Digital selling is not overly complex, so there's no excuse for putting it off. Over the next year or two, nurture your social selling strategy by keeping a few points in mind.
Digital selling is the new reality, but it's often tough for small businesses to understand the ins and outs of doing it well.
In the digital world, you can't just throw money at a problem and expect immediate results. Social selling sometimes takes up to two years of constant nurturing to see results. That longer nurture cycle can intimidate some small businesses so much that they don't even start. But that's a major mistake, because patient digital selling reaps some of the biggest rewards in today's marketplace.
It's also not as complex as you may think. There are really only a few key points to keep in mind when you resolve to make digital selling a priority.
1. Have a great website.
It should go without saying, but you simply must have a web presence. Yet, as of January 2018, a survey of U.S. small businesses found that 36 percent did not have a website. Of those that do have dedicated websites, 19 percent are not mobile-friendly.
Your website serves as the nucleus of your digital strategy. It must be optimized, clean, modern and inviting. It's often the first customer-facing aspect of your business, so invest the resources to make it as solid and compelling as you can.
It's also important to think of your homepage not as a warehouse of information about your company, but as an active sales device. For that reason, it must be very easy for people to get in touch with you. Contact information needs to be prominently displayed above the fold and, ideally, should also stay displayed on the page when the user is scrolling (though without jumping, which can be visually off-putting). Some 44 percent of visitors will abandon your website if they can't find your contact information.
2. Use social networking effectively.
It's critical to be set up on the key social media sites. First among them is LinkedIn, with its user base of more than 500 million professionals – 61 million of whom are senior-level advisors. In fact, you can choose from 20 languages when building your LinkedIn business page to cater to whichever market you inhabit. C'est impressionnant, oui?
In particular, your LinkedIn profile should be crafted carefully to lead users back to your website, generally through compelling CTAs. Everything you put on LinkedIn needs to be informative to the site visitors while still providing some kind of key value-add for your business.
It would be wise to have a presence on Facebook so you can speak to its 2 billion active users. Instagram is also a popular social site for businesses, as 80 percent of the platform's 800 million monthly users follow at least one brand, and 60 percent of users use the platform to discover new products. These sites capture so much national attention that it's clear they are where your brand needs to be seen – including through ads.
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3. Know your customer.
Your digital selling strategy must be customer-centric. You have to know what jobs your customer is hiring you for and how they need them done.
To understand this well, you need to communicate with your customers. This includes asking about their pain points, as well as what they couldn't do until they were empowered by your product or service. By thinking carefully about these issues, you can begin to frame a story around your business, and figure out how the customers fit into that story. By staying in good communication with the customers, you can shape that story accurately.
4. Share the hero's journey.
You now need to put your business's story into the framework of the hero's journey. What this means is that your customers will contend with one or more problems without your product or service, and so their story is similar to any hero's quest to conquer some challenge. In this story, your product or service is a critical element that allows the hero customer to surmount that challenge and end up victorious.
Keep this archetype in mind as you think about your digital marketing message. Narrative is very powerful and should be a primary approach to how you organize your digital selling.
As these points show, digital marketing is not complex. There's no excuse to put off diving into it now; find the patience to do it well over the next year or two. By then, it's likely your consistent efforts will bear the fruit of increased sales and enhanced positioning for your brand.