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Using Exploratory Market Research to Understand your Customer

When you’re marketing a product or service, it’s helpful to see how potential customers are  thinking. Some exploratory research can give you fresh ideas on how to communicate your value. Curiosity is your friend. If you are interested in knowing how your customers really think about your business, then one question will lead to another and you could gain unexpected insights. Finally, you can tailor your message to match the customer pain points you discover to highlight your business value.

Below are some free tools to get you started in your research. These are excellent launching points that will certainly lead you to niche websites and places where your customers spend time online.  

Free Online tools for Market Research

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a great starting place for web market research. It breaks out many common questions that people on the internet are asking about your keyword. You can even export questions as a spreadsheet for further analysis.

Google Search

This one may seem obvious, but no fancy online research tool is a substitute for actually using the website that most buyers begin their customer journey with….Google Search! It helps if you try to get into the mindset of a potential buyer. What might they search for first? You can also use the tools and other advanced search features to find the information most relevant to your search intent.

Google creates SERPs, (Search Engine Results Pages) to quickly help people find answers. One example of these SERPS is “People also ask”.

Quora
Quora is a forum where real people ask and answer questions. This is a great place to spend time reading through and getting in touch with what people are really thinking. The site is laden with opinions, and you can even hop with answers that could lead people to your website. 

Applying your market research

Exploring how customers are talking about your industry topics, or even your brand, can lead to a new understanding of how to relate to your customer. You can discover surprising circumstances, product use cases, and complaints you might have never considered. If you’re lucky, you could even find new online platforms, like niche forums, where you can reach your main demographic. Can you think of ways this research could change your marketing strategy?

Getting Started with a Worksheet

Here’s a worksheet we prepared for the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails to supplement their entrepreneurship pillar. 

Open For Business After COVID-19 Closure

Where Are You? Your Customers Want to Know!

Communicating with Customers During COVID-19

Ok, business owners and managers, listen up! We know you have been working hard during coronavirus to keep up with all the changes – but your customers are still out there and are looking for you online!

Take some time to reconnect with them. Update them about your status, and tell them how they can still do business with you. 

Staying active online applies to all businesses, especially businesses that are temporarily closed. Luckily, you have a plethora of digital communication tools at your fingertips to help you stay in touch.

To help you reconnect with your customers during the coronavirus craziness, we’ve put together a guide on how to reach your customers and what you should be telling them. Plus, we have some examples from Santa Fe and Albuquerque businesses that are getting it right.

Scenario 1 – Your Business had to Close

Nobody Likes Being Ghosted

When we first got the news that business had to close it was unfathomable and devastating. The closures were immediate and we were caught off guard. It’s ok that you forgot to change your voicemail or didn’t update your website — but some of you just locked the door and walked away.

You know that friend who just stopped texting you and disappeared from social media? It left you confused, then worried (Are they sick? Did they die?). Maybe you were even a little hurt. Closing your business without a peep is the same thing. Establishments who did it right said goodbye and hinted at their intentions to return.

Even though Cafe Casto, (Santa Fe) could have stayed open for takeout, they decided to close. Their announcement wasn’t big or flashy. It was just a simple Facebook post, but it was clear that the information was appreciated. The simple post got strong customer engagements including many comments and well-wishes. [Update – Cafe Castro is now open for takeout].

Pro Tip: If you use Facebook to make announcements regarding closing, revised hours, or other things that reflect a big service change, Pin the post to the top of your page.

Closed Doesn’t Mean Quiet
If you are closed, continue your social media presence. It reminds people you are still out there. Your social media should already be a mix of “social” (non-sales) content and “sales” type posts, but if you can’t sell, you may need to get creative with your post content.

Many places are seeing success with sharing their business stories — how they got started, funny or interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits, a favorite recipe (for restaurants and folks selling food items). Tell them how you’re doing and what your plans are for re-opening.

While Albuquerque Florist was closed, they kicked off a “virtual bouquet” series with a Facebook post saying, “While we can’t send you flowers right now, we’ll be online sharing some of our favorite flower art.” 

The series initially shared great works from artists of the past, but the florist teamed up with some New Mexico galleries (also closed) to feature flower art by artists in the Southwest.

When the florist re-opened, they had a ready audience on Facebook to get the news.



