Adapting a longstanding marketing strategy to take account of changing technology can be a major undertaking, but it has never been more necessary or more worthwhile. Developing the Internet and mobile phone technologies now make it easier to connect with customers than ever before. How can a business make the most of this?
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One of the most exciting things to happen to the Internet over the past five years has been the development of mobile technology. With over three-quarters of Americans now owning smartphones, the market is considered to be reaching saturation point, but mobile is now taking off in a big way in up-and-coming countries like India and China, while American phones are getting ever more sophisticated. Phone owners are also doing more and more with their smartphones, often using them instead of traditional computers for all their Internet activity.
This means that every business if it is to thrive, needs to be there on mobile. It needs a professionally-run, opt-in text message marketing campaign for existing customers and it needs a website that loads easily and looks good on a mobile screen. It also means that ranking well on search engines (primarily Google) is more important than ever, as most mobile users will only consider the top three results in any given search before making a choice.
Reaching new markets
A successful online marketing campaign has to go further than just producing good materials like a website or blog – it has to help people find them in the first place. In part, this is about search engine optimization (SEO), but itâ€™s also about breaking into new social networks. One good way to do this is by forming promotional partnerships with other businesses involved in similar but not competing sectors. This could mean, for instance, that when a customer books a wedding venue a pop-up ad appears for a catering or photography service.
Businesses can use social media to find new customers by posting in online groups or communities that have been identified in a similar way. While purely promotional posts donâ€™t tend to go down well, posts that solve problems for group members or offer useful information can quickly make people warm to the business.
Unlike traditional forms of marketing, online marketing offers the option of targeting specific groups of customers. This can be as simple as focusing on a particular form of social media that attracts a given demographic (e.g. using Snapchat to reach people in their teens or early twenties), or as complex as using Facebookâ€™s targeting systems to promote a confectioner to people who have recently purchased flowers.
The key to targeted marketing is getting help from professionals who really know the industry. For a property company, this could mean finding a skilled real estate promotion company while for a clinic it could mean hooking up with a healthcare marketing specialist. Online marketing is not a one-size-fits-all business. Itâ€™s necessary to understand the target demographic, profile it in detail, and structure campaigns accordingly.
Keeping in touch
With the tools new technologies provide, thereâ€™s no longer any excuse for losing touch with existing customers. Although there will always be a few who wish to opt-out of further communication, even if they are pleased with the service they have received, many will agree to join communications lists that offer them advantages like special discounts. Giving them a range of options for how theyâ€™d like to be contacted makes this easier still.
Alongside these direct methods of communication, a well-managed social media presence encourages customers to stay connected and up to speed with what a business is doing. Running competitions and promotions can encourage people to follow the business while making tools interactive can help a business team to form a friendly relationship with customers and gain useful feedback from them.
Bringing it all back home
None of these methods of marketing can be effective without investment (of either money or time), so itâ€™s vital to know which are producing the best results in order to be able to make good decisions about how to prioritize that investment. At its most basic level, this means counting followers and fans on different forms of social media, but it also means using more sophisticated analytics to measure everything from website hits to where those hits come from and how links are shared.
Ultimately, all marketing activities should lead back to the companyâ€™s website, where prospective customers are invited either to make a purchase or to get in touch. A video message on the website can substitute very nicely for a personal greeting and is far more effective than text. Having drawn people in, this is the time to speak to them and make the direct pitch that will secure those sales.
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