The following is a guest post from our friend and colleague, Michael Teitelbaum of BMore Integrated.
Are you generating enough leads to meet your business objectives? How are your company’s marketing activities supporting your sales efforts?
The good news is that in today’s new media environment, it takes less money to market your business and results are more easily measured. The bad news is that it takes more time to develop an effective strategy and even more effort to implement that strategy given the dramatic shift in how people consume media.
Here are ten marketing practices you should follow in order to more effectively market your business:
1. Be Unique: If you haven’t yet identified your unique selling proposition, this should be first on your to do list. Why should people buy from you as opposed to your competitors? Be as specific as possible. A good place to start is conducting a SWOT analysis. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Exhaust each list and be honest. By going through this exercise you will uncover what makes your business unique, which should inform your marketing communications.
2. Think Integration: Align your company vision, mission and core values with your brand position. From that platform, you can craft a consistent message and distribute that message to prospective and existing customers in an integrated way. Every individual marketing activity should reinforce and complement the others.
3. Get Found: It is far easier to respond to demand than create demand. For this reason, it is essential that your business be prominently displayed in search engines.
Searchers conducted 18.2 billion searches in December 2011 alone, with Google carrying the load at 12 billion searches. It’s no longer good enough to focus your efforts on influencing the organic search results only – otherwise known as search engine optimization (SEO). Your search engine marketing strategy should address SEO, paid search/PPC and local search at a bare minimum. Beyond that, mobile is growing at an unprecedented pace and should at least be included in the planning stages.
If your business is not prominently appearing on search results pages, your business is missing the opportunity to respond to demand.
If you are a newer business or haven’t yet focused attention on search engine optimization, you should consider using paid search marketing. By identifying search terms (keywords) that your prospective customers are searching on, your business will appear at the top of the results or in the right rail of the results page. You only pay when someone visits your website, and can track your ultimate cost per lead and/or customer. As you begin to gain more traction in the organic search results, a determination can be made as to whether you can reduce your spend in paid search.
4. Produce Great Content: Develop a content marketing game plan. Content can come in the form of blog posts, articles, eBooks, webinars, white papers, videos, pictures, audio and more. Producing content that benefits your prospective buyers positions your company as a thought leader, making it more likely they will want to do business with your company. Be sure to develop content with search engines in mind. The result will be a stronger presence in organic search results and ultimately more qualified visitors to your website.
5. Get Social: Social media is where consumers are spending a large percentage of their time online. In addition to keeping up with their friends, they are turning to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google Plus to conduct research and find references for the products and services they want to buy. Develop your brand pages, build your audience and post information that is relevant to your audience. And be sure to track comments being made about your business online so you can respond to both positive and negative comments.
6. Go One-on-One: Email is the most efficient and cost effective way to communicate one-on-one. Develop a regular email newsletter with buyer-focused content. What do your customers want to hear about from your business? Maybe it’s special offers, new product and service information, tips that will make their lives easier (relevant to your business) or events that might interest them. And when appropriate, segment your lists based on an audience’s individual interests.
7. Overhaul Your Website: Does your website properly reflect your business? It often drives people’s first impression about your business. If you are not getting enough leads and/or customers from your website, it could be time for an overhaul. The navigation of your site should allow visitors to quickly find the information they are looking for. And most importantly, don’t make them hunt for how to interact with your company. Contact information and interactive forms should be front and center regardless of where the visitor is on your site.
8. Think Conversions: Speaking of getting website visitors to convert, remember that they may be in various stages of the buying cycle. Allow those that are ready to take action to immediately speak with a salesperson or buy online. For those that are in an earlier stage of the buying cycle, provide them a lower commitment conversion opportunity. Give them access to an eBook, white paper, video, special offer or an invitation to attend a webinar in exchange for their name and email address. This will give them something of value while providing you the opportunity to reconnect with them via email.
9. Reach Back Even More: Even with a well thought out website, well over 90% of visitors will not convert during that first visit. By launching an effective retargeting campaign, these visitors will encounter your online display ads as they explore other websites. Design a compelling online display ad to remind them about your business while giving them another reason to visit your website, and ultimately interact with your company.
10. Be Analytical: Data is a wonderful thing, but only if you invest the time to analyze it and take action based on the insights that you uncover. Traditional media may be harder to measure but the online world is rich with information that will make you a better marketer.
Acting on many of these initiatives requires time, not money. But if you’re wondering where to find the budget to invest in those activities that require money, I recommend you analyze the results of your current marketing activities. Chances are you will identify older forms of marketing you’ve stuck with over the years out of habit that aren’t delivering the results you need to grow your business.