If you’re new to digital marketing, the costs involved can seem a little overwhelming: pay-per-click ads can rack up the $$, as can banner ads and website redesigns. If your digital marketing budget is stretched a little thin these days, there are still plenty of ways to reach your ideal clients online, for free. Here are some of the best free digital marketing tools that you can take advantage of, right now:
Home service pros have always relied on word of mouth, and even in the digital era, customer reviews are the best way for you to get the word out to new potential customers about the quality of your services. When potential customers search for service providers, they’re going to look at your reviews, on Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, etc. In the same vein, the five-star rating system has become a popular way to evaluate businesses and has been integrated into most online review platforms. Getting your satisfied clients to leave reviews of your service—even just a 4 or 5 star rating—is crucial to attracting new clients.
Google+ is the new Yellowpages listing you used to pay for, before the internet. If you’re not actively managing your business’s Google+ profile (i.e., the entry for your business that shows up on the right hand side of the Google results for a search of your business) or don’t have one, you need to get on that. It’s free, and it’s often the first thing people will see when searching for your business or the service you provide.
If you want repeat customers, you need to keep your company and the great service you provided in your customers’ minds. A great way to do this is with regularly scheduled email or email newsletters that keep your clients informed on your seasonal service offerings and relevant topics related to their home and home maintenance. MailChimp and similar platforms offer you the ability to design, create, segment and automate email to your client list, for free.
We love Houzz and we talk about it all the time but it’s worth reminding you all about how useful a tool it can be. You can set up a profile for your business for free, add pictures of your work, get client reviews (reviews are important! See above!), interact with future customers, and get found by people looking for your services in their service provider directory search.
One of the great things about the internet is the proliferation and availability of free tools and resources across all industries and areas of interest. Digital marketing is no exception. Don’t let a small (or nonexistent) marketing budget keep you from cultivating a strong digital preference; make use of the free tools available to you such as Houzz, MailChimp, and more.
If you’d like more information on how to implement these tools into your digital strategy, or would like to talk about other ways to bolster your online presence, we should talk. The HA Digital Marketing strategy is tried, and tested, and we’re proven to deliver exceptional results for home service pros. See exactly how our strategy works for clients like you in the case study below:
B2Bs have often done advertising wrong, from mimicking B2C techniques to not doing any marketing, at all. But now, digital technologies and greater, widespread access to information has changed the way businesses across all industries, especially B2Bs market their products and services.
Why cold calling is out
The difficult task of selling rather unsexy products is a constant problem in the B2B world,, and traditional marketing and sales rhetoric stipulated hard sells with direct, loud, interruptive messaging. Think: radio commercials, direct mail, cold calls. The truth is that these tactics were never the most effective for B2B products, which are in some cases compulsory purchases for the customer (like screws needed to assemble their product) and in other cases large, expensive, once-every-ten-years kinds of purchases (like heavy machinery).
This is why many B2Bs, especially those with steady customers, perform very little marketing at all, instead relying on the necessity of their product within its niche and their company’s industry reputation. When recessions hit, however, B2Bs who rely on such methods often find themselves losing income from struggling loyal customers and without the strategies in place to replace those revenue streams.
How to update your B2B marketing plan
Instead of essentially shouting at potential clients to buy a product, inbound marketing uses soft sell techniques to educate potential clients about the value of a product or service, how to use/implement/integrate said product or service, and other topics related to the product, service, or industry that will be of interest to the person responsible for sourcing, purchasing, or approving purchase of said product. No longer do you sell your product, you sell future clients on your company by providing high-quality information that addresses the needs of your target buyers and building trust and brand recognition.
Inbound marketing and modern technology
The transition to inbound marketing has somewhat coincided with the advent of wifi and smartphones; consumers have access to information, and they’re using that information to research products and services before making purchase decisions. This applies to people buying consumer goods, but it applies also to buyers for industrial and manufacturing companies. Buyers and component sourcing specialists at the companies who are B2Bs’ ideal customers are performing online research to compare suppliers and products and find the best product, and deal, for their application. Salesmen are no longer the arbiters of information regarding their products; clients can and do educate themselves and make informed decisions.
