Readers and robots

Andy Ball, managing director at Balls2 Marketing, talks about the changes the agency has seen over the last 12 months, and what 2018 holds for marketing trends.

2017 was a great year for integrated campaigns. We saw incredible results from using a range of media to promote client messages. Not only does it increase your chances of being seen by the right decision-maker, it gives consistent messaging across all of your communications.

There has been a resurgence in direct mail too, especially when it’s combined with social media, PR and telemarketing campaigns.

Events for installers have proven popular too. With the industry landscape changing, and window installers transforming into home improvement companies, many are looking for ways to make the most of new markets – solid roofs, bifold doors, roof lanterns – so they appreciate the extra support of a training session, especially with a coffee and a bacon butty.

The biggest challenge of 2018 for marketers will be the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); stronger rules that will offer more protection for consumers. Although GDPR will be made UK law on May 25 2018, there is still a lot of uncertainty over the impact it will have on businesses.

The big concerns are security, clarity and consent. For any personal data you hold, you must take measures to ensure that it is completely secure and be clear about what you will use it for. You will need to have permission to use an individual’s data and take steps to ensure that if requested, a person’s data is deleted from all sources.

So, start telling your customers now that you would like to keep them updated on great offers, so that they can opt in to receive your marketing messages. If you use bought-in prospect lists, ask your supplier what they are doing to ensure that you will not fall foul of the new GDPR laws by using their data.

“OK, Google … Alexa … Hey, Siri…” Sound familiar? Voice search is on the up, thanks to the popularity of devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

ComScore, an American analytics company, predicts that voice search will account for 50% of all searches by 2020.

To get ahead, Google is moving away from favouring focussed keyword messages to broader, topic-based content in what is called ‘topic-clusters’. This means there is a ‘pillar’ page of content (ie, ‘PVCU windows’), and all other content with long-tail phrases including ‘PVCU windows’ will link to this pillar page.

It tells Google that the main page is the authority and when users ask a question through voice search, it will find the best information there. More conversational content is more likely to be found, which is something to consider for writers.

Whereas, I might voice search “how much will new PVCU windows cost for my house?”, I would probably just type “PVCU window prices”. Be sure to revisit old content to make sure it’s linking to pillar pages and is easy for Google to understand.

Facebook will continue to be the biggest and best platform for reaching homeowners in 2018, and it is always adding new opportunities to reach more people. If Facebook advertising and boosted posts aren’t already included in your paid media or advertising budgets, it should be. The right paid-for content on Facebook can produce amazing leads for home improvement companies.

Although marketing trends are always changing, it’s important for marketers to pick their tactics carefully and consider where their audiences are listening. It’s no use jumping on every marketing bandwagon that comes along. With the best will in the world, augmented reality, one of the top-predicted trends of 2018, isn’t going to deliver the right ROI for glazing companies. Market knowledge is a huge benefit. That’s why at Balls2 Marketing we have connections across the whole industry.

My advice? Choose your tactics wisely, play by the rules, get your messaging bang-on, and create great content that pleases both readers and robots.