Thomas Young, CEO of intuitive Websites, emphasizes people are trying to find your company in their research. If your products and services are in demand, then someone is looking for the solutions and benefits your company provides. The question is this, are you getting found through these online searches? This question is important because the notion of prospecting for new customers is basically dead in 2018. People can screen salespeople better than they ever could have in the past. So the idea you can call somebody in and sell them directly is very difficult and in many cases not even plausible.
Getting Found in Customer Research
So your challenge is to get found in customer research. Young has said that the way people are researching in 2018 is more unique than ever, because everyone has their own personal method for researching. Fifteen or twenty years ago, just as Google was getting popular, most research was done on Internet search engines. Now, people have their preferred websites that they use for research, in addition to their favorite search engine. Many people research on Amazon and Facebook; they do not use Google at all. In fact, Amazon product searches are ten times greater than Google product searches. This was not the case several years ago.
Let’s say for example you are researching to buy an appliance for your home, or a piece of furniture, or technical gadget, rather than going through Google, you might use some kind of focused or niche website to find exactly what you want. This means you must know where your target market is researching! How are they researching? How can they find your company in their research? Thankfully, you can gather data in order to answer these questions. Google Analytics and similar reporting apps have proven to be indispensable in this regard.
Testimonials vs. Reviews & Word-of-Mouth
Testimonials, reviews, and word-of-mouth are more important than ever. They become more important each year, as marketing becomes more complex, more competitive, and more crowded with noise. So people ask their friends, family, and associates to tell them where they can go to get products and services and how to research them.
It is important to understand the differences between word-of-mouth referrals, testimonials, and reviews. It is very important that you understand which of these are the most powerful, and how you can use them to sell your products and services.
Let’s start with testimonials. It is actually quite easy to go to your loyal customers, and say “Hey, we’d like a testimonial! Tell us what you think about our products and services.” Your loyal customers will give you fantastic testimonials. In many cases, they will allow you to use their photo or take a video of them. It’s great to have testimonials on your website. However, they are limited in their power. Testimonials are always positive, so there’s not a whole lot of value in testimonials for comparisons or insights. They are basically branding and supportive statements for your company, and people who are researching your testimonials know this. That doesn’t mean they are not important, they are just not as powerful or impactful as reviews or word of mouth.
Reviews of your products and services are one of the best indicators that you’ve got the right kind of referrals happening. There are some factors with reviews that are important. For one, you need to have a good amount of reviews. If you have three or four reviews, they may not help you much. Forty or or fifty reviews is excellent.
Many people worry about getting bad reviews on the internet. However, if you have a lot of reviews, some bad reviews may actually be helpful. They give people insights into what they like or don’t like. Additionally, people are very smart in how they look at reviews. If they see ten great reviews and one bad review, they’ll pretty much dismiss the bad review or learn from it. People know that there is always someone online who gets upset about something small and decides to vent their opinion. So having reviews is more important than being worried about having a couple bad reviews.
When you do get a bad review, on Google or another website, respond to it in professional manner. Your response can be ten times more important than the bad review! Your response shows what kind of company you are, and what kind of services you provide.
Word-of-mouth is, by far, the most powerful kind of review and referral. It’s important to build a system within your digital marketing where people can be referred to you. If someone comes to your website, they might not want your products or services personally, but they might think “Oh, this would be great for someone I know.” So you have to have a way for people to link or recommend your website to their friends, family, and associates. Include a link to share on social media and easily email links to digital content.
The Importance of Google and Search Engines
The importance of Google cannot be underestimated. Young estimates that Google is responsible for 50 to 60 percent of all online research, and those figures may be even higher in B-to-B markets. So you have to have a strategy for being found in Google, and that entails good SEO, or search engine optimization.
It is also important to note that Google is not the only resource. If you are only targeting Google in your digital marketing strategy, you are missing other opportunities.
So if you are interested in getting people to find you in their product research online, Here are your action items:
- Discover you Target Market’s Digital Channels: Make a list of the sites and search engines that your target market uses to find products and services, and discover the most popular ones. Set up a pie chart that shows the preferences of your target market, and make sure you have a presence on each of those websites.
- Make Sure You Have Testimonials on Your Website: Get these testimonials from loyal customers who are eager to talk about your products or services.
- Make Sure You Have Reviews: These are especially important if you are selling products, and make sure people can review you on Google My Business. If they leave reviews on Google My Business, you’ll have to monitor them and respond to them. You may have to put a campaign together to go and solicit reviews on Google.
- Have A Word-of-Mouth Program Within Your Company: It needs to be easy for online visitors to refer others to you, and you can maybe give them an incentive or discounted services for referrals.
These are your challenges if you want to get found in people’s research. Prospecting is a thing of the past. However, because of the Internet, the entire world is open to you!