Traditional Marketing is dead: Welcome to “On-demand Marketing”

marketing is deadDigital marketing is about to enter more challenging territory. Building on the vast increase in consumer power brought on by the digital age, marketing is headed toward being on demand—not just always “on,” but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.

 What’s fuelling on-demand marketing is the continued, symbiotic evolution of technology and consumer expectations. Already social media encourages consumers to share, compare, and rate experiences; and mobile devices add a “wherever” dimension to the digital environment.

 Most leading marketers know how to think through customer-search needs, and optimizing search positioning has become one of the biggest media outlays. Companies have ramped up their publishing and monitoring activities on social channels, hoping to create positive media experiences customers will share. They are even “engineering” advocacy by creating easy, automatic ways for consumers to post favorable reviews or to describe their engagement with brands.

 But we’re just getting started. The developments pushing marketing experiences even further include the growth of mobile connectivity, better-designed online spaces created with the powerful new HTML5 Web language, the activation of the Internet of Things in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and microtransmitters,1 and advances in handling “big data.” Consumers may soon be able to search by image, voice, and gesture; automatically participate with others by taking pictures or making transactions; and discover new opportunities with devices that augment reality in their field of vision (think Google glasses).

 As these digital capabilities multiply, consumer demands will rise in four areas:

 1. Now: Consumers will want to interact anywhere at any time.

2. Can I: They will want to do truly new things as disparate kinds of information (from financial accounts to data on physical activity) are deployed more effectively in ways that create value for them.

3. For me: They will expect all data stored about them to be targeted precisely to their needs or used to personalize what they experience.

4. Simply: They will expect all interactions to be easy.

 Now

Marketers have gotten a foretaste of the consumer’s desire for more urgency and ubiquity. Bank balances running low? Send the consumer an alert on her cell phone. An executive of one major bank believes that the immediacy of smartphone apps has already made brick-and-mortar contact unnecessary for many young consumers, who use a range of mobile services to manage their accounts and rarely interact with the brand physically. Yet having an entire bank in your phone may be only a baseline for the experiences on the horizon.

Digital information technologies, operating behind the scenes to integrate data on all interactions a consumer has across the decision journey, will provide insights into the best influence pathways for companies, while also triggering new personalized experiences for consumers.

 Can I

Most first-wave digital capabilities helped people access things they already did—shopping, banking, finding information. Consumers must often settle for compromises in their digital experiences. Yet robust programming, data-access, and interface possibilities now available could make every digital interaction an opportunity to deliver something exceptional. Consider Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s new smartphone app, which changes the house-hunting experience. A prospective home buyer begins by taking a picture of a house he or she likes. Using image-recognition software and location-based technologies, the app identifies the house and provides the list price, taxes, and other information. It then connects with the buyer’s personal financial data and (with further links to lender databases) determines whether the buyer can be preapproved for a mortgage (and, if so, in what amount). This nearly instantaneous series of interactions cuts through the hassle of searching real-estate agents’ sites for houses and then connecting with the agents or with mortgage brokers for financing, which might take  weeks.

 The challenge for companies is to look beyond today’s interfaces and interactions and to see that moving past compromises will require a rethinking of aspects of packaging, pricing, delivery, and products.

 For me

Some online marketers already use features in devices such as cameras and touch screens to help consumers see what apparel and accessories may actually look like when worn. In the future, demands for more personalized experiences will intensify.

 With each interaction, the consumer will be creating new data footprints and streams that complement existing digital portraits, sharpening their potential impact. Facebook will eventually be able to mine the world’s largest database of photographs, linking individual people to their activities.

 Simply

The quest for simplicity led Amazon to create a subscriber model for delivering bulky repeat-buy items (such as diapers) and Starbucks to adopt a tap-and-go approach to mobile payments. Evolving technologies and consumer behavior should make it easier to redesign many complex experiences. For example, companies offering inherently complicated products or services could overlay a game interface on certain Web pages, to let consumers play at trading off different options and prices. Visual-recognition technology could allow you to scan receipts, statements, and appointments into one integrated calendar and cash-management system. Already, start-ups in travel, expense, and sales-force management are experimenting with approaches that streamline processes and make interactions more inviting—using touch and swipe to make changes, gestures to activate large displays, and data in phones to recognize consumers and automatically customize interfaces.

