, and where it should reinforce and reiterate. Group your initiative components to show you where you can leverage content and design elements for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

2. Take a good look at the people you need to reach – be they prospective and current customers, potential, new and long-term employees, or thought leaders and influencers. Who are they? What do they want and need? What engages and excites them, and what stresses them out? And how can you connect with them, deliver what they want and help solve the problems that stress them?

3. Determine where these people are and how they work. What kind of information do they need on a day-to-day basis? How do they prefer to find and consume content – formally or informally, in texts, emails, whitepapers or video? Who are their trusted resources? Do they communicate via email, text, or phone? How do they use social media? What meetings and trade shows do they attend? What do they read, watch and hear? What websites do they frequent? The answers to these questions will tell you how and where to focus your communications.

4. Make tough choices. Unless you have unlimited funds, you can’t do everything. Go back to those 2020 priorities and determine what must be done immediately, in the near term and later. Measure those most critical goals against how, and through what media, you will pursue them.

Be strategic, and you will be able to develop the right integrated marketing approach to achieve the results you need for 2020 success.

Website metrics

Beyond the Clicks: How to Get More from Your Website Metrics

When you measure website traffic, you probably measure clicks. That is, how many people are visiting key pages on your website and how they are getting there. Or, maybe, you’re looking at the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) costs of your online advertising. Either way, you’re right to measure these things because they can tell you about traffic to your website. But are these website metrics enough?

Probably not. Especially when a deep dive into Google Analytics and other tools can reveal:

  • Who is engaging with your site and how – through commenting and sharing, enlarging photos and watching videos
  • How multiple social media and advertising channels do – and do not – attract site visitors
  • Which social, organic search, paid search and other online touchpoints drive first visits, engaged visits and conversions on your website
  • How these insights should be interpreted to optimize marketing efforts

That’s a lot of detailed information – and it isn’t readily available to most individual marketing directors, consultants, strategists and creatives. Rather, it’s available – but only if you have the knowledge, skill, experience and time necessary to mine and model the data for it, following user paths and touchpoints for different date ranges and activities. In other words – there are good reasons why finding those stats is the bread-and-butter work of digital marketing strategists (full disclosure: that’s part of my job at Relish Marketing).

Acquiring the expertise necessary to do a meaningful, deep data dive demands a long, steep learning curve – especially as analytics software and capabilities evolve. The good news, however, is that you can – and should – expand your understanding of what today’s analytics can reveal about your website performance. Armed with website metrics and perspective, you can better evaluate your marketing agency's ability to help you get the most out of your company’s digital experiences.

For instance, you should expect your marketing agency to be able to answer the kinds of questions that can help you make your online presence more productive for your business, such as:

  1. How much of a role does each of my marketing initiatives/channels play in converting site visits to leads?
  2. What are my top three user paths to conversion? When visits do not convert, where are we losing them? What is the last place users visit on our site before leaving?
  3. What optimizations and strategies can help us convert leads that are falling off?

These questions can be complicated. So, if you get answers that you don’t fully understand, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. Challenge your agency to help you think outside the box, partnering with you to strengthen your lead funnel. Digging deep into your digital data will be well worth the effort. And, it should help you drive better, more efficient results when you roll out new marketing campaigns and promotions.