How Actionable Marketing Supports Your Purchase Process
With increased cost pressures and decreased brand loyalty, every marketer’s looking for cost effective ways to make their marketing actionable.
Here are seven ways to make your marketing actionable.
1] Get your message out. In today’s multi-platform, always-on world, you need multiple vehicles to ensure you reach your audience wherever they are.
- Email is every marketer’s workhorse since it’s relatively low cost, has broad reach, carries various content types, and is accessible on multiple devices.
- Mobile text provides timely messages in 160 characters or less. Even better, it’s always on top of any mobile device.
- Social media communications are generally public. Instead, leverage related email and direct messaging options (like Twitter) for personal exchanges.
- Social sharing uses your audience’s social graph for public messages to extend your reach without cost. It’s endorsed by those sharing the content.
2] Offer product information. Since seven out of ten buyers start the shopping process with online research, place the content for which they’re looking on a variety of platforms to ensure it’s findable.
- Website is your home base where customers can find and buy from you.
- Social media. Since consumers spend one out of every five minutes on social media, have a presence where they are. Remember, social media requires active engagement, not message push. Further, many consumers may only follow you for the one-time savings.
- Blogs provide timely information that supports search optimization.
- Video allows prospects to see your product in action, on your website, blog or social media platform. Video provides a 360 degree view showing products in context.
- Customer reviews are on every shopper’s information checklist. If they’re not on your website, consumers will check third party sites including Amazon and competitor sites. This is one area where consumers trust other customers, for the good and the bad.
- Social shopping sites allow consumers to congregate and share information from social shopping sites like Kaboodle to communities like TripAdvisor, ITtoolbox or Ravelry.
3] Provide various response channels. Let prospects, customers and the public communicate with your firm via their preferred channel. Understand they’ll use every entranceway to communicate with you but don’t overwhelm them with choices.
- Email is used to get information and questions answered in twenty-four hours or less. Customers use every form or address they find including promotional emailings so check for customer responses and answer them.
- Chat is a cost effective way to respond to inquiries via your website. Let customers know your chat’s hours of operation.
- Mobile encompasses various options including mobile web, apps, texting and QR codes. Customers expect quick response time via a mobile device. Assume they’re in your store or your competitors’ and seeking easy-to-access information where purchase is imminent.
- Social media is used by consumers to contact companies when they’re on-the-go and want to get through with greater ease. Firms like JetBlue use it to provide timely, on-the-go information. The downside is that when you don’t deliver on social media platforms, your prospects, customers and their social graph know.
- Phone. Don’t forget, even mobile devices and computers (Skype anyone?) can be used to place a call.
- Retail requires helpful, friendly and informed staff to close sales. Armed with their mobile, shoppers check products they find in your store and buy them cheaper and/or quicker via phone.
4] Build your housefile. Developing a list of prospects, consumers and fans you can engage with is at the heart of actionable marketing. But you can’t feed them a diet of endless promotions or they’ll leave.
- Email is core to every marketer’s retention efforts. Go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. Segment your list to give recipients information they want that’s integrated with your other initiatives.
- Text delivers time sensitive messages to your audience, especially if you deal with teens.
- Social media. While social media platforms tend to attract fans looking for a one-time coupon, these platforms enable you to continue communicating with customers.
- Mail has less competition for consumer attention since there’s less in their mailboxes so your correspondence stands out.
5] Close the sale. Customers need somewhere to transact the sale once they’ve decided.
- Website is the growth purchasing location.
- Phone. After consumers get information about your products via phone, they’re ready to buy. Phone operators are trained to upsell related products.
- Retail provides face-to-face engagement many consumers appreciate.
- Mobile closes sales in multiple ways including using a mobile site as a website, via a mobile app, or to receive the product receipt such as a concert ticket.
- Social media allows shoppers to make transactions without leaving the social media platform. While f-commerce leads the pack with firms like 1-800 Flowers, it’s an evolving platform. (For more on social commerce, here are ten formats with a chart.)
6] Provide customer support. Many marketers overlook this step figuring their job ends with the purchase. The reality is you’ve got to ensure consumers use your product or it’ll be returned.
- Website. Associate product usage information with product descriptions. Use videos to show customers who can’t visualize what you’re saying. Also, FAQs are useful as are step-by-step photographs to illustrate usage.
- Discussion boards are the pre-cursors of social media that exist on your website or third party entities. Like social media platforms, customers answer other customers’ questions.
- Phone. Frustrated, customers will phone to get information. If they call, take a page from Zappo’s playbook by delighting them.
- Chat. If chat’s on your website, be prepared to handle customer service and usage questions. Ensure difficult issues can be escalated, especially for electronic and technology products where users don’t understand what to do.
- Email is another way consumers seek help so check for this type of correspondence and have a process in place to answer it.
- Retail. Regardless of purchase channel, consumers will bring returns to your store where you should be able to resolve any problems.
- Social media including blogs and videos. Savvy customers search for answers to their questions where they think they’ll get answers. Social media platforms like Q&A sites and/or social networks can be responsive with a large enough base of people to answer questions Also, don’t underestimate your blog and video’s ability to answer customer questions cost effectively.
7] Support your fans! Give them a place to congregate and rave about their experiences.
- Email. At a minimum, thank customers and check whether they need anything else.
- Customer reviews. Ask customers to return to your site to give product feedback. If problems appear, take swift action!
- Social media networks (as well as your own site) allow customer engagement.
While you may not be able to use every option for each step, give prospects and customers a choice to help them purchase and use your products so they’ll keep coming back for more. In other words, make your marketing actionable!
Are there any other actionable marketing formats that are missing? If so, please add your comments below.
Here are some related articles that you may find interesting.
- How Actionable Marketing Stacks Up. Highlights the differences between actionable marketing and other forms of marketing. Useful chart included.
- How to make your marketing more effective. Data shows what consumers want from marketers.
- Digital media consumption. Includes a chart to guide marketers through creating relevant content by device.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bods/5014819403/