This article is reproduced from Briefly, the weekly update to all Chartered Accountants in Ireland to CAI members.
Digital marketing isn’t as easy as just updating a Facebook page or slapping up a website. Rachel Killeen explains that it takes insight into your customers, understanding your customer’s journey and the patience to execute a digital plan slowly and thoughtfully.
Marketing these days isn’t what it was 10 years ago, or even five. As more people turn to digital marketing to get their brand into the minds of potential customers, it’s important to remember some basics to get you going.
1. How do you start a digital marketing plan?
One of the most frequently asked questions about digital marketing is: ‘Where do I start?’ There are so many digital marketing options, from websites to email; social media sites to YouTube videos; Google ads to webinars. Which ones work?
Like all good marketing, digital marketing begins and ends with your consumer, customer or client. Today, customers are more likely to purchase from a business that has an online presence. According to a recent survey by IEDR’s Dot.ie Digital Health Index (Q4, 2017), one in five Irish SMEs have no online presence. Your customers are online and they expect you to be there too.
2. It’s not just what you know – it’s who you know…
‘Customer insights’ is an umbrella term used to describe the process of researching the needs, motivations and desires of customers. Used in this context, the main aim is to gather enough information to help you to communicate with clients online. Whether you chat, survey, research or observe, get insights into what sort of communications your customers need and how they prefer to get that information.
Customer insights research is a powerful tool. It can help you to avoid bombarding customers with unnecessary information and help make any digital marketing you do relevant to their needs. Customers may need information that educates, informs, entertains, advises or simply allows them to contact your practice.
You may discover that clients need your valuable information in a monthly newsletter, or they may need regular emails with more detailed information. They also may want to follow your latest updates on YouTube. Find out what content your customers need from you and which online tools they use most – email, Facebook, website or Google, for example.
3. There are lots of opportunities along the customer journey…
The customer journey will net you some quick wins online. Take a blank sheet of paper and work out the journey that a new client takes – from identifying the need for your service, right through to becoming a regular client of yours.
When a client first begins to search for an accountant – here are some thoughts they may have: ‘I need to find a practice nearby. They must specialise in SMEs. I’d like to get some feedback from their existing clients. I’d like to really understand my tax obligations – so monthly updates would be useful.’
Now look at what you already provide online. Does your practice have a profile on Google my Business showing your location and contact details? Are there good testimonials on your website or on LinkedIn from your existing clients? Does your practice appear on a Google search as a specialist in the areas that you want to be known for? Do you have useful information on your website, or a regular client brief that you provide?
Map out the entire journey that a prospective client takes, and how and where they are likely to search for information. Touchpoints are the places that clients go for certain types of information. For example, Google, websites, LinkedIn, Twitter and aggregate websites are all touchpoints. Make sure that your practice is represented at each of the touchpoints that a prospective client is likely to explore.
4. Your client is only human…
One of the key trends in global digital marketing for 2018 is the concept of ‘humanising the customer’. People respond well when they are addressed and treated as human beings, not just numbers on a sales productivity sheet. The entire GDPR process is designed to ensure that businesses using marketing tactics treat their customers with respect.
So, when you design your website or newsletter, or when you send an email, it has to address the needs of the client – not the needs of the organisation sending it. If communication is not written to meet a specific client need, then it is little more than spam. Customers are opting out of online communication more than ever before. If it’s not relevant, it’s not read.
When writing content for your website, newsletter or any other online channel, address your potential clients in a personal way, as if they are in front of you. Don’t over-use industry jargon. Boasting doesn’t work for you or for your client. It’s about their success – not your success.
5. Build your channels – one by one
Begin with the channel that makes most sense for your clients. Your clients may be Millennials who interact closely with social media or entrepreneurs who want a well-informed website to fill in knowledge gaps. They may be sole traders who need email reminders about tax return dates. Know where your clients want to get their information and provide it for them, but slowly and thoughtfully.
Rachel Killeen’s new book Digital Marketing is available to purchase now.