Pro Tip
: It’s an excellent time to engage with your audience and to listen. Social media usage is up and page followers are liking and commenting more. Listen to what they have to say. Respond to their comments and don’t forget to thank them for their business and support.

You can even start the conversation with posts that ask questions. What is your favorite product? What product or service do you wish we would offer? Be sure to check your tone and keep the questions conversational.
 

Scenario 2 – Your Business Stayed Open or Re-Opened

Let People Know You Are Open

This sounds crazy, right? “Everyone knows we’re still open,” you say. Sadly, we beg to differ. People aren’t driving-by as much. They don’t see that open sign or the cars in your parking lot.

Those who are more motivated to do business with you check their phones for signs of life at your establishment, but so many places haven’t updated their open-status, so who can trust that? After that, they try to call and there is no answer. If they are lucky, they get a voicemail that hasn’t been updated since you opened 20 years ago. (This may have even happened to you). It’s frustrating and a poor customer experience.

Now that we’re a couple of months into this coronavirus thing, it’s time to let your customers know that you are open and what you have to offer (like takeout, curbside pickup, online ordering, free shipping…)! This goes double for businesses that re-open.

Tell People What’s Different
Business operation during COVID-19 also means changes in hours and procedures. If you’re doing something different (like closing early), make sure you tell your customers! A little head’s-up can go a long way toward meeting customer expectations.

Savvy businesspeople are using all their digital channels to stay in touch with clients, but at minimum, update the channels most of your customers use. We also recommend updating your website and your Google My Business information.

Update Your Website the Easy Way
Sometimes updating your website can be a hassle. A quick, easy, and free way to update your website is to use a static banner or a pop-up (via a WordPress site).

 Hello Bar is a free (up to 5,000 views per month) application that lets you quickly add a customizable banner to your website. If you have a WordPress website, try a pop-up plugin like PopUp Maker. Also, some website themes have built-in banner or pop-up capabilities.

At the start of the coronavirus restrictions,
Papa Felipe’s (Albuquerque) got a flood of calls, emails, and Facebook messages asking about updated hours and offerings. The number of phone questions interfered with people trying to call in takeout orders. 

Example of COVID update on restaurant website

To solve the problem, they used PopUp Maker on their website to put all their important changes on their homepage. It has a click-to-call phone number for easy ordering and links to their streamlined-for-covid menus. It lists current hours and order cut-off times. Plus, it alerts customers about delays during peak call times. 

Pro Tip: You can also set up your business Facebook messenger to send a pre-programmed instant reply when someone initiates a conversation. Papa Felipe’s programmed this feature to push answers to many of their customer’s FAQs, such as current hours and menu links.

Scenario 3 – Your Business Offerings Have Changed

Are You Doing Something New?
There has been a lot of chatter about how entrepreneurs are pivoting and capturing new customers despite the COVID-19 restrictions. If your business is doing something new, let folks know. Even if you’re not turning your distilled alcohol into hand sanitizer, people still want your products and new services. (Hint: people are home and have time to shop online!)

Zenbox Marketing worked with Art.i.fact, a high-end consignment shop in Santa Fe, to transform their brick-and-mortar business into an online shop.

Their online store, “The Backroom,” became Art.i.fact’s main gallery during COVID-19 closure. They accepted new consignments via curbside pickup for everyone who was going through their closets and updated their online store with new arrivals. Now that they have re-opened, Art.i.fact has several safety measures in place, including private shopping appointments to make shoppers feel comfortable.

As well as posting offerings on their social media channels, Art.i.fact let their existing customers know about new additions to their online store and everything it was doing to adapt to the times through their email newsletter.

Pro Tip: Don’t think of your email just as a send-and-done task. Use links to your most recent newsletter and newsletter archive to reach more readers and to encourage new subscriptions. Some email services like Mailchimp even have a social share feature to make it easy. 

Changes Yet to Come

COVID-19 has affected all businesses in some way. As business owners, we’ve all been scrambling to keep up and adapt. It can be dizzying at times, but why are we in business if not for our customers? Stay in touch with them and let them know how they can do business with you.

We encourage you to use and explore your digital communication tools and to regularly engage with your customers. At a minimum, keep up with important announcements and update the digital channels your customers use the most.

