A news story came out today that specifically served a client of mine. It was a national news story that could help them support their current clients with helpful information, and help convert potential clients with persuasive, current event information. Unfortunately, this client has been adamant against blogs, interactive websites, and social media.
In my Prove It! campaign article series I’ve been looking at how we “prove it” on the web, prove our value to the world, clients, prospective clients, readers, and fans. While I’ve been focusing on identifying and clarifying your online persona, writing a solid and convincing About Page, and building trust through your website content and design, let’s look at this concept of “prove it” through the eyes of your clients and your social web marketing strategies and methodologies.
Customers make some assumptions about your products and services. They expect warranties, guarantees, and right of return. They also expect to be kept informed of updates, news, changes, sales, and other marketing material that shows you are committed to keeping them as customers.
What are your web-based avenues for such marketing and community building? Have you taken a moment to really analyze how response and interactive you are with your customers and potential clients?
What are Your Web-Based Avenues for Marketing and Communication?
My client made a conscious decision to restrict their client communication to email and direct face-to-face. Their site is merely a billboard on the web with basic contact information. Other than sending out an email to known people about the news, and no avenue for press release or social networks for announcements, his avenues for taking advantage of the news were limited. This works for him, but today is a moment that brings that policy into question. How can he connect with current clients and future clients to alert them to the newsworthy item?
The open and transparent social web market is still a giant unknown and fearful playground for many people. Yet it is critical to our success to reach out and take advantage of the social web. With clients nervous about the web, I ask them to treat it like they would any market research and use networks and communication tools that are familiar to them.
Target Your Demographics – Know Thy Audience
If you want customers, you go where they are to increase your opportunities. You analyze the market demographics and target your approach.
If your customers are on Facebook, you must make Facebook your new best friend. If they are on Ning, get on Ning. If they are in specific user groups or forums, go there.
The social web isn’t one giant network, it is a series of nodes where people gather through commonality, like minds brought together by a common interest and enthusiasm. They aren’t all on Facebook or Twitter. You want to find knitters and crafters, Ravelry is your first stop. If you want to connect with artists, deviantART is where the exceptional hang out. In my ebook, “Social Media for Crafters,” I cover many of the social networks that serve artists and crafters and how to find your own community. While the focus is on crafters, the techniques serve all businesses. Identify your market and hang out where they spend their time and money.
Part of the “Prove It” series is how to prove yourself through your site, so once you have targeted your social web demographics, it’s time to bring them back to your blog and use it to cultivate your network even more through interactive communication.
Email continues to be the most popular methodology for traditional communiques. People now leave emails more than phone messages or send letters. How is your site set up to collect emails from those who wish to receive direct email correspondence? Do you have a contact form? Do you save the email information in a way you can reuse it? Do you invite people to subscribe to news and announcements separate from your site’s published material and auto-announcements?
Newsletters by email continue to also be popular, though they are so ubiquitous, people tend to ignore them unless their value is critical to their life and work. Not everyone or business needs a newsletter, but if you do wish to expand your communication opportunities, do you have an easily-identifiable newsletter subscription form on your site?
Site subscriptions come in several flavors. On this bullet point, they are email-based subscriptions for those wishing to be alerted when you publish new content on your site. These email updates happen automatically, reducing your workload, and provide the subscriber with the full or excerpt version of your latest post and an invite to visit your site to get more information. Everyone should have this feature on their site.
There are many WordPress Plugins and Widgets to add this feature to your WordPress site.
Another form of subscription is through site feeds. Mistakenly referred to generally as RSS, feeds include RSS, Atom, and other XML formats.
Do you have an easy to find feed? Do you have a Subscribe page that lists all the ways to subscribe to your site including a list of the various feeds by category, tag, author, all posts, all comments, etc.?
With the popularity of Google Reader and the new mobile version of Google Reader called Google Currents, your feeds are becoming more and more important for reaching your audience with site updates automatically.
By the way, when was the last time you validated and tested your feeds?
Many believe they have to subscribe to every social network out there and work them all. While it is important to preserve your namespace on all social networks, again, where is your audience?
Work the social networks where you have a higher opportunity for return on your investment. However, there are three ways to take advantage of the social web: Share, Push, and Pull.
Share is to help your site visitors share your content with others. Make sure you have social sharing features on your site and each post. People like to share good news and information, so make it easy for them.
Push is to tell the world about your news and invite them to learn more. You can do this through automation with WordPress Plugins that push out notifications to social networks every time you publish a new post.
Pull is to bring the social web audience back to you. This is done through push auto-notifications to social networks and you building up a fan-base and community and giving them reason to keep coming back for more.
Serve Your Mobile Market
Have you checked your web analytics lately to really get a feel for how people are accessing your site? While it is easy to be dismissive of mobile technologies in the United States, the truth is that mobile Internet access is quickly surpassing traditional desktop access to the web around the world. Mobile adoption rates in the United States are slow but growing quickly.
Is your site mobile-friendly? You don’t need a mobile app unless it serves a specific purpose and client-base, but your site MUST be designed to be easily accessible via a smart phone and/or tablet. Have you tested it lately?
People who need to know now in their business are connecting, searching, and collecting information via mobile technologies. They are picking up their email, visiting websites, and searching through their phones. They want text message notifications. They want regular updates by email and the social web. They want to make a decision and take action immediately and not wait to get back to their desktop computers. Be ready for them.
If the news or trending topic is critical to your business, make sure that your site takes advantage of search engine optimization techniques by keyword optimization.
If the news is about pet safety and your site is about pet grooming, it’s time to go through the content and add new content or edit old content to address pet safety to increase the changes of being organically found in search results.
Today’s hottest news is about US President Obama’s new orders that allows young illegal immigrants respite from deportation. If your site covers migration, immigration, illegal workers, or any related topic such as politics, you will want to have your site pop to the top with the keywords related to today’s news.
Separate Social Network Accounts
I maintain several Twitter and other social media accounts, some for specific blogs and companies, others for the different “versions” of me. I’m a trainer and teacher, so I have avenues of convening information directly related to my social web training and teaching. I’m also a WordPress evangelist as Matt Mullenweg calls me, so I use my @lorelleonwp Twitter account to stay fairly WordPress-centric there. My @Lorelle Twitter account is a place for me to announce anything and say anything that represents me on the web without being tied to a specific product or service.
If you are making a lot of personal noise on your social web accounts, will people pay attention when you have something newsworthy to say, or will it be lost in the babble? Maybe, maybe not, but you need to analyze how you use your social web accounts to maximize the return on customers and business.
Search Engine Marketing
Yesterday’s newspaper ads are today’s search engine marketing, an advertising method that targets individuals based upon contextual marketing strategies through search engine results and on-site advertising. If you need to extend your reach online, maybe it’s time to use traditional methods modernly and buy some contextual advertising.
Make sure that you have your site ready for the visitors and landing pages are in place to funnel them down the right path.
Create a Separate Site
A long-time practice of cross-marketing involves setting up a separate site to handle the news or current activities around a specific marketing campaign and pushing and pulling traffic between them. That is always an option, but I’ve found that it dilutes the energies, response, and brains of many of my clients. Keeping everything centralized, you tend to put more energy and commitment into making the singular work better for you. The key is to build a long lasting relationship. Still, some people have learned how to make it work well for them.
Does your site have or need a forum or it’s own social network like BuddyPress? Make sure you make announcements there and help your community discuss the news and story. They are your community, there because they feel value and connection, so don’t forget them.
Your Own Unique Nature of Communicating
Don’t forget that we all have a unique way of conveying our messages. You have your own style, so use it. If not, get one. Find a way of connecting with your audience that keeps them coming back for more and telling their friends about you. Prove it by proving yourself as a resource.
Prove It Article Series
- Campaign 2011: Prove It!
- Prove It: It’s Starts With Defining Who You Are
- Prove It: Kym Huynh Exposed
- Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website?
- Prove it! Kym Huynh Bio Reloaded