Use Online Platforms to Connect with Your PERFECT Prospects
Owning a small business is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for many entrepreneurs, but not every venture leads to success. Profitable businesses that survive and thrive in the digital age tend to have two things in common: an excellent product or service to sell and a powerful marketing strategy. Since marketing is our area of expertise, we want to demystify the process for new business owners or others who are at a point where they need to change their strategy to grow. Marketing is all about communicating, networking, and building relationships with prospective customers, and in this article, we offer some simple and effective strategies for using popular online platforms to reach out to and connect with the perfect prospects.
LinkedIn: A Powerful Marketing Tool
LinkedIn is the number one platform for business-to-business (B2B) networking. Its membership includes millions of business professionals all over the world, and it offers unmatched opportunities to get media exposure, form partnerships with other professionals, and most importantly, find clients and/or customers. While many business owners have already taken the first step of setting up a LinkedIn profile, most have not come close to exploiting the full potential of LinkedIn as a marketing tool.
Step One: Get Connected
Once you’ve set up a profile on LinkedIn, the next step is to start making connections. One way to do this is to upload an existing email list as a .cvs file and let LinkedIn send out automatic connection requests. If you don’t have a list, you can purchase one for a specific niche. Some other ways to find people and businesses to connect with include joining relevant groups and signing up with the sales navigator, a tool that makes it easy to search for potential prospects. To boost connections early on, it can also be helpful to send requests to LinkedIn Open Networkers, or LIONs. These are LinkedIn users who accept all connection requests.
Step Two: Manage Communication
LinkedIn offers a unique opportunity to reach out directly to company executives and other professionals who might never see an email. Executives typically have staff filter their email, but they rarely have anyone filter their LinkedIn messages. We recommend targeting 75-100 new connection requests daily, along with 20-30 welcome messages and 4-5 follow-up messages. To deal effectively with this volume of communication, we recommend creating a spreadsheet to track who you have invited to connect, who has responded, and who you have sent welcome messages or other messages to. Bear in mind that too many actions per day on LinkedIn can harm your reputation, so we recommend a limit of 500. Viewing a profile, sending a connection request, and sending a message are counted as three separate actions.
Step Three: Expand Your Reach
Once you’ve established a good number of first-degree connections, you can expand your reach by sending requests to their connections. Working from a niche-based email list can be a great way to jump start second-degree connections in a new niche. For example, accountants on the email list are likely to be connected to other accountants. Second-degree connection requests can yield effective results, but third-degree or more distant connections tend not to produce good leads.
A final tip for using LinkedIn to find prospects is to make sure messages are well-written and individualized when possible. By devoting a little time and effort every day to building connections and communicating with people on LinkedIn, most of our clients see at least 5 monthly appointments and some as many as 20 appointments just from their LinkedIn connections.
Email: Working the List
Email is considered to be the marketing channel with the best return on investment (ROI), but email marketing it must be done right to get results. Most people filter out or ignore any messages that they perceive as spam, so the key to using email as a marketing strategy is to target recipients carefully and offer value.
Step One: Build an Email List
Having a good list is crucial to reaching the right prospects and making sales. One way to build a list is through voluntary sign-ups to a newsletter or membership to a website. Since these are customers who have already expressed an interest in what you have to offer, they are very likely to respond positively to your marketing messages. But a small business may need to expand their reach beyond current customers, and in that case, they need to look at other sources, including their LinkedIn network and even niche lists that they can purchase.
Step Two: Set Up an Email Account Specifically for Email Marketing
One of the biggest beginner’s mistakes in email marketing is using a generic email account. A cold email from a Gmail account will most likely be treated like a phone call from an unknown number and ignored. We recommend purchasing a domain name similar to your business’s domain name and creating a new email account, making sure that the Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) authentication protocol is set up correctly so that an email from the address is less likely to get flagged as spam or a phishing attempt. To further legitimize the account, use it to sign up for plenty of newsletters so that it doesn’t have too high a ratio of outbound to inbound mail. Creating a unique account makes it easy to manage marketing email and track results.
Step Three: Initiate the First Cold Email Chain
A cold email chain is a series of messages sent out to a list at certain intervals and for a set period of time. Of course, crafting the perfect message to a total stranger is easier said than done, but with practice, you will be able to learn what works. The first message should be short and sweet, just introducing your business in a single sentence and giving a physical address, which is required by law. Follow-up emails can be a bit longer and go into more detail. Their purpose is to let the reader know how your business can solve a problem he or she is (probably) dealing with. We recommend avoiding the words “I” and “we” since your recipient doesn’t know or care about you personally.