Important things to Update and Announce

  • Are you open, re-opening, or closed
  • Are you offering takeout, delivery, shipping or pickup
  • Do you have different hours (including cut-off times for ordering and delivery)
  • Do you have new products and offerings
  • What are your health and safety guidelines

Digital Communication Channels to Keep Updated

  • Your business website
  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
  • Review Sites: Yelp, TripAdvisor, Industry-specific review sites
  • Delivery Sites (for restaurants): DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, Uber Eats, etc
  • Top Channels. Best social media channels may vary by audience or industry.

What About You?
What ways have you found to keep your customers updated? Let us know in the comments below.

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Brandie Erisman is an SEO and digital marketing strategist. She works with small to medium-sized businesses and with select agencies, like Zenbox Marketing.

Cairn To Symbolize Marketing Mix

Digital Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

Digital marketing refers to several types of communicating your message, including social media. We’re often asked about digital marketing vs social media marketing at Zenbox, when in fact social media marketing falls under the umbrella of digital marketing. For some entrepreneurs, social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are their first foray into doing business online. For more mature businesses with a diversified web presence, social media can be one of many sources of customer acquisition. 

Stacked rocks to symbolize choosing your marketing mix
Your digital strategy can include several social media platforms.

Social media specifically refers to websites or apps that foster social interaction online. They’re also called “social media channels”, “social media platforms” or “social networks”. Some examples are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat

Social media marketing means that you’re using social media channels to promote your products or services. This includes posting your own content (images, words, videos and links), sharing other people’s content and messaging other people and businesses. It also includes paid advertising. Many platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, have robust targeting tools that allow you to be very specific about who you want to see your ads. 

Digital Marketing includes much more than just social media. Every way that you deliver your message through digital devices is digital marketing. This mostly includes online marketing channels, and it also includes a few offline platforms, like apps and texting. 

Some forms of digital marketing:

  • Your website 
  • Email marketing
  • SMS (text message) campaigns
  • Google Ads
  • Social media marketing
  • Contact forms
  • Blog articles written for your target audience
  • Content marketing (images, words and videos you create to spread your message)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There is some overlap in these terms. For example, writing a blog article on your website would also be considered content marketing, because you’re creating content to promote your business. A blog post would also increase your website’s SEO, especially if you use keyword research to focus on specific topics. 

I often hear small business owners say, “I need someone to run my Instagram.” However, it’s better to think about which specific social media sites you’ll use after you’ve planned your overall digital marketing strategy. An overhead view of your digital marketing analytics provides valuable information to inform your decisions on where to focus your efforts.

Your “marketing mix” is the list of marketing channels that you decide to include in your digital marketing plan. Some of these may be social media platforms. The marketing mix you choose should be based on the goals of your business and who you’re trying to reach.

It’s better to start small and build gradually than to spread yourself thin. This is especially true if you’re starting out with a small budget or limited time.

Also think about how people use each social platform and imagine how someone might use the platform to learn about your business. Have you seen any of your competitors successfully integrating certain social media channels into their digital marketing? 

Once you’ve chosen a social media channel or two to focus on, take time to map out your entire digital marketing ecosystem. Imagine all the ways that someone could find out about you and eventually become a customer. 

It’s important to see how your marketing mix will drive people to complete the goals you set, like calling you or purchasing through your website. Bigger companies might launch a digital marketing campaign just to drive brand awareness. However, for small businesses it’s important to see how digital marketing and social impacts the bottom line. 

Small businesses can promote themselves through digital marketing. At Zenbox Marketing, we feel that at least 2 hours each workday is needed to market a small business well online. If you want help with your digital marketing, reach out. We’ll be happy to give advice, and we can even manage your marketing for you.

How to Write a Strong Positioning Statement

I got to speak at Strategy Night for PechaKucha in Santa Fe! PechaKucha is a Japanese style of presentation aimed at brevity. The rules are to present using 20 slides, which play for 20 seconds each.

This was a great opportunity to share what I’ve been working through with clients lately: the brand positioning statement. It’s such a useful tool for marketing strategy. The positioning statement lays out how you’re going to “position” your brand to make it appealing.

Ava Shije presenting on brand positioning statements
Ava Shije presenting on positioning statements at PechaKucha Strategy Night in Santa Fe

When you write your positioning statements, keep in mind that this is NOT a mission statement. A mission statement lays out your values and “why” you’re in business. A positioning statement helps you communicate your value to a specific audience. This will guide your marketing.

