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All marketing is focussed on getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.
But the most effective marketers know that it is slightly more complicated than simply throwing out a Facebook ad and hoping it appears at the right time, in order to make a percentage of the target demographic go ahead and buy.
Marketing should be an ongoing conversation and works at its most optimal when five key areas are managed effectively…
This ensures the conversation happens as quickly as possible (but at the pace set by your potential customer – not you!) and is steered to continually provide multiple opportunities to present your sales message.
These elements will also allow you to dial in your marketing, making your targeting far more effective, i.e. shown to people far more likely to be your ideal customers.
They’ll also help you to show your advertisements and drive the ongoing conversation at the best times possible, to stand the best chance of encouraging a purchase.
And to say exactly the right things that your potential customer needs to hear to remove any questions or objections to buy.
Before discussing these five pillars, it’s important to first discuss the buying process and to understand the various stages a potential customer must move through to be comfortable with making a purchase and giving you their custom.
"Customers who are loyal will refer and respect your business and make multiple purchases over time, reducing your cost of sales."
When discussing these stages, we can categorise the potential customers based on temperature…
“Hot” being those happy to purchase right now - they know that they want the product you have to offer, they have done all of their research and often are simply looking at price or other factors to decide which supplier to go with.
“Warm” customers understand that they have a problem or a want, but as yet are unsure about which product to purchase to fulfil that need, and “Cold” may be unaware that they even have a problem. (You can read more about traffic temperture in my 'Embrace the Cold' blog post)
The majority of businesses focus their efforts on attracting hot customers, with little thought or effort going into the warm and cold marketplaces. This is a mistake and sets them at a great disadvantage if their competition decides to use a more holistic approach to attract all temperature levels.
The reason being, your cold and warm audiences are not yet ready to purchase but will be open to receiving help. By helping, you can begin to build a relationship and progress them to a state where they are ready to buy.
At this point, it is very hard for anyone else to simply advertise and win their custom because you already have a relationship with them.
They know you, they like you and they trust you - elements that will make them want to buy from you, regardless of your pricing being slightly higher.
If they do buy from elsewhere after you have built a relationship with them, it will be due to one of two scenarios.
Either they are completely price-driven and found a comparative product or service elsewhere that was cheaper, or there is a problem in your offer or relationship-building process.
In the first scenario, there is an argument that you are better off not winning their custom - someone who is so price-centric will show little loyalty to your brand and will not be your ideal customer.
They will buy once and disappear. Always looking for the next deal and, coincidentally, be the biggest drain on customer support and resources out of all your different customer segments.
The second scenario is something for you to work on and fix.
The key takeaway is that, when set-up and managed correctly, these five pillars will supply you with the best types of customers.
Customers who are loyal, will refer and respect your business and make multiple purchases over time, reducing your cost of sales.
So, what are the five pillars?
Mention the word “traffic” and there is a tendency to automatically think Facebook ads, Google Adwords, SEO, etc.
But traffic is any means with which you can drive potential customers to an online property that you have control over. The different methods are numerous and can include good old-fashioned offline methods, such as direct mail, as long as it directs someone back to your site.
When it comes to traffic, the most important thing to know is that not all methods are equal and will almost always work differently for each and every business that tries them.
In fact, it’s very common for a traffic source to perform well with one offer but not work at all for a different offer within the same business.
The best advice I can give you is to start off with just one or two methods - practise and master them before moving onto other methods. Ultimately, you will want to create a database of your best performing traffic methods.
What customer type did they work well with? What offer worked well?
Track and test everything.
The purpose of creating this database is to allow you greater control and variation over where you pick up potential clients. If you only work with one traffic source and that is suddenly not available anymore, your whole business is potentially at risk! Unless you can replace the lost traffic with traffic from a different source.
If it makes financial sense to just use one traffic source, at least test others so you know how they will work if you need to switch to them in the future.
It’s also important to recognise the fact that traffic sources are fluid - they can change in quality or cost overnight.
It’s also very common for them to degrade over time, as more people begin to use that platform to advertise or when your ideal customers move into another area of the web.
Monitor your traffic performance and always have a back-up!
The next pillar is focussed on making the best use of your traffic.
Conversion is something that you should always be striving to improve.
Think about the bottle necks in your marketing (every point where you require the potential customer to take an action) - whether that’s to sign-up and subscribe, make a purchase or even simply to click from one sales page to the next in the sequence.
