Ask Away! Engaging in Off-Site Conversations to Target Prospects and Build Brand Position

  |  August 10, 2011   |  Comments

Targeting consumers though topical expertise.

Every company has an FAQ sheet crafted around feedback gathered from current and prospective customers. But rarely do companies think about the untapped opportunity in answering questions that aren't specifically directed towards them and the distribution methods available in getting those answers in front of users.

From do-it-yourself sites to expertise blogs, people are using the online channel to solve problems usually directed to customer service - or the neighbor down the street. This creates a new opportunity for businesses to engage in answering questions and providing expertise - even if not directly related to their product. In fact, for many CPG, healthcare, insurance, or financial brands, establishing themselves as an everyday resource on topics relevant to their line of business fits in with many brand promises. The benefit of targeting users that "have a need" is that you can prove to be a valid resource outside of your normal marketing message - creating an open opportunity to build ongoing relationships that keep users coming back to your site.

Building content around answering questions. You don't need to physically go into these Q&A websites and respond. Use them as a means to get into the heads of consumers, find what answers they are looking for, and then create or replicate content that responds directly to that on your website. The goal is to ensure that the title and metadata on these pages are optimized around the questions that those users are asking (and probably searching for as well). This not only improves relevancy, but, if done routinely, is beneficial to your broader SEO program. Then use this content and data to refine and extend your targeting program.

It may take some time to see the results of building the content by just relying on organic search, so consider developing other methods of driving these users to your site as well. You can get creative with this and drive them through custom landing pages through paid media, email marketing, and social media engagement.

Creating a custom landing page that helps. Developing a custom, dynamic landing page that focuses on resourceful information, rather than a direct product or service, is critical. It may also require updating standard lead generation metrics, as these individuals may not be new customers, and may be converting on things other than a "sale." Current and former customers may be mixed within this group, creating an opportunity to address customer service-related issues that can aid in customer retention. That's why this landing page needs to be dynamic. It can display relevant content based on the source a user comes from, that user's past interaction with your brand, and a default promotion based off of both of those factors. By playing this smart and providing value in the form of content, you're building a future for your business amidst all of the other online publishers.

Catering to the needs of consumers on your website is a good start, but you can also target these individuals with similar messages placed on ads that are run on the Q&A sites themselves. This particular group of people is really looking for answers, so the more ways you can get the message of "we care and here's why" in front of them will bode well for the overall strategy. Having a cross-channel, cohesive, message validates that this is a general interest of your company and gives the user a sense of ease before they even reach your landing page.

The thing to keep in mind through all of this is that these users aren't necessarily in purchase mode, but you may be able to influence future purchasing considerations. The real question: are you ready for another type of long-tail investment strategy?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Fishman

Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.

Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.

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