The words that you use to describe your business could be very different depending on who you’re talking to (your target market). That’s why you can have several positioning statements if you have different types of customers. Like how Pedialyte makes separate ads for parents and athletes.

How to Write a Positioning Statement for Your Business

Video Transcript:

My favorite part of marketing has always been branding. A foundational step for solidifying your branding is to craft a statement that will describe how you’re going to position your brand. A positioning statement is a specific message, and it’s aimed at a specific audience, and it’s something that’s going to guide your branding, and your company can use it internally when you’re crafting those outward facing marketing messages.

When you’re making this position in statement, you have four major decisions.

  • target audience
  • industry category
  • main benefit you’re providing
  • how you’re going to differentiate yourself from all the other competitors

I’m going to walk you through an example of a positioning statement and notice how those four elements are going to come into play. In this example, we’re going to pretend that we’re marketing a new art gallery.

For millennial art collectors who love to travel, Hidden Light Photo Gallery is the contemporary photography gallery that will bring the beauty of the world to you because it displays captivating images from the furthest reaches of the Earth.

So for your target audience, it is the business within this industry category that provides this main benefit, and it sets itself apart from all the other art galleries.

So let’s go through each of those, starting with target audience. It’s also called buyer persona, and it means listing every characteristic you know about your ideal customer. And you can go back through your transactional data and see who your most profitable customers were.

If your customers are business customers, then you’re thinking about things like firm size and company culture. What a company’s decision making processes is like–you’re taking all these traits. For consumers–if you’re selling to in consumers than you’re thinking about other things like demographic, what the individuals interests are and maybe what their purchase occasion is.

So you take all these traits and you put your customers into groups and you think about: what’s the size of this customer group? What’s their growth potential? What’s their profitability?

You choose your ideal customer group based on these traits, and you consider what this group really needs. And how is your business going to meet this group’s need better than anyone else? What resources do you have that are perfect for this customer group?

Next you have to communicate your value to that group. You start with your industry category, and you want to use the most familiar terms when you’re choosing your industry category. Think about the words people use when they’re thinking about your industry.

It’s very rare that a company would ever need to create a completely new industry category. Even if you’re entering a new or nascent market, look at the trends and jump on board with whatever’s the most dominant category label right then.

And it would have been really difficult in the days when the horseless carriage was invented to know what the most dominant terms were to be able to do that research. But now we have Google trends that we can look at and we can see what words people are using to search around your industry.

Now choose your main benefit. Your company has a lot of benefits that it’s offering your customers, but first you choose the main one that gives the most value to your target audience, and it might not be obvious.

A lot of times you’re filling an emotional need, so you dig in and you decide what’s really the most important that I’m offering. You’ll have secondary benefits as well. In our example gallery, a secondary benefit of the art gallery might be nostalgia.

Finally, think about how you’re differentiating from your competitors. Really look at your resources versus your competitors’ resources. And how can you convince your target customer that you can provide them the most value beyond what your competitors can provide?

Back to our example. Our target audience is based on demographic and interest. The category is well defined. The main benefit is aesthetic, and you’re focusing on something different than all the other art galleries.

So your positioning statement is really going to unify your marketing efforts, and you can have several positioning statements, especially if you’re targeting lots of different groups of people or you’re providing several products or services. I encourage you to sit down and go through this and think about what your own positioning statement is. And how is that going to impact the rest of your marketing?

And feel free to reach out to me. I love to talk about marketing.

11 Digital Marketing Skills that Will Change your Business

Marketing jobs have come to include more digital marketing skills than ever before. For a single person tasked with the role of “digital marketing”, the responsibility can feel overwhelming. Some even pile online marketing on top of another full time job, and then feel guilty when they don’t see results.

If you’re wondering whether you can see meaningful results from gaining digital marketing skills, the answer is YES, you absolutely can. There are no barriers to entry, and the world is your playground. However, if you are looking for an easy way to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then hire someone.

The problem is, many people eagerly watch a few videos about specific skills like keyword analysis or Facebook advertising and then lose their enthusiasm. The digital marketing journey requires dedication. You’ll need at least 10 hours a week of time dedicated to your business’s online presence. If you’re able to commit to this journey, then read on.

