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January 10, 2017

Anna Ruth Williams

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Partner

As an advocate for MarTech and all of the value it brings to communications practitioners, 2016 has certainly gotten me excited about the direction that the marcomm industry is heading. PR agencies, like Alloy, that have forged the mutually-beneficial relationship between marketing and public relations are no longer just looking at that killer Bloomberg placement landed for a client as an end all, be all. Instead, we’re more closely aligning our PR goals with clients’ business goals by using third-party credibility to reach target audiences through email marketing, search engine marketing, social media and via their sales teams. In fact, marketers are becoming more poised to elevate their programs with public relations tactics and earned media thanks to this industry shift.

Despite the decline in print media readership, media opportunities are an important piece of a company’s valuation and overall bottom line. The third-party validation certainly adds value to the messages that brands want to convey to investors, customers and employees. Now, traditional media is becoming more visual and conversational, with more stories being told via podcasts, video and contributed content going into 2017. These trends are an illustration of how the gap between media relations and marketing efforts is closing, further spurred by smart marketers who are now including media opportunities in their marketing measurement to showcase ROI. Next year will certainly be the year for transformation, and here are three key digital trends I’m banking on to help #DriveLeads:

1. More Marketing and Sales Alignment.

 I’ve heard time and time again how sales and marketing teams are siloed in their own departments, focusing on their own objectives rather than the overall company goals. The adoption of MarTech solutions like CRM systems and marketing automation makes it easier to align goals and priorities for both teams, but effective collaboration is still a requirement for success. Now, progressive PR practitioners have the opportunity to serve as the final piece of the lead generation puzzle, and bring even more value to both sales and marketing. Here’s how: Sales updates the shared system to identify which prospects are hot and cold, so that marketing and PR know who to educate, nurture, re-engage, and most importantly – which customer stories need to be told. On the flip side, marketing and PR are both able to identify new leads brought in from their efforts (see below) and can nurture them until they’re ready to be passed along to the sales team. Lead nurturing campaigns based on this information helps all sides collaborate to give prospects specifically what they need, when they need it – and close the sale.

2. Wheeling ‘em in with SEO.

It’s easy to see why inbound marketing – an approach to entice customers to come to you by producing content tailored to their interests – is becoming a key strategy for companies of all sizes and industries. You cut through the clutter, add value to the buying process, then attract right-fit potential customers based on the strategic messages you’re sending. In order to help ensure this content is reaching your prospective audiences on search engines, however, SEO should also be included as a critical component of your inbound marketing strategy. Wouldn’t want all of that good content to go to waste, would you? My colleague (and fellow SEO maven) Nicole said it best, “With a solid SEO strategy implemented across all digital marketing efforts, you’ll not only beat out competitors in terms of search rankings, but also attract prospects by prompting rich content to appear on their screens as they navigate through the web.” ‘Nough said.

3. Even MORE mobile.

 There’s a good reason mobile optimization has been included on several marketing trends lists for the last couple of years – it’s important! In fact, a 2016 Deloitte CMO study found that mobile marketing spend is expected to increase 118% over the next three years; and yes, that includes both B2B and B2C marketing. As buyers continue browsing for information around products and services on mobile devices with their professional and consumer hats on, it’s important to understand the way they consume and interact with messages. And I’m not just talking about websites. It’s easy to forget that emails, blogs, social posts, digital ads and media content will all be largely consumed on small screens. Consider how and where your target audiences will be reading your messages and determine if extra testing across devices is in order, or if you’ll just need to trim your content down and make it more visually appealing.

Pro tip: As an example, remember that killer Bloomberg placement I mentioned earlier? With the mobile audience in mind, a great way to share it in an email to prospects is to cut the copy short, but keep the logo and visuals with easy access to the full story via hyperlink.

Are you ready?

Those who are just as excited as we are about this collaborative PR and marketing movement will likely be the first to break through the clutter among competitors by using these practices to their advantage.

At Alloy, we don’t stop the train once a news story is placed. We help drive the story home by ensuring that sales teams are empowered to share it with leads, that prospects can easily identify it in their online searches and that subscribers and customers get it in their inboxes. See how we’ve helped our tech clients #DriveLeads with content, lead generation, SEO, PPC and social ads in our arsenal of success stories.