Nowadays, when faced with a certain problem or need, all people have to do is surf the Web. All they gotta do is enter a certain query and voilà – there you have it. Hundreds of thousands of different options just waiting to be clicked on. The best thing of all, they can be accessed from any location and at any given time. It’s all up to you. Amazing, right?
There are numerous benefits of owning an online business today. Apart from the obvious ones like working from home (in your pajamas, if you want to), choosing your own working hours and saving money on renting a physical “real estate”, you can also access a wider network of clients and buyers, increase your earning potential and truly get to know your customers on a more personal level. You can actually find out who they are, what they like, where do they usually hang out, and what kind of problems you can solve for them and make them love your brand even more.
Almost everyone we know today is involved in some sort of an online business venture. In one way or another, we’re all trying to make our bread and butter from what we do online. Whether we’re selling our products and services directly on the web, or we’re just using the internet to market our business – it doesn’t really matter. We’re all doing our best to make the most out of our online presence.
The only problem here is that not many of us are successful with how we present our brand online. The internet has given us an endless sea of possibilities on how to market our work, find potential customers and get them interested in what we do, and yet, we still suck at it.
Why? – Well, first and foremost of all, because we don’t fully understand how it works. Working as a marketing manager for a well-known web hosting company that has roughly around 15.000 active clients, every single day of my life I come into contact with all sorts of different entrepreneurs who are looking to make a name for themselves and their brands online.
Although they are all pretty passionate when they talk about their work, most of them don’t have a clue about how this online business game really works. I can’t even count how many times I heard things like: “I don’t need to invest money in online marketing. My products and services are great. All I gotta do is design a great looking website, write a blog post once or twice a week, show some initiative on Twitter and Facebook, and the customers will come.”
Anyone who has ever tried to make a buck or two on the internet knows that this is complete and utter nonsense. A handful of blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts is not a good marketing strategy for your online business, my friend.
People aren’t just gonna buy your products because they’re there. No, you’ll have to make sure that they: 1.) want what you’re offering; 2.) have a reason to buy it from you instead of the next guy.
It takes a lot of hard work, data research and creativity for many companies to anticipate their potential users intent and get them to engage with their content.
Yes, you could start out with some articles. If written well, they could even give you some serious exposure. But, in my experience, that type of thing happens only on occasion, usually if you hit a niche that is unusually lucrative, or get lucky and get some good Google rankings without a lot of work. But, again, that’s not enough. Sooner or later, you’ll have to fight for your existence. The competition will increase, Google will do some changes to his algorithm, and before you can say “internet marketing”, your profits will start to drop and you’ll see your business slowly becoming a thing of the past.
It doesn’t have to be like that. You can still save yourself from failure. Now that I got your attention, let’s focus on how, once you have established that first contact, to stimulate your users to come back to your site and help you stay relevant in this online business game.
1. Solve Problems for Your Clients
As I already mentioned numerous of times on this blog, what you really need here is a niche idea for a product that either solves a problem, educates, or entertains.
For example, “What Kind of Hosting Package Is Best Suited for Small Businesses?”
It’s a clear problem that many of our potential and current clients have. Being a web hosting company who mostly does business with medium to small sized businesses, this sort of content directly applies to our targeted audience. It gives them information that’s relevant to their business.
If you’re in my line of work, you could start with that. If you lack knowledge, you can always interview all sorts of experts from your niche and quote them on your blog. There are numerous of ways on how you can start getting noticed online.
As I already wrote on this blog, no matter how good you are at your job, you cannot sell anything to everyone. In today’s world, just offering quality services or products isn’t enough to achieve success in business. No. If you want to survive and position yourself on top, you need to invest your efforts in giving your customers what they need as much as in developing your products.
It is very difficult to achieve success online. Especially if the niche of your business is the same one of bigger companies. Marketing is a competition (businesses are competing for a usually finite number of customers), and the better your competitors are at marketing the harder and smarter you have to work to win. For most businesses, it requires a lot of work to beat out competitors and attract and retain customers.
