Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Marketing Maneuvers to Make Your Business Soar In 2009

This post is an abbreviated version of a newsletter I recently sent to my clients. Whether or not you agree with everything I've written, I hope you can at least find one takeaway.

As we come to the end of another year, it's time to not only look back over the progress we've made in our businesses/job/life/health but also to look ahead, set new goals and refine our strategies for 2009. I'm going to share with you some ideas that can hopefully help you get to where you want to go a bit faster.

Mobile usage is continuing to grow and along with it mobile surfing. What does this mean for your business? That depends on who your audience is. But the adoption rate is accelerating at a rapid pace within North America across all age groups and income levels. Mobile considerations:

  • Do you have an alternate version of your website(s) for mobile devices? If not, how does your existing site look? How much scrolling do people need to do?

  • How do your emails look when viewed on a mobile device? If you are using HTML, consider dropping multi-column tables.

  • Do you have videos on your website? Are you relying on videos to perform the entire selling job?

  • How is your marketing/sales/ordering process being impacted?

Personal commentary: I recently got an iPod Touch and am having a blast with it. I was surprised to see that almost every sales site I've seen with only video could not run the video on the iPod Touch.

The Internet is Increasingly About Communication. Web 2.0 has given the individual a voice and with it power. Sure there is a lot of noise, but if you use social marketing in constructive ways that allow you/your business/your organization to engage in communication with your prospective/past/existing customers, you will stand out. It takes very little extra time/effort to do things right on this front. The same thing is true for literally every kind of online marketing you can do.

  • Assuming you have some form of a social marketing strategy to begin with, take some time to really assess what you are doing. Are you using it in a way that is in line with the image you want to project? What are your competitors doing that seems like it would feel right from a consumer's standpoint? What are they doing wrong?

  • If you send out emails to your customer/subscriber list, what are you really sending out? Are they simply marketing/sales pitches for your own products/services or for others? Or are you actually providing your recipients something of value at least some of the time? Many people say that email marketing is losing it's effectiveness. I suspect that most people that say this are doing 2 things wrong: 1. They are focusing on selling rather than marketing and 2. They see the recipients of their emails as subscribers and not readers.

  • What return email address are you using on your mass mailings? There's been a growing movement towards "do not reply" addresses. Many people/companies say they can't handle the responses. At minimum use an autoresponder. The best case is to have someone actually deal with incoming emails and route them accordingly.

Many Tactics That Worked Well in 2008 Will Not in 2009. This past year, we've seen a lot of new marketing methods pop up that worked very well. But new methods can get stale rather quickly and you'll need to carefully consider what is most appropriate for your business model in 2009. Here are just a couple of example:

  • Exit discounts became common place and worked but they are losing their effectiveness. I've had several clients that did conversion comparison with and without them in the past 2 months. Although order rate went up slightly with an exit discount, the overall profit actually went down. If you are backending a continuity program or something else, then getting more paid customers in the door may be worth the loss of upfront profit. I suspect part of the reason it seems to be resulting in diminishing profits is that more Internet buyers are used to seeing them so they'll test a site by leaving before they actually order. (None of the clients that did this comparison were in Internet Marketing .)

  • Lengthy videos doing 100% of the selling will lose their effectiveness. Don't get me wrong - videos do have their place in the marketing & sales process and can truly boost conversion rates. But the novelty of long videos is starting to wear off for a lot of people. In one day last week, I received 22 different emails from marketers whose lists I subscribe to that simply pointed to a video sales page. If the average video was even 20 minutes long that would represent my full working day. What does the profile of your ideal prospect who will actually have the money to buy your product/service look like? Is it someone that has hours a day to watch videos?

Obviously I haven't covered everything here. I tried to focus on smaller things that I believe can have the most significant impact on ROI and shortest deployment time.