 Conclusion

To deliver these new experiences, executive teams must rethink the role and structure of the marketing organization and how it engages with other functions. The changes are likely to cut deeply, transforming the way companies manage campaigns and communities, measure performance, provide customer support, and interact with outside agencies.

Written by Peter Dahlström and David Edelman. April 2013, “The coming era of On-Demand Marketing”  Mckinsey Quarterly

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The Six Social Media Skills that Every Leader Needs

 Executive Social mediaThe problem

Even as individuals increasingly embrace social technologies, many organisational  leaders fear the risks of unbridled  information and see difficulties integrating the open dynamics of social media with existing communications processes in their companies.

 Why it matters

When leaders shy away from social media, they inhibit collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the tapping of employee capabilities that collectively can create  competitive advantage.

 What to do about it 

Leaders need to develop new social-media skills and help their organizations do the same. At the personal level, leaders must be able to produce compelling, authentic content; master the new distribution dynamics; and navigate information overload.  At the organizational level, leaders should encourage usage through thoughtful orchestration and role modelling, become architects of a social-media-friendly organisation, and stay ahead of rapid technology shifts.

 These are six-dimensional set of skills and organizational capabilities that  leaders must build to create an enterprise level of media literacy—capabilities  will soon be a critical source of competitive advantage.

 1)The leader as producer: Creating compelling content

 With video cameras achieving near ubiquity and film clips uploading in the blink of an eye to YouTube or other platforms, the tools for producing and sharing rich media are in everyone’s hands. As video communication rises in importance, effective leaders will increasingly require creative skills and  the ability to craft compelling stories and to turn them into media products that make people take note and “lean forward.”

 To engage in real time on a personal level, executives will also need the technical skills to master the basics of digital-multimedia production. Content creation is no longer the preserve of the PR and Marketing departments.

 2)     The leader as distributor: Leveraging dissemination dynamics

 Business leaders have traditionally disseminated information in a top –down fashion. While traditional distribution channels won’t disappear, social media revolutionizes the standard information process by reversing it.  Messages are rebroadcast and repurposed at will by recipients who repost videos, retweet and comment on blogs, and use fragments of other people’s content to create their own content.

Leaders need to master the interplay of two fundamentally different paradigms: those of the traditional channels, which follow the logic of control, and of the new channels, where it is essential to relinquish control. Since executives won’t be able to govern or control a message once it enters the  social networks system, they must understand what might cause it to go viral.  Distribution competence—the ability to influence the way messages move through complex organizations—becomes as important as the ability to create compelling content.

 Equally important is the skill of creating and sustaining a body of social followers who help to spread and reinforce the message. It becomes critical to know who an organization’s key—and often informal—influencers are and to leverage their authority to push content through the right channels.

 3)      The leader as recipient: Managing communication overflow

 Social media has created an ocean of information. We are drowning in a never-ending flood of e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates, RSS feeds, and more that’s often hard to navigate. There is too much noise out there. Leaders must become proficient at using the software tools and settings that help users filter the important stuff from the unimportant.

 In the social-media realm, information gets shared and commented on within seconds, and executives must decide when (and when not) to reply, what messages should be linked to their blogs, when to copy material and mash it up with their own, and what to share with their various communities.

 4)     The leader as adviser and orchestrator: Driving strategic social-media utilization

 In most companies, social-media literacy is in its infancy. Excitement often runs high for the technology’s potential but without guidance and coordination, and without the capabilities to make it effective, social-media enthusiasm can backfire and cause severe damage.

To harvest the potential of social media, leaders must play a proactive role in raising the media literacy of their immediate reports and stakeholders. Executives should become trusted advisers, enabling and supporting their environment in the use of social tools, while ensuring that a culture of learning takes hold. As a new and media-savvy generation enters the workplace, smart leaders can accelerate organizational change by harnessing these “digital natives” expertise through “reverse mentoring.”