Digital Marketing Skills 2020

Consider the symbolism of the lotus flower. Its roots are in muddy water, but it reaches toward the light to produce something beautiful.

Owning your digital marketing is like plunging into the murky waters of uncertainty. At first you’ll struggle and you may even find things that make you cringe. Then you’ll gain new knowledge and discover new passions.

Along the way you’ll learn to use the tools available to you and explore new ideas. Perhaps your “Mad Men” style marketing assumptions don’t hold up to the data. You may even decide to change elements of your business.

Finally, you’ll emerge with a greater understanding of how your business brings value to people. Digital marketing will be a source of real connection with your customers, and you’ll be able to engage with them like never before.

11 Digital Marketing Skills

  1. Intention
  2. Start by committing dedicated time each work day to digital marketing. Plan to dedicate two hours each day. No matter what happens during those two hours, you’ll have made progress toward your goal of engaging with your customers online.

    While every little bit helps, your competitors may have a full-time digital marketing director or even a digital marketing team. Take a deep breath, evaluate your resources and make a realistic plan.

  3. Patience
  4. If you dedicate enough time and approach each task methodically, then you will excel in any marketing channel you choose. Don’t fall into frustration. Remember, this is a job for an entire team of people. Celebrate each small victory.

  5. User Experience (UX)
  6. Before you dive into any fancy analysis tools, it’s helpful to walk through the online experience you’re providing. Pretend to be your customer and complete the entire buying process online. Go all the way through from landing pages to checkout. What did you learn simply through this role playing exercise?

    Now take a look at Google Analytics behavior flow to see how users are traveling around between pages. Hotjar heatmaps can give more insight into how people navigate your site. Did this data spark your curiosity?

  7. Curiosity
  8. Just as curiosity is great for relationships, it’s also what will keep your love for digital marketing alive. Are you curious about your customers, your competition and innovations within your industry? The information you glean will inform your business decisions and make you a relevant participant in the online conversation.

    At this point, we’re plunging into the unknown in hopes that our research and data analysis will provide us with the answers we need to make informed decisions that will change our business. Curiosity will spark the questions to direct our research.

  9. Research
  10. Take your questions and run with them. Never stop pursuing your question until it leads to a new question. You may even achieve the bliss of working in a flow state as you devour information and find new information relevant to your industry. Immerse yourself to discover who your competitors are, where your customers are talking and what they really think of your business.

  11. Data Analysis
  12. Don’t shy away from data analysis. This is now regarded as one of the crucial skills marketers must have. Data will let you know what’s working and where opportunities for effective content lie.

    You can use data to determine the topic of your next blog post, find dropoff points in your lead generation, and obtain better search results. The more you wrap your head around your data, the more you can start layering it to understand how your digital marketing is affecting your business.

  13. Prioritization
  14. Start with solidifying your brand positioning statement and then examine each component of your online presence. Think about all the paths that your current customers take to find you. It’s better to have a consistently wonderful web presence than to be sparse on several social media platforms. Use data analysis to determine which channels that are working for you.

  15. Organization
  16. This skill can’t be understated for digital marketers. Spend time creating fail-proof systems that will ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Make checklists and schedules for tasks that you’ll repeat.

    A systematic approach is crucial to ensure you’re engaging with your customers in a timely and relevant manner. Marketing automation is your friend here. Any time you automate a task, set it up.

  17. Content Creation
  18. Now that you’ve researched, analyzed and organized, maybe the digital landscape no longer seems so murky. Now we come to the flower of your efforts: content marketing. Your curiosity will have lead you to several topics you can write about.

    High quality content will begin to flow. You can write about interests that many of your customers share and target that content directly to them. You can use data to find topics with decent search volume that don’t have much competition. All your ground work will start to pay off when your relevant content reaches the right audience.

  19. Marketing Strategy
  20. You’ve seen the data and hopefully you’ve been able to pinpoint some successes from your online marketing efforts so far. Take everything you’ve learned to make a plan. It can be broad at first, and the goal is to keep finding frameworks that you can repeat. Always leave room for experimentation.

    While social media marketing gurus and other experts often have useful tips for how to improve your marketing, nothing will tell you more about what works for your audience than experimentation. Remember the scientific method? You start by asking a question, and then create an experiment that will answer your question. Marketing campaigns are perfect places to test your assumptions.