If you’re ready to transition from traditional B2B marketing and advertising techniques to a more buyer-centered inbound marketing approach, HA Digital Marketing can help. Contact us online now, or give us a call at (616) 841-9082. Our inbound marketing strategy is proven to produce exceptional results for B2B clients just like you. Check out the case study below to see exactly how HA Digital Marketing delivers for B2Bs:
If you’ve been looking into inbound marketing, you may have heard the term “buyer persona” bandied about. Buyer personas are critical for inbound and digital strategy, because they define your audience, allowing you to create content and deploy marketing techniques that will reach your ideal buyers, convert them to clients, and provide an exceptional ROI on your marketing efforts.
Buyer persona definition
A buyer persona is a fictionalized version of your ideal client types. The persona defines what these clients are like: demographic information like age and gender, job title, job responsibilities, purchasing power, and more. Creating a persona allows you to visualize and understand your audience better, which allows you to hone your content and marketing efforts to be highly effective.
How to create buyer personas
You probably have a good idea already of what your typical client is like. If you create plastic injection moldings of automotive components, you know that your ideal client is a sourcing specialist or product engineer for an automotive OEM, and that this client is usually male, in his late twenties to early forties, and is under extreme time pressure to source components. From your work experience, you probably have this same background information on your other client types (e.g. a Tier II supplier who makes automotive assemblies) as well.
Use the information you have, but don’t just rely on your assumptions. One effective method for understanding your ideal buyer is to interview your best clients. Find out about their job responsibilities, the challenges they face in their work, and how your company can help them and meet their needs. This information can help you
Simple example persona:
Sourcing Specialist/Product Engineer
Late 20s–early 40s
Sourcing components for vehicles
Working under extreme time pressure
Needs quick turnarounds, on-time delivery, products that can meet OEM specs
Needs suppliers with capability to produce high volume of moldings
To source quality components quickly, at the best possible price, from a reliable supplier
Your buyer personas can be as simple (like the example above) or as detailed as you like, and as works for your application. Once you’ve written buyer personas for your major client types (probably two or three different personas) you’ll better understand your buyers and your audience, and better be able to market to them.
Creating content for your buyer personas
The way that you take advantage of the personas that you’ve created is through creating targeted content that addresses those specific personas. You’ll need to create content—blog posts, infographics, social posts, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.—specifically geared toward the goals and challenges of your buyer persona. Returning to our previous example, if you are creating content for OEM Oliver, you might write a blog post about how to select a plastic injection molding supplier, create an infographic about the plastic injection molding process from design to receipt by the customer, or publish an ebook about maximizing your plastic molding’s design to reduce structural and cosmetic imperfections. These pieces of content address the needs of OEM Oliver, which include finding suppliers (blog on selecting injection molders), quick turnaround times (process timeline infographic), and high-quality, spec-meeting components (ebook on minimizing defects). This content is useful and interesting to OEM Oliver, which may prompt him to read it, convert from a site visitor to a lead by providing contact information, or reach out for more information or even a quote.
Buyer personas are a useful and under-utilized tool for understanding the prospective customers you want to target with your marketing efforts. By researching and creating buyer personas and then creating content that addresses the needs of those personas, you can become visible to the type of person you want as a client and peak their interest about your company’s offerings.
The importance of inbound and digital marketing is undeniable in our increasingly digital world: we carry computers around in our pockets, everywhere we go, and we see everything through this new digital lens. As a sales professional, you know the importance too of embracing digital strategies. If your focus has always been on traditional outbound and push marketing methods, however, it can be difficult to make the transition. Here are a few things you can do to convert your sales team from outbound to inbound marketing.
Recycle mail content to email content
Any marketing materials that you’ve sent to prospective clients, you can probably send via email much more conveniently and at much less expense. This includes direct mail fliers as well as newsletters. You shouldn’t just scan a paper copy of your newsletter and send out an email blast, though. While much of the content may stay the same, digital newsletters and email marketing pieces should be made interactive—by directing people to your website or to contact your company—and should focus on relevant, educational topics that speak to your readers’ (a.k.a. your future clients’) pain points, rather than exclusively promoting your company.
Switching to email provides several advantages, such as lower initial cost and time-saving automation, but it also allows the recipient to opt-in (through a website submission form or through traditional methods of obtaining contact information) as well as opt-out. If leads can opt out of marketing materials from you, you know that they aren’t interested in your products or services, and you can focus your efforts on other potential clients.
