With digital marketing, there are some direct benefits. The indirect benefits, however, are more. While the advantage of new age marketing methods, such as inbound marketing, is that you can track, analyze, and dig your head into folds of data – it also makes it hard for you track actual purchase and customer transaction flows.
Let’s assume that you have an eCommerce store and you sell a line of products. You are possibly everywhere you should be, and doing what you should: Email marketing, blogging, guest blogging, active social media management, and even publishing parallel content such as slide decks and videos.
So, let’s see how customers find and interact with you (with commercial intent). Here’s how a transaction might play out:
- A customer does a direct, keyword-based search on Google. You show up on SERPs and they land on your product page to buy. Simple enough.
- A customer checks out a particular product’s features by entering the URL into their browser or from a bookmark (so, they know you well enough at this point to pay you a direct visit). They may not buy anything yet. When they are finally ready and satisfied, they visit once more and then buy.
- A customer reads a couple of blog posts, heads out to Twitter or Facebook and follows you there. From this point on, everything you publish feeds into their stream. At this point, they might be passive, but a few days later, they see a product they like on their stream and make an impulse purchase.
- A customer reads a post on your blog and leaves. A few months later, they read a guest post you did on another publication. They arrive on your blog and subscribe to your newsletter. Fast forward six months and they visit your online store through a call to action within your email (in response to an irresistible offer) and finally make a transaction.
See how many possible touch points there could be within your digital marketing process?
That’s why you don’t need to come on too strong on your customers. The intent of inbound marketing is to make them come to you, when they are ready. All you have to do, apart from the monstrosity of work that digital marketing can be, is be ready for them when they turn up.
Yet, you can still nudge, push, and make things happen. Social marketing (by that, I mean being social on digital platforms) allows you to do that. Here’s how to nudge customers closer to purchase through digital marketing:
Email: The Perfect Nudge Machine
Here’s the best thing about email: It’s exclusive, it allows for personalization, it helps to drip feed information slowly, and it can trigger commercial transactions (leaving the onus of taking action on the customer, not you). More than 57% of B2B customers actually make buying decisions based on email messages even before engaging with a sales representative.
Emails also help you nurture leads. As research by The Annuitas Group reveals, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
You can achieve tons by taking advantage of advances in email technology. Milk email the right way by using a series of auto responders, chunks of marketing automation, event-based or trigger-based email, transactional messages, and clever segmentation.
Presentation, Conversation, Transaction
Let’s consider social media marketing, which is the next big thing after email. Most businesses look for ROI (return on investment) on resources spent on social media. Don’t expect business from social media directly – it’s not built for that. What does work is the constant babble that’s the mainstay of social networks.
People talk about issues. Many share their problems and look for answers, so:
- Share valuable content created by others.
- Create, curate and share your own content.
- Engage and dive deep into conversations.
- Solve problems that are plaguing people. (Better yet, without anyone asking for it.)
- Use social media to network. Really, hustle with grace.
When you show up on social, you are in presentation mode. When you do all of the above, you are in engagement mode. Sooner or later, provided you have a great product, your customers get into the transaction mode.
It’s the simple, 3-step secret (not so much anymore) to social media mastery. Do it and measure the nudge.
The Power of Social Communities
Social media updates are byte-sized, quick, and have a short lifespan. Your contributions to a community (relevant to your niche) experience a relatively longer and more meaningful existence.
For most niches, Quora is teeming with questions begging for your answer. LinkedIn Groups have an ever-growing inventory of problems that need solutions. If you are a coding specialist, StackOverflow has more answers than your programming manual.
Keep doing it without expecting much and see what happens.
The Underdog Effect
In his book David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, And The Art of Battling Giants Malcolm Gladwell lists stories of how underdogs almost always win against giants (applicable everywhere).
So, why are we talking about this?
People first take notice when you are the underdog. Then, they slowly begin to appreciate what you are trying to do. Eventually, they’ll fall in love you. On social marketing, apply the “underdog effect” for your business. Be the lovable little guy. The days of the proud, battle-ready, resource-rich, and too-big-to-notice giants are numbered.
Take time out to reach every person who interacts with you on social media (or elsewhere). Pay attention to mentions, hashtag driven queries, questions and random conversations. They might all appear casual, but they aren’t. They are opportunities for you to tap into. They are conversations that lead to transactions.
Setting up a business is one thing. Getting customers to engage, converse and convert will require undulating focus, attention to detail, ability to multi-task and cater to multiple touch points. It’s people you are doing business with – not SKUs, Twitter handles, and customer support ticket numbers.
How do you go out of the way to engage with your customers? Do you have any tips on how to nudge customers to purchase?