With limited time and resources, you have to choose your marketing channels carefully. You want to identify the strategies that help you connect with the right audience and give you the best ROI. With an ever-expanding number of choices, it’s not always easy to know where to focus your efforts. The following are some key tips to help you find the most effective B2C marketing channels.
Digital Marketing is the Future
In general, digital marketing is the best area to invest your marketing dollars. According to a report by Forrester, US businesses will spend more than $100 billion in the 2014-2019 period. This includes social media, email, digital advertising, and search marketing. This amount far exceeds traditional advertising methods such as TV, radio, and print media advertising.
Agile Marketing: B2B vs. B2C
While digital marketing is going to dominate both B2B and B2C marketing, it’s important to understand the distinction. In many ways, B2C is simpler because your message is aimed at a broad audience (with B2B you often need to target a specific person, such as the CEO, buyer, or manager of a department). On the other hand, B2C consumers are more fickle because it’s easier for them to switch brands based on price, special deals, and changes in service. You have to constantly woo your customers and make sure you’re offering them the best deal right now. Fortunately, digital marketing gives you plenty of options for agile marketing that’s ideal for B2C.
Know Your Customers
In order to identify the best marketing channels for your business, you need to know your customers as thoroughly as possible. Here are some guidelines to help you do this.
- • Keep up with demographics and market research. Knowing who is most interested in your products based on criteria such as age, gender, income, and geography give you insights into their behavior. For example, younger consumers are more likely to use social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram. Pinterest users are primarily female.
- • Study your metrics. Identify the buyer’s journey for your products. Do people find you via search engines, advertising, Facebook, or other platforms? Your customers may learn about your products from a Google search, YouTube videos, or paid ads. On the other hand, they may actually purchase after signing up for your email list and getting a series of messages.
- • Monitor social media. Social media monitoring or listening lets you find out what people are saying about your business, your competitors, and your entire industry. While data is essential, it’s also good to actually read and listen to what your customers are saying. It also allows you to monitor influencers and find out which ones are connecting with your audience.
- • Watch the competition. Your competition often provides useful information about your customers. You may notice that a certain competitor has a large following on YouTube, for example. If you’re not doing video marketing, you may consider starting your own channel to reach your customers and perhaps steal some from the competition.
Engage With Customers
One of the biggest differences between traditional outbound marketing such as print and TV advertising and inbound marketing is engagement. Website visitors and social media followers shouldn’t be seen as passive viewers but as active participants. When you elicit feedback from people, you make them feel more connected to your brand. You can also use engagement as a metric to determine which channels are most advantageous for your marketing. Use your website and social media pages to create an online community. In addition to posting informative content, encourage your readers and viewers to participate. Here are some community-building and engagement tactics:
- • Ask questions and invite people to share their opinions.Ending a blog post or entry on your Facebook page with a question is a simple way to get people to respond. Questions also make provocative tweets.
- • Start a forum on your website. This requires a bit of work as you have to manage it but with today’s technology, it’s not difficult. Once a forum picks up some momentum, members do much of the heavy lifting for you.
- • Post polls and surveys. This helps you learn about people’s preferences for your products and customer service as well as for your website and social media.
- • Create a rewards or loyalty program. Everyone likes to earn rewards and discounts. Almost any type of business can find a way to reward frequent customers.
- • Hold contests. Social media contests are another powerful tactic to build community and engagement. They also provide more helpful data to help you gauge the effectiveness of channels.
Take a Multichannel Approach
Whichever channels you use in your marketing, it’s essential these days to implement an integrated approach. While some campaigns will prove more effective than others, you have to recognize that your customers are now using multiple devices and channels.
- • Maintain a consistent brand identity. The key to implementing a successful multichannel strategy is to make sure your efforts are consistent and coordinated. You naturally have to tailor your approach to each platform. At the same time, you want your tone, images, and overall message to be the same across channels.
- • Integrate your departments. If you have different individuals or departments handling email, social media, blogging, and paid advertising, they should be in constant communication to ensure an integrated approach.
- • Link your channels. Make it easy for people to move from one channel to another. Additionally, give them reasons to do so. Entice Facebook followers to visit your blog or video channel. Make sure your website has highly visible links to your other platforms. Email is always a good way to promote your various channels as well.
Keep Your Goals in Mind
To accurately measure your results, however, you have to keep your objectives in mind. Certain efforts, such as blogging and building an email list, don’t always produce immediate sales but are good for building your authority and brand recognition. Social media can be useful for engaging with people, educating them about your products, and providing customer service. In order to know how well you’re doing in any given area, you need clear objectives to measure your results against.
Observe and Adapt
All of the above guidelines are designed to help you create a successful multichannel approach to digital marketing. You need to constantly track your results and determine which platforms are bringing you the most traffic, engagement, and sales. With tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics and various paid tools and services, you can identify which channels are providing you the best results.
Always be open to testing new options for reaching a wider audience. For example, you may find that podcasts, webinars, or live stream videos are a valuable addition to your marketing repertoire. Businesses today need to reach out and meet their customers wherever they are spending time. By constantly testing, engaging, and adapting you can develop a strategy that makes the most of your most effective channels.