How to Attract Customers to Your Brand with Inbound Marketing

How to Attract Customers to Your Brand with Inbound Marketing

How does inbound marketing work? Watch a coneflower.

On a recent visit to the Akron Art Museum and its beautiful garden, I stopped to watch some butterflies flying around a coneflower. Coneflowers attract butterflies with their sweet nectar, so people love to plant them in their gardens. Plus, they don’t require much attention, withstand colder temperatures and can be divided every few years to attract even more butterflies to your garden.

So, let’s compare this process to your inbound marketing efforts. You can attract butterflies (your target audience) to your coneflower (product or service) with sweet nectar (compelling content). While your inbound marketing efforts do require attention, they’re worth the effort—and help is available. Plus, these efforts can help you withstand a cold spell in your business and can be replicated to help you grow your business.

Inbound: Not Your Father’s Marketing

Create and share content your target audience wants. Are you a lawn care company? Share lawn maintenance tips, including seasonal activities people should be doing throughout the year (i.e. applying fertilizer, weeding). Help people care for their lawnmower and other yard maintenance tools. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll turn to you—because you’ve built trust by giving them the information they need when they needed it.

When you do mention your products or services, educate your target audience on how you’ll improve their lives. Go beyond listing features to share benefits your customers will receive from your product or service. What pain point(s) does it address? How will it make their lives better?

How to Connect with Customers in the Age of Assistance

How can Inbound help me?

No matter what you do for a living, you’re probably looking for customers. That’s where Inbound marketing comes in. It helps you attract the right customers, not more empty leads. The Inbound methodology turns strangers into promoters or evangelists for your brand. It takes time but produces results.

The Inbound Methodology: Attract, Convert, Close & Delight

Ready to see how Inbound marketing can help you? Let’s talk. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.

Your Inbound Certified Guide,
Jaime

 

How to Connect with Customers in the Age of Assistance

We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?

Marketing tips in the age of assistance
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?

If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.

Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.

Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.

 

Meet People in the Moment

People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.

Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.

How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?

Start where they start: Google yourself.

Google yourself, your category and your business. Do you like what you see?

 

Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.

While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.

While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.

Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.

 

Make an Emotional Connection

People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.

Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.

Creating an emotional connection with your audience is crucial to your marketing and sales efforts.

 

While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.

So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.

In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.

3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance

  1. Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
  2. Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
  3. Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!

As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?

  1. Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
  2. Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
  3. Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
  4. Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.

Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?

Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.

Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?

Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!

Let’s connect,
Jaime

Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Dan Ridge as a contributor to the CCC blog!

The customer is always right has long been a business adage. In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s more than just selling products to customers; it’s about providing them with a seamless and enjoyable experience throughout the time they’re in touch with your business.

Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Whether they’re looking at your website, talking to a sales rep, or reading one of your brochures, the customer should gain value and insight from their experience of dealing with your business, which is why everyone is talking about customer experience.

Good customer experience has a huge role to play in whether a customer buys from you and can be the key decision-making factor. I interviewed Rory at Promotions Warehouse and asked for his view on why customer experience should be your focus for 2018.

A good experience increases overall customer satisfaction

Research has shown that providing a consistent approach to customers throughout their customer journey with your business can increase customer satisfaction by around 20%. If every touch point the customer has with you from initial contact to purchase to post-sales communication is consistent and positive, that customer will be far happier than one who bought your product, but experienced poor service while doing so.

A good experience means customers are more likely to come back

It’s far less expensive for businesses to carry out repeat business with loyal customers than to constantly attract new customers all the time. Enjoying a great customer experience is a very good way to ensure customer loyalty to your brand. If they have a positive experience dealing with you, they’re more likely to come back again and again. Customer experience is what will make you stand out from your competitors and adds value to your customers, so they won’t want to risk switching their business elsewhere.

Customers who are happy will spread the word

If your customers have a good experience, they’re more likely to spread the word among their friends and colleagues, which can lead to an increase in referrals.

They’re also more likely to write favorable reviews on your website and to praise you in online forums or groups on social media. All this free word of mouth publicity can only enhance your business reputation and spread your name to other potential customers who might not otherwise have heard of your business.

“Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them.”

Good customer experience is your key differential

Unless your product or service is completely unique, you have some competition out there in the marketplace. With others offering the same product, the only differential for customers is their experience buying from your business.

Offering superior customer service compared with your competitors is a clear way to make your brand stand out and help your customers with their decision-making process. It’s also a better long-term strategy than trying to beat competitors solely on price.

Happy customers spend more money

Customers who enjoy the experience of working with you or dealing with your business are far more likely to spend more money with you. Research has shown that customers who enjoy good customer service are 70% more likely to spend more money with a business than those who have experienced an adequate level of service.

They’re not just more likely to become loyal and repeat customers but also customers who spend more each time they use your products or services. This is one of the biggest reasons why customer experience should be your focus for this year if you want to grow your business.

Building long-term customer relationships

If you can create a great customer experience, you’ll be able to build a long-term relationship with your customers, keeping them coming back repeatedly.

In today’s consumer society, customers are bombarded with messages and marketing material at every turn. Creating consistent personalized, tailored customer communications will help your brand break through the noise and stand out in their minds.

If customers look forward to your emails/mailers/catalogues/offers because they know they’ll be relevant and interesting, you’ll be able to build lasting relationships with them to help create a sustainable business.

Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them. Customers need to have a great experience at every single touch point with your company, from the first ad they see to when they walk through the doors. If that happens, your business will benefit.

Weigh In on Customer Experience

How does your company offer a good customer experience?
What companies provide you with an enjoyable customer experience?
What other benefits do a quality customer experience deliver?

