- SEO is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website from search engines like Google, YouTube, and Bing. Blogs, podcasts, and videos can get exposure, but only if people can find that content online!
- All communications, regardless of channel, must be natural and simple. Would-be buyers will be repelled by clunky online interfaces that require numerous clicks.
- The use of multiple customer communication channels is certainly not a new concept, but customer preferences must be accommodated.
By Mark DiMattei
The need for social distancing has made life more complicated for office printing equipment salespeople. COVID-19 has made it difficult or impossible to visit offices in person, and this will likely remain the case for quite some time. Many people who are working are in their home offices much more regularly, which means there’s a whole new market for salespeople to target. More than ever before, it’s important for sales reps to embrace the new, digital means of getting into the market and closing deals. A great many online sales channels have established themselves over the past few decades, and it’s time for office print equipment dealers to get on board.
Becoming an SEO Star
By this point, mostly everyone has heard of search engine optimization (SEO). The basic concept of the process is improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website from search engines like Google, YouTube, and Bing. Blogs, podcasts, and videos can get exposure, but only if people can find that content online! For those who are just starting out in the SEO process, here are three quick tips:
- Link, Link, Link! Linking to online content, even materials on external sites, can help boost visibility while also giving your business more authority as a credible source of information.
- Use Keywords Properly. Keywords can to help search engines like Google “read” a document, but the search engine might reject an article if a keyword is repeated too much. Be clear and concise—a guiding keyword or two can give online content a true focus and get it to the right people.
- Be Trustworthy. Search engines have installed filters to help protect their audiences from sites that are known to spread false information. While this mostly applies to politics and pseudo-science, you should make sure that overly enthusiastic marketing doesn’t get you grouped in with sites that have been debunked by Snopes.com.
Keep it Simple
All communications, regardless of channel, must be natural and simple. Would-be buyers will be repelled by clunky online interfaces that require numerous clicks. When developing an online sales strategy, businesses must first examine their own online stores. Before moving forward, ask yourself—how easy is it to create an account? Can buyers find what they are looking for without conducting multiple searches? All online sites should be easy to navigate with a clear and direct purpose. Don’t overdo it by having your store also serve as your company’s blog page and/or “About Us” profile.
Also, because many people are used to having a fast Internet connection, it behooves any website to load as quickly as possible on desktop and mobile devices. Remember, your website is a reflection of your company! Ensure that your webpages are fast-loading and that your entire site has a strong, polished web design.
The concept of using multiple channels to communicate with customers is certainly not a new idea. Before the Internet, businesses communicated with customers and prospects via telephone calls, direct mail, and indirect ads in magazines and newspapers. Now that we’re moving into a more digital world, all of these channels can be supported by newer online alternatives like e-mail, texting, social media, and apps.
With so many options available in today’s world, businesses should ensure that they aren’t restricting themselves to only certain methods of communication. If you don’t offer all of the available options, you might miss out on potential buyers. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent marketing communications survey, consumers were most commonly receiving their communications in e-mail and direct mail format.
Figure 1. Source of Marketing Messages
N = 1,550 Consumers in the US and Canada
Source: Annual State of Marketing Communications Consumer Survey, Keypoint Intelligence 2020
Regardless of which communication channels are the most popular, consumers’ individual preferences must be taken into account. Office equipment vendors must understand how their customers prefer to be communicated with and ensure that they are reaching out via the desired channels. It is also important that all communications from dealers and OEMs can deliver the same experience regardless of channel. Uniformity across all channels will reinforce your brand messaging while also making you look polished and professional.
The Bottom Line
As we move into a post-COVID world that is more comfortable with online transactions than ever before, office equipment dealers and OEMs will need to communicate differently with their customers and prospects. This involves developing a clear, thorough, and versatile online sales strategy. It also means engaging in an SEO strategy, ensuring that content is easy to find and websites are simple to navigate, and reaching clients in the ways that they want to be communicated with.
Creating relevant content that makes products visible is a good starting point, but it’s also important to evaluate your online sales channels for any hiccups that might hinder the online purchasing process. If you don’t think you can create a strong online presence on your own, reach out to a partner and get the help you need. Ultimately, a polished online presence will help ensure better viewership and can also expand your pool of potential buyers.
Mark DiMattei is the Manager of Keypoint Intelligence’s Publishing, Editing, and News department. In this capacity, he oversees the editing, formatting, and publication cycles for many different types of deliverables. He also assists in the production of blogs, analyses, research reports, and multi-client studies.