The trend in our society is that we want things to be customized. We want the items that we purchase to be unique to us. As a result, business owners have poped up to meet that demand. They see opportunity in customization where large manufacturers simply cannot compete. They do not have the ability to tailor to a single consumer. But how do specialized or niche businesses reach their customers? What marketing mediums do they use to say “we have exactly what you are looking for!” Most importantly, how do they create a trust with their prospective consumer to make them comfortable with their purchase.
To best answer these questions, I offer you a real life example. In West Michigan, micro brewing beer has taken off. It is a highly successful industry nationwide and it has caused an immediate rise in home brewing. People can make their own beer in their homes and customize it however they would like based on taste. In my career, I am working with a company that produces customized tap handles. The tap handles are used to dispense beer out of a keg. These tap handles can be made into anything: names, shapes, color, etc. The biggest problem that my client had was reaching and educating their intended consumer about the service that they provided. We used our online targeting capabilities to reach these consumers. The marketing plan was two fold. First we created an online display advertisement to reach these consumers that were searching for the service. We had a focus on main stream website as well as developing and enhancing a social media aspect. Tap handles are a social product so we had a heightened focus on education through social outlets. Second, we develped an email marketing campaign. This campaign was fairly simple an straight forward. We sent out targeted emails to individuals displaying the customized products that they produced. The result of the campaign was a success. Not only did we reach home brewers, but there were 6 local brewers looking for my client to produce customized tap handles for them.
I think its safe to say that most people have someone in their lives that they call a friend. Someone who they talk to, hang out with and even trust. Typically we choose our friends based off of similar interests. We like to do and talk about similar things and arent constantly annoying one another. The reason that I have defined friendship is because of the emergence of social media in marketing. Social Media is the newest way for companies to connect with customers. It allows them to tell their story and show their value. Unfortunately, what most companies miss is the reason why social media is a success. Social media is an outlet for people to go to catch up with friends, get new ideas and simply be entertained. They DO NOT want to be sold to. Constant ads being pushed in their face will more likely cause them to “unlike” or “unfriend” you. A popular emerging term for placing ads on social media is “native marketing”. Native marketing is a companies strategy to provide content to its users or followers in an attempt to make it look like organic content. This can range from pictures, compelling articles, resources etc. It is a great way to become a resource and avoid being “dull”.
Do you like me?
So what is my suggestion? Become a resource! Post interesting stories about you or your industry. Helpful tips or hints that the consumer will find useful. Become someone that they think they would like to talk to or even hang out with. This above all wil build trust. Traditional marketing suggests that the more times you reach a person with an ad the more likely they are to buy your product. Social media is different. People want to interact, so post a poll in which they can share their opinion. In current marketing trends, I like to think of social media as a party. If you invite someone to your party and just try to sell them things, they are probably going to leave. If you have music, food, drinks, things to do; then they will stay. Not only will they remember that they had a great time but they will come back! Now isnt that what we all want in a brand?
If you have done any online shopping you may have noticed subsequent ads following your visit to a particular site. In my line of work, we call this product behavioral targeting. It coincides with behavioral segmentation. This concept is a current market trend that most all organizations have access to their target consumers. The behavioral targeting product we use is also known as online display ads. These ads are displayed on web pages to accompany the content on a given site. They are placed on the page to be noticed and are annoying… Right? Ten years ago I would have probably agreed with that comment. Companies would run ads in a geographic territory and deliver them to everyone. Most ads did not pertain to me and I would view them as annoying.
Target the RIGHT group!
So what has changed? Why do I no longer find these display advertisements to be annoying? It comes down to a new marketing trend of targeting. Major companies break it down by “choosing the right audience”. The way that my company targets these display ads (and probably most others) is somewhat simple. We first come up with a defined geographic territory. Next we create a target demographic or ideal consumer. Finally, we deliver ads only to those individuals who meet the criteria. We are able to define that “ideal consumer” for clients based off of previous internet history and habits. I can use myself as an example. I was recently looking for new dress clothes for the upcomming summer. I had done some internet searches in regards to styles and brands that I could purchase. A couple of days later, I was back on the Internet reading a news story. Next to that story, there was an ad for a clothing company called Five Four Club. They specialize in mens clothing. The ad that was delivered to me was for business casual summer wear. Needless to say, I am now a consumer of their product. Without behavioral targeting I would have no clue this company existed. Because of this, I no longer am annoyed by these ads. I have the viewpoint of these ads being useful!
