Category Archives: Strategy

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How Mobile Has Impacted the Customer Journey

How Mobile Has Impacted the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is influenced by many outside factors. As the use of mobile devices has taken off over the past decade, it’s changed the way that businesses market themselves and how customers interact with businesses.

In order to better understand the impact mobile has had on the customer journey, it’s helpful to go through and assess the effect at each stage of the marketing hourglass. By better understanding how mobile changes customers’ behaviors, you can begin to adapt your marketing strategy to meet their evolving needs.

Mobile in the First Stage: Know

How do people discover a new business? Before the days of computers, it was all print and television ads, word of mouth, or simply driving by your storefront. Now, there are dozens of channels for people to encounter your brand. And mobile only further diversifies the field.

In some ways, mobile has shortened the customer journey. Mobile searches with the phrase “near me” and “can I buy” or “to buy” increased by 500 percent between 2015 and 2017. That boost means people are turning to mobile to discover immediate solutions to their problems. By entering this search term, they’re able to quickly check out your website, read reviews, and even find your hours and location on a map. What would have taken more in-depth research in the past is now condensed into a few minutes and a handful of clicks on a mobile device.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone finds you via an internet browser search. With the advent and rise of mobile apps, some people are discovering businesses through a specific app. For example, those who search for local businesses on the Yelp app are only being presented with businesses who have a presence on Yelp. If you haven’t claimed your profile there, you’re not going to be discovered at all. So making sure your business’s profile is claimed on the major local listings sites, like Yelp and Google My Business, is critical to winning at mobile.

For that same reason, you need to have a presence on social media. Some people turn to Facebook or Instagram for advice on which local businesses to patronize. Again, you’re not even going to be in the running if you don’t have a profile on those sites!

How Mobile Influences the Like and Trust Phases

Once someone’s discovered you online, they want to get to know you better. And to do that, they need to be able to learn more about you. Just like you wouldn’t get married after the first date, prospects want to make sure you’re the right fit before they dive in.

You want your content to build that familiarity and trust, while being easy to consume on a mobile device. That starts with creating content that can be enjoyed on the go. Podcasts are an easy listen for folks who are on their commute, and video is often a bite-sized way to share meaningful information that builds trust and authority.

Social media is also critical in this stage. Posting regularly on social media means that those who discover you on mobile can do a quick inventory of who you are and what you do by scanning backwards through your recent content.

For those who aren’t looking to make an immediate purchase, social media remains a great way to stay top-of-mind on mobile devices. People often check their social media accounts multiple times a day, and so if you’re appearing at the top of their newsfeeds each time they log in, you build that familiarity quickly.

Advertising can also help you stay top of mind. Social ads are a way to remain omnipresent on prospects’ feeds. And display ads allow you to keep you name on people’s minds even when they visit other websites from their phone’s browser.

How to Try on Mobile

When we get to the try phase of the customer journey, mobile has an important role in ensuring that customers don’t slip away at this critical stage.

Mobile tactics can help to facilitate the try process by making it easy to prospects to sign up for a demo or appointment. A smart use of chat or SMS marketing techniques can make it easy for you to automate the sign-up process, while providing prospects with a more personalized encounter with your business.

Newer technologies like augmented reality (AR) are changing the way people try on their phones. Take furniture store IKEA as an example. They built an app that allows prospects to try out a piece of furniture in their home through the power of AR. Prospects can point their phone at an empty corner of their room, select the sofa, chair, or lamp that they’re considering, and see on their screen what the item would look like in their home.

While AR technology might not be readily accessible to all small businesses yet, it’s definitely a trend to watch, as more and more retailers incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

Mobile Makes it Easy to Buy

A recent survey found that 79 percent of smartphone users had made a purchase on their phone within the past six months. So not only are folks using their mobile devices for research, they’re actually doing transactions on their phones.

For any small business with an e-commerce component, it’s critical that you make it easy for people to purchase via mobile. This is all about creating a customer experience with the least amount of friction in the buying process. Make it easy for people to navigate to their cart. Don’t ask for lots of additional information in the checkout process–only collect information necessary to process the transaction.

After the initial purchase has been made, great mobile UX can also help facilitate the onboarding process. If you’re an e-commerce brand, provide updates on shipping status, and make sure that customers can easily track their packages.

No matter what kind of business you’re in, there is content that you can create in a mobile-friendly format to make it easier for new customers to get the most out of their new purchases. Put together an email series with responsive design (so it looks great on any screen, big or small!) that outlines special tips and tricks for using the new product or service.

Use Mobile to Inspire Repeat Purchases

Once you’ve gotten a prospect to convert to customer, there’s still work to do! And pushing existing customers towards a repeat purchase can be achieved with some mobile-friendly tactics.

Retargeting is a great way to bring existing customers back into the fold. You can advertise on social media or via display ads, and direct certain content towards those who have already bought from you. If someone recently made a purchase, you can target them with advertising for a related product or service in order to encourage an upsell. If a customer has drifted away over the past few months, you can show them ads welcoming them back with a special offer for return customers.

Building out a rewards program is another way to engender loyalty amongst existing customers. This can be done either through your website (which should be mobile-friendly!) or with an app specifically for your business. The additional benefit of creating an app is that you eliminate the competition. Your existing customers come directly to you via the app to make a purchase, rather than going onto the web to search for your solutions and run the risk of getting drawn in by one of your competitors with a smart SEO or paid search strategy.

Mobile and Referrals

The final stage of the customer journey is getting your customers to refer others. As I mentioned in the earlier phases, reviews are a key part of the referral process, and that’s particularly true on mobile. People who are searching for solutions on the go will turn to reviews in lieu of asking friends or family for recommendations. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re doing the work to solicit reviews from your customers.

You can also consider creating a referral program. If you have a mobile app for your business, creating a program directly through the app is a great, easy way to help your mobile-minded customers refer their friends.

