In today’s business environment we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of marketing tools that let us communicate easier with our customers and prospects, observe competitors, and scrutinize the market. Many small business owners are competing more effectively using digital media (and extending the value of their traditional marketing efforts). These newer digital tools foster greater competition by enabling our businesses to reach interested prospects with highly relevant real-time communications and get measurable feedback almost immediately.
Successfully acquiring new customers through digital marketing is best handled by employing inbound marketing channels to obtain visibility and leads. These channels include search, social media and email marketing, all fueled by content marketing.
This post outlines the best types of tools and the most popular tactics in each category based on our experience.
We’ll start with a concept known as Content Marketing. Content marketing is the primary focus for business owners seeking to use digital marketing to increase reach, leads and sales. So, what is Content Marketing? Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing fuels:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Event marketing (in person events as well as Webinars)
- Paid media including Pay per click and display advertising
- Lead generation and conversion rate optimization (through landing pages)
How do you go about developing a content marketing strategy?
Here is a quick checklist to get you started:
- Define business opportunity for content marketing
- Define key segments or target audiences
- Review current content marketing
- Review competitor content marketing
- Define your content marketing strategy
- Define content marketing plan
- Prioritize audiences and personas
- Prioritize content assets for audience
- Define content marketing resources
- Create communications timeline
- Implement and manage your content marketing strategy
- Update your editorial calendar
- Manage social media distribution
- Manage email marketing distribution
- Manage SEO effectiveness of content marketing
- Review analytics for content effectiveness
Great. Now what? Time to consider the tools.
One of the tools your likely to be using in your content efforts is social media. In our case, we strongly recommend Facebook as the starting place, but use the platform you are most confident in to get started. (More on social media selection in an upcoming post).
Why focus on social? Leverage social to help find ideal prospects and accelerate list growth. The adage that birds of a feather flock together sums it up nicely. People with similar issues, concerns, challenges, and life experiences typically are connected to others much like themselves. Social is all about connections. Go on, engage your audience.
Today’s consumers check out online reviews before making in-store purchase! Reviews are known as ‘user generated content’ or UGC.
But remember, you must craft content that does more than just ask contacts to buy. Your customers aren’t always in the market to purchase. If all they hear from you is “buy this,” can you blame them for tuning you out? To avoid this predicament, try creating content that helps your contacts solve problems, buy better, and even find interesting things they wouldn’t have uncovered any other way.
Here are a few topics to talk about besides “buy this”:
- Present information that helps customers use your products correctly.
- Go behind the scenes by introducing customers to key employees. Show off your offices or factories. Talk about your company philosophy.
- Add customer voices to your emails by featuring reviews, endorsements, photos and other user-generated content (UGC).
- Become the authority in your market niche by sharing “insider” news and information.
- Improve onboarding for new customers with information that helps them find what they want faster or navigate better around your website.
What about email?
Do you collect email addresses? From whom – everyone that you meet, just customers, all appointments, third parties? Think it through. Why not collect them all if they’ll share them with you? Above we discussed the use of social media to interact and extend the reach of your audience. Those names are gold, email address gold to be exact.
Now that you have defined the ways you’ll collect email addresses, let’s turn to what to do with them. First, and this is a critical component, you have to keep track of where the names came from! Two reasons for this – first, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must have permission to use the addresses (if you’ve been given the information freely, you’re good here – no buying or renting email addresses!). The second reason is more practical, since you absolutely want to tailor your messages to each type of audience you identified in the first step of the checklist.
What emails will you send? You really need to ask yourself what messages will resonate with the audience I am targeting. What do they want to know, what is important to them? This is not about your agenda, it must be content that is relevant to them first – then when you have their attention you can ask them to act a certain way, or react to your content. The opportunities are endless, and they are similar in nature to the list of content topics we explored for social media. This is all very connected. In fact, the more connected the content and media, the more effective you will be.
Time to jump in
That’s enough to get started, but remember, the foundation of any digital marketing plan is your website. All of the other digital tools and efforts rely on your website as the central element for customer and prospect communication and an informational base. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and effort into shoring up your website from the content perspective!
Consult YHN Marketing has turnkey programs and solutions to get you started, just give us a call and we’ll review your situation with you and offer recommendations to get you digitally marketing in no time.
Welcome to 2016!
The world has become a show-me-you-know-me marketplace. Meaning, if companies want to keep customers happy and loyal they must first prove just how valuable customers are by making every interaction personal and relevant to their needs. The same is true for prospective customers and your database is full of those!
Locating prospects within your database offers huge opportunities.
So, how do you reach those prospects in an efficient and effective manner? The best messages are driven by customer insights that enable extremely relevant communications. In other words, the answer is right there in your own patient database. You already know more about your prospective customers than you may think.
Poor data quality may be a common barrier, but there are strategies for optimizing the data you have to reach prospects wherever they are in the customer cycle.
Consult YHN has examined the basic steps to increasing your marketing efficiency and how to create messaging that truly stands out. This strategy will be discussed at Convention 2016 coming up in February along with a presentation on the tactics and tools we suggest for getting started.