    A/B tests enable you to send 2 different promotions to determine which version is the most effective. Many email marketing softwares have this feature built in. Remember to only change one element of your campaign in each test to gain clear insight. Always be willing to change your strategy.

    Scientific Method for conducting an experiment

    Need help with strategy? A digital marketing agency can review your strategy, or set you up with one to follow. Even experienced marketers find value in enlisting consultants.

  21. Engagement

If you made one person think or feel differently, then you were really able to engage that person and your effort was worthwhile. Now that you’ve organized and automated the activities that used to stifle your enjoyment of digital marketing, you can engage as a member of the online community.

Freedom

Doesn’t it feel good to be on top of your digital marketing skills? Moving past the “I should post to Facebook” stage is definitely better for your brain. The next time you tell someone new about your business, you can smile confidently and say, “look me up online.”

If you made it to the bottom of this article and decided that you’d like help with your digital marketing, then reach out. Our team has thousands of hours of digital marketing experience and a lot of patience. Our mission is to give people more freedom to pursue their passions.

5 Benefits of an Outsourced Marketing Group

Many small to mid-size business owners wonder whether they should hire out their marketing services. Usually, the business wants to provide an authentic public image for the company, and wants to find someone who will translate the spirit of the business into an online presence. While hiring a full time in house marketing director will provide this level of intimacy with your company’s inner workings, it is also a big responsibility that will increase your overhead.

Outsourced Marketing Group
Wondering whether to outsource your marketing?

Especially in small businesses, marketing directors on site often get pulled into the day-to-day activities of a business, which detract from their specialized job. Innovating and trying new strategies may fall to the back burner. There are so many opportunities for getting noticed with digital marketing! It is difficult for one person to be specialized in all of the marketing skill sets that would benefit your business.

Benefits of finding an outsourced marketing group:

  1. Having an agreed-upon marketing strategy: You can view your contracted marketing director as your go-to for communicating your business goals. They will work with you to create a strategy with concrete marketing plans.
  2. Access to specialized marketing technologies: Digital marketing agencies carry subscriptions to software tools and marketing programs that allow them to mine data and find the most effective ways to target their efforts.
  3. Regular reporting to see the impact of work completed: An outsourced marketing group will provide regular reporting (often monthly) that will allow you to see progress toward your business goals.
  4. Outside perspective: Do you feel “tunnel vision” from being too close to your business? Do you have a clear answers ready when people ask about your business? An outside perspective will help you translate your message to your target audience using data and unbiased ideas.
  5. A team of experts: Marketing outsourcing companies enjoy the freedom of using their budgets to hire the best sub-contractors for specialized jobs as needed. An agency’s job is to find the best way to get the job done. This may mean drawing on their network of professionals in areas like animation, videography or custom web development. It’s like having an entire marketing department on an as-needed basis.

At Zenbox, we strive to be as personal and involved as an in-house CMO while providing the specialized resources of a marketing agency. We meet on a regular basis with our clients to make sure that communication is clear and the marketing goals in place align with the current climate of the business.

In fact, we feel that regular meetings between marketing and business managers are vital. How can you trust your marketing to someone who is out of touch with your business? The goals of the business often change. Seasonal shifts, changes in product supply, changes in customer preferences, and new opportunities in the marketplace all deserve immediate response.

Some of our clients just want us to take care of all their marketing without much oversight. Others want to see and approve all the web pages, blog posts, social media posts, graphics, photos, and messages that we create. We get it; those businesses are passionate about making sure that their marketing is consistent with their vision. As long as they’re willing to put in the time and give feedback in a timely manner, we’re happy to follow a review process.

Outsourced marketing services:

Outsourced marketing services can include:


An integrated strategy allows for effective marketing campaigns and better results at a fraction of the cost of unguided online advertising. Marketing firms can provide this strategy and execution.

Unsure of how to integrate your marketing efforts and start measuring results? Get in touch! We can talk about what you’ve done so far and whether Zenbox Marketing can help you move forward.

How to Find a Good Internet Marketing Specialist

If you’ve come to the pivotal point in your business where you recognize the need for help with your online marketing, you may be wondering where to start. There are several agencies specializing in specific areas like web design, social media or SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but which of these will benefit your business the most?