Finally, social media can help you generate referrals. Share user-generated content that sings your brands praises. Create contests and opportunities for your existing fans on social to give your brand a shout-out to their friends. Get influencers to try your product and vouch for you to their followers. A referral from a real friend or trusted influencer on social can go a long way in winning over new customers.

Mobile marketing has changed the way consumers buy, and so businesses have had to adjust their marketing accordingly. By considering how to get the most out of mobile at each stage of the customer journey, you can position yourself to reach the majority of consumers, who have become more and more focused on mobile over the years.

Small Business Marketing Insights for 2020

Small Business Marketing Insights for 2020 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on 2020 Small Business Marketing Insights

I wanted to close out the year with a solo show looking ahead to the next one; let’s talk small business marketing insights for 2020.

While there have been some big trends in the world of marketing—things like AI—getting a lot of buzz, I’m not here to talk about those. Trends like that are often not relevant to small business owners. Instead, I want to cover what I think are the insights for 2020 to give you some things to think about, that can actually add to what may be your long list of planning elements.

Insight 1: Audio Content Will Prevail

I think audio content is going to be something that people need to really embrace for 2020. If you’re not podcasting already, now is the time to start. It’s a great way to produce content. It’s also a great way to open up lines of communication with people you want to speak with, whether those are authors and influencers or folks in your target market or even your very own customers.

So podcasting is a great way to build relationships. But beyond that, the format appeals to the needs and sensibilities of a modern audience. People have less time and attention to sit in front of a monitor and read content. I certainly know I’m that way! Same with video. I have a lot of trouble sitting in front of a monitor and devoting time to a video when I could be doing other things.

Audio content, on the other hand, is totally portable. I can download a podcast, stick my phone in my pocket and go for a walk. I can turn it on in the car and listen during my commute. I can walk the dog, I can go for a run. The portability of the format makes it incredibly easy for even the busiest of people to consume the content at some point during their day.

So, if you are not producing audio content, I’m going to encourage you to do so. And there are a number of ways to get started. If you have videos you’ve already produced, you can strip out the audio from those videos and run it in another format. You can use audio to talk about your business, then get the audio transcribed and use that on webpages as written content.

And you can create a non-traditional podcast. It doesn’t have to be all guest interviews. You can occasionally do a rant (like this one I’ve done on marketing insights!) to get results.

Getting started with audio now isn’t just about getting immediate results—it’s also about the long game. I see smart speakers eventually playing a bigger role in the way people consume more of their daily content. So “Alexa: play my flash briefing,” might deliver a daily recap of audio content. While I think this is a ways off, it’s never to early to get prepared for a shift like that!

Insight 2: Take Your Marketing In House

As a marketing consultant and person who trains marketing consultants, I think more small businesses should bring things in house. And there’s two areas in particular that should be outsourced less: marketing tactics and technology.

In the case of both of those areas of focus, it’s not an either-or proposition. You hire a marketing person to handle routine things that include both sides of that coin, from writing content to doing social posts to getting reviews to making Instagram posts. Those are all things that I think you should have an internal resource to do, but the secret ingredient is to marry that with a strategic marketing partner.

A lot of times, small businesses will hire a marketing person who knows how to manage social media, but isn’t given any broader direction when it comes to marketing strategy. (And that’s because there often isn’t a bigger strategy.)

That’s where a marketing consultant or advisor comes in. They can help you with the strategic component, the plan, the operations of the plan, the analysis of results, and make sure that you remain on track in working towards your big goals. Meanwhile, the internal person who knows the intricacies of the business can be directed to execute on this plan and craft messages that align with your strategy. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

In fact, I think this is going to be so critical in 2020 that we’re creating a certified marketing manager program, where we’ll train small business marketing staff on how to hire internal people and have that person directed by an outside resource, like a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant.

Insight 3: Humanize and Automate

Remember how back in the day, every deal was done with a handshake with a trusted partner you could look in the eye? Then technology came along, and suddenly you could do business without ever actually speaking with another human being. Now, it seems the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way, and we’re finding a happy medium.

So this insight sort of seems counterintuitive, but I’m saying you need to both humanize and automate. It comes down to finding the right balance. Both customers and business owners want things to be convenient and efficient—which is where automation comes in—but they also want that human touch.

There’s a tremendous amount of research being done around what makes someone love a company. And in many cases it’s things like convenience, knowledge, communication, efficiency, friendliness—all human traits. But a lot of the reasons a company is convenient and efficient are now aided by technology.

So I think that we need to get to the point where we are automating everything that can and should be automated and we are humanizing or re-humanizing everything else. My insight for 2020 in terms of a recommendation in this case, is get back on the phone. Let your phone ring, answer your phone, call people, that is one of the easiest ways I think to re-humanize our businesses. I’ve certainly been guilty of the opposite, and I look forward to picking up the phone more this year.

Insight 4: Focus on Customer Experience

Customer experience and retention is the golden opportunity for every single business.

PwC did extensive research into why customers stay loyal. They found that very few reasons had anything to do with the actual product or service. For the most part, it was all about customer experience—things like convenience, knowledgeable communication, efficiency, and a friendly staff.

So, how can we look at this in our marketing? You’ve probably heard me talk about the marketing hourglass, where we get people to know trust, try, and buy. But then we think marketing ends at the repeat and refer stages.

In reality, though, all seven stages must come together under the marketing umbrella. Everything from building knowledgeable, efficient communication to reporting results and providing friendly interactions for customers all go hand-in-hand.

I think we as marketers ought to spend at least half our time on creating a better customer experience and then you can spend the other half on generating more leads and converting more leads.

Insight 5: Paid Search Matters More Than Ever

Paid search—Google ads, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn, all the banner ads—have been around forever. So it’s not their existence that’s a new insight. In fact, certain types of businesses, like e-commerce brands, have used paid search to dramatically grow their businesses. But we’ve now entered and era where the small local business of any stripe must embrace paid search. Increasingly, Google is where people turn to find any and every piece of information about a business. Even if they’re already a customer!

