By Hector E. Cisneros
Most businesses spend tons of money generating leads and finding prospects on the internet. Internet Marketing is the norm today for any business looking to grow their customer base. But did you know that most businesses leave more money on the table because they neglect the customers they already have. Touch marketing is the best ways to make sure you stay top of mind with existing customers. And the Internet is by far the most cost-effective method of touch marketing ever devised.
However, providing the right level and frequency of touches can be either a godsend for generating more sales or a nightmare for scaring away your existing customers. In this episode we will explore the do's and don'ts of touch marketing and provide you with a checklist of best practices to make sure you rake in the cash while keep your hard-earned customers happy.
What is Touch Marketing?
Touch marketing is an ongoing system of correspondence that can be used to stay in touch with your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Like all of us, your prospects and customers have needs and wants. What they don’t need or want is to be barraged with emails telling them to “Buy My Stuff.” However, they are not averse to receiving information that provides them with value. Using online touch marketing wisely allows you to stay in touch with them, achieve a level of rapport, familiarity, and ultimately gain their trust that can be turned into a sale when the customer or prospect is ready to buy. In the old days direct mail was the medium of choice for most marketers. Today there is a better way to reach out and touch someone
There have been many studies carried out on this subject. When I was studying sales, we were always told that it took a minimum of seven contacts with a prospect before they would buy. Recently I have read that this number can be as high as 12 touches before the prospect is ready to buy. More importantly, there are other factors that affect the buying decision. For example; is the economy is slow, are the prospects flush with cash, or are they pinching every penny? Has trust already established or is this the first time the prospect has heard of your company? Do they have a real need or is this a discretionary purchase? Deciding to buy something is influenced by a multitude of factors. Anything that you as a business can do to differentiate yourself, your product, your credibility as well as simplify the buying process will help move your prospect into making a buying decision.
What are the Methods a Business Needs to Use in Order to Succeed?
In the past, businesses could brand themselves and create leads. Most of these leads came from print advertising or phone solicitations. Let’s look at what the Internet revolution now provides to businesses big or small.
1. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a superior form of direct mail marketing. It has a much lower cost, it is much faster and it can be sent in a verity of ways. This is not to say that direct mail doesn’t work
|Typical advertising mail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
anymore, it’s just considerably more expensive. With email, you can send newsletters, email blasts, customer surveys to opt-in databases that you develop or purchase. It’s very important that you only use opt-in lists. There are severe penalties for spamming people with un-solicited email. Also, spamming is a quick way to get your domain name added to a black list which will hurt your reputation or even get your site shut down. I personally like using email newsletters. They can connect your clients and prospects to your blog, social nets and YouTube channel. You can include lots of useful information that builds your credibility and you can also add coupons and product specials on occasion to help build loyalty.
2. Text Message Marketing
Again with text messaging you want to use op-in lists that you either buy or build. Text messaging is a great way to send text alerts like BOGOs, special sales and time limited offers. You can also create quite a buzz with contests and coupons. You can also increase the traffic to your website or business with text messaging.
3. Social Media Marketing
The term Social Media Marketing is somewhat of an oxymoron, in that social media is not a direct form of marketing. It can contain pay per click ads and you can run contests in
social media, but no one ever joined a social network to be sold to! Social media is more akin to word of mouth marketing. Having said that, any business can run contests, provide product updates, offer coupons, and use customer testimonials to market their business or products. Remember that social posts work best when customers and prospects repost your message. When you shout about how great you are it’s a commercial. When your customers sing your praises it’s a testimonial. Remember to post useful information. Again, focus on building trust and credibility as opposed to direct selling.
Blogging is a great way to build your credibility. It can keep prospects and clients up to date on your changing business. Providing quality, relevant blogs is one of the best way to differentiate yourself and build your credibility. This one item will separate you from crowd. Why you might ask? Because writing quality blogs is a time consuming skill. If you don’t have the time or skill you can outsource this function and its return on investment can be as high or higher than pay per click advertising. Blogging helps with your Internet ranking, credibility, growing a following and growing your social nets. The key is to provide useful, quality, relevant infotainment in a multimedia format. You also must make sure that you grow your readership. This means you will have to invite people to read, comment and share your blogs and articles. If your articles are well written, in an evergreen fashion your blogs will also garner search ranking on their own. We have learned that creating an alliance with other bloggers can help with distribution. Getting other bloggers to read your blog, comment on your blog and share your blog will only work if you also read, comment and share theirs as well. This can be a significant task in itself, but it can also pay huge dividends as well.