 5)     The leader as architect: Creating an enabling organizational infrastructure

Leaders who have steeped themselves in new media will testify that it requires them to navigate between potentially conflicting goals: they must strive to establish an organizational and technical infrastructure that encourages free exchange but also enforce controls that mitigate the risks of irresponsible use. This is a tough organizational-design challenge.

 6)     The leader as analyst: Staying ahead of the curve

 As companies start to digest the consequences of the Web 2.0 revolution, the next paradigm shift is already knocking on the door. The next generation of connectivity—the Internet of Things—will link together appliances, cars, and all kinds of objects. As a result, there will be about 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. This transformation will open new opportunities, spawn new business models, and herald yet another major inflection point that leaders must manage.

 It’s imperative to keep abreast of such emerging trends and innovations—not just their competitive and marketplace implications, but also what they mean for communications technologies, which are fundamental for creating an agile, responsive organization.

 Conclusion

 Leaders who master the six dimensions of organizational media literacy will have a brighter future. They will be more creative, innovative, and agile. They will attract and retain better talent, as well as tap deeper into the capabilities and ideas of their employees and stakeholders. They will be more effective in collaborating across internal and external boundaries and enjoy a higher degree of global integration. They will benefit from tighter and more loyal customer relationships and from the brand  equity that comes with them.

 Article adapted from: Six Social media skills every leader needs, by Roland Deiser and Sylvaina Newton. Mckinsey and Company, 2013

 For Social media training for your company, contact  Chipo on chipomaps@gmail.com

 

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Why your customers leave your website and how to make them stay

angry man3Today’s consumer has evolved. They are smarter, tech-savvier, more connected, and more empowered than ever before. When it comes to web experiences, they expect your brand to know who they are, what device they’re on, and what messages they want to hear—and then to deliver an experience tailored to them.

These new expectations mean customers have more reasons than ever to leave your website or ignore your messaging; and brands are changing their strategies accordingly. Recent industry analyst research indicates that, since 2012, focus on the customer has become a top corporate objective for organizations. Customer experience management will continue to increase in importance as businesses realize the value it can bring. To meet your customers’ expectations, your brand needs to be engaging and deliver genuine, compelling experiences that are customized for them and their mobile lifestyles.

Here are the top three reasons why customers are leaving your website—and how to get them to stay.

REASON NO. 1: Your customer experience keeps restarting

SOLUTION: Be consistent with responsive design

As your customers move across devices and channels, does your messaging go with them, or does it keep restarting? With users becoming more and more mobile, a consistent experience is vital. For instance, if a customer visits a retail website on a desktop but then changes to a tablet or a phone at the time of purchase, the website needs to maintain the same look, functionality, and content as the desktop version.

One new approach to web development helps organizations accomplish this:

 Responsive design supports a device-agnostic website and continuity of a customer’s web experience. Respon­sive design gives your website the ability to automatically adjust to your custom­ers’ various browser sizes, ensuring they always see your content the way it’s meant to be seen. With responsive de-sign, you can ensure your users have consistent experiences across any device and platform, without using up valuable resources to maintain multiple versions of your website.

It’s never been more important for your organization to provide a consistent, contextualized, and content-centric customer experience. Although creating responsive websites that engage your audience is not an easy task, businesses that make the upfront investment now can gain a compet­itive advantage in the coming years.

REASON NO. 2: Your content is missing the mark

SOLUTION: Deliver truly compelling and contextual experiences

Customers today seek out content and experiences that resonate with them. If you’re not delivering the right messages at the right time and in the right place, you may be missing your chance.

Delivering compelling customer experi­ences is one of the best ways for an   orga­nization to connect with its customers and differentiate itself from its   competi­tors. Successful brands create compelling experiences in two key ways: By deliver­ing tailored content across omni-chan­nel touch points, and by engaging their consumers through content marketing.

Tailored, contextualized content is highly personalized, anticipating the needs and buying behavior of each consumer to offer tailored products or services at the most opportune moments to buy. To give your customers the contextualized experience they want, organizations need to consider three tiers of data: historical (buying   behav­ior or pathways through a website), situ­ational (geo-location), and demographic (profile-based), as well as the device the customer is on.

