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Online marketing can be confusing, but it isn’t as a big a conundrum as many conventional marketers believe it to be. In the book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, online marketing is broken down into three clear, distinct components, identified using the acronym ACT.

A is for Attract. Flag down users, get attention, stand out; it’s all about attracting traffic to your website and / or social media presence.

Melanie sells homemade ice-cream online. She customises flavours according to client requirements, creates them in her kitchen, and then personally delivers them. The question is, how can Melanie attract people to her website? Because she maintains an active Facebook page, Melanie can share simple recipes for ice-cream toppings with her fans, or maybe even reveal some of her ice-cream making secrets. She can also post pictures of her latest ice-cream creations, with quotes that pertain to how ice-cream is happiness served chilled. Veronica comes across a quote, and shares it on her Facebook wall. She likes the quote and sees that there’s a link to Melanie’s website below it, so she clicks it and visits the site. Melanie has now successfully attracted Veronica to her website.

C is for Convert. This happens when you turn a stranger into a consumer or customer. There’s a significant difference between the two; a consumer may sample your product, use your information or share your content, but may not actually buy what you’re offering. And that’s perfectly fine, because over time, a consumer has the potential of becoming a customers. Usually, the more expensive a purchase, the longer it will take for this to happen, which is why conversion isn’t instant, but happens over time.

Now, back to Melanie and Veronica. Veronica visits Melanie’s colourful website, and is intrigued by the product offering. She wants to order a customised ice-cream flavour, but can’t afford it at this point in time (also, she’s on a low-calorie diet for the next 3 months). Now, what are the chances she’ll be back to get her ice-cream? Very slim, if only because people have short attention spans, and shorter memories. Fortunately, Melanie has a sign-up column for her quirky little online newsletter on her homepage. This provides daily doses of ice-cream inspiration and happiness tips to Veronica in exchange for just two pieces of information; Veronica’s name and her email address. A small price to pay, thinks Veronica, who gladly signs up for the newsletter, and is converted from a stranger to a consumer. Now, Melanie can begin building a connection with Veronica, sharing her unique sense of humour, secrets to daily happiness and even discount programmes. Three months later, Veronica has finished her low-calorie diet, and it just so happens that she receives an email from Melanie on whether she’s enjoyed her dose of happiness for the day. Furthermore, as a loyal subscriber, Veronica is eligible for a special discount on customised ice-cream flavours. It’s the moment she’s been waiting for; she emails Melanie and orders 3 pints of chocolate crème brulee ice-cream with crushed almonds, thus completing her conversion from a consumer to a customer.

Finally, T is for Transform. This happens when you turn your successes into powerful forces of attraction.

Veronica thoroughly enjoyed her 3 pints of customised ice-cream (so much for the diet, but that’s another story!) and has been posting pictures of the delicious creations on her Facebook wall. Melanie takes some of these pictures and shares it on her website and Facebook page, thus transforming the success with a customer (Veronica) into a tool for attraction. Ashley is an ice-cream lover who has been looking to expand her palate with something unique, and this is just the thing she’s been waiting for. A friend of Veronica’s, she’s immediately sold on the product, and proceeds to order 5 pints of caramel fudge with whole macadamia nuts and licorice ribbons.

So, what can we learn from here? Well, first things first; traditional marketing is definitely not dead, but instead has evolved, forcing marketers to think differently about the way they market. (Click to tweet)

Publishing valuable, relevant, and compelling information targeted at prospects is key; the more your tips, tricks and advice helps solve your audience’s pain, the more likely they are to respond positively to you. Spread your brand of useful information, and your story, through channels that are most effective for you, whether it’s email, social media, your blog or website, and so on and so forth. By doing this, you may never have to actively sell again.

So, how can you incorporate these activities into your customer journey? Is your brand ready to ACT? Feel free to ask any questions in the comment box below. We’d love to hear from you.

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