The New Rules of Marketing [2020 Edition]

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Heather Park
Heather Park



Marketing your business is both an art and a science — and the industry is rapidly evolving as the audience you're trying to reach is changing.

In some ways, this makes it one of the sciences with the fastest rates of turnover, since you are actively trying to match, or exceed, the pace of the culture to which you're marketing.

But if you aren't able to adapt to or anticipate the pressures of the market, your marketing efforts are essentially setting money on fire.

As a company — especially now in the wake of COVID-19 — you can't afford to be inflexible with your voice and presence when reaching customers.

While adaptable, your marketing efforts also need to be a tight ship. You don't want your messaging to come across as insensitive.

The newest generation of customers is highly alert, especially of their influence as cultural drivers, and they will quickly shut down any brand they perceive as "invasive."

Here, let's dive into the new "rules of marketing" you'll want to lean into as you move forward in your marketing efforts in 2020 and beyond.

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Rules of Marketing

While the marketing landscape is ever-changing, there are some foundational elements that are timeless: static ideals that aren't going to become obsolete.

For instance, one of the unchangeable rules of marketing is that you must use personal context in your marketing efforts to receive the highest quality results. The difference now is how you plan to deliver that context in a relevant way.

This means you need to be more aware of the needs of your client and consumer than ever before. Access to the internet and its complete integration into our culture means that your customers have a greater ability to research exactly who you are — and they aren't afraid to use it.

Therefore, your marketing team needs to be as active and alert as the consumer you're trying to target — and it means your marketing approach needs to be genuine, relevant, and customer-focused. This is the heart of modern marketing, also referred to as "inbound marketing."

1. How you treat people with your marketing is a reflection of your brand.

I think we've all heard the phrase "the customer is always right" a time or two in our lives. That might be a cliché, but it's one that rings true. Even when potential or existing customers are upset, they're paying attention to how businesses react to scenarios that they directly identify with or feel represents them.

To avoid the kind of negative press that comes with saying one thing and doing another, your marketing needs to hit home that it's there to meet your customer's needs while actively following through on that unspoken promise.

To do this, you might start by creating a marketing campaign that includes:

  • Responsive live-chat messaging that gets answers to your customers sooner.
  • Upbeat customer service emails — without canned generalizations — and modern signature etiquette.
  • Curating careful content that takes an empathetic stance on an issue relating to your client — or no stance at all.
  • Following up on every customer review with a positive response and solution showing your appreciation for their feedback and business. This one needs to be both organic and professional.

For more information on building an empathetic, helpful brand, take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2020.

2. More than ever, you need to get to know your customer.

You need to dig into what makes your customers tick — but not only in the moment. The core values each of your clients have drive their current and future responses to your marketing.

If you were a doctor, this would be like trying to treat the cause rather than just addressing the symptoms.

This is very easy to get wrong — with disastrous results for those who miss having the right "tone" in their marketing.

To do this correctly, take the time when developing your strategies to ask yourself:

  • What kind of deeply-ingrained pain points do my ideal clients have?
  • Do I offer products, services, or other solutions that solve these problems?
  • Which keywords are going to attract and engage customers and support my inbound marketing approach?
  • What kind of in-depth research do I need when creating a marketing persona that accurately reflects my potential clients?

To conduct research and fully understand your customers' challenges and interests, take a look at How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template].

3. Give your customers results-oriented content.

Once you know more about who you're trying to serve, you can deliver better service.

Customers want to see results, but the modern consumer also wants to know how you arrived there — and if the convenience and relief they are paying for comes from an ethical standpoint.

This also gives you an opportunity to circle back and delight your customers by reminding them why you're worth what they pay. This is something that can be carefully managed with automation, depending on your client base — but your marketing team should always have their fingers on the pulse of your programs and be ready to make changes.

At Rent Bridge, this is one of the many reasons why we love working within the HubSpot framework: it allows our marketing team to make quick, responsive changes on the fly both for our property management customers and ourselves alike.

To provide results-oriented content, consider trying some of the following tips:

  • Show your customers how your business's products or services solve their problems in a way that acknowledges them as more than a dollar sign.
  • Stay current without appearing opportunistic: your clients are smart, and they can tell when you're being real with your sense of understanding or if you're just milking the moment.
  • Continue to provide well-researched content for your clients to drive organic growth, and update what isn't working to keep your quality consistent.

Digital Marketing Rules

You already know by now how crucial your online presence is when trying to reach your ideal customer. If you haven’t already invested some of your marketing resources in email, social media, and your website, your business may suffer unless you make this a priority moving forward.

However, some methods are more successful than others when it comes to engaging with the modern customer. Take a look at a few of our digital marketing rules, below, as well as the The Who, What, Why, & How of Digital Marketing.

