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Marrying Content with the Customer Journey

Marrying Content with the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Arnie Kuenn
Podcast Transcript

Arnie KuennOn today’s podcast, I speak with Arnie Kuenn, an international speaker, author, and founder and CEO of Vertical Measures.

Prior to founding the digital marketing agency Vertical Measures in 2006, Kuenn founded several other businesses, including MediaChoice, an internet startup whose clients included the major television networks, plus music and movie studios.

Kuenn now runs his business and travels the world speaking and running training workshops on marketing. He is also the author of several books, including his latest, The Customer Journey: How An Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business. On this episode, we discuss the customer journey, and the role that effective content marketing plays in guiding buyers through the journey.

Questions I ask Arnie Kuenn:

  • What made you decide to write the book as a fable?
  • How would you define the customer journey?
  • What’s the connection to content throughout each stage of the customer journey?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why good content comes from understanding people’s pain points.
  • How putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes can help you identify gaps in your content.
  • Why digital marketing allows you to meet prospects at their time of need.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Arnie Kuenn:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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Where Marketing Automation Fits Into the Customer Journey

Where Marketing Automation Fits Into the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When companies incorporate marketing automation into their approach, they often focus on the middle of the marketing hourglass. They use the automation tool to stay in touch with existing customers or to reach out to prospects who are very near to making their first purchase.

However, marketing automation can be used throughout the entirety of the customer journey to great effect. When you’re smart about automating marketing processes, it frees you up to do more of the prospecting and lead nurturing work that only a real human can do, while taking some of the more tedious and time consuming parts of the marketing process off your plate.

Here, we’ll take a look at the various features that make up marketing automation, and how best to use them throughout the customer journey.

What is Marketing Automation?

Before we dive in, let’s provide a quick definition of marketing automation. It’s the process of using a software platform to automate some of your repetitive marketing tasks. It can be used across channels, and includes social media, email, and certain website actions.

The software allows you to group users by certain attributes or behaviors and to target them with messaging that is most relevant to them. For example, you might group people in the same geographic location together, or group people who have made multiple purchases from your business.

Marketing Automation for the “Know” Phase

At the very top of your marketing hourglass, people are encountering your brand for the very first time. Maybe they’re someone who’s in desperate need of the good or service your provide; maybe it’s someone with a passing interest in your field. How do you sort things out this early on in the game?

One of the first things that marketing automation tools can do is help you with lead capturing efforts. Using the same form across your website allows you to gather the same contact information for everyone who fills out the form. From there, you can begin the process of analyzing their attributes and behaviors to figure out whether or not they’re serious prospects.

Behavior scoring (otherwise known as lead scoring) asks you to take data on your existing clients to build a composite profile for your ideal prospect. Where do they live? What profession are they in? What kind of actions do you expect them to take before they convert?

When you know what your ideal prospect looks like, you can then use your marketing automation tool to compare each lead against this dream prospect. If they’re ticking most of the boxes, this is a lead you know is worth your time. They’re likely to convert, if you play things right, so it’s smart to spend some marketing dollars courting them.

Leads that fall completely outside of this ideal picture are likely not worth your time. They’re just not the kind of person that realistically needs or wants what your business offers, so no amount of time or money will result in them changing their mind.

Marketing Automation for “Like” and “Trust”

Once you’ve identified those leads that are worth approaching, you can begin to use your marketing automation tool to create an effective email campaign.

Marketing automation tools allow you to segment your audience so that you can send specific messaging to different groups of people based on their attributes and interests. It’s also possible to use the tool to personalize the email, setting it to auto-populate with name, company, and job title based on the information you have in your database.

For prospects, you can establish a set of prospecting emails that slowly and methodically introduce them to your company and the problems you can help them solve. Only 23.9 percent of all sales emails are even opened, so it will take several attempts to get a prospect’s attention.

You should start by creating a handful of emails that contain different offers so that prospects can come to know and like your business—an invitation to access a white paper on your area of expertise, an opportunity to join a monthly webinar that you hold, or an offer to book an introductory call with a member of your sales team.

You can then set these messages to send on a regular schedule, with a built-in trigger to turn off the next email in the set if the current email leads to a conversion.

Your marketing automation tool can also help you to tailor the content on your website to the profiles of your visitors. The tool can show specific content that you know will be valuable to a given prospect, and you can create dynamic content that is replaced based on actions a prospect has taken or interest that they’ve expressed in a particular topic. This level of personalization makes a prospect feel seen and heard, which goes a long way to building likability and trust.

Marketing Automation for “Try” and “Buy”

Once you’ve proven to prospects that you understand their specific needs and have the perfect solution for their problems, you begin to move them into the try and buy portion of the hourglass.

Using marketing automation to target them with messaging that is triggered by a specific action can be an effective tactic here. At this point you already know a bit about the prospect, so you can get even more specific about giving them information you know they’ll be interested in.

For example, let’s say a prospect has signed up for your company newsletter, you can use this action to then trigger messaging to drive them to the try phase in the hourglass. Maybe this means a pop-up on your website that invites them to a free trial of your service. Or perhaps it’s an email invitation to an upcoming event on the topic you cover in your newsletter, with a friends and family code so they can attend for free.

Once someone’s made their first purchase, you can set your system to automatically follow up with them. Send them a welcome email that gives them additional information on how to get the most out of their purchase. Then automatically send them an email again in a few weeks’ time to make sure they’re still happy and to offer support with any issues they may have encountered.

Marketing Automation for “Repeat” and “Refer”

You’ve already used your marketing automation platform to get your prospects to convert, but you can continue to use the tool to influence the remainder of their customer journey.

Once a customer has made a specific purchase, you can offer them related products or target them with communications that are focused on their areas of interest. In a recent Marketo survey, 78 percent of respondents said they would only pay attention to promotions that were related to their previous interactions with the brand. That means that most consumers would rather have no deal offered to them at all than have a generic offer sent their way.

Marketing automation can also help you to establish and maintain a strong referral base. With the ability to set up regular communication with your existing customers, marketing automation tools help you to stay top of mind so that customers are likely to have your name on the tip of their tongue when their friend asks for a referral in your field. Additionally, if you choose to establish a referral program, you can use email segmentation to stay in touch with members of that program, offer meaningful rewards, and target new leads coming to you via referral with specialized messaging.

In addition to the benefits that marketing automation provide you throughout the customer journey, the tools offer bigger-picture benefits as well. You should be using the data you collect on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts throughout the customer journey to refine each of the steps you take along the way.

Marketing automation tools compile a lot of information on the effectiveness of your marketing approach across channels, which allows you to identify holes, find logjams, and then invest the time in fixing those issues. When you have a better understanding of your complete marketing approach along the entire customer journey, you’re empowered to create one that is even more optimized for future customers.

4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM

4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

As I’ve written about in the past, in today’s digital world, the customer journey is no longer a straight line. While you can’t exert complete control over the way in which customers and prospects interact with your business, it is possible to get strategic about guiding people differently depending on where they are in their individual journey.

One of the most useful tools for effectively guiding a customer’s journey is CRM. Because it is the place where you house all of your information on clients and prospects, it not only gives you in-depth information about each individual, it also allows you to see broader patterns in customer behavior and to tailor your approach to meet your customers where they are.

Below, I’ll share four tips for using your CRM tool to effectively drive the customer journey.

1. Identify Patterns in Customer Behavior

If you’ve been keeping good records in your CRM, it should have all of the data on your current customers. How they found you, the ways they’ve been in touch, what they’ve purchased, and the last time they did business with you. Using this information, you can begin to create a composite profile for your ideal customer, and then go out and target similar prospects.

Let’s say you own a photography studio. Maybe you work with a lot of couples who hire you as a wedding photographer. Maybe local business owners use you to do professional headshots for their team. When you’re able to identify patterns in demographics, it means that leads who fit a similar profile are more likely to be promising ones.

