How to best market to consumers in a world increasingly saturated with messaging - through various means in print, digital, social media - is an evolving question.
But there are ways to reach through the chatter and build lasting relationships with customers, according to Debbie Frakes, managing director of Winsby Inc. Winsby is a Chicago agency and its clients include: manufacturers with distribution networks, global corporations, distributors, and service providers, according to its website.
Last year, Frakes presented a webinar to attendees entitled "Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business." The webinar was sponsored and hosted by Material Handling Wholesaler.
Here are some of Frakes' suggestions for viable marketing techniques in a digital age:
*Engagement - "There are a lot of people out there. If you start to get them engaged, and if they respond, then you know there is a good chance of moving forward with them," said Frakes, who said customer appreciation is one piece of this puzzle, as is obtaining new customers.
"People tend to think about prospects, but that's not where the money's going to be made. It's getting people you know that trust you to spend more money," she said.
The business ClearTail has programming that allows users to track website traffic. This makes it possible for businesses to send automated emails to website visitors, according to Frakes, who said personal contact via email is generally received well in the material handling industries.
It is important, however, that emails have a consistent look and outline everything a company does.
"A lot of people don't talk about all their capabilities. You have to tell them all the things that you do and just keep reminding them," Frakes said.
A quick response rate is also key to engagement; responses to visitors and consumers that can be generated in 5 minutes are 900 times more effective than those sent in 10 minutes, according to Frakes, who said text notifications can be helpful in this respect.
She said sales reps should make gathering email contact information part of the daily routines to build a complete consumer database.
*Search Engine Optimization - It is, according to Frakes, "a tricky business." What she advises is keeping websites fresh. "Google scans the Internet every day now so if you're making changes on a website, the chances of seeing them are much faster," she said.
Content is the key to not only continually updating a business website, but to establishing a company's authority in its field. The more original content a business can produce, the more legitimacy it can claim, according to Frakes.
"It does work. It's a lot of trouble, but it's worth it because it does get you back to the top," she said.
Inbound links are also effective. A publication writing about a business and linking to the company website will be viewed through the Google lens as another means of legitimization, according to Frakes.
*Social Media - It is usually not the best strategy to leave this task to IT departments, according to Frakes. She said many companies seek out an employee who enjoys running its social media accounts. Frakes recommended keeping social media accounts active, but not investing huge amounts of time on their upkeep. "It is not terribly effective to be posting a lot," she said.
Frakes did recommend trying to get reviews from customers on social media sites if possible, noting a situation she knew of in Florida in which a representative of dealer was going onto competitors' sites to record the dealer's own website and address. "If you don't do these, others can," said Frakes, who said Google AdWords can help pinpoint targeting customers for website reviews.
Eileen Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit eileenmozinskischmidt.wordpress.com to contact Eileen.