Why you must consider your customers when choosing your digital marketing home base.
Which would make you as a customer more comfortable?
- Buying a laptop from some guy you’ve never met in the parking lot of an abandoned mall?
- Buying a laptop from a small unfamiliar store referred to you by a friend?
- Buying a laptop from a major outlet you happened upon while out running an errand?
2 or 3 seems like the obvious answer, doesn’t it? 92% of shoppers say they trust recommendations made by friends the most.
So why is the first one even on the list?
Are You Setting Yourself up for Digital Marketing Failure?
Try as we might, when we make choices for our businesses and how we market online, we sometimes end up making decisions that don’t make as much sense from the customer side as it does from our side.
You may think a free host or not owning your domain name or trusting social sites to manage your customer connections is the most economical choice. And you wouldn’t be wrong there.
But before you make a final decision, think about the viewpoint of your customer.
It often helps me to think of what I’d do for any business I’ve owned in the past that operated fully offline.
There’s no way we’d start a serious business offline that didn’t have a permanent headquarters, even if it was our basement or a small storefront in our neighborhood.
Because we want our businesses to be taken seriously. Doing things that assure our potential patrons that we intend to stick around, and be there whether they are dissatisfied and need help, or are so satisfied that they’ve returned to buy from us again.
Online the same thing must be true.
Your website must be like the trunk of the tree in the picture above. Whatever you publish to other sites you don’t own should not only be the foundation, but make a path back to you.
When in Doubt? Think Like Your Customer
Part of the reason I asked that question at the outset was to remind you what it feels like to be a person on the receiving end of marketing, digital or otherwise.
We want resources we can trust, that will be there year after year.
It follows then that your home base in the simple digital plan we’re discussing this week must be your own. You must not only own every possible aspect of the online representation of your business, you must also control as many variables as you can as well.
If you don’t control, it’s harder to measure. It’s nearly impossible to ethically promise to your customers and clients you will be there tomorrow if your free web host shuts down.
If it’s obvious to us that where and how we build digital properties that we own or lease online matters, why do you find so many entrepreneurs and occasionally even major brands setting up camp in areas that they don’t own or control?
The problem, I think, is two-fold. It usually involves someone who sees the web as one big, monolith place that is mostly not to be trusted, with a few pockets of exception such as Amazon or Target.
In addition, we all enter the world of online marketing, when it is new to us, with a set idea, usually to take advantage of the lower cost of doing business on the web.
Under that heading we do things that normally wouldn’t make sense.
Hopefully you can currently now agree that for even the simplest digital marketing plan, you need to have your own website. Even if you’re online to sell products other people have created, and are given a cookie-cutter website with which to do the job, you still need your own unique space that is:
- easy to publish to
- easy to edit on the fly
- can have its content syndicated to other sites
- can take uploads of additional pages, graphics and other content
- is easily shareable
- can take advantage of the most possible linking opportunities
- will accommodate your own domain name, pointed where ever you would like
- gives you access to statistics, the software on your site, the ability to configure your email etc.
A self-hosted blog, such as those powered by WordPress, answers most of this and can be added to an existing website, so this is often the first tool I’ll suggest that you use.
There are other solutions – for example if you’re adding a newsroom there are other solutions that work better for that purpose.
As long as you can create a site that satisfies the above conditions, stick with that. But after watching people try to squeeze their square peg solution into the round hole of social media, one thing is evident to me.
Even if business blogging suddenly goes completely out of vogue, the software that runs a proper blog is worth having until a better solution presents itself.