Brands also need to engage their custom­ers on a genuine level by taking a content marketing approach. This includes listening to what customers are saying, engaging in conversations, building brands through relationships, and refining the experience with digital technology. Effective content marketing strategies produce content that is relevant to the audience and distributed on the appropriate channels and devices.

Delivering highly relevant content that is tailored for the individual and optimized for the device they’re using gives organizations opportunities to build brand loyalty and long-term relationships with customers.

REASON NO. 3: You’re not where your customers are

SOLUTION: Keep up with an omni-channel approach

Not long ago, cross-channel marketing involved a combination of print adver­tising, radio and television spots, direct mail, email campaigns, and pay-per-click advertising. But consumers have grown skeptical of traditional marketing such as billboards and television ads. They want to interact with the brands they like when and where they want.

Today, reaching consumers requires a complex, multifaceted approach across many channels and devices. Device proliferation and trends such as the consumerization of IT have made it more difficult for organizations to keep up with their customers. But if you’re not deliv­ering the right content in the right context the first time, you may lose your chance to connect with your customer.

An omni-channel content delivery strategy optimizes customer experience at every touch point, ensuring the consis­tency and relevancy of messages that are delivered across multiple touch points. This approach achieves superior results in return on marketing investments, customer satisfaction, and company revenue.

Each new technology creates a new customer touch point—and another oppor­tunity for brands to interact with, engage and learn about their customers. Leverag­ing multiple channels increases the oppor­tunity to improve conversion rates. More than this, though, it gives you the ability to nurture brand advocates and ensure that your brand is elevated in your customer’s social circles.

Using Digital Tools to Create a Positive Customer Experience

For brands that want to be consistent, be compelling, and be wherever their customers are, traditional Web Content Management (WCM) systems no longer fit the bill. The broader capabilities of Web Experience Management (WEM) tools facilitate the management and optimization of experience across all channels and platforms, including the Web, mobile phones, social networks, tablets, television, catalogues, in-store purchases, and more.

Integrated WEM tools give organizations the ability to deliver content in engaging, contextualized, and personalized ways.

Reference: Experience is everything, “www.opentext.com”

 For tailor-made marketing training, contact Chipo at chipomaps@gmail.com

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Blogs: An Online Asset your Brand Can’t Ignore

Polish-Pancakes-1-5Your blog is a marketing asset that is critical to driving traffic to your website and for positioning your company as a thought leader in your market. Many equate the blog as the “accelerator pedal” or “throttle” for your car. Want more traffic? Blog more. Want less traffic? Blog less.

Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger have made publishing content on the web easier than ever. Blogging and creating other content like eBooks and webinars are the best ways to help your target customers to find you online. Before getting started, there are a few things to remember about blogging for business.

 First – frequency matters. You should blog at least once per week, and if possible, 2-3 times per week or more. Research has shown that businesses that blog at least 16 times a month have twice as much traffic as those that blog less than four times per month.

Second – optimize your posts. Use targeted keywords to drive your topics, and then optimize your blog posts like you would optimize your website pages. Pay attention to the URL, the headings, and the content.

Third – use your blog posts to solve your customers’ problems and position your business as a thought leader. Finally, you want to use your blogs to drive leads, so they need to be actionable and they should tie to the downloadable content on your website.

The Blogging Process

STEP 1: GENERATE BLOG CONTENT

Finding topics to blog about is one of the most common challenges that digital marketers face. Start by answering your customers most common or popular questions. You should also audit your current Sales and Marketing materials and internal communications. Take these materials and look to repackage them as blog posts. Once you have these materials and questions to answer, hold brainstorming sessions to generate additional topic areas. Use your staff and managers to create blog posts about your customers most pressing challenges.

