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Your Business Needs A Regular Flow Of New Customers
Welcome to the world of the business owner, where the main goal is to get customers.
Without them, where would we be? Out of business. So how do we get those customers in the first place?
As a business owner, you probably have a website and some marketing tools that you already use but the way we market, and the way we view attempts to be marketed to, is constantly evolving. To find those leads that really matter, and convert them into loyal customers, you need to tailor your marketing to attract them. But what does that really involve?
Most business owners have only a vague notion of what marketing means, what it entails, and what it can actually achieve. Many prefer to use traditional methods of marketing to raise their profile – leaflets, adverts, cold calls, or even simple but effective word-of-mouth. These ways of promoting your business all have their place – but you’ll reach a much wider audience if you also implement the latest marketing strategies.
That means new technology, new platforms and new methods. You may have dabbled in marketing tactics over the years, dipping in and out. You might have started a Facebook page for your company, or maybe tried a bit of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but, in the end, you didn’t see much - if any - result. If that’s you, there is an explanation.
You Need A Plan, You Need A System
Too many businesses leap into marketing without a plan.
They don’t decide firmly on an end goal and draw a realistic route to that goal, complete with milestones and clear markers of success. These marketing efforts often end up attracting the wrong leads – or no leads.
If you want to attract high-quality leads and convert them into customers, you need to target that future customer with what they need now, and you need to do it consistently. Let’s say you’re boarding a flight to New York. You take off from Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, where even boarding the plane can feel overwhelming. This might feel similar to the beginnings of a marketing campaign set-up – you’re not sure which way to go, what to do next, and there’s a lot of stuff going on. Once you’ve boarded your plane, found your seat number and taken off, however, you’re not in New York yet – you still have eight hours to go, and those eight hours can drag. You could abandon your trip entirely, of course, by way of a parachute – but then you won’t reach New York any time soon! You have to be patient and let the eight hours pass by, knowing that – although you may not feel it – you are covering impressive distance and, eventually, you will land in New York.
Launching a marketing campaign is the same – your ultimate goal, to get customers coming to you, comes at the end of the journey, and there are no shortcuts to that end goal. You have to give your marketing a chance and let the time pass, whilst appealing to your customers in a way that is right for both you and them. What you shouldn’t do is underestimate your customers, their thought patterns, their fears, their motivations, and their importance. This will lead to you misunderstanding your customers, and building a marketing plan that will work for someone – but not them.
Instead, prioritise your customers above all else.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to attract customers, how to win them, and then how to keep them forever.
Let’s get started.
CONTENTS (QUICK LINKS)
Strategy and planning
First of all, most customers won’t approach you directly anymore. They will search and sift through their options first – in fact, 93% of B2B deals start with an online search.
Those companies who have successfully marketed themselves will have their website on the front page of those search results. This is why embracing your marketing plan is so important.
Secondly, what you set in motion today can stay in motion forever. If you put in the effort this year, you’ll reap the rewards in ten years. A published author may spend one year writing a book, but they then collect royalties from that book for the rest of their lives – and the same holds true for marketing.
All it takes are a few well-planned actions today that can bring you customers for as long as you choose to stay in business.
When you begin marketing, the most important thing is to break down all of your steps to success into clearly defined, actionable tasks that you can tick off as you complete. One way to do this is to create Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) - these are goals that you can break up into smaller tasks that make a large goal easier to tackle. The more small tasks you complete and tick off your list, the closer to get to reaching your ultimate goal. You should create your business KPIs around your digital marketing strategy for success.
Every single thing that you do in business should have a purpose, whether large or small - and if you know what that purpose is, you can understand how you can use that goal as a stepping stone to the next, bigger goal. These goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
When you understand what you can achieve by completing even the smallest task, you will find the motivation you need to get it done.
You need to understand who you are marketing to. Visualise the clients and customers you tend to come across, and sketch out a template of who they are, how you can help them, their challenges, and their motivations. Understand their core values towards your products and services and work out what your Unique Selling Point will be for them. Once you collate this information, you'll have a clear understanding of how to market to this customer.
This is called a buyer persona .
