Category Archives: Lead Conversion

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5 Must-Have Elements of Every Small Business Landing Page

5 Must-Have Elements of Every Small Business Landing Page written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Landing pages are a must for your website. Whether you create an online product ad, have an event coming up, want to tell people about your latest book, or otherwise have a special offer to promote, landing pages need to be part of your marketing.

Rather than directing your audience to your homepage and asking them to dig around for the content they want, landing pages help direct viewers to the messaging that’s most relevant to them. If they clicked on an ad touting your same-day service, you can direct them to a landing page that features your online booking system. If you created a Facebook post about your upcoming conference, you should link out to your landing page featuring information about speakers and schedule, and with a call to action to purchase tickets.

Landing pages are a critical part of the sales process to support any ad or attempt to drive traffic. And all great landing pages share these five features.

1. A Promise To Solve a Problem

Viewers click on your search ad or social media post because something in the copy resonates with them. They saw that you understand the problem they’re looking to solve, and they want to learn more. The landing page that you drive them to needs to open with a promise to solve that problem.

A great landing page has a main headline, a supporting sub-headline, and a proof statement. Let’s take a look at this landing page for Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World Conference.

Anyone who runs social media for a business knows that the landscape is constantly shifting. Best practices change on a dime. Staying on top of the latest trends is critical if you want to get noticed, and that’s the very problem that the Social Media Marketing World Conference is solving.

They start with the headline: “Discover the best social media marketing strategies from the world’s top experts.” This tells readers that by attending, they’ll have access to high-caliber guests and will be getting top-notch advice to help with their social efforts.

The sub-head states, “You’ll discover the latest tactics and master social media in 2020.” This builds confidence that the people speaking at the conference are on the cutting edge—if you attend, you won’t be hearing about things that worked in the past. Instead, you’ll have access to the hottest knowledge that will vault you ahead of your competition this year.

Next up is their proof statement: “Join thousands of fellow marketers and influencers at the mega-conference designed to empower you with business-building ideas.” This is a conference that’s been around for years and is trusted by tons of other industry professionals. They keep coming back year after year because the conference delivers for them, so what’s stopping you from signing up?

Unsurprisingly, the folks running this marketing conference have a great handle on how to create a strong  landing page. But no matter what field you’re in, you can do the same for your business by focusing on those three key elements: headline, sub-head, proof statement.

2. The Hero Element

Once you’ve captured people’s attention with a header that promises to solve their problem, you want to draw them in further. That’s where the hero element comes in. This is typically a visual component—either still image or video—that provides context for your audience. It helps them understand how your service or product will change their lives for the better.

The hero metaphor is two-fold. You want to establish yourself as their hero, someone who’s capable of coming in and solving their problem. But sometimes the hero image is actually of them; it’s a look at how, once their problem is solved, they can go on to do bigger and better things for themselves and those around them.

Check out this hero image for TruGreen’s landing page for their lawn pest protection services.

The image shows a mom and daughter playing on their lush, healthy lawn. And while TruGreen isn’t literally in the picture, the beautiful grass represents their hard work. They strove to keep pests at bay and made this backyard a place for quality family time. This mom isn’t stuck wasting time trying to fix her lawn herself. Instead, TruGreen has taken care of that for her, and she’s able to enjoy being a parent.

3. List of Benefits

By now, you’ve drawn your audience in with a bold opening statement and compelling visual. Next up, you want to provide a specific summary of the benefits they’ll get from taking advantage of your headline offer. This is your opportunity to list benefits and features in detail.

Take this example from Rite Plumbing and Heating, which is the landing page you come to after searching “same day plumber near me” on Google.

Their list of benefits goes into detail and addresses many of the concerns a prospect might have. Their plumbers are available immediately and around the clock. You know what you’ll pay before you book, so you don’t have to worry about surprise charges on your final bill. Their team is licensed and insured, so you can rest easy letting them into your home. And they’re not looking for the quick and easy solution. Instead, they search for the underlying cause and fix that so you don’t need an emergency plumber again in a few weeks’ time!

