The primary role of marketing is to generate brand awareness and highlight how a brand’s products and services can be of value to the customer. There are a variety of tools from the digital marketing mix that can help with this.
The first question to ask is: ‘Who is my ideal customer?’ To answer this, you will need to create a customer persona, or a character that represents your ideal customer. To understand what encapsulates this person, you must think of every aspect of their life, including their interests and hobbies, as well as their desires and motivations. The following questions can help with this exercise:
Once you have conceptualised your ideal customer, you can use digital marketing tools and techniques to lead them to your business offering. Here are a few insights that can help with building a customer base:
1. Be easily searchable
Most people look online when seeking a service or product, or details about a specific business. So, it’s important that your offering shows up in these searches, and that it is easy for customers to locate your business. Things you can do to ensure this happens are:
- Register with Google My Business. Ensure that all the information you provide is up to date, including your address and hours of operation. This will help ensure that your business shows up in Google Maps, so that people, including potential customers, in the area will see it.
- Use SEO (search engine optimization) to improve your search ranking and online presence. SEO is the process of boosting website traffic (number of hits) to your website via “earned” or unpaid search results. So, when a person looks up a product or service online that is similar to your offering, or uses specific keywords that are related to your product or service, your business shows up in the top searches. These “organic” searches can come from anywhere in the world. Local SEO, while similar to SEO in that it helps boost traffic, and improves your site’s visibility, also uses relevant local searches to make your business better known in the area — think of it as “free” local advertising. This is particularly helpful if you want to direct potential customers to a physical store or location.
There are two ways to improve SEO rankings: onsite SEO and offsite SEO:
Onsite SEO, also known as on-page SEO, allows search engines to easily find your website based on your site’s content. Offsite SEO, or off-page SEO, has to do with the relationship that your site has with other sites. So, getting other relevant and credible websites to link to yours, for example, can serve as a strategy to build the relevance and credibility of your own. Registering with web directories and popular review sites, including TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, and Yelp, and encouraging customers to leave their reviews on these sites can all help with building offsite SEO strategy.
2. Generate a social-media buzz
Once you create profiles on relevant social media platforms, try and get as many people as you know to follow these pages and/ or accounts, and to engage with posts. Post regularly (preferably at the same times, each day), and get your followers to like, comment, and share these posts. This will help generate buzz and you will soon have new users engaging with the content. The key is to create content that is:
Also invite key influencers and important PR people to engage with your offering, as they are likely to write about or review your product/ service, which will help with publicity. This will add to the buzz generated online, especially if you share these reviews across your social media accounts, which can also boost your search ranking. Remember that this is a form of free amplification, and if the reviews are linked to your website and social media it’s highly probable that audiences will engage with the content.
3. Use targeted advertising
Paid social media, or paid online advertising provides the option of reaching your target audience quickly. Advertising on these platforms enables you to target the type of customer that might be best suited to your product or service in a cost-effective manner, as users are segregated into various customer demographics. These include:
The first step to consider when opting for this type of advertising is to choose the right social media platform(s) for your business. Remember to keep in mind where the majority of your target customers are likely to spend their time, as you did when deciding which platforms to use to build your social presence.
Next, when creating the advert, determine your target audience using the available tools on the specific platform. At this point, it might prove useful to revisit the customer persona you have already created for a summary of the key attributes that you are seeking.
The third step is developing your creative concept. The key lies in ensuring that the advert is easy to understand, identifies the problem, and demonstrates the solution. It is important to get the messaging right as well. There are various ad formats to choose from, ranging from text to video. These include:
The advert should also include a clear CTA (call to action), directing the customer to your social media page, or website for more information. The following tips can help ensure that your campaign reaches a wide audience:
The creative concept, however, is the single-most important factor in determining the reach (and success!) of your campaign. It is the driving force of your campaign. Another way to expand your reach through paid social media is having the advert displayed across different platforms. And last, but by no means least, is getting people in your network to engage by sharing the advert. Not only does this serve as free publicity, but also word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways of reaching new customers.
4. Consider content marketing
As we’ve established, a good way to attract customers is through social media, with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular. Facebook currently has around 2.7 billion subscribers, in other words — over 25% of the current global population. This makes it highly probable that the majority of your customers will be on it.
Selecting social media platforms based on where the majority of your target audience is likely to spend their time is crucial, as you know. Once this is done, you need to create a profile that clearly states your business offering, so that people know why they would want to choose yours over other options. It helps to be as creative as possible to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Post content regularly. Keep in mind though that while posting is free, your reach is likely to be restricted to your followers. Additionally, the reach of each post is determined by various factors including number of followers, level of engagement, and other posts being published at the same time. Publishing content at different times of day will help you identify when your audience is most active, and so more likely to engage with your posts.
The earlier on, and more people engage — like, comment, and share — with a post, the greater its reach. To gain traction, your posts need to be distinctive. It’s also important to experiment with the type of content that you are putting out. Bear in mind that the more you nurture your online community, the higher their level of engagement is likely to be. Remember that when your followers engage, it is seen by their followers, extending your reach to a larger audience, many of who are likely to be potential customers as well.
To extend your reach even further, consider influencer marketing. This approach involves collaborating with influencers, or people who have large followings on social media, to promote your brand, product, or service to their audience. However, in recent years, there has been a rise in micro influencers, people who have fewer followers (perhaps a few hundred, or a few thousand) but, notably, tend to have more engaged audiences.
If your offering aligns with their audiences’ values and interests, you are likely to be tapping into a very receptive market, making this a far more cost-effective alternative, than partnering with social media influencers with more impressive followings.
Of course, you also have the option of growing your own following, and becoming an influencer in your own right. The following techniques will help: