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Going Postal - With Touch Marketing

By Hector E. Cisneros

Many businesses spend tons of money generating leads and finding prospects on the Internet. Internet marketing is the norm today for any business looking to grow its customer base. But did you know most businesses leave more money on the table because they neglect the customers they already have? Touch marketing is the best way to ensure you stay top-of-mind with existing customers. However, providing the right level and frequency of touches can be either a godsend for generating more sales, or a nightmare for scaring away your customers. In this episode, we will explore the do's and don't’s of touch marketing and provide you with a checklist of the best practices so you can keep your hard-earned customers and benefit from selling to them … time and time again.

What is Touch Marketing? 

“Touch marketing” is a term used to discuss the need to stay in touch with your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Most customers and prospects are not instantly ready to buy every time they look at your products or when you have a special available.  However, by staying in touch with them, you can achieve a level of rapport, familiarity, brand identity and ultimately gain a sale when the customer or prospect is ready to buy. In the old days, direct mail was the medium of choice for most marketers. Today a business has a multitude of venues to choose from.

How Often Does a Customer Need to be Touched?

There have been many studies carried out on this subject. When I was studying sales, we were always told that it took a minimum of seven contacts with a prospect before they would buy. Recently, I’ve read this number can be as high as 12 touches before the prospect is ready to buy. More importantly, there are other factors that affect the time frame of a buying decision. For example: Is the economy is slow? Is the prospect flush with cash or are the pinching every penny? Is trust already established or is this the first time the prospect has heard of your company? Do they have a real need or is this a discretionary purchase? Deciding to buy something is influenced by a multitude of factors. Anything that you as a business can do to differentiate yourself, produce trust, increase your credibility, and simplify the buying process will help move your prospects’ buying decision towards a favorable conclusion.

What Are the Methods Businesses Can Use to Succeed?

In the past, businesses could brand themselves and create leads, most of which came from print advertising or phone calls. Here’s what the Internet now provides any business — big or small:

  • Email MarketingEmail marketing is a superior form of direct mail marketing. It has a much lower cost, is much faster, and can be sent in a variety of ways.  This is not to say direct mail doesn't work anymore, it’s just considerably more expensive and slower. With email, you can send
    English: email envelope
    English: email envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     newsletters, email blasts, and customer surveys to opt-in databases that you develop or purchase. It’s very important you use an opt-in list. There are severe penalties for spamming people with unsolicited email. Also, spamming people with unsolicited emails is a quick way to get your domain name added to a black list, which will hurt your reputation. I personally like using email newsletters. They can connect your clients and prospect to your blogs, social nets and YouTube channel. You can include lots of useful information that builds your credibility and trust, and you can also add coupons and product specials on occasion to help build loyalty.
  • Text Message MarketingAgain with text messaging you want to use opt-in list that you either buy or build. Text messaging is a great way to send Text Alerts like BOGOs, specials and time-limited offers. You can also create quite a buzz with contests and coupons so you can generate traffic to your website or business with any of these marketing elements.
  • Social Media MarketingThe term Social Media Marketing is somewhat of an oxymoron, in that social media is not a direct form of marketing. It can contain Pay Per Click (PPC) ads and you can run contests on social media sites, but no one ever joined a social network to be sold to! Social media is more akin to word-of-mouth marketing. Having said that, any business can run contests, provide product update posts, offer coupons, and use customer testimonials to market their service or products. Again remember that social posts work best when customers and prospects post your message. When you shout about how great you are, it’s a commercial. When your customers sing your praises, it’s a testimonial.  Remember to frequently post useful information. Again, focus on building trust and credibility, not direct selling.
  • BloggingBlogging is a great way to build your credibility. The same is true, if not more so, for
    blogging’s cousin, article marketing. Providing quality, relevant blog posts/articles is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself and build your credibility. This one item will separate you from crowd. Why, you might ask? Because writing quality articles is a time-special skill and time-consuming process. If you don’t have the proclivity or time, you can outsource this function. It’s return on investment (ROI) can be as high or higher than PPC advertising. Blogging helps with your Internet ranking, credibility, helps you develop a following and growing your social nets. The key is to provide useful, quality, relevant “infotainment” in a multimedia format. You also must make sure that you increase your readership. This means you’ll have to invite people to read, comment and share your blogs and articles. If your articles are well written, in written an evergreen fashion (i.e., the topic matter will be relevant over a significant time span) they will also garner search ranking on their own. We believe that creating an alliance with other bloggers will help with distribution.  Getting other bloggers to read your blog, comment on it, and share it with others will only work if you also read, comment and share theirs as well. This can be a significant task in itself, but it can also pay huge dividends as well.
  • Send Out CardsSend Out Card is a hybrid online service/direct mail service that is sold as either a
    standalone or MLM product. What’s neat about this product is you can create a database of clients and prospects online and the send the greeting cards, post cards, tri-folds, and even gifts to them. More importantly, you can create touch campaigns that you can plug a prospect into educate them to move them through your marketing funnel. I don’t participate in their MLM program but I do love Send Out Cards and there products.
  • YouTubeWhen most people thing of YouTube, they think of viral videos
    Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube
    Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    . But YouTube is much more than that. It’s a social media platform, a vlog platform, (video blogs), an educational medium, and can even provide weekly updates via your own WebTV channel. Let’s face it, four out of five people would rather watch a two-minute video than read two paragraphs about your product or service. What’s cool about YouTube is that it’s free, has built-in tools to help you create your videos, and people can subscribe to your channel. Via your social nets, you can then invite people to view your videos; they also make for great content on your blogs and social nets.

Here is an example of how to use a form on a blog, and by the way, this is a real offer! If you'd like more specific information on how to create an effective online marketing campaign for your company, enter your information in the form below. We'll send you a free copy of our book, “Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century.”

Necessary Elements Needed to Build Your Database
In last week’s blog about PPC, we talked about how a person can make PPC pay big dividends. An import part of that discussion centered around what’s needed on a Landing Page to get a prospect to provide you with his or her contact information. We believe using Landing Pages is the best way to build your very own opt-in touch marketing database. Contrary to popular belief, Landing Pages can be on any medium. You can add contact forms on social media pages, blogs etc. … and most of the mediums I’ve discussed
include a way to capture a prospect’s contact information. Having said that, here are key elements every Landing Page needs to have (these will also help build your credibility):

  1. Contact Form – Asking for a prospect’s name and email address mandatory; their other contact information should be optional.
  2. Offer – Give them a reason to give you their contact information. An offer can be useful information in the form of a white paper, eBook, specialized lists, free give aways, special discounts, BOGOs, coupons, etc.
  3. Phone Number – You need to list your phone number in a prominent place.
  4. Physical Address – Don’t hide! People need to know you’re a real business with a real address.
  5. Testimonials – These are very important. Video testimonials are best, but you can use written testimonials if they are copies of the original, showing letterhead, names etc.

Common Features About the Email System 

So far, I’ve talked about a multitude of touch marking systems. Ideally you’d use several of theses in conjunction to improve your odds of your message being seen, heard and acted upon. It will also provide a degree synergy and added credibility when you reach out to a prospect or client in multiple ways. Whether you use  iContact,  Mail ChimpConstant Contactor some other email marketing system, you need to know the basics of what’s necessary to perform this vital task. Let’s cover some of the basic elements every email marketing system needs to have. Here is a list that every email marketing system needs to have.

  • Databases – All mail programs need to be able to create and store contact information. The three services above will allow you to create multiple data bases. Many have tiered pricing systems based on the number of contacts entered. Many also provide free trials.
  • Templates – All of the programs listed above have built-in templates for newsletters, email blasts and the like. They’ll also allow you to create surveys to gauge customer/prospect opinions, feedback, etc.
  • Forms – All the systems mentioned above come with built-in forms and all will allow you to create customized forms. These can then be plugged into your Landing Pages, blogs, etc., as an embedded code.
  • Scheduling – Being able to set up a date to send your marketing messages is important. Most systems have some method of performing this function. The calendar system/scheduling function is what allows you to create an ongoing touch marketing program vs. just a direct email piece.
  • Analytics – All systems need some method of measuring your success. You need to know how may emails were opened, how many you added to your database(s), how many are dropping/opting out, and which mail pieces are the most effective. The above-mentioned services all provide some level of analytics.
  • Management – Editing and managing your database and email campaigns is very important. The greater control you have over your database, the more you can utilize it as an effective marketing tool. Management is often spread out among multiple functions and is not usually housed all in one place. The three programs listed above all have adequate managerial functions.
  • Automation – You need to have automation capabilities otherwise you’ll have to work at using your database. Of the functions needing automation, the one that’s paramount is opt-in/out functions. You want your prospect/clients to be able to add or remove themselves from the mailing list. This keeps you legal and keep your clients/prospect happy.

In this article, I discussed the many facets of touch marketing. I discussed how to use email, social media, blogging, text messages, videos and even Send Out Cards as part of a touch campaign. I further provide what every email marketing program needs and I outline items needed for creating a successful opt-in form and landing page to grow your touch database.

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “social media” or "touch marketing" in the search box at the top left of this blog.  

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you feel you have something to add or just want to leave a comment, do so below. It's been my pleasure sharing our expertise of the current state of search engine marketing. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks again for reading and sharing. 

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director, based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make working the web to win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active blogger (including ghost writing). He's a published author of two books, "60 Seconds to Success"(on sale at Amazon and B&N) and "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century."
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