Marketers and salespeople alike are always looking for ways to gain more sales and increase revenue. Obviously so. There are a number of ways to attract more customers and to generate sales, however, if we are focusing completely on sales alone then we are thinking only of our short-term goals and not the long-term aims and objectives of the business. The most common business aim is profit maximisation and to achieve that aim, the strategy should be turning customers into long-term allies who will make repeat purchases and importantly tell their friends about their experience.

 

Brand Loyalty

If you run an e-commerce website, you need to think beyond simply selling products. Customers can purchase goods and services anywhere, from a range of different retailers. In order to create brand loyalty, you need to differentiate your business, decide what sets you apart from your competitors and ascertain why your customers choose your brand. Therefore, in order for customers to become promoters, they need to love your brand and what you offer.

 

Inbound Marketing

Although we know that e-commerce has had a surge in popularity as a result of the pandemic, marketers have been realising the power of inbound marketing for some time. Inbound marketing is all about becoming customer-centric and using blogs, vlogs, search engine optimisation (SEO), podcasts as well as social networking to attract strangers to your site, converting them into customers and then, crucially, creating that loyalty to your brand.

 

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is at the heart of inbound marketing and involves the management of the different techniques mentioned above (blogs, videos, web content etc) that attract visitors to your website. Effective content is not “salesy”, it is not keyword-stuffed, nor is it random. Successful content marketing is targeting your audience with answers to their questions, aligning your brand in the audience’s mind with being an expert in this area. The management of content is just as important as the actual creation of content, as you may create some relevant content that the audience is looking for but if it is not in the right place, at the right time, your content could be missed. It needs to be part of a content strategy, closely managed for efficacy.

 

Inbound marketing strategies

There are a number of inbound marketing strategies that can be employed by marketers and small business owners:

  1. Blogs and vlogs
  2. Email opt-ins
  3. SEO/Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  4. Social Media
  5. Webinars
  6. White Papers

You don’t need to employ all of these strategies as long as the focus remains on engaging the audience with effective content in a sufficient combination of media. The content should educate rather than sell and be relevant to both your business and what the consumer is looking for.

Lead Nurturing

This is all about fostering buyer relationships and effectively communicating with your target audience, over a long period of time (length will vary on product/market segment). Understanding the buying process and your own consumers’ buying cycle will help your business to plan, create and manage your content marketing strategy. Listening to your audience is key and communicating with them directly will really help. Your social media team should be actively engaging with comments and messages on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Even if it is a complaint, how you handle these can impact your brand image and thus your brand loyalty.

Exceeding expectations

It is no longer enough to be “middle of the road” when it comes to customer service. People have access to social media and review websites such as Trust Pilot and Trip Advisor, where they can easily share negative experiences with others. Without prompting, consumers are more likely to post negative reviews rather than compliments. Setting high expectations of your team in terms of customer service to be better than competitors is important to create happy customers. Happy customers are your advocates, they are the ones who will keep coming back to you and will promote your business to others. Promoters are also those that are going to be more likely to share their positive opinions about your business, either by writing reviews or defending you from criticism, giving your brand credibility and trustworthiness. The old adage that word of mouth is the best form of marketing stands firm, people listen to others whether it is friends, family or influencers and best of all (if you ignore the actions it took to make them promoters) it is free! Furthermore, 90% of people are much more likely to trust a recommended brand (even from strangers).

Advocacy Management

Creating advocacy and turning customers into promoters is a long-term strategy and needs to be at the heart of your marketing. It is time-consuming and can be daunting, you can use digital marketing experts to guide you and manage this process. Speak to our consultants at Sierra Six Media for more information on starting your journey to brand loyalty and creating lifelong fans of your brands.

 

Rachel Downes, Publisher, Sierra Six Media.