The first step is to meet with an online marketing consultant with whom you can discuss your business–what is the mission or passion behind your business? Who are your customers? What are you already doing online, and what does your “sales funnel” look like, whatever that may represent for your industry?

A good digital marketing specialist can help you find an efficient mix of marketing within your budget and navigate this continually evolving field to form a clear strategy for meeting your goals. Rather than seeking out independent companies for social media management, online advertising, web design, website management and SEO, you’ll want a good Internet Marketing Specialist to develop a cohesive plan. Consistent online branding, improved user behavior flow, more accurate targeting and more comprehensive analytics are all benefits of a coordinated online marketing effort.

Why should I invest in online marketing?

Online marketing is a tool that enables people to realize their dreams. For brick and mortar small businesses, this means the opportunity to reach new audiences and retain existing customers by making products or services available to them year-round. Using email campaigns and social media marketing, you can inform customers of your new offerings even if they visit your physical location infrequently. In time, online revenue could exceed physical purchases, and some small businesses even find that it suits their purpose to transition to a purely online business. For small businesses, online marketing is a way to gain an edge over local competitors.

For businesses that exist solely online, their website and combined digital marketing efforts constitute their livelihood. Ecommerce sites provide a way for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses without having to invest in a physical storefront. Other advantages of purely ecommerce businesses include the freedom of mobility, the ability to set your own hours and the flexibility to scale as needed.

Can I do small business online marketing on my own?

Many small business owners try to handle their online marketing all on their own, or in-house, struggling to put out content, taking shots in the dark, and ultimately taking time away from their core business to engage in time-consuming activities that seem to provide few results. In another common scenario, without a dedicated professional whose main focus is online promotion, digital marketing gets put on the back burner, and the activity remains largely ignored.

This being said, how could a business owner ever trust a complete stranger to post on their behalf? You want your online brand to accurately convey the heart of your mission. This is why you need an Internet marketing specialist who has a strong grasp of what you do and how you want your image projected online.

You want to find someone who is willing to spend the time getting to know you–someone who will keep in regular contact. You are in control of your brand, so it is important to discuss your ideal level of involvement in the online marketing process with your online marketing consultant. You can think of your consultant as your online marketing director.

Zen garden

What is a good online marketing strategy?

Online marketing is made up of several different sub-categories. Your digital marketing strategy will include some or all of the following: web design, SEO, email marketing, social media, online paid advertising, lead capturing and content marketing.

Web Design

If you’re looking for a new website design in Santa Fe, NM, or elsewhere, there are several firms to choose from. The important thing is to find a web designer who will get to know you and find the most effective way to present your story. Zenbox Marketing provides web design and development services as a keystone to your online marketing strategy. If you already have a website, Zenbox will start with a website audit to evaluate your design, SEO, ease of use and performance. If you don’t have a website, then Zenbox will create a website in line with your business goals. 

There are many factors involved in designing a website that you will be proud of. Consider the following aspects when making long-term plans for your website:

  • Competitor Analysis – It’s important to research close competitors, not only to determine what aspects of their web design you like or dislike, but also to gauge their website’s functionality. You want your website to have a competitive advantage over other similar businesses.
  • Custom Solutions – Need a custom solution for your website? Zenbox has you covered. Whether it’s a unique feature or a custom design, Zenbox will provide the programmers you need to make your dream website a reality.
  • Website Maintenance – Zenbox treats your website as a living, breathing part of the Internet. The components that make up your website need to be regularly updated and maintained to protect your website against vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Your relationship to your web designer is important for the long-term health of your website, and Zenbox Marketing is in it for the long haul.
  • Content Updates – Zenbox web design gives you access to your website to update text, photos and videos. This gives you the flexibility to make quick changes to your website. Zenbox can also make regular content updates for you if you’d prefer. From completely managing your online marketing to filling in the gaps, Zenbox will accommodate your preferred workflow.

Search Engine Optimization

Additionally, you want a website that can be found by people already searching for what you provide. SEO is a vital component of any website that will greatly increase your return on investment by enabling search engines to interact with your website while ranking and indexing. If you want new users coming to your website, then SEO should be a priority.

Email Marketing

Are you sending regular emails to your clientele? Are the emails specifically tailored based on your relationship with them or is everyone in your database receiving the same email? Email marketing is a huge source of revenue, and customizations to increase your open rates and click through rates are well worth the effort. Zenbox will work with you to see what you’re currently doing, what’s worked so far, and how you can improve your revenue from emails.

