Archive for the 'Internet & Social Media Marketing' Category

Nurturing the Not-Ready Customer Through the Buying Cycle

Posted by

We’d all love it if we could close every deal or every sale with a new customer in 30 minutes or less. But that rarely happens. A sales cycle can last up to six months, depending on how much research the potential customer has done before he or she comes to you.

Before customers are ready to sign on the dotted line, they first must go through a well-researched route to purchasing products and services, called the Buying Cycle. You need to nurture these potential clients and help them along this route to ultimately choosing the solution you’re offering them.

Studies show that 79% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. They’re somewhere else in the buying cycle. They may not even be aware of the scope of their problem, and may simply be in the early stages of researching a possible solution.

But just because they’re not ready to buy doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for you as a business owner. If you continue to educate them and nurture those leads – wherever they are in the buying cycle – you’ll be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to buy.

The Buying Cycle

The typical buying cycle goes from having an awareness that there is a problem to evaluating the possible solutions, choosing one and implementing it. And it ends, hopefully, with a long-term, meaningful relationship with a customer.

A more detailed explanation of the buying cycle:

  1. Acknowledging there’s a problem they need to solve. Something is broken – either a physical product, like their washing machine, or a process in their business – and they need to fix it.
  2. Making a decision to fix this problem. They can’t do it themselves, so they need outside help.
  3. Determining exactly what results they want. What’s their end goal? What outcome or results do they want after purchasing and implementing a solution?
  4. Gathering basic information. They’re searching for companies that can help them, and often doing this research online. Perhaps they’re asking friends or other business owners who’ve had similar problems about their solutions.
  5. Identifying possible solutions or vendors that will give the result or results that they want.
  6. Comparing those solutions or vendors.
  7. Selecting a vendor/product.
  8. Negotiating the deal.
  9. Making a purchase decision. This can mean either signing a contract or making a direct purchase.
  10. Implementing the solution. Your relationship doesn’t end with the purchase. Now you have to help them use your product or service wisely to get full results.
  11. Forging an ongoing relationship. This allows for repeat business from the same customer and ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.

Recognizing where your customer is in this buying cycle is key. When a customer first makes contact with you, have a set of questions ready that help determine where he or she is. “Tell me about your situation?” “Have you looked at other solutions?” Their answers to these questions can help determine whether they’re still early in the buying cycle, or if they’re close to making a decision.

Pick Marketing Techniques Based on Buying Cycle

Choose different marketing techniques for each phase of the buying cycle. For instance:

  • A well-designed website can help customers early on in the buying cycle by allowing them to gather information.
  • A free whitepaper outlining possible solutions and comparing them helps mid-way through the buying cycle.
  • An email campaign helps prospective customers through the pre-purchase process, and later forges an ongoing, repeat-buying relationship near the end of the buying cycle.

Having content for each stage tells your customer, “We’re ready when you are.” If they’re early in the buying cycle, back off and let them explore, but be available to answer questions. If they want to discuss possibly buying from you, be available for a phone or in-person meeting, and have marketing material ready to help them make a choice from among your offerings.

By being aware of the different stages in the buying process, and thinking about what questions your customer are asking at each stage of the cycle, you can provide a prospective customer with the appropriate marketing technique at the right time.

8 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

Are Email Newsletters Dead?

Posted by

There are three email newsletters I read faithfully, every single time they enter my Inbox. I subscribe to over 20 newsletters, but only three are “never miss reading” newsletters.

Would you say email newsletters are dead because I don’t read 17 immediately, or would you say it’s very much alive because of the three I read right away?

There’s been lots of talk among my clients and students these days, speculating on the possible demise of the email newsletter as a powerful internet marketing tool. Funny thing: I remember having this discussion back in 2005 with my internet marketing colleagues, yet email marketing is still alive and well years later.

Sending out weekly or monthly updates to your list of customers, students and mastermind group members has grown in popularity as a marketing tool ever since the Internet began.

But now people are overwhelmed with the amount of email they’re getting, so what are you to do?

