The buying process is very different from what it was 20 years ago. Buyers used to learn about companies and products through billboards and sales calls. Today, they’re tuning out interruptive messaging and using Google to take the decision-making process into their own hands.
Most people take the time to learn about your company and competitors before they’ll ever pick up the phone to talk to you. Successful entrepreneurs have adjusted their marketing and sales mindset to work with this shift instead of fighting against it. If you’re still struggling to understand today’s digital marketing strategy shift, here are the fundamentals you need to know.
1. Marketing and data go hand in hand.
Today, marketers must be analytical, make data-driven decisions and provide measurable results. If your marketing team doesn’t have the insight to measure ROI for digital marketing campaigns, they can’t possibly prioritize one campaign over another, let alone tie campaigns to revenue.
For example, marketers are quick to invest resources into social media marketing, but, according to the Sprout Social Index, only 15% of marketers use social data to track ROI. Not knowing how your marketing impacts your bottom line will end up costing you time, money and energy.
Equip your marketing team with a robust analytics platform that allows them to close the loop between marketing and sales activities. Tying campaigns to actual customers and dollars earned will make your efforts more informed and your budget better spent.
Did you know? Customer analytics is also crucial. Insights on customers’ behavior help you change sales, marketing and product development strategies.
2. User experience turns websites into effective sales tools.
For businesses, websites are the storefronts of the digital age. If your website isn’t intuitive, user-friendly and personalized, visitors will never turn into customers because they won’t make it past your homepage.
Unfortunately, most marketers spend too much time worrying about brand colors and layouts and fail to turn their websites into effective sales tools. Design is important, but it won’t do anything if you don’t provide a good user experience.
To build relationships with visitors, you need to prioritize making your site responsive and dynamic. Start embracing smart content so that when a prospect or customer visits your website, they see content tailored to them. The right content management system will let you show different calls to action and copy to different contacts.
Most importantly, your website must be mobile-friendly. According to research by SISTRIX, over 60% of searches are carried out on mobile devices, as opposed to 35% on desktops. A mobile-friendly website is easy to access across all devices, and it will make your business seem more credible.
Plus, any money you spend on SEO will be wasted if your site isn’t optimized for mobile. Google prefers mobile-friendly sites, so if yours isn’t up to snuff, your SEO ranking will drop.
Tip: Curious about how your website is performing? Free and paid SEO tools can evaluate your site, analyzing elements like load time and page sizes and alerting you to any problem areas.
3. Content marketing is king.
Buyers have access to more information than ever. That means your marketing efforts should focus on engaging them with helpful content.
Think about all the ads you’re bombarded with throughout the day; odds are, you probably tune most of them out. Well, so do your potential customers. Ads, cold calls and email blasts are far less effective than they used to be.
Instead, businesses should focus on owning content online that their audience wants to consume. Evernote’s blog does a great job of this by sharing helpful, valuable blog posts about its industry and products, making its business a resource for buyers.
Creating easy-to-find content like blog posts, case studies and product videos can help companies play an active part in buyers’ research. And over time, you’ll become a trusted ally in the purchasing process.
Tip: Some ideas for your brand’s social media posts are FAQs, thought leadership articles, and news about your products and services.
4. Personalization is everything.
If you want to stand out in the market, you must personalize customer and prospect interactions. Imagine having three separate phone calls: one with a prospect, another with a brand-new customer and one with a long-term customer.
You would probably speak to each of them differently and share different information. So why would you send all three the same generic email message?
Unfortunately, that’s what many companies do, and customers are fed up with it. According to research by Instapage, more than 60% of consumers are annoyed by generic advertising messages, and 80% prefer doing business with companies that provide a personalized experience.
Here are a few ways you can personalize the prospect and customer experience:
- Offer a communication choice. Give people a choice about how they interact with your business. Some people prefer email or live chat, while others need to get on the phone with someone.
- Get feedback. Regularly ask for customer feedback so that you can learn what’s working and what isn’t.
- Continually improve. Constantly reevaluate your service offerings. Customer preferences will change over time, and your business must change with them.
Use email marketing software to personalize campaigns.
There are many email marketing services out there to choose from. Read our reviews of the best email marketing software solutions to find the right fit for your business in terms of service offerings and costs.
5. Sales and marketing must work together.
According to CSO Insights, 70% of buyers figure out the types of solutions they need on their own, and 44% will identify possible solutions before ever speaking to a sales rep. That means your sales reps must come to the call with just as much information about the prospect.
If a sales rep starts asking questions the prospect has already answered in a landing page form or via social media interactions, most of your marketing efforts will be diminished. Plus, it’ll hurt your business’s credibility with that prospect.
Instead, reps should have conversations that position them as helpful consultants. And they can only do that if they have access to the prospect information marketing has gained through website and social media interactions.
Of course, this is easier said than done and requires companies to invest in an integrated sales and marketing platform. The right platform will capture, organize and share this data with your sales reps.
In the meantime, your reps should seek out new prospecting and lead-generation tools to facilitate the process. This way, they spend less time cobbling together information about the prospect from their LinkedIn profile and company website, and more time helping the prospect make a smart purchase.
Did you know? CRM software allows your sales, marketing and customer support professionals to access the same central customer data source. To learn more, check out our in-depth reviews of the best CRM software.
6. Align your customer service and marketing.
Customer service and marketing have more in common than you might think. If the marketing team and customer service department work in silos, it will affect the customer experience.
For instance, if the marketing team promises something that customer service can’t deliver, the customer will inevitably be disappointed. A poor customer experience will lead to poor customer satisfaction and lower retention rates, affecting your bottom line over time.
Creating alignment between customer service and marketing requires a shift in thinking. Encourage both departments to communicate with one another, and ensure they understand why it matters.
7. Digital transformation isn’t slowing down.
Marketing and sales professionals must stay up to date on industry trends to remain relevant. The landscape has already dramatically shifted, and the pace of innovation will continue to cause shifts in the way people conduct business.
Marketing leaders should test new tactics and stay ahead of changes in current digital platforms. Sales leaders should stay on top of their prospects’ problems by keeping on top of industry trends.
The digital age comes with challenges, but it also provides opportunities to connect with buyers in a meaningful way. To succeed today, you need to dive in and evolve your strategy to keep up with the shifting landscape.
Effective marketing and sales teams must be equipped with the data to tell them what works and what doesn’t. That way, they can pivot and shift directions when it’s time to try something new.
Mike Volpe contributed to the writing and research in this article.