5. Send Out Cards
Send Out Cards is a hybrid online service/direct mail service that is sold as either a standalone or MLM product. What’s neat about this product is that you can create a data base of clients and prospects online and then send them greeting cards, post cards, tri-folds, even gifts. More importantly you can create touch campaigns that you can plug a prospect into and educate them to move them through your marketing funnel. I don’t participate in their MLM program but I do love this product.
When most people think of YouTube they think viral videos. But YouTube is much more than that. It’s a social media platform, a vlog platform, (video blogs), it can be an educational medium, it can provide weekly updates and be your very own WebTV channel. Let’s face it, four out of five people would rather watch a two minute video then read two paragraphs about your product or service. What’s cool about YouTube is that its free, it has built in tools to help you create your videos and people can subscribe to your channel. You can even invite people to view your videos and videos are great content for your blogs and social nets.
Necessary Elements Needed to Build Your Audience
In last week’s blog, we talked about how a person can make pay per click pay big dividends. An
important part of that discussion centered around what is needed on a landing page to get a prospects to cough up their contact information. We believe using landing pages is the best way to build your very own opt-in touch marketing database. Contrary to popular belief is the fact that landing pages can be on any medium. You can add contact forms on social media pages, blogs etc… and most of the media I have discussed so far includes a way to capture a prospect’s contact information. Having said that here is a short list of items that every landing page needs in oder to work while at the same time helping to build your credibility.
Landing pages with the five elements –
1. Contact Form – Make their name and email address mandatory, but their other contact information should be optional.
2. Offer – Give them a reason to give up their contact information. An offer can be useful information in the form of a white paper, special lists, or an eBook.
3. Phone number – You need to list your phone number in a prominent place.
4. Address – Don’t hide! People need to know you’re a real business with a real address.
5. Testimonials – Testimonials are very important. Video testimonials are best, but you can use written testimonials if they are copies of the original, showing letterhead, names etc…
Common Features of Most Email Systems
Ideally you would use several of these in conjunction to improve your odds of your message being read. It will also provide a degree of synergy and added credibility when you reach out to a prospect or client in multiple ways. Whether you use Constant contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, or some other email marketing system, you need to know the basics of what is necessary to perform this vital task. Now let’s cover some of the basic elements every email marketing system needs to have. Here is a list that every email marketing system needs to have.
Databases- All mail programs need to be able to create and store contact information. The three above will allow you to create multiple databases. Many have tiered pricing systems based on the number of contacts entered. Many also provide free trials.
Templates’ – All of the programs listed above have built-in templates for newsletters, email blasts, invitations and the like. They also will allow you to create surveys to gauge customer/prospect opinions.
Forms – All the systems mentioned above come with built-in response forms and all will allow you to create custom forms. These forms can be plugged into your landing pages, blogs etc… as an embedded code.
Scheduling – Being able to set up a date to send your marketing messages is important. Most systems have some method of performing this function. The calendar system/scheduling function is what allows you to create a touch marketing program vs just a direct email piece.
Analytics – All systems need some method of measuring your success. You need to know how may were emails were opened, how many you added to your database/s, how many dropped out and which mail pieces are the most affective. These all provide some level of analytics.
Management - Editing and managing your database and email campaigns is very important. The greater control you have over your databases the more you can utilize them as effective marketing tools. Management is often spread out among multiple functions and is not usually housed all in one place. The three programs listed all have adequate managerial functions.
Automation – You need to have automation otherwise you will have to work at using your database. Of the functions needing automation, the one that is paramount is Opt-in/out functions. You want your prospects and clients to be able to add or remove themselves from the mailing list. This keeps you legal and keep your clients and prospect happy.
I can't tell you how much money online touch marketing has saved us over the years. But when you consider that a first class stamp currently costs forty nine cents and that we send out thousands of newsletters and invitations out every single week, then were I to suggest using the USPS to deliver them, the only thing going postal would be my partners.
Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director forWorkingTheWebToWin.com, based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make working the web to win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active blogger (including ghost writing). He's a published author of two books, "60 Seconds to Success"(on sale at Amazon and B&N) and "Internet Marketing for the 21st Century,"which you can get free by clicking on the link at WorkingTheWebToWin.com.