Choosing the right communications channels isn’t easy. And the social and content bandwagons have added even more pressure to business owners that feel they have to use all channels.
But being disciplined about which channel to use for what enables you to create consistent messaging that reaches the right audience in the right way and at the right time in the sales cycle.
Here’s how to reach your audience:
Step one: hyper-segment your target market
Splitting audiences into broad demographic groups is not enough. An effective marketing strategy requires detailed information on who is buying a product or service. Big companies do this kind of thing all the time. But if you are a small firm selling to consumers, you should think about how much your prospects earn, what they do and how they spend their spare time. B2B firms can combine sales data with desk research to establish job functions and other key customer characteristics.
Step two: Don’t forget traditional media
The Global Web Index Q3 2014 shows that the UK is one of the only countries in the world where time spent consuming traditional media still outweighs time spent consuming digital media.
For small firms, radio and printed press offer extremely valuable media opportunities. The GWI data shows that 45% of 16-24 year olds and 55% of over-55s still consume traditional printed press. The younger the audience, the more likely they are to consumer print press online.
Step three: get networking
Five years ago, it was a must to “do social”. The clouds are clearing now and most companies are recognising the need for appropriate and strategic social media activity linked directly to audience. But knowing which channel to use and how can be a minefield.
Facebook reported an increase in the number of daily users in 2014 showing that it is still a force to be reckoned with. Used by 81% of 18-29 year olds and 60% of 50-64 year olds, it’s the network of choice for the educated and affluent with 69% of users earning more than £48k a year. That said, Facebook’s organic reach is in decline so brands now need to look to paid for activity to get in front of audiences.
Only 18% of internet users are on Twitter and many users prefer reading than posting tweets. But just because they are not talking doesn’t mean followers aren’t listening. The media in the UK are also big users of Twitter so it’s also a good media relations tool.
LinkedIn is the key B2B network. Econsultancy suggests that it accounts for 64% of visits to all corporate websites after tracking two million visits to 60 sites over two years.
However, for consumer brands, the network has little value. For B2B firms, it’s an ideal tool for the targeted dissemination of news and content.
Pinterest can be a great way of getting products and content shared – and driving sales - assuming you have great imagery. UK users are now well over two million and 80% of pins are re-pinned from elsewhere on the site. For certain types of consumer brand - from fashion to food and interiors – it can be a great weapon in the communications channel armoury.
Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp have captured the younger market partly due to immediacy and partly due to concerns over privacy and “digital legacies”. However, these networks hinge on personal communication, leaving little or no room for brands.
Google+ is a great tool for improving the visibility of your online content. Often overlooked, it’s worth using if you want your content ranking as high as possible on Google as Google+ posts get indexed more quickly than content on other social networks.
Step four: Integrate
It’s important to stress that all channels should be integrated to deliver best return on investment. But don’t be tempted to simply replicate content across all channels. Keep messaging and themes constant but tailor content where necessary.
Step five: measure, refine and measure again
Whatever communications channels you choose to use, build in KPIs and evaluate progress on a monthly basis. If activity is working, do more; if it is not delivering, then leave it behind.
Equally important is knowing when to call time on an activity. If you’re starting from scratch it’s probably going to take you six months to test the waters. With all integrated marketing there is a momentum that needs building so give it time.
However, once you’ve reached momentum, be ruthless. The moment results decline (or if they fail to emerge), change your tactics.
Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Scully, managing director at Smarts Illuminate.