As Lao Tzu, a 6th Century Chinese poet said, “Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict don’t have knowledge.” As we head into 2015, rather than making outlandish predictions for marketers, I would rather make suggestions on three valuable things I have learned that can improve marketing programmes this year. 

Tie together outbound and inbound

Traditionally, marketers have separated outbound efforts from inbound. The outbound team works on awareness and bringing visitors to your site and then the inbound team is responsible for nurturing and converting those visitors. Combining these activities, specifically with SEO and content, can be extremely powerful. I would argue that content fuels the entire funnel and all marketing activities (both outbound and inbound). When you align your content to the data you are seeing in SEO, your chances of success are dramatically increased. As SEO is very customer driven, not only do you help provide the exact information customers need before purchasing, you also provide important information to your content team to use across all other channels through the funnel. 

Predictive segmentation

In recent years, there has been talk of Google wanting to build a Star Trek computer, one that would almost predict what you were going to search for before you ever typed anything in. My goal in marketing is to do the same with segmentation and to predict the behaviour and/or buying patterns based on information I’ve collected. With the wealth of data available about your subscribers, there is no excuse for not segmenting these people and targeting accordingly.

The days of blasting one email to your entire list of subscribers is over. Sending targeted email marketing campaigns is proven to increase engagement and conversion rates.  Craft your emails looking at the behavioural and demographic information that matters to your business. Then, use the information you have collected on gender, location, previous buying history, etc., to target your users in a unique and meaningful way. Subscribers expect that you respect their time and you will dramatically improve the return on your email programme when you show them you have an idea of what they want before they have even asked for it.

Testing towards ROI

I am a huge fan of the book Rise of the Revenue Marketer by Debbie Qaqish.  Many of my beliefs about how marketing should be done are captured in this book.  I’ve had the pleasure of talking with Debbie about how you can transform marketing from a cost centre to a revenue generating machine by testing your marketing activities, having alignment with sales and holding the marketing team accountable to revenue goals. 

I was recently told by someone that “marketing results are really just determined by the way the wind blows, you put your flag in the air and just sees which way it goes.” I could not disagree with this statement more. In today’s world, we have a wealth of data from a large array of testing and tracking programmes. To be an effective marketer, you must be constantly monitoring, testing, and tweaking the elements of your marketing programme to make informed decisions and drive revenue. When you find a winner, continue testing it against a new version.  I have had opinions that were proven wrong based on tests we have run and I welcome the opportunity to be shown a better solution based on data.   

Using these strategies and enhancing your marketing programme with new technology, data and information you will be able to target users in a more meaningful way this year. Sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time with more accuracy should be the resolution for marketers this year; it certainly will be for me.