Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Internet and Social Trends

The development of the internet has shifted businesses from paper-based and people-intensive purchasing frameworks toward electronic frameworks. In 2016, U.S. electronic commerce transactions accounted for $394.86 billion (11.7%) of total retail sales.[1] Online sales have seen a significant growth because of the internet. The progression of the internet and technology will continually add value to business and customer relationships and provide material for future marketing research.

Customers are moving toward the internet to develop knowledge, business insights, and for other personal reasons. Research has shown that businesses that utilize traditional marketing techniques and advertising methods have seen a decrease in revenue because consumers are moving online to search for businesses and make purchases. Considering the exceptional growth of the internet, businesses without a viable marketing strategy embracing the internet witnessed a lack of marketing effectiveness, product sales, and brand awareness. To counter the effects of the interpersonal communication that the internet presents, your business should obviously develop strategic marketing communication for targeting internet-based customers.

Using the internet to gather information aids in collecting pertinent data for better comprehending the perceptions of your customers toward your business. Given the development of the internet, you can utilize technology for storing and accumulating customer information. Likewise, because of the significant influence of the internet, you can also use the internet to help with establishing relationships with business partners and customers.

The internet affects individuals in their daily lives and can produce challenges for your business due to the accessibility of social media. Online networking has revealed an entryway for customers to express their concerns directly to your business, and this method of correspondence encourages interaction between your business and your customers. Subsequently, customers appreciate having their sentiments validated. However, the immediate and open forum of communication could present challenges for your business if you are not prepared to manage and grow with the online trend.

Customers have a significant influence on the brand awareness of your business as the opinions of customers can propel your brand reputation. For instance, inquiries, comments, and reactions on discussion boards often affect brand loyalty, social following, and purchasing habits. Given the internet, you have to carefully monitor your brand, public activities, and reputation if you want to stay ahead of customer concerns and problems that could impact your sales and business growth.

 

[1] https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2017/02/17/us-e-commerce-sales-grow-156-2016/

Tracking KPI’s

After reviewing your analytics report, you can confidently make a conclusion about your website’s performance and identify actionable items that will help improve the key performance indicators (KPI) going forward. You can start by looking at the average time a user spends on your website. This report will be able to help measure how visitors interact with the website’s content. If you dig deeper, you should be able to see which pages create the longest stay and conversions, and which pages users are not finding to be relevant toward their search. Digging even further, you can begin to see which pages users last visited before abandoning the website. If you see a common trend of user activity, you will be able to make the corrections as needed. The other two metrics, unique visitors and ratio of local audience to national audience, will be important in helping you understand how engaging your website content is to customers. These two metrics may also be useful in helping with future marketing. By having a true understanding of what your visitors are looking for, it will help you develop effective campaigns to accumulate more leads, which will lead to an increased ROI.

Using Analytics

Analytics are not necessarily about numbers, but about processes. It helps to evaluate what hinders people from getting from point A to point B. This starts with segmentation. Numbers don’t show you the whole picture. Segmenting tells you the factors that lead to the actual data that you collect, which will then help you to adjust your strategy. Web analytics has many benefits. Some of these benefits include tracking website visits, hits, conversions, trends, ROI, goals, etc. With a web analytics solution, you can monitor:

  • Where your site traffic is coming from.
  • The IP addresses of your visitors.
  • The customer’s actions by sequence with a time stamp.

Analytics can also help measure:

  • How many users visit your site, how many return, and how often.
  • How users navigate through your website.
  • Where in the “conversion funnel” or purchasing process customers are getting stuck and leaving.
  • What content your visitors are looking for, and whether they’re finding it.
  • Exactly which form fields are driving people away rather than bringing them in.

With analytics, you can also monitor your visitors by seeing which browser type, operating system, and the originating country, state, and city from which they are visiting. This information is beneficial for creating an effective website and will help users gain the maximum experience while they are visiting your company site. With web analytics, being analytical is not enough, but it should also be combined with creativity and company knowledge. You may find that reading analytics is confusing, mostly because there is too much information to collect. As for where people originate from when they land on your website, there are many inlets. Trying to measure the effectiveness of each inlet is a daunting task, but worth the financial savings of having to market and research.

