Online marketing isn't a new term, but it is one that constantly changes. As the online world shifts and expands, the guaranteed strategies of the past are almost sure to fail in 2017- with the exception of email. While one focus of online marketing is to encourage new users through the sales funnel, it's also a valuable tool for enhancing the experience of existing customers. In this way, an effective online marketing strategy is a great way for subscription-based businesses to reduce subscriber churn and maintain ongoing revenue streams.
With this information in mind, here are three details subscription businesses should keep in mind when creating or evaluating their online marketing strategies:
Email is one of, if not the, oldest online marketing strategies, but age hasn't diminished its value. A joint research project from Emarsys, a marketing software service, and WBR Digital, a worldwide research firm, found email marketing is the primary driver of customer retention for small businesses. In fact, SMBs invest in email almost twice as much as they do social media and paid search, which saw the second- and third-greatest efforts, respectively.
"Email should still be the primary choice for any company."
Given that email is arguably the world's most popular online service – Gmail alone has over 1 billion active monthly users, Techcrunch reported last year – this channel should be the primary choice for any company, especially those using a subscription business model. This should be easy to implement for any company that operates online, including media publications, cloud services and over-the-top content providers. Email is virtually always required for sign-up, so online services already have a database they can curate into mailing lists. These lists can be defined by location, age, interest or various other categories.
Such lists are particularly useful for media companies. News websites, lifestyle blogs and the like should create weekly roundups of their highest-performing articles and send these emails directly to their subscribers. "Highest-performing" can be defined by a number of metrics, including:
Each company must determine for itself how to segment its collection of emails into separate mailing lists, if necessary, and what content should be sent to each type of customer.
YouTube revolutionized the way people interact with video, but it's not the only such marketing tool available. These days, online video options also include Facebook Live, Snapchat and Instagram stories. Snapchat is great for targeting Generation Z, while Facebook and Instagram, the latter of which is owned by the former, have a much wider audience.
In fact, Instagram's newest product, Instagram Stories, is vastly underutilized. It's similar to Snapchat, but the combination of the Instagram interface and the company's algorithms arguably make it a much more effective tool for marketers. When a user opens the Instagram app, the stories are displayed right at the top, making them the first thing seen. Businesses that take advantage of this design and use stories frequently will increase brand recognition among their followers.
However, according to research from the social media tool Buffer, only 34 percent of companies plan to use Instagram Stories in the near future. This could be due to the short length of the videos – some marketers believe a few seconds of content isn't enough time to capture an audience. This is where innovation comes in to play. Being part of the initial 34 percent and getting ahead of the competition gives subscription businesses a great advantage. All they have to do is think creatively about how to use the short video format to their advantage. For example, one suggestion from Business2Community contributor Veronica Hunt was to create quick how-to videos that tease longer content. Marketers can create Stories detailing a short process, then link to a more in-depth article on the final video.
What's more, Instagram just made Stories advertising available to all businesses, and subscription services should hop on this offer as soon as possible. The analytics data these ads provide will likely be very helpful to businesses aiming to increase their social media engagement.
According to the latest Nielsen Social Media Report, adults spend about 5 hours and 30 minutes per week on social media. The opportunity for brands to engage with customers through this channel is clear, but as with video, there's one area businesses often overlook: customer support. Social media has the potential to be a great customer service tool – think of the number of people complaining to brands directly on Twitter. Yet Buffer's research revealed only 21 percent of businesses took advantage of this idea at the end of 2016.
— Art Fresh (@ArtFreshPEI) May 10, 2017
The main objective of multichannel marketing is to meet the customer's needs wherever they are. As such, companies would be remiss if they ignored this channel as a support option, especially considering the advantages of chatbots. With this handy bit of AI, businesses use technology to handle smaller claims and only bring in support staff if the issue is something the bot can't handle. This has the potential for great savings on customer support expenses.