There are lots of pros and cons to using email newsletters and email marketing. Let’s look at an overview:

Pros

  1. People can get to know you through your newsletters. Not just what services or products you offer, but how you think and feel about the topics you write on. Email newsletters give you a chance to create a relationship with your audience and establish your thought leadership.
  2. If you’re sending out HTML emails, you control the look and feel of your email newsletter, and can establish a solid brand and image in people’s minds.
  3. You can track to see who opened the email and how many people clicked on the links in the email. Statistics are a crucial measure of the success of email marketing, and lets you know what people are interested in (and what they’re ignoring!)
  4. You can customize your message to segments of your list. For example, if a group of students took an introductory-level class with me, I can offer them the advanced-level class. Or if people have expressed an interest in a specific topic, like running a mastermind group, I can send just those people a new article I’ve written on that topic.
  5. Never overlook the fact that most people are time-constrained and appreciate convenience. With the overwhelming number of places on the internet to search for information, having ONE source they can rely on is a blessing.

Cons

  1. There are many ways to get in front of your target audience with your content and news now: social media sites, your own blog, article banks, YouTube, webinars, etc. Your newsletter is just one of a mix of marketing, education and communication techniques, and it requires more effort now to communicate through all these channels.
  2. Too much email, too much junk. People are inundated and often will ignore things in their Inbox that they can’t take care of right away or that have a lower priority. And don’t forget those nasty filters that whisk away your email before your reader even sees it!
  3. If you don’t write regularly, people are apt to forget about you. Or worse, think you’re inconsistent and therefore unreliable. Ewwww.

Strategy

You need a strategy for your email marketing. (Oh, no, I used the “S” word!)

I still believe your mailing list is the hub of your internet marketing strategy. It’s the only place where people have raised their hands and said, “I want to hear from you.”

  • Putting a subscription box on your blog, where the visitor enters their email address and it gets added to your email list, will allow you to send blog posts to people who don’t visit your blog often.
  • Build your mailing list by making free offers through your website and social media channels.
  • Put your free offer on the back of your business card so that you get subscribers via your live networking events.
  • Create an excellent Welcome Email to make that important first connection.

Even Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says in this interview that the way to retain people from our blogs is to get them on our email lists. He says email marketing is THE most powerful marketing technique, and I have found this to be absolutely true. He also says that your email list is your most valuable asset besides your content. Strong words from a guy who’s focus is social media marketing.

Here are some tips:

  • Above all else, offer value. When you write an article for your email newsletter (or your blog, or your Facebook posts), make sure you’re giving good, detailed information. (Read your past five newsletters…did you serve your audience well?)
  • Sixty-day rule. Remember that your subscribers are most responsive in the first 60 days of signing up for your list. Stay in contact with those folks more often than your once-a-month newsletter.
  • Loyalty counts. Reward long-time subscribers with special freebies or discounts.
  • One of many tools. Ask yourself, “What are ALL the different ways I can communicate with my audience and share my articles, advice, offers, and news?”
  • One of many lists. Think of your email list as just one list of many lists you curate. Your Facebook friends are a list, your Twitter followers are a list, and your YouTube and blog subscribers are lists. Sometimes the subscribers overlap; often they don’t.
  • Combine with human contact. Don’t just have an email list and think that’s enough for people to get to know you and trust you. Offer free webinars and podcasts. Be available via Facebook or Twitter for ongoing conversations. Give live speeches both locally and nationally. Get out there and be seen – everywhere.

Email newsletters aren’t dead. They are a strategic component of your internet marketing plan. What brings success is having an integrated internet marketing strategy, mixed with some real-life connection to your audience.

Do you use email newsletters and email marketing in your business? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and questions!

22 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
Tags: ,

Bombarded With Reciprocal Link Requests

Posted by

Have you noticed lately that you are getting a lot of requests for link exchanges? At first you think, “Hey, great, someone noticed my website!”

But look a little closer and you’ll find that these are link exchange companies that are hired to find reciprocal links for their site. Most of these are sites you’ve never heard of.