Turn brochures and handouts into website content
Brochures are dying, and we’re really not sorry about it. That doesn’t mean that the work that went into your brochures should go to waste—it’s often a great starting point for developing website content. The content is already succinct and discusses your company’s products and services, which is what your site needs to do, too. Chances are that your brochures also contain professionally captured, high quality images of your products, key team members, and facilities, which could be incorporated into your website as well.
Business cards aren’t going away anytime soon, so keep handing those out, and include a link to your site to direct your leads to your website and the valuable information it contains about your company. Instead of forcing it on them with a brochure (that often as not, gets tossed immediately), interested parties, who are already looking for what you’re selling will find your site through search results, digital ads, and even the old standbys, like a meeting with a member of your sales team or through word-of-mouth.
Forget cold-calling, start posting
Social media is ubiquitous and inescapable—use that to your advantage. Again, it can save you money on advertising, and it has better reach than older tactics. We talk about LinkedIn all the time when it comes to B2B marketing, because it’s an excellent tool; want to target people with specific job titles at specific companies with information about your services or products? You can do that with LinkedIn. (Check out 6 Easy Ways to Make LinkedIn Work For Your B2B Marketing Strategy for more on LinkedIn.) There are numerous other platforms that can be of use, too, depending on your industry and target audience, and they all allow you to communicate with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people very easily, and it allows them to communicate and interact with your company as well, pulling them in, rather than pushing out to them.
Social media is also a great way to promote and get people interested in some of the things your company has already created. Take your white papers, reports, forecasts—anything that might be valuable and interesting to your target buyers—and digitize it. Turn those things into blog posts, ebooks, infographics, etc. and put them on the web. Then use social media to let people know where to find it and how it can help them with their business’s challenges. These strategies draw in interested parties, bringing the qualified leads to you, rather than the other way around.
Don’t think that transitioning from an outbound to inbound strategy means that you have to reinvent the wheel—you don’t. In fact, many outbound strategies are easily digitized and can even supplement your newly implemented inbound strategies. Start with the amazing content and resources that you’ve already cultivated, and work on making them digital friendly. When the leads start pouring in, your sales team will know just what to do.
Want to know more about digital strategy and how HADM might be able to help in your shift to inbound marketing techniques? We’d love to hear from you. And for more information on boosting your B2B’s inbound marketing power, check out this exclusive guide to Inbound Marketing, specifically for B2B manufacturers:
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the amount of money you can expect to make from a client over the course of your business relationship. Fostering a good relationship with your customers can increase this lifetime value, and there are a variety of digital marketing tools you can implement to help nurture those relationships. Most of these tools fall into two categories––segmentation, and tailored content. By performing just these two basic steps, you can seriously increase the customer lifetime value, ensuring you’re providing your clients with quality customer service, while increasing your ROI at the same time. Here’s how to get it done:
The first step to increasing customer lifetime value is to segment your customers into groups based on shared traits, such as revenue or industry. This will allow you to determine the shared characteristics of clients in these segments—their wants, needs, and pain points—and make product or service changes to meet those needs, as well as create content that addresses them.
Once you’ve segmented your customer base, you can determine which of those segments is the most valuable to your company, and you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting and retaining clients in this segment. By focusing your efforts on the most valuable client segment, you attract and retain more clients in this segment, increasing overall customer lifetime value, as well as extending CLV for this segment.
Create content that addresses the pain points that your customer segments have at each stage of the buyer’s journey, including post-sale. No matter what products or services you offer, you can provide information that will increase the benefit your customers derive from their purchase at all steps of the buyer’s journey, which ensures you keep previous clients, as you’re gaining new ones.
Use your segments to tailor follow-up messaging to the client type’s needs with relevant content, news, and offers. You can also take time here to thank your clients for their purchase—clients who feel that their business is valued and appreciated are more likely to be loyal customers. Follow-up messaging also provides an opportunity to collect feedback from customers that you can incorporate into improving your product, service, or customer experience.
To improve customer lifetime value, you need to do two things: attract clients with a higher initial customer lifetime value (marketing) and extend the customer lifetime (retention). Through strategic messaging and content creation, you can attract more clients from your ideal buyer type (buyers in the highest CLV segment) and retain your best clients, increasing their lifetime value.
If you’re interested in using digital marketing to attract new leads and increase retention and customer lifetime value, HA Digital Marketing can help. For more information on using inbound marketing to your advantage, be sure to check out our Inbound Marketing Guide specifically for B2Bs: