Ah, Valentine’s Day, that day when those who are loved, and those who are not, feel the sensation most of all. Many digital marketers are falling into the latter category, their messages and mails left unanswered, their courtship ignored, by an audience of consumers who have changed; changed how they act, how they think and how they react to what we have to say. So, what happened in this dynamic relationship in which marketers used to hold all the cards, and what can they do to regain that love (and trust)? What can they do to regain website traffic and generate leads?
It’s not you, it’s me…
Let’s face it, marketers are not seen as the most lovable of people, and in recent years, this image has become worse, meaning we are stuck somewhere between Jar Jar Binks and Joffrey Baratheon on the likeability scale. Why is this? It’s because consumers have changed, as have their habits and behaviour towards advertising and marketing. You are likely to get the equivalent of the ‘it’s not you, it’ me’ line. They have a new relationship going on, and don’t want to continue the old one they had with you.
In an increasingly online world where people expect to be able to access the information they want, when they want it, and without interruption, ads and paid for content are seen as an unwanted third wheel in that new relationship, akin to the old boyfriend showing up to their ex’s hot new date and trying to sit between them. That never ends well, and won’t win them back.
The fact is, the modern consumer doesn’t want to hear how great you are anymore, they just want the information they need to get on with their lives, to meet their challenges and needs, and the vast majority will have done their research well before they even approach you looking to enquire about a specific product or service (81% according to Retailing Today).
Stop calling me!
In the age of boxsets and on-demand TV, adblocking software and social media screening, 86% of people now skip TV ads, 91% unsubscribe from email lists, and a whopping 44% of emails are never even opened. The message? They don’t want to hear from you!
At least not in the way they used to. Now, it’s all about bringing your audience to you, bringing your marketing inbound, rather than pushing it out to anyone who will listen.
As a digital marketer, your task now is to attract consumer attention, to stand out from the crowd of possible suitors and the many distractions of our modern world that have shortened attention spans and cut short the time you have to catch their eye, and then to woo them effectively so that they only have eyes for you. And you need to do it using today’s tools – an optimised website that’s mobile-friendly, social media platforms, etc.
Cold calls, spam emails and interruptive ads won’t get you anywhere, because you need to attract, rather than distract. How do you do this? By ensuring you provide the best organic content you can, optimising it so that it informs and entertains while also leading visitors to your website further along the buyer journey with more relevant information and valuable offers at every step.
That does not mean telling your potential customers up front that you are great and are the answer to all their prayers. Imagine being on a date and interrupting a lovely conversation with boasts about your abilities, or worse still, promising to be the only one that date will ever need. That way lies disaster.
In digital marketing, it is no different. That lovely conversation is the getting-to-know-you scenario, where visitors to your web pages learn about their own needs, discover there are solutions to them, and then that you can provide them. But you must let them discover this for themselves by presenting the best material you can that is relevant to where they are on their buyer journey. That’s the attraction stage of the relationship.
That information must also be well-positioned and must be optimised, not only for search, but for ease of usability and customer experience. If someone likes what they see in you and asks if they can meet you, there’s no point in giving them a vague or difficult to find address to go to. Website visitors must be able to find what they want easily, must be able to navigate through your content with logical next steps, and must end up where they expect to be, so that you can turn your website into a working sales tool.
That is the essence of the inbound digital marketing strategy. It’s a marriage of content and context. The content consists of great blogs on interesting topics, helpful infographics, videos and interactive tools. These entice consumers to then click on a CTA that leads them to a landing page that provides a valuable offer of more interesting and helpful material in the form of eBooks, or whitepapers, for which all you ask is their details. That’s the lead generation stage.
Call me maybe…
Providing their details is the first step towards proper engagement with the potential. With an effective and efficient inbound marketing strategy, you should be able to tailor further content to each, personalising it for best effect based on the information you have about them and where they are on their buyer journey.
The same goes for engagement via social media platforms. You will never get that hot date if you ignore your messages, so respond to them in a personable manner.
But always remember the context of those messages, or of the actions taken on your website. If someone repeatedly opens blogs on what to look for in a new laptop, sending them an email about the latest camera offers you have will result in a one-way trip to the trash basket, and you will be left yearning for that relationship that could have been.
However, if you send a personalised email, social media message or offer that provides relevant information about new laptops, you may well find them coming back to you for more, enquiring about making a purchase, or asking for a sales call. That’s when you come to the conversion stage, where the consumer is ready to commit and become a customer. You’ve found love!
Now that we’ve found love, what are we gonna do with it?
Bear in mind, though, that the relationship does not end there. No brand, business or marketing agency should be in the business of one night stands, and customers should be treated the way you would like to be treated in a new relationship. You wouldn’t end a great first date by saying ‘that was lovely, goodbye’ and then walking off into the sunset. If it goes well, you want to keep it going, which is where another phase of the inbound methodology comes in: delighting the customer.
That means treating them well into the future, not ignoring them while you chase after someone new. It makes simple business sense – it costs seven times more to chase a new lead than to retain an existing customer, according to thenewsletterpro.com, among others.
A simple thank you if mentioned on social media is a start, but you can also provide personalised emails that include special offers, how-to user guides, further information on upcoming products they might be interested in (remember the context), and further engagement that shows you value them as a customer.
If you are making your customers happy, then you will be happy, so you can say goodbye to the heartbreak of falling website traffic, a lack of leads, and can enjoy a long and fruitful relationship together.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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