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How to Engage and Connect with NEW Customers using Traditional Tactics and Emerging Trends

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As a small business owner, you already know the importance of earning and maintaining customer loyalty. Even so, you might be struggling to effectively reach new customers and grow your business. In today's post, we'll talk about how to connect with new customers using not only the traditional tactics you're probably already familiar with, but also emerging digital tactics.

Drive Digital through Traditional

Many marketers still make the mistake of believing that traditional, offline methods are completely separate from newer digital and mobile outreach efforts. The truth is that traditional tactics are actually strong drivers of digital engagement through search, social, and your website, whether it's through a laptop or mobile device. While we'll dive into this a little more in the next few tips below, you should realize that the reason behind building an integrated campaign like this is quite simple: Customers don't distinguish between digital and physical shopping experiences. Instead, customers see their shopping experiences from the perspective of how they interact with a particular brand. It makes sense to customers to see a hashtag, URL, or QR code in non-digital advertising because to them, that's the brand's way of making it easier on the customer to connect and find the information they want.

Take Advantage of TV

TV is still a strong way to reach customers across generations, even without taking streaming TV into account. For instance, trailing-edge Millennials (18-24) still watch a little more than 16 hours of TV weekly, and older Millennials average about 23.5 hours weekly. Those numbers climb in direct correlation to increasing age. More important, however, is that 90% of viewers aged 14 and older multitask watching television while using a mobile device, and at least a quarter of that multitasking involves searches and social engagement directly linked to what they're seeing on TV. (That number is higher among younger adults and by activity — e.g., 41% of Millennials 26-32 browse for retail products and other services.) Tap into this traffic by including useful key phrases, hashtags and URLs in your TV ads can to result in a direct impact to your digital reach when leveraged correctly.

Use Direct Mail

If you're associating direct mail with mass marketing, you're missing out on some pretty important targeting options. With the right media partner and market research, you can individualize mailings to particular segments, offering exactly what they're looking for in an engaging way that can make a strong, multisensory first impression. This direct sort of segmentation is also cost effective because it ensures you're reaching the customers most likely to convert to the call-to-action they've received.

Direct mail is also one of the most powerfully flexible channels to use. For one thing, you can drive digital engagement by including URLs and social media handles along with calls-to-action that can boost newsletter participation and more. For another, you can incorporate smart tactics like variable printing into your marketing strategy. In other words, variable printing allows you to mail a customer specific items related to internet searches they’ve conducted on your site within 24 to 48 hours. That touchpoint might just be enough to help them make their decision to go with your brand, especially once you consider the fact that 79% of customers will act on direct mail immediately.

Print Is Still Critical

Do not make the mistake of thinking that print is dead. It has certainly taken a hit, but the result is that print publications like magazines and newspapers are reaching customers who are most engaged with that publication, and thus, much more likely to convert to your message. What's more, one of the biggest problems when discussing print advertising effectiveness has to do with attribution — when someone ends up at your website, you might only be attributing it to the fact that they did a Google search to find you. It might be they saw your ad in a magazine, and that spurred their action online. This makes it that much more important to integrate digital tools with this channel, including tools like Google Analytics. This is where individualizing hashtags and vanity URLs to particular ad spaces can come in handy: They build attribution into the ways your customer has to look you up. Don't assume print is only for older generations, either. More than half of of Millennials include retail catalogs as a part of their purchasing decision, and another 72% use retail inserts to price compare.

It's worth mentioning this can be a key way to engage with publication readers on a social level as well. For example, we use the hashtag #exploresummit as a part of our Summit Daily News publication. Select readers that post pictures taken in or about Summit County, Colorado, to Instagram with that hashtag will have their photos featured in our Friday or Saturday issues, and they have a chance to be featured as our Facebook Cover Photo. By engaging customers on a level that has them excited about generating content, you promote positive brand perception and build word of mouth.

Press or Media Releases Can Extend Reach

Even your standard press release can do a lot of your footwork for you, especially since they tend to exist in both physical and digital spaces. For example, if your medical office opens a new branch and you have a press release for it, it's likely to be picked up by news outlets or other businesses in your network. This can expose your brand to customers (or in this case, patients) that might not have been reached through your own marketing outreach.

Don't Just Use Digital To Advertise — Use It To Listen

As the new adage goes: it's not enough to have a presence on social media, you need a social media presence. That means you need to have your ear to the digital ground in a much more meaningful way, and to do that, you'll need social listening tools. At the very minimum, these tools allow you to track keywords, hashtags, topics and conversations, giving you the insight you need to understand your business' reputation and other key movements in your industry or audience, such as finding key influencers. However, social listening tools have also evolved, and the right ones might be capable of helping you do much more than simply listen to what's going on.

Targeting Enhances Your Effectiveness

Quite frankly, in the modern marketing context, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all messaging. Even your mass marketing needs to involve mass targeting to be effective, not only in terms of cost but in terms of results. You need to understand your audience and the segments within it in order to actually reach them meaningfully. This certainly encompasses your creative — a young Millennial mother of two does not have the same retail, eating, medical or activity needs as a leading-edge Gen X single man, after all — but it also encompasses which channels are going to be most effective for reaching customers along the evolving and ever-fragmenting path to purchase. Remember, no matter which channels you're using, targeting is always viable, no matter how new or how old the format is.

Personalization Improves Your Impact

Personalization is an extension of targeting, and as such it's extremely important. Customers expect your outreach to them to be personalized, and many times, they want some element of control (29% said a little, 41% said a lot) over how it's personalized. That's because they want advertising that's unintrusive and relevant to their interests and their needs. This requires a lot of data and potentially significant effort, but the results are well worth it — in email alone, where personalization is most easily evident, personalized emails (from username to personalized product recommendations, etc.) offer six times higher transaction rates. Personalizing website content can also lead to a sales uplift of 19%. Tapping into marketing automation tools and CRM can make personalization easier, even for small businesses.

Blogging Has Its Benefits

Gone are the days when blogging was seen as recreational at best. These days, a site with an active blog is likely to receive seven times more visitors than non-blogging counterparts. That's because it serves to position your brand in a number of ways. The most obvious is SEO and SEM, especially with Google's renewed emphasis on fresh, valuable content and long-tail keywords; having an active blog pushes you higher in the results list when consumers do searches related to your brand or industry. It also establishes your brand as a competitive player or even a leader in your corner of the market and gives customers a reason to trust your brand as a valuable resource, turning to your blog when they have questions. 

Causes and Events Can Be Extremely Useful

Both of these tactics can position your brand as valuable and trustworthy as well, although they do it in different ways. Event marketing associates your brand with the community, especially if it's a local event, and goes a long way to humanizing your brand to your customers. How you represent your brand there (i.e., whether you're enthusiastic and outgoing without being overbearing) can greatly impact the way customers will interact with your brand later. Cause marketing can generate a lot of positive brand reputation and word-of-mouth simply because you did something to support a cause about which your customers care deeply. Aligning with their values can also generate serious loyalty.

Never Ignore the Competition

Hopefully this goes without saying, but your competition can actually offer you a lot of insight into the market, your audience, and what is or isn't going to work. Their weaknesses can become your strengths, and if nothing else, knowing how they've positioned themselves gives you the chance to differentiate your business from theirs. For instance, if there's a consumer need they're not meeting, for which there’s a strong enough market, you can capture new customers (potentially, your competition's customers) by offering the solutions that meet that need.

Hopefully these insights about how to connect with new customers will give you a starting place to redirect or revamp your marketing outreach. To see better results, you need to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal, so don't forget the importance of personalization, targeting and monitoring your competition.

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