Understanding The Power of Engagement Marketing
The lines used to be clear between online businesses and offline businesses when it came to marketing. Not anymore. Today’s forward thinking business owners are finding ways to blend the best of both worlds into a truly leveraged marketing program.
When eCommerce first started getting traction as a trusted option for consumers, online merchants used SEO to generate website traffic. At that time you would never know an eCommerce business existed unless you found them online.
Then they discovered pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, and most recently social media marketing. In no time ads for Internet businesses were popping up everywhere there were eyeballs on webpages.
Likewise, offline merchants used decades old techniques including mailer coupons, ads in local news publications, phone book ads, and window display ads. Online marketing was rarely a consideration for small local businesses.
Enter the age of engagement marketing. It is an age where consumers have so many choices on and offline that they have collectively changed the rules. This was not the result of leading edge entrepreneurs coming up with a slick new sales technique. Instead it has grown up out of the vary nature of online social engagement, otherwise known as social media.
Today social media is all around us. We all use it every day even if we don’t realize it. Email, the one thing we all have, is a form of social media. Most don’t realize this because it does not have the massive community engagement of Facebook or the instant gratification of Twitter.
Email is a way to communicate between 2 or more people. You can send an email to a single person or to thousands. Emails can be returned or forwarded. That’s pretty social, don’t you think? They can also contain a simple text message or a fancy HTML page, video or audio files. So there’s the media part.
Social media also factors into the way we purchase goods online and offline. When you buy something online you are often asked to rate your purchase with a star rating or a “like.” You may also want to leave a comment regarding your purchase so others can read exactly what you liked or didn’t like about the product or service.
This process of sharing experiences with others has forced online businesses to engage with consumers. It is no longer an option to hide behind restrictive return policies or hide-out in corporate offices. Retailers have to face the music when consumers are unhappy with their buying experience.
The same is true for offline businesses. Today more than ever consumers look to social indicators when making a purchase decision. Prospective customers want to know if you have a website so they can check out your business before they stop in. They may want to check out your businesses social status to see what others are saying about you. There are numerous sites where offline retailers are talked about and rated. Offline business owners need to stay on top of their social reputation just as much as an online business.
So how do businesses leverage online and offline engagement marketing?
Here are the top 5 leverage strategies for offline marketers to use online techniques:
It is and always has been the most effective way to engage customers and prospects. It is also the most cost effected method, in terms of time and money, to engage your tribe and generate sales.
In the information economy an email address has become as significant to consumers as their phone number or home address. Because of this having a customer opt-in to your email list provides an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.
It is an indication of trust and a sign of permission for you to continue the engagement. It is up to you to make the most of it.
Add a blog
The best way to get the attention of buyers is to show them you are the expert in your business. Consumers want to buy from expert, people with a reputation for being an authority in your market niche.
The best way to establish yourself as a trusted authority is by publishing great content on your blog. Most consumers expect it. They want a place where they can get more information about the product they purchased, and to see what other people are saying in the comments.
Think of it as an extension of your FAQ page (which you should have). You can also use your blog content as engagement content in your email campaign. Sending great information to your customers in an email that links back to your site is also a great way to get external link credit for your SEO scores.
Build a great website
It can be anything from a 1 page site to a full featured eCommerce site, or anything in between. The important thing is to build your site to meet the needs of your customers and the objectives of your marketing strategy.
Make your site fit your marketing plan. Your website plan should answer the question “what do you want your visitors to do when they get to your site?” and then “what do you want them to get from your site when they leave?”, and finally, “why should they return?” If you can answer all of these questions in your website design you will likely have a successful site.
And remember, your website is an important extension of your business. Read about the importance of a business website (http://lucidwisdom.com/web-design/do-i-need-a-website-for-my-business/) for more on this subject.
You don’t have to sign up for every social media site out there. Start slow and use social media leverage (hint: work from your website out).
The key is to select social media channels that make sense for your business, meaning channels where your ideal customers would hang out. For example, if you are a photographer or artist you may want to use Pinterest or Instagram for their highly visual format.
It is also very important to stick with social media channels you like and will engage with on a regular basis. There is no sense setting up a Twitter account if you have no time or interest in engaging on Twitter.
Finally, I would recommend limiting your business to no more than 3 different social media channels. You want to make sure you are fully engaged and have time to produce content. This can take up a great deal of time so don’t over commit. Know your limits, and go big with which ever channels make the most sense for your business.
Monitor your social presence
Even though you are an offline business your customers are most likely talking about you. If they are, you need to be listening. There are lots of ways to use tools for listening in to what others are saying about you.
Today with real-time monitoring and alerts, in-store analytics can make you aware of low traffic in your store(s) immediately, And with social media and mobile access to information right at the shoppers’ fingertips, a marketing campaign can be triggered instantly.
Using services like Hootsuite, TweetReach, and Klout have both free and premium account levels, in addition to free trial periods. Take a couple for a test drive, then go all in on the one you like the best. You can start off with a free account, then upgrade as you build your business and social media influence.
Every business needs to manage their presence off and online. Today’s consumer already thinks this way. No matter what business you are in, on or offline, you must understand how your customers think and how they want to be engaged. It is the only way to get noticed in a crowded marketplace.
What is your favorite or most successful marketing technique?
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Latest posts by David Cook (see all)
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