STEP 2: DETERMINE FREQUENCY

Your goal should be to blog at least once per week, and ideally more often. Once you have your list of content and topics, take a look at your target list of keywords and persona issues. Begin to lay out an editorial calendar that will guide your writing and publishing of your blog posts. It is good to plan out the keywords of your blogs 2 to 3 months in advance. If you don’t plan and work ahead, you will always be scrambling to write the next blog post. Work carefully on the titles of your blog post. They need to be eye catching for your reader. Think of magazines in the supermarket  – they have headings that grab the attention of the reader. You want to replicate the way those titles get the reader to pay attention.

STEP 3: WRITE AND OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOG POST

Now that you have topics, keywords, and content to use, it is time to draft your blog posts. The key to the blog post for the reader is that it is informational, educational, and actionable. Good blog posts range in length from 300-400 words to 600-800 words. More than 800 word blog posts can usually be broken into 2 or more blog posts.

Remember that people are busy and aren’t looking to spend a lot of time reading. They want to get in, get the information, and get on with their day. Frequency of posting is important, but don’t forget about optimizing your blog post. You will need to optimize your posts so that they are more readable for humans and so they will rank well in search engines. Here are several ways you should consider incorporating into your blog optimization efforts.

  • Attention Grabbing Titles: Be sure to optimize with keywords.
  • Compelling Images: Grab the attention of the reader.
  • Calls-To-Action in text and in sidebar: Create buttons and links to your landing pages to drive leads.
  • Make content actionable: Help people solve problems and they’ll come back.
  • Format for Scanning: Use bullets, lists, and frequent headings for readers who scan.
  • Make it entertaining: No matter what you are selling, you can make it entertaining.
  • Social Media Sharing Buttons: Enable readers to easily push content into their social networks.
  • Heading Tags: Optimize for keywords.

 STEP 4: PROMOTE YOUR BLOG

There are lot of blogs out there, so if you want to stand out, you will need to make the effort to promote it. Promotion drives traffic to your blog, increases awareness of your blog and your business, and positions you as a thought-leader in your market. Once you have optimized your blog, you should begin to try some of the ways listed below to promote it.

 How to promote your blog

  • Create video about your blog on YouTube
  • Incorporate you blog into email signature
  • Share blog posts on social media
  • Cross promote with other bloggers in your industry
  • Promote your blog at events and presentations
  • List it in blog directories
  • Create  and Add Call-To-Action on website to drive readers

STEP 5: MEASURE AND ANALYZE

It’s a waste of your time if you blog but don’t measure and analyze your results. It helps you determine what and how to write in the future, and ultimately how to drive more traffic to your business. There are many data points you can look at, but if you have too many it isn’t useful. Here is a list of some common, important metrics to keep track of:

• Visitors, Leads, Subscribers, Inbound links, Social Sharing

For tailor-made marketing training, contact Chipo at chipomaps@gmail.com

 

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How to introduce new products in foreign markets

Global marketing 1Few products these days are revolutionary, which means that companies need to be innovative in every aspect of their business in order to keep one step ahead.  This is even more so for companies that want to compete in the regional and global arena.

Why go regional/ global?

  • .Domestic markets may be well penetrated; share and revenue growth is now static or even declining.
  • Foreign markets are growing, developing, showing attractive potential
  • Competitors are investing in new overseas opportunities
  • Customers are expanding globally and expecting their domestic partners to follow
  • Foreign partners offer attractive capabilities, technologies, market access.
  • Costs and regulatory pressures are lower in countries that want to attract foreign direct investment.

 The process used to develop products for international markets is similar to that for domestic markets. The major difference is the increased requirement to analyse a product’s suitability for launch as several countries maybe targeted as opposed to one.

Your process for international product development should include:

Idea Generation

Make sure you use all resources available to you both internal and external for new idea generation.  Get everyone involved from employees, R&D, competitors, customers, sales personnel and distributors through to external experts. Ideas for new product may include:

  • Neglected Niches: In any industry there will be several niches that for some reason have been unattractive to bigger players or perhaps aren’t served at all.
  • Policy Changes: A change in government policy can create a new market overnight.
  • A New Approach: Is it possible to deliver the same product/service but in a different way that is more convenient and saves time?
  • Look At The Calendar: What are the significant holidays through the year in the countries you want to enter? Can you capitalise on them with a special offer? Can you come up with a special limited edition of your product, tied to the holiday?
  • Look For Problems And Needs: There is a plethora of information available to us today – use it to find out what leads/ customers in the news markets need and what problems they are struggling with.