An interesting anecdote for you: I did a search the other day for a plumber in Kansas City. And the first real result, meaning an actual business that wasn’t either an ad or an aggregator like Angie’s List or Home Advisor, showed up on page two. So, pay to play is definitely here. Making paid search a real, significant part of your overall marketing plan is no longer optional.

My first bit of advice on that front is to make sure you’re involved in the paid search process and are doing it in a smart way. Do your research about what paid search actually entails. You don’t have to do it for yourself, but you need a baseline knowledge to know you’re not getting scammed.

I see so many small business owners that work with pay per click firms that basically set up templated campaigns and forget them and don’t communicate and just say, “Oh, you got 27 clicks this week”. Well what does that mean? It means I spent X amount of money, that’s all you can tell me. It’s not about how many clicks you got, it’s about how many customers you won.

My next piece of wisdom is the use paid search to capture people with the highest purchase intent. There’s a lot of categories of business where paid searchers converted two to one over people that just went out and had a long tail search and found your blog post.

I’m not saying abandon everything else. In fact, never abandoned your website, SEO, or content. But you want to supplement it with paid search to get that high intent stuff. Maybe there’s categories where you’re having trouble getting your content to rank. Maybe there are certain really competitive search terms like an emergency service for something that you know if somebody finds your ad they’re going to buy it, because they’re trying to fix something.

I believe that the local service ads are going to only get bigger as a category. Eventually, you’re going to find accountants, lawyers, and more in those service ads because Google is making more money on those ads than anywhere else. And, consequently, the ads are going to take up more real estate on the results pages.

One final note on paid search: if you set your campaigns up correctly and are checking in on reports regularly, you come to understand that you’re not really bidding on keywords. You’re bidding on search terms: what someone puts into a search term to make your name pop up.

Once you begin thinking of things in those terms and use analytics to track your results, then you can build a complete roadmap for your marketing plan. When you understand the tactics that are working, and how people are moving throughout their customer journey from start to finish, then you can tailor your content further to encourage others to take that same path to conversion.

Those are my five insights for 2020. I hope you get out there and make moves to implement some of the tactics around these insights, because I really do believe they can make a huge difference in your marketing.

To help you in your marketing efforts, I wanted to announce that—while I don’t have a release date yet—you should keep your eyes peeled for a significantly revised edition of Duct Tape Marketing, the original book. Also, we’re creating a certified marketing manager program, which should be launching at the end of Q1 2020. The program will allow business owners to provide personal development and training to their team. You’ll have your own private coach or consultant, and they won’t just go through the plan, but will also apply the plan to your business.

So keep an eye out for all that and more in 2020. Take care and have a great rest of your 2019. See you in the New Year!

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape.

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape philosophy is that marketing is a system. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a great marketing strategy that, without a guiding framework, it’s easy to get tangled up, twisted around, and lost completely in the weeds.

Over the years, I’ve developed two systems that inform all of the marketing work we do: the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model. The marketing hourglass is a way of thinking about the customer journey. These are the steps that a consumer will take in engaging with your brand. It starts with first coming to know you, and goes all the way down to when they’ve become a happy repeat customer, ready to refer friends.

The marketing maturity model is a way for you think about your own marketing activities. What are the assets you need to build, then grow and amplify (or ignite) in order to guide those prospects from the top to the bottom of the marketing hourglass?

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how the two systems are inextricably linked, and how you can align the way you think about the work you do behind the scenes to create your marketing presence with the experience customers are having on the other side.

The Top of the Hourglass and The Grow Phase

The top of the marketing hourglass is when prospects are first coming to know your brand. We call them the know, like, and trust phases. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but as they move through these three steps, they’re getting closer.

It starts with them first encountering your brand. Maybe they hear your name from a friend, maybe they discover you in a Google search. Whatever the case may be, you need to greet them with a solid marketing base at this stage to get them to go any further.

marketing hourglass

Create a Strong Website and Tackle SEO

Don’t you grow wary when a business operating today doesn’t have a website? What are they trying to hide? Or how far behind the times are they? The first step in the marketing maturity model is building a great website because it is the heart of your online presence. A strong website is more than great design; it’s about incorporating a modern promise that shows you understand your customers’ problems and have the best solution out there to fix it.

Behind every great website is a strong SEO strategy. While SEO is an ongoing process and there are dozens of factors to consider if you’re taking a pro-level approach, even a marketing novice can use some SEO quick fixes, like repairing broken links, checking site speed, and designing a mobile-friendly site, to get your website ranking higher.

Build Trust with Content

Once the prospect has discovered your website, you need to provide them with ways to come to know and trust your brand. That’s where the other elements of the build phase—a strong content program, social media presence, and email marketing campaign—come in.

The content on your website (blog posts, explainer videos, product descriptions, your about us page—if it’s on your website, it’s content!), should help prospects get a greater sense of what you do. Your homepage will draw them in with a promise to solve their problem, your other content needs to prove that you’re as good as you say you are. Informative blog posts, glowing reviews from existing customers, and explainer videos that teach viewers something valuable are all great ways for them to come to know and trust your brand.

Get on Social Media

Social media can help in the like and trust phases, too. Simply having a presence on the major social sites gives your business greater legitimacy. Then, creating a strong social presence, with consistent posts that are relevant and helpful, builds on the trust factor.

And take it beyond simply posting—engaging with your followers on social media means building a personal connection. It allows prospects to get to know the individuals behind the brand, and when they get 1:1 responses to their questions and comments on your page, they develop a deep trust in your business: “If they’re paying this much attention to me before I even become a customer, I’m sure I’ll be in good hands once I make a purchase!”

