(This BrandPro article is the third in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)
You grabbed your prospects’ attention in the Attract phase of the Marketing Funnel, and they’re showing interest in your business, product or service. Now is the time when content marketing is critical. During this phase, it’s important to generate great content that your target audience begins to rely on. You want them to join and participate in your online conversations within your owned channels such as your blog, social networks and email newsletters. Your active audience plays an important role in defining and owning your brand—so create a positive online brand experience that’s worth talking about. Great content keeps your prospects’ attention and makes them come back for more. And the more touch points a prospect has with your business, the more likely they will become a customer.
Your website is the central hub for your online marketing efforts. All of your digital channels should direct your audience back to your website. Your website needs to be engaging and house interesting content in prominent places. You want your website content to be intriguing, interesting and relevant enough that visitors explore other pages on the website to learn more about what you have to offer and develop a desire for it. A website also needs to be easy to use. The best content in the world is worthless if your visitors don’t know where to find it. User experience (UX) testing is important when first building or redesigning your website.
A blog should be housed on your company website. If it’s not integrated with your website, you’re about 10 to 15 years behind the times. A blog is a great place to house helpful, interesting content. It also improves your website’s SEO when strategic keywords appear within the blog posts.
Help visitors find your blog by including it in the main navigation on your website and in a blog feed on the website’s home page. Provide blog readers with additional information by linking to past, relevant blog posts within each post.
To encourage readers to engage with you on the blog, end each blog post with an interesting question and invite them to share in the comments below. Incorporate a social media sharing toolbar that allows readers to easily share your blog post with their social media networks. Include a link that allows visitors to follow your RSS feed. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter so that they can always receive your latest articles in their email. When visitors begin to like, comment and share your content, you begin to build relationships and create online brand ambassadors.
If you’re in the business of solving problems, video marketing is a great way to service your target audience and encourage them to interact with your brand. To help increase the amount of engagement on a video, it’s important to make sure the content is relevant and helpful. The production quality doesn’t have to be perfect, but the content should speak directly to the needs of your target audience. A video needs a lot of engagement right away in order for it to show up high in YouTube’s search results, so make it as timely as possible. Proper SEO also helps with this.
It’s also recommended to enable interactions. If you turn off the comments feature, you dramatically decrease the amount of engagement your video can receive. Another clever way to increase engagement is to use calls-to-action in annotations. Annotations are the notes that pop up at specific times within the video. For example, if you ask a question in the video, you can have a note that pops up asking viewers to answer in the comments below.
Lastly, to further increase your video engagement, you need to be engaged yourself. Get active in the YouTube community by subscribing to other relevant channels, add video responses when appropriate, and possibly advertise on YouTube. You can measure the amount of engagement your videos receive by looking at the number of minutes watched, comments, likes, shares and clicks.
When you post targeted content on strategic social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram), you begin to grow a following and gain attention. When social followers continuously see valuable posts, they begin to grow affection and appreciation towards your brand, and your relationship is further developed. Active, social relationships have the capability of turning into profitable customer relationships. When they like, comment on or share a post, they are showing interest in your content and, ultimately, in what your company has to offer.
There are many standard social media best practices that help increase engagement. Research has shown that photos and videos typically receive more engagement than simple statuses with no links. Asking questions or specifically telling your audience what you want them to do also helps increase the amount of audience participation. Keep your posts short, sweet and enticing. Post frequently at various times each day—not everyone in your target audience is on at the same time as you. Also consider hosting a contest or sweepstakes on one of your social media channels—these tend to garner a lot of engagement and increase the number of followers and social reach.
It’s also important to remember that each social network is unique, and you should only stick to a few networks where your target audience is most active. Tailor your strategy to fit each platform and its users.
In our next article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will explain the Convert phase of the Marketing Funnel, and you will learn how to convert prospects into leads online.