Whether you're a business that relies on local trade, or a national business that ships products or sells services nationwide, attracting customers can often be an expensive task. There's the printwork you'll no doubt create for traditional mailouts, brochures, business cards, special offer sheets and point-of-sale items if you're a physical store. Then there's the costs of sending out traditional mail-outs, newspaper adverts and bus-shelter or localised ads that undoubtedly offer a very targeted campaign.
Online, there are also a multitide of advertising opportunities. From promoted facebook posts to Google Adwords it can be a minefield, particularly if you know nothing about online marketing. Small to medium sized businesses can often spend hundreds or thousands investing in internet ads and campaigns without really knowing how they work, who they target or what the purpose should be. We've worked with some big companies who've come to us asking to manage their Pay Per Click (PPC) and been shocked to see how much money has been wasted on broad search term adverts that direct people straight to their homepage.
Organic results are a much more cost-effective approach, especially for localised businesses that rely on a long-tail search term such as "Gardening Services Northampton". Of course, it means the scope of your efforts can be focused entirely on the Northampton region, so you're not wasting money on ads that display nationally. The term 'organic' refers to your sites natural positioning on the search engine results page and is determined by how relevent your content is to that particular search term.
Search EngineOptimisation (SEO) is one of the first steps to improving your rank (i use the term 'rank' loosely) amongst your competitors and is a method of inspecting your website's code to ensure it conforms to current web standards. The magic behind search engines like google is pretty straightforward (in concept) - it reads every site's code and puts them in order of who's is the best. Of course, the algorithms that decide which site appears above another for a particular term is a closely guarded secret, but changes periodically. Employing an 'SEO guy' would be a good first step to making sure your site stands a chance - there are some cool tools out there too that can analyse things for you, such as http://www.site-analyzer.com
What's Your Strategy? - 6 Steps to finding out
Do you just post a picture of your product on facebook and expect to sell hundreds? Do you target a particular type of person or are you throwing everything out there in the hope that something will stick?
With all the social media platforms set up, your site optimized and a regular blog post here and there, you might still be finding it a struggle. Hopefully you've got Google Analytics installed and got at least 6 months worth of history to have a look at. Let's help you improve the way you communicate online in 6 steps.
Identify your audience
This is going to sound a little creepy, but get into the minds of your customers. Chat with them, ask about the things that are important to them, find out what they eat, where they eat, where they buy their clothes, find out everything you can. What you should achieve from this is a clear list of common denominators. How you collect that information is upto you. It could be through a poll online, chatting in-store or through surveys and newsletters. Ken McArthur writes a good guide to finding your audience here http://kenmcarthur.com/the-top-10-ways-to-find-your-audience/
Choose your channels
It's easy to set up a social channel for your business on every site you can think of, but you'll invariably get mixed results in terms of interaction and response. Why? Because there's a reason social media isn't just facebook - everyone's different. What you need to identify is where your customers hang out. Find their common denominator and focus your efforts on serving that 1 channel, better. A great example here is a fashion store - you'd want to utilise platforms that rely on pictures a lot more such as Instagram and Pinterest reason being because it's your pictures that will do the selling. According to Wikipedia.org, the top social networks are Google+, Facebook, Twitter, QZone, Sina Wiebo, Instagram and Habbo.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
Build customer loyalty
Mailing lists, signups, newsletters, "special offers in your inbox" are all great, but they're very faceless and cold. This generation are so exposed to advertising they can spot a sales pitch in the first 5 seconds. Remember, it's not about pushy 'buy our product' campaigns now, you need to build trust and relationships before you'll even be considered. Let them know what good things you're doing for them, improvements you've made to the site to make things easier to use, free tea & coffee in-store while they're viewing your showroom or a phonecall to let them know you've dealt with an issue they've had or maybe didn't even realise they had. Write them handwritten letters, be personal, don't feel you've got to be Mr Corporate all the time, take note of their birthdays or send them a card at Christmas!
Check out http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226064
Create good quality content
I've been awash with articles on creating content lately, whether it's been from editing the More Demand marketing podcast for the big boss here, or researching new ideas for some of our existing clients, I could probably write a book on content ideas. Unfortunately, time dictates how good my content can be, but if you're reading this - It must have been a productive day for me! Create something you're passionate about, something you believe in, something that's interesting or reflects the excitement you have for your product.
There are two quotes that should define what your content should be about:
"If you don't have anything useful to say, then don't say anything at all" - Kissmetrics
"Joy is the magnetic aspect of great content" - Doug Kessler
Build a team (or hire one)
It's hard to achieve all this on your own, believe me, I know. I spent the first few months here writing 400 word filler (you can see for yourself), but that's my learning curve. One of the things i've learnt along the way is that you can spread yourself too thin. Your options are to either focus on one task per day, or per half day or get other people involved as well. Give your team members access to your social channels, let them share things they've picked up, add a hootsuite extension to their browsers and ask them to share a thought or idea. Ultimately you're not going to get the same level of interest from them as yourself, so just hire us and we'll do it. bahahaha - cheeky plug there, don't know if you noticed?
Here's some tips and techniques to help you with your SEO:
Analyse and re-analyse
There are some awesome tools out there to monitor your successes and failures, and believe me there will be failures. Marketing of any kind isn't always going to have a massive impact straight away you might find that users get to your site and click off straight away so you may wish to improve your User Experience (UX). It might be that visits to a particular page convert more than others or that landing pages you've created need some A/B testing to try and further fulfil the customers' needs. Look back at your customer personas, your common denominators and answer their questions, solve their problems. One app, which i've mentioned before is Lucky Orange. It takes short recordings of each website visit and tracks their mouse movements and clicks to show you their interactions as if you were standing over their shoulder. It's a fantastic web app to help you improve bounce rate or customer journey. Be thorough with your analytics, ask yourself questions about the data and formulate the positives from it;
- were they mostly new or returning viewers?
- what was our pinned post on our facebook channel when people clicked through from our ad?
- what times of day are busiest?
- what posts got more traction?
Add them all together and you've got your perfect formula!
Here's the sort of focus you could end up with based on your 6 step strategy:
"We need to create instagram videos, post them between x and y, change the homepage url in our profile to abc landing page, offer them a free e-download in return for their email and then they get added to our automated email system which has a 10% conversion rate after the nth email."
Good luck! It will take some time.
thanks to Rahis Saifi for the inspiration