1. Provide quick insights.

Customers can usually tell within three to five seconds whether your website contains what they’re looking for — or if they should be giving your content a hard pass. In marketing, this is often referred to as "The Blink Test" and it makes infographics one of the best ways to deliver value to your customers.

This kind of imagery is not only scannable, but it delivers critical information that your customer needs. People process digital messages 60,000 times faster than text, making infographics one of the most effective ways of engaging with customers — especially on social media.

However, you also need to make sure that your content can be interacted with by a diverse range of customers — including those who might not be able to see your content. The last thing you want your business to appear to be is exclusionary.

2. Make finding you easier.

More than 60% of smartphone users have tried voice search services at least one time within the past 12 months, and 55% of teenagers use it daily. Many of these services include Google's voice search, Alexa by Amazon, and Apple's Siri.

That means digital marketers must focus on keyword research that supports voice search. That way, their business shows up in results when their audience utilizes these services.

Email Marketing Rules

If you’re doing your email marketing right, there’s no need for it to be boring.

At Rent Bridge, we tap into email as a core component of our “delight” approach to marketing (another facet of the inbound marketing philosophy). Email should be a crucial element of any future marketing campaigns you intend to build.

If you consider the statistics available from Oberlo that by the year 2023, the number of consumers with ready access to email is expected to be 4.3 billion, then you’ll quickly see that this is still a powerful tool to reach current and future clients.

With such a high number of users turning to email for their communication needs, that means you must know email marketing etiquette and how to implement this successfully.

1. Make your call-to-action pop.

If you want your potential and current customers to act, your call to action (CTA) must be to the point.

Take a look at The Complete Checklist for Creating Compelling Calls-to-Action for more tips on CTAs.

2. Focus on one product or service.

Offering more than one product or service in an email confuses readers and inundates them with too much information. Too much choice in an email can also muddle the effectiveness of your CTA.

3. Make sure it's personalized.

In addition to the greeting, the customer's name should be in the body of the message as well.

For example, when talking about your product or service, insert the customer's name in the middle of a sentence to engage them at a deeper level. If you're using automation for your marketing emails, this is crucial to include.

4. Create clickable images.

Creating clickable images with a tracking URL helps you understand when readers are clicking internal links and images in messages. Alternatively, you might try embedding video and keeping track of who clicks on the video in your email.

5. Use plenty of space.

Instead of clustering links or other content close together, space things out to make the message easier to scan and links more clickable.

6. Keep it simple.

While we all might love creating colorful email messages full of imagery, video, and other content, that isn't optimal for those with a slow connection. So, offer faster loading email options for those who prefer plain text.

7. Don't forget the subject.

Subject lines should pique interest, give clients a sense of urgency, and be relevant to their needs.

Social Media Marketing Rules

Learning how to market on social media platforms is an integral part of your business's success in 2020 and beyond. Digging into the statistics for each platform is an excellent way to understand trends and where you should be focusing your efforts.

According to Statista, during quarter one of 2020, Facebook reached 2.6 million monthly active users.

However, data also reveals that the United States leans heavily on LinkedIn, with active users totaling 160 million as of April 2020.

The platform you choose depends completely on understanding more about your ideal client.

1. Develop content your audience finds valuable.

Your audience doesn't want to see posts about your products or services. They want to see stories about ways your company can solve their pain points.

2. Focus on reputable content.

Does the content you're posting put your company's reputation at risk? Are you responding to comments in ways that are damaging?

Social media focuses on conversations, no matter if they're in groups or happening one-on-one. Your content should focus on stirring up that engagement in a positive way.

3. Collaborate and engage.

Your social media marketing should include authenticity and transparency each time you engage with your audience. Look at the conversations happening in your network and think of ways your company can contribute valuable information.

4. Don't force engagement.

In today's business climate, your audience has the convenience of interacting with your company on their terms. That means businesses aren't talking "at" their customers to force engagement.

Instead, they're developing deeper relationships that foster targeted conversations. This ties right back into the principles of inbound marketing.

5. Automate within reason.

While you should have some content prepared ahead of time to keep engagement high, the platform you post with should allow you to be flexible enough to change your content at the drop of a hat.

Now that you know the direction marketing is heading, how will you respond as a company? Your response to the changing desires of your clients should always address their fundamental needs.

This allows you to build a business that is both agile and stable, rather than directed by whim or whatever new marketing technique catches your eye. At Rent Bridge, we call the latter "random acts of marketing," and it’s one of the easiest ways to dilute your message as a business and sabotage your brand-building efforts.

Ultimately, to be a profitable company, you need your marketing to be both genuine and trendy, stable and flexible. This dichotomy in business is partially what makes inbound marketing paired with a careful amount of automation so powerful for the growth of companies today.

Shelter your efforts from instability by returning to your "Why" with your marketing efforts (one of the new rules of marketing), and your content will be genuine from the start.

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