 Market Screening

 Develop tough criteria to test ideas for their suitability in all target regions or countries so opportunities and any country specific restrictions are not missed.  What will work wonders in one country might not make it off the starting blocks in another.  Also remember to assess the level of adaptation needed for the product to be accepted in each market. Decide whether the market requires your company to standardize or adapt your products to the market.

Business Analysis

 Establish criteria to measure launch success and failure and link these to your target markets.  You should also make provision for contingencies and unexpected events that might just occur.

  • The product must meet a market’s needs better than the competition and customer alternatives (your product strategy needs to be right)
  • The product must be taken to market through competitive routes to market (you need a viable, volume go-to-market strategy and ability to execute in a way that drives sales growth)
  • The product must be rock-solid, high-quality and actually deliver the value promised so customers actually get the benefits they’re seeking
  • The pre-launch market conditioning must create enough awareness and “buzz” with both prospective customers and sales channels that this new product is coming to enable the product to gain enough early mindshare and traction that leads to both actual “proof” and “social proof” that the product is ready for the market.

Product Development

All relevant functions from production to design should be involved in the product development process. Whether in-house or external R&D is used, it’s important that key management has easy access to the technology experts.  It might also be practical if R&D were located close to your key target markets.

Test Your Market

 The test area must be representative of your key target markets if the results are to be trusted. Infrastructure for market research, advertising and distribution will need to be established and you should remember to consider how your competitors may respond in your test market and globally. In order to test your target market , you need to:

  • Ask the Right Questions: As a first step to determining the potential market for your  product or service, you want to focus on asking the right questions about your company and your products.
  • Google It :While it may seem obvious, using Google and other search engines can be an effective way to gauge the potential market for your idea and whether or not you’ll be facing competition.
  • Collect Feedback: Getting direct feedback via surveys or interviews and product testing can be another very effective way to gauge interest in your product or service. It will prevent your company from making very costly mistakes.
  • Sell Something, Anything: The most valuable feedback you can get is whether someone, regardless of what they tell you, will actually hand over money for it.

Product Launch

 Depending on your budget, prepare a launch plan for either sequential launches where your primary focus is on lead markets or for a simultaneous launch where all countries are entered at the same time. Be ready for your competitors to react.  If they are serious players they will not give up their slice of the market without a challenge.

Protect Your Competitive Advantage

 Think about your competitor’s ability to copy and launch similar products. You should protect your Intellectual Property by taking out patent protection.  Establishing a licensing agreement could also protect your position by enabling fast widespread distribution of your product on a regional or even worldwide basis.

Firms can increase their international competitiveness by:

•Rationalisation of output to get rid of high cost plants

•Relocating to places where labour costs are lower

•Process  and product innovation

•Incorporating the latest technology into investment

•Sourcing from abroad where appropriate

•Seeking out new market opportunities

•Improving relationships with suppliers and customer

Timing Is Everything

 Finally, timing is critical for new market entry and internationalisation  to succeed. Get it right and you’ll be able to fully exploit opportunities or competitor weaknesses in regional or global markets. Get the timing wrong and your company could pay for it for a long time.

For marketing new research, contact chipo at chipomaps@gmail.com

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A Brief Lesson in Online Marketing for Your Business

Marketing workshopOnline marketing is  a common challenge for many  business owners; they invest time and money on websites to attract interest, but don’t have an overall online marketing strategy in place for converting leads and retaining customers. Leads coming in to the website aren’t effectively captured. Warm and cool leads that may buy later are forgotten. And opportunities for repeat sales are missed. With seemingly unlimited ideas and strategies out there, it can be difficult to distil them all down into one seamless marketing plan that will work for your business.

The following seven steps provides guidance to  businesses searching for a simpler way to develop an online marketing plan. No expensive books and workshops. No complicated forms and exercises. No gimmicky sales jargon. Just seven simple steps that act as a framework for developing your sales and marketing process.

