What are Business Channels?
Business channels are the medium through which businesses reach out to new and existing customers. A business may offer valuable products or services, yet without optimizing their business channels, these products or services may not reach their end-users.
In this article, I will share the top three (3) channels businesses may use to reach new and existing customers online. The channels I will discuss include but are not limited to, 1.) company website, 2.) email marketing and 3.) social media. These channels will enable you to have a strong online presence, expand your customer base and stay ahead of the competition.
- Company Website
You probably already have a website. No? Then you should build one already. A website is the primary platform customers will use to find you online; it will enable you to meet new and existing customers. It will also enable you to advertise your products and services and share other contents with the rest of the world.
Almost 5 billion people have access to the internet and use the web to search for valuable information. Having a website is a business strategy for reaching out to a wider customer segment; it will make it easy for clients to find you and your products and services.
There are several ways customers may find their way to your website; either by entering your site name in a browser or by following reference links from other websites. But the most probable way visitors come to your website is through search engines such as Google.
But with over 1.7 billion websites in the world today, it will require a lot of site optimization for visitors to find your web pages on search engine results. It is important to make it to the first page of search engine results because users rarely look for information beyond that first page.
Search engines use computer programs called web crawlers to search the web and index web pages. They rank web pages based on site architecture and content quality and those pages are made visible based on how relevant they are to a user’s query. Sites that don’t meet these guidelines usually have low visibility, which leads to low traffic.
Your web pages must have a high ranking score to be visible on search engines. To have high ranking web pages, your website needs to meet certain SEO guidelines.
“SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of including content on your site that has the potential to improve your site’s visibility to search engines and their users — in other words, it can help your site show up more often in relevant searches” (Google).
SEO requires building your site following industry best practices. All your site content must be targeted at a clearly defined audience, taking note of the keywords they will use to search for information on the web. These basic principles must be followed to boost site traffic.
So now you know how visitors may land on your website and how to make your web pages visible on search engines, but that’s not all. Your website must be visually attractive and run smoothly to appeal to site visitors. A bad website is a turnoff for site visitors; you need a really good website to keep them. Ever wondered why people stay glued to Facebook for hours? Or even a news site? Read on.
The qualities of a good website are that it must have a friendly User Interface (UI) and be able to enhance User Experience (UX). The content on your site must add value to your site visitors. Your web pages must be designed to immediately point visitors to the information they are looking for almost effortlessly.
When your website meets these basic requirements, site bounce rate drops, browsing sessions skyrocket and visitors are more likely to return to your site. A user-friendly website with value-creating content will be the hub and reference point for many site visitors. This will in turn increase site popularity.
And when you begin to have a lot of activities on your website, you will be able to measure those activities. One of the benefits of having a website as a strategic business tool is that by installing a few analytical tools on your site, you will have your dashboard displaying valuable information about site visitors.
Analytical tools will be able to monitor where site visitors are coming from, display a list of the most visited web pages and the least visited etc. Analytics enables you to measure what impact your site and site contents have on visitors, and this insight can be used to streamline your business processes and methodologies.
There is so much value in having a company website. We cannot exhaust all the possibilities in this article, but one thing is certain: a company website opens unprecedented doors of opportunities for businesses. It is one way to win customer trust by providing a website they can reach out to for more information about your company.
Finally, a company website has the potential to boost sales and create awareness; it can also increase your credibility as a business. As we move forward, you’ll see how the other business channels depend on having a website as a foundation.
- Email Marketing
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a way of engaging with clients using email. It involves growing a list of clients and acquiring leads by advertising your products and services in their inbox.
There are several email marketing tools and email service providers that you can install on your website to accomplish an email marketing campaign. They will enable you to create a new email, organize your email list and display other valuable information.
One way to grow your email list is to create a form on your website asking visitors to subscribe to your newsletters. This list will grow as clients consent to receiving emails from you.
However, site visitors are usually reluctant to subscribe to newsletters and the reason is either because they get spammed a lot or they do not find your site content interesting.
We all have that inbox that is flooded with messages we do not read — this being the second or third account we created after abandoning the first. The actions we most likely take is to delete these messages or unsubscribe from the email list.
An email marketing campaign will not be effective if your messages get deleted or flagged as spam or clients unsubscribe from your mailing list. Therefore, the need to gain client consent and keep them interested cannot be overemphasized.
A strategy you can use to gain visitors consent is to incentivize them to sign up for your newsletters. These special offers are known as lead magnets. A lead magnet can be as simple as offering visitors coupons or exclusive access to certain contents. Using lead magnets is highly effective in growing your list and it is worth every investment.
Once your mailing list grows and continues to grow, ensure that your contents add value to your subscribers. Only send them messages that are important, insightful and interesting. Make sure your contents are engaging enough to cause them to act on your messages.
A successful email marketing campaign depends on your company profile and the value your products and services offer clients.
Clients should be able to instantly recognize your company name in their inbox, and your subject lines should always be catchy. Keep things simple, use images and make sure your Call to Action button is well placed within the body of the message.
Other ways to expand your list includes getting it from your clients’ business cards or through networking. Although this way of acquiring leads is slow, yet it is effective as it relies on direct contact with clients or established relationships. (Remember: do not neglect to get their consent to receive your email).
Also, avoid sites that claim to sell email lists. Using their service will only make you a spammer and your messages may end up being ignored or get deleted. And subscribers may opt to unsubscribe from your list.
Lastly, when expanding your email list ensure to notify your subscribers how frequently you will be sending them emails; this may be daily, weekly or monthly. Whichever plan you choose, remember to stick to that schedule. Also, remember to send a “Welcome” or “Thank you” message when users sign up to your mailing list.
- Social Media
An estimated 3.5 billion people use social media around the world. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram host millions of registered accounts, with Facebook alone boasting over 2.3 billion members.
Active users across social media platforms, that is, unique users who log in within a certain period is over hundreds of millions. These sites provide excellent channels for businesses to engage with existing customers and acquire new ones.
Having a social media account is a marketing strategy that all business must adopt. You will begin to form a community around your products and services and customer loyalty will be improved.
When you create a post on social media platforms, it shows up on your followers’ timeline and your activities get instant reactions. Page fans will like it, share it and add comments. This feedbacks provide key metrics to measure how your brand is performing.
And as followers engage with your posts, it shows up on their timelines where their network of friends get to see it. This feature makes it a lot easier for your products and services to reach new clients than any other business channel. Think of it as free advertising!
And with paid advertising, you can target even more specific demographics. These ads are cost-friendly and customizable depending on your target. If your product is made for a particular audience, of a certain age or gender or location, social media ads will enable you to target that segment and your product will show up on their timeline as a promotion.
The three business channels we have discussed so far are not just how businesses should reach out to new and existing customers, but how customers and leads expect businesses to reach them.
You will need a dedicated team of at least two members to manage your profile across these platforms. They will ensure that your brand has a consistent look and feel for all clients when they come across any of these channels.
If you are wondering which is the easiest to start with, I would recommend social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can set up an account in minutes and invite your network to like your page. Setting up a website is a little more technical.
Get in touch let’s set up your website quickly.