I received a call from a potential client recently. This call was different than most I receive. You see, this business owner was angry! I mean outright ticked off!
He wasn’t angry with me. No. Not angry with his industry. He was very angry with new technology and marketing, and the people trying to constantly promise him the moon if they signed up for their service.
The call went something like this…
“Is this Bill?”
“Yes sir,” I said. “How can I help you?”
“My name is Bob. I am the president of XYZ Company (the names have changed to protect the frustrated.) I am so sick and tired of all the calls, emails, and letters I am receiving from people who say they can get me to the top of Google, start a Facebook page, show me how to Twitter, and promise me a ton of sales with this new marketing stuff. I have tried their pay-per-click programs and wasted a ton of money. They promised they could get me to the top of Google, and 1 year later, I am no where near the top. I am fed up wasting time and money!”
“I understand Bob. What made you call me specifically?”
“My friend is a client of yours. She told you can sort this out for me.”
“Thank you for calling Bob. Yes I can help you. Let’s talk about your frustrations and how we can turn lemon into lemonade…”
I can’t tell you how many times I hear those same frustrations from clients and customers. They weren’t as passionate as Bob, but you can hear the fear and desperation in their voices too.
The new internet media can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you approach it, your mood to embrace it or not, and your passion to execute a very good plan.
Part of my weekly ritual is to spend time studying trends in consumer behavior, electronic trends, ecommerce advances, and better understanding the lifecycle of the purchasing process.
Not only do I read research articles, I pay attention to my own buying habits and those around me. And have those habits ever changed in the last few years.
With the incredible growth of Smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other mobile devices, consumer buying habits are changing literally right before our eyes.
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, are captivating consumers in every walk of life and creating opportunities to communicate with them like never before. We now have a tremendous opportunity to tell our story and capture that lucrative group of buyers who can be very loyal to your business.
Before I get into strategies and techniques on how to improve your sales and profits through better customer engagement, let’s look at some trends. Forrester Research, Inc, Pew Research, and the Nielsen Company have all recently completed studies. Here are some interesting statistics they discovered:
- 43% of all U.S. retail sales are influenced by the web (Forrester 2010)
- Preference by U.S. online adults to receive customer support via the phone has fallen from 32% in 2007 to 29% in 2010. (Forrester 2010)
- U.S. online adults report they spend equal amounts of time – 13 hours a week – watching TV and being online. TV viewership has increased only 5% from 2005 to 2010. (Forrester 2010)
- 79% of U.S. online adults read print magazines, down from 84% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
- 58% of U.S. online adults prefer to research a product online, up from 43% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
- As of February 2012, Pew Research states that 88% of all adults use cell phones. About 50% of those are Smartphones (Up from 17% in 2010.) Over 80% of Smartphone owners use the internet with the phones at least once a month.
- Nielsen says that adults have increased access to social sites via their phones from 11.1% in March 2010, to about 40% in September 2011.
- In 2010 Forrester Research stated that 10.3 million U.S. adults owned tablets, and will be about 82 million by 2015. CNET states that the ownership of tablets increased from 10% in mid December 2011, to 19% in mid January 2012.
I believe this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of accessing the internet, shopping, and buying. You will see these numbers climb dramatically.
What Does All This Information Mean?
These statistics mean a few things to your business. One, there is more and more opportunity to connect with consumers in a positive way. This new reality also creates more work, the need to have a deeper and comprehensive strategy, and you will need a dramatic shift in thinking if you are not already on board with the consumer’s changes.
With the world literally at the consumer’s fingertips (anywhere), his or her tendency is to bounce around on the internet very fast and can lose interest in your company, product, or service. You must use a number of different strategies and tactics to create a conversation with these consumers, methodically move them towards purchasing from you, and not lose them to someone else that has grabbed their attention.
Consumers can now enter the buying game from so many directions. They have more options, thus more directions than ever before. They can find you with a simple Google search for your company or product. They can see your pay-per-click ad. Or a large banner ad that follows them on the internet. They can find you on a Facebook ad, or if one of their friends likes your page, you show up on their friends Facebook wall. Or what about a prospect sharing your Tweet about a particular promotion to their Twitter followers?
And there are emails, direct mail programs, print ads, radio, TV… the list goes on and on. It is more important than ever to know your prospects/customer, your target market and find out where they spend their time. Then target your campaigns appropriately to your prospects.
Once the consumer enters your marketing lifecycle, the message you send is critical to better conversions and also repeat business. You need to think of your marketing lifecycle more circular now, rather than linear. The circle is the top of a funnel. The circle includes all the different media types. You still need to move them along through the qualification funnel, but now the size of the top of the funnel has gotten much larger, and is getting bigger every day. If you continue to exclude some opportunities, your funnel top becomes much smaller than your competitors. More leads into the funnel, the more sales and profits come out the bottom of the funnel.
6 Critical Keys
Critical Key 1:
One critical key to improving your sales conversions and revenue is to reduce the friction to your sales closing (conversion) by engaging the consumer in the channels they are engaged. Embrace where they go and spend time developing strategies that will convert them right there. Not distracting them to other channels.
If you have a lead on Amazon, get them checked out then and there. Don’t count on moving them to another site where they have to think about it again.
Critical Key 2:
Make sure you know your target market very well. Where do they spend their time? Do they use Smartphones? Do they carry their tablet into your retail store? Check your Google Analytics to see how they are reaching your site and to what pages. What is their income range? The list goes on and on.
Critical Key 3:
It’s really the old K.I.S.S. principle. Keep the conversion and closing very simple and easy for the customer to understand.
From and ecommerce point of view, the checkout needs to be very simple and streamlined. The customer needs to feel comfortable and understand everything about the sale. How much is shipping going to cost me? How long will it take? What is your return policy?
Critical Key 4:
If you are promoting a product in an email campaign or any campaign for that matter, the link from the media to the product needs to be directed to a landing page with a specific call to action, or directly to the product page. Don’t make the customer search for the item on your site, or other sales page. All too often I see clients directing their campaigns to the main page of the site instead of a dedicated page. A huge mistake.
Critical Key 5: Cross Channel Marketing.
Consumers use many different ways to communicate with their friends, family, and you, their retailer, e-tailer, or service provider.
Expanding your marketing message beyond just email, or direct mail is critical to your success. Those businesses who don’t engage with their prospects and customers through multiple channels and cross over between these channels will not be maximizing their opportunity to sell, and will not see their business grow.
Traditional marketing has always been explained as a three-prong approach. You need to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. We now need to look at a fourth prong, delivering all these through the right media.
Critical Key 6:
Embrace the opportunities. Check your mood about the new marketing opportunities. Be careful selecting multiple companies that will tell you they can promise to get you to the top of Google, or fix your reputation online, or will put together a pay-per-click campaign that will change your world.
Bob was a tough one to win over. Once I was able to help him understand the big picture, we were able to lay out a great plan and then execute making small adjustments along the way. I have to say, Bob is much happier today. And his qualified leads more than doubled once we were able to define his target market and refine his unique selling proposition.
All of these things can happen, but with a strategic plan, and a compelling message. Now, commit to yourself that you will first formulate a comprehensive internet marketing plan, and then execute the plan to bigger sales and bigger profits.
Good luck and great marketing!