STEP 1: Attract Traffic

Consumers today have become highly adept at ignoring advertising in all its forms—they skip TV commercials, stream free online radio, block emails from unknown senders and are virtually blind to banner ads. Paid advertising alone is no longer a viable option for driving traffic to your website. You have to earn traffic by creating valuable content that attracts visitors. Content can mean many things to many people, but really it’s any valuable piece of information or entertainment that attracts leads to your site or that connects them to your business.

STEP 2: Capture leads

Now that you’re attracting people to your website with the lure of valuable content, you need to entice them to give you their contact information so you can nurture them over time. Web forms are an excellent way to capture leads, but the reality for many businesses is that the majority of their website visitors never submit a form.

  • Your Content Isn’t Compelling: For visitors to fill out a Web form, they must be motivated enough to share their personal information and take the time to consume the content.
  • You Ask for Too Much Information: Consumers are becoming more protective of their time and personal information. To maximize opt-ins, minimize the number of required fields on your forms.
  • You Don’t Inspire Trust: If a visitor is reluctant to submit a form on your website, it could be because your site doesn’t look credible enough.

STEP 3: Nurture Prospects

The truth is, most buyers don’t see an ad and immediately want to purchase your product online. They buy when they are ready to buy. To reach these buyers, you need a systematic approach for developing trust and converting leads. The not-so-secret weakness of most businesses is that they don’t follow up with leads as well as they should. But consistent, valuable follow-up messages can prove to be a huge competitive edge, as long as you approach the nurturing process with a clear communications plan in mind.

STEP 4: Convert Sales

You can attract, capture and nurture all the leads you’d like, but if they don’t convert into paying customers, you’re not going to make any money. Depending on your business type and setup, you likely use one of two methods for converting leads into customers: an online shopping cart or a sales team. No matter which method you use, there are a few strategies to realize the full potential of both.

  • E-Commerce Shopping Carts: Your online shopping cart represents your digital storefront and should be as effective and easy to use as someone visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
  • Personal Selling: For some companies, customers must connect with a salesperson before making a purchase. Unfortunately, many of these sales-intensive businesses lose revenue because of a buy-or-die mentality on the sales floor. If a lead comes in that isn’t ready to engage right away, it can fall into a black hole of lost leads that could have become customers given enough time and nurturing.

STEP 5: Deliver and Satisfy

If you have ever received disappointing customer service (and who hasn’t?), you won’t be surprised to learn that most companies spend more on acquiring new customers than keeping existing ones happy. Winning lifelong customers requires the ability to not only get a prospect to buy again and again, but to do so happily. The benefits go far beyond inspiring loyalty and repeat business; happy customers become advocates for your brand, driving referrals by sharing their experiences with friends, colleagues and social networks.

STEP 6: Upsell Customers

One of the very first statistics business owners learn is this: 80% of your profits come from the top 20% of your customers. Yet so many  business owners spend all their time focusing on attracting and converting new leads and customers. Upselling  and cross-selling efforts directed at existing customers completely fall off the radar. Continue to develop relationships through lead nurturing, like letting customers know about complementary products and services they might enjoy.

STEP 7: Get Referrals

Once you’ve established a clear process for funnelling leads from their first contact to after-purchase communications, you’re in a great position for the final step: growing even more through customer referrals and affiliates.

  • Get Customer Referrals: People are more likely to do business with someone when they’re introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Based on that idea, customer referral programs are a fantastic way to generate highly qualified leads. The key to getting referrals from happy customers is simple—just ask. And don’t forget to reward customers for their referrals with a thank you gift, account credit or heartfelt thank you card.
  • Leverage Affiliates: Affiliates are third parties who market your product on their website and through email and social media. They are an excellent way to drive traffic to your website and generate leads. The best thing about affiliate programs is the ROI—you pay only for performance. You simply make a small investment in marketing resources and then pay affiliates for any leads or sales they generate. Because your investment is minimal, these programs can yield amazing returns.

