Marketing Has Changed The Business Landscape
In recent years we have seen a fundamental shift in the way consumers make their purchasing decisions. The availability of free, high quality information online has changed the way consumers research and buy goods and services. You can buy anything online now - shoes, clothing, whitegoods and even accounting and legal services.
Historically we used ‘interruptive’ marketing techniques to ‘buy’ the attention of customers including cold-calls, persistent sales representatives, pamphlets, brochures, radio, TV advertisements, newspaper ads, billboards and telemarketing. To stop the unwanted interruptions, consumers purchased set top boxes so they could fast forward through commercials, they stopped reading direct mail and they signed up for the ‘Do Not Call’ register to block calls from telemarketers. With the shift to online marketing, consumers now hold the power because they can unsubscribe from your newsletter, block your phone call and move on from your website with a simple mouse click.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Interruptive or ‘outbound’ marketing methods have been replaced by permission or ‘inbound’ marketing techniques. These tactics are designed to lure visitors to your business rather than chase their attention. Inbound marketing involves promoting your business through content marketing like blogs, podcasts, videos, e-Books, e-newsletters, whitepapers, search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing. The mission is to earn the attention of customers and draw targeted customers to your website by producing relevant and interesting content.
With the shift, the need for a bricks and mortar shopfront has diminished. Consumers now do extensive online research as part of the buying process and a recent study suggests nearly two-thirds of Australian Internet users use search engines as the first step in making a buying decision. They read reviews, participate in forums, use social media channels to get feedback and download guides and product reports. Buyers want to gather as much information as possible before they have to speak to a sales person.
The term ‘inbound marketing’ is also associated with the concept of ‘permission marketing’ and inbound marketing has five stages including:
1. Attract traffic to your website
2. Convert website visitors to leads
3. Convert leads to sales
4. Turn customers into repeat higher margin customers
5. Analyse the results for continuous improvement
Your content should draw your target market to your website and the next part of the process is offer them a lead magnet (i.e. a video, e-book or product sample) in exchange for their contact details. That gives you permission to then market to them in the future. With their contact details you can then nurture these leads and work on converting them into paying customers. That’s really just the beginning because a great website will then have an automation process in place to generate repeat business from those customers.
You need to see your website as the front door to your business. It is often the first touch point with a prospective new customer and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Prospective new customers will pass judgment on your brand and your business in seconds and your website can be the difference between boom and bust in the digital age. Your website is the most relevant and important piece of marketing technology for business owners.
Lead Generator or Billboard?
Modern marketers suggest the primary purpose of your website is to generate leads and new business. If your website isn’t creating business it’s time for a new website or a makeover. It’s fair to say that most businesses in this country have been slow to adapt to this marketing revolution. In fact, most small business websites are just electronic ‘billboards’ that list the who, what and where of the business. The content is shallow, often duplicated from another site and it has a focus on the business not the customer benefits. Owning a poor performing website in the digital age is like owning the infamous Leyland P76 car. For those not old enough to remember, this was the car that the 1970's Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam referred to as a “dud” and the car Bill Hayden famously called a “lemon”.
To win new customers online you need a lead generation website full of problem solving content. You need to educate potential customers and articulate how your product or service can benefit them. The challenge is to build a relationship with these prospects and earn their attention and trust. An exchange of a valuable benefit like a lead magnet creates trust in your business which then opens the door. Your website must have a visible ‘call to action’ to take prospects through to the next step of the buying process and close the sale. Your website must be responsive to hand held mobile devices and as permission based marketing methods replace interruptive marketing methods, you need to recognise your website as your most valuable marketing tool.
You’ve probably noticed that our website has undergone a major renovation recently. It was a carefully planned process and it remains a constant work in progress. During the re-build we documented the steps we followed in a highly valuable 13 page e-book titled, The Ultimate Guide to Winning Clients. In the guide you’ll learn about what we call the website essentials. These features have the potential to turn your website into a marketing magnet and lead generation machine. We have even created the ‘website winning formula’ that provides worked examples of these features and functions to help your website stand out in a crowd. The truth is, if your website doesn’t have these features then your business probably won’t reach its full profit potential. To access the free guide simply go to the home page of our website and download your copy from the right hand side of the page.
Over the last few months we have also been working with a number of clients to help them develop their websites. In some cases, their website has given them a serious competitive edge. If you need any assistance with your branding, video production, responsive website design or search engine optimisation, call us today and let’s get to work on your business so it’s more profitable, valuable and saleable.
Click HERE to download the full edition of The Business Accelerator Magazine for December 2014.
Other articles in this edition:
- Business Start Up Corner - What Is A Good Age To Start A Business?
- How To Enjoy Your Holiday Without Worrying About Your Business
- Pivot For Profit
- Superannuation & Retirement Updates
- There's An App For That - TrackMySPEND
- What's All The Blog About?