The technology now exists to read peoples minds! If that statement were true, marketing would be much easier. It may have even avoided companies in this years Super Bowl to shift away from ads that made you want to cry instead of enjoy the game with your friends! (just my opinion). While the technology doesn’t exist to read minds, it does provide us with room to have the ability to track our advertising. We can analyse data and understand the psychology of our consumers online. This ranges from tracking clicks, likes, #’s, follows, and yes analytics. No matter what measurement you use it is detrimental to analyze your traffic to remain competitive. That is why having analytics on your website is one of the most important things that you can do.
The above image is one that I keep at my desk to remind me that most don’t fully understand what they are looking at in their own analytics. In fact, most clients are resistant to the idea because of the misconceptions about analaytics difficulty and cost. First off, a lot of analytics systems are free! Another misconception deals with the above picture. There is a lot of data that is collected within any system. The beauty of this is that it is easy to create custom views and goals based off of what is important to your business. If your goal is to sell something, you can track your traffic to the point of making a sale. I am also reminded that with any technology, there are going to be disbelievers. Understanding that you own the analytic system on your site, the numbers and data returned are 100% your own. It is a live look in to your consumer and what they did on your site.
The #1 thing that I say to my clients is that you NEED to use your analytics. It is one of your most valuable tools in the online world. You are provided with demographic information, location, interaction, device access, and so much more. When you dive into any marketing campaign you have the ability to hone and enhance your results. For example, if you are doing paid search it is important to track end to end. The front end is the keyword that you are bidding on and receiving the click from. The back end is the conversion measurement in which your analytics are set up. By doing this, it will give you insight to which keywords are most valuable to bid on and which ones you can do without. Un
When I look at all of the things that we have today, I like to think about and remember how we had reached this point. My recent purchase of the iPhone 6 had me doing just that. I began to think back to just how far we have come with cell phone technology. My first recollection was known as the bag phone. This phone came in a briefcase style container and was certainly not something that you could fit in your pocket. I recall my Mom having to pull over so that she could unzip the bag and connect to the phone to make a call. As I bring that memory back to the present, I look at my iPhone and laugh a little. The capabilities that the iPhone 6 has compared to the bag phone of 24 years ago is astounding! You have so much connectivity with the world and the rate in which you receive your information is almost instant.
The reason that I bring this up is because “The Times They are a Changin'”. Cell phone capabilities have allowed for a change in the market place. It is seemingly everyday that consumers are looking for more and more information prior to the purchase of a product. In doing so, they are going online more to do so. What the technological changes in phones has done is shift how these users are gaining access to the internet.
This graphic provides us with the pace in which mobile internet traffic is growing. It also show us a comparison the the “PC” boom and how the internet traffic grew during that time period. I think the continued increase comes down to two things: Ease of use and accessibility. The mobile phone internet option provides both.
This growth has not gone unnoticed. This is very evident based off of Google’s recent algorithm changes. Beginning on April 21st, 2015, Google has announced that it will give a better ranking to those sites that are “mobile-friendly”. This causes companies to effectively optimize their websites to be mobile or have them coded with responsive design. The idea is that knowing the mobile traffic has increased, Google doesn’t want to deliver users to sites in which they have to “zoom” to read the content.
Growing up, the goal of hide and seek was to be the last one found. The reason being is that in hide and seek, that is how you won the game. I remember constantly looking for new and innovative places to hide in order to win. When it comes to your business and it’s website, it would be best for you to LOSE at this game. I am of course talking about being FOUND on search engines by individuals searching for you or the services that you provide.
Source: 21st Century Networker
The term that I am referring to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In today’s business landscape it is of the utmost importance for a business to have a website. The sole reason is that consumers are now seeking more information about a product or service prior to their purchase. Your website provides that consumer with the information and is the greatest influence for them to purchase what you are offering.
According to Forbes, there are 7 ways that SEO is uniquely important. I will focus on the main reasons that SEO is important for all businesses and the first one is keywords. As a company, you have to know your capabilities and understand how consumers are searching for your service. This is known as keyword research. When keyword research is done correctly it informs and enables your target consumer to take action. In some cases, it serves as an educational tool for customers who previously had no clue that you provided that service. Any search engine (good ones) will provide you with relevant content based off of your search. The below image provides you with an idea of the traffic after a search has been performed:
This shows us that 91.5 percent of users in the U.S. and Canada are not going past the first page after performing a Google search. This demonstrates the Trust that individuals place on search engine results. If your company does not show up on the first page of results, there is a 91.5% that you will be missed. According to Vocus, 82% of shoppers use search to influence their purchasing decisions and 70% of those shoppers make a purchase in the near future.
For all of this is why I say that it is best to LOSE at the game of hide and seek when it comes to being found on search engines.
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