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Three Recession “Rs” For Online Marketing

Just because we’re in a bit of a recession doesn’t mean you should ignore your online marketing. By taking a second look at your current approach and making some adjustments that won’t break the bank, you can still save money and take advantage of online marketing during this challenging time. Here are some bits and pieces from a blog post by Kate Davies at Smashing Magazine, featuring her three recession “R”s to online marketing. (as posted on smashingmagazine.com)

Apart from the occasional spring clean, no one really enjoys housekeeping because it feels like hard work. However, a spring clean or review of your web site could reveal some hidden strengths and allow you to address some simple yet fundamental drawbacks.

Look through your content and really read it. Read every word and punctuation mark. Read it aloud if that will make you read every word. As you do that, see whether the content engages you and is still informative, accurate and relevant. New laws, products or models may have come out since your core content was published. You may find hidden corners to edit or update. Most importantly, remove inaccurate legal or medical information. Don’t forget your privacy policy and the terms and conditions,
A web site easily shows its age, and its presentation influences customer behavior. People will judge a book by its cover. Make clear what you want visitors to do: whether to buy a product, sign up for a service, etc. Make it logical. Learn to appreciate enormous call-to-action buttons.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look back at marketing that has worked well for you in the past.

Keep Customers Happy
In a recession, keeping current customers happy is critical and is far easier than gaining the trust of new ones. Word of mouth is gold, so give customers something to talk to people about, whether it be your fantastic service, your speedy turnaround and rapid response or your use of them as a super case study on your web site.
Use Relationship Marketing Strategies

Relationship marketing focuses on customer retention and satisfaction, rather than sales transactions. Adopting relationship marketing means that you recognize the long-term value of customer relationships.
Gain Trust of Skeptical Customers

Customers are becoming wiser about where they spend their money, especially in a recession. Skeptical customers will almost certainly increase in numbers, unless you are an essential service. Selling to this class of customer requires that you look carefully at the impression you give to them.
Re-Engage Former Customers

Email marketing can be used to follow up on actions such as purchases or registrations in shops or on web sites.

Reach Out
One in every eleven minutes spent online globally in December 2008 was spent on either social networks or blogs, and that rate has very likely increased since. That’s a big portion of your customers’ time. Forty-four percent of those polled by cScape and Econsultancy in the aforementioned survey said that joining a social network made a tangible improvement to their organization’s online customer engagement.

Look Before You Leap
If you already have a personal profile on a social network, do a little research on who is talking about your company, and see whether your competitors are established there. Using your personal account for business purposes is probably not appropriate. Posts about your family and friends probably wouldn’t serve your professional image, and your friends and family won’t want to see details about your company in their feed. The exception to this is the professional network LinkedIn, which was built especially for business networking. You could also create a customized Facebook business page, so take a fresh look at establishing a presence there.
Extend Communication Channels
Email and telephone are reliable methods of communicating with clients, but many companies find the need to embrace alternative media, such as Twitter, often in response to customers venting or praising them there. By monitoring the discussion, customer service managers can pick out frustrated clients before they publicly embarrass the company.
Social networking is all about sharing, whether it’s news, photos or links. If a visitor finds your web site useful or amusing, they will share it with friends. See how easy it is to share your web site on Facebook and Twitter. More than 25 billion pieces of content (links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) are shared every month by Facebook users alone.
Stay Regular
Regular updates will keep visitors returning to your web site and also allow you to syndicate your content. Twitter has many tools to help you automatically post news in RSS (“Twitterfeed“). Some of these tools allow you to automate posts beside your responses to customers. Regular news might even catch the attention of Google News, raising your web site’s profile in Google’s search results.
Targeted Ads
You may be familiar with Google AdWords and AdSense, which allows you to tailor your ads to search results and page content, but social network ad platforms like Facebook allow for far more targeted ads. Through Facebook alone, you can reach more than 400 million active users, of which 50% log in every day. Each of these users lists their location and other information such as interests, gender and age. These can all be used to finely target advertising to them, and without having to spend a particularly big budget.
Publish Content Elsewhere
If your company publishes regular press releases or news, ensure that they include the most relevant links to your web site. Publishing content elsewhere is an excellent way to build “backlinks” to your web site. Make your releases informative and useful. Only publish when you have something worthwhile to say or for others to talk about. Company staff running marathons, events that you are holding, new appointments or awards you have won, these are all suitable pieces of news to release, though you may have to be selective with your audience.

This article has covered a range of strategies for strengthening and sustaining your online presence during the economic downturn. How your business survives the recession is up to you alone and your approach. Decide whether you’re the cautious cat or the ferocious lion, taking advantage to seize opportunities in a tough market.
Check out the blog in its entirety at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/08/17/recessionsurvival-tips-for-web-marketing-and-online-businesses/. (Source: August 17th, 2010 by Kate Davies, Smashing Magazine)