By: Jonathan Shapiro, CEO of MediaWhiz
Many traditional service providers do not give much thought to marketing services beyond word of mouth. They may not fully appreciate that increasingly competitive verticals require a strong online performance marketing presence, especially since more customers are turning to the Internet to complete purchases. By leveraging cross-channel performance-based solutions, service providers can engage consumers and join the online conversation – the new word of mouth.
Affiliate marketing connects potential interested clients to a specific service provider. It offers advertisers a low risk, high reward investment strategy, one that only asks advertisers to pay after the prospective client is introduced to them. It also enables firms to maintain profitability and stay consistently in front of the shifting client base.
Another channel service providers should leverage is Social Marketing. Social media advertising is poised to grow exponentially in 2011 with the majority of growth driven by Facebook. Having a Facebook presence, where existing clients can recommend you and your services, is the epitome of modern word of mouth advertising. But a presence alone is not enough. Service providers need to be active participants in the social conversation. They need to be present when a client need arises. Properly leveraging Facebook and the entire social media landscape is a cost-efficient way to stay part of the discussion.
Paid Search (PPC) and Organic Search (SEO) can help service providers engage highly actionable customers. The benefit of Search is immediate relevancy. Users searching for products and services online are looking for your store, your service, your brand. It is essential that your online presence is easy to locate. PPC experts can help you determine the most cost-effective keywords to drive customers to your site. An integrated PPC and SEO program can improve your search engine rankings. It can also enable you to engage and persuade potential customers at their “moment of relevance” – the moment they are actively seeking information on your product or service. This will help deliver qualified traffic and increase sales.
In addition to PPC and SEO, service providers must keep their online brand reputation top of mind. Negative comments about advertiser products and services on social sites, searches and blogs can be detrimental to your overall online conversation. Online Reputation Management experts will effectively audit the search space ensuring positive messaging is at the forefront of the conversation.
Service providers often depend on returning customers for continuous profitability. But even the most loyal customer can be influenced by lower cost services offered by online competitors. To stay competitive, service providers should implement ongoing email marketing, list management and data acquisition campaigns for their existing and prospective clients. This will ensure that their marketing messages are highly deliverable, functional and hitting the right target. These will also keep your services top of mind with existing and potential clients.
Lastly, display advertising enables advertisers to engage their target audience while driving highly valued, relevant traffic to their sites. Display advertising can allow service providers to target products and services to users who have expressed prior interest. Utilizing other performance-based channels like social media and search with display advertising will increase click-throughs, conversions and ROI.
Incorporating cross-channel online performance-based solutions will drive efficient customer growth, increase revenues and engage online users year round. By leveraging Affiliate Marketing, Social Marketing, Search, Email Marketing, Data Acquisition and Display Advertising, service providers can facilitate conversations with interested clients and actionable customers. These conversations will drive results that will really be worth talking about.