Dan Ridge is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and small business.

 

Content Marketing: A Crucial Component of the Customer Experience

A stat from a recent article on content marketing caught our eye.

“Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content on average prior to making a purchase.”

pexels-photo-296878

In the B2B world, buying journeys tend to run longer anyway, but consumers (B2B and B2C) are doing their homework these days. Studies show that 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.

Whether it’s leftover angst from the Great Recession or the availability of information today, it’s precisely why content marketing is so important.

Here’s a real-life example:

Recently, I stayed over in Park City, Utah, for a day after working a client’s conference in nearby Salt Lake City. On a whim, I decided to get a massage after spending the previous four days pounding convention center floors. I pulled up local spas on my phone, checking their hours, availability and services. Not surprisingly, I contacted the spas who had this information available online — not ones I had to call just to see if they were open. And the spas who had additional content available — more in-depth descriptions of their services, photos of their facility, online real-time availability, etc. — moved to the top of my list.

What does this have to do with content marketing? The information I sought was quality content created by (or for) these spas: descriptive services pages with quality photos, blog articles on the benefits of one type of massage over another, recommendations on how to maximize your spa-going experience. This is what consumers are looking for today before making a purchase or even contacting your company.

While I didn’t end up getting a massage, I did manage to take a break from technology and enjoy the magic of Park City. But not before I utilized even more content — a visitor’s guide from my condo, Park City Transit’s website — to plan my stress-free day.

We’re all consumers at some point, so don’t forget about your experiences as a customer when you put on your marketing hat. These experiences are valuable and can make us better marketing professionals, if we choose to use them.

Reader Feedback

How have you used content marketing to learn more about a business or make a purchase?

How do you use your experiences as a customer to become a better marketing professional?

What types of content do you prefer when researching a company or purchase?

A professional customer and marketing professional,
Jaime

 

Let’s chat (about content marketing, customer experiences or otherwise):
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4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about building relationships, your communications needs or otherwise):
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Content Marketing: Transforming Business Since 1895

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing by the Content Marketing Institute

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a big-screen showing of The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing. What a great story!

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing by the Content Marketing Institute

Image courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute

If you’re not familiar, the Content Marketing Institute made a documentary telling the story of content marketing — past, present and future.

Yes, content marketing has a past, and I’m not referring to 2015. In fact, John Deere has been succeeding at the art of content marketing since 1895, when it introduced The Furrow. Some of the earliest printed ads were prime examples of content marketing before the ad industry switched directions.

So where are we today? Content marketing is all the rage, but like any other form of marketing, it requires a strategy and commitment. While you may receive extensive engagement on one piece of content, content marketing is a long-term strategy, not an overnight success story.

However, if you stick with it and do it right, you’ll become a valuable resource to your clients, partners and online communities.

Looking for inspiration? The documentary contains real-world case studies of companies in various industries succeeding in the content marketing arena today. We also welcome you to check out some of our past posts on the subject.

Is your company interested in developing relationships and creating value with content marketing? Let’s talk about a strategy that’s right for you.

What brand excels at content marketing in your eyes?

All about the content,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content marketing, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, flying cars or otherwise):
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Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

Selfies tend to draw a reaction one way or the other. Some people love them while others hate them. But here’s the real question: are they awesome advertising for your brand or bad for business?

Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

It depends on how you use them. For example, the above image is a selfie I took after a spring run two years ago. (Yes, I said spring, which includes snow in Northeastern Ohio.) I’ve used it a few times already for different purposes in addition to this post.

Why do I use selfies? As a small business owner, it benefits me to let customers and prospects see the face behind CCC. It allows people to put a face with a name and helps to build trust, essential for small businesses to survive and grow. When I started this journey over three years ago, my personal brand carried a lot more weight than my company’s brand because CCC was new. Utilizing selfies (and pictures of myself in general) helped me establish and promote my new company brand.

Related reading: 7 different types of selfies

Having said that, there’s a time and a place for everything. I only use selfies where it makes sense, either connecting something in the photo to my business or using the picture as an example. When I kicked this post idea around in my head, it made sense to me to use a selfie and this image immediately came to mind due to its color and layout. I’m not a huge fan of having my picture taken, so it’s taken me some time to get used to being more visible.

Related reading: 8 of the Absolute Worst Times to Take a Selfie

In addition to tapping into your personal brand and building trust with target audiences, being visible as a small business owner can also help your social media efforts. As we’ve covered before, photos with faces receive 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^ Showing faces in your photos brings in the human emotion element, which increases engagement on any network. Snap a selfie with happy customers at your next event or meeting to show what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’ at your business.

In summary, selfies can be awesome advertising for your brand AND bad for business, depending on how you use them. Think before you post a selfie to a business (or semi-business) account. Is it appropriate to post to this account? Will your target audiences find this image insightful? If so, go ahead and showcase your self(ie), letting customers and prospects alike see the face behind the business.

Selfie Talk

What are your thoughts on selfies?

Tell us about a selfie you saw or posted that made sense.

Did it surprise you when selfie was the word of the year for 2013?

Source: ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs

Hanging out behind the keyboard,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on selfies, small business or otherwise): 
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What’s your story?

image

Storytelling is a powerful tool in today’s business world. It allows us to connect on an emotional level with customers, so they become loyal, longtime clients.

It’s not about selling a product or service. It’s about understanding your clients’ challenges so you can solve them and make your clients’ lives just a little bit easier.

Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.

What’s your brand’s story?

CCC’s Chief Storyteller,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on brands, storytelling or otherwise):
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