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Relationship Marketing

Strong customer relationships are essential for your business if you desire to increase sales and generate a positive brand reputation. Customers frequently recognize their relationships with businesses similar to personal connections. In analyzing whether customers looking for relationships with businesses actually desired a genuine personal relationship with the business, it was found that a majority of business-to-customer (B2C) relationships were inauthentic when contrasted with genuine person-to-person relationships.[1]

The foundation of relationship marketing includes four essential elements of relationships that include commitment, trust, comprehension, and quality. In an examination of 306 online surveys, researchers confirmed that each of the four elements of relationships influenced customer loyalty. Nevertheless, the customer’s perception and comprehension of quality and value influenced the relationship and purchase intentions. [2]

As a business, you need to identify your target customers by analyzing their lifestyles, psychographics, income, spending capabilities, and mentalities so that you may offer them relevant products and services. For example, knowing that individuals from lower income groups would never be interested in, or have the means to buy, expensive and luxurious products is beneficial in that it allows your business to focus its attention on the likely buyers of your product or service. Trying to sell a Mercedes or a luxury watch to someone who finds it difficult to make ends meet would definitely be a disastrous marketing technique.

 

[1] Bettencourt, L. A., Blocker, C. P., Houston, M. B., & Flint, D. J. (2015). Rethinking customer relationships. Business Horizons, 58, 99-108. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2014.09.003

[2] Jussila, J. J., Kärkkäinen, H., & Aramo-Immonen, H. (2014). Social media utilization in business-to-business relationships of technology industry firms. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 606-613. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.047

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

Marketing Research

It is difficult to be both a specialist in your profession and an expert in understanding your current and potential customers. If your expertise is in being a chef or hair stylist, you shouldn’t expect to launch a top-notch website or marketing campaign using analytics, data analysis, or customer insight without actually taking the time to understand marketing research in the same way that you learned your profession. In developing marketing strategies and enhancing your knowledge, it is essential to conduct market research to better comprehend your customer base and their needs. Like any profession, effective marketing requires time and dedication to gain the experience necessary to properly research and analyze your customers, considering they do not always think, act, believe, or have the same priorities or values as you. The keys to understanding how to grow your business are in researching your industry and target consumer group. Once you have researched your customers and analyzed the data, you need to develop a targeted strategy to grow sales. Only then will your marketing efforts and business flourish.

Website Marketing

While social media sites are great for blogging and news updates, you should also include the blog text and updates on your business website so that it creates more content and attracts attention from search engines. By utilizing blogs and newsgroups to attract website visitors, you can create an effective strategy which will help gain and increase website click-through rates and the length of time users spend on your website. This could ultimately help with increasing search engine credibility and domain authority. In addition, including keywords and descriptions in image ALT tags on your website will create an extremely effective strategy that is not only beneficial for improving content search results but will also boost your rank in image search directories.

You should additionally include an easy bookmark feature on your website. By including a bookmark widget, you can gain customer loyalty and rank better with search engines that index bookmark websites such as Del.icio.us and Google bookmarks.

To create a strategy that will encourage customer interactivity, you can also setup email marketing and newsletter campaigns along with creating polls and surveys to gain customer feedback and help enhance the experience of your customers. Newsletters could include information on upcoming specials, events, and changes in the business that could benefit the customer.

Links for allowing customers to opt out of receiving emails and referring a friend for discounts should also be included in each newsletter. Your business can benefit by tracking the results of email campaigns using newsletter and website tracking tools such as Google Analytics. By viewing monthly reports, you will be able to see which keywords, content, and paid campaigns are most effective. In addition, it will allow for you to see where visitors come from, how long they visit a certain web page, the last page they viewed before leaving your website, and how your stats compare to the industry benchmarks.

Impact of Reviews on Marketing Objective

Customer engagement is critical when working to develop brand awareness and increase sales. Negative customer reviews affect small businesses significantly more than larger businesses. Consequently, depending upon your business size, customer reviews may not always have a significant influence on your profitability. Additionally, reviews, whether positive or negative, do not have a significant influence on customers familiar with your business. Similar to a tree in the forest, a review alone is not going to gain or lose new business for a client, but can help to sway a potential customer to make a decision either way. Engaging with customers is a strategy recommended by marketing agencies to create a competitive advantage by building relationships with customers. If the objective of your business is customer acquisition, retention, or brand awareness, then customer reviews can affect your marketing strategy development.