Stay Top-of-Mind with Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a great way to continue to show your expertise and remain in prospects’ fields of vision. While they have to seek out your website content or social media profiles, creating an email newsletter filled with helpful tidbits (and the occasional offer) allows you to come to them with your industry knowledge.

The Middle of the Hourglass and the Grow Phase

The middle of the hourglass are the stages we like to call try and buy. By this point, you’ve built a lot of trust around your brand. Your prospects are intrigued and really like what you do. If you can make a compelling offer to get them to give you a try, and the trial goes well, that’s often what seals the deal and helps them convert to full customer.

At this point in the marketing maturity model, you want to continue expanding your essential blocks from the build phase. Your website and content program can grow. Adding things like a regular podcast with a cadre of exciting industry guests is a great way to strengthen your content. Gather all of your relevant content together onto hub pages to give your content program and SEO a boost.

Speaking of expanding SEO efforts, focus on building up backlinks, and get Google Search Console set up so that you can optimize your search ranking for many years to come.

Also, continue to engage and follow up with leads via social media and email marketing. But it doesn’t stop there; now is the time to introduce new tactics to grow your existing relationships and turn prospects into customers.

Undertake Paid Lead Generation

When we say paid lead generation, we’re talking about things like search ads and social media advertising. These can come in many forms. A great place to start is with boosting content on social media, giving posts you’ve shared organically a broader reach for a small fee.

The more advanced tactics take you further into tracking your ads and getting more efficient about driving conversions.

Once you’ve established a series of Google Ads, you can use their offline tracking tool to understand how your ads are impacting business in the real world. By importing your sales information from conversions that happen in your brick-and-mortar store or over the phone, you can better understand the effectiveness of your online ads and refine your approach to win over more prospects.

For all of your ads, you should be creating landing pages that are unique to that particular campaign. In doing that, prospects find the exact deal, offer, or topic that intrigued them in the ad front-and-center on your website, and it makes them all the more likely to convert.

Create a Culture that Integrates Sales and Marketing

Your marketing efforts can take you pretty far, but you need them to be integrated with your sales approach from the start in order to get the greatest result. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in communication from day one about prospects.

Set up a clear process for the handoff from the marketing to sales teams, so no one falls through the cracks. And have your marketing team create materials for your sales team, so your brand voice remains consistent in those interactions with prospects as you’re shepherding them from your marketing to sales basket.

Focus on Customer Experience

This is the stage at which your prospects become customers. They’ve liked you enough up to this point to give you a try, so the customer experience must be stellar. That’s the way to take them from one-time customer to repeat buyer.

This starts with a killer onboarding process. No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s some kind of onboarding for new customers.

If you sell products, your onboarding has to do with getting the product to your customer and ensuring they know how to use it. If you’re shipping your items, make sure that you have a process for your customers to track their packages. Once the item gets to them, include information that will help them get the most out of their new item.

For complicated products, like an electronic device, include clear instructions and maybe even a link to explainer videos to help them get set up. Simpler products, like clothing items, can include care instructions or even just a thoughtful thank you card to show you appreciate your customer’s business.

For services, your onboarding process might be more complex. Establishing a single point of contact within your company for any questions your new client may have, and sending along forms and paperwork that can help you both get on the same page faster, are important elements of your onboarding process.

No matter what kind of business you run, reviews are also very important at the try and buy stage. If you have an unhappy first-time customer, a speedy, sincere response to their complaint can turn things around and save the relationship. Similarly, glowing reviews shouldn’t go ignored. If you take the time to thank new customers for their positive feedback, their happy feelings will only grow!

The Bottom of the Hourglass and the Ignite Phase

By the time you’ve reached the bottom of the marketing hourglass, you’ve already won over that first-time customer. This is your chance to get them to become a life-long customer, and to tell all of their friends and family about your business.

And while it’s statistically easier to hold onto existing customers than to win new ones over, the last thing you want to do is take someone for granted now! You’ve already put in the hard work of converting them; you need to continue to wow them so that they’ll stick around.

Again, you continue to work on the existing tactics you’ve got up and running, from your website through to sales enablement and customer experience. But here, you add three more elements to take your marketing approach to a whole new level and build those lifelong customer bonds.

Invest in a CRM

A customer relationship management tool (or CRM, for short), helps you to better manage all of your customer interactions, both old and new. The tool allows you to track all points of contact with prospects and customers.

This is helpful in better understanding prospects’ path to conversion, and in offering better service to your existing customers.

Let’s say you have an existing customer who’s had an issue with an order. When your team can see that they called last week and emailed a few days later to follow up—and can pull up the transcripts of those communications, plus see notes from the customer service representative who was handling the case—you’re better able to take appropriate action for your customer, without making them explain their problem over and over each time they reach out.

Or maybe you have a customer that’s never had a complaint in their life. The CRM can still help; it can provide information for you to make smarter offers to that customer. If you’re a home improvement store and you notice that a customer recently purchased a dehumidifier, you can target them with ads about replacement filters for their new machine.

Whether you’re troubleshooting, looking for new cross-sell opportunities, or simply trying to better understand your sales pipeline, a CRM is the way to do it.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and a CRM tool often go hand-in-hand. The CRM gives you all of the customer information you could need or want to enact smart marketing automation techniques.

When you understand your customers’ behaviors, you can segment your buyers into different personas. Each type of customer has their own unique needs that your business meets, and when you understand those needs, you can create marketing materials that most effectively speak to them (and direct that messaging only at the relevant parties).

Take Advantage of AI and Analytics

Also tied in with your customer information is analytics and AI. When you’re gathering information on your customers, you can use analytics to understand what the data all means and, from there, refine your marketing strategy long-term.

Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website are free to use, and can provide you with deep, meaningful information about the behaviors and attributes of your customers and prospects. You can even use more advanced techniques, like call tracking, to understand how your online marketing efforts are affecting customers’ behaviors on the phone.

Armed with this information, you can undertake A/B testing, showing two different marketing messages to two different audiences in order to understand which one works best. This kind of testing allows you to hone in on the best possible messaging for each segment of your audience, helping you to retain existing customers and win new ones who might be referred by your biggest fans.

When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you need to align your marketing tactics with what your prospects and customers want and need. By using the marketing hourglass as a guidepost while you walk through the marketing maturity model, you can build a strong marketing presence that will work for your business from start to finish.

How to Create a YouTube Channel and Rank Your Videos

How to Create a YouTube Channel and Rank Your Videos written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Video is an increasingly important marketing tactic. Consumers today have shorter attention spans and are often consuming content on the go. They don’t always have the time to sit and read through a thousand word blog post; they’d much rather catch a four minute video on the topic while they’re riding the train into work or eating a salad on their lunch break.

It’s a great idea to include video wherever you can: on your website, on your social media, and on the biggest online video platform of them all, YouTube.

If you don’t yet have a YouTube channel for your business, now is the time to make one. Here, I’ll walk you through the steps of creating a YouTube channel and producing videos that consistently rank.

Establishing Your Channel

If you don’t have a YouTube channel yet, the first step is to set one up. To do so, log into YouTube using your Google credentials, and select “Your channel” from the dropdown menu on the upper righthand corner.

You’ll be given the opportunity to create a personal account or create one for your brand.

Because you’re creating this for your brand, you’ll want to establish a Brand Account. This also provides you access to other services like Google Photos using your business name rather than a personal account. Plus, Brand Accounts can be managed by multiple people, so additional team members can update and manage your videos.

Once you’ve created your channel, you need to create a description of your business and add images, like your logo and a background photo. Keep your branding consistent with your other online assets, so that it’s easy for people who know you from elsewhere to recognize this as your official YouTube channel.

You can also create a welcome video, which will play when someone visits the home page of your YouTube channel. This is a great way to introduce visitors to what your business does and give them a preview of the type of content they can expect to find on your channel.

How to Find the Right Video Topics

Once you’ve gotten the building blocks of your channel in place, it’s time to start thinking about the content you’re going to create. It’s important to put together an editorial calendar that will keep you on track and help you produce videos that speaks to your audience’s needs and interests.

Deciding on content areas for your videos should start with keyword research. This is the first step to creating content on your website that will generate leads, so the same principles should apply here.

Start by going to YouTube and searching for a term that makes sense for your industry. Let’s say you run a catering business, and you do a lot of weddings. You might go to YouTube and type in “Wedding catering” and see what autocomplete results pop up.

This shows you what real search terms people are entering into YouTube for videos about catering. It looks like cost-effectiveness is on people’s mind, with “wedding catering on a budget” being the most popular result. But people are also looking for ideas, tips, and help with set up on the day of their event.

Once you’ve undertaken that basic keyword research, you can take things a step further and use a tool like vidIQ to get even more detailed information on each video that ranks for your selected search terms.

Understanding how existing videos rank can help you identify popular topics, find gaps in information that you can fill with your own content, and discover topics you might not have thought of on your own, but that would be relevant to your business.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Now that you’ve settled on the right topics for your YouTube videos, you want to create a calendar for creating and releasing these videos. One of the keys to generating subscribers (which not only draws more attention to your brand, but is also a known ranking factor) is releasing new videos on a regular basis.

That’s why it’s so important to put together a content calendar and to stick to it. It’s often easiest to settle on a batch of topics for the coming months and then set aside a few afternoons or one whole day to film the content back-to-back. You can then edit the videos in batches and have the content backlogged so you’re not worried about finding time to film and edit a new video each and every week.

What to Include in Your Video

Two of the biggest ranking factors for videos are retention rate and subscriber rate. If you create videos that hold viewers’ attention for the whole time, and then they click the subscribe button after watching—that’s like the Holy Grail of YouTube videos.

So what are the keys to creating videos that people want to watch, and that inspire people to subscribe to learn more from you in the future? It’s all about creating useful content and cutting right to the chase.

People don’t have all day to sit and listen to a long preamble on your video. Introduce the topic right up front, by including a clear description in the video title and saying right in the first ten seconds what it is you plan to cover in the video. It helps, too, to include a teaser of the big nugget of useful information that you’ll be saving for the end of the video. You know how, on evening newscasts, they always dangle a super interesting story in front of you before the commercial break so you’ll keep watching? You should do the same in your video if you want to entice people to stick around until the end.

After your brief introduction, get right into it! We’ve all watched those videos on YouTube with lots of detours, personal stories, and long sidebars before they actually get to the meat of the content. And we’ve all stopped watching those videos and gone looking for something more succinct. If you want people to like your content enough to keep watching to the end and subscribe to hear more from you in the future, you’ve got to keep it helpful and brief.

Adding Descriptions and Tags

Much like you would on a blog post, you need the supporting materials around the video itself to be engaging and SEO-friendly. Make sure that the title to your video is descriptive and includes relevant keywords. Write a video description that clearly outlines what viewers can expect to learn if they watch, and include an eye-catching thumbnail of the video.

Select the category that makes the most sense for your video, and include even more detailed keywords in your video tags. Use your top keyword in the tags, along with variations on that theme and other related keywords that are relevant for the video content and your business.

Sharing Your Video

Once you’ve created your first video, spread the word! Share the video on other social media channels where you already have a following. Include it in your weekly newsletter or in a blog post. Getting the word out about your videos to your existing audience can help to build up those initial views so that you can start to gain traction in YouTube rankings.

Once you’ve created more than a handful of videos, you can create playlists on your channel. By grouping relevant videos together, you’ll draw even more attention to your content. If you’re a marketing consultant like me, you might create a playlist around SEO, one around paid search, and one around social media marketing.

A viewer sees a particular topic of interest, like SEO, clicks on the playlist, and all of the videos on SEO are automatically queued up, one after the other. This can give you a huge boost in video views, as people are drawn down the content rabbit hole.

