The selection of online marketing tools available to businesses is an ever expanding universe. In fact, if you search Google for “online marketing tools” you’ll find 280,000,000 results for you.
Effective online marketing is imperative for business growth. From content management systems, to email marketing, social media dashboards, ad exchanges to dashboards. Just have a look at the social media tools in the Conversation Prism (see below) by Brian Solis. Just for fun, have a look at the Adverting Landscape by LUMA Partners.
What online marketing platforms actually matter?
If you break things down and start with what customers are doing, the answer is remarkably simple and compelling. There are two human behavioral insights that have emerged in recent years which point to the online marketing tools that matter.
- Social media content and advocacy are the principle drivers in the customer journey to purchase.
McKinsey & Company published a significant report on the Customer Decision Journey that outlines how customers seek out social content such as reviews, posts and conversation as a key part of the purchase decision.
- 90% of customers use three different devices to complete a single task.
Google’s “The New Multi-screen World” report, studied the multiple devices customer use when performing any sort of task.
When we combine these two insights, we see a world where customers swirl around before making a potential transaction. They move around a series of devices and engage with socially driven content.
Customers only purchase after engaging with authoritative content on several devices.
Think about it. Let’s use an example of everyday behavior.
- Let’s say you’re thinking of taking a vacation. You mention it to someone at the water cooler. That person recommends a favorite spot in Hawaii. You grab your smartphone and Google it. Maybe look at some pics. “Mmmmmm, looks nice” you say.
- Later that day you go to Priceline and find some Hotel and Flight prices for Hawaii. You think “Not bad, we can do five days for $2,000.”
- At home, that following evening you sit with your partner and look at what your friends have done in Maui. You think “Boy. they certainly had fun!”
- After sleeping on it, you purchase your flights and hotel on Priceline after you checked the prices on Google. You certainly remember to save the best activities on your trusty Trip Advisor app.
This example simply illustrates a customer journey that we all do! “It sometimes occurs over a week, a month, or longer, but the same behavioral patterns will take place. Customers encircle a specific task or goal. They do not move in a straight line towards the target. They move around it in a continuous loop of content and devices. It’s only when the ‘Triggers’ of authoritative content resonate with them that they are then propelle to the target.
So, what is this loop all about?
The Minimum Viable Marketing Loop
If your business aligns itself with the way customers are behaving, you can streamline your tools and get focused on creating valuable content. Here are the four key ingredients to build an audience and drive sales:
- Website: this is where your content starts; a responsive website that loads fast on both a PC and a mobile device. Only build a native app if there’s a compelling service need from customers.
- Newsletter: a content-rich regular newsletter. Remember, email is old school but crucial as it enables a direct one to one relationship with the customer. Don’t rely on social media only! You do not own your customer in that environment. You’re merely renting your own customers back from companies like Facebook.
- Social Media: focus on Facebook, Twitter and Linked. These drive the majority of social value. Create highly useful content in these platforms. Make sure all customer care and support services are active in your social channels.
- Advertising: focus on Search, Mobile, Social and Display. Create content that “nudges” the customer forward. Don’t shout at them! Remember, advertising works best when it’s turbocharging great content.
Master each of the four tools and your business will grow. Things will get really good when you understand how they work together to create value for you and your customers. I’ll be writing more in-depth posts about each of these tools. You can register for the newsletter if you want receive a copy of these via email. If you’d like help with growing your online business, please contact me.