Best marketing trend: Personalization

Tough to call this a “trend” really when it’s just effective, human-level marketing, but I’m excited about the energy and inertia around helping people feel cared about and well-understood in marketing instead of just as a lead captured on a list. Personalizing marketing with smart segmenting and tailored messaging in emails and on websites is the right way to build relationships while still being able to automate and work efficiently. Personalization is just about all I talked about in my blog or on podcasts, and I’m passionate about the engagement empathy it provides – a positive experience for the person on the other side of the screen. I’m really excited about thinking more about building relationships and thinking less about building lists.

Worst marketing trend: Text lists, followed closely by bots, then invitations to chat

Especially in the last few months of 2017 I started getting texts from people I’d signed up for something with and gave them my phone number, but without checking a box that said “please text me offers.” I’m sure we’re just on the precipice of this being rampant, and it feels especially invasive. I can’t think of a single company or person that won’t get a STOP from me on this kind of behavior.

Bots and chat are pretty great for customer service. They’re really annoying as pop-ups or invasive widgets that I didn’t ask for or that take over my web experience. I don’t mind a “we’re here and listening” in the corner, but when something overtakes something else on the screen to shout at me that they’re here and listening, it overwhelms my customer experience. I was toying with using a popular chat feature on my site when I redesigned it but found it so annoying when testing that I turned it off. On the other hand, when I need help or insight I love having a person a few taps away. I had especially useful experiences with using chat for customer service with Drip this year.

Favorite tools: RightMessage and Drip, also Typeform

On the theme of personalization, RightMessage is an exciting new tool that lets me use the stuff I know about subscribers and tailor messaging for them with real-time customization to what they’re seeing on a website. It’s a fantastic new tool and I’m excited about where it’s heading (they’re priming for a big launch in January 2018. And full disclosure – I consider myself fortunate to be involved in helping develop their Personalization Masterclass!). I also loved doing more with Drip this year for email automation, for clients and on my own website. Drip integrated with RightMessage is just an awesome combination, and I can’t wait to put some of my client projects to work with this combination more this year.

I also really enjoyed using Typeform more, especially where it helped me onboard new clients or subscribers. While I’m using Zapier to hook it into Drip and some other automations, I’m excited to do more with it in 2018, especially to automate parts of projects with clients.

Best Tech: Apple AirPods

Everything about AirPods feels like vintage Apple, from design to ease of use. They “just work” from the minute you connect them to a device to every day use. For me to quickly plug them into my ears and answer a call is a dramatic change from older, sketchier Bluetooth situations I’d tried that required a lot of tinkering and managing. I love them, use them constantly and look forward to a future of longer batter life.

Best Productivity Hardware: Smart Keyboard for Apple iPad Pro

I’m using it to type this post right now. I use my iPad as a workstation, for taking notes in meetings, running presentations and of course media consumption. I like the way the Keyboard feels and works.

Special mention of iOS 11, which lets me use the notes app to scan documents and quickly add markup to images I take, plus split view for doing more with apps. All indispensable tools for me.

Best Productivity Apps: Basecamp 3 and Canva

I use Basecamp 3 with several clients and it’s essential. I wish there were threaded messages, but with the new To-do Groups I feel like they’re moving in that direction, which is great.

Canva is a fantastic tool to quickly get graphics out for social media, posters or other quick visuals. Their predefined layouts and selections make it easy to get “good” out the door and save “perfect” for less time critical projects.

I also loved Coverr, freepik and flaticon to help me quickly find assets or inspiration. I also want to mention Wave, which is a fantastic invoicing app that’s FREE (I’d gladly pay for this thing) and chock-full of awesome. Automating invoicing and reminders lets me focus on the things that are meaningful to me and not on if I’ll get to eat this month. Huge time savings for the book-keeping aspects of business that don’t really inspire me.

Favorite Project

I redesigned my website this year built on a strong infrastructure of automation, including a great free email course. Designing it was a blast and building everything to later connect with Drip and eventually a hyper-personalized sales page with RightMessage taught me a lot and gave me great ideas for client projects. In a way it provided a kitchen-sink or proof of concept for what I’ll continue doing for others.

Favorite Teachers

Brennan Dunn and Amy Hoy. I got to know Brennan this year and work with him a bit, which has been a thrill because I’ve learned so much from him over the last couple of years but especially in 2017. Amy has a great way of simplifying the complex, and her delivery of messaging and products is human-centric (and often makes me laugh out loud). I know of Amy because Brennan mentioned her sometime, so it’s nice to see things work like that. I’m especially interested in learning more from Amy this year (I bought her Black Friday special but haven’t had a chance to dive in yet!)

I also really enjoyed the Facebook communities for RightMessage, Brennan’s Advanced Drip community, and the Leadpages certified consultants community. A lot of great insights, ideas, problem solving and teamwork show up each day (hour!) in these communities and I’ve really enjoyed listening in or participating.

Finally Anna Jacobsen and Peter Lowles at Drip were fantastic teachers during the certification process (more on that in a second). Anna really conducted the training, but Peter gave essential feedback and tips in his notes as he’d review my submitted work, and I always learned something valuable from those insights.

Best New Thing I Started Doing

I became a Drip certified consultant this year and really enjoyed the experience. Maybe more importantly is how it opened me up to new people and ideas that have rapidly shaped how I think and feel about my work and the way I do it. The certification is one of the best investments I’ve made in myself and my business so far.

I started focusing a lot on video production this year, both for myself and my clients. Teaching others how to shoot great, business-ready video on their iPhones, running video-driven campaigns, and encouraging clients to think about video differently their websites has been valuable. I’m enjoyed using Wistia and Vimeo more and more for this, and I think I’ve just scratched the surface. I’m going to try and do more with video on a personal level in 2018, including Drone videography and playing around more with post-production.

Best New Thing I Started Doing Alternate

I try to get to work before 5am most days (I’m not a great sleeper, so sometimes that time is spent catching up on the hours I didn’t get earlier in the night) and spending two or three hours before dedicating my day to client work on my own wellness and personal projects. I’ll meditate or workout for 30 minutes or so, or just level-set my day with some writing or intentional thinking. Then I’ll have a couple hours left for my personal learning, researching, writing, or development. It’s been invaluable to have a few uninterrupted hours dedicated just to growth.

Best thing I’ve already done for 2018

I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my iPhone today, leaving them on my iPad. Twitter especially is a productivity killer for me, and as valuable as the people I follow are to me I’m often sent down rabbit holes and distractions that I want to avoid in 2018. Having the apps on my iPad means I’ll make more productive use of them with more dedicated time and not just access them when I have time to kill or am “bored.” I plan to fill that time with attention to moments, conversations, people and projects. Instead of scrolling through Twitter when I’m standing in line I’ll think about my next project or chart a course for accomplishing something or have a conversation with the person next to me and feel entirely present.

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Chris Bintliff

Chris Bintliff helps organizations create marketing that makes money. His Not Really Rocket Science platform helps drive a modern marketing engine that attracts customers, builds relationships and delivers sales opportunities. When he’s not writing, building, designing, delivering, speaking, teaching or strategizing (is that a word?) he enjoys talking about himself in the third person. Learn more about what he does and how he does it.
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