With competition in the online field growing faster than springtime weeds, it’s important to get your butter-makers chomping down on the right feed. There's plenty of fields, but you need the herds from across the valley to come to Yours.
Show Your Customers the Way to the Right Pasture
Whether it's a green field, a sparkle in Daisy #126's eye, or just the waft of the sweet sweet clover, you need to work out ways to get those cows into your paddock. Once you’ve got them grazing, we need to find nutrients to keep your grass the greenest (no matter what side of the fence they’re looking from).
More Cowbell. Better Cowbell.
What it comes down to, in the end, is a way to attract attention, keep the herd together, and give the correct signals to you that it's working. Which can be summed up by...
We’re Social Animals - Your Business Should Be Too
Kids are pretty much born with a smartphone in their hand these days - every cow in the field is now social; ignore at your peril. Everything moves fast, and somewhat more unpredictably than before. The average online grazer will use their account a few times a week (to a few times a minute...), for hours at a time. We need to get in front of those eyes, and to not ignore the power of Instant Now.
What does this mean for you? For better or worse, social media has become the pink elephant in your communication team’s living room. Social media can either help or hurt, but what it won’t do is sit quietly on the sidelines. So, one of your farm’s first calling cards should be a well-groomed social media account! By learning how to make social media work for you, your company can strengthen its image, appeal to a wider range of potential clients, and ultimately, churn out more butter! The first step is establishing a presence.
All major social media networks offer both free and paid services to help you advertise, attract clients, and make sure that the one’s who are grazing are also chopping down products. While the “best” type of social media campaign will vary from company to company (depending on size, product, clientele and a full host of other variables), having a few regularly updated accounts is an absolute must.
So, one of the first bells you want to ring is the social media chime, but which ones are going to work best for you? The following article on choosing the social network that's right for you may help with the selection process.
Compile a List of Emails – And Actually Use It!
Chances are, you’ve got a great herd, and you know the name, email-address, and perhaps even the favorite color of each and every one of them. This has been the marketer’s dream for decades, and it’s sitting patiently in some excel file, waiting to be used. So… what are you waiting for? Start living the dream! Open up that spreadsheet, stare in awe at its balls-out communication power, and…. put it to use!
Why? Because this is your window into the world of past, present, and about-to-be- favorite-clients. So, take stock of what you have and, and expand, extend, and excite that awesome spreadsheet of yours. Once you’ve got a base to build on, start using it! Once you’ve got that base up and running, the only way to go is up -- build, update, revise, and update some more!
How? When you make an online sale, mention that your client will be signed up for your mailing list. When you respond to an enquiry, make sure you mention future emails. When someone likes your company’s awesome new social media post, make sure they can get their name on your mailing list. When X happens to Y, make sure that X and Y find themselves eagerly awaiting your next e-blast!
Maintaining contact with your clients is a great way to remind them that your company exists, and that they had a positive experience using it. Perhaps the autumn breeze has reminded Mr. Jooplah – that smiley fellow with big brown spots who lives two pastures over – of that sweatshirt he passed up last spring? Guess what: it’s time to remind him that it’s on sale now, and that this is its last debut! Providing clients with relevant information, upcoming deals, and the feeling of exclusivity are all great ways of keeping them engaged in your super-cool mailings!
Safety Words, and the “Tickle, Don’t Slap” strategy
Nobody want’s to be pestered, but everyone wants to be in the loop. Give your happy reader a tickle, but don’t jump on their ass and start slapping (until you’ve given them a safety word).
Some of us love the rodeo, but others prefer a glass of wine and a quiet night by the fire. Giving your readers an “unsubscribe” link in every email is a polite way of giving them a “way-out” that they’ll hopefully never use.
This also gives them the warm and cozy feeling inside that says “Awwww, they really DO care; I might as well buy from them!”
ProTip: Levels of Opt-Out. Maybe I want to read your newsletter but am totally over those notifications about your new blog post. This is a great point for you to say: “Really? Oh no! We’re so sorry. Let us fix that right away”! If you only have an ‘Unsubscribe’ option, you’ll lose me cold, but with a few carefully planned (and adorably titled) options, you’ve still got me on the lam for your monthly deals.
Our Delicatessen Tip – Automate Your Cowbell: There are a bunch of outstanding services out there that will help you create, organize, and send out wonderful e-blasts. Our current pick is Drip, since they’re so simple to use that you're just more likely to make great emails. We've got a special deal from them, get a 5-week free trial if you come in on this link. They make it really easy to set up a chain of emails with only a few clicks and ratatatatatatappppps of that keyboard.