If you have a clear understanding of who your typical buyer is, you’ll know exactly how to market to them, and you’ll be able to create something that your buyer persona will want to come to your website and look at. This is called your content strategy.
Take a close look at the market to understand what your potential customers need right now. This will include research on Google searches and websites or forums around your industry – you need to see exactly what your customers are looking for that you can help with. Once you’ve looked into the current market demands and you have a clear idea of where your company’s services fits in, you can use this information to build your content strategy. It’s important to identify your buyer and their aspirations before you put together your content strategy. If you do your content strategy before your buyer persona, your content will likely end up targeting a different type of buyer – not the one you’re hoping to sell to.
Finally, once a potential customer is interested, you’re at a fork in the road. Leads are not yet customers – but you have the power to change that. All you need is a solid conversion strategy.
A conversion strategy transforms a lead into a customer.
Many businesses try and market themselves and their services from an outdated website. It may be functional and “do the job”, but older websites tend to be slower than new websites, and harder to navigate – and they also usually look outdated, which can reflect badly on your company and put a potential customer off. The small cost of updating your website can pay off many times over in the long run.
Your website represents your company, so it’s important to make the right first impression. A modern, up-to date website clearly communicates that you are a market leader. If you want your potential customers to see that you stay ahead of the curve, you prioritise your company’s image and, perhaps most importantly, you make an effort to keep your website caught up with the times, take an overview of your website.
Is your website full of interesting, educational content? Whether articles or videos, a content-rich website is a website worth visiting. For anyone who has found your website through a Google search or an advert, they should be directed to a website that has something to offer them.
Not everyone will Google for help, though. Nor will they click on an advert or come directly through to your website from an email. In 2020, most people are on social media – and this is a great platform to find potential customers. Many people who need your help will find you by chance if you are visible on social media platforms, so make the most of that and build your company a page on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Integrate all big social media platforms into your marketing strategy and boost your visibility outside of your website; remember that potential customers can come from unlikely places!
Keep on top of your content and social media – you should be making regular updates in order to demonstrate that your company are active today. If your customer lands on a website, but that website hasn’t been updated in a while, they may doubt that their call or enquiry will even be answered – so reassure them that you are still around and you will be there to help them if they get in touch.
Finally, many potential customers won’t sit down with a laptop in the evening; they’ll use their smartphone or tablet when they’re in meetings, on the train, or just out and about, so your website needs to be mobile optimised. Many websites won’t look the same on a mobile device – they were designed to be looked at on a larger screen, so a phone or tablet will distort images or create long stretches of white space, which can be hard to read and frustrating for a customer who just wants to see your website clearly. Once you mobile optimise your website, however, it will look good on a phone or tablet, and allow your potential customer to browse just as easily.
Follow these tips to design a website that makes your company look good and turn a casual browser into a lead.
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Step 3: Educate Your Prospects With Online Content
A whopping 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy – yet.
Once someone has found your website and has recognised your company and your services as a possible option for them, you need to then demonstrate that your company are trustworthy, and worth consideration. If your customer knows exactly what they want, it’s at this point that they either choose you, or decide to keep looking at what else is out there.
But most websites are just a glorified list of your services, little more than an online brochure. This isn’t enough to really attract today’s customer.
This is where content comes in. Content is anything that you create for your customer’s benefit. This can include blog posts, e-books, videos, podcasts, and so on. Did you know that 81% of internet users agree that blog posts are trusted sources of information?
You need to use your website to promote your Unique Selling Points (USPs), and to show that you are an expert in your industry and, therefore, a good choice. Your potential customers should view you as an authority and a source of reliable information. The information you put on your website has a big impact on the way a visitor sees you and your company, and by extension, whether they choose you for your services or not.
Everything you write should be fact-checked and verified. Many of your leads will have industry expertise too and will immediately spot factual errors that any reputable company would not have printed under their name – many leads will be on the lookout for the smallest reason to doubt your credibility.
All of your customers will be different but when you create content for your website, you can find something for everyone. Different types of content engage different types of buyers and appeal to different tastes. Use things like blog articles, eBooks, and infographics to appeal to the buyer who wants to have the plain, hard facts in front of them. For someone who is more curious and interactive, webinars and podcasts help them to feel more engaged. You can use videos to appeal to more visual buyers.
