Incorporating research & analytics into your marketing strategy
As you begin 2017, will you take time to reflect on your past marketing efforts? What worked? What did not work? Will you keep doing what you have been doing?
Marketing is a science. In many ways, it is like water treatment—you have to test. What works for one company might not work for another. Research, testing and tracking are the three most important elements in the science of marketing.
Although there are many paid resources available for managing online reviews, the key to increasing them is utilizing your staff. A few successful ideas include:
Create a counter display and a “leave-behind” including the ways your customers can share their experiences.
Encourage a monthly internal competition by rewarding the staff member mentioned the most in customer reviews. Display the award certificate in the office.
Reply and repost or share social media or emailed reviews. Customize your reply and use the customer’s first name. Tag the reviewer so his or her friends—possible prospective customers—see the reply.
Create a testimonial page on your website and post the latest reviews at the top so search engines recognize keywords likely to be used by prospective customers. Search engines will see you are keeping your website relevant and updated regularly.
Include a hyperlink in your email signature to your online profiles where customers can write reviews.
Reply to all reviews, even bad ones. You are speaking mainly to prospective customers—not just the person who wrote the review. Keep it short and professional, apologizing when applicable and encouraging a resolution offline.
Social media is only an effective marketing vehicle if you use it consistently and provide value. Your social media profiles should be used to develop relationships, establish loyalty and increase brand awareness. They should complement your website, not replace it—search engines give more credit to companies with actual websites rather than just social media profiles. However, the more your company saturates the online world, the higher you will be listed in search results.
Only use the social media sites your target audience uses. If you are not sure, ask your customers. Do not waste time representing your company where your customers are not.
Relevant content is the most important part of social media. Share news alerts and follow your local government, then share information relevant to water treatment in your own words. This shows credibility and positions your company as an industry expert. Post fun water-related articles or tips during certain seasons, such as water games for kids in the summer.
Paid online marketing such as pay-per-click campaigns can be successful. It takes frequency to stay top of mind to your target audience. A good organic foundation is also important in coming up in search results when online users search specific water-related keywords, but having a paid spot in the search results increases the chance of someone clicking through to your website. Once a user has landed on your site, a retargeting campaign can follow him or her with a message encouraging a revisit.
Online marketing is trackable. Learn from the results of your click-throughs and most popular keywords, as well as your return on investment. Track your Google Analytics for information on your most frequented website pages and how long people are staying on your website or clicking through to other pages on the site. Analyze this and include it in your marketing plans and use it to craft your advertising message.
Direct mail is not dead. However, it is expensive due to postage. For effective lead-generating marketing, use the three-legged stool method: list, creative, offer.
To create a list, research is necessary, starting with understanding your current “best” customers. If you think you know the profiles—not just the demographics—of your customers but have never done a complete analysis, consider a snapshot or customer profile. Once you know the profiles of these best customers, invest in a list of prospective customers who meet the same qualifications, then advertise directly to them with a new prospect campaign. For a radius mailing program, use your internal list of recent installs to identify new prospects who have the same water quality.
The message in a direct mail campaign needs to be straightforward and show value. The design and text of the mailer should reflect the research you did on your audience in order to grab their attention and get them to act. For example, for a radius mailing program, a “keeping up with the Joneses” theme plus images of your truck and logo encourage the recipient to call or go online for more information. Track your Google Analytics around the time of the mailing. You may see an increase in traffic to your site but not additional calls. This does not mean the mailing was unsuccessful; it means you need to reach out again, maybe with a stronger offer or deadline. Frequency is key in this age of over-saturation.
Be wary of people selling email lists. Communicating with your customers via email and encouraging them to share your messages are more effective strategies.
Email marketing should be used in combination with social media and encouraging reviews. It is also effective for service reminders.
If you are not sure you have updated email addresses for your customers, mail a letter asking them to help you update your list. This also opens the door to new residents who may have inherited water treatment equipment already on the property. In the letter, direct the recipients to an online form on your website to fill out their contact information. Consider offering a special discount or cross-market a product to encourage completion of the form.
Content is king. It takes energy to implement any marketing technique consistently, let alone blog about water quality while running your business. Research marketing companies that offer a blogging service and discuss the budget you can allocate to the service. It is worth the investment to keep your company relevant online. Track the clicks, reply to the comments and share the blog on your social media profiles.
Frequency and tracking are key to successful marketing today. We are all busy running our businesses, so keeping up with the ever-changing, fast-paced world of advertising can be overwhelming. However, in 2017, if you want to see positive growth in your business, you must embrace marketing.
Consider Albert Einstein’s words: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This applies to refraining from advertising. It is also important not to assume something does not work just because you got few results the one time you tried it.
We challenge you to review the past, learn from the good and bad, and commit to at least one new form of advertising per quarter. Don’t forget to track the results. Happy New Year and happy marketing!