Digital Engagement Channels
For all its cutting-edge technical brilliance, the life sciences industry in general – and the bioprocess sector specifically – may be one of the world’s last digital deserts. On the one hand, it’s a proud industry that has produced some of history’s most inspired and mind-blowing technological advances. On the other, it’s a community that lags behind when it comes to digital engagement.
So, what qualifies as a digital engagement? Let’s look at it from the perspective of you as a digital user.
Digital engagement happens when you read, like, buy, share, comment, or bookmark online content. In fact, you’re digitally engaging right now by reading this article. Thank you for that, by the way.
Think through some other digital engagements you may have had today. Checked your Facebook feed lately? Tempted by that amazing sale ad? Still laughing about that YouTube video?
As a digital consumer, you’re digitally engaging ALL THE TIME. However, as a business owner, our experience shows that there’s a strong chance that sometimes you feel stuck when it comes to generating digital engagement with your audience.
It’s NOT about clicks, likes, shares, or follows. What matters most is robust, meaningful engagement, and relationship building.
Any modern business or brand has a wide array of digital engagement channels through which they can connect, inform, and listen to their audience. Let’s be clear, when it comes to your online presence, it’s NOT about clicks, likes, shares, or follows. What matters most is robust, meaningful engagement, and relationship building.
Let’s go over some of the digital engagement channels you may be using or can use in your business today to connect and engage with your audience.
Choose a digital channel to explore
Blogs are a form of online journaling also knows as ‘long-form content’. Blogs allow you to create longer copy content, which helps you to:
- Increase SEO traffic (aka Search Engine Optimization)
- Demonstrate thought leadership (aka you’re an expert on the subject)
- Increase readership (aka more people read your blog)
- Heighten the level of user interaction with your website (aka stay on for longer and visit more pages)
This approach is especially common in the healthcare and pharma space where your audience genuinely wants to read more detailed content.
Blogging helps you raise your website rank higher on search engines and increase your brand visibility. However, the primary purpose of a blog is to engage with your audience. That said, those two goals don’t have to conflict. Authoritative, informative, engaging, and optimized blog content targeted at the right areas can rank highly in web searches related to that niche.
If you can connect with your readers by sharing valuable insights and expert information, you will boost your traffic and send quality leads to your site.
Read more about writing an effective blog here.
An email blast is a single email message sent to a large group of people who have already engaged with your brand. In this case, that’s your existing customer list. This allows your one email to reach a broad and qualified audience.
Email blasts are also known as mass emails, bulk emails, e-blasts, and email campaigns. Their main purpose is to send promotional content and newsletters to those who are interested in what you have to say.
A few important things to keep in mind with email blasts:
- Make sure to use ethical opt-in strategies, and
- Segment your lists
Just because you have your customer’s email, DO NOT assume you have their permission to send them your marketing emails.
So many people make this mistake. Give ALL of your customers a way to sign-up, or opt-in to your email list. Just as importantly, always give them an easy way to unsubscribe. This way, you’re keeping your engagement honest. You’ll avoid tarnishing your brand by bombarding recipients with what they perceive as unwanted spam. From our perspective, “unsubscribes” are not necessarily a bad thing – you want email subscribers that are truly interested in that form of engagement. The unsubscribers may simply prefer to digest your content through other channels.
Also, make sure to segment (or organize) your customer list into specific categories so that you can send relevant messages your audience actually wants to receive.
The key here is to keep the information in your emails as relevant as possible to each recipient. If you don’t “curate” your emails to specific customers and blast your entire audience with a “one-fits-all” emails, you will lose their attention and interest.
As we’ve already established, email blasts are promotional emails sent to a large group of people. But what if your email list is small or you want to target new potential subscribers?
In this case, you can rent a third-party bulk list of industry-related contacts to whom to send your targeted message.
This helps you grow your subscriber list and reach potential new customers. However, you have to be mindful of the kind of lists you purchase. Be sure to evaluate cost, relevance, and regulatory compliance carefully.
Purchasing an extensive list of contacts at low cost is more often than not too good to be true. Ensure the contacts are vetted for your specific industry, niche, and product focus. Ask your data provider for audience demographics confirming that contacts meet your criteria. If you want to reach process development scientists, but the data provider’s list is skewed towards manufacturing and quality, it may not be the right list for your target segment.
