Business marketing strategies have one overriding purpose: Find customers!
Remember the Where’s Waldo cartoon where the character hides all over the place?
That is your goal: to find online (and off) customers and provide a great product or service, and then – convince them to buy from you over and over again.
Customers are like Waldo…they can be hiding anywhere.
Where might they be hiding, and how can you dig them out?
They might be hiding on another website, lurking around on Facebook, or cowering behind an email account to name a few spots. Your job is to find as many as possible using a well designed attraction marketing program.
Developing a large email list of pre-screened names is important. The email list can be used in multiple ways to promote your website and ultimately what you have for sale. You can build a website or a blog and then find you have no visitors or readers. That’s true you know. That’s why many of the simple things you can do to grow your internet business involve getting people to your site and then convincing them to leave contact information.
But, as you develop the list, you can then use it in many ways to generate business. Sending a series of information packed emails is one. You can also add to your contact list by asking the people you have on your email list to forward the message to their friends. You can buy or rent email lists also. (but no spam!)
There are many tools available for marketing online, including social networking. It’s not that they are unimportant – it’s that we must have plans and strategies in place before the tools or technology. These are the strategies based on being focused and offering ways to humanize and personalize your internet presence. People have been thrilled with internet and for many years they were willing to do without some things like personal contact and even some customer service.
But technology has changed that because now there are so many ways to connect with customers. For example, we did not talk about podcasting.
Podcasting refers to an audio and/or video file that is connected to a subscription service. The podcast is updated regularly and new files can be downloaded by customers at any time. The downloads can be to a computer or a mobile device. Normally you would pay someone to host your audio files if you will have regular updates. The subscription service automatically feeds the new content you create. A audio/visual podcast gives your customers a chance to hear your voice and to see you talking which turns you into a real human so you’re not some unknown website owner. Podcasts can be a very effective tool for keeping customers connected to your business. ‘
What would you talk about on podcasts? You can talk about anything you want. You can talk about industry news or new products, or interview guests.
Blogging is another excellent way to let people get to know you on a more personal basis. The original blogs were really no more than weblogs or online journals. Blogs today are full fledged marketing tools. You can write content, add pictures, insert video and place links to your website. When you write a blog with a business purpose, you want to keep it professional sounding but you have a lot more leeway when it comes to adding some personality too. Your topics can cover information of interest to your niche market, industry trends, or comments on news reports. You can help people get answers to questions or offer solutions to problems.
Webinars / Teleseminars
There are even more marketing tools available. You can offer webinars or e-books for example, and online trainings.
There’s search engine optimization. You might have heard of web crawlers and mining the web. When a customer types in something like, “find cheap hotels in Florida”, the search engine extracts content from millions of web pages with the words “cheap hotels” and “Florida” in them and assigns a value to each. The pages are then ranked and that’s what you see when you get search results.
Easy Payment Options
For example, savvy internet users don’t put up with sites that fail to at least offer PayPal or some other form of online payment option. The days of mailing in money orders are not completely gone but it won’t be long before they are.
Easy Access & Navigation
People have learned that if a website is too cumbersome to use they can just do an organic search and find a hundred other vendors and qualified businesses. Unless you have a one-of-a-kind product, internet customers have many options that are easily accessible with a few clicks of the mouse. An organic search is one that produces algorithmically generated results, by the way.
The internet now offers dozens of marketing opportunities, but they all don’t mean a thing unless you also offer great customer service. Providing excellent customer service is how you earn a good reputation and keep customers coming back for more. Customers also want you to keep in contact with them from the moment of order until the product or service is received. Years ago when people ordered off the web, they would be kept in the dark until what they bought showed up on their doorstep. Now you should use auto-responders that send out a series of emails thanking the customers for their orders, informing them of shipping dates and carrier type, letting them know when shipments actually take place and following up after the shipment arrives. You should be easy to get hold of as mentioned earlier. Customers want to be able to ask questions about products, and returns and exchanges for example.
Customers Decide What Quality Is, Not You (but you can become better!)
This brings up another point about customer service. Customer service is really whatever your customers think it should be. If you follow the advice offered and give customers a way to make comments and to contact you then you have a gold mine of information. People will tell you want they want or what they are not happy about. You should pay attention to compliments and complaints because they tell you what is right and what is wrong about the business.
It is your job to make sure you meet customer needs. You might have to add new services or respond faster to complaints for example. Sometimes you won’t be able to make the desired changes, but you can offer something of value instead. For example, you can give an unhappy customer a discount on another product to show you care about their opinion.
In other words, you have to give good service if you expect to keep your customers. It takes real effort to retain customers because they expect more from you. The reason they are doing business with you in the first place is because they have liked what you have to offer so far. The expectation is that future service will be as good or better.
Smart business marketing attracts — and asks you to focus not just on finding customers but on doing what it takes to keep them engaged in your business.
What have you done lately for your customer service area?
- Don’t Show Up at Your Customer’s Door Without an Invitation (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- Three Essential Tips to Growing Sales and Service, One Tweet at a Time (problogger.net)
- More Ways to Build Your Email List (blogs.constantcontact.com)