You can also use CRM to track the behaviors of existing clients. Is there one action that everyone seems to take before they make a purchase? Going with the photography example: it might be that prospects who convert always reach out via the CTA button on your wedding portfolio page, while your corporate headshot page gets less traction. That tells you something meaningful about your customer base, and that’s information you can use to assess the viability of prospects.

2. Score Your Leads

The next step in assessing your prospects is lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of looking at a prospect’s profile and behavior to see how likely it is that they’re serious about becoming a customer.

Once you have a complete picture of your ideal customer, you want to begin comparing that profile to your leads. Those prospects that have a profile most similar to your existing customers are considered hot leads. Those who fall outside of the profile of your typical client base are not people you want to spend your time and money marketing to. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever convert, no matter how great your product or service is.

The most important thing in establishing a lead scoring system is consistency. Make sure that you’re evaluating all leads on the same criteria, and establish a point system that makes sense for you and your business. Some CRMs come with lead scoring tools built in, or it’s possible to get a standalone system. This allows you to effectively budget your marketing time and dollars towards those hottest leads, while not wasting efforts on those who won’t ever convert.

3. Keep Tabs on Your Hottest Leads

Once you’ve gone through the effort of understanding current customer behavior and identifying those leads that are most similar in behavior or profile to your existing clients, you’ll want to keep tabs on those people. Don’t just use your CRM to track existing clients; you should be managing your relationships with prospects here, too.

For those hottest leads, you want to move them towards the trust and try portion of your marketing hourglass. Keep track of all of their behavior, and take a personalized approach in responding to their actions.

Continuing on with the photographer example above, let’s say you meet a couple at a wedding expo. They stop by your booth and chat with you about your work. In previous years, you’ve had a high conversion rate amongst those couples that you met at wedding expos, so you know that this is a hot lead. Do not miss the opportunity to close the deal with them!

This is where personalization comes in. Hopefully you’ve made notes about your interaction with them in your CRM. Reach out the day after the expo to send a message thanking them for their time, mentioning something specific about the details of their wedding that they discussed with you, and offering them the opportunity to sit down for a free consultation with you to discuss their photography needs.

Obviously, this level of personalization takes time and effort, and that’s precisely why you only want to focus this kind of attention on those most promising of leads. However, when you do prove to those prospects that you’re willing and able to go the extra mile, this is how you build trust and move them one step closer to becoming a customer.

4. Use Email Segmentation to Keep the Customer Experience High

So all of this effort in targeting hot leads and offering personalized service has paid off: You’ve won over a new customer! But this is not the end of the customer journey, and you can’t let the high quality of service that you’ve offered thus far drop off now that you’ve taken down someone’s credit card information.

Fortunately, you can use email segmentation to continue to offer that personalized touch. Within your CRM, it’s possible to group people based on their stage in the customer journey or on specific actions they’ve taken or products they’ve purchased. You can then send targeted messages to people in these groups.

Back to the photographer: You can set up your CRM to follow up with clients based on their activities or demographics. That couple from the wedding expo? Add them to your mailing list for your wedding newsletter, where you share tips and tricks about how to plan a really special day. Once they become a client and you shoot their wedding, add them to the list of happy customers that you then target with messaging about your referral program. And if you keep in touch with them regularly (which your CRM should help you with) then you can also reach out down the line to offer them a discount on baby photos for their birth announcement and family photos for holiday cards for years to come.

When used properly, a CRM is a powerful tool that allows you to direct customers to have the experience you want them to have. You can identify and interact with those who really are your target audience, and continue to present them with valuable messaging at the right time, ensuring that their customer experience remains high during every interaction.

The Central Role of Advertising In The Customer Journey?

The Central Role of Advertising In The Customer Journey? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you think of advertising, your first association might be with attracting new customers. Ads are supposed to reach out to audiences unknown, introduce them to your brand, and bring them on board.

But in reality, advertising can be used effectively throughout the customer journey. It’s not only a tool to reach prospective clients; it can also keep those you’ve already converted around for many years to come.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the marketing hourglass, and while you’re undertaking that approach to marketing on the whole, you can incorporate advertising into each of the seven key steps along the hourglass.

