Here’s something you may or may not have noticed about your customers lately: they are dynamically communicating on a multitude of platforms—phone, email, text, IM, social, etc. What’s even more noteworthy is that your customers are in control of their buying journey, more so than ever before.
According to Gartner Research, by 2020, customers will be managing 85% of their buying relationship without talking to a human. Gone are the days when you could send a company brochure or blast an email, telemarket, then wait for the buyer to inquire for more information. Your customer has evolved.
Don’t get me wrong: traditional marketing is not dead. But it needs to evolve to include new strategies that include up-to-the-minute tactics and take advantage of technology that makes your task easier. It needs to be agile.
When customers want to buy, they will actively seek out information and intelligence with the most sophisticated online tools available, from search engines to social media. And that’s not all. After they check with their peers in the various sharing forums available, be it through meetups or social media groups, they may not download your brochure. Instead, they’ll read your case studies, then check out third party recommendations about both you and your company in order to make a decision.
The good news is, you can adjust your marketing mindset with a new set of tactics on how to resonate with this highly informed buyer. All it takes is a new understanding of your customer profile and a willingness to adjust as needed. Get a clear picture of their behaviors so that you can estimate and create the experience they are looking for, understand their buying journey and deploy marketing campaigns that get through. And do this often.
1-Know your customers’ profiles. Talk to them wherever they choose to engage with your company. The key is to know where your buyer is “playing” and what type of information they use to educate themselves in the buying cycle—so you can create relevant marketing content that sells by educating, NOT selling.
What type of content do they read? Data like this will help you personalize your marketing campaigns. Ask them: what type of content they prefer to read, where they are communicating and, if it’s social media, on which platforms. Create a quick, automated survey in Survey Monkey and email them the link (don’t forget that $10 Amazon gift card for completing the survey).
Now, simplify your message by distilling it into three benefits that can be quickly conveyed. Sign up for a free Google Adwords account and take advantage of the Keywords Planner tool to find the top words that customers are using to search for the products/services they want to buy. Use those keywords in all of your content: blogs, web, social, etc.
2-Make it personal. Make the customer feel they are at the center of your universe—not the recipient of a generic, mass communication. Keep the mass blast campaigns to a minimum. Now more than ever, new technologies can help businesses speak to more people in a personal way, in a short period of time. If you have a good size budget, explore automation programs, such as Marketo, which offer the ability to execute automated, personalized campaigns that deliver the most relevant experience for your customer.
Use the power of social media for targeted, personal messages that use your customers’ handles (e.g. @kathysmith) to gain their attention and create an authentic experience. Always remember: benefits up front. Use the power of LinkedIn Tag , Sort and Message features to send personal notes to multiple folks that you are already connected to.
3-Use social media as a “warm call.” Technology buyers are avid users of social media, like LinkedIn and Twitter, to communicate with their peers, vendors and partners. Find and follow them. Make them a part of your social community.
Traditional forms of marketing outreach, or the “cold call,” are episodic and isolated. Supplement those tactics with social media to build relationship capital with your prospects by posting, sharing and engaging. By doing that, you position yourself to be more involved in the beginning of the buying cycle. Social media creates a full circle path around your buyer and allows you the flexibility to engage with them at anytime. It’s a permanent ongoing connection!
Savvy companies also rely heavily on social tools, such as custom #hashtags, at industry events to interact and draw in traffic—before, during and after the event. This personalized activity is even helpful in setting sales appointments.
As marketers, we all know that innovation means constantly testing new ideas and acting upon them. If you can remain agile with your marketing strategy you’ll keep up with the behavior of the evolving customer. Adjust your activities often to match what your customer wants. It doesn’t mean abandoning your traditional marketing activities, but adding new relevant and up-to-date activities to supplement them.
[Leadarati helps IT firms drive value and increase opportunities through social, digital and online communications.]