Video has become the preferred way for many consumers to interact with content. And YouTube is the biggest video platform in the world, with billions of videos uploaded each and every day. If you want to provide customers and prospects with useful content, you need to meet them where they are. Establishing a YouTube channel and optimizing your content to rank in search results is yet another way to catch the eye of new prospects and stay top-of-mind with existing customers.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 18

It’s time for another episode featuring a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. If you’ve been following along, you know that the book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Find Your Gifts

But the great Master said, “I see/No best in kind, but in degree;/I gave a various gift to each,/To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.//”These are the three great chords of might,/And he whose ear is tuned aright/Will hear no discord in the three,/But the most perfect harmony.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “The Singers” The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1854)

Poetry is hard for most so here’s the full context of what goes on in The Singers. There are three musicians and people can’t figure out which one is the best so the great Master assures them they are all great for different reasons and if you listen with that in mind all you can hear is the most perfect harmony.

Okay now go reread the stanza above and it may be much more lyrical.

So, how do you find harmony in a world of difference? How do you find yourself and your place in the band? 

Or to quote Deepak Chopra, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

Your values, the things that mean the most to you in life right now, are the keys to understanding your gifts. The musicians in the poem above employed their gifts to charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

How about you? Journal, get alone, ask your three closest friends. Don’t sweat it –  as long as you are actively looking – your gifts will find you.

Final Thoughts

I think there’s a lot of pressure today, particularly on entrepreneurs, to prove their success and self-worth. To some degree, that’s why you see so much nonsense on social media.

Deepak Chopra says, “there are no extra pieces in the universe,” and that idea that we’re all unique, connected, and here for a purpose? It’s powerful. I don’t know that I’ll ever find my purpose and my gifts, but I think it’s cool to live with the idea that I can relax because I’m meant to be here. My job is to insist on myself and never copy.

With that in mind, I leave you with today’s challenge question: When was the last time you got lost in the present and time disappeared? What were you doing?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 11

Each week this month, I’ll be doing a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Solving Impact

The continuity of life is never broken; the river flows onward and is lost to our sight, but under its new horizon it carries the same waters which it gathered under ours, and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past,—flowers, perchance, the germs of which its own waves had planted on the banks of Time.

John Greenleaf Whittier – The Prose Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Volume 2 (1866)

What problems are you solving? That’s the essential question in life and it certainly applies to business. It’s not that you should set your entrepreneurial journey in search of problems, the fun is in creating opportunities, making new stuff, building amazing relationships, but in the end, doing even these things solves someone else’s problems. Intentionally or unintentionally.

“. . . and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past . . .

The measure of your true impact, and hence the jolt you may need to keep at it, resides in your relationship to the problems you ultimately solve for others. This is as true in your role as a brother, friend, spouse, as it is in your role as a founder, manager, worker bee.

Problem solving seems a bit negative until you start to use it as a way to understand those you serve and interact with from their point of view. Think about it – being a good listener is solving someone’s problem, showing up when needed, having a frank conversation, celebrating a win, all problem solving.

Today, try this idea out as a filter for how you think about what you do, how you interact and maybe even the products or services you might provide.

Final Thoughts

Problem-solving is what we do all day long, whether it’s on purpose or not. And certainly understanding, as a business owner, that people don’t buy our products or services; they buy the problem that we solve. In a lot of cases, they don’t even really care how we do it.

So I think it’s important that you understand that. It doesn’t mean that you’re constantly on the negative, thinking, “Oh boy, I’ve got to solve a problem.”

Think about it this way: Being a good friend to someone during the day is solving that person’s problem. You may not look at it that way, it might not seem that grand, you may not enter into it with that intention, but if you start to think about interactions like that in terms of the value that you bring? That turns a negative into a positive.

I leave you with today’s challenge question: In a single sentence, what is the greatest problem you currently plan to solve?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 4

This is the first podcast in a series of episodes about my new book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

In the weeks leading up to the release, I’ll be sharing a reading each week from that particular day’s entry in The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Today’s Reading: Into Silence

What are the great faults of conversation? Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. I don’t doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else;—long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. – The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)

Defending one’s position is a clear signal of a lack of trust – not in the person subjected to your defense, but in yourself.

Assuredness in a point of view sounds a lot like silence.

Yes, today’s call is to be still and listen.

This isn’t a knock on your ability to share or even the fact that you have brilliant ideas to share it’s just that when we choose to listen more, some beautiful things can happen.

In conversation, the economy of our words gives space for others to feel heard and valued. It invites people to find themselves and see you as a source of energy that allows rather than prescribes.

Listening draws ideas, relationships, stories, information, and clues that allow you to better understand the impact you have on others.

For most, but particularly entrepreneurs, this advice requires biting your tongue and reining in your natural inclination, but if you can ever allow yourself to embrace this and practice this, you’ll never give it up.

Today, try to speak only when spoken to and then listen with your entire body. Observe how silence feels and take note of your urges to burst out talking, but more importantly bask in the transformation of those who experience your active listening.

If you have a lot you need to say then write it down. Of course the sneaky little trick in this advice is that writing forces you to listen to yourself and for once observe just what you sound like.

Final Thoughts

I invite you to think about what you just heard me read—you may even want to go back and listen again.

The question of silence and listening is often tough for leaders. We get used to being the person that everyone turns to for the answers, and a lot of times, we want to share our thoughts and provide that guidance.

But there’s a valuable piece of advice I picked up from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. His book really hammered home the idea for me that, when someone comes to you asking for the answer to something, more often than not, they’re not looking for you to be prescriptive. A lot of the time, they’re looking for you to validate what they think, and to invite them to think up the solution for themselves.

So I leave you with today’s challenge question: Who will you listen to today?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.

