The utmost importance of optimizing the entire “visitor-to-lead-to-sale” cycle as an eMarketing strategy cannot be questioned.
If you don’t pay attention to a specific micro element of an eMarketing plan, the entire strategy won’t work as well; you’ll lose leads and sales. We speak to a number of companies who have fancy-designed websites; but they can’t be found on search engines; they don’t convert visitors into leads, and once those leads are generated, they aren’t properly nurtured into sales.
To demonstrate the point, here’s an imaginary interview with John Doe, a COO of a large IT company.
Congratulations on your website; it’s designed nicely.
JD: Thank you; our creative team really made it look good. It’s been up for a year now.
I see. What specifically do you sell?
JD: We provide technology solutions to the healthcare industry; when they need to outsource specific tasks, we’ll be there to provide comprehensive solutions. Our solutions help healthcare providers improve patient safety, reduce costs, improve healthcare efficiency and better manage resources.
So if I need your service, I should be typing into Google “technology solutions?” If I really needed your services I’d most likely type “Computer consultants for hospitals” or “electronic health records” Bear with me, but despite your claims, websites should be written for the buyer. If I can’t easily figure out what those solutions are, I’m going to find someone else.
JD: Well, you just have to dig a little further.
The average person doesn’t have that time; only 8 seconds to scan your home page or landing page and determine if you can solve his need.
JD: Guess I need to review my website copy.
Looks like you have nice white papers on your site. You must have spent a lot of time and effort to produce it. How do you promote them?
JD: Not sure actually. I think we email our database.
You send to everyone? Like advertising, content should be distributed towards target audiences. Have you developed buyer personas?
JD: All we have is our database. We know who our buyers are?
Oh, do you have that research? Does your marketing plan support that research?
JD: Oh, we did some research 5 years ago.
Wow, things have changed; social media, the Internet, search engines. You really can’t market based on older assumptions. If you do, your mediums for marketing and messaging may fall short of expectations.
JD: You’re right.
On your website, even if I were interested in your new white paper, your website is not capturing any data; so how can you build a database of prospects?
JD: Well, we do allow people to contact us through a company email address and we ask them questions.
OK. Do you think it would be helpful if you at least captured a job title, and what a customer’s needs are automatically?
JD: Of course.
I’ll introduce you to Marketing Automation. By capturing data, from web form and website navigation behavior, you can easily tell what prospects are engaging with your website and content, and your salespeople can spend more time with those most likely to buy. Marketing Automation does much of this for you; determines who the most likely buyers are, and automatically sends those leads to your CRM.
JD: That kind of system would definitely help my sales team; they certainly spend too much time with tire-kickers.
Those tire-kickers may eventually become real leads if you nurture them with quality content, blog posts, written documents, or webinars. Like any advertising, if you continue to promote quality messages to target audiences, the prospect is more likely to buy.
JD: It sounds like a good way to promote our white papers.
Yes! Also social media. Do you have a social media plan?
JD: A plan? Well I think someone in PR tweets.
Well, that’s not a plan; that’s a tactic. Your potential buyers utilize a number of channels for research; and some of that is learning from blogs and discussing issues on LinkedIn. Need to have a plan, like any media strategy, to determine target audiences, channels, and proper messaging that’s relevant and engaging.
JD: Agreed. Hmm, you’re overwhelming me; I thought our site was compelling.
That’s the problem. Don’t think website strategy; think eMarketing strategy. Your website needs to do a better job of engaging audiences and becoming a lead generator. Your website can be your best salesperson!
JD: I didn’t think about it that way.
Mr. Doe, you’ll be fine if you really understand the importance of what I’m saying and perform some strategic changes to how you do business in today’s electronic world.
Here’s some things to think about:
1. Prospect needs a solution; goes to Internet; searches for what you really sell. You’re not there; leads go to competitors.
2. Prospect is a member of a LinkedIn group. Starts a discussion on a solution. A competitor responds, offers one of his/her blog posts. Prospect reads blog post, likes it, adds competitor’s RSS feed; starts to engage with competitor, eventually fills out webform, becomes a lead.
3. Prospect does get to your website; but is confused by navigation; not sure of his benefits, and leaves to go to competitor who has more engaging content.
I could go on, but I won’t.
JD: I get it. You’ve made great points. Time to rethink what we’re doing! Thank you.
Well, the above is somewhat exaggerated, but the point is, companies need to do a better job of optimizing all of the elements of eMarketing, and it all starts with an assessment on your value proposition, your uniqueness, and your target audiences- who they are, where they are, what makes them consider your products or services, and how they consume media and social media.