Customer Service

These days, technology connects us in a way that we could have never imagined. And while this increased connectivity makes it easy for us to stay in touch, it’s important that we don’t let it stand in the way of real, personal engagement with customers. Think about a time when you called into a customer service line. You probably sat through a series of long, drawn-out automated messages, pressed a couple buttons, and after much frustration, breathed a sigh of relief when you were finally connected with an actual representative, right?

At the end of the day, people want to do business with other people — not machines and auto sequenced emails. By making a conscious effort to infuse more human interactions into your day-to-day communication with customers, it will be easier to build trust and deepen the relationship. Satisfying the needs of your customers ensures the survival of your business. A periodic check is required to discern the level of performance related to the current quality of services and products, followed by a plan to upgrade or enhance those services or products as necessary to build a quality relationship with your customers. In order to fulfill this goal, you must have a set of rules to measure and improve this quality.

Delivering quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from your competitors. The main ingredients involved in a quality relationship between your business and your customers are trust and commitment. Trust means confidence and security in the relationship you have with customers and can be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. Lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship’s foundation.

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

Email Marketing

When done correctly, email marketing serves as a tried-and-true way to get readers to download content, convert prospects with special offers, and upsell existing customers. It’s important to focus your time and attention on email marketing in addition to social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization. It’s one form of marketing that’s not going anywhere any time soon, and rightfully so.

With emails, you can foster a deeper, one-on-one relationship with your customers. Your emails have the opportunity to appear more personal and authentic than any other marketing effort. This builds trust with your customers considering the message creates (or appears to create) a one-on-one dialogue. Email subscribers are 3.9 times more likely to share content via the social web. Plus, your target audience wants to hear from you via email. It was discovered in a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa that 72% of people actually prefer to receive promotional content through email from businesses they like, as compared to the 17% who prefer social media.[1]

When sending email campaigns, make sure your strategy, and your business, answers questions such as:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with the email?
  • What actions do you want customers to take?
  • How will you prompt customers to take this action (i.e., using buttons, CTAs, or by clearly spelling it out in the content of the email)?

Whether optimizing your email or just writing the content, you should always do so as if you were speaking directly to one person in your target audience. Use the same language in your email as you would if your ideal customer were standing in front of you. Speak (or in this case, write) to your one reader as if you already know them. This can be tricky at first, but it will get easier over time as you come to understand more about who your ideal customer is. One easy way to sound more conversational is to use second person pronouns — “you” and “your.” This is a simple adjustment that makes the email about the reader, not your company.

Personalize the Content. In the same way that you personalized your subject line, you should also personalize the content within your email. According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, personalized emails showed an increase in click-through rates of 14% and an increase in conversions by 10%. To get started with personalization, the simplest thing to do is address your recipients by their first name in your email greeting. Your customers will also appreciate your efforts since 74% of online customers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, and promotions) appear to have nothing to do with their interests. [2]

 

[1] http://content.marketingsherpa.com/data/public/reports/benchmark-reports/EXCERPT-BMR-2013-Email-Marketing.pdf

[2] http://www.aberdeen.com/research/4904/ra-email-marketing/content.aspx

Customer Persona

In advertising, there are four user personas identified as competitive, spontaneous, humanistic, and methodical. The goal of a marketing campaign is to develop strategies for each persona, or to retain your preferred user persona and market toward only that group. Individuals within groups react differently to campaigns. Consequently, you should develop your campaigns to attract your desired customers using various strategies which include specific elements:

  • Competitive – logical, quick (fast)
  • Spontaneous – emotional, quick
  • Methodical – deliberate, logical
  • Humanistic – emotional, deliberate (slow)

Competitive. The competitive customer is business minded, power oriented, and does not like to waste time. This customer looks for businesses that have high qualifications, a positive track record, and a stellar reputation. This customer reacts strongly to marketing campaigns that outline what you can do for them and how you will support their ideas and conclusions. The best marketing strategy for this customer is to provide them with options, probabilities, and better results than they’ve previously enjoyed from other businesses.

Questions the Competitive customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • Why are you a superior choice?
  • Are you a credible company?
  • How can you help me be more productive?
  • How can you help me look good?
  • What are your credentials?
  • How can you help me achieve my goals?