But, if you figure out how to present yourself as something more than just a company or brand that sells products and services, then you’re on to something great.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the way you market your business can either make or break your company. There are countless examples of a mediocre product with great marketing beating a better product with poor marketing. I’m not saying that you should cut the costs for your product or service development and redirect them to your marketing. I’m saying that you need to position yourself as a source that is interested in far more than just earning profit.
2. Humanize Your Brand – Let the Clients Meet the People Behind The Machine
A great way to increase website and social networking traffic, and get people to form a deeper connection with your company is by humanizing your brand and creating more of a personal connection with your audience.
If you are constantly active on social media, writing all sorts of blog posts, case studies and white paper researches, and engaging with key influencers and consumers on all sorts of different networks, that in turn will translate into increased website traffic and humanization of your brand.
In my experiences, people don’t like doing businesses with corporations. They see them as this big, evil, giant entities that are only interested in robbing them out of their money. My team doesn’t want that. We don’t want people to think of AltusHost as just another web hosting company. No. That’s why we constantly do our best to engage our customers, form personal relationships with every single one of them, and position ourselves as a source where they can come when they’re in need of help or guidance.
AltusHost has nothing to hide. We let our customers know exactly what’s going on behind the curtains. Nowadays it isn’t quite enough to just update your clients on the status of the shipment or the availability of a product; you need to point out to them that you personally double checked on the package delivery or that the paperwork has been filled out and ready for the next process. If you don’t let them know what’s going on, they may never notice just how big of an effort your team is putting into making them happy and satisfied with your service.
We do our best to clearly communicate our company’s commitment to customer service by prominently displaying our policies for every employee to see. AltusHost now has a how team dedicated to making sure that every single one of clients is satisfied with our service.
If you want to humanize your brand, you have to create personas and make sure that your clients see that they’re always interacting with real people, not just some bots.
There are a few ways on how you can do this:
1. Make authorship prominent in your writing.
2.Address the recipients of your messages/content by name. Make them see that you know who they’re and what they do.
3. Create as many emails as you can come from an address like “[email protected]” instead of “[email protected]”
4. Pretend everything you write is to a particular person. Help your clients/customers feel special.
5. Be casual. Don’t be afraid to joke around or use slang in your communication.
6. Follow their work, like, share, retweet, mark important dates, makes sure to congratulate them on their success.
3. Measure Customer Retention, Learn From Your Mistakes
As the guys from GrooveHQ wrote on their blog: “Customer success is the foundation of growth”
Measuring your customer retention is probably one of the most important metrics that you should focus on, because without customers, you’ll have no business. There are many ways on how you can measure your customer retention. One of the more simple ones is to count the number of customers signing out during a specific period. All you got to here really is to calculate the churn rate, which is calculated as a percentage of the number of customers you had at the beginning of this particular period with the number ones you have when it ended.
Unlike customer success, measuring customer retention requires that you invest yourself deeper into understanding your client’s behavior. Like any other metric, the accuracy of this sort of analysis increases with the number of measures. So, in order to get a sense of what’s really going on there, it’s highly advisable that you include several different values to focus on, while going through your data.
We at AltusHost use this popular 5 step customer retention process to help us see the bigger picture:
1. Identify customer value rate
2. Gather feedback
3. Define churn factors and symptoms
4. Establish impact and define signals
5. Design proactive and reactive campaigns
Once you have the results, and you see something you don’t really like, your next move here is to craft and run various types of marketing actions aimed at encouraging targeted customers to conduct more business with your company or spend more on each transaction. Typically, these types of actions include sales, discounts, special offers and bonuses. Retailers have been doing this forever, but online businesses like SaaS applications, financial services, online games, gambling, etc. are discovering that active customer retention is a new revenue growth engine for their companies.
In order to be effective, you need to approach each customer within the context of their unique behaviors, needs and preferences. Unfortunately, many marketers essentially assume that all customers will respond similarly to a given offer. Not only does this approach reduce the effectiveness of the customer retention efforts, but it can actually lose the company money by, for example, providing free bonuses to loyal customers who would have spent more anyway. That is why it’s of crucial importance that you fully dedicate yourself to approaching each case from a unique and well-thought through angle.
Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions about what I wrote here, feel free to write them down in the comments sections below.
Thanks for reading,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost