To state the obvious; the social media and internet marketing tsunami is continuing to gain such tremendous momentum that nearly every organization, for-profit or otherwise, has been forced to reevaluate their existing marketing strategy.
Imagine a World without Junk Mail or Spam?
Savvy marketers understand that the days of mailing out costly, glossy catalogues, flyers, and coupons to get drive new business are soon to be gone – yet my physical mailbox is still constnatly overflowing with such items which go directly into my recycle bin on a daily basis. This goes for the “special offers” and eNewsletters that get to my inbox. 99% end up in my spam filter, get insta-deleted, or moved to a folder to be looked at later, which rarely if ever happens.
As many of you have probably already realized, we have entered a new paradigm where consumers are making buying decisions on-the-fly using the web either at home or on their mobile devices. Business decision-makers may take a good deal more time and effort before going ahead on a large purchase such as a new software program, but they will do so using research on the internet when they chose to do so, not simply because yet another desperate sounding email offering 20% off the latest Anti-Virus protection software has somehow made it through their spam filter into their inbox.
Deal or No Deal?
That is not to say that we still don’t love a bargain, whether it’s for ourselves or to save the organizations we work for hard-earned money. It is human nature to want to get a good deal, and smart marketers will want to let their potential and existing customer base know about that deal exactly when they are researching a particular product or service offering.
A Great Review or Recommendation is worth a Million Adwords Clicks
It is also human nature to seek a recommendation from a friend or even from a complete stranger by reading reviews and quickly scoping star ratings on sites like Yelp.com, InsiderPages.com, TripAdvisor.com or Rotten Tomatoes. We hate wasting money on mediocrity just as much – if not more than – finding a bargain. Hence the explosion of review and price-comparison sites over the last few years.
If we can save money on something that we already know we want, such as a vacation abroad, a new pair of sneakers, or a mani-pedi – all the better. Hence sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have ballooned in popularity with the most minimal of marketing budgets.
How Can I Kill my Costly PPC Campaigns?
Because potential customers are already spreading their recommendations and news about great deals on social networking sites for companies without them having to spend a dime. The result of which recently cost Tesco (the largest supermarket chain in the UK) great embarrassment and loss of revenue after it got loose on the web that a pricing error meant that cases of beer were being sold for 12 pence per, 10x cheaper than they were actually supposed to be priced at. Within minutes, consumers were jumping in their cars to the nearest Tesco to take advantage of this error, after learning about it from a Facebook or Twitter post, read on their home PC or mobile device.
Word of Mouth Marketing Works, and it’s FREE
Despite Tesco’s embarrassment, savvy marketers can learn a huge lesson from this blunder: offer consumers what they want at a good price – even if it turns out to be a loss-leader – and then let the customers themselves spread the word across the web at zero cost to the advertiser.
Guaranteed, people will return to the store or website where they received the original bargain -provided they had a positive experience – and will also pass the word on to all their Facebook and Twitter followers too, who will in turn do the same, leading to exponential growth of new followers and potential business, again without spending a single penny.
We all know how Justin Bieber became famous – not through American Idol, or X-Factor – but by putting up home-made videos of himself singing on YouTube. He’s now one of the richest people under 18 in the world!
Slashed Marketing Budgets Does not have to Mean Reduced New Business
Because of this shifting paradigm, not to mention one of the worst global recessions in decades, CFOs and marketers alike should be jumping for joy, as this means lower SEM costs, lower email marketing costs, lower media buying costs, and less human resource costs needed to maintain time-consuming and ineffectual ad campaigns.
Engage the Already Engaged
E-Commerce and company websites are already becoming more sophisticated about sending offers to those who most recently visited their site, instead of sending blanket mass emails to their entire list, and some stores are already text-messaging opt-in customers with special offers due to location-based services, which automatically allow the retailer to SMS a customer is currently in the vicinity of their shop-front.
Just Having a Million Fans, Doesn’t Mean People Will Buy from You
In other words, having thousands of Twitter followers, or a million fans on Facebook is not the key to generating new business. There is simply too much spam and noise on these sites to stand out effectively from the crowd. Savvy marketers realize that unless they are catching those potential customers at a time when they are already seeking what they are looking for, they stand a much higher chance of converting them into actual and repeat business.
What’s the Solution?
1. Mobile advertising
There are literally hundreds of mobile advertising companies sprouting up currently to take advantage of the new era of web-enabled mobile phones, AdMob, FetchMedia, SomoAgency, and of course Google Mobile to name a few.
2. Location Based Services
Sending SMS/text message offerings to customers as they are literally walking past your store
For example, I’m wandering around the mall trying to find a good deal on a new pair of jeans, suddenly I get a text message from Gap offering me 20% off any purchase over $50 – it’s 2 minutes away, or course I’m going to go in and at least try a few pairs on.
Or perhaps I decide I would like a gourmet pizza for lunch, I simply go to Yelp mobile on my cellphone and get recommendations on where to go close by in under a minute. Similarly,
Foursquare and Facebook Places allow people to check in to restaurants, bars, clubs, stores, and anywhere else which immediately appears in their friends Facebook news-streams. I’m far more likely to check out a new restaurant a good friend has been to, than choosing one recommended by a hundred strangers on Zagat (which still unbelievably charges a subscription fee to the user for their web version!).
3. Analyzing Data
This means understanding who is actually reading your e-newsletters, blog, Tweets and Facebook posts, as opposed to who is merely ignoring them, and targeting those people with your offers. Several companies can help you quickly monitor who is being responsive to your marketing efforts, and who has dropped off your radar screen. Just because someone has not unsubscribed to your newsletter, does not mean they have any interest in still receiving it.
Who Can Help Me Market Smartly?
Companies such as HubSpot, Marketo, and Popular Media will allow you to track and measure your social media efforts, and stop blindly reaching out to unqualified or disinterested followers who happened to click “Like” on your Facebook page one day, but got bored after the third time they received an update from you and simply “Un-liked” your page or clicked “Hide” from their news-stream.
It’s All About the Data
Ultimately, by using and analyzing data on your social media metrics, and catching customers when they are in the late stages of “buy mode”, you will stand a much greater chance of converting both B2B and B2C customers, earn their repeat business, and get them to market your business to their own networks without ever spending a dime on a paid Google or Facebook ad.
Talk to us today about how we can help you market your business smartly, stop paying rent to Google, Yahoo, Facebook, et al, and learn more ways to engage prospects and repeat business. Stop getting lost in the noise, stop wasting trees and server space with unwanted junk and e-mail, and give your customers what they want, when they want it. And to throw in a final piece of pop psychology, the more you try to push something on someone, guaranteed, the less they will want it.
Sandy Gans is Director of Sales and Internet Marketing at AEI. Feel free to contact Sandy with any questions, or to get a quote for a design or internet marketing project – firstname.lastname@example.org.