The online revolution is coming faster than you think.
We are in the age of the Uber-ization, Netflixing, and Bitcoining of everything.
Your customers are getting used to ordering their products and services on demand. They like to choose exactly what they want, how they want it and when they want it. Consumers are also finding more ways to complete transactions directly with each other, and are cutting out the middle-man.
And as a result of evolving technology, consumers are getting pickier, and the internet is getting more competitive. Marketing tactics that worked five years ago no longer work well.
So what can you do to keep yourself relevant? Here are five strategies.
Create a Values-Based Brand
As the Baby Boomer generation continues to retire, Millennials (ages 18-35) have already become the highest proportion of the workforce. These young adults will soon have more disposable income and purchasing power than any other age group. This also means that your business needs Millennials to survive.
Since you need Millennials, you need to know that they are also the most brand loyal generation.
But unlike generations past, they don’t care as much about prestige brands. Instead, Millennials look for brands that represent their lifestyle values. For example, the TOMS footwear brand represents sustainability and caring for others, while Apple represents individuality and creativity.
So ask yourself this question: “What core values does my business represent?” If you clearly define and openly displaying those values, you will be more likely to attract and keep Millenials. Millennials care about purpose and social responsibility. So find a way to turn your business’s core values into a movement or cause that helps others.
Harvard Business Review has proven that getting a new customer costs anywhere from 5x to 25x more than keeping a current one. As a business leader, it’s smart for you to prioritize brand loyalty.
One surefire way to win over the heart of the modern Millennial customer is through personalization. In some cases, personalization can increase brand loyalty by as much as 28%. And most Millennials are fine with you using their information to make more personal recommendations.
If you begin to place fanatical focus on discovering what your individual customers like and offering them more of it, your profits will grow. Personalization increases your customer shopping frequency. Sending the right message with a personal touch at the right time is critical.
So how do you implement personalization in your business?
Although you may not be able to afford fancy AI algorithms like Netflix or be able to make scary-accurate purchasing suggestions like Amazon, you can still easily use personalization in your business. For example, you can:
Track Customer Purchases. Use your point-of-sale system (POS) to keep track of the products your customers buy, and send personalized direct mail or email follow-ups with similar recommendations.
Personalize Website Content. If you have a blog or e-commerce website, use free tools like AddThis to create personalized sign-up messages and content recommendations.
Using these personalization strategies will make your customers feel much more connected to your business.
Focus on Conversions.
When a potential customer converts, it’s like they are raising their hand and taking the next step in the relationship. It happens when they decide to sign up for your email newsletter or purchase a product.
You need to judge all your marketing efforts through the lens of conversion. Conversion rate answers the question, “Are my marketing strategies working?”
Pay-to-Play (While You Still Can)
In the future, social media marketing will continue to become more and more relevant, but the costs of advertising on social platforms will continue to skyrocket.
So which social media sites are best for your marketing efforts?
Facebook is still at the top. With 2.19 billion people, Facebook has the most active users than any other platform. This is why it’s a favorite among marketers, including myself. Facebook is still king because of its amazing targeting options. For example, you can specifically market to suburban moms who played tennis last week, who are also likely to buy a car in the next 30 days.
However, the costs of Facebook are increasing with each data breach and change to the news feed.
Almost every month, I speak with a concerned small business owner, and we have a conversation that goes something like this. They tell me, “I keep making all these posts on my Facebook business page, but I’m barely getting any views.”
My answer is always the same: “Facebook is pay-to-play.” In other words, you generally have to pay for results. In 2012, the average business page post had only a 16% organic reach, and it hovers around 2% today. So even if you have 2,000 fans, chances are that only forty of them would see your organic content.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a ton of money right now. A $5 boost to a quality post can go a long way in reaching your entire audience. A newsfeed ad can reach your target market for less than $15. But, as Facebook continues to get more saturated, costs are rising as much as 171%.
So what are the solutions to these problems?
Get in on the “pay-to-play” action while you still can.
Drive social media traffic to your blog website.
Use a Facebook “re-targeting” pixel so you can track the exact people who come to your page and market to them.
Use Facebook to build your custom audience.
Give people on a social media a reason to sign up to your email list so you can contact them as much as you want (for free).
These strategies cost a little bit of money, but if you use them, you’ll be much more likely to see the results that you want.
Be Obsessive About Your Old-School Marketing.
The telephone and the handshake are making a strong comeback.
It turns out that even though we have “new-school” ways of marketing such as text, social media, and email, nothing can replace the personal touch in creating sales. Small businesses often use personal touch to beat online competitors and big-box retailers. So focus on creating a deep emotional connection with your customers in the real world.
Here are a few ideas you can use to add a personal touch:
Send a Physical Thank-You Note. Your customers will feel a strong connection if you send them a personalized greeting card or a thank you gift. A great time to send one of these is after a purchase, for a birthday, during the holidays or during a difficult time. Use tools such a Bond and Thankbot to automatically create handwritten notes, which have an 80% open rate, unlike email and traditional print mailings.
Call Your New Prospects. Make a phone call to thank a prospect for downloading something online. That connection is meaningful, and it will stay in their memory for a long time.
Focus on Face Time. Face-to-face meetings are much more effective at creating meaningful long-term connections.
In sum, to position yourself to win in the sea of change that is digital marketing:
1) Create a Values-Based Brand.
2) Get Personal.
3) Focus on Conversions.
4) Pay to Play (While You Still Can).
5) Be Obsessive About Your Old-School Marketing.
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