Attendees will be able to:
- Identify and understand more precisely who your high-value prospects (and customers) are
- Create customer profiles for select target audiences
- Improve business results by identifying and segmenting customers and prospects within the database
- Deliver more personalized and relevant messages to high-value prospects
Join us in February; be ready to face the continuing changes within the hearing healthcare marketplace by meeting the challenges head-on! Register today if you haven’t already, there’s plenty of time to sign up. For more event info go to AHAAconvention.com or to register for the event you can go directly here.
When I began my career in marketing over a decade ago, my world was very different. Reflecting upon this time with what I now know, I admit that there was a lot of guesswork, trial and error was often a “strategy,” and the concept of tracking was a “nice to have.” It wasn’t just because it was early in my own career; it’s just how things were done. At the time, most of my clients were focused on their newspaper and direct mail efforts and were obsessed with the creative side of things. They reluctantly dabbled in digital media [which was barely a “thing”] with a “state-of-the-art” HTML website – and this was only when they had a few dollars left in the budget and were told ad nauseam it was a good idea. These approaches were acceptable for the time, but there’s been a LOT of evolution at a breakneck pace over the past decade. As a marketer, I’ve continued to run to keep up [and have enjoyed every minute of it]!
Truth be told, during the early 2000’s it was a bit of a “churn and burn” approach to marketing – which campaign can we implement now to obtain a few new customers, never to think about them again after purchase? Since there wasn’t much data analysis, when a client “felt” like something didn’t work, they’d pull the plug and often prematurely abort an otherwise successful program. Plus, social media was in its infancy and you were lucky if you carried the latest flip phone…
Fast forward to [almost] 2015 and it’s truly a different world. There are many things I’m grateful for – the focus on segmented, targeted messaging, a high level of importance placed on tracking and analytics and the power of the consumer. The last point might be the most significant switch – as marketers we need to constantly focus on customer experience, retention and communication preference. This concept is a wonderful touchstone to consider when planning and implementing marketing strategies. We now find ourselves continuously asking: What resonates with the customer? How do they like to be reached [via text, email, direct mail, etc.]? What does “great” look like to them? How can we better reach, speak with and connect with our customer?
Successful communication with the customer is hinged upon targeted messaging via the appropriate medium, not just about the creative campaign – this is a significant cultural shift in the world of marketing. The mass messaging approach of yester year is a waste of time, energy and resources. Today’s consumer is highly educated and motivated to purchase based on their needs and preferred buying habits. Understanding these preferences – and communicating to each consumer in a relevant way – is the key to capturing their business, making them a repeat buyer and [hopefully] obtaining referrals for your business and/or product.
The main way today’s consumers become so informed and savvy is through online research, including price shopping, product reviews, and referrals from peer-to-peer interactions [social media]. These are the main reasons that today’s marketing strategies and tactics are so digitally focused. It’s important for potential clients to be able to find your business via online mediums. You’ll want to ensure that you’re online reputation is stellar; this is accomplished through online reviews, social media exposure and ongoing content [regular blog postings].
Regardless of the industry, times change and marketing is often a significant driving force. I know that both my professional and personal experiences have changed because of marketing. Those who pay attention to the changes, embrace the journey and transform along the way are the ones who’ll have the most success!
Most of us live our lives on a fairly regimented schedule – waking up at a certain time each weekday for work, getting the family together for dinner around the same time in the evening, trying to attend a workout class at a certain time on the weekends and preparing for upcoming holidays with planning travel, organizing gatherings and decorating with seasonal flair. Sometimes the same schedule we follow in our personal lives can translate into good business practices. Believe it or not, your personal event schedule can be applied to your cyclical marketing plan.
Most marketing plans are developed on a 12-month schedule. Having an organized plan deters last minute scrambling and panicking and promotes consistent traffic and opportunities. However, once that plan is in place, the individual tactics [including messaging and design] like ads, inserts, direct mailers and promotions need to be developed. Think about planning the themes for these initiatives around the usual calendar events – seasons, holidays, etc.
It’s easy to tie the theme of your ad, insert or direct mailer into an upcoming holiday. Let’s use Thanksgiving as an example. You might consider showing an image of a family around the dinner table and including a headline that touches on both the holiday and what the prospective patient might be missing; e.g. “What’s more memorable…the meal or time with the family?”
Sample seasonal themed ad from MarketSource.
What’s powerful about this approach is that your audience is already in that ‘holiday’ mindset so your promotion will be relevant to their needs in that moment. And coupling that with the pain point of ‘missing out’ on family and friend interactions around the holidays is a poignant message.
This same approach can be used for patriotic holidays, changing of seasons and much more! Think about what your prospects will be focused on at a certain time of year. Then, tie your message into their organic thought process at that point in time.
Also, take your 12-month marketing plan one step further by developing a calendar of tactics and messaging focused on upcoming holidays and seasons. This will be the perfect combination of organization and subject matter for successful communication with your prospective patients!
Interested in seeing some seasonal and holiday-themed options with targeted messaging? Visit MarketSource – marketsource.consultyhn.com – and sign up to peruse seasonal marketing samples that you can order with just a few clicks!