Love is a waiting game.
When I train business owners on how to run their social media accounts, or create good optimised content, or to keep in touch with their customers and prospects by email, one of the first things I say is that it’s about relationships.
Sounds obvious right?
Still, how many of us believe that online networking requires a completely different set of skills to those we use when we’re face to face? You wouldn’t turn up to a first date wearing your wedding attire would you? Similar niceties apply when you’re connecting with someone you might want to sell to later. Don’t pounce on them with a sales message the second they connect with you!
People online are still people, and though the connection may seem distant because it comes through a screen, that’s faulty reasoning. Social media is simply another tool to connect, but the skills we should employ to nurture that connection are the same as if you’d met the connection at a networking event: Have coffee. Get to know them. See how you can help. Ask if they’d like a proposal, etc.
Online, this process would translate to: Send connection request. Find out a bit about them via their website or LinkedIn profile. Ask if they’d like to meet. See how you can help.
Really, online connections are simply a short cut to meet more prospects, research them and set up a meeting (with any luck). There’s only so many networking events you can attend in person after all. Online networking allows you to circumvent the process, but try not to be impatient.
Online marketing is a long game, yes a long game of enticing, calling to action, giving and nurturing. Ultimately, no one wants to start a relationship with someone they don’t trust, and they won’t come back if you can’t provide something they want.
So before I start taking you through the stages of inbound marketing, I just wanted to set the scene by saying, it will take time, understanding, adjustment and gauging the responses, just like building any other relationship that you have. Becoming an online marketing pro is a learning curve like every other profession. But eventually, with practice, these skills will become second nature.
If I told you I’m brilliant at what I do, would you believe me? What would it take for you to trust me?
Would it help if I gave you great advice from a position of knowledge? Would it help if other people told you what a great job I did for them? What if I gave you something of great value, not necessarily financial value, but something that would really help you solve a problem you have? If it worked, you’d be inclined to come back to me again, right?
However, we need to rewind a little before we even start talking about trust. We can’t even get to the point of trust if you don’t know I exist! This is where inbound marketing begins. You need to get in front of your potential customers, and once you have your attention you have the opportunity to convert them into lifetime fans.
Many social marketers like to refer to what’s known as the Funnel . The Funnel is an easy way to think about the process that turns strangers into promoters of your brand, and it has four steps: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
This first step is all about making strangers aware of your brand and engaging with them, turning them from strangers to visitors. Most of your clients will look you up online before they choose to interact with you, so having an attractive, professional social media presence that gives a great first impression is key here. There are three main ways to drive customers to your brandthree main ways to drive customers to your brand.
It’s important to make sure your website’s blog is continually updated. In other words, you can’t just post three articles all at once and let them sit there for two years. But updating your blog with current, relevant information your clients are interested will not only bring you visitors, it helps cements you as an authority in your field.
Having your site professionally search engine optimized (SEO) is one of the most effective ways to organically drive traffic to you. The right keyword strategy makes sure that strangers who are looking for someone like you *see* you, and it helps you attract the kind of visitors you are looking for.
Facebook and Instagram are two of the first avenues customers use when they are looking up a company. Having active, relevant social media will establish your voice to customers as an authoritative voice in the industry.
Once strangers have found your site, you then need to focus on lead conversion. This means turning visitors into potential customers. And if you get a potential client to bite, you need to make sure the experience is easy and encouraging. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to sprinkle CTAs throughout your website, blog posts, and social media posts. A CTA is a Call to Action. It gives your potential customer a specific action they can take to, clearly and with an appropriate link. This can be for an email list, a newsletter, your sales page, or direct engagement like a sales call. The idea is to make it as easy as possible on the client to give you their information. It’s crucial that the CTA link to a simple, attractive, clear landing page. Any forms you have the client fill out should be simple and short, with only the most essential information to keep them engaged and connected.
Once the potential client is a lead and in the system, now it’s time to close them and make them a customer. This is where trust comes back into the picture. Hopefully, you’ve provided them helpful, relevant content up to this point. Email marketing is still an important, effective tool, but it requires a fine touch. Too much email, and you’ve turned into spam. Too little, and your lead forgets you exist. And as with the blog posts and social posts, you don’t want your emails to be the equivalent of flashy ads. You want your leads to open the emails and actually read them, and they are more inclined to do this if they already care about what you, as an industry authority, has to say about an issue.
After you’ve turned them into clients, the next step is to keep them coming back. Your customers want to feel like they are “in” with you, so engaging them directly on social media regularly is important. Make sure you are thanking them when they share your content or promote your brand. Send out surveys or ask open-ended questions on social media to make your clients feel like they are being listened to, and are an important component of your success. And when you get a good review, share it! The more engaged your clients feel, the more likely they are to become ambassadors of your brand and refer you to friends.
If you’re a Greenwich borough trading business and you’d like free training on social media for business, email marketing or content marketing. South East Enterprise are running a series of free courses, funded by Greenwich Council, as part of the eBusiness 2 program. I deliver the social media training on behalf of SEE, and you can get free business advice and other training sessions on SEO and how to create your business plan, if you sign up for the eBusiness program. See you there!