Why doesn’t the phone ring any more?

How do you know your digital marketing strategy is delivering a return on investment if you can’t tell whether your customers are finding you online?

Talking to customers used to happen face-to-face or over the phone, but at least 80 per cent of the modern ‘sales funnel’ now happens online.

Many of my clients are telling me their phones have stopped ringing. And it’s worrying them.

For many experienced business owners, the level of ‘buzz’ in the office is usually a pretty accurate indicator of how the business is doing.

Twenty years ago, the volume of incoming calls would be used as a yardstick to measure whether the marketing department was doing its job.

These days, many offices are virtually silent. Orders and enquiries come in online. Quotes and proposals go out on email. So how does an engaged business owner get that ‘gut feel’ for whether their digital marketing strategy is working?

The crux of the issue is that the typical customer journey has changed beyond all recognition. Most of it – as much as 85% – now happens online.

Before widespread acceptance and trust of the Internet was established, potential customers would scour the Yellow Pages, find a few companies who looked like they knew what they were doing, ring three of them, have a chat then buy products from whoever was cheapest, quickest or supported the same footie team as them.

Today, even for big-ticket items like cars, holidays or new kitchens, most of that customer journey now happens online. It’s invisible, silent and slightly unnerving.

This is because not only is it easier to ask Google a question – but often – the response and information you get is better than from a part-time telesales agent on minimum wage in a call centre.

Complicated call management systems with endless menus have driven customers away from the telephones. Anyone who has been kept on hold listening to Enya for 22 minutes, will be the familiar with the feeling of frustration and helplessness.

Naturally, they would have a much better experience if they called one of your sales team, but the point is customers have learned from frustrating experience to have low expectations of call centres. So is it really surprising that customers don’t pick up the phone any more?

Marketing managers are responding to this challenge in lots of different ways. Some are ramping up their marketing spends to try and drum up more customer enquiries. Others spend a small fortune on Adwords every month.

The problem with this approach is that while it usually brings in more enquiries, a lot of those enquiries are likely to be irrelevant. If you run an artisan candle company, you don’t really want a load of enquiries about cutlery.

If you’re lucky enough to have a marketing department, you can get them to chase Adwords and Keywords around Google and play cat and mouse with your competitors over who’s going to bid more to secure the top sponsored search slots. But this is costly and time-consuming and an increasing number of smart consumers make a point of NOT clicking on those sponsored search boxes.

So what’s the answer? How can you satisfy yourself that your digital marketing is working?

It’s pretty simple really. Stop chasing Adwords around and pumping out dull content packed full of Keywords to try and climb the search engine rankings.

Instead, focus on putting out really high quality, original, distinctive content that you know your customers will find useful.

When people start their customer journey online, most of them are looking for answers. As long as your content provides those answers, Google’s algorithm is now clever enough to work that out.

It takes time to conceive, commission and create this content, but once you’ve produced it, it can be re-used and repurposed across multiple platforms and channels and refreshed and adapted to maintain a steady flow of relevant enquiries via your website, social media channels and even good old-fashioned print media (it still works well for certain demographics you know…)

The key is aiming for quality and consistency over Adwords, Keywords and the dark arts of mechanical SEO.

This informative article goes into more depth on why you should be creating content that answers your customers’ questions.

Find out how we create engaging content for small businesses without big agency fees here.

For a FREE consultation, get in touch here, or maybe you could even give us a call!

Author: Mark Sutcliffe

Freelance content consultant and editor specialising in the outdoors, environment, sustainability, walking and cycling.

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