Capturing data for any form of marketing is pretty much a “no-brainer”. If you do not know where your customers are seeing your business first, and therefore beginning to engage with your business, you have no idea if your ad spend is worthwhile or not.
It’s OK to know you’ve achieved so much new business in Q3, but it’s not OK to not know how that business was generated. The more heavily you can segment that data the better. You’ll then be in a position to know where you should invest your marketing pounds. Online and offline knowledge is not enough anymore, not since social media and other cool things have come along. Added to this, there can often be a real close correlation between online activity, and associated ad spend, and offline purchases. I see this daily.
So how do you segment, and find out?
One of the simplest ways of extracting this highly useful information is by simply asking the new customer, both face to face and digitally.
In Falmouth Boat Hire (one of the businesses I am growing), I have come up with a very simple procedure. ASK at the point of sale.
It’s that simple.
Look at just some of the marketing channels the business currently has.
- Google ad words
- Strategic partnerships
- Existing business
- Google organic search
- Advertising boards
- Social media
- Van sign-writing
- Partner magazines
- Partner guide books (multiple towns)
- Various others….
So this is quite some list, and essentially customers can first come across the business in one of those many ways. However, the sales path can be complex. Here are some examples of how and why tracking purchases is imperative.
- They perform a Google search, then click on an Ad, then their doorbell rings and they do not follow through with an online booking – but call us the next day
- They are facebook users and one of their friends has just “liked” the facebook page, so they begin to look at our pictures and read the stories about the business. They then go directly to the website and book online or pop down the quay and book face to face.
- They are hotel guests with one of our partners and they’ve seen one of our leaflets, they then wander down to the quay the following day and book a boat.
- They find us on Google maps, then see the Town Guidebook the next day. The following week they see an advertising board and decide to call us and book online.
I could continue, and all of these are very real scenarios.
I know these are very real because I ASK right at the point of purchase, in fact I don’t just ask, I actually quiz the customer each and every time. This data is so important that I have written it into a company procedure document where every member of staff on the quay MUST quiz the customer, when they are completing the booking process. Questions will be along the lines of:
- FBH: “where did you first see us Sir“
- Customer: “Internet“
- FBH: “was that a Google search Sir, or an Ad“
- Customer: I think it was on a tourism website
- FBH: “do you know which one Sir“
- Customer: (asks wife) “yes it was XYZ“
I now know I have obtained a referral from XYZ, not the “internet” which is simply far too broad, but I now know the sale is exactly from XYZ.
At the end of the season we take all of our booking forms and collate the data and make pretty graphs, and this gives us a very accurate picture of how a customer found us in the first instance. So you can see this quizzing is important because it tells me if I am spending ad money wisely, and if it is working, or not. Without having a conversation, the customer’s response of “Internet” could give us any number of possibilities. Which is fine if you lump things into one pile, like perhaps offline and online marketing, but it’s very BAD if the customer finds you first one way but then purchases through a different channel – you could be thinking one of your channels is not working, or working better than it actually is.
QUIZ QUIZ QUIZ
How can I start?
- Start collecting data. Do you have some already? Do you have a mailing list of customers? Go ahead and create a survey and ask them, get your graphs.
- Create a “point of sale” procedure where your staff must quiz the customer – you are now gathering good data
- List all of your marketing channels, segment them as much as possible, and put these channels into a list within your e-commerce website, ASK the customer when they purchase.
So, where should I spend advertising money?
Regarding Business in Cornwall. It struck me one morning over a breakfast meeting that all successful businesses have a community built around them. It wasn’t a huge revelation, I’ve been aware of the power of a community for a very long time, but this was a “light bulb” moment for a particular nut I was trying to crack.
So I had moved location, back to Cornwall, back to the land of legend, the land of my family, the beautiful county of childhood memories, and I had taken my business with me. Sure I had clients in “the smoke” still, but I was now actively networking locally to generate clients.
Whilst popping in and out of these networks, breakfast meetings, and what not, it struck me that what I needed to do was to create my own network. Creating my own network would yield a variety of benefits such as:
- business friends
- leads & potentials, referrals
- a sales funnel
- a place to sing loudly about my clients
- advertising opportunities
- MOST IMPORTANTLY a talent rich network, where skills and services can be linked.