A link exchange may seem like a great way to get more traffic to your site. However, one of the key purposes of your website is to build TRUST with your visitors. If you send them to a service or product that you have never tested, you are diminishing the quality of your expertise.

When you put a link on your website, you are in effect saying, “I recommend this person and I trust their work.”

Don’t let your desire for traffic ruin your reputation.

Comments Off on Bombarded With Reciprocal Link Requests for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning

The 60-Second Newsletter Concept

Posted by

Do you spend too much time writing your newsletter each month?

Do your readers actually read it…or is it too long?

These days your customers are time-constrained. There’s always too much to do, too many appointments, too many tasks. Finding time to read your newsletter may be asking too much.

Enter the “60-Second Newsletter” concept.

Imagine that you could promise that your readers can get through your newsletter in 60 seconds or less. How exciting is that? Then they’d read every issue you send out.

Often business owners don’t publish a newsletter because they feel it’s too time-consuming to write full articles, especially if writing is not your passion. But if you committed yourself to writing a micro-newsletter, it’s not too daunting and you can easily find the time and motivation to get it done on a regular basis.

You can do this via your mailing list, or via your blog. Remember, the point of doing a newsletter is to have regular communication with the people who have expressed interest in your products and services. The key word here is “regular” communication, so whichever timeframe you want to send a newsletter (weekly, monthly, quarterly), keep to your schedule. The 60-second newsletter should help you keep on track with regular communications to your customers.

How To Do It

When writing your newsletter, ask yourself, “How can I make this something readable in 60 seconds or less?” Here are some ideas:

  • Use bullet points for easy reading
  • Create a quick-list of resources
  • Give them one simple tip or action item
  • Use audio (podcast) instead of a written newsletter
  • Teach them how to do one task more efficiently
  • Write up an important item from the news
  • Give them a piece of advice about handling a specific situation
  • Write a “Top 10” list on an interesting topic
  • Include a motivational quotation
  • Give a link to a longer article
  • Suggest a blog you love

Keep a list of ideas for your newsletter. You may be driving to the dentist or taking a shower — and POW, a newsletter idea pops into your head. Write them all down. This list will help shorten the time to create your newsletter, another added bonus!

11 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques

Posted by

“I’m going nuts,” one of my private clients emailed me last week. She continued, “There are so many marketing techniques, how in the world do I choose the best ones for my business, without making massive mistakes?”

Putting together your marketing plan and your marketing campaigns can be a daunting task. You hear rumors that a specific marketing technique is a “must” for your type of business, yet you wonder: Will it really bring the desired results before I run out of cash and patience?

There are over dozens internet marketing techniques and another 50 or more traditional marketing techniques. How do you choose among these 100+ possible marketing techniques to find the most powerful ones for your business? Here are some things to consider.

The Purpose of Marketing

First, let’s talk about the purposes of marketing. Knowing which goal you want for your marketing will help you choose the proper technique. There are thousands of books and websites on marketing, and by distilling them down to their core essence, we discover there are four primary purposes for marketing:

  • Brand Awareness – Helping your target audience to become aware of you and want to learn more about your services and products.
  • Lead Generation – Getting your target audience to request information and/or a sales conversation with you; also, for building a pre-sales relationship.
  • Brand Consideration – Your target audience is considering buying from you or at least has included you in their short list of possibilities, along with your competitors.
  • Direct Sales – Getting your target audience to purchase directly from you.

For example, you might use search engine advertising, like Google Adwords, for lead generation purposes, but it may be a poor choice for direct sales, especially if your target audience doesn’t purchase that way.

Read the full article>>>

Comments Off on How to Choose the Best Marketing Techniques for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

Lurker Alert: The Art of Audience, Student and Mastermind Group Engagement

Posted by

Who are those people who attend your mastermind group or class but never talk (or who friend you on Facebook or Twitter, but never respond)? And how do you get them talking?

Back in the mid-90s when I first went online via CompuServe (remember those days??), we noticed that for every 1 person who was interacting in the message forum, another 10 were logging on and reading the message threads, but never interacting. Back then, we called them “lurkers” — people who didn’t participate actively in discussions.