Your content is an investment. It may take one hour to write a blog article that you can add to your website, but that blog article can then enable your company to be found by thousands of potential buyers over the next five, ten and twenty years. The small details you spend time on today pay off hugely over time.
Every tweet, blog post, or YouTube video needs to show your company and what you do. You need to showcase the services you offer, how you do it, and how easy it is to get in touch with you.
It’s vital that you offer reassurance to your leads before they part with their money. What are your guarantees and safety nets? Can you promise a return on investment, or their money back in case they aren’t satisfied? What do you have in place as a back-up if they change their mind mid-way through the buying process?
You need to clear all the obstacles out of the way and make picking up the phone and calling your company the easy and obvious choice.
Raise your online profile
You can have the greatest selection of content in the world on a modern, optimised website, but you still need to raise your online profile - the fastest website and best content in the world isn’t much use if no one actually sees it.
You need to raise your online profile and help those leads find you and your website. 40% of users would prefer to spend more money on companies and businesses who are engaging on social media!
The best way to do this is through a tailored programme that makes the most of the latest trends, follows a tried-and-tested path to getting more clients, but more importantly, works for you and your company.
Your website should help you find your ideal clients who are looking for the exact thing that you can help with.
A good marketing strategy begins with keyword optimisation. This involves finding out what phrases and keyword combinations are searched for, and then
mindfully placing them throughout your content in an informative, educational context, which then allows your content to be found.
Next, paid advertising and display adverts allow your website a valuable boost in visibility that enables more potential leads to find you.
Social media helps you attract different types of customers from all corners of the internet.
You can even use emails to entice back those potential customers who did initially interact with your website, and also help to add a personal touch that makes a lead feel valued and appreciated.
Keep in mind that attracting leads is not simply a numbers game; your goal is not to attract just any lead - your goal is to attract high-quality leads. Your
customers could find you from a Google search or they could stumble across you on social media – but either way, raising your online profile dramatically increases the chances that more people will find you, and of those who do find you, more are likely to become leads and, eventually, valuable customers.
Turn Website Visitors Into Enquiries
So, you’ve got a great website, engaging content, regular social media posts, and you’re starting to see your website traffic growing; but your website visitor just isn’t picking up the phone. What now?
The first and simplest thing you can do to increase enquiries is to use Call-To-Action (CTA) forms as a prompt for website visitors to hand over their contact details; a lead who may be indecisive now may make that positive step at a later point when you get in touch with them.
As you grow your business, your number of leads should grow; this is your goal but also increases the possibility that a lead will be missed simply by sheer volume of things that you now need to keep track of. If you start using software to observe what your website visitors do once they’re on your site, you may spot a website visitor hovering around your Contact page - but what if they disappear, and you’re too busy with your existing leads to follow them up? This is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software comes in.
A CRM is a tool to manage your interactions with clients. Traditionally, a business's sales team would do this manually, logging every call, meeting, or task with their prospects. With the growth of Marketing Automation software - such as HubSpot, for example - a business can now see a prospect’s interactions with them. They can be notified when sales leads are visiting their site, when that prospect opens an email, log the reply and even tailor the content the prospect receives based on their behaviour. This can now be used to visualise all the customer behaviour data that has been tracked, measured, and recorded. This, in turn, allows a business to see and interpret emerging patterns and common trends in browsing behaviour, and ultimately helps them to make changes to their sales process for the better.
In summary, a CRM helps you keep track of your relationship with an individual customer. At this point, your website visitor is aware that you exist and knows what you can offer, but they also know that there are other options - so you need to appeal to their emotional side. Stay in touch - let them remember you. The personal touch can have a real impact on your website visitors' view of your company, and because the entire process can be automated, what pays off for months and years to come only took you a few minutes to set in motion.
To summarise, Awareness describes the stage in which a potential client needs your product or service but doesn’t yet know that they need it. At this stage, you educate them – you tell them that they do need your product.