I looked around at what others were doing in the space, who was building a network offering businesses the type of things I can offer. Who was genuinely adding value to businesses, and who was doing it well? Who was offering modern networking, with a joined up virtual service.
Nobody. – I’ve not seen it yet, so I’m building it.
It’s called the Cornwall Trade Network.
- Use the hover card in facebook to tell everyone what you do
Facebook as a business tool has proven to be highly useful to me, I repeatedly have obtained new business through my personal social network.
When I joined facebook (about 07) I went to the platform for one reason only – to secure business connections and opportunities. That hasn’t change at all over the years, it is still my number one point of using the portal. In fact in the early years of facebook use all of my “friends” were people I had not met in real-life, but were a result of virtual relationships, people I had met virtually either through my first Internet start-up (an online school), or through some other cyber touch point.
It is only more recently that real-life relationships, perhaps those from school, or people living locally to me have become a part of my personal network.
It is OK to think of it as a personal network too, and not get hung up about that, it is YOUR network to do with as you see fit. Naturally if you think business and pleasure should not mix then this post is probably not going to hit the mark for you. However, if like me you see very little distinction between then two then read on.
When you have websites as part of your sales funnel, marketing channel etc, you will likely be aware of analytics, or web statistics, or YOU REALLY SHOULD BE.
In recent times if you look at your analytics for say a Facebook Page you might notice referrals coming from a “Hover Card”.
What is a hover card?
When you view facebook and see someone has liked something, you can hover your mouse over their name and up pops a little window about them – This should be a light bulb moment. This is your chance to tell the World what it is you do, what you want unknowns, strangers, people that are not friends with you already, to know exactly what it is you do. This is facebook’s version of a business card, and it works well too!
How do I do it?
You can simply pop along to your facebook profile and edit your work information. Enter in what it is you do in the work field. BUT, be creative. For example you might know what “widget inc” does and services, but I can tell you for sure most other people will not, so here is your chance to explain that to them. Describe what you DO.
That’s all for now.
So here’s a recent shot of me playing some keys in The Bare Knuckle Blues Band. I’m really enjoying the band for a variety of reasons, not least because we have now begun to compose original songs. Something I’ve done quite a lot of with other bands and at certain periods of my life.
It’s a great feeling hearing back your own original work. The most recent compositions are taking shape and the plan is to record them around August/September time, so watch this space.
The thing is about internet traffic is that it is there to be taken, to be garnered. It won’t come to you easily mind you, you have to create regular content. It’s about being dedicated to creating content regularly, it always has been and it always will be.
Or, you can pay for it.
Social media traffic: building a community
Forget that title already, it’s something which will just confuse you and lead you up the garden path of a low traffic site. Social media is not about traffic, in the main, it is about relationships and community, both of which sell.
Social media is about, being social, not really generating lots of Internet traffic, that can happen, but here what is more important is quality rather than quantity. I remember the days when myself and colleagues were seeing this name “social media” put forward, we were then calling it Web 2.0, this was back in the mid 90s, I saw the name stick, and whilst I’m still not totally convinced it is the correct term, it has certainly stuck.
Fast forward several years and here we are with gurus, pros, and software trying to “measure” influence, reach, engagement and various other quantities. You’d be wise to be very cautious with all of that and instead concentrate very specifically on what works for you. If one single social media time-investment works for you, generates sales, that’s a good thing. If an activity builds brand awareness for you within your local marketplace, that’s a very good thing. If you can build relationships with people using Twitter, facebook, G+, Pinterest etc that’s a good thing. If people ask on these platforms for a service relating to yours and the crowd recommend you, that’s a very good thing. If other businesses like, engage and share your content on facebook with their own network that is a very good thing.
The point I am making here is that I suggest you do not get bogged down with measurement and statistics, sure those things are important if you are spending money, you need to know what your returns are for spend, but don’t sweat over it. Instead spend time working out a strategy, no matter how small, no matter how simple, and try it, then tweak it. Don’t do social media randomly, you’ll get nowhere and frustrated.
A social media strategy?
Absolutely, this is just a simple way of having some clear ideas of what you will do, when you will do it, and where you will do it.
Here are two very simple examples:
- Create 4 posts per day that contain an image or video. With each video or image ask the followers to share this with their friends. Yes, people do need telling.
- Use Facebook as the business page itself and make friends with 5 other businesses every day, engage with their content as your business.
