We often hear about how the internet has ‘made the world a smaller place’, but what it has done for businesses is open up a massive new world – and a huge customer base. It has allowed them to broaden their understanding of the markets in which they operate, become agile in acting on trends and innovations, and, as a consequence, grow their profits.
It’s clear that the internet has demolished the cold, impenetrable walls that once separated companies from their customers. Like never before, businesses can now connect with their customers and clients all over the world easily, and in a much more personal way.
A Peek At How Businesses Are Putting Technology To Use
- 50% of successful businesses have formed groups for their web based customers (HBR, 2011)
- 3 out of leading 5 Fortune 500 companies publish their own blogs and 90% of all the Fortune 500 businesses’ blogs have comments enabled (Society for New Communications Research, 2009)
- Video content such as video marketing, vlogs etc, was expecgted to make up 90% of consumer derived IP traffic before the end of 2013 (Cisco, 2009)
Superior Marketing Research
In the past, in order to acquire marketing intelligence about and from customers, you might have needed to make unwelcome cold calls, send out surveys or polls via snail mail, or invest thousands of dollars to employ a marketing research company.
Now, however, learning what your customers expect and want from you can be as simple as logging onto your Facebook or Twitter account to see what your customers, and those of your competitors, are talking about.
With just one click, you can learn:
- Opinions people have of you, your industry, and your businesses
- Innovative, new product ideas
- You customers’ communication method and style (text, images, video)
- Critical information about your customers’ demographics (gender, age, education, location etc.)
- Your customers’ feelings toward your branding, customer services, pricing etc
….the list is endless.
And conducting a survey or poll via social media sites or email is almost effortless when you use one of the many apps or plugins that will do the majority of the work for you. It’s no surprise that more than 50% of companies now rely on social media when researching ideas for new products or monitoring customer trends (HBR, 2011).
Aside from how marketing research helps you develop your company into to kind of business your customers want, it also enables you to create and tailor content and messaging that relates to, and engages, them.
Customised Marketing Campaigns
Ten years ago, many business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing campaigns told ‘YOU’ why YOU needed product “XYZ” – often without really understanding who ‘YOU’ was and what ‘YOU’ really needed. Consumers were assaulted with television, print and radio ads about products delivering a list of ‘benefits’.
As a result: millions of dollars were thrown away on ineffective marketing campaigns and millions of customers were annoyed in the process.
These days, with just a little online B2C research you have the ability to create the type of marketing campaign that your ‘ideal customers’ and leads are looking for – and the objective should not be the ‘quick sale’: your customers need to be nurtured.
How do you go about doing this?
By offering them quality, compelling content that solves their problems, or makes their lives easier in some way.
You can monitor which content your leads tend to choose when going through each of the stages of your sales funnel (for example, you can assess their topic and message delivery preferences). Then pair this content with a powerful call-to-action (CTA) encouraging your leads to provide you with their email addresses, phone numbers, location – whatever is the MINIMUM information you need to stay connected – so you can continue ‘the conversation’.
Superiority In Customer Service
Possibly the most revolutionary, in vitally important, aspect of B2C marketing online is customer service. You may be old enough to recall the days when we’d have to either send a letter via post in order to voice a concern, or take out hours of our precious time to stay on the phone while we waited to talk with a “real person”.
Although the same means of communication are still around, most customers choose to communicate with businesses in a more direct, effective and convenient way. The are voicing their concerns, questions and comments to companies through:
- Social media networks (Twitter, Facebook etc.)
- Web forms
- Blog comments
- Online videos (VideoJug, YouTube)
- Live chat
There is a number of reasons behind why customers prefer these communication methods, but the main ones is convenience and accountability.
When they post a complaint or concern about your product or service, there is the potential for millions of people may see that post – and they will be waiting for your response. The power of these comments and complaints should not be ignored; businesses must respond quickly and professionally resolve the issue.
Finally, as our immersion into technology continues to increase, the tools that are now available to businesses have given them an unprecedented opportunity to show their personality, to seem more “personal” and “human”.
When managed well, technological innovation can put the human element back in your business, give it more character and authority, and give it a more trustworthy and likeable presence.
Bottom line benefits? Improved ROI for your business, created by saving on old school marketing activities (hard copy brochures, trade show booths, print/TV/radio advertising) and a larger (non local) customer base which is happier and more satisfied – and likely to come back to buy again from a business who has invested time in connecting with them.
Few marketers these days would argue the importance of creating great and relevant content – for your websites and social media properties. It establishes your authority in a niche and credibility with the variety of stakeholders that any business will have – clients, customers, investors, partners, bankers etc.