There are so many ads around us, we had to learn how to ignore them. You probably think that’s fine… but it all falls apart when you’re the sender and not the receiver. How can you reach your audience, when they’re so used to dismiss intrusive ads? Is there anything you can do to get your message through?
Today I’d like to help you with your marketing strategy. We’re all facing the same issues, and we can learn from each other. In this post you’ll find the three stages we keep in mind when designing our marketing campaigns. Let’s get started!
Three Steps to Effective Promotion
A couple of weeks ago I explained how you could get to be the first result on Google. In that post I didn’t talk about the ins and outs of the Google algorithm—I just sketched the goals it pursues and, thus, what you should take into account to improve your ranking. And I think that’s important—you should focus on the big picture.
Today I want to follow the same approach. That is, I don’t want to give you very specific tricks, because what works for some people doesn’t work for others. For instance, a few months ago Ruth Raventós shared a super detailed analysis of the social media strategy we follow at Nelio and here conclusions were quite surprising: you can’t infer a universal recipe that always works—you need to run your own tests and see what’s right for your site and audience. So, instead of giving you a fish, I want you to learn to fish—I want to help you understand content marketing and how it can help you with your marketing strategy.
There are three stages in the marketing funnel. Your marketing efforts should address them all, paying special attention to the first one if you’re a new player. Let’s see what you must take into account in each phase, shall we?
#1 Awareness — Introduce Yourself
People don’t know your product or service. They don’t know who you are. In fact, they may not even know they have a problem they need to solve.
If we want our message to reach more people, we have to make sure that we attack every phase of the sales funnel. The first phase starts when the user feels that he or she has a problem and needs to find a solution—as soon as they realize they have a problem, they’ll look for a solution. If you want users to even consider your product or service, they clearly have to know you exist, be familiar with your brand, and see you as a trustworthy professional.
Do you have campaigns that are not focused on selling anything, but simply on making your brand known? I bet you don’t… (just a few do, actually ?) That’s clearly an error, for we need to build a strong relationship with our prospects before we try to sell them anything. But how? ?
Tips. The best way to promote your brand is inbound marketing. As Ruth commented in her post, this is about generating interesting content for anyone who might eventually become your customer. Your goal is to establish a relationship with your readers, get leads and, in short, be one of the references they have in mind when looking for solutions.
If you define a good content strategy, promoting your brand effectively is almost automatic. All you have to do is promote your content on social networks and try to position it well in search engines to attract more traffic. This way you’ll be adding value to your users from the very beginning and, little by little, you’ll be getting into their subconscious.
#2 Consideration — Show Your Strengths
People know you, they are aware that they have a problem, and they know that you have a solution for them. Yet, they’re still considering what alternative should they end up choosing.
If you did your homework in the previous stage, by the time the user is aware of the problem they’re facing they’ll know you have a solution for them. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be their preferred choice—there’s still a lot of work ahead of you.
Helping a user to opt for your solution and not that of your competitors is not easy. There are many factors that will influence their decision, so try for a sec to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would make the same decision. What makes you different from your competitors? What are your strengths? What makes you better?
Clearly identify your customer’s profile and design specific messages for their specific needs, highlighting the advantages of your product that really matter to them. For example, if you think your potential customer is price-sensitive and your product is cheaper, let them know. If they can start a free trial without giving you their credit card, tell them too.
Tips. Before buying one specific solution, the prospect will compare all the alternatives they think are relevant. Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of being the one they opt for:
- Direct comparisons with your competitors. I know this can be risky, but it’s a very useful technique. When a user hesitates between two alternatives, they’ll obviously look for information on both and compare them whether you like it or not. If you already give them a digested (and obviously fair) comparison, you’ll save them time and you’ll be able to drive their attention to those areas in which you really excel. For instance, we have already done this when we compared Nelio Content with Edit Flow or Editorial Calendar. Do you want a better solution? Rely on your current users to make that same comparison for you!
- Promotion of your product or service from different perspectives for different profiles. Like I was saying, not everyone looks for the same thing. Therefore, it’s important that you design different messages for different profiles. Usually, this translates into generating multiple landing pages, each of them focused on a different aspect of your value proposition and probably linked to your own Adwords campaign. Again, it’s all about stating your value proposition clearly and talking to each person “individually”.
#3 Conversion — Convince Your Prospects
The user is determined to buy a product that solves their problem.
The “final” phase of the conversion funnel involves the purchase of the product or service you offer (although this is not always the case; sometimes “starting the free trial” or “giving us your email address” is all we want to achieve). As this is the last step, it usually takes place on your own website.
Tips. In the following you’ll find some tasks you can do to improve your conversion rate (we’re only scratching the surface, here):
- Free trials and freemium solutions. A formula that works especially well to increase your conversion rate is to allow the user to directly test your product or service. If it’s well implemented, this will help them make an informed decision based on actual experience.
- Direct dialogue (online and offline). Never underestimate the power of talking directly to a prospect. Although the ideal prospect (for the company) is one who buys the product without a sales team, there’s always people who’ll ask to meet the team before committing. Don’t be afraid to talk to those! We, for example, try to automate the sale of our plugins as much as possible, but when a user insists on talking to us, we have no problem chatting on Skype and answering any questions they may have ?
- Run A/B tests. It’s very difficult to improve what you don’t know. Split Tests are a fantastic technique to improve the conversion rates of the different pages of our website.
If you want to succeed, keep in mind the three phases of the sales funnel at all times. In my experience, the first phase, where you just raise awareness and promote your brand, is the most important—spend some resources on it. I hope these tips help you improve your marketing skills ?