Content is More Than Blog Posts – It’s the Voice of Strategy

Content is More Than Blog Posts – It’s the Voice of Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Content as the Voice of Strategy

Content’s been around a long time, we’ve been talking about it for more than a decade. A lot of people still treat it as just another tactic, and think of it as a blog post here or social media update there. In reality, you can’t do much in your marketing efforts without a serious, strategic approach to your content. I’ve even started referring to content as the voice of strategy.

It may eventually be your emails, blog posts, and social updates, but it needs to have a more intentional approach behind it. How you use content to guide the customer journey is very significant. That’s why every business owner needs to tackle some core content elements before moving onto things like blog posts and podcast episodes that will populate your editorial calendar. You must start with using content to communicate your strategy in all elements of your online presence.

Let’s Start with an Example

To help you understand what this all means, I’d like to start with an example of a client we were working with. They were a lawn service company that already had a lot going for them. They had great processes, a well-trained team of professional folks, and customers who loved them. So our issue wasn’t about trying to establish them as better than the competition—they were already clearly hitting that mark on their own.

Our role was to make sure that everyone who visited their website or encountered their business on the internet knew they were the most trusted resource for someone looking for lawn care services.

So we started with their core message. We came up with clever messaging that communicated the idea that you’re gonna love to come home on mowing day. But we also wanted to incorporate all of the specifics about what made them a great service provider (a stellar team, the best communication, a top-notch system for delivering service). How could we empower them to be more than just a provider of lawn care services and instead become a resource for information about anything and everything a homeowner might want to know on the topic?

Once we had honed in on what we were hoping to achieve with our messaging, then we could get specific about the type of content we wanted to produce. And it’s not always about creating more content, it’s about creating the right content.

Go Back to Basics

It all starts with that core message and story. If you don’t have that locked down and clearly communicated on your homepage, if you don’t have the core pages on your website, if you don’t have a basic video, if you aren’t getting customer reviews then you’re missing the foundations of content marketing. You need to start with these before you dive into podcasting and webinars and other elements.

Storytelling

Storytelling should be at the heart of all your content. The concept of storytelling has become a hot topic in marketing circles over the past few years. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to telling your business’s own story, it’s a good idea to build your story around these five points. You need to open up a dialogue with your customers:

1. Ask:Does this problem sound familiar to you?” Your customers aren’t interested in what you sell, they’re interested in the problems you solve. You need to be able to communicate that you understand their underlying problem.

2. Tell them:It’s not your fault.” It’s important for your business to show empathy for your clients. Acknowledge that you understand their problem, but that it’s not their fault they’re experiencing it.

3. Ask: “What if your problem was solved?” Next, paint a picture of what life could look like if your client’s problem went away.

4. Tell them the good news: “It can look like that!” Now’s the time to present yourself as the solution to their problem. After all, your brand understands the issue and is here to fix it.

5. Present them with a call to action. Once you’ve addressed the four points above, your prospect should feel pretty convinced that you get what they’re up against and have the solution they need. That’s when you come in with the call to action for them to reach out and speak to you about solving their issue.

Write out the story for your own business. It might take two pages or two paragraphs, but get it down on paper. From there, you can refine it and develop your core marketing messaging around it. Create a core statement for your homepage. Film a core video that addresses the points above. The homepage should be all about communicating this core story and building prospects’ trust in your knowledge and ability.

Core Pages

There are some pages that every business website simply needs to have. This starts with a great homepage. I’ve spoken before about the must-have elements for any homepage, and they include a scrolling journey that lists your services, tells your core story, and has trust-building elements.

Your site should also include individual pages for each of your services or service areas. Too often I see businesses with a great homepage who drop the ball and get vague on the details when it comes to what it is that they actually do. Once you win people over with your core messaging on your homepage, you want to seal the deal with the specifics about your goods or services, and then provide calls to action for them to reach out, schedule an appointment, and become a customer.

Review Funnel

Reviews are an integral part of any business’s online presence. Not only do they help with your ranking on search engines, today’s prospects are more reliant than ever before on the word of existing customers to offer social proof. Your website should have a review funnel for collecting reviews on third party sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business.

You should also be collecting first party testimonials. This doesn’t have to be an intimidating process; when someone writes you a nice email or letter about their great service, simply ask if they’re okay with you sharing it as a testimonial on your website. Or if you don’t have any kind emails lying around, consider reaching out to some recent customers who were happy with their service—people are often more than willing to say a nice word or two when asked.

The final piece of the review puzzle is writing case studies. Creating an in-depth profile of a happy customer—what their problem was, what your solution was, and what happened after you got involved—is another trust-building element.

Case studies and reviews help potential customers see themselves in those you’ve already helped, and can be a major factor in their decision-making process.

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Content

Once you’ve created that foundational content, it’s time for you to turn your attention to those elements on your editorial calendar. Whether you’ve already created an archive of content over the years or are just beginning to strike out into blogging, building your content around hub pages is beneficial for both SEO and customer experience.

Hub pages allow you to rank for the highest intent types of searches and to provide industry expertise that establishes you as a resource for information. They essentially allow you to become like the Wikipedia for your area of expertise. You share a lot of useful content grouped around the subject areas that matter most for your business, and you become a friendly face and guide to your prospects long before you become a service provider.

These hub pages can address questions all throughout the customer journey. Let’s take the example of a basement waterproofing company. When a homeowner is thinking about hiring a waterproofing company, they likely have a lot of questions: How much will the services cost? Do I really need to waterproof my basement? What are the consequences of me not undertaking this home improvement project?

If you can build a page that addresses these early research questions, you get out in front of your competition from the start in prospects’ minds.

Plus, whether this content is already living on your blog or not, the hub pages allow you to structure it in a way that makes it more user-friendly. Rather than having to scroll through your archives and root around for the relevant posts, everything your prospect needs on the topic is right there. This hub page becomes a gold mine of information, so they read multiple articles, share their findings with others, and come back several more times as additional questions arise. This all signals to search engines that your content is highly useful and relevant, and soon enough you’ll see yourself rising in the SEO rankings as a result.

Content may not be king anymore, but it is certainly integral to your strategy. Once you’ve determined what it is that sets your business apart, it’s a solid approach to strategy that gets your messaging out to prospects and clients and helps differentiate you from the competition. Starting with your core storytelling message and moving outward from there is the way to build a content strategy that resonates with prospects and gets results for your business.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

How to Segment Your Buyer Personas and Create Unique Content for Each

How to Segment Your Buyer Personas and Create Unique Content for Each written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you run a business, you want to seek out the customers who are the best fit for you. These people are not only the ones most likely to need your goods or services, they’re also the people you would most like to work with.

For a lot of businesses, though, they have more than one type of ideal client. That’s where the concept of buyer personas comes in. It can help you define each type of customer you hope to target, which in turn allows you to create content that speaks specifically to their needs. When you marry great, meaningful content with the right audience, you can generate hot leads and drive them down the marketing hourglass quickly.

Let me walk you through everything you need to know to build your own buyer personas and create content for each of them.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Essentially, a buyer persona is a composite sketch of your ideal customer. Based on research and interviews with your existing best customers, you can begin to create a portrait of your fictional ideal client of the future.

Buyer personas should include demographic information, like age, location, and gender, as well as patterns of behaviors, goals, and motivations.

How Do I Establish Personas?

Creating detailed buyer personas takes a little bit of legwork, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Check the Data

Start by taking a look at the data you already have on existing customers. In today’s digital world, most businesses have a lot of data stored up across their CRM and email marketing tools, social media and website analytics, and sometimes even via good old fashioned methods like hard-copy sign-ups for a mailing list in your store.

In looking at all this data, do you notice any trends? Are there people with certain attributes who tend to buy certain products or services? Are there actions that most buyers take on your social channels or website before they become customers? Establishing patterns among the demographics and behaviors of existing customers is the first step to creating meaningful personas.

Ask Your Team

Your team is interacting with your customers each and every day. Why not get their feedback on what they see? Often, they can quickly identify patterns in behaviors that you might not see based on data alone. Maybe your sales team gets the same set of objections over and over again from customers in a certain age bracket. Or perhaps your in-store associates have been chatting with customers and noticed an uptick in traffic from your neighboring town.

Go Straight to the Source

Once you’ve done some digging on your own, it’s time to reach out to your customers to see what they have to say. Hopefully by this point in the process, you’re already starting to see some strong persona categories emerge. The number of personas you have really depends on the size and type of your business. Some businesses will only have one or two personas, while others might have dozens.

When you begin talking to customers, you want to do so either in person or on the phone, rather than relying on a survey. You should aim to speak with a handful of customers that represent each persona, and go for a mix of happy and not-so-enthused people. Speaking to similar customers who have differing opinions of your brand allows you understand what pain points you might not already be addressing with your goods or services.

Your interview questions should cover a variety of areas, from demographic information to their thoughts on interactions with your brand. Come up with a list of 10-20 questions for each interviewee. Consider the following categories:

  • Who are you? Ask your customers to tell you more about themselves. This can be demographic information like age, location, annual income, job title and role, number of children, or marital status. Hone in on the categories that are most relevant for your business (i.e. if you run a B2B, things like job title will be more relevant; if you’re a wedding photographer then age could be important).
  • How do you shop? You want to better understand the process your customers take to discover and interact with new businesses. Where did they first learn about your business? What was their journey like leading up to their first purchase with you?
  • What keeps you up at night? People come to your business because you solve a problem for them. What is it that worries your customer, and how does your offering eliminate that worry?
  • What is a win for you? Your best customers who will go on to buy from you again and again go to your business because you provide win after win for them. Ask them what that win is, and why you’re able to provide it.
  • Anything else? Give your customers the chance to share any additional feedback they might have on your business. Sometimes you’ll hear a comment repeated a number of times that you wouldn’t have thought to ask for.

Bring it All Together

Once you’ve analyzed the data, spoken to your team, and interviewed your customers, you’re ready to create your personas! It’s likely that you’ll have a handful of personas, although some very niche businesses will have less and some bigger businesses will have more.

If you’re unsure what constitutes a clear persona, start by grouping together like behaviors and attributes. Hopefully a clear pattern emerges. For example, let’s say you run a lawn care business. Maybe your first persona is young professionals who are busy at work and don’t have time to tend to their yards. Another persona might be retirees who are not well enough to handle the heavy-lifting of yard work on their own.

Now with your personas in hand, it’s time to move to the next step.

Next Up: Content Segmentation

In establishing your buyer personas, you’ve identified different segments within your larger customer population. Armed with this information, you can begin to create content that speaks to each of their needs.

Take the lawn care company example above. The way that you market to a harried 30-something looking for assistance keeping their lawn in check will be different from the way you approach the senior citizen who needs a helping hand with their yard.

For the busy professional, ease of scheduling is probably a concern, so your marketing messaging might highlight things like your online calendar, which makes it easy to book and confirm appointments with your team. The older folks likely living on a fixed income might be worried about the cost of your services, so you can target them with messaging that allows them to bundle services—say, leaf raking and lawn mowing—for an overall 10 percent discount in pricing.

You can use these personas to segment your content everywhere. Create blog posts and explainer videos that speak to each segment of your audience. Use your CRM to direct different email campaigns at appropriate customers based on their attributes and behaviors. Tailor your calls to action on your website to speak to the most pressing needs that each of your personas expressed in interviews. Create ad campaigns that speak to each individual persona, and then build customized landing pages that cover the pain points addressed in the ads.

Understanding your customers is the critical first step in marketing to them successfully. But it’s also important to acknowledge that you might not have just one type of customer. Creating buyer personas helps you to better understand what your business offers to all of your best customers, and helps you create messaging that speaks to customers and prospects alike, no matter what segment of your audience they fall into.