June 24, 2014
At Bluehost, we love small-business success stories, whether the business revolves around pies, food trucks, minimalism, life coaching, or graphic design. If you run a small business or are considering starting one, we want to help you make your business a success story too. For our “New Year, New Business” series, we’ll be providing insights, methods, and resources for building and growing a small business.We’ve covered how to develop a business plan, how to DIY and delegate basic business tasks, using tools such as consider using cloud fax solutions to improve the business, learn how to conduct market research and build your brand, and how to build a website for your business.
Unless your target audience consists of baseball-playing ghosts, your potential customers aren’t going to come to you — you’ll need to spread the word about about your business and what it has to offer. In other words, you need a marketing plan.
We’ve already covered how to conduct market research to understand your key audiences, how to build a brand around your business’s unique value proposition, and how to create a website that conveys your value and resonates with your key audiences. If you’ve tackled those things, you’ve laid the foundation for a strong marketing plan.
The definition of marketing can sometimes get blurry, because it overlaps with other disciplines such as advertising and PR, but put simply, marketing is what you do to attract and retain customers.
The Marketing Funnel
Before you dive in, it’s helpful to understand the typical path a person takes on the way toward becoming your customer. This path is illustrated by the marketing funnel.
The most well-known version of the funnel is the AIDA model, attributed to turn-of-the-century advertiser Elias St. Elmo Lewis. The steps in this funnel are:
Awareness of the existence of a product
Interest in evaluating the product’s benefits
Desire for the product
Action by trying or purchasing the product
The funnel has many variations and modifications, such as the sales funnel, purchase funnel, and conversion funnel, but any funnel-inspired model depicts two primary ideas:
The sequence of steps a person takes to change (or “convert,” in marketing speak) from a non-customer to a customer, or from inaction to action (an action could mean making a purchase, but it could also mean a smaller step like subscribing to a newsletter)
The process of sifting that happens to your audience, as your pool of potential customers narrows down to your pool of actual customers
Why It Matters
The purpose for understanding this sequence is to ensure that the transition between each step is as smooth as possible. It’s natural to expect that there will be some drop-off — you can’t please everyone, so not all of your potential customers will become your actual customers. But keeping an eye on how people move through this process, and where people tend to drop off, gives you an idea of how to improve.
For example, did you create an effective online ad that got people’s attention, but when people visited the product page on your website, they quickly clicked away? That means you’re doing well with awareness, but need to improve on interest by making the product page more clear or engaging.
Check out these recommended reads about applying a marketing funnel:
Marketing 101: Understanding & Optimizing Your Marketing Funnel
A Simple Guide to Understanding and Creating a Website Conversion Funnel
How to Architect the Perfect Conversion Funnel for Your Business
The Content Marketing Funnel
The good news is there are numerous potential approaches for moving potential customers toward becoming actual customers. Here’s an overview of potential approaches and handy guides to getting started with each one. Keep in mind that there isn’t a discrete line between these approaches; they can and should overlap and be used in combination with each other.
What it is: As defined by Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content,” and that in exchange for that valuable information, customers will “ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
Start here: A Blueprint to Jumpstart Your Content Marketing Strategy
Tip: How meta is this? This article is, in fact, an example of content marketing! Our goal is to provide you with valuable information whether you’re a Bluehost customer or not.
Social Media Marketing
What it is: Social media marketing uses social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to reach customers both widely and deeply — widely, because posts can be shared quickly and broadly, and deeply, because people can interact directly with the brand and engage with other people around that brand and the products they sell in retail, while also using the best network security from sites such as https://www.fortinet.com/solutions/industries/retail.
Start here: The Golden Rules of Social Media for Business
What it is: Email marketing is the practice of using emails and email newsletters to communicate with potential and current customers, with an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent.
Start here: Email Marketing 101
Tip: Treat the invitation into someone’s inbox like an invitation in their house. As this Kissmetrics blog post advises, that means you need to mind your manners.
Come & see us on the DISQ stand B190 at Marketing Week Live, 25th – 26th June 2014, Olympia, London – Look forward to meeting you.