A number of our clients are understandably overwhelmed by developments in the digital space and what they mean for their organisation. They want to remain engaged with their customers and develop relationships with new ones but don’t know where to start or where their energy should be spent. Should they be active across all social media platforms? Should they be developing an email list? Should they re-think their website’s look, accessibility and feel? In addition, there is often a misconception that social media has replaced other forms online marketing. This is not the case. Developments in technology have not replaced some of the basics – if anything, tools such as a website, social media platforms and email marketing have provided new entry and touch points for building an audience and engaging customers that more traditional forms of marketing were ineffective at doing. As a result, organisations now have increased opportunities for lead generation and sales.
I would like to illustrate this point with an example.
When I am running 10 minutes late to meet a friend, I simply inform him or her via a text message from my mobile phone. No problem. My friend too can choose to be 10 minutes late or wait patiently at the location we have decided to meet. Before mobile phones, what would I have done? I would have arrived on time because there was no other way to contact my friend! This is not to say that owning a mobile phone has replaced punctuality. It has just provided me with a way to inform my friend that I will be 10 minutes late so that he/she can choose how she spends the extra 10 minutes she/he now has – waiting for me at the location or doing something else completely different.
Parallels can be drawn with online marketing.
Before social media marketing existed, organisations primarily relied on email marketing to remain engaged with customers. Before email marketing, an organisation’s website was the main tool for sharing information and developing brand awareness amongst customers. As highlighted above, social media has not replaced email marketing and email marketing has not made websites redundant.
The purpose of social media, email lists and a website
Social media platforms, email lists and websites are united by a common goal – to build an audience for your organisation or brand. Once you have an audience, the ideal next step is to convert your audience. But what does conversion mean? Conversion is not just about converting your audience to paying customers. A prospective customer may become a fan of your organisation on Facebook, a follower on Twitter and/or an email subscriber before they consider buying your product or service, if at all. The customer journey is a personal one.
Different types of audiences
According to Jeffrey Rohrs, the author of Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers, there are three different types of audience online:
Seekers. Seekers are people looking for information and entertainment online. They tend to move quickly from website to website, online platform to online platform. It is unlikely that they will engage with your organisation online again unless they are converted into a ‘joiner.’
Amplifiers. Amplifiers are people who promote your organisation online within their network. An organisation generally has no direct relationship with them and therefore no way of connecting with them personally unless they are converted to joiners.
Joiners. Joiners are subscribers to email lists, fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google+. Joiners give an organisation permission to communicate with them through a specific channel. The ultimate joiner is a paying customer.
Moving a prospective customer from a ‘seeker’ to a ‘joiner’
So how does your organisation convert someone from a seeker to a joiner? Suggestions include:
Converting people to become email subscribers when they visit your website
Possible strategies to increase email subscribers include:
1) A sign up box that pops up on your website when people first visit that says ‘sign up for our e-newsletter here to receive updates, tips, news, etc’
2) A section on the website that says ‘sign up for our e-newsletter here to receive updates, tips, news, etc’
3) A link on the bottom of blog posts that says ‘sign up for our e-newsletter here to receive updates, tips, news, etc.’
4) As soon as someone opts in, make sure they receive an email straight away that:
(a) Outlines what to expect as a subscriber. This will help to manage people’s expectations
(b) Indicates the amount of people receiving this email. This may make people think twice before unsubscribing because they can see they are part of something big
Encouraging your fans and followers on your social media platforms to visit your website
Posting engaging content, images, videos and questions inclusive of links to interesting website content such as blog articles or interviews is a good way to do this.
Developing valuable content
People not only want valuable information, they like to share it as well. This results in an amazing word of mouth effect where new people are exposed to your organisation each and every day via those in their own networks.
Proactively cultivating strong relationships with customers
This can be achieved in many ways such as:
1) Commenting, liking or re-tweeting the posts of fans and followers
2) Running competitions specifically aimed at existing fans and followers.
Educating and telling stories. A winery in the US uses social media to primarily educate fans about food and wine pairings and share facts about wine making. The interaction they receive suggests that this is the sort of information their followers want.
The importance of an audience
It is clear that an audience is an important resource for an organisation. Without an audience, an organisation seizes to exist. One of your main goals should be to continually think of new and innovative ways to build your audience so that when you have a great piece of content, a special offer or a new product or service, you already have an engaged and interested audience. It is important to remember that while developing an audience is an important step, keeping them engaged is another thing entirely. To do this effectively, information provided to your audience must be predominantly about serving as opposed to promoting to the customer. Providing prospective and current customers with valuable and informative content in the form of blog posts, images, special offers, opportunities as opposed to directly promoting your product or service.
At the end of the day, you cannot get people to buy your products or service or donate to your organisation unless they are engaged with you. Deepening engagement – moving someone from a seeker to a joiner requires you to build strong relationships with your customers.
How would you describe your organisation’s audience? What strategies have worked in engaging seekers to become joiners?