Because of social media, customer feedback and reviews can quickly reach a broad audience and have an immediate effect on the success of your business’s marketing efforts. Due to the popularity of the internet, you can analyze and predict customer behaviors by using social networks and review-based websites. Your business should spend marketing dollars wisely, so gaining more reviews is not always as important as generating brand awareness through other reliable methods of marketing. Your marketing strategies should focus on relationship building with customers to better develop successful strategies for increasing customer loyalty and sales. However, you are likely not effectively accomplishing your marketing objective if you are receiving a significant amount of negative reviews.

Customer Marketing

Purpose of Marketing

Without marketing, your business is taking the risk of losing customers and revenue. Think of your brand, website, or artwork as a resume. You spend hours or days writing, designing, and editing it to perfection, not to mention the years of enhancing and refining your background with experience and education. After you’ve culminated and perfected your resume, what next? What’s the next step to ensuring that you land that dream job? The appropriate response is to send your resume to employers. In the context of business, that’s called marketing. You must market yourself to win the job. A terribly unattractive resume sent to potential employers has a higher probability of landing a job over a superb resume sitting in a drawer. Without marketing, you will waste time and money creating a great brand that never gets noticed.

Customer Marketing

If your marketing strategy is not structured on the purchasing needs and wants of your desired customer, you are missing the mark in marketing. An effective campaign is one that influences customers to make a purchase. The secret is to build trust and positive brand awareness through attractive and targeted marketing. Additionally, the campaign should aim at solving the customer’s hesitation to purchase. As customers make purchases, a trend will develop, outlining likes and dislikes based on what sells and what doesn’t.

A Hesitant Customer. All customers experience some hesitancy before making purchases. They don’t simply walk into a store or view a website and make a purchase without thinking about it. How long they hesitate is where you should focus your marketing. For example, a product discounted with a “One day only” stamp will make the customer spend less time debating the purchase because of the urgency of the deadline. If you want a today purchase, you should try marketing your product or service so that it positively influences the customer to decide and act quickly.

As a business owner, you have the responsibility to provide customers with the information they need to make a purchase. If presented effectively, the information you provide customers can persuade them to believe they need what your business is selling, even if the product is outside of their immediate desires or needs. In this sense, information used within your marketing efforts are responsible for shaping the needs and wants of your customers. The implication is that, through marketing, you can capitalize on your customers’ internal weakness and persuade them to make a purchase.

A customer purchase is often based on one of three factors; (1) whether the product or service will help the customer be more productive; (2) whether the product or service can satisfy the things or people the customer cares most about; or (3) whether it fulfills a desire or need.

When marketing, you should understand how your product can solve your customers’ problem or situation. If you know your customers’ habits, likes, or dislikes you can market based on how your product will fit into their lifestyles. From there, the customer will be less hesitant to make the purchase and will have a solid answer as to why they need your product.

Good Resources for Innovative Technology in Marketing

Foxman, E. R., & Kilcoyne, P. (1993). Information technology, marketing practice, and consumer privacy: Ethical issues. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. 12(1), 106-119. doi: 10.1007/s10660-007-9000-y

This article Foxman and Kilcoyne (1993) discussed the privacy and customer behavior in the electronic market. The author explains that there is a growing concern from consumers about their privacy when dealing with state and federal government agencies and businesses. Consumers believe that their personal information is being computerized and sold without permission. They believe that companies should ask for permission before storing and selling their personal information.

Online consumer information, credit cards, billing details, and demographics are being collected, bought, and sold across the marketing industry. Furthermore, many consumers are unaware that their information is passed around. Consumers agree that the ethics behind collecting the information and sharing it is morally wrong. In working to understand how to resolve the privacy concern, there is debate on who owns the consumer information. Businesses feel that they own the information if they collect it or purchase from another business. They see nothing wrong with collecting the information considering the data allows them to produce better marketing services to the community. Consumers feel that the data belongs to them and should only be used with their permission.

A study within this article evaluates experimental situations in how consumer behavior is being influenced by websites and the personal information being requested from the consumer is affected by the message. The study examines to understand whether customers are manipulated into disclosing personal information through online methods. The results conclude that the consumers’ behavior is significantly impacted by their misunderstanding and misinformation. The author believes that in order for the confusion to be resolved, marketers need to make privacy details clear and they must be commitment to maintaining an ethical behavior when dealing with consumer privacy.

Privacy is a great concern within my industry. In marketing, we not only collect user data from potential customers, but we also collect it from current customers so that we can create the best possible marketing approach. Oftentimes, I have done and seen businesses collect user data and use it to their advantage for producing marketing campaigns. Understanding the legality behind consumer information handling is something that marketers must take seriously. This article is informative in explaining the reasons for protecting and clearly stating privacy policies. Consumers are unlikely to trust a company that shares their personal information without their consent.

