What Hansel & Gretel’s Breadcrumbs Teach Wellness Businesses About Integrated Online Marketing

Why aren’t clients beating a path to your health club, yoga studio, or weight loss clinic? Time for a lesson in integrated online marketing from our good friends Hansel and Gretel.

330px-Hansel-and-gretel-rackhamWhat is integrated online marketing?

As you recall, the wicked stepmother sends the kids into the forest, only the smart kids leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs to lead the way home. That concept is so powerful that professional marketing agencies use the term “breadcrumb marketing” to describe how customers, attracted by initial exposure to your message, will stick around, engage further, and buy.

That means you’ve got to leave a trail of enticing content and next steps — “breadcrumbs” — that takes prospects where you want them to go, drawing them closer and closer to a sale with each bit of content that you share. And integrated online marketing is simply the art and science of sprinkling those breadcrumbs across all the venues prospects visit — website, email, social, and elsewhere — in order to guide the sale.

Are your breadcrumbs tasty to prospects?

Take a look at your online marketing content. Does it address real concerns and questions that real prospects have? Or is it superficial or stale? Or perhaps focused on things YOU care about, rather than the things they care about?

Customers may want to know if you’re conveniently located, have hours compatible with their schedule and are kid-friendly. They want to know if  you’re all about elite athletes or a great fit for anyone, regardless of body size or shape or fitness level. They want to know you’re focused on their goals, that you’ll figure out where they fit on the newbie-vs-expert scale, and that you’ll set them up with the right help to beat their personal best at their next marathon. They want to know how your weight loss programs are set up, and what other customers think about them. They want reassurance that you “get” them and can meet them where they’re at on their wellness journey.

This applies to every health and wellness business, not just retail fitness and wellness providers. For example, if your focus is corporate wellness, your prospects want to know about your track record with other employers. They want to know that your firm is dependable and understands the special requirements that employers have. They don’t especially want to know about the specs on the equipment you’re going to install in the on-site fitness center but they do want to hear about your firm increases employee engagement.

If your online marketing content doesn’t answer the first and most obvious customer questions, then it’s the wrong content.

Do your online marketing “breadcrumbs” lead your prospect towards a purchase?

First, you need a trail of breadcrumbs TO your website — for example, Yelp reviews — so prospects looking for yoga classes can easily find it. That’s why you need to market through multiple online channels, like social and email. Otherwise, there’s nothing to lead potential customers to your offers or site unless they already know about them. And since they’re strangers to your business, they don’t.

Then, once they’re on your website, you need to sprinkle relevant and timely content and next steps along their path to keep them moving forward. These “breadcrumbs” might be content like an FAQ about what to expect in your yoga classes, or a next step, like a mind/body newsletter sign-up link, or an invitation to join a related Facebook group on managing diabetes or attend a webinar or panel discussion for people with fibromyalgia.  Each step moves them closer to a purchase.

This cartoon illustrates the winding path that prospective customers typically follow — in this case, for a mixed martial arts studio. We explain each step below the graphic.

This is how prospects think:

  1. They search on their mobile device for “mixed martial arts”.
  2. They get a lot of results… too many! They search again, this time for “mma for women.”
  3. Your website appears in search results. They click. Curious, they check out a few links, then download the free beginner’s guide after providing their email and answering one or two questions. (They probably see your Yelp reviews, too.)
  4. In your email newsletter, you continue offering helpful tips. They start feeling like your business is trustworthy, someone they can turn to.
  5. They notice your link to a Facebook group, “Texas Women’s MMA,” where they feel they identify with others. They see you’re posting there too, like your informative posts, and finally decide you’re an expert they just have to talk to personally.
  6. They register for their first class, excited and ready to start.

In this process, they touched mobile search, your website, social, and email, and walked through your front door.

That means your mixed martial arts business has to show up in all those places, dropping breadcrumbs along the way.

Why integrated online marketing is important

If you focus on only one marketing venue, like your website, your success rate will probably be less than 2%, the same as junk mail. Why? You’re making it much harder for prospects to even find you, and you’re making it much harder for your business to demonstrate its value.

By contrast, integrated online marketing develops a steady sales funnel in “nibbles”, combining the best parts of web search, mobile, social, and email marketing when and where they’re most helpful in developing the sale. This kind of marketing isn’t in-your-face. It gracefully builds confidence among prospective customers, and quietly reduces obstacles to sales.

Integrated online marketing also does something else extremely important: it qualifies leads so that you can focus your efforts on the people most likely to become paying customers, and ignore everyone else. The people who visit your site AND sign up for your email AND read your blog posts AND download your guides AND join the relevant Facebook group you recommended are far likelier to buy than drive-by website visitors.

Each point of online contact — every email, every social touch, every click on your website — brings good prospective customers closer to your business and filters out the bad ones that aren’t worth chasing.

Without it, you’re lost in the woods.

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Don Muchow - Radial

Content & Media Director at The Radial Group
Deeply experienced in building user communities around healthy lifestyles, I've led hundreds of strategic content projects helping clients establish market leadership, brand awareness and social reach. My own experience as a Type 1 diabetic ultra-endurance athlete has given me unique insights into the benefits and obstacles that often accompany individual wellness journeys.

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