You want to be using split-testing to improve each bottle neck, starting at the top of the marketing process. A small tweak to a call to action, headline or benefits list can produce big results in terms of revenue generated - small improvements create a big effect on the overall performance of your marketing.
Every increase in conversion ensures any investment in marketing produces a greater return and ultimately, as Dan Kennedy (one of the best direct marketers alive today) says, the person who can spend the most to acquire a customer normally wins.
The only way you can outspend your competition is to ensure your conversions are as good as they can be to provide the return on acquisition costs.
One quick word of warning – often, I see companies so fixated on improving a single conversion point they continue to optimise that bottle neck past the point of diminishing returns.
The best way to effectively improve your conversions is to realise when the improvements you can make would be incrementally bigger by moving onto the next bottleneck.
Don’t focus on a small fractional improvement when split-testing something else could be much more fruitful.
Also, be sure to split out your traffic sources when running split-tests….
Remember…not all traffic is equal and an improvement in conversion on a page receiving traffic from two different sources may be hiding a reduction in conversion from one of the sources. This could also mean reducing the improvement from the one that has responded better to your split-test variation.
There is an old marketing adage that the money is in the list, and it is good advice!
Crafting follow-up sequences will be hugely beneficial to your bottom line. But, just like traffic, when thinking about your follow-ups with your potential and current clients, you shouldn’t be limited to just one method.
The default method should always be email, but you should also look at other methods and test their effectiveness.
You could also try using direct mailings, phone follow-ups, chatbots (automated instant messaging) or SMS. Dependent on your business and who your customers are, you may find one of the above methods provides a much greater effect on your bottom line than the other methods.
With your follow-up sequences, it’s most important to provide value wherever you possibly can.
Simply blasting out sales messages will quickly destroy any list you are cultivating, with subscribers ignoring your communications. Using a value-first approach will earn you the right to sell and will provide much better results.
Be sure to plan your follow-ups, staying on key with what the subscriber originally joined your database for. Keep your tone personal and friendly, even for B2B follow-ups. After all, it is a person who will be reading your message.
"Crafting follow-up sequences will be hugely beneficial to your bottom line!”
Over time, using automated email sequences (or one of the other methods listed above) is extremely efficient. By placing a couple of messages in front of your first subscriber, you can build out the sequences to communicate with your subscribers on auto-pilot…indefinitely.
You can then provide them with numerous buying opportunities. As it builds, your list will also become one of your greatest assets, allowing you to drive qualified/targeted traffic at will and generate sales on demand.
This pillar is often misunderstood or completely ignored.
Producing content and sharing your knowledge can be extremely effective, as long as each piece you create is done by following a careful plan. You should be planning what content you need to create and what purpose it will serve in the overall marketing mix.
How will you use the content? Will it be a blog post, podcast episode or simply a social media post?
More importantly, will it be used to introduce people to you and your brand?
Will it be providing value and information to help your potential customers?
Will it be to bridge the gap between what temperature they currently are and the next level (so progressing them from cold to warm by educating them about their situation)?
Or perhaps it will be to frame your products and services as the best option for them to purchase?
Once created, how will you get your content in front of your potential customers? One of my favourite ways to use content is to use retargeting.
Often, if a potential customer does not buy, it will be because they do not yet feel comfortable with you as a supplier/provider. By producing a piece of content that proves your credibility, you have the opportunity to use retargeting ads that will be placed in front of the person who did not buy, which will lead them back to this post.
A great post to use in this scenario would be a case study or client story of how you went the extra mile and provided world class support. This will remove the objection to purchase and encourage the potential customer that buying from you is the right decision.
Our final pillar is to always test and track everything. We have already touched on the importance of split-testing, which is really part of the analytical process, but every business should be using a full analytical solution.
“Everything we try to do in marketing should be undertaken with a scientific approach!”
Analytics will tell you where the bottle necks are in your overall process, allowing you to know where to place a split-test. It will also provide valuable demographical information, such as where your traffic is located, what time they visit your online properties and which traffic sources are working in the background – even if you have not implemented them.
Everything we try to do in marketing should be undertaken with a scientific approach and it is only by using analytics to gather data that we can make informed decisions and improve the effectiveness of our effort overall.
If you focus on these five areas, over time, you will find that the effectiveness of your digital marketing methods and campaigns increases.
Whatever you are looking to do, or whenever someone suggests that your business just needs to run a new type of Facebook ad - ask yourself where does it fit in the overall strategy?
What effect will it have overall?
The majority of suggestions are mostly just traffic-driving methods.
But, in order for your marketing to be as effective as possible, you must focus on the five pillars.