- Link up real life events, take pictures of the people, then share this on your Facebook page and “tag” the people in the image. Tell them you will be doing this.
- Share other businesses content onto your page and link them in clearly, make them feel special.
- Tweet 10 times a day, friendly positive tweets, not always about products, be helpful.
- Follow 10 people a day within target markets.
- Twice a day recommend other services, they will love you for that and do it in return.
- Use hashtags to tie your content into a wider audience.
- Use Twitter as a search tool, set up searches to find people talking about the products and services you sell, they are out there, you have to find them. Once found, become a part of that conversation.
These are very simple, easily achievable lists. What you need to be thinking about here, and this is VITAL, is building a community around your brand, absolutely building a friendly, social environment, where the crowd very much feel a part of what you are doing. If you can build a community you can mobilise the community to do things for your business. Yes, we do really want to do things for our brands, we want to have a relationship with your products, we want to feel a part of it.
Building a community from scratch is not an easy thing to achieve mind you, it takes time, patience and skill. You can get some head starts though if you already have an existing off-line community. Then it is merely a question of moving it online, getting the people engaged with your digital platforms of choice, and it doesn’t have to be all singing and all dancing, choose just one to begin with.
Have you got a community already?
Think about it, all your current customers, how long have you been trading, do you have records of customers, transactions, mailing lists, telephone numbers. How can you take all of that highly valuable data and bring these people out of the woodwork to your digital platforms, because they are on them. Now is the time to make this data pay.
Create a campaign to target all of your past and present customers, tell them what you are doing, tell them you value them being a part of your community, tell what to do, tell them where to do it and why you value them so much, and keep telling them, reward them.
This may be a brave new World for you, connecting your customers, allowing them to communicate publicly about your business, your products, but that’s the point, that’s the power of social media, be strong, believe in your business, believe in your service, and MAKE sure your service delivers with perfection.
In the image above we have the following lovely people: Lloyd Davis, Mitzi Szereto, Phil Campbell, Janet Parkinson, all wonderful people, go follow them if you use Twitter.
I’m a guitarist by trade, so to speak, having spent years gigging in various band, though my first ever instrument and musical experiences was on piano and keyboards. In recent months I’ve returned to playing keyboards in the Bare Knuckle Blues Band and I’m really loving it.
Here’s our first recording that we’ve called “Round 1”, all part of linking into the brand name. Have a listen and let me know what you think of it in the comments?
Hey Mum: And then he shat all over the carpet
Strange title? Maybe, but it’s true, it accurately reflects what took place today.
Our youngest is a mere 10 months old, he’s a beauty, a real cracker of a lad, but the poor bugger has been carrying a temperature for the last 24 hours now. So this leads to all sorts of interesting family dynamic changes as any of you parents will now.
Basically my wife was due to be working today, she is a primary school teacher, albeit in “supply” mode currently due to focusing on raising the kids. So at times like these we usually, and very gratefully rely on the grand parents, my mum in this case. So here is where the fun starts.
Mum is going on a lovely holiday this coming Sunday so we made a decision last night that we wouldn’t ask her to cover today as she could potentially pickup the germ that the lad has, he had started to be sick and doing an awesome job at projectile vomiting early yesterday evening. So we didn’t want my wife to not work either, cause we’re all about good relationships, so I decided to man the pumps for the day, I work for myself and ALL HOURS so I’m able to be flexible.
So wife was on duty yesterday evening with an ear on the boy while I was due to take over at 3am. Well the fella didn’t sleep well all night and sure enough at 3am he was on my chest trying to get some comfort and sleep. Bearing in mind I went to bed at midnight I wasn’t off to a splendid start to the day on three hours sleep, I mean fuck!! Sleep deprivation CHECK
Anyway, he crashed for a few hours and then I fed him a bottle of milk about 5am, crashed again, and spectacularly threw that up with great might about 7am… bed was soaked with vomit CHECK.
So now it’s 7:30am and the two older girls were up and ready for breakfast, down we go on the breakfast routine, boiled egg broke in the pan, egg white boiling over the pan CHECK.
