If there’s one thing successful entrepreneurs know, it’s that you can’t grow large pie holes overnight. You have to be persistent, and you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to earn back what you initially invested.
The same goes for marketing. You won’t make any meaningful impact overnight. It takes time to find your audience, and to convince them to buy what you’re selling. Thanks to the pandemic, however, the world has changed.
In the past, customers would visit your store, discover what you had to offer, and then either purchase what they wanted, or leave without making a purchase. Today, thanks to the likes of Shopify, and other online marketplaces, customers can research, compare, and purchase products and services from the comfort of their homes. Which brings us to our question: Does customer research mean you’re no longer responsible for that customer’s buying decision? And if so, what does that mean for your business?
The New Role Of Market Research
When digital marketing began to take off during the height of the pandemic, many brands panicked and tried to frantically adjust their marketing strategies and spending. They cut corners, shifted budgets, and did everything in their power to make up for the lack of foot traffic. The problem with that approach is that it won’t work. You can’t just will your way to growth.
Instead, you need to develop a long-term growth strategy, fueled by data – not guesswork. Fortunately for you, we’re obsessed with growth and online marketing, and we want to help you develop a strategy that will get you there.
So let’s begin with a basic framework for your strategy. In order to do this, you’ll need to understand your customer’s journey, which we’ll cover in the next section. From there, we’ll dive into the nuances of the strategy, including how and where you’ll focus your efforts.
The Customer Journey
A brand’s marketing initiatives should align with a clear vision, articulated in a compelling value proposition. In other words, what is it that you offer that is beneficial to your customers?
For example, HubSpot offers a variety of useful marketing tools, but the reason they’re useful is because they allow you to connect with customers, and engage with them on a more personal level.
In this case, HubSpot’s value proposition is that their software can help your business operate more efficiently. This allows you to spend more time serving your customers, and less time worrying about the minutiae of running a business. This aligns with the customer journey in that they offer services and tools that make the customer’s life easier. This, in turn, makes them more willing to interact with you, and engage with your brand.
When developing your growth strategy, you should start by defining the customer’s point of view, and then work backwards, defining each step along the way.
The Buyer’s Journey – Identifying Your Target Audience
The starting point of any marketing strategy is to identify your target audience. This is the group of people you plan on speaking to, engaging with, and hopefully convincing to purchase your product or service.
If you’re just getting started, it’s best to choose a niche, where you can build your audience. This way, you’ll have a better chance of being able to determine the success of your strategy, and can make meaningful adjustments. For example, if you’re developing a strategy for women, focused on Gen Z, it might not be the best fit for your audience, and vice versa. Building a brand name is also important, as customers will most likely be able to find you online, thanks to SEO and paid search. However, developing a rapport with bloggers, and other influencers, is also a great way to reach your target audience. They’re more likely to help you spread the word about your brand, and, in return, you’ll offer them exclusive deals, and giveaways.
Once you’ve developed an initial strategy, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, and begin building your audience. The first step in this process is gathering as much data as possible, through both online and off-line means. The next section will walk you through how to do this effectively.
Gathering Customer Insights
The term customer insights simply means collecting, analyzing, and acting on any data that can affect your business, be it quantitative or qualitative. It can mean collecting traffic data, or it can be as simple as asking customers about their experience with your product or service. The key is to take the time to understand what the data means, and how you can apply it to grow your business.
Off-Peak Season & Focusing On The Long Road To Recovery
The best time to market your brand, is not during the high season, or the low season. Instead, you need to consider the whole year, and not focus on peak, or off-peak season. Off-peak season is when you’re less likely to make sales, and it usually occurs during the winter, or summer holidays. This is when competitors are resting, and prospects are less inclined to make a purchase. So, you need to be prepared to work hard, even during off-peak season. You can use this time to build your audience, and gain trust, before the busiest season arrives.
Similarly, emerging markets like India and China are considered to be BizEaze’s top two targeted markets. However, businesses in these regions are dealing with a different set of issues, as they have to tackle the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. This is creating a new demand for businesses that can provide help and guidance, as well as equipment to get the economy back on its feet.
These issues make it harder to market your brand, as you can’t reach out to your target audience, and gain trust, without risking your life. So, you’ll have to do everything you can to make sure your customers feel secure and safe in doing business with you.
Marketing Activities, During The Pandemic
Thanks to the pandemic, the world has changed, and so has marketing. Gone are the days where you can just walk into a shop, and purchase what you want. Thanks to the likes of digital marketing, emerging markets, and social media, customers can access a wealth of information, from the comfort of their homes.
This, in turn, makes it much harder to develop a successful marketing strategy. You can’t just will your way to growth, as there’s a multitude of competitors, and options for consumers.
Where Do You Need To Focus Your Attention?
Once you’ve developed an initial strategy, and identified your target audience, it’s time to start making decisions about where you’ll focus your attention. Here are a few pointers to help you decide where to put your energy, and why.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and is one of the pillars of any digital marketing strategy. The goal of SEO is to optimize your website to appear at the top, or near the top, of a search engine’s results for relevant keywords.
The best place to start, is Google, given it provides the most traffic, and, therefore, the most opportunity for growth. When developing your SEO strategy, you need to consider what your target audience is searching for, and what they’re able to find. Once you’ve got that data, you can craft an SEO strategy, that’s built on the right keywords, and places to appear for those keywords. You don’t want to overdo it with SEO, as it can become very expensive, and there’s very little risk of failure. Instead, focus on implementing simple, and basic, SEO best practices, like keyword research and on-site SEO, and use content creators, like HubSpot’s very own inbound marketing specialist, Michael Hyatt, to help you along the way.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
SMM, or social media marketing, is essentially marketing through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. These are all centralized, and popular, platforms that can potentially reach your target audience. Thanks to tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, it’s easy to integrate, and implement, social media marketing in your own marketing strategy.
The best part of social media marketing is that you don’t need to have a huge budget to get started. You can simply ask your existing customers, or potential customers, to help you spread the word about your brand. For example, if you sell hair extensions, and you’ve got a Twitter account, you can use that account to promote your business, by sharing relevant, and useful content.