By Heather Clancy MAR 28, 2016
Stop broadcasting and start talking.
This essay originally appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’sdaily tech newsletter. Sign up here.
It’s tough to find a marketing team that isn’t increasing their social media budget—Forrester Research FORR 1.35% estimates spending for 2016 at $15.5 billion. But very few companies are encouraging two-way dialogues with their followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. They’re too busy broadcasting their own splashy photographs, videos and other “native content.”
New research out last week from Lithium Technologies, which specializes in software running customer support communities, underscores how little companies are listening. Fewer than 2% of the 85 brands studied by Lithium consistently respond to complaints or comments posted on social media about their products or companies, while fewer than 40% are making an attempt to start conversations. (You can find Lithium’s report here; registration is required.)
Which companies are getting things at least partly right? Some of the names on Lithium’s top 10 ranking might surprise you, such as pharmaceutical giants Pfizer PFE 0.86% and Merck MRK 0.32% . Others make lots of sense, like Sephora and Starbucks SBUX -0.46% .
Interestingly, just one business technology company is mentioned, Microsoft MSFT -0.41% . Many tech companies do a good job of broadcasting information ad nauseum but aren’t engaging deeply enough with their social communities, according to Lithium CEO Rob Tarkoff, who spoke with me about the finding last week.
“You need to be responsive across channels,” Tarkoff said. “You need to personalize the brand experience. You have to stop the historical practice of walking away.”
A great anecdotal example of why this matters was shared this week by JetBlue vice president Jamie Perry during a marketing conference hosted by The Economist. When a passenger jokingly griped about being unable to stop for coffee during a tight travel connection—something that wasn’t JetBlue’s fault—the gate personnel in the second airport ran to Starbucks for him. “We cannot control the way customers come to us,” Perry said, adding, “That guy raved about us for weeks.”
The good news is both Facebook FB 1.20% and Twitter@twitter TWTR -2.77% are taking steps to supportcustomer service activities using their social platforms: both with changes to their messaging services. Apple AAPL -0.53% , for one, is taking some steps in the direction Tarkoff suggests by officially designating Twitter as an official support channel. But far more companies—notice that I’m not limiting this responsibility to marketers—need to get far better at listening to social signals rather than just blurting them out.
By AJ Agrawal | Mar 13, 2016
Experienced marketers look back at their careers and wonder what could have happened if they knew then what they did now. There’s nothing more powerful than a few words from an expertwhen you are getting started. To help you get started with business marketing, take a look at some of the best marketing advice everyone should know when they are just starting out.
Your Target Audience Bucks the Trends
You’ve probably already heard the statistics that the general population is now 25% millennials. Look everywhere and people are espousing the need to target millennials. This has left many companies scrambling to target the young. Yet what you have to remember is that the majority of the population isn’t millennials. Are millennials even your target audience?
There’s no doubt that the drive to target millennials has turned into something of a trend in recent years. Marketers should bear in mind that the millennials market isn’t for everybody, nor is it always necessary to transform your entire marketing campaign purely because of this.
Think target audience, not trends.
Money Does Matter
As a novice, it’s easy to think that you can become successful based on how silver your tongue is. This is not the case at all. Many successful companies have made their fortunes or lost everything based on where the money goes.
Before you even start talking to customers, you should allocate a budget. And then after you have allocated your budget you should be constantly updating it as your situation changes. This will ensure that your budget is always as accurate as humanly possible.
Act Like a Friend
The word ‘marketer’ instantly conjures up ideas of salespeople desperately trying to push this product or service. This was how it used to work. Now you may have to speak to someone multiple times before they make a purchase. That’s why marketing in 2016 is all about the quality of the relationship. You should treat a lead as if they are already a customer.
But how do you go about doing that?
Begin by thinking about what their needs are. Many of your initial conversations will make no mention of what you are trying to sell whatsoever. That’s because you will be exclusively talking about what the customer wants. You should be acting like a friend at all times. You are there to help not to make money from them.
Big Data is Here to Stay
Marketing has always had data involving itself in decision-making processes. More companies than ever before are using big data to inform decisions. This is where you track everything from demographics all the way to what time of day your prospects are likely to be active on social media.
Marketers have to become more technological than ever before. Embrace new technology and understand that the majority of your day will be spent poring over facts and figures, rather than hitting the phone lines.
Great Content Wins the Day
You need to figure out a way to get people interested in what you have to offer. An important point to understand now is that your product or service isn’t unique. Everyone has seen it before. You have at least five companies offering exactly the same thing.
This is a hard fact to swallow, but it’s necessary to get past the idea that the merits of your product or service will carry the day for you without any extra help.
Content is king. Content marketing is the here and now. You have to produce great content that’s going to both educate and entertain. Be willing to pay to get great content, and produce it on a consistent basis. This is the best marketing bow you can have. This is what will get people coming to you.
Form an Ongoing Relationship
Once you have made the sale, you may think that the marketing process is over, but it’s not. You need to consider an ongoing relationship in order to bring in repeat business. Most companies survive based on how many loyal followers they can guarantee to make purchases of future products and services.
Using email marketing, for example, is one way to keep your brand front and center in people’s minds.
These pieces of marketing advice will help you to manage your business, hit your target audience, nurture your leads, and keep them interested in the long-term. Continue to tweak your tactics to get the best results.
What is your best piece of marketing advice?
By Annie Pilon On Mar 12, 2016
Today’s businesses need an online marketing strategy to succeed. While every business’s strategy may look a bit different, there are some common threads that hold most of those successful strategies together.
Members of the small business community have plenty of tips to share when it comes to successfully marketing businesses online. Check out their top tips below.
Make Your Way with Social Media
Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You have to determine the strategy that is going to work best for your business, as Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media discusses here. And Strella elaborated on these suggestions in a conversation in BizSugar community here.
Super Charge Your Local Search Results
Even for local businesses, online marketing can make a huge difference. Local search, for example, can help to bring new faces to your store, restaurant or other local business. To make the most of your local search marketing, check out this Inc article by Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell.
Think About These Things for Your Website’s Social Sharing Features
Letting customers or followers do some of your online marketing for you can really help out and save you time. But you need to make sharing your content easy for them. So in this article at the Social Media Week, Larry Alton suggests some things you should think about when incorporating social sharing buttons into your website.
Keep Up with Marketing Technology Trends
Thanks to technology, online marketing is constantly changing. That means that you need to keep up with the new trends in order to stay relevant to tech savvy consumers. This article at Docurated by Angela Stringfellow includes some marketing technology trends that are poised to re-shape the world of marketing.
Grow Your Website Traffic
Content creation can be a key part of your online marketing strategy. But you need to build traffic in order for your content to be effective. This post on the official dlvr.it blog by Bill Flitter includes a playbook for growing traffic to your content.
Expect These Things When Joining Social Media
As a small business owner, the idea of joining various social media sites and regularly using them as part of your online marketing plan can seem daunting. But if you know what to expect, the process can be a bit easier. Here on NutsPR, Corina Manea shares some things you should expect when joining social media as a small business owner.
Use These Best Practices for Twitter Polls
Twitter’s polling feature can help you to gain insights and interaction from your followers on the platform. And the microblogging site has now revealed some of the best practices that people should use when running polls, which Matt Southern covers in this Search Engine Journal article. BizSugar members also chime in with their own thoughts here.
Consider Starting Your Own Podcast
Lots of businesses have websites and social media accounts. But starting your own podcast can really help you to stand out in today’s business world. Here, Ileane Smith shares some of the benefits that businesses could realize through starting a podcast.
Create a Content Anchor
When creating content for an online audience, the length and quality of your content can make a big difference in how many people see and interact with it. Inthis post on Blogger Sidekick, Will Blunt discusses the concept of a content anchor and how it could help your online marketing strategy.
Use Influencer Marketing That Works
Influencer marketing is a relatively new concept to a lot of businesses. But it can really jumpstart your online marketing efforts if used correctly. Here, Ann Smarty discusses how small businesses can use influencer marketing in a way that should work both now and in the future.
If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: email@example.com.
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