At the Consideration stage, your lead is aware of what they need but they’re also very aware of your competitors and what those other companies have to offer. Your potential client is weighing up their options and the pros and cons of heading in either direction. At this critical stage, the buyer is easily swayed so how you speak to them becomes even more important. In fact, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
At the final stage your lead makes their Decision – they understand all of their options and make an informed decision. In other words, they become someone’s customer – and that “someone” should be you.
These three stages, lined up in this order, is called the Sales Funnel and is a good indicator of the typical customer buying journey.
Many of your enquiries will be on the fence at the point of contact – never pressure your potential client into making a decision right there and then. Give them space to breathe, survey their options and come to their own informed conclusion. However, you can gently follow up on these leads with a friendly email. Reminding your lead of what they stand to gain if they choose you, without chasing them or pressuring them, can only serve to further progress your buyer further down the funnel to a positive decision. These processes should always be automated – it’s both easier and smarter to automate ongoing marketing activities to those who aren’t yet your customer.
Once your lead has chosen you, you close the deal.
Now you need to keep this customer as your own…
Communicate to customers
Once your lead has become your valuable customer, you have to show them a different kind of attention. Many businesses assume that, at this point, the hard work is over – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Good ongoing customer support includes marketing additional complementary services to the customer. Many businesses often shy away from this type of budgetary allocation but customers expect this level of continuing service from the company they gave their money to.
The biggest reason that businesses lose customers is indifference – on both sides. If a business doesn’t care about existing customers, those customers feel neglected – they have no reason to stay loyal to you. They can’t see anything that makes you stand out. They don’t recognise your USPs. While they were feeling neglected by your company, your competitors were employing the same marketing tactics we have outlined in this guide, showered your customer with attention, impressed your customer, and they won your customer over. Now your customer is their customer.
So how could you have prevented this and kept the customer for yourself?
Well, you have to give your customers a clear reason to stay on your side. Make sure to regularly communicate what they stand to lose if they leave you – and what they gain if they stay. Let them know of all the services you offer, even if it includes something as simple as ongoing customer support or loyalty points and give them a reason to stay yours. Good incentives include cross-sells, up-sells, referral incentives, exclusive events, and even little things like showcasing your proudest case studies can serve as fantastic reminders of what a great service you provide and why they chose you in the first place.
A loyal customer stays loyal forever.
Marketing is a steady process. Businesses typically decide on a strategy, implement it and then observe what happens over the next 12 months.
When you first begin marketing, it’s important to stay realistic – marketing is the long game. Overnight results are rare, and it really is a marathon, not a sprint. What is really important is keeping an eye on your data so that, whilst your marketing is starting to have an effect, you can see the results for yourself.
When you board an eight-hour flight to New York, you have to rely on the flight tracker provided by the airline to understand how your flight is going, how far you’ve travelled, and if you’ve even left London yet! An international flight can feel like it goes on forever with no final destination in sight. When you’re up in the air and all you can see is clouds, you can feel like you’ve not even left London airspace – and that feeling can last for hours! But you do know that you’ve been flying the whole time so you must have moved. To really see and understand how far you’ve travelled you check the interactive map on your seat screen, which shows you how many miles you’ve flown, and where exactly you are in the world now.
Marketing is exactly the same. Every action you take can move you closer to your goal of attracting new clients, convincing them to choose you, and then closing a new deal. Every blog post you make can bring in 100 new leads a month, for example. But if you don’t pay attention to what your website blog data tells you, however, you won’t know that 100 new visitors came to your website … and you can convince yourself that your new marketing tactics aren’t working.
Just like that long-haul flight to New York, it all looks the same from above the clouds but once you look at your flight tracker, you’ll see that you’re now halfway across the Atlantic ocean, and you’re much closer to New York than you were the last time you looked.
Of course, you could parachute off that plane mid-air or abandon your marketing strategy half-way through – but then you’d land in the sea of no leads, not New York. And with marketing, it’s important to go the distance or you’ll never reach your destination - where all your new customers are looking for you!
Marketing really offers a great return on investment. Every little thing you do on your website or social media page today will stay online to be found by your next customer tomorrow, next week, or even in ten years. So, do something today – no matter how small!
And then watch your website data over the next 12 months to see the impact that one little thing really made.