When you're laying out your web marketing strategy, it's imperative to include have an ongoing process of listening. That's right, listening. It's tempting to start broadcasting immediately, and you can if you want, but listening first will make sure you are broadcasting correctly.
Who Should You Listen To?
The first and most obvious question is, who should I be listening to? Here's a short list that may need added to for your industry:
- Folks you'd like to have as clients
- Influencers in your industry
- Experts in related fields to yours
- Professionals in fields like web marketing
- News sources
- Industry media sources
What To Listen To?
A list of what to listen to would include:
- Yelp/Foursquare/Other location if applicable
- Email lists
- Industry news sites
There're many things to listen to in the sources on the list above. Let's examine just a few with specifics, shall we?
Clients & Companies You Want As Clients
Wouldn't it be really helpful to know if there are more ways you can support an existing client? After all, the margin on reselling to the same client is typically much better than a new client. You should also be listening for feedback related to your products/services/industry that a client shares. You may be able to glean whether a client is in a growth phase or having a slow period.
Influencers In Your Industry
People or companies that hold great influence in your industry, be it the government, a quality certification organization or some large player, can dictate the buying criteria for your industry or make major shifts in the way your customer-base buys. You need to be abreast of their messages and be able to react quickly.
If you are thinking to yourself, "I don't want to flatter them with our company following them on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIN/etc...", STOP. Competitive intelligence is worth you swallowing your ego and keeping tabs on what you competitors are doing. You may learn of a shortcoming, new initiative or effective tactic from them. You don't have to LIKE their status updates or Favorite their tweets. Just keep an eye on them. Whatever you do, don't become a troll to them online, even if you think they are always wrong. It's not worth the perception you'll give to their customers that you want to be yours.
When To Listen?
Make sure you have notifications enabled in all of the various areas you're listening to (covered below), for things of importance. Aside from those notifications, be sure to review your listening list at least once per day. This is not a long process. Scan the various feeds and interact if appropriate or move on to the next one. You will get really fast at this with practice and the tools mentioned next.
Where To Listen?
We're talking about the web so fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your perspective) you can listen anywhere! There're web-based solutions, desktop/laptop software solutions and mobile device solutions. You can listen from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. The next section talks about these solutions in more detail.
How To Listen?
With all of the channels to keep up with online, you may be wondering how you could possibly stay up to date with the entire Who list above. It's really not hard with the right tools in place. Luckily, many of the tools are cheap or free. Some that we use and highly recommend include:
- Feedly RSS Reader for Blogs - This will centralize all of the blogs you follow in one interface. There are other features, but you can see those on their site.
- Google Alerts - Keep tabs on search results for keywords/phrases specific to your industry
- Mention - A pay platform that goes much deeper than Google Alerts.
- TacticsCloud - Find Twitter users applicable to you and export them for use in any platform
- Hootsuite - Manage all of your social media pages and accounts in one spot
Although some of the discussion under What To Listen To above touches on this, one thing that wasn't mentioned is learning. By just listening at first, you will learn a ton about what your organization can add to the conversation. You'll also get a glimpse of what is working for competitors/peers, and what you can do better.