Implementing a marketing plan based on this platform will help you rediscover the joy of running your own business AND give you more time to tackle other important items on your life’s to-do list.

For marketing training for SMEs, contact Chipo at chipomaps@gmail.com

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Four Ways to get value from Digital Marketing

 digital-marketing-banner1Since the dawn of the internet, marketers have regarded  it as a vast laboratory , launching experiment after experiment  to find ways to generate  sales and customer loyalty. Customers on the other hand have adopted digital marketing in ways that suit them  and in the process have changed the ways companies market their good and services.

Researchers at Mckinsey and Company  has found that the most successful digital marketers focus on managing four core values  as they increase  the percentage of  marketing and channel spending that is directed to digital activities.

The Digital- Marketing Difference

Even though marketers know that customers go through a multi-stage journey when making purchases, they  have tended to  concentrate  on two, that is.. brand marketing and promotions.

Digital marketing is changing all that  by making companies  part of the conversation with their customers. Companies are moving away from one way conversations driven by sales mentality to  two way relationships with consumers. According to Mckinsey  and Company, companies  should be more strategic in their digital marketing efforts.

Core value 1: Orchestrate an integrated consumer experience

Today’s customers are continuously interacting with brands on- line. In order not to miss the opportunity presented by on-line customers, brands  need to unify  their digital efforts across different channels . While it is not easy to coordinate content across the entire consumer experience, but the waste from failing to do so should be harder to face. Companies therefore need to use their IT departments to create customer  applications that interface with on-line channels ,making it easier for customers to communicate with them. Marketers also need to create content that is accessed across mobile applications and the internet, creating seamless brand messages on and off line.

Core value 2: Inspire consumers to help you stretch your marketing budget

Traditional marketers tend to spend 60% of their budgets on  “working media”, 20% on creating content and the balance on employees and agencies. Digital channels reverse this by focusing on a smaller core of engaged people who  can spread positive word of mouth  and share information with a broader  audience. By making the right investment, digital  marketers  can spend  significantly less on marketing as a percentage of sales. By creating content that consumers want to share, brands make it easy for customers to willingly share information about them, thus enabling you to get a bigger share of word of mouth on a smaller budget.

Core value 3: Adopt a publisher’s discipline to curb costs.

In order to support your consumers’ decision journey , you are required to have a vast  and growing range of content , beyond advertising. As competition increases  and companies chase customers, they are increasingly  using difference types of online content from static to multimedia . On the other hand, customers are pulling content “on demand” such as Google alerts  and they expect your content to be relevant and on time. Marketers who fail to adopt  the discipline of a multimedia  publisher don’t realising that deep within their operations, they are facing rapid escalating products costs, unnecessary duplication , inconsistent  quality of content and second  rate interaction with customers. There are few things worse that company websites that go for long periods un-updates and social network sites that have old and tired content.

Switching perspectives from a traditional advertiser to a  disciplined  personalized  publisher helps you to cut costs by thousands if not millions of dollars.

Core value 4: Use intelligence wisely to drive performance

When on-line conversations start to trash your brand, no response can be fast enough and when you need  to optimise  your search and  other media spending , there is no time to waste. Savvy marketers are mastering  intelligence  gathering tools and processes that analyse what customers are seeing. Clever marketers are analysing customers’ online  behaviour , interpreting what  they are saying and soliciting for feedback. Marketers need the ability to assess and utilize  intelligence in real-time in order  to drive  performance. Brand should have clear processes  to act upon insights , track results and follow up with action.

Companies should take a different view  to developing new products launch plans, budget  for content creation and decide how to balance  traditional media and digital marketing. Technology and Marketing departments need to work together more closely to make relevant applications as well as analysis of data easier, and beneficial to the organisation.

Hitting the reset button on marketing begins by accepting a new perspective on what marketing needs to accomplish. It requires marketing executives to step up to a broader, cross-functional coordination role, armed with deep insights about the decision journey consumers are undertaking and the tools needed to guide it.

Reference: David C Edelman, “Four ways to get more value from digital marketing” Mckinsey Quarterly.

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