Fast forward 20 years, and we find that Lurker Ratio of 10:1 still exists – in online message forums, in my video classes and webinars, in mastermind groups, and any other place where groups of people congregate offline and online.

In some places, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online social media forums, the lurker ratio is closer to 100:1 — for every 1 person who participates, there are 100 people just reading and absorbing the conversation.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t comment on Facebook or blogs: too busy, nothing to add, feeling shy. That’s what the “Like” button is for on Facebook: if you don’t want to leave a comment but you want to still let the folks know that you’re interested, you click the Like button.

Jakob Nielsen calls it Participation Inequality. I see it most often with “virtual” groups of people who meet online or through teleconference or video conference meetings.

But here is what I think is most important:

We ALL have something to add to a conversation — our feelings, our experiences, our knowledge, our questions. What comes from within counts for a lot with me. I love when people leave comments on my blog and when they interact in my classes.

And let’s face it: the whole point of a mastermind group is to brainstorm together, right? Conversation brings value.

In your business, you want to build connections and relationships with your customers, students, group members, and your entire audience. Being aware of the lurker ratio when you’re using social media for marketing — as well as in your classes, groups and online message forums — will help you gauge the quality of your connections and relationships.

For all types of classes and mastermind groups, here are some guidelines:

  1. In live, in-person classes and mastermind groups, the lurker ratio is much better. There’s something about being face-to-face in a sharing environment (especially with a good teacher or mastermind group Facilitator) that brings people out of their shells and encourages them to participate. In my live classes and groups, I’d say that for every 100 people who attend, 30-40 will be lurkers.
  2. The larger the group, the larger the lurker ratio. Social psychologists call this phenomenon social loafing.
  3. The longer the event, class or program, the lower the lurker ratio. (Sometimes it takes while to get people warmed up.)
  4. If you want high participation in your classes and mastermind groups, you have to build in interaction into your plan. Don’t wing it: plan it. Design discussion-starter questions that get the group talking within the first five minutes of every meeting.
  5. Pay attention to those who don’t ask questions or make comments. Call on them by name, or say, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t commented yet.”
  6. If your class or mastermind group includes an online message forum, set some rules. For instance, in some of my classes I’ve set this rule: each week all students must post one new message and reply to two messages that someone else has posted.

For social media engagement:

  1. Studies show that you get 65% more engagement if you post before noon, as compared to afternoons and evenings. My experience confirms this with my audience: they’re much more active in the morning on social media.
  2. Don’t just post thoughts, ask questions, too. Instead of simply saying, “Hard work yields results,” consider adding a question to that statement, like, “Do you find this to be true for yourself?” Invite responses and comments.
  3. Comment on other people’s posts. It’s a two-way street. If all you do is post your own articles and thoughts, but never respond to someone else’s blog posts and Facebook posts, why should they communicate with you? It’s all about building relationships.
  4. Engagement isn’t just commenting. Make sure you put links in your blog posts to other blog posts that are related. When someone reads a blog post and clicks on a link, that’s engagement, too.
  5. Respond back. When someone responds to your blog post or social media post, respond back and acknowledge it. They need to know you heard them.
  6. Let them see you. Too many small business owners hide behind their content. They post links to articles on Facebook and Twitter, but they never share any of their own story. I don’t mean those “I used to live in a box but now I live in a mansion” stories…I mean everyday stories about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re reading or watching, and even what you’re eating. Give them a window into your personal life. Yes, you can keep most of your personal life as private as you like — telling them you made Chickpea Burgers for lunch isn’t an invasion of privacy, it just plain fun! 🙂

If your lurker ratio is still 100:1, take heart — it still means that for every one person who responds to your post, 100 are reading what you write!

These are just a few of the tips to get people to join the discussion. I’m sure you have your favorite ways of getting your audience involved, yes? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!

P.S. If you’re a lurker, I’d love to hear from you. C’mon, fess up. Just one comment and you’ll be an official EX-lurker!  🙂

 

41 comments for now



Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

« Prev - Next »