Zenbox Marketing provides dynamic email campaigns that filter content based on the interests of the email recipient. For example, if you want to announce all your new products in an email, you could send an email to everyone on your list. Utilizing dynamic email content, each customer would only see a few products listed in their email based on their interests. This makes emails more relevant and targeted to your audience, and shows that you care enough to know what your customers want. Once your customers understand that your emails are specific to them, they are more likely to open your emails and more likely to click to visit your website.

The time that it takes to segment contacts based on interests, tailor emails specifically to your different customer segments, optimize your emails for mobile viewing, review the analytics of your email campaigns and re-categorize your customers based on their interaction with your emails are all activities that can have a huge impact on your sales. Zenbox Marketing can completely manage your email marketing campaigns.

Zenbox Email Marketing

Social Media

How can social media benefit your business? Are you spending a lot of time posting to several social networks, or are you focusing on the social networks that deliver the most results? Because each brand is different, your social media strategy needs to match your goals. A well-targeted social media strategy can engage a new audience and drive website traffic or foot traffic to your business. If you feel like you’re wasting time with social media, then it’s time to re-think your social media game plan.

Online Paid Advertising

Paid advertising, or PPC (Price Per Click) advertising refers to advertising through other websites like Google or Facebook. Online advertising is more effective than print advertising because it enables you to specifically advertise to people based on their demographics and interests. In the case of Google Ads, you can even help people who are already searching for the product or service you offer to find your website. Another benefit of online advertising is that you can start with any size of budget. Since the effects of online advertising can be directly tracked and measured, you can invest more money in the ads that drive the biggest results after initial experimentation.

Lead Capturing

What percentage of people who walk through your door or visit your website come back for another visit? Retaining the attention of your first-time visitors is a key growth opportunity. The goal is to collect as many email addresses as possible from people who have any interest in your business. To encourage visitors to leave their email addresses, you could offer a coupon, free content, special website features (like saving an item to a wish list or scheduling an appointment), or simply the opportunity to keep up with new products or services.

Content Marketing

The words, images and video that populate your website and social media profiles are key to engaging your audience and generating new leads for your business. Google’s search algorithm is continually improving its ability to lead searchers to relevant content. Content adds value to your website by educating your audience on the importance of what you offer. The more information you have, the longer people are able to stay on your website.

A great way to circulate your content is to post to a blog on your website. You can then provide teasers of your blog posts on social media and in your email newsletter, encouraging people to click to your website to read more. A steady stream of new content shows Google that your website is relevant and gives your audience a reason to visit your website regularly, keeping you fresh in their mind. 

How do I integrate my online marketing efforts?

A good digital marketing strategy will integrate your website, SEO, email marketing, social media, online paid advertising, lead capturing and content marketing to guide your visitors down a path of conversion. Whether your business defines conversion as a sale, an appointment or a podcast download, the behavioral flow of your visitors can be analyzed and adjusted to meet your goals. Each of the individual marketing activities should play a role in converting your audience, so it’s important to analyze them all together to identify weak links and recognize where you’ll see the greatest return on your investment.

An example of a customer journey is as follows. A 65-year-old woman sees an ad on Facebook with an excerpt from a children’s story about gardening. The image and story entice her, so she clicks to read more of the story. The Facebook ad appeared on her home feed based on the fact that she is a grandmother, she gardens, and she has engaged in Facebook activity related to storybooks in the past. The link takes her to the full story, in blog format. To accompany the story, there are photographs of the story’s main characters, animal garden ornaments, which are the company’s main product. After reading the story, the woman orders the book so that she can read it with her granddaughter later. She is also added to the email list that may one day convince her to buy a garden ornament.

It is best to have several paths leading to your conversion point, and the effort you put into each of your online marketing activities will strengthen the entire system. Content marketing strengthens SEO and landing pages help retain visitors from paid advertising. A coordinated online marketing effort will help you understand how customers are interacting with you online and give you the insight to improve your system.

How can Zenbox help me with online marketing?

Do you want to talk about your online marketing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or elsewhere in the world? It all starts with a face-to-face meeting or phone call. We’re currently helping clients in New Mexico and across the United States. If you need a team to handle your online marketing, then give us a call.

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