I really think this is the way business is going at the moment - people are more cynical, and there's more competition more readily available. We need to slowly build who we're about, so that people trust us enough to reach the payment stage - and short simple emails are a really nice way to do that. Drip makes this kind of thing super-easy. Here's a snapshot of one of their Drip-campaign setup pages - check how easy it is to setup a series.
Another nice thing about Drip is how focused they are on minimal emails. They're not going to help you make a magazine-type email, but for good reason - they found that plain text emails convert many many times more. And it does make sense - if I see a web-page in my email, I need to visually process the different sections, it looks like an advert. A few short paragraphs of text make it easy to scan and seem more genuine.
Moooo-to-Moooo: Referrals, and How to Get Them!
Imagine you're in your favorite restaurant, and one day the chef comes barreling out of the kitchen, throwing his tall white hat on the ground, and after giving it a few good stomps, says: “My friend, I can’t take it any more! You’ve got to know: the place next door is AMAZING, CHEAP, and TASTY,” wouldn’t you give it a try?
Getting referrals from websites whose products compliment your own does exactly that. (Okay, not exactly. But it’s close!) Likewise, when a friend (or business that your potential clients trust) tells their friend to check out your stuff, they’re going to do it, and they’ll be closer to making that “I WANT IT NOW” decision than they would be if they found your site randomly.
Referrals are a wonderful way of sharing clients, and customer referrals can be a great way of bringing in out favorite kind of client -- the “ready-to-buy-ers”. Giving your existing herd cool deals and other incentives can be an effective way of getting them to call up their best pall and say “Hey, Franklyn, get online, go to xyz.something.com and buy this great new gizmo”. If their friend knows what’s good for them, they’ve probably even got their card in hand as they type in the now-trendy URL.
We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies
Likewise, linking traffic within sales niches can sprinkle out benefits for all. That online macadamia nut cookie shop your buddy just opened up may be the best place for you to advertise your milk-to-door delivery service, and guess what? The same is probably true for them! Get in touch with your not-quite-competitors, and see if they’re interested in co-advertising! This can be an excellent way of sharing customers, and helping to find new ones.
You’re Good at What You Do, So Get People Talking About It
Crowds draw crowds. Have you ever been walking down the street, and stumbled across twenty people standing and staring? Chances are that if you have, you also stopped – at least for a second – and took a look at … whatever the hell they were staring at.
This same effect happens online. It’s important that your business has a presence, not only across social media platforms, but also in “taste and rate” platforms like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Plus. Sites like these not only help people discover your business, but also they help people share awesome stories about it, establishing social proof. How often have you stood outside a restaurant and done a quick google for a review, tweeted your mates to see if anyone had been there? Establishing a presence on these 3rd-party review sites is more credible than reviews on your own site, opens you up to feedback, reviews. Let your customers to share their excitement about your product.
Paid Advertising Works for That Guy. Is it Right for You?
Are you old enough to remember when online sales was a sit-and-wait kind of game? You put up your product, logged back in a week later, and maybe shipped out an order or two. It worked then - but no more. Marketing has come a long way, and your business has a bunch of options available if you’re willing to invest some $$$.
If you haven't tried paid online advertising, start dipping those toes!
Two prevalent systems to consider are the pay-per-click (PPC) model, and the broader set of marketing options offered through affiliate networks. As is the case with any big decisions, you should carefully weigh the costs, benefits and risks associated with it. Affiliate marketing programs can produce amazing results. So, if you’re eager to try out a super-powered cowbell, this may be the one to add to the arsenal.
While paid online advertising can produce impressive results, affiliate programs do require minor technical knowledge, along with the commitment of time and money. One of the simplest ways to determine if affiliate marketing is right for you, is to take a look at your competition. If they’re using it, chances are they’re making money with it. This article from Amex may help you determine if an affiliate program is right for you.
Always Be Testing
Split testing is a great way to determine which ads are working best for you. By running two identical ads with a single variable (such as image, color, copy text etc.) you can improve the performance of your campaign and determine what components of it are engaging your audience. Take the two images we’ve used in this section as an example: you could run one ad featuring the “vato” waiting on a bridge, and another one using our space-aged advertizer. By running both ads side by side, you can get a sense of whether your audience prefers the classic or intergalactic feel. To learn more about split testing, and how to build a successful advertising campaign, check out this great post by Charles Ngo.
What’s the Best Way to Call in the Herd?
Landing people on your page goes far beyond the products you sell, the articles you write, or the special sauce circulating through your humble landing platform. Half of the equation is identifying a target audience, and using a variety of methods to reach them. The best approach is several approaches. Make sure you’ve got the major bases covered (get social, get paid ads running, and setup onboarding drip email campaigns), make friends and scratch each others backs (referrals and recommendations), and ... keep your eye out for new opportunities. Above all, The Secret Is Still... More Cowbell!