Always confirm that your data provider complies with the latest data privacy and safety regulations. A reputable data provider will provide you with a guarantee of adherence, as well as data accuracy.
Nurturing email campaigns are a sequence of personalized email blasts that take your prospects on a journey. You typically start by introducing them to your organization, mission, and brand. Subsequently, you utilize a series of carefully crafted communications to influence their buying behavior.
These are automated emails that are sent using an email marketing platform that schedules what email is sent to whom based on your prospect’s behavior. For example, if your lead engaged with your first email by clicking a button or a link, they may receive a follow-up email (or the second email) as a result of their action. If they did nothing, they might receive an email encouraging them to take another look at what you offer.
Nurturing campaigns can help you properly segment your prospects by buyer traits such as industry, job function, or product interest. This will allow you to follow-up with a more targeted, or specific, email campaign that speaks to their unique needs.
Nurturing campaigns can help identify buying stages of each prospect so that you can send relevant offers such as demos, free trials, or coupons to those leads.
Include something of value for your prospect in your emails. Free webinars, downloadable PDFs, white papers, or anything that would help them make their buying decision easier are great options.
Provide them with content that shows you are the subject matter expert in your niche. Offer industry insights or tips and tricks they can use right away.
Your content can include blog posts, images, infographics, anything that you could send to prospects as a new source of information or knowledge.
By creating a nurturing email campaign sequence, you can guide your potential customers through the buyer’s journey, nurture a relationship, and lead them to a buying decision.
A skyscraper ad is a paid digital ad that is tall and narrow in size, and it appears at the top or to the right of web page content and always remains visible as the viewer scrolls down the page.
These ads lend themselves better to desktop vs. mobile. The skyscraper ad offers a large space for a message.
A native ad is a paid digital ad that is subtle, non-disruptive, and blends with relevant editorial content on a website, blog, or social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube.
Native ads do not take away from the editorial content; instead, they are a part of the content, which is a less invasive way to connect with the viewer.
Digital ads are also known as Display or Retargeting ads and are typically a part of a Google Ads campaign. The ads drop a cookie on a site visitor’s browser when they visit your website. Then, when that visitor moves on to visit other websites, your ads will appear and engage with them.
This strategy has many advantages. It’s affordable, highly targetable, and brings with it a powerful brand element. While click-through rates for digital ads are low, conversion rates are usually relatively high. If structured and executed well, digital ads can deliver a strong ROI.
Another paid advertising strategy that allows you to place a clickable banner is advertisements on various third-party newsletters. This engagement involves three parties:
- The advertiser (you)
- The e-Newsletter provider (hosts the ad for a fee)
- An e-Newsletter ad service provider (an automated broker that posts your ad on relevant emails as defined by selected target criteria)
The theory is that everyone benefits from the arrangement. You attract relevant visitors that otherwise may not encounter your organization, the e-Newsletter provider monetizes their newsletter, and the automated broker takes a fee for their services.
There are certain limitations to this strategy, but if you do your homework, this can be an affordable and lucrative engagement channel.
Google Ads are paid advertisements that appear in search results on Google. You will easily recognize them by the ubiquitous green “Ad” label at the top and bottom of most Google search results.
Google Ads are focused around keywords—specific words that identify your brand, product, service, etc.—words that people are most likely to search. Google uses a bidding system to allow the advertiser to bid on the keywords they think will solicit the most ad clicks. When viewers click the ads, the advertiser pays a certain cost, called the cost-per-click (CPC). The CPC can be anywhere from a few pennies for low search volume or less competitive keywords, to very expensive for highly competitive terms. At the time that I’m writing this, one click on a Google Ad displayed for a “Life Insurance” search will cost the advertiser $134.60!
The beauty of Google Ads is in its immediacy. Ads can start working for you the moment you push the campaign live, with every aspect of the campaign analyzed down to the tiniest detail. This can provide you with insights into the behavior of your audience that can be applied to other marketing strategies.
In a world that is rapidly going paperless, there are plenty of reasons to convert your marketing collateral to electronic format. People consume an exponentially increasing proportion of their content online and it is crucial to meet your existing and prospective clients where they are: on their devices.
