The online world is a tool without compare when it comes to modern marketing techniques. But there are many businesses who get into it putting the cart before the horse. They look at it as the goal, rather than the means to an end. Starting with an objective is crucial to taking the right steps to actually make effective use of online marketing. If your goal is to grow your customer base and establish a more broadly-known brand, then the best approach is to look at the individual consumer that comes in contact with the brand.
First of all, think about how people will first get in touch with your brand and come to know it online. Referrals and brand awareness will play a part and we’ll go into that later. But let’s start specifically with those customers who know what they want and your business can provide it. Most people, rather than looking in local listings, will turn to search engines first and foremost. Search engine optimisation is the tactic of making your site all the more likely to appear at the end of that search. It’s done through attaching relevant keywords and phrases to the site, building links to others so it gains validity in the eyes of search engines, and even attaching your business location to your online presence. With the latter, it makes your site all the more likely to appear to people who are searching in your area.
People looking specifically for services like yours right out the gate won’t apply to every potential customer online, however. That brand and the buzz around it can gain just as many, if not more. People talking about and to a business on social media builds a sense of legitimacy. It’s positive social proof that your business has support and keeps its customers happy. It’s also your opportunity to show off how well you provide support and to disseminate content that might be of interest to people in your market who haven’t yet considered becoming full-fledged customers.
The first look
Both methods above, and many that we will be going into will eventually lead people to your website. If the business doesn’t have one, it’s time to get one. Your own website is much more effective than just using a Facebook page because it gives you your own space to fully control and to apply your own unique aesthetic style. You get complete control of the brand and how you choose to communicate. Nowadays, with so many different competing businesses clogging up just about every market, when customers can’t differentiate between products they will differentiate by brand instead. This goes beyond aesthetics alone, meaning developing a distinct voice and a message, or a value proposition, to stand apart from your rivals can make you a lot more likely to keep their attention after that first glance.
A good-looking website will certainly hold the attention of a potential customer, but you have to take the next step and turn that attention into interest. That’s mostly done by how you write content on your website. Many websites will use informative, interesting, and education blogs to solve their target market’s problems or to give some insight on a topic. This has the benefit of not only providing something of value free-of-charge, but it also displays a business’s expertise, adding to that sense of trust from the reader. But all content on the website has to be written well and carefully considered.
The path to closing
One thing the content has to do is constantly, even if slowly and subtly, move the consumer along to the next step. This might be buying something in an online store, emailing you directly, or calling up the business with an interest in becoming a paying customer or client. A website must be aimed directly at achieving these goals, whichever is most importance to you. But many website owners will publish content and add parts of the sight that can distract from that goal, offer too many options, and obfuscate the path of the visitor. A digital agency with a focus on conversion rate optimization might be one of the best allies to avoid that. They can find the parts of the site that work best and optimize them while trimming the fat, that is the content and design that detracts. Looking at analytics and heatmaps of the site, you can pinpoint precisely what’s working and what isn’t.
Whether they buy online or they get in contact and you close directly, you might be tempted to think that your job is done. But that would be a mistake. It’s significantly cheaper and easier to retain existing customers than to win new ones, and repeat business is usually the most reliable source of revenue for any company. Take the time to follow-up with your customers, whether prompting them to sign up for an email subscription or just to get in touch and make sure they’re happy with their service.
If you’ve created a happy customer, then it’s time to capitalise on them, too. They may start following you on social media, or give you a mention in a positive light that you can share as more positive social proof. But you can also ask them to share a review or testimonial that you can use to add even more trust to the brand. Beyond offering support, answering questions, and getting insight from your target market, maintaining a positive feedback loop with your consumers is a great marketing strategy. You get your brand bolstered that little bit more and they get the feeling of being treated like a human being and being given attention by a business that appreciates them.
You don’t have to create a unique approach for every one of them, of course, but rather think of the journey that most of them will take online and make sure you’re paving the road for them. The points above will help you plot that road.