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by Tom Wentworth
'Tis the time of year when we make resolutions to eat better, exercise more, watch less TV, and give up our other vices for the new year. Here are four great New Year's Resolutions to make in 2013 to improve your digital marketing strategy.
1) Think Mobile First.
It is time to stop treating mobile as something different. You need to think about mobile as the primary way your customers will interact with your company over digital channels. It's all about thinking Mobile First.
The traditional approach of creating a separate site mobile devices (m.yoursite.com) is time consuming, costly, difficult to maintain, and most importantly, isn't user centric. Responsive Web Design is all the rage for good reason, it's the best way to ensure that your website adapts to all types of devices - from smartphones and tablets, to the new "phablets" like the Samsung Galaxy Note, to new devices that we haven't even imagined yet. With Responsive Design, you define different breakpoints where the site design changes to fit the current screen. This is possible due CSS3 media queries, which enable the browser to understand its current size and layout.
2) Embrace Data: Big (and Small)
2012 was the year of "Big Data" and its related technologies like Hadoop, MongoDB, HBase, Cassandra, and many more. But the truth is very few organizations have datasets large enough to require these new technologies designed to process massive sets of data. Being a data-driven digital marketer doesn't require a new set of tools. Chances are you're already using tools like Google Analytics, Marketo, or even a plain old Excel spreadsheet to visualize insights into your important digital marketing metrics.
The important part isn't the "big data" technology, it's the actionable insight gained from data - big or small.
3) Forget what you knew about "below the fold". Long pages are cool, and they convert.
I absolutely *LOVE* the new long page design trend. It used to be that designers worked hard to put everything "above the fold" - a reference to the traditional publishing industry where if something wasn't above the fold of a newspaper, it wouldn't get seen. For the longest time, this was generally true on websites. If you wanted something to be seen, you placed it high enough on the page where someone wouldn't have to scroll to see it.
Today, users behave differently. We've learned to scroll pages up and down. At Acquia, we've tested long page designs and they don't seem to have any impact on the key metrics we track. Users are willing to scroll, assuming the content is relevant.
One of my favorite examples comes from Marketo, a marketing automation provider. Marketo uses a long page design to deliver their entire value proposition in a single page. The page flows logically through Marketo's products, customer successes, key resources, and 3rd party validation. Important offers like "Talking to Sales" or "Watching a Demo" are repeated throughout the page.
It's time to abandon your old belief that long pages don't work. They do work, and long pages expand your design possibilities. Use them!
4) Give up on the massive website redesign. Be iterative instead.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."
I've seen it again and again. Companies make bets on big website redesigns as the answer to a poorly-performing digital strategy. Website redesigns can take months (or years), and usually come with a huge price tag. And when results still suffer after the redesign, the digital marketing team is held accountable for the lost time and money.
The trick to avoiding costly and failure-prone redesigns to test small, fail fast and constantly iterate. It's the "Lean Startup" approach of Build->Measure-Learn approach from the book Lean Startup applied to digital marketing.
I came across a great post from WiderFunnel. I encourage you to give it a read. Here's an image that captures the idea of evolutionary web design.
What are some of your 2013 resolutions for digital marketing? Let me know in the comments.