I want to see my clients make progress quickly! Recently, I've noticed that when we were planning, they were thrown off by the special name or category given to a tactic—Web 2.0, social networking, etc. As soon as we didn't worry about the names and just based decisions strictly on whether it enhanced the customer relationship or not, we could speed along and make good decisions.
You can call it “social media” marketing because it involves the use of new tools and tactics. You can call it conversation marketing. Call it whatever you want —in whatever century you want. The simple fact is that if your customer doesn’t have a trusted relationship with you, you won’t succeed. (Yes, you can burn a few people and make some short-term money, if that's your goal. But it’s not sustainable, desirable, good or smart.)
If you’re saying to yourself, “I knew that.” Then ask yourself whether you actually practice it. The answer is probably, “No, not really.” After over 20+ years in marketing I know that’s true and I'm sometimes guilty myself. I see people at all levels of business pay lip service to it. When I look at their actual strategies and tactics, I find that they are not practicing it. If they did, they’d be making a lot more money in a shorter amount of time. That's what I want to help them do-fast!
Ok, so you don’t want to be “that guy.” What are some things you can do immediately to turn that situation around?
Here are ten tips that will build your relationship with your customer:
1. Create and build your OWN audience
Start your list with one customer and build it up. Don’t think that buying some pre-made list will give you a great start. That kind of list is called ‘spam.’ You want a targeted, quality list of responsive buyers who are interested in you. That means someone who has opted in to your specific list.
A 1,000 person list that’s not targeted is so much less valuable than a 200 person list you build from scratch. Quality not quantity! When I ask a new client how large their list is, I know they may feel sheepish if it’s not very high. That’s not the measure! If your list is responsive and cares about what you have to say it could be profitable and small. Don’t let vanity get in the way. Start small, grow organically.
2. Pay greater attention to a satisfied, repeat customer
If you are ignoring a customer who has already purchased from you, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. It’s easier to sell to someone who is already a customer. Does it matter much? Frederick Reichheld strategy guru has proven that a 5% improvement in customer retention rates will yield between a 25 to 100% increase in profits. If you’re looking for a way to increase revenue, this is it. Invest in customer satisfaction and satisfied customers.
3. Help your customer tell your story and share it with others
Yes, this means ‘word of mouth.’ But it’s more than that. Not only do you want your customers to talk about you. You want them saying the things that will create new customers. That means that you have to give them meaningful stories to tell. And you have to make it easy for them to tell your story. You see all those ‘share this’ buttons on websites for a reason. Those are good, but imagine if you also created pages for your customers that were specifically written in a way that makes sharing meaningful. Maybe it’s a video or PDF. Think about what you can create that would bring this to life.
4. Help customers find you
Ok, this one is obvious—so what’s your keyword strategy? Hmm, not sure? Don’t worry. This can always be improved. Everyone online marketer I know has struggled with it. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be hundreds of books and blogs written about it.
But there is one thing you can do to start to get a handle on it right away. Look at where your traffic is coming from and then what the bounce rate is. (The bounce rate tells you how many people just read one page and clicked away, which means they weren’t interested in looking further.)
Look at your current level of traffic and determine where it’s coming from. If you use Google Analytics, start by clicking on “traffic sources.” You will see in pie-chart form how your traffic is divided up by direct traffic, search engines and referring sites. (If you have separate advertising pages you set up, you’ll see the category other as well.) Ok, so quickly you can see what’s dominating. Is all your traffic coming from search engines? It’s time to get referring sites involved. How about search engines? Getting anything from organic search?
Next, under “all traffic sources” look at your bounce rate from the different sources. If you look and see that one referring source has a much lower bounce rate, you can tell that people coming from that source are more targeted from those that have really high bounce rates.
With information about these two measures you can start to form a plan for improving your traffic levels.
5. Make it easy for customers to buy from you
This is a ‘battle-cry’ I have been using since the early ‘90s when the Web was in its infancy. If it’s hard to get through your shopping cart, if the help information is unclear, or the requirements are not stated, you are throwing money away.
All your hard work on developing and creating your services and products will be wasted because no one is willing to spend more than a few seconds figuring it out. If you make it hard they will get frustrated and angry and blame you. Not only will you lose the sale, you will engender ill will. In 2008 the cart abandonment rate (the rate at which people start the buying process but don’t complete it) is 59%.
Let me repeat that:
In 2008 the cart abandonment rate was 59% and there's not indication this year will be different.
That means that 59% of the people who start to buy something, give up before they complete the process. Wow, that is a lot of money that you could be scooping up if you do a better job of making the buying process easier. This one is really worth the effort.
6. Don’t continue to break the budget on PPC if it isn’t working
You’re not doing your customers (or yourself) any favor if you spend a boatload of money on PPC advertising that doesn’t bring your specific audience to you. Some people have told me they do it because it brings ‘awareness.” There’s nothing magical about PPC. It either brings you a targeted audience or it doesn’t. If no one ‘opts-in’ they’re probably not coming back later for a second bite of the same apple.
7. Don’t bother your list with trivial junk that only you think is interesting
If you know what your subscribers are interested in (and obviously if you’ve been reading down this far, you probably do) don’t send email broadcasts just to send them. You audience knows the difference between being entertained and enlightened or being bothered. Your subscribers have the expectation that you are evaluating information before you send it. If your friend has a weak offering, don’t send it to your list just because she’s a friend. You worked too hard to build the list. Don’t tear it down with a collection of subpar materials.
8. Be generous
Ahh, we’re back in positive territory again—those last two tips were kind of negative in tone. I’m sure your mother told you to share with your friends if you want them to like you. It works the same way with possible customers, vendors and colleagues. Hoarding good information and holding everything really close is never a good strategy.
Make it a point to create some free reports, articles or videos. Share something valuable with no expectation of return. Call it reciprocity, ‘the secret’, good karma, synchronicity or whatever you like, just do it. You know how much fun it is to get an unexpected PDF that has actionable information. Be the sender of that report.
9. Be specific and clear about what you’re selling
You hear about the importance of ‘call to action’ messages from marketing blogs, and articles everyday of the week. Buried in that phrase is the idea that you need to tell people what, when and how you want them to respond and how you will respond in return. If you leave any one of those parts out, you damage your response and lower your conversion rate. Look at your online store and see if you can improve your information.
For a silly example, think about telling your customer “Act now!” But not tell him how. But, what about telling your customer to “click the button when you are ready to buy.” That’s just as silly— but it gets played out much more often than you think. Everything about your offer has to be spelled out, clarified, exact and forceful.
10. Never assume your customer knows anything about how to buy from you.
Tell him everything he needs to know about what he’ll receive, when he will get it, what kind of receipt he’ll get, etc. No one will be insulted. No one is thinking about anything but getting what they paid for and being happy with it.
Make sure you take advantage of all the ways you can to publicize your online tactics.
Have you created a feed for your articles, blogs, websites, etc? Did you register with Technorati? An SEO strategy is great, but if you don’t let any directories, feed services or bloggers know about you, then you’re working with one hand tied behind your back.
Beginners and longtime marketers alike can always benefit from a quick reality check. Find ways to get yours and you'll be in it for the long run.