Digital brochures have the distinct advantage of being in multiple places at once. Make them available as a download on your website, email them directly to customers, or link them in your next email blast or e-Newsletter. They are versatile, simple, and usually relatively affordable. Not to mention, your sales team will want digital brochures at their fingertips to send to their prospects when needed.
Public Relations (PR) is an engagement with the public through various unpaid or earned communications (these can include digital industry publications, social media, and traditional media) that help your brand and business build a positive image and reputation.
A PR journalist helps bring your brand story, product launch announcement, or big company news release to the public.
With PR, you’re reaching a broader audience, which may include people who aren’t ready to buy your product or service, but this isn’t the goal. The goal is to raise awareness of who you are and inspire the public with your story. A positive endorsement from a non-biased, respected third-party can build brand credibility and earn more impactful, powerful publicity than you can achieve with any other type of paid engagement.
Using video as an engagement channel is a powerful medium to educate, promote, or market your brand, product, or service to encourage continued engagement.
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to know that people LOVE watching videos online. By engaging your audience on their preferred platform, you give yourself a better chance of being noticed.
Many people are surprised to learn that video can also boost your search engine ranking, increase click-through rates, open rates, and conversions.
Fun Fact: Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? AND, Google owns YouTube! By using proper tags on your video, you can boost your SEO in Google searches. Imagine driving all of that traffic to your site!
Video helps expedite buying decisions. Prospects are more likely to buy a product after watching a product review or demo video. In addition, people retain information better if it’s presented visually, so your prospects are more likely to remember your brand, product, or story if they see it, as opposed to reading about it.
Incorporate video into your digital engagement channels through the use of customer testimonials, tradeshow videos, how-to videos, demo videos, and more. Animation, doodle videos, and other creative tactics can also achieve robust results.
Want to create a lasting connection? Bring an emotional element to your videos. If your video engages and resonates with the viewer on an emotional level, the connection is far more influential than you can achieve with any other engagement channel.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Think of search engines like Google as a virtual “matchmaker” that pairs your search inquiry with the websites that they determine to be the highest quality and most relevant.
The critical thing to remember about SEO is that it’s about understanding the problems your ideal customers need to solve, what they are searching for, the keywords they’re using to find answers, and the type of content with which they want to engage.
SEO starts by optimizing your website to make it as easy as possible for search engines to connect your website or digital resources with the searcher’s intent. Good SEO starts by building and maintaining a fast, healthy, well-structured website that has all the right signposts to direct Google & Co. to the right place.
However, SEO has rapidly evolved to be much more than that. By creating useful content through blog articles, downloadable PDFs, white papers, video, etc., you can drastically increase web traffic. It’s all about giving the searcher the content they want and need to answer the question they typed in the search bar.
An intuitive, thought-out SEO strategy will ensure that the right people find your website at the right time. This will increase the quantity and quality of leads, build brand exposure, and eventually increase your sales.
To learn more about SEO, read our blog here.
Social media channels are great for connecting and engaging with your audience in a “bite-sized” way. This is the opposite of long-form content like blogs.
Determine which social media channels are most effective in connecting with your target audience. Twitter, for example, is designed to deliver concise messages. Instagram is built around the idea that a “picture is worth a thousand words”. LinkedIn is geared for industry professionals to help expand their professional networks and is usually better for B2B businesses.
You do not have to be present on ALL platforms. Instead, choose 1-2 highest priority channels that you will show up on consistently and actively engage and interact with your audience.
This means monitoring and responding to all comments quickly (within 24 hours at the most). You need to be quick to provide solutions to issues or concerns, or to simply say, “Thanks, glad you enjoyed this post”. In doing so, you’ll build trust and brand loyalty with your audience.
Unless you’re advertising on social media, it’s not a channel that organizations typically use for lead generation, or sales funnel creation. Instead, the “social” nature of interactions on these platforms is perfect for building brand awareness, online community, and establishing thought leadership. Accurately determining ROI from these activities can be challenging. However, they can deliver intangible value to your brand.
Inspired by radio broadcasting, podcasts are on-demand internet radio talks. They can take the form of an interview between a host and a guest speaker, or a monologue, where one person shares a story or insights on industry news, trends, or products.
