Whether you are a start-up business or a well-established company, you know that putting your products and services ‘out there on the net’ is one of the keys to your success. So you may have a website, but what about your website marketing campaign?
Digital marketing channels are numerous, social media networks playing an ever-increasing role in engaging directly with a target audience especially for consumer markets. SEO, Content Marketing, Adwords, Email, Video, Mobile, Social, Apps, Website, Retargeting, Affiliate Marketing … the list goes on, and if you are just starting out online it can be a bit over-whelming!
Yes – there is such a thing as having too many options, and for small- and medium-sized businesses with limited budgets, choosing wisely where to invest money and energy is crucial to growing and remaining profitable!
So where do you start?
One of the first things you need to do is have a good hard think about who your customers are. No doubt there are some different types, who may purchase different types of products and services from you, so you need to clearly define what these people look like, what they are interested in, their habits, where they spend time online, key purchasing objections, what’s going to help them make a decision etc. Customer “personas” are what they are commonly called, so you should start by getting these down on paper so you have better clarity about who you will be marketing to and how you are going to start communicating and connecting with them online.
Once you’ve got that sorted, you should define what type of content would appeal to each of the different personas. That way you know that you will be delivering targeted content for each of them, helping them along the way with their purchasing decisions. You may want to create e-books, free software trials, presentations etc the list goes on, basically just work out what’s going to help your personas before they are ready to hit the buy now button or fill in the contact us form.
Ok, so you’ve got all this content, now what?
You need to distribute and amplify. There are numerous ways to do this; email marketing, Facebook, Bebo (I just had to mention them!), youtube videos, paid search (adwords), LinkedIn … the list goes on. What you need to do is determine what channel is best for your business, and what is going to resonate best with each persona – and make sure that you measure the effectiveness of each as you test it out. So document the channels for each persona, then start! Of course your budget is going to come into play here, so you’ll need to factor that in and perhaps test only a couple of channels out at a time, that’s obviously on a case by case basis.
Casting a wide net vs using a fishing rod
It has been known for some time that cold calling is less and less effective and that trying to convince people who have never heard about you before to buy from you yields very little result. Imagine a doctor showing up to your house for a moment. There’s a knock at the door, you open it and the guy at the door says “hey there, I’m a doctor, are you sick?”. “No” you say. “Ok then, I’ll call round again next week, just in case”. This is the same as cold calling for new business! Perhaps 1 in every 100 houses the doctor knocks on there’ll be a sickie, but there’s no guarantee that they want to see that doctor anyway, they probably already have their own family GP! Cold calling is just such a waste of time these days in comparison to other smarter online marketing methods.
Likewise, while emailing a vast number of potential clients indiscriminately may return some sales, the fact is that you will get considerably more from an online marketing campaign if you target consumers who have already expressed interest in your products or services i.e. they have active intent.
Adwords: So you could perhaps start with some Google Adwords Campaigns, and after some keyword research setup a targeted campaign on the Google Search Network (aka GSN) to target people looking for your specific services / products. Bingo, you’ve honed on people with active intent – they want to hear from you! Once they come to your website, it’s now a matter of ensuring your site is so damned good and compelling that they will be engaged and hopefully ‘convert’.
Remarketing: If they don’t, then hey you could set up some remarketing to target visitors who landed on your website and left without converting (taking a desired action), as this has shown to be very successful. Taking into account that about 2% of traffic to a site may result in a conversion, this means that the other 98% are high-quality leads as they are looking for products and services like yours and even know your company. So you could setup some remarketing display adwords and see if this results in some good conversions, so long as you have a good offer to get these prospects back.
Email: You could co-register with other business owners with a similar client base to get access to their clients’ email addresses, but you should be very aware that unsolicited emails can be perceived as spam, both by clients and hosting companies, and may damage your online and offline reputation.
Facebook / LinkedIn: I mentioned social networks earlier. Both of these channels enable huge reach, but you need to ensure that it’s fit-for-purpose. If you are a B2B then it may be a complete waste of time to invest in Facebook, but perhaps not LinkedIn. And Vice-versa if you are a B2C. Paid ads on these sites it is still a good place to identify potential customers and could be particularly effective for niche markets. Again, you could give it a go, test it and see if it delivers any ROI.
You caught one? Good. What next?
Did you think the hard part was to catch prospects’ attention? Well, sadly, they are a fickle bunch! You have to keep them interested, or they will leave you for your competitor without any remorse! Offering regular and relevant content through blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, newsletters, special offers will do just that. So an ongoing content marketing programme to stay in contact with prospects is the ideal way to slowly coax them along the path of purchase until they are ready to commit.
The keyword of course is ‘relevant’. As fascinating as it may be, prospects are unlikely to want to know about what is going on in your office or what you had for dinner (seriously, why do people post pictures of their meals all the time on Facebook – clearly they have nothing better to say if you ask me). Quality content could include testimonials from past and current clients, special discounts, professionally written blogs, how-to guides, questions & answers, etc… The important thing is to establish yourself as a knowledgeable and trustworthy brand from which clients will want to buy (eventually, when they are ready, without any pressure!).
Finally – test, measure, rinse and repeat that sucker
If you are trying out the different online marketing channels then it’s important that you are tracking each of them to see if they are working, what part of it is working, so that you can then turn up the volume in the right areas.
If you are using Google Analytics (it’s free, so you should be), then make sure you’ve setup conversion goals properly so that you can determine what channel drove the different types of conversions. I’m always amazed at the number of companies that don’t do this, yet they are spending thousands’s of dollars every month on Adwords.
Seriously, if you want to be able to work out what part of your website marketing programme is working, then setup your conversions goals – at least then you will have a far better chance of working out which channel has delivered the most leads / sales so you can start to make some informed decisions.