 

Peattie, K. (2000). The New Marketing Era: Marketing to the Imagination in a Technology-Driven World/Marketing the Unknown: Developing Market Strategies for Technical Innovations. Journal Of Marketing Management16(5), 529-532.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases

The author explores how technology has no affect on the behavior of the people who buy, use, and interact with the technology. It explains that marketing is not shaped by what the technology can do, but marketing instead centers on what the consumer will accept, understand, and want. Peattie (2000) further examined the changes that marketing is undergoing because of new technology. From the perspective of the author, marketing is psychological and technology will not change society considering it has no real affect on human emotions, drives, and capacities.

The author details that there are three changes that marketing must undergo in order to create successful strategies. The first is to move away from market research and instead look toward being able to interpret information extracted from the consumers through databases of information. The second change is moving away from traditional advertising and placing more attention on social media for communication. The final stage is to stop looking at marketing as a means of mass markets and move toward building a personal relationship with consumers through media outlets.

I enjoy the different perspective that technological tools used by consumers are not as important as whether or not they desire to use them. I find this relevant within the marketing industry particularly because marketing focuses on understanding the consumers’ desires and being able to fulfill them through brand messaging. The author explains that consumers choose products because of their feelings. This information can be valuable for someone within the marketing industry. As for the author’s perspective that technology does not influence emotions and direction, I disagree with this. To say that a television commercial has no effect on consumers’ buying habits, which are generally led by emotions, is to say that advertising has no real purpose.

 

Erragcha, N., & Romdhane, R. (2014). Social Networks as Marketing Tools. Journal Of Internet Banking & Commerce19(1), 1-12. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases

This research examines how the Internet effects people in their daily lives and how it is causing challenges for businesses due to the openness of social media. The author discusses how social media has opened a door for consumers to express their concerns to companies and this method of communication has facilitated interaction between business and consumer. This allows consumers to enjoy having power of opinion and change, but companies are feeling challenged because of the direct open forums of communication.

The author states that users are huge factors in generating brand awareness. This is due to users promoting the brand as well as creating content such as comments, questions and answers on forum boards, and adding to their custom profiles on social media accounts. Because of technology and social media, the consumer has helped enrich and improve company activities as well as add value to the brand image. The author goes further into details of what the five pillars of social media consist of. These pillars are participation, openness, conversation, community, and interconnection. The author believes that there has been a shift from marketing to interactive marketing. Marketing must move away from traditional transactional marketing to facilitator marketing which focuses on businesses sharing knowledge with the consumers and being open to consumers sharing knowledge with the business. The conclusion of this method will give power to the consumer, but will promote positive sales and satisfied customers.

This article holds valuable information to my industry considering marketing is all about the customer. The research explains that marketers should listen to consumers if they want to be successful. Marketers should never ignore the customers concerns and should allow their voice to matter. By doing this, the business can create a strong bond, a lasting relationship, and a brand promoter within the consumer.

 

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

The study analyzes research conducted through the Delphi method. The research included two rounds of questionnaires obtained by the opinions of sixteen marketing experts. The research was carried out during the months of October and November 2012. The sixteen marketing experts were individually contacted by email and those experts were used to ensure research validity. The evaluation of the research was to determine the main factors and barriers influencing the results of a marketing audit. The results of the study show that marketing audits are a factor in company success.

The author believes that in order to conduct a comprehensive marketing audit, the method should have four major characteristics; comprehensive, independence from decision making managers, systematic, and the audit should be carried our periodically. Audits help companies with reviewing their marketing strategies, which can help improve business performance. A marketing audit can improve marketing management and problems. This is done by assessing and evaluating the company’s marketing ability, effectiveness, threats, and opportunities. The author explains that a marketing audit can be an important tool in discovering potential risks within the company’s activities.

Within the marketing industry, understanding how or why to market is a key component to creating a successful marketing plan. In creating a marketing strategy, marketers do comprehensive research and studying of consumers, and creating a marketing audit would be conducting a similar type of research on the current structure of the businesses and its marketing efficiency.

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.

Viral Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing which is used to help achieve branding and marketing communication goals through participation on social media. SMM is a great way to better market your business online. Having a social networking presence for your business and interacting with potential customers is a great way to expand your brand name and awareness.

The benefit of a viral SMM plan is the ability to create a video that focuses on entertaining the customer while providing valuable information about your brand and what it offers. The video should provide information on the benefits of the business. The concept of the video should be informative and is intended to encourage viewers to share the video via social media and on websites where they are a member. After watching the video, the customer should be inspired to visit your company, call, visit your website, and share the viral marketing video and the information about your company to their friends. A viral marketing plan should be distributed via video and social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and by using other multimedia embedding networks and websites. A viral marketing plan can easily create a positive image for your brand while also providing valuable promotional content to users.

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.

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