Imagine that your target customer is in need of what you sell right now. What does their customer journey look like, compared to a few months ago?
For traditional businesses, like restaurants and retail outlets, instead of visiting your physical storefront, they’re now much more likely to interact with you via your online presence. They might browse your website for a list of your available products, or check your social media accounts for up-to-date opening hours and delivery options.
What about if your business is service-based? Maybe they’re adjusting the keywords they search to target companies offering remote solutions, like Zoom consultations, or are trying to figure out which ones are even still operating currently.
Making all of this information readily available on all your online touchpoints is crucial for eliminating barriers to sales in the current climate. But this is only the beginning. You also need an online strategy for attracting customers, to help them discover your business and decide to act on the information you provide (like making a call to your sales team). There’s no point in putting out content online if it’s not attracting any eyes.
Here are 6 ways to attract customers to your business through your online presence, to get them looking at the great products or services you offer and encourage them to buy:
1. Brand Identity
Building a strong brand identity is essential for creating brand awareness. Your unique values and personality should be a part of the voice you develop for your brand, to help you stand out from the crowd and authentically engage with your audience.
Your brand identity should be consistent across all of the channels in your digital marketing mix – including your website, social media accounts, email marketing efforts, and even customer support chats – to create a single, coherent picture of your brand in the mind of your prospects. They will feel like they ‘know’ you, and you can become attached to a series of set associations – this is how you position your brand in the mind of the consumer.
This is where digital marketing really shines. Things like Twitter, blog posts, sharing relevant and interesting things on social media, etc., are all ways you can use your online presence to reinforce your brand image in the consumer’s mind across a variety of channels.
This is particularly important now, when brand visibility is almost entirely limited to the online world. If you’re not being seen online right now, you’re probably not being seen or remembered by your audience at all.
2. Social Media
The key to successfully attracting new customers through social media is to regularly produce engaging and shareable content that helps you build a loyal online following and drive conversions to your website (or physical store).
Social media marketing (SMM) offer multiple ways for businesses to do this, even when they’re unable to meet with their customers face-to-face:
- Use data to learn more about your audience, target specific customer segments with your content and carry out competitor analysis.
- Use social listening to gain valuable insights into your target audience’s preferences and pain points.
- Read user posts and comments to identify the specific words they use to describe their fears and desires.
- Share value-added content, like webinars, videos or competitions, to increase brand awareness and generate sales.
- Engage with customers on a more personal level by interacting with them in comments on relevant posts.
- Create brand ambassadors who generate word-of-mouth marketing for your business online (also known as social proof).
- Use social media marketing analytics to track, measure and optimise your digital marketing efforts.
For more information on how to get the most out of your SMM strategy, check out our post on ‘7 Things You Should Know about Social Media Marketing’.
3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing can be used as a blanket term to describe both organic (search engine optimisation, or SEO) and paid (search ads/PPC) marketing on search engines, although many people use SEM to refer to paid, and SEO to refer to organic. Each has its own benefits for attracting more customers, and, depending on your business goals, you might decide to focus on one over the other at different stages in your company’s journey.
There are essentially three steps to successful SEO or SEM:
Step 1: Get seen by the right audience.
Step 2: Encourage them to click on your result.
Step 3: Convert search engine traffic to sales on your website.
But let’s break down how this process works in each case to help attract new customers to your business:
Did you know that 75% of visitors to Google never make it past the first page of results? So unless your business ranks highly for the specific search terms your audience uses, your chances of discovery are pretty low.
Keyword research and planning, as well as content optimisation, are essential to get seen by prospects who are actively searching for what you sell. This kind of ‘on-page’ SEO is crucial to performing well on search engine rankings, but so is having good ‘technical’ and ‘off-page’ SEO – things like backlinks and fast site speeds, which appeal to Google’s bots and signal that your website is trustworthy.
Snappy headlines for an interesting article yield higher CTRs than PPC advertising, but you have to make sure you’re targeting the right audience if you want this traffic to lead to sales. Your copy should appeal to your ideal customer in the moment that they’re searching for your product or service, so optimise accordingly – e.g. don’t just try a hard sell if someone is searching for a ‘how to’ guide.
SEO is better suited to building brand awareness in the long term, rather than as a direct response marketing tool. So this is a great way to build a relationship with your audience during a period of transition,
Paid search ads or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising makes your company’s ad show up when customers search your target keywords, so it’s important to choose the right ones. This will ensure you appear to those who are most likely to buy, and don’t waste money paying for ad clicks that don’t convert to sales on your website.
Google is continuously updating its algorithms for the way it displays search results, and one change made recently is making organic results produce less traffic for sites than usual. This will make PPC ads even more important in the future for attracting new customers through search engines.
Always try to include an offer to entice users to click on your link. In the current climate, also consider making key information about your operations during coronavirus feature prominently, e.g. “New Customers get 20% Off – Open 9-5 Daily for Collection/Delivery During Quarantine”.
SEM is best suited to direct response marketing campaigns, wherein the aim is to encourage visitors to take a particular action, like buying your product or booking a consultation. Make sure your website is optimised to funnel traffic to the desired page, by having a clear layout and prominent CTAs directing them where to go. You want to increase the chance that each click will turn into a sale, so review your strategy regularly to find out where in the process the lead is getting lost, and fix these issues to maximise ROI.
4. Email Messaging
Email messaging is another great way to raise awareness for your business in the era of the new normal. Having a pop-up window on your website which allows visitors to easily opt-in to receive your email newsletter has been proven to increase conversions.
Once you’ve gotten this initial traction with your prospect, consistently providing them with engaging, value-added content helps you stay front-of-mind, and over time this brand awareness can help lead them back to your site to make a purchase.
You can use CRM tools (like HubSpot or SalesForce) to track, schedule, manage and analyse the performance of your email marketing campaigns. You can also use these to easily carry out A/B testing for different email subject lines and body content variants to learn what works best, and use this data to optimise your results.
5. Directory Listings
Many of these are free (like Google My Business), but there are also paid listing platforms for specific industries, which will put you in front of prospects who are actively looking for what you sell. However, this often comes at a price, like paying a commission or fee on each deal made through the platform, but this can be worth it if the platform consistently brings you new customers. Just like with SMM and SEM, the content on online directories should be optimised to appeal to your target audience.
6. Online Referrals
The most effective kind of advertising is word of mouth. In traditional marketing, the brand itself directly communicated their message to the world, but now it is the user who increasingly does so, in their own voice. Advocacy also used to be the last stage in marketing, but now it’s often how new customers hear of a brand for the first time: through reviews or shares by people in their online network. These users’ voices are seen as inherently trustworthy in a way that a company’s messaging might not be, so building a network of positive advocates can be an incredibly valuable marketing tool.
By encouraging your customers to share your content and post reviews of your business on sites like TrustPilot, you’re helping make it easier for new audiences to make the decision to purchase. Especially now, when most brand comparisons and product research is being done online, endorsements from ‘real people’ will help new customers feel confident in investing in your services, even if this is their first interaction with your brand.
The coronavirus situation has fundamentally changed the way that consumers interact with businesses. Things like offline customer acquisitions and sales have transitioned to online, and this trend will continue to grow as we enter the world of the ‘new normal’ (or the ‘new abnormal,’ as some are calling it). This means that an integrated digital marketing strategy is now more crucial than ever before.
In this new social landscape, where people are congregating online, rather than in physical locations, the best way to raise awareness for your brand is to engage with your customers on the platforms where they’re now spending most of their time. Putting great, targeted content in front of your audience online can help your business continue to grow and generate sales during these changing times.