If you’re a sales and/or marketing professional, you’re probably finding the internet both terrifying and exciting all at the same time. And for good reason. The Web provides an astonishing variety of ways to contact prospects while confusing us with how to do that. Digital marketing – the online strategy for contacting, communicating with, and convincing prospects to buy what you’re selling – is changing everything.
So what exactly is digital marketing? Online marketing consultant Hubspot describes it as encompassing “all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and their websites to connect with current and prospective customers.” What makes it so powerful is how it enables marketers to personalize their efforts in ways that traditional advertising could only dream about.
Unlike traditional advertising and marketing which involves broadcasting or publishing a generic message to a large, often-uninterested audience, digital marketing utilizes a wide range of tools for identifying and reaching a specific target audience with a message of interest to them that will enable you to engage in a one-on-one dialog. The goal is not to reach a lot of leads, but just the most qualified.
The key is personalization. That means identifying the specific type of consumer most likely to buy what you’re selling and developing a “buyer persona” that describes the characteristics, preferences, and personal profile of the perfect buyer. Once you have a buyer persona established it becomes easier to develop a message of particular interest to that potential customer and identifying the channel or channels they prefer for receiving information.
If you happen to work in a niche market that enables you to identify and engage with just a few key prospects, you can go a step further and personalize your outreach in unique ways that increase your visibility and grab attention. For example, professional social media forums such as LinkedIn are ideal places to glean personal and professional information about prospects. You can use that information to custom-tailor content and/or include an item related to what you learned about them – such as something from or about the schools they attended, their personal interests, or the military service they were in – that would provide added incentive for them to accept contact and engage with you.
One of the best examples I’ve seen for personalizing outreach messages involved a client who used LinkedIn to determine what college or university his high-value prospects attended, bought coffee mugs from each school’s store and sent it to the prospect with a personal note and a business card and then followed it up with an email. One prospect told him “I may not buy from you, but this is the most creative attention-getter I have ever seen.”
This type of personalized outreach has received as much as a 25% conversion rate on return emails without initial phone outreach.
Many sales and marketing professionals are familiar with – and even use – customer relationship management (CRM) software. However, many don’t use it to maximum advantage and don't know just how powerful and effective it can really be.
Much like the old saying about computer-programming, “garbage in, garbage out,” CRM works best when the platform is preloaded with as much information about potential customers to prequalify them – what “pains” they’re trying to “”cure,” content and delivery preferences, how they engage and what they share, for example. This will enable you to better understand their current and future needs so that your contact efforts are more meaningful and compelling.
CRM, as a sales automation tool, is valuable throughout the customer lifecycle, not just during the buyer’s sales funnel journey. CRM’s are a rich engagement tool through which you can use all that data you’ve collected to optimize each marketing channel to engage – and stay engaged – after contact and conversion from lead to prospect to customer.
High quality prospects don’t leave the funnel once they become a customer. They continue on their journey -- one that will help you grow if you manage it correctly. The best customers are a great source for leads, and their referrals are the most effective way to, in sense, gain permission to contact and acquire additional customers.
The takeaway in all of this is that how you contact prospects has changed in the digital age. Buyers are in control now and expect a level of personal engagement previously unimagined with traditional marketing and advertising. If you are willing to do the research, dig a little deeper, and personalize your outreach with each and every prospect they’ll appreciate the effort and reward you with their business.
Jim Welch is a guest blogger about sales topics. Jim is a top-producing sales executive in the Customer Experience (think CRM) at Oracle with more than 20 years of experience maximizing sales opportunities within highly competitive markets. Jim has a proven record as both a team player and team leader. His experience spans large corporate and “start-up” organizations selling to commercial, state, local government and education clients.
Bristol Strategy is a “full funnel” inbound marketing agency and inbound sales agency offering comprehensive Inbound Marketing services that enable our clients to surpass their business objectives by transforming the way they engage with their buyers on-line. Reach out to us to learn more about how our proven processes can help your business grow.