Ebusiness Trends: It’s All About the Customer
by DEREK GEHL
Ebusiness (e-Business), derived from such terms as “email” and “ecommerce,” is the conduct of business electronically, typically over the Internet, not only …If you’re serious about growing your Ebusiness, you need to know where your market is and how to reach it. What does the future of internet marketing look like right now? Pretty much like a teenager. Just take a look at today’s teens, and here’s what you’ll see:
- iPods loaded with music they’ve selected
- Cell phones used constantly for text messaging, sending photos or short video clips, web surfing and talking
- Wireless laptops that can link to the internet from pretty much anywhere
And what are these kids doing on their computers?
- Reading new blog posts and special-interest sites via RSS feeds
- Watching viral videos friends send them
- Hanging out at social networking sites with people who share their interests
- Creating their own web content and uploading it so other people can see it
These kids have some things to tell us eBusiness owners. They tell us that people are creating their own personal web experience. They’re creating networks of trust made up of people, groups and businesses they want to hear from. They’re eliminating what’s irrelevant to them and pulling in only what they consider significant. And they’re using a whole array of tools to do this, while accessing a full range of media.
That means that if we want to market to today’s internet audience, we’ve got to become part of their trusted networks and use the same tools and media to reach them with content they want to see. And that boils down to one thing: segment, segment, segment.
Target Your Customers’ Desires
According to a recent study from Jupiter Research, segmenting lists based on behavior data–what customers bought, where they clicked on a website and other information–improved e-mail open rates by 165 percent and click-through rates by 147 percent over unpersonalized, unsegmented e-mails. Conversion rates were up 355 percent and revenues were an amazing 781 percent higher.
Giving people what they want is the best way to build the kind of trust that can shoot your numbers up like that. And as people become even less patient with messages and content they don’t want, precision targeting will become even more vital. However, the majority of marketers haven’t caught on yet. The Jupiter Research study said only 11 percent of marketers use behavior data to segment their lists and target their most likely customers.
How can you stay ahead of the curve? Improved analytics and metrics are making it possible to collect specific data, such as:
- Where individual visitors are coming from
- Exactly which pages they view
- Which links they click on
That, along with the other data you collect from your sales history or analytics reports, gives you the tools to give your opt-ins what they want and keep you in their networks.
Create Content With Viral Potential
Another way to reach your target market is through viral marketing. Viral content has grown, well, virally, and it’s a powerful (and cheap) way to reach potential customers.
When people pass your content on to others, they’re saying that your material is interesting and valuable–and they’re showing their friends that you’re already part of their trusted network. Even better, they’re sending your content to people they think would be interested, so they’re doing the targeting for you.
Your best chance of having your material go viral is simply to get it out there-–distributing articles to free content sites, writing a blog, doing a podcast or posting useful information on sites where people get together to exchange information and opinions. When you make your content specific and useful, it’s more likely to be passed on to potential customers. Any kind of content can go viral, particularly if you include a “send to a friend” reminder.
Twitter, Facebook, instagram and similar social sites have thousands of groups dedicated to every niche interest you can imagine. So if a blog post or podcast on these sites attracts one member, it will likely be referred to whole lists of like-minded people.
Build Buzz With Video
While we’re talking ebusiness trends, let’s take a look at video, which has gone through rapid and massive growth this past year. Free hosting by sites like YouTube, plus the availability of digital video recorders on cameras and mobile phones, enable literally anyone to create their own videos.
So far, one of the most successful applications of video-to-internet marketing has been to offer quality educational content for free (with or without an opt-in), and position it as a limited-time offer. Viewers watch the video, such as the first part of a ten-part course, and then pass it on to other potential customers. The more people who see it and recognize the value for their own life or business, the more they’ll take the next step and go to your website to get the next installment.
How-to videos uploaded to video-sharing sites can also draw targeted audiences. I just spotted one recently: “How to Fold a Fitted Sheet.” Don’t you think an online bedding store should’ve done that first? [Read more…]