Spontaneous. The spontaneous persona enjoys marketing campaigns that are personalized and activity oriented. This customer requires you to present evidence that you are trustworthy and customer service oriented. In marketing to this demographic, you will need to present evidence showcasing why your business is the best solution for them. You can achieve results by focusing on their feelings, interest, and excitement. Additionally, you can help them select your business by offering guarantees and recommendations, but not options.

Questions the Spontaneous customer considers when purchasing:

  • How can you quickly get me what I need?
  • Do you offer superior service?
  • Can I customize your product or service?
  • Can you help me narrow down my choices?
  • How quickly can I take action and achieve my goals?
  • How will your product/service help me enjoy life more?

Humanistic. The humanistic customer reacts to personal and relationship-driven campaigns. This type of customer is somewhat slower in making decisions and desires to develop a personal relationship with you and your business. Their decisions are primarily based on who you are, what you know, and how well you know them, their business, and their market. You can attract this customer using testimonials and a highly attractive portfolio.

Questions the Humanistic customer considers when purchasing:

  • How will your product or service make me feel?
  • Who uses your products/services?
  • Who are you? Tell me who your company is and let me see bios.
  • What will it feel like to work with you?
  • What experience have others had with you?
  • Can I trust you?
  • What are your business values?

Methodical. The methodical customer is detail oriented and disciplined with their time. This customer will require evidence of your experience, processes, and knowledge. The desire of this customer is for you to prove that you can provide solutions. You can attract this customer by offering a solution that is rational and supports their principles.

Questions the Methodical customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are the details of your offering, including the fine print?
  • What processes will you use?
  • Can you take me through the process step-by-step?
  • What are the product specs?
  • What proof do you have that you can help me?
  • Can you guarantee your product or work?

Example campaigns for a marketing agency.

Competitive: Professional Marketing Services. Beat out your competition. Build a successful online brand. The competitive persona looks for a company that has a positive and successful reputation. This ad would satisfy the competitive persona looking for marketing services as it showcases a professional agency that knows how to help them get to the top of their industry.

Humanistic: Affordable Marketing. Stay connected with your customers. We have a plan to help you succeed. This ad will be great for the humanistic persona as it explains to them that they will be able to stay connected with their customers, which they would desire to do so. It also shows that they can contact the agency who will develop a personalized plan for success.

Methodical: Professional Marketing. Proven success stories. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. This headline will draw in the methodical personality because it shows that it’s not a freelance or amateur company, which methodical customers generally do not prefer. Providing money back will also provide further proof that the agency is trustworthy and customer friendly.

Spontaneous: Affordable Marketing Offer! Low-cost marketing services. Get started on your marketing TODAY! This headline can be used to draw in the spontaneous persona, as they are normally looking for easy, fast, and affordable.

Marketing A/B Testing

When developing marketing campaigns, you should always A/B Test, which is referred to as creating multiple campaigns for the same goal. By creating multiple versions of a controlled campaign, it could help your business determine the most effective campaign based on a side-by-side comparison.

Example.

In a study conducted by the Coca-Cola Company, taste was considered the most important factor for their declined sales between the 1970s and 1980s. In response, the New Coke was developed to enhance the flavor and generate sales. With the approval of more than half of the 200,000 blind product testers, the New Coke was introduced to replace the original flavored Coke— which was a disaster for the company. Because of the unfavorable results and backlash from customers, the New Coke was withdrawn from the market and the Coke Classic was introduced with the original ingredients. Regarding the Coca-Cola Company’s quantitative study and the New Coke, the test provided inconclusive results because of the lack of information given to the participants. Though the participants enjoyed the flavor of the New Coke, it did not outweigh their desire and loyalty of the original Coke. The New Coke’s example of relying on only one type of study displayed poor predictive validity. A customer’s like toward a product is not a good predictor of whether they would purchase the product over another product they also like. Had the Coke Company taken a segmented approach and kept both products on the store shelves, they could have had a better idea of which the users liked best and which would generate the most sales in a side-by-side or A/B comparison.