As with any engagement channel, consider your audience. Who will benefit from your podcast content?
To best serve your audience, create engaging content, share extraordinary, thought-provoking ideas, tips and tricks, and insights that will keep them tuning in with every new episode.
Remember, you’re NOT selling here. Not directly, anyway. You’re building rapport with your listeners, engaging them with helpful and insightful content, and establishing your brand presence.
PowerPoint Deck is a visual presentation or collection of PowerPoint slides used to present an idea, pitch a product or service, or inform about a particular topic.
PPT isn’t an engagement channel, per se. It’s a collection of promotional or educational content used by engagement channels like webinars, sales presentations, and even video.
Before you begin your PPT Deck development, be clear about your goals. What is the purpose of this deck and whom will it serve? For example, for a 30-minute sales pitch on a new product that piqued a customer’s interest, don’t consume the first 15 minutes on company introductions and your background. Always align your content to your audience’s needs.
Make sure your PPT is more visual than text-heavy. So many people overburden PPT slides with text and as a result, lose their audience. The trick is to keep your aesthetic design appealing and simple enough to work with minimal text. Present only core ideas that you want your audience to take away. Remember, your PPT design is an extension of your brand image, so treat it as a brand asset.
A webinar is a web-based video conference that connects you with your audience in real-time. As a presenter or host, you can choose to be seen during this live conference or show a presentation deck (see PPT Slide Deck) to your viewers.
A webinar is an outstanding engagement tool that you can use to educate your audience, offer them insightful industry-related information, or to generate interest in an upcoming product launch. It allows the participants to learn directly from you, the expert, about a particular topic.
The live aspect of webinars is really exciting for people who want the opportunity to connect and interact in real-time. Webinar platforms offer chat and Q&A sessions with the host, and this is one of the best ways to create a more personal and emotional connection with your audience.
A website is a location that hosts a series of web pages. Easy enough, but how do you use your website as a digital engagement channel?
Your website is your digital shopfront, brand ambassador, brochure, and 24/7 salesperson all wrapped into one. Especially in light of recent world events, maintaining a powerful, relevant, and authentic website has never been more vital.
The image you project to the world via your website will depend in part on your commercial goals. If your sales process is more consultative, the website may be primarily a source of relevant and useful information. Alternatively, you may have an e-commerce site that’s primed to sell online.
However, the most important thing to remember about a website is this: it’s NOT all about YOU. It’s ALL about the visitor. Your website should be a resource for a potential buyer researching for a solution to their problem. Clearly define that problem or pain point and understand how your product or service solves it. That equation should underpin every aspect of your site.
Your website content should answer your ideal customer’s questions and offer them easy ways to connect to sales, make a purchase, or download content to help with their decision-making process. This means, embracing the CTA.
CTA stands for “Call To Action” and represents the action that you want the visitor to take to fulfill the website’s purpose. That could be a sale, an inquiry, a sample request, a white paper download, or anything you want it to be. “Contact Us” or “Buy Now” is the most commonly recognized form of CTA.
Aside from a creative CTA, an intuitive site navigation is key to helping your visitors find what they’re looking for quickly. If your website is too difficult to navigate, it will compromise your chance at engagement and your visitors will leave. A simple navigation menu with a search box will allow visitors to find what they need instantly.
Make sure to refresh your page and blog content regularly, making information organized and accessible. Keep the website fresh and up to date, and you’re more likely to delight and convert your visitors to customers.
Also known as a custom landing page, this is a highly targeted web-based strategy that zeroes in on one product, service, or promotional offering.
Promotional web pages are often utilized in tandem with Google Ads. The high level of specificity of the page can help you boost the performance of your ad campaign, which, in turn, drives more traffic to that page.
To get the most out of your page, carefully crafted, relevant content, eye-catching images and graphics, and powerful CTAs are all a must. Longer form content is the norm and can take your reader on a journey that is calculated on them clicking that CTA.
As you can see, there are many effective digital channels that are available to help you grow your business in today’s increasingly virtual world. With such a variety of options, there is a strategy mix that will fit your engagement goals to build robust, meaningful customer relationships.
Want to discuss ideas for driving active, meaningful engagement with your customers? Let’s talk. Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.
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