By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST
It’s safe to say that as business owners one of our ultimate goals is to create customer loyalty. There is as much as a 90% cost reduction when selling to an existing customer compared to acquiring a new one. That’s why it’s important to intimately understand your customers and how your digital media ecosystem can generate leads and earn loyal customers.
Your digital media ecosystem is a complex combination of your online marketing channels that work together to deliver the ultimate customer experience and build brand loyalty. Understanding your business’s online ecosystem begins with asking questions and conducting research using online analytics. Some questions you might consider include:
- How did your target audience find you?
- What devices do they use?
- What steps did customers take before purchasing or submitting their information?
- What websites do customers visit?
- What blogs do they read?
- How do they search for information?
- On which social networks are they active participants?
To be effective you need to constantly listen, engage, measure and adapt. As the digital landscape changes so does your online ecosystem. It’s always evolving and integrating. If you stay in-tune, you can adapt your marketing efforts to reflect the changes in your ecosystem.
View your digital ecosystem as three types of media: bought media, owned media, and earned media.
In today’s competitive digital landscape, you will probably have to pay to play. To grow your business, increase brand awareness and attract new customers, you may be targeting an audience that’s not yet familiar with you. If they’re not familiar with your business or owned media, you need find a way to reach out to them. Paid channels include search engine marketing (SEM), online display ads and PPC campaigns, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, traditional advertising and promotion. Your bought media should reach a large target audience.
Not all of the people in your target audience will be interested in your products or services. If you were selective, a good portion should be somewhat intrigued and those prospects will visit your owned media. These include your online content, company website and blog, social media networks, mobile sites and apps, support forums and specialty communities. The goal is to always drive your bought and earned audiences back to your owned media—especially your website.
You can’t buy or own brand advocates and loyal customers. They’re earned. You earn your email list when people have a reason to provide it to you. You earn social media and offline word-of-mouth. Your earned channels are often user-created and user-generated. They’re collaborative and constantly evolving. This can include niche networks, social media engagement, fan discussion forums, online reviews, private networks, blogging communities, inbound marketing and offline praise.
Compare your digital media ecosystem to a car that is headed on a road towards brand loyalty. Your system of online content and owned channels work together like the parts of an engine and make your car go. Bought and earned channels are like the oil to your ecosystem—alone they can’t make your car go, but they can help make it go faster.