Turn around and the lad had not only shit himself, but due to the liquid nature of it leaked a ton of it out of the side of the nappy. This was spread across the carpet in rather random pattern, smeared into the pile and layered onto several toys, probably over about a 6 foot area.. CHECK
Finally the girls get off in the school with the mrs, after 28 different requests to ensure teeth were brushed, hair brushed, breakfast eaten, shoes smart, tie straight, food money, book bag, coats on, socks, lost count here.. CHECK.
Things settled down after the hectic breakfast hour and I managed to beaver away as a house husband with great efficiency. I think I got through 6 washing machine loads, all out on the washing line and back in again and folded up including all the bed sheets towels etc. Swept the floor, did the dishes, tidied the lounge, toys away, another bottle made, fed the boy, put him to nap, ironed some shirts, cleaned the cooker.. and was like midday. I could go and on but I want to ask you one question:
Mums, how the fuck can you do this day in day out??
As a business owner wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what your customers or clients want from your product or service? You’d gladly cater to their needs if you could just get inside their heads. However, what appeals to one customer might be disliked by another. In the past you might have relied on focus groups. You’d select a demographic, design the parameters, and then review the data. But you could still miss the mark if any one of those elements doesn’t fit with the current market trends.
In this social media environment utilising your network followers for problem solving can be beneficial to not only building your brand but expanding your customer base. Participation in an open call for ideas or product evaluations can make your customers feel valued and they will be more inclined to tell others about your products or services. In a sense it creates buzz for your brand without the overhead of traditional advertising methods and only requires audience participation.
There are a number of ways to implement crowdsourcing be it through interactive contests, voting, Twitter campaigns or perhaps a mobile or facebook app that will draw followers back to your site for additional input.
Crowdsourcing when done properly can shorten the time it would normally take to get a product to market by providing immediate feedback in addition to conventional research and development and testing. In fact it has been said that the new business model of the future is in fact having a product in a permanent state of development – think Google.
Critics of this method feel the amateurs are being exploited as free labor when a company would normally spends thousands to pay professionals for logo design, research and development, and advertising campaigns, etc. Although typically crowdsourcing is not monetarily compensated many companies utilise contests so participants receive some incentive for their efforts. We all have opinions, we all love to give feedback about our favourite brands. You only have to look at the way some folk will defend their brands to the death, the more you argue the stronger their belief becomes. A good example of this would be Apple products vs PCs, or Coke vs Pepsi.
Caution is needed though as there is the potential that it could backfire for your business. Depending on the social or economic environment your company’s reputation could be sullied. A US car company used crowdsourcing to promote one of its more popular SUVs at a time of rising petrol prices and environmental awareness. The end result was a lot of submissions posted to their website and YouTube maligning their product. You don’t want bad reputation, you want to carefully plan for good reputation, so it needs smart thinking!
Is it really the crowd that comes up with the solution or a small few within the crowd? It can often be a few “influencers” (not always) that lead the charge. Are you aware of who these are, and more importantly are they on your side? Crowdsourcing must be planned with limitations and boundaries just as any other marketing tool to minimise the potential for abuse. There will always be members of the crowd who just want to throw a spanner in the works and can often influence others to do the same.
The use of crowdsourcing is only as good as the information it generates. It’s best when utilised for refinement or evolution of a product or idea rather than leaving it up to the crowd to start the creative process.
The basic premise is that people do want to do things, so give your followers things to do, help them, guide them, encourage them and, clear up factual inaccuracy along the way.
To finish here is a simple tactic for say a blog post to ignite the comments:
- Think of a topic you are aiming to associated with your product.
- Begin to crowd source the topic using social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, G+ etc. Try to create dialogue in these channels between the participants, it works rather nicely by copying in people and therefore introducing them to each other, which is always a very helpful activity.
- Start to pen your ideas and as much as possible try to incorporate the crowd sourcing in your text. Quote the people and paraphrase them.
- Once you’ve finished your article ensure that you actively contact the people who took part in the research phase – a singular tweet is not usually enough, make it personal and send them a personal message.
- Watch the comments roll-in.
How about yourself, what have you found that works?
Here is a recent picture of yours truly taken at a recent Bare Knuckle Blues Band gig. It’s quite a stunning image taken by the wonderful Bjorn Thomassen.
I like the image as I think it captures my emotion quite well, you know full on in the moment, verging on ecstasy… well maybe not that far. Someone once said if you enjoy music more than sex it is time to stop.. hmm or was that me?