Every Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Technorati.com. Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. Websites, blogs, and social media marketing strike the best balance between customer attraction and retention, according to an October 2012 survey from Constant Contact. In its survey of over 1,000 small businesses, the small business marketing firm also found that the tactics least effective at striking the balance were daily deals and online ads. This balance is critical as small businesses need to use their marketing dollars wisely, and if certain tactics can do both, then that's better for the business.
So, just how can small businesses better use websites, blogs, and social media better? What can be done so that customer attraction and retention rates improve by using these tactics, and using them more effectively? Here's how to master these tactics to do just that:
Blog and Post Regularly
Obviously, if you're only blogging and tweeting once a month, you can't expect these tactics to attract and retain customers. You're not doing it enough for anyone to notice. With social media, you should be posting/tweeting/updating at least once a day. With blogging, you should be publishing at least one post per week. With your website, you should work on adding more pages to it at least once a month. When you are employing your tactics often enough (but not so often that you overwhelm people or that your quality suffers), people will take notice of what you are doing and what you have to say. Only then, will you be able to attract and to retain customers.
Create Content with Your Customers in Mind
If all you're talking about is your company's products/services, this award you won, this event you attended, and how great your company is, then these tactics won't retain and attract as many customers as you want. The reason is that your customers don't care about any of those things. They really don't. They care about whatever problem they have and how to solve it. They care about working with a brand that knows what it's doing. They care about spending their money on a solution that will work. Since that's what they care about, that's what you need to talk about in your website, blog, or social media update. Talk about their problems and pain points, and how to solve them. Talk about your industry, where its going, and offer best practices for doing X and Y in your industry. Talk about solutions that work, and what customers ought to spend on such solutions (Yes, be the brand that reveals the number). These people will thank you for it by becoming a customer and encouraging others to become customers.
Connect the Three
Do not operate your website, blog, and social media in three separate silos! Connect the three of them with links as well as a comprehensive strategy. For example, your blog should be easily accessibly through your website, preferably through its own link in the header navigation bar. This is a mistake many small businesses make, as they either aren't connected at all or the only link is in the footer navigation bar. An extra step you can take is to include your blog feed right on the home page, so visitors can also peruse specific articles. Social media should be as accessible from your website, and your blog should include social sharing buttons with each post. On the flip side, use social media to promote your blog posts and your webpages.
As for a comprehensive strategy, think about the strengths of each tactic individually and consider how to use them in a marketing campaign, for example. If you have a new fill-in-the-blank that you want to generate buzz about, use all three to their strengths to generate that buzz. With your blog, do a post that reveals just a piece of the fill-in-the-blank, including a call to action to download, or to register, or to buy, or whatever the proper action is. Your website should have a new page dedicated to the fill-in-the-blank, which can easily be shared on social media or promoted on the home page. Your blog post should also include a link to this page. Social media should be used to drive traffic to both pages, with an even smaller piece revealed to entice clicks.
Keep in mind that, "we have a new fill-in-the-blank! Click here to check it out," is neither enticing, nor revealing. It doesn't give any reason to check it out. This is an example of the talking about yourself problem that we discussed. It emphasizes you and the new thing too much without showcasing what's in it for the visitor or customers.