Marketing questions to ask in the new year
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions for your business? Each year, business owners have a refreshed outlook on the new year and excitement for new business growth. To reach those new goals, you need a solid marketing plan, but there are many options out there. How do you know which to choose without breaking the bank and which ones will be the most effective? Here is a general checklist to help you figure out where you currently stand and what you might want to include in your 2019 marketing plan and budget.
Website Design & Functionality
First and foremost, your website is the peak of the pyramid. All other marketing efforts should support and direct traffic to your website. Whether your website is brand new or was one of the first websites created at the birth of the world wide web, the following questions are important to ask for the design and functionality of your website.
Is your website secure? Do you see “https” (hyper text transfer protocol secure) and a padlock in the address bar? This will make your site more competitive and safer for search engines and users, whether you sell online or not. For example, a secure connection will keep your customers’ information safe from online forms and your website structure safer from the people who may use it to hide code on the back end of your site.
Is your website mobile responsive? Does your website change formats for each mobile device? If you have a mobile-friendly site, search engines still will have trouble adjusting to the various sizes of devices that are viewing your website and will rank your website lower than if your website were mobile responsive.
Is your website easily navigated by customers and prospects? Your website’s layout needs to be clean, intuitive and speak to your audience in their words. These are the keywords they tend to search, so search engines want to match those keywords with the same keywords on your website. Make sure your products, services and contact information are easy to find and use.
Do you have Google Analytics for your website? This information is free and provides great insight on who comes to your website, when they view it and for how long, as well as where they go once they get there. The longer someone is on your website and the more pages they view, the better your search rankings.
Do you update your website at least once a month? Whether it is a testimonial, new product, image, video, event or blog post, keeping your website relevant and competitive in the eyes of search engines helps your search rankings and can lower your cost per click for online marketing campaigns.
Is your website Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant? While the internet is always changing and developing, many elements of websites have remained inaccessible for people with disabilities. This has led to a series of lawsuits that have left many companies paying settlements. All of this falls under the ADA, a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. Many blind and visually impaired users use software like JAWS (Job Access With Speech), a Microsoft tool, to use the internet. As the number of lawsuits for ADA website compliance grows, it is becoming imperative that business owners make sure that their websites are accessible for everyone.
Does your website use the Gutenberg WordPress Editor? For almost a year, WordPress has been talking about how it is going to massively overhaul its text editor. WordPress is a content management system that currently powers 32% of the internet. That means 32% of websites are going to have to change the way they currently create content in their websites and view that content change. If you have a WordPress website, check with your web developer before you update WordPress to version 5.0 and accidentally break your website.
Social Media Presence
If your target audience is on social media, then your company needs to have a social media presence. Choose platforms your target audience is regularly using. The key to successful advertising is frequency. If you are not in the forefront of their minds on a regular basis developing a relationship of trust and credibility, you will be forgotten or your competitor will win their business. The most popular platforms in the water treatment industry are Facebook and Twitter. Do not forget to use social media to direct people to your website, not as a replacement for your website. Search engines give more credit to a website over a social media profile. Use teasers and links in your social media posts directing your audience back to your website for more information or to read more.
Do you post regularly to your social media accounts? Posting at least once a week is enough, but we recommend two to three times per week. Mix up your posts to include industry, geographical and company-related information that has a balance of fun and fact.
Have you created an audience for prospecting efforts? Using knowledge of who your best customers are and where they are will help you create an audience on Facebook to reach new prospects that is similar to your best customer profile. Then, when you post something that gets a lot of likes or shares, boost the post, choosing the selected audience within a timeline and budget you allocate based on return on investment. You also can use this audience for paid advertising campaigns. Do not forget to use co-op for your paid campaigns too.
Online Tools & Utilization
Online marketing does not only include social media and paid online marketing. There are inexpensive and easy-to-use tools available that can help improve your online reputation and search rankings. Do not forget your current customers for cross marketing and upselling opportunities.
Have you claimed your online directory profiles? Search for your company online and click on every link. Review the profile and claim your listing. Make sure your contact information, company profile, and website URL are correct and clickable. Once claimed, you can make updates and add pictures, hours, and more information to help your online profile be consistent and relevant.
Do you use email marketing to grow your business with your current customers? Email marketing is not as effective with new prospects as it is with your current customers. Your current customers have opted to give you their email addresses. Use it to cross market or upsell related products and services. Your response rate will be higher when you give customers exclusive offers they can download via your website. Be sure to include a link back to a specific page on your website to track click-throughs. A side benefit is that your website will receive inbound traffic, which will help your search results for new prospects. Do not forget to use email marketing and text messaging for service reminders and open estimates too. These emails can be automated, working in the background while you run the rest of your business.
Do you reply to all reviews—bad and good? Make sure your online profiles that accept reviews are set up to notify you of new reviews posted from your customers and prospects. Be sure to reply to all reviews with a personalized note.
Data & Direct Marketing
Direct mail is not dead. A targeted list and personalized mailer to a specific targeted list still is one of the most effective marketing vehicles. However, the most successful direct mail campaigns are based on current sales and installation. In the water treatment industry, most neighborhoods have the same water quality. Therefore, a targeted mailing to a neighborhood where you already installed a system or have a customer or two is the best use of your direct marketing dollars versus every door direct. However, you still need to invest time and money in your website, online reputation and social media presence so the prospect will find relevant information on your company and reviews from other customer’s experiences when they receive your mailing and do their research on your company.
Do you know exactly who is your “best customer,” using statistical tools? Cross-referencing your sales to the existing population, matched likely (and unlikely) prospects will make your direct marketing efforts more effective. This information also is useful when creating your Facebook audience boosts and advertising efforts.
Do you continually update customer email and mailing addresses for future marketing? Email marketing can be an inexpensive, effective and profitable strategy because a relationship already is established with the recipients: your current customers.
The bottom line is, if your marketing efforts grow then so will your business, but it does not have to break the bank. Be sure to be honest with the value of your time. Advertising in the 21st century requires a lot of time and energy to saturate the marketplace with your company’s unique position and message. If you do not keep your message in the forefront of your customers’ minds on a regular basis, you will be overlooked. Identify someone in your company who can consistently manage your marketing efforts and message, or invest in a company that can fill in the gaps where and when you cannot. The return on your investment in frequency and saturation will help you meet those New Year’s goals for your company.