Most businesses who do A/B testing often fail to give their testing ad a chance at achieving its best possible results. Furthermore, without testing the ad properly, these individuals or companies may ultimately lose money, time, and potentially reject a successful ad that just never had the chance to prove itself successful due to the lack of owner knowledge. Having a control ad running throughout the testing of a new ad can save money and eliminate performance history as a variable in the test ad. By creating multiple copies of a control ad, you can avoid giving 50% of impressions to an unproven ad which may fail. Creating multiple copies of a control ad allows you to save on cost considering the control ad is always running. Instead of losing 50% of ad impressions to the testing ad, that percentage shrinks to 20% because of the additional control ad copies. In addition to this type of testing saving on cost and potentially accelerating the testing process, it also allows for you to create a valid testing environment by comparing the performance of the test ad against the copies of the control only.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing plans are crucial for starting and growing your business. A good marketing plan will help your business identify target customers and generate a plan to reach and retain those customers. The marketing plan can be a roadmap to gaining customers and improving organizational success if done properly. Additionally, this strategy can help to define your desired customer by targeting their precise needs based on their demographic profiles which are helpful in identifying targeted customers and creating focused advertisements aimed directly at those prospective customers.

Strategy Development. Carefully developing your marketing strategy and performance will help keep your market presence strong. Without planning, you could potentially waste time and money targeting the wrong audience. Effective marketing is often based on the importance of how your customers perceive your business, and has two important principles:

  • Your business policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs.
  • Profitable salesvolume is more important than maximum sales volume.

There is no one method of creating a flawless marketing plan. The most effective tried and true method is taking the time to do the necessary research and stay updated on your market and target consumer groups. Monitoring population shifts, legal developments, and local economic situations can help to identify problems and discover opportunities for your business. Monitoring your competitors’ successes and failures is also helpful in devising your marketing strategies.

Marketing Message. The marketing message is the heart of a marketing plan. It details the business’ plan for the marketing materials, how the company plans to achieve its marketing goals and the tactics that will be used to meet them. In addition, the marketing message determines how your business intends to communicate its message to customers. When creating your marketing message, make certain that you focus on how you want your company to be perceived by its customers. Do you want customers to view your business as having good prices, customer support, or quality service? Once you determine your marketing message, you will know the next steps to take for your business.

Distribution. A critical point of your marketing plan is its plan of distribution. The distribution plan details the channels and processes through which customers can make purchases and how your business will reach new customers. The distribution strategy of the plan is considered one of the most important sections of the plan. Examples of an effective distribution strategy include tactics utilizing television, trade shows, and online advertising.

Strategy Milestones cover the business’ major events and achievements that need to occur to keep your strategy on track for success. Milestone events are strategically important for your business and provide an outline of dates and timeframes as to when the events should take place. Additionally, the milestones should be tracked and analyzed with real results. Not sticking to the plan and milestones will likely cause your strategy to fail, particularly, in reaching its expected completion date.

Marketing Audit

Based on questionnaires obtained by the opinions of marketing experts, it has been determined that marketing audits are a paramount factor in business success.[1] A marketing audit can be an important tool in discovering potential risks within your business’s activities. Within the marketing industry, understanding how or why to market to a certain demographic is a key component to creating a successful marketing plan. To conduct an effective marketing audit, the method should have four major characteristics which include it being comprehensive regarding function, environment, and productivity; independent from decision-making managers; completed using a structured, systematic approach; and that it should be carried out on a periodic basis. A marketing audit can improve your marketing management and business problems by helping to assess and evaluate your business’s marketing ability, strategies, performance and effectiveness, problematic areas, and opportunities.

Having the ability to find and understand your customer, competitor, and product potential will make the process of marketing your product or service much easier. A problem often found in businesses is that they don’t develop marketing strategies or perform preemptive audits. These businesses come to realize, in the middle of their marketing efforts, that they have no real plan or a way to monitor the effects of their marketing campaigns. Having a plan of action serves to pace and organize your marketing efforts. Regular audits can help you identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks specific to your industry and market. Furthermore, marketing audits can be used to direct the vision of your business, the value of products offered, and the effectiveness of current, previous, and future marketing efforts and organizational efficiencies. A good marketing audit should also assist with the implementation of a marketing strategy, and help in generating brand awareness and sales.

 

[1] Lipnická D., Ďaďo J. (2013). Marketing Audit and Factors Influencing Its Use in Practice of Companies (From an Expert Point of View). Journal of Competitiveness, 5 (4), 26-42. doi: 10.7441/joc.2013.04.02

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