The elearning industry shows how to make niche marketing work
The internet is crowded with brands searching for the best way to grab consumers’ attention — unfortunately, the roadmap to success is always in flux for digital marketers. With Google’s constant algorithm tweaks, for example, tactics that drove traffic yesterday won’t always work tomorrow.
Given how quickly best practices evolve, it’s easy for marketers to get lost in the crowd, especially when working with a new industry that has no set of “rules” to follow and no clearly defined marketplace. A few months ago, I met with the head of marketing at a company that makes learning management systems, also known as eLearning software. He mentioned that the company’s site traffic had been lower than expected and he was having a hard time generating leads.
After talking a bit more, I found out that he and his team were running into some issues choosing keywords and targeting ideal demographics. While the company was active on social media and published blog posts regularly, these moves were failing to create customers. They were drawing in visitors — but not visitors who were ready or willing to buy an LMS.
This scenario is one I hear far too often: When digital marketers in newer, more niche industries try to attract the right audience, they struggle to find their footing. Specialized marketers need to develop specialized relationships in order to succeed, and that requires a well-developed strategy.
Failure to Launch
LMS marketing campaigns — and niche marketing campaigns in general — tend to break down in a few common areas:
- Customer targeting: Many companies are afraid to commit to one customer persona, so they hedge their marketing efforts and cast a wide net, misidentifying their ideal customers in the process. If your product or service is any good, it will address a specific pain point for a particular group of people. That group, no matter what size, should be the target audience.
- Vague product descriptions: Companies sometimes don’t bother to identify all the key features of what they’re offering, which hampers marketing efforts and leads to confusion about pricing. I’ve seen some truly innovative eLearning platforms accidentally push customers away with vague product descriptions accompanied by high price points.
- Poor SEO strategy: I’ve also seen companies try to overcompensate for their lack of relationship-building by relying almost entirely on SEO marketing. These companies oversaturate their websites with keywords — sometimes with the wrong keywords, at that — in an attempt to “trick” the bots. They end up misusing content, wasting the opportunity to present themselves as a trusted source for information.
Innovative Marketing for Innovative Products
Succeeding in a new, specialized industry like eLearning is possible, but it takes a dedicated process. Often, it comes down to the following best practices:
1. Understand your niche
Companies large and small must have a clear understanding of their particular market. That understanding informs everything going forward, from your target audience to how you set your product or service apart from the rest.
Start by identifying consumer pain points; then, establish how you provide a solution. It’s also wise to find gaps in the current market. If you’re uncertain on how to do this, just scope out your competitors’ websites, social channels, and other digital marketing collateral. You’ll begin to see a pattern that points to their strengths and shortcomings.
2. Promote your unique selling points
A product’s features, functionality, and user experience will play a role in setting it apart from the competition. Even if that feature or functionality is just an improvement on an existing product, it’s still a selling point.
However, before you can ever promote these unique selling points, you need to take the time to identify each of them. Only then can you look at how these USPs solve a problem or challenge for your target audience.
Bear in mind that buyers in niche markets often look for certain functions or perks when they’re conducting their online research. Your product will only show up in search results if you properly label your key features.
3. Choose metrics wisely
You need measurable KPIs in place to not only monitor your online marketing strategy but also help you calculate your ROI. These metrics are the guide you’ll use for every tactic you deploy.
Let’s say, for example, you want to increase a target group’s conversion rates. Posting and tracking articles, videos, and social media content won’t be enough to measure your campaign’s effectiveness or inform any adjustments you have to make. Consider building out your list of performance indicators: Close rate per channel, leads per offer, CTA click-through rate, and landing page submission rate are all great metrics to keep in mind.
4. Re-evaluate, revise, and repeat
Every digital marketing strategy, even a wildly successfully one, is a work in progress. You can’t simply post an article or throw some keywords onto a landing page and wait for the sales to roll in.
Take the time to reevaluate your strategies and revise underperforming content; then, repeat this process regularly. If traffic is lagging, try adjusting your keywords. If CTRs have gone flat, address different customer pain points in your content or promotions. Marketers should constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve.
5. Price right
Consumers will always want the most value for the best price. If you set a price point higher than the competition, you must be able to back it up by showing the real-world benefits of your product.
If you were marketing an LMS platform, for example, you would want to explain exactly how it can help a company improve its online training effectiveness. You also want to let them know about any and all upfront costs — pricing surprises are a surefire way to damage the trust you develop with a customer, and you risk earning negative online reviews and tarnishing your brand’s reputation.
6. Launch PPC
Pay-per-click ads provide a unique opportunity to target a specific audience while taking better control of your spending. Both are major concerns for any marketer, especially those in niche markets.
PPC ads allow you to decide when and where your ad is displayed based on certain criteria like location, keywords, or demographics. And, of course, you pay only when a prospect clicks on the ad. You can increase your visibility in the industry by partnering with more established businesses and placing your PPC ads on sites that customers interested in the industry might visit.
There are no “golden rules” of digital marketing, especially when you’re dealing with an entirely new industry like eLearning. Rather than try to find a secret formula for success, niche marketers should be more open with one another about what works and what doesn’t. The internet is a crowded place; you might as well talk to the people in the crowd with you.
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