Advertising to the Know and Like Crowd

Before someone ever becomes a customer, they will first need to come into contact with your brand and decide that you’re offering a product or service that’s unique and that will serve their specific needs in a way that no one else can.

If you’re looking to reach prospects, you want to target people who are similar to your current customers. It stands to reason that those who will have similar needs and wants to your current clients probably also have other similar attributes (age, location, budget, etc.).

Online advertising tools have become increasingly advanced and allow you to direct your ad spend only at those who are most likely to want to know and like your brand. Facebook offers a service called lookalike audiences, where business owners are able to upload the contact list of their current customers, and Facebook in turn identifies people with similar attributes for you to target with your ads. Google Ads offers business owners the ability to target users by geographical location and by those who are searching for specific keywords.

The key to advertising to prospects is knowing and understanding your current clients. The more data you have on them and their habits, the more likely you are to be able to hone in on a similar audience who would be more than happy to stumble across your business.

Advertising to the Trust and Try Crowd

Once someone becomes aware of your company, they move a bit further along the marketing hourglass to the trust and try stages. Here, you’ll want your advertising efforts to help users build confidence in what your brand can do, and to give them an opportunity to take what you’re offering out for a spin.

A key part of a prospect developing trust in your business is seeing you around consistently. The mere exposure effect in psychology says that people are more likely to trust someone or something that they see over and over again. Advertising across various channels (both on- and offline) will help to keep your brand front and center in prospects’ minds.

This also means that part of your advertising strategy is just about hanging in there. If you don’t see results right away from your advertising spend, don’t throw in the towel. Sure, it’s fine to tweak your approach, but scrapping the entire thing will take your business off the radar screen of those who might have been interested in giving your product or service a try if it had only popped up on their screen one or two more times.

Once prospects have seen you around and you’ve piqued their interest, they might want to take your product or service out for a test drive before committing and converting. Providing offers for free, advanced content like an eBook or access to a webinar, or giving prospects a free trial option can be the final step before converting. While I’d suggest that you take a more personalized approach to your interactions with prospects, it’s also possible to include offers in more general advertising. Just be sure that when you’re targeting specific people with personalized messaging, you’re offering something that isn’t generally available to anyone coming across your advertising.

Advertising to the Buy, Repeat and Refer Crowd

Congratulations! Your earlier advertising efforts were successful, and you’ve now gained your newest customer. But your work is far from over—now your focus needs to be on keeping the customer experience high.

Once someone has converted, your contact with them can be much more specific and personalized through other marketing channels, but it’s still possible to use advertising to keep current clients happy, have them coming back for more, and (most importantly) telling all their friends about you.

One of the most important things for creating repeat business is staying on-brand in your advertising. You’ve worked so hard to get in front of these customers and to win their trust, so you want to continue to hammer home your mission statement and keep your messaging and voice consistent so that your customers feel like they really know and understand your company. This helps to reinforce your trustworthiness, and will make those customers all the more likely to come back themselves and to become a referral engine.

You can also use these loyal customers as a part of your advertising efforts. Including testimonials from those who are already brand-loyal in your advertising campaigns can help to win over those who are still in the trust phase of the hourglass. Indeed, 70 percent of people say that they’re influenced by other consumers’ opinions shared online.

Advertising can be a powerful way to reach your customers and prospects alike. Advertising can be seen by and have an influence on people no matter where they are in marketing hourglass. Identifying the proper audience for your advertising efforts, creating a consistent message that builds trust, and staying top of mind with both prospects and current clients will ensure that you get the most out of your advertising dollars.

The Marketing Framework That is a Must For Your Business

The Marketing Framework That is a Must For Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Traditionally, the marketing and sales funnel had the approach of taking a large target group and getting a few clients out of it (i.e. the funnel analogy).

Of course, the funnel concept won’t ever go away, but about ten years ago I defined what I think is still a much better approach – I call it the Marketing Hourglass.

It borrows from the funnel shape but turns it on its head after the purchase to help intentionally account for the idea of creating a remarkable customer experience.

