May 31, 2011
by HEIDI HALE, HaleStorm Media
With all of the email and more robust online marketing systems available today, it can be difficult to understand which tool would most benefit your business. Although most business owners have already implemented a website and created social media accounts, a recent study posted by eMarketer found that only half of those with a website actually track their marketing efforts. So, the question presents itself, "What should I do next?" The answer is to move on to "maintenance marketing", which is the process of creating continual marketing efforts which attract and convert prospects and optimize and retain your best clients.
One of the most cost-effective ways to transition to this stage is to adopt an online marketing system. This will empower your business to automatically collect prospect and client information, launch multi-media marketing campaigns, and track response rates. Even more, many of the leading systems now offer advanced integration with social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) and popular web-based software programs that build and maintain websites, like Word Press.
With so many options available, how do you know which system to choose or if you should even adopt one? Below, I have listed three questions that any business should answer before moving forward with this decision.
1. How much time can you allocate to marketing activities?
Even though these systems can save valuable time by automating many of your marketing activities, you will still need to set aside 10-15 hours per week in order to see a return on investment. Be realistic in respect to your marketing budget and schedule, as you may need to hire a part-time marketing associate to assist you.
2. Who is your audience?
One of the most important questions that a business should ask before creating a marketing plan is "Who is my audience?" If you do not understand the demographics of your customer, you will end up spending thousands on sending the right message to the wrong people. Now, visualize your audience and what kinds of messages they will respond to. If, for example, you sell insurance, an automated marketing system can be extremely beneficial, as most quotes and communication is started online. On the other hand, if you run a car wash, your marketing dollars may be better spent on networking activities and direct mail advertisements.
3. What are your needs?
Just because a system has the best and coolest features doesn't mean that it is right for your business. First, know what type of marketing messages that your audience will respond to. Second, understand what knowledge and skills your marketing department has. Finally, do your homework by checking vendor references and asking questions based on how you plan on using the software.