It doesn’t just work for service businesses though, with many of the techniques being adopted further up the funnel, as businesses seek to nurture and cultivate their leads and tie potential leads in before they even make the decision to buy.
This is especially true in the Real estate market, where businesses like Keller Williams are seeking to offer value-added content and services to potential homebuyers regardless of where they are in there buying cycle.
Have a clear brand identity
Even in large businesses, there is an opportunity to strengthen corporate reputations by building up personal brands. The messaging from a CTO or CMO on LinkedIn will have more credibility on certain subjects than the Sales team for example and can be used to create a much richer picture of the brand and it’s offering that the standard marketing media.
Build a relationship – listen to their feedback and comments
Relationships are built on dialogue, to monologue, you don’t get to understand what your customer’s need or want by talking, and this is doubly so in a highly competitive market place.
From Facebook to email, attention heat maps are constantly demonstrating that we’re blind to banners and other ads, as we seek out relevant answers to our own problems. Voice search is now over 50% globally, and questions are now the major search terms used on youtube and Google.
If you’re not answering the questions that your customers are asking, someone else will be, so you have to constantly adjust your messaging based on customer feedback. Forums’ subscriber groups, comment sections and regular keyword reviews are essential to make sure that you continue to be the solution to your audience’s problems.
Keep regular contact but make it meaningful. People expect it and are willing to accept it.
There is a psychological theory called the “mere exposure theory’ which suggests that we automatically accept and feel comfortable around things we are used too. It’s the reason why certain Christmas songs remain popular even though you’ve heard them 500 times!
Similarly, familiarity with your content will increase the open rate and ensure that people will be open to your messages, which is essential when you start to add more sales-focused CTA’s further down the funnel.
Add value! This is not about you.
This is the key difference between inbound and outbound marketing. Outbound marketing bombards people with messages they don’t want to see, shouting the advertiser’s message to a wide audience in the hope that it might be heard.
The main difference is the message. Good inbound marketing adds value to the viewer’s life, by providing a solution to a problem. It answers the questions that the consumer is asking, in an engaging and entertaining way, as this ensures that, not only will the recipient get to the end fo the message, but they will remain engaged and are likely to retain 10 times as much of the message
There are multiple markets and make content relevant to them
Regardless of your industry, it’s likely that your customers are not the only people referring you. There is a range of affiliated but non-competing companies that can be nurtured for referrals, but their needs are different, so you might want to communicate with them specifically.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a small commission will drive referrals, most businesses will generate significantly more from their repeat customers than they will ever earn in commissions, so you need to communicate how they will benefit from being associated with your business, how it will enhance their offering with no risk to their reputation.
Grow your list, not facebooks!
Social Media is a great way to communicate a simple message to a lot of people, but it’s not a great place to communicate a complex and lengthy series of messages.
You want to be in control of your audience and how you communicate with them. A Facebook follower is not a lead, it’s an opportunity to see, and the level of engagement is very low. Social media is another media platform, now more or less so than TV, Radio or the internet, and as a business, you need to be able to pull your potential users closer and closer with time.
An email subscriber is an engaged potential lead, so your aim should be to create online content on your site and promote it via social media, rather than placing the content on the media platform itself, and coupled with lead capture as applicable. Ideally, you want your viewers to subscribe to your site or at least to email.
Reward loyalty and treat your subscribers differently
Your subscribers have indicated that they want a relationship with you, to be more than just a casual visitor. You need to respect and recognise that and treat them better than the norm.
Content should be stratified, dependent upon the level of engagement, from short intro pieces on Facebook and Linkedin to more detailed onsite content, and finally exclusive content for subscribers.
This could be a more in-depth article or a different format, such as a webinar or video content. Ideally, you want to create content that is exclusive to the subscribers, as this recognises that they are more engaged.
This is common in the online marketing services space, where freelancers and consultants offer free one to one consulting to their subscribers, which adds significant value ( and obviously increases the potential for lead generation!) but can work in other segments, especially where knowledge is the commodity.
Make sure this can transfer to a lead flow
Ultimately, this is a business, and your marketing has to work for you.
Don’t forget that this is a process, and its function is to provide selling opportunities in the future, in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, so you need to pull people down the funnel.
Whilst your top of funnel content needs to be highly customer focussed, with limited overt CTAs, you should give them the opportunity to drive the engagement further at their pace. This can be as simple as links to relevant, more sales focussed information, more detailed information on applications or more in-depth lead capture.
As your audience comes more engaged, they are more informed and looking to have a closer relationship, CTA’s can be more overt, and more personal contact.