However, the buyer behavior has changed significantly in recent years. In fact, according to a CEB survey, 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier. If they decide they have a problem, they’ll go out and proactively try to find a solution.

If you’re not getting found in that state of the customer journey, you’re in real trouble.

In the same survey mentioned above, they found that 53% of those surveyed claimed that the sales experience itself was one of the greatest contributing factors in continued loyalty to the brand.

Knowing this is why I developed the Marketing Hourglass as a tool that can help you create the picture for your client’s overall marketing strategy. In my opinion, it’s a more holistic and increasingly effective approach in the “era of the customer” we live in today.

Instead of creating demand, our job is to really organize behavior, and I believe this behavior falls into the following seven stages:

Know 

One of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Keep advertising in mind during this phase as well and use content to spark interest.

Creating a process that makes it easy for current customers to refer the business is also a great way to generate awareness with new prospects.

Like 

Once a prospect has been attracted to your site, you must give them reasons to come back and like your business. An eNewsletter is an example of a tremendous content tool for nurturing leads during this phase as it allows you to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.

Trust 

Reviews, success stories, and client testimonials are your golden tickets in this phase. The ability to tell why your organization does what it does in stories that illustrate purpose in action is perhaps the key trust building content piece of the puzzle.

Try 

This is a phase that many people skip, but it can be the easiest way to move people to buy. This stage is basically an audition and it’s where you need to deliver more than anyone could possibly consider doing for a free or low-cost version of what you sell.

In this stage, offer ebooks, webinars, and other information-focused content. Consider offering free evaluations or trials here as well.

Buy 

In this phase, you must be able to show real results. Keep in mind, the total customer experience is measured by the end result, not the build-up to the sale. Keep the customer experience high. Exceed their expectations and surprise them.

Create content that acts as a new customer kit. Consider creating quick start guides, in-depth user manuals, and customer support communities as well.

Repeat 

Ensure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you. Don’t wait for them to call you when they need something, stay top of mind through educational content.

Consider creating a results review process where you help your client measure the results they are actually getting by working with you.

Refer 

The Marketing Hourglass journey is ultimately about turning happy clients into referral clients by creating a great experience.

Start this phase by documenting your referral process. Create tools that make it easy for you to teach your biggest fans and strategic partners how to refer you.

marketing hourglass

For people who have come to know about your business, you essentially need to walk with them all the way down the path to where they become your biggest fan.

Mapping customer touchpoints

You can use this framework to build an overall strategy and launch a product or campaign. By doing this, you’ll start to find flexibility where anytime somebody comes to you, you can fill in the gaps with the stage above to truly help them out.

Everybody’s business has these stages, they may just not be addressing them all and that’s what you need to point out.

Take a look at the ways that your business comes into contact with your customers and prospects. Some of the touchpoints may be planned and scripted, and some may not. Some happen by accident, while some simply don’t happen at all (i.e. are people successfully make it from marketing to sales). Touchpoints can include:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Enrollment
  • Service
  • Education
  • Follow-up
  • Finance

Understanding the journey

Once you map the touchpoints, you need to have a conversation about:

  • Customer goals
  • Customer touchpoints
  • Customer questions
  • Projects

You may only be paying attention when somebody is trying to buy and a lot of times people have to be nurtured and trust your before you can even attempt to help them solve a problem. This element is important, but it’s often hard for people to wrap their minds around because many are used to just focusing on the sale.

In order to effectively build a Marketing Hourglass, you must fully understand the questions your prospects are asking themselves before they are aware that your solution exists.

It’s helpful to just brainstorm around the seven stages.

Constructing the hourglass

With an understanding of the customer’s touchpoints and journey, you can start to fill in the logical stages of your hourglass with the discoveries you found, which will lead to a greater experience.

By taking the marketing hourglass approach and giving equal attention to building trust and delivering a remarkable experience, you set your business up to create the kind of momentum that comes from an end to end customer journey.

Want my advice? Take the time to fully understand this tool, as it is something you will return to over and over again.

If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.

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