It seemed like on January 1st of this year, I woke up to a world that had completely changed.
For businesses hat rely heavily on Google search rankings for revenue—last year’s algorithm changes (Panda and Hummingbird)—shocked my business and a handful of our clients and competitorst. I saw almost everyone’s website rankings tumble. Like mMost businesses, we lost significant traffic and a lot of potential customers. We never saw this coming because at the time we were heads down on several retained client projects. Business was good. We had no clue what was going on in the digital marketplace—we were more focused on our clients than our own marketing. In the end we ended up making a classic business mistake.
Determined to not let this kind of thing happen again, we quickly scrambled to figure out how to fix this. And for the record, we weren’t engaged in any kind of “black-hat” tactics that penalized companies like JCPenny and others.
The reason I’m writing this blog post is because so many business owners and marketers are still unaware of what’s happening in the world of digital marketing and search engine land. Like us, we were too busy to pay attention and to our detriment are still struggling to climb back to the top of the SERPS we once enjoyed.
Consumer behaviors have shifted. Today, the customer is more informed than ever before. Everything is trending towards mobile and social. 90% of every purchase starts with a web search. Are you aware of these trends baby boomers?
In time, your Rolodex and network will begin to dry up and you’ll need to get more customers—regardless of what business you are in. Cold calling today is proven to be less effective than it once was, trades shows are extremely expensive and that email list you purchased may not have performed as well as you had hoped.
In order to prepare for 2015 and beyond here are three things you can start doing now to prepare.
Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time. (Source: Hubspot)
Companies must begin to shift their focus to creating content on a regular basis that will improve their website rankings and that augments their traditional off-line marketing activities. You must attract customers to your website through a combination of outstanding product and service offerings and capture their information through offering remarkable and relevant content. This in turns keeps your search engine rankings high and allows you to participate in social media to a greater degree.
Check out some of these trends related to inbound marketing (Source: Hubspot):
- 60% of companies have adopted some element of the inbound marketing methodology into their overall strategy.
- B2B companies are early to embrace inbound marketing — 65% implemented inbound practices in 2013, while just 46% of B2C companies report doing inbound marketing.
- 81% of companies report some level of integration between inbound marketing and larger marketing goals.
- 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013.
- 8% of marketers will increase their inbound marketing budget in 2013 — the 3rd year in a row inbound budgets are increasing at or near a 50% pace.
- 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result.
If you haven’t looked into or considered what inbound marketing can do for your business, you may be at risk of falling behind.
2. Employer branding
For a long time, companies have focused only on their corporate brand—thinking that an attractive brand to their customers would naturally attract the talent they need to meet their “human resources” needs. But according to a recent LinkedIn study that may not be the case any longer: “Talent acquisition has undergone significant changes in recent years, with a fundamental shift in the way that organizations source and engage with talent. “Posting and praying” continues to decline as forward-thinking organization now proactively find and attract the best candidates, even those who aren’t looking for new roles.”
A company’s employer brand is TWICE AS LIKELY to drive job consideration as its company brand.
To remain competitive in this dwindling economy of talent, companies must look at their brand as a two-sided coin—corporate and employer—to maximize their ability to attract the best talent. The companies with the best talent wins.
Investing in employer branding will: 1. Increase consideration of your company, 2. Lower recruiting costs and, 3. Decrease voluntary turnover.
We recently launched a new careers page for our client Nor1: This is an example on how to showcase your companies culture: https://www.nor1.com/careers
If you haven’t looked or considered your employer brand, you may be at risk of falling behind.
3. Customer service
Customer service is said to be the new marketing and for good reason. Customer service ties my above two points together. To delight your customer you must delight your employees. By delighting your employees, you create happy customer experiences. This is especially true in the retail environment and technical support arenas.
You must also seek to hire your employees and overlay your brand utilizing the employer branding process. In order to truly deliver and connect your brand to your customer on a personal level—companies must begin to devote time to their customer service processes that mix employer branding, marketing and customer service. It’s everyone’s responsibility to be involved in marketing. From the janitor to the CEO.
Check out some of these customer service statistics:
- 45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. (Forrester)
- It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
- 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)
- Consumers are 2 times more likely to share their bad customer service experiences than they are to talk about positive experiences. (2012 Global Customer Service Barometer)
- 26% of consumers have experienced being transferred from agent to agent without any resolution of their problem. (2012 Global Customer Service Barometer)
- A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. (Bain & Co.)
“Customer service is your primary communication channel with customers. Use it to craft the best perception of your company and your brand. Doing this builds sustainable, profitable relationships with your customers.” — Adii Pienaar, the author of Branding, co-founder of WooThemes, and now founder of PublicBeta.
If you haven’t looked or considered how to improve your customer service processes, you may be at risk of falling behind.
To wrap this up, don’t make the mistakes that so many other companies have made concerning Google algorithm changes. Begin to adopt an inbound marketing methodology to stay in the game. In addition, begin to create and invest in your employer brand to remain competitive in this dwindling economy of talent. Tie inbound marketing, employer branding into stellar customer service to drive your marketing and branding efforts.
In this eBook, we give you 30 tips, tricks and ideas on how to turn your website into a lead generating, business building machine so when 2015 comes you’ll be ready.
[vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]
By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.