Ideally, an email campaign should target ten new contacts per day as well as making scheduled follow-ups to previous messages according to your email chain sequence timing. Use a simple and clear call to action in each message.
Social Media: Getting the Most Out of Facebook And Instagram
The importance of social media in modern social life is undeniable, and every business needs to take advantage of the opportunities platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer in terms of connecting with customers and driving traffic to the business’s website.
Step One: Create A Strong Social Presence
It’s not necessary to set up and maintain social media accounts on every platform available. It’s more important to target the platforms where your customers are most likely to be spending their time. Using social media is a great way to connect personally with individual customers when they post comments to your profile or on content you have posted. They’re also a great place to share content from your website or blog. To get the most benefit from a Facebook or Instagram account, post updates regularly, keep the tone positive and helpful, and respond to comments as often as possible.
Step Two: Use Facebook And Instagram Ads to Reach More Prospects
Facebook has the largest number of users compared with any other social networking site, but Instagram is growing more rapidly and has a younger and more engaged user base. Both platforms are excellent places to connect with customers and place ads, but since they’re different from each other, they require slightly different marketing strategies. We recommend using your own email list along with lookalike audiences rather than Facebook’s internal targeting to more accurately target the users you want to reach. To get the best results, always run multiple ads simultaneously and split test their performance. In our experience, we find that businesses get the highest ROI by running ads only in Facebook’s newsfeed.
Step Three: Create Ads That Work
First, remember that most of your ads will be seen on mobile devices, so it’s very important that both the ad and the landing page it sends users to are mobile optimized. Another thing to keep in mind when designing an ad campaign is the action you want your users to take. Instead of sending clicks back to your homepage, create a simple landing page that pushes customers to do just one thing. It’s important to make the next step very clear and simple rather than offering multiple options.
Both platforms can serve as very effective marketing tools to reach out to and engage with a wide range of targeted prospects, and both allow users to search for potential friends by uploading an email list. By targeting an email list on a social networking platform, it’s possible to reach prospects where they spend their time online the most.
Other Platforms That Help Businesses Reach Out: Google AdWords And YouTube
In addition to LinkedIn, email, and social sites, Google and YouTube are two other useful platforms for marketing. As YouTube is now a subsidiary of Google, they offer similar functionality in terms of ad placement and targeting options.
Using Google AdWords
Google AdWords includes the search network, which displays ads on the search results page, and the display network, which displays ads on advertising-supported sites all over the internet. While the search network reaches prospects when they are actively shopping, the display network shows people your ad before they start searching. One of the most effective ways to use the display network is remarketing, that is, displaying ads to people who have already visited your website. It’s also helpful to manage where your ads are displayed, targeting some sites and blocking others to make sure that your ads are working for you. You can also use your own email list to create a target audience.
Marketing on YouTube
YouTube is like other social platforms in that businesses can reach out to customers in two ways: by creating a channel and uploading helpful, engaging content (such as how-to videos) and by placing ads where targeted prospects will see them. When creating content, try to provide something valuable to the target audience, and give them a reason to visit your website for more. Just as Google offers search and display networks, YouTube has in-stream and discovery ads. In-stream ads play before, during, or after a video, while discovery ads show up next to a related video.
Like Facebook, both Google AdWords and YouTube have filters that allow users to select and create a target audience. However, we find that uploading your own email list is a far more effective targeting method, especially when you already have a list of solid prospects.
The Take-Home Message
All the tips we’ve given so far have one thing in common, and that is the value of building and using your own email list to target the perfect prospects. When you have a solid list of prospects and use it across all these platforms, you will greatly increase your visibility because your prospects will see all the following:
Your invitation to connect on LinkedIn
Your friend request on Facebook
Your ad on Facebook between photos of their friends
Your ad on Instagram between photos of their friends’ meals
Your ad on YouTube before their video plays
Your banner ad on their morning news site
Building a high-quality email list takes time and patience, but the effort will pay off, especially when you are sending emails to people who have already demonstrated an interest in your business or in similar products or services. Once you have a solid list, target that list across every platform you can find to get maximum results.