By providing this level of detail up front, you eliminate any hesitation a prospect might have. And by keeping all of this information on the same landing page, you prevent your audience from having to dig through your website for a separate FAQ page. You’ve given them all of the information they need right here, right now to make their decision.

4. Social Proof

Even with all of that information from you, sometimes prospects want one final layer of reassurance. Of course you think your business is great, but do your existing customers agree?

You could leave your prospect to search for you on Yelp or Google My Business, but that invites them to leave your landing page and opens up the possibility that they might discover one of your competitors and drift over to them. Instead, provide social proof directly on your landing page to keep your audience right where you want them.

Take a look at what I’ve done on the landing page for my latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

I’ve collected quotes from other well-respected and recognizable authors and thought leaders who had nice things to say about my book. For someone who may be on the fence about purchasing the book, these quotes give them a greater sense of what the work is about and provide external proof of its value. It’s no longer just me saying nice things about my own book; others who are in-the-know think it’s useful, too.

Social proof on your landing page can come in a number of forms. It can be quotes or testimonials, like in this example. You can also include likes and shares that are linked up with your social media pages. Or you can show starred ratings that come from external local listings sites like Yelp or Google My Business.

Basically, anything that shows that other people have given your product or service a try and have left happy customers is of value in the social proof stage.

5. One Call to Action

You’ve given it all you’ve got. You drew readers in with a killer headline. Then you created an image that shows how great life could be with your product or service. You gave your audience the inside scoop on exactly what they can expect if they make the purchase. And you’ve proven that other people like what you do.

Now it’s time to go in with the call to action. It’s important that you only create one call to action per landing page. Having multiple buttons and forms asking your audience to do different things is very confusing. And it can scare people off from taking your desired action.

Instead, create one button or a basic form. The appropriate call to action will depend on what you’re asking someone to do. If you’re asking them to do something very simple, like ordering a book, a button can suffice. If you’re offering a free quote or to schedule an appointment, a short form might be the right fit.

There you have it! Those are the five elements every small business landing page must have to be successful. For a look at all of the elements coming together on one page, check out this wireframe:

By following this simple formula for creating landing pages, you can ensure that every ad campaign gets the highest conversion rates possible. A clean, clear landing page that addresses any questions or issues a prospect might have is the way to convince readers to take the desired action.

How to Generate Leads for $100 a Month Using Facebook Ads

How to Generate Leads for $100 a Month Using Facebook Ads written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Facebook ads are an incredible way to generate exciting new leads for your business. There are nearly 2.5 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide, meaning that you have the opportunity to reach a huge audience if you play your advertising cards right.

The other benefit to the platform is the relatively low cost of advertising. Across industries, the average cost per click for Facebook ads is $1.72. It’s entirely possible for a small business to get great results spending only $100 per month on Facebook ads.

But the secret to getting the most out of a small investment in Facebook advertising is creating really effective campaigns. And to generate leads using Facebook ads, you need to take a step back and revisit everything you think you know about advertising.

Reframe How You Think About Advertising

When you think about print, television, or radio ads—more traditional advertising media—you likely picture an ad that’s selling a specific product. However, this sales-focused messaging that’s worked for decades in other channels will not net results on Facebook.

People expect to be sold to by a television or radio commercial or in the direct mailers they receive. But they go to Facebook for an entirely different reason. People are on Facebook to build connections and community, not to be marketed at. So your Facebook advertising needs to be less about “buy my stuff” and more about creating content that builds awareness and trust of your brand.

When people see useful content from your brand on their feeds, they come to know, like, and trust your business. You establish yourself as a source of knowledge and become more like a trusted friend than a pushy, anonymous salesperson.

Start With Great Content

So the place to start on Facebook is not with a sales pitch, but with meaningful content. In order to identify content topics that will resonate with your audience, start with keyword research.

Take a look at your existing content, and see which search terms are leading people to find that content. Using Google Search Console, you can access a list of the real-world search terms people are using to discover each page on your website.

Look for patterns in the types of queries that are leading to your content. And look for intent in those queries. Understanding the intent, or the why, behind a person’s search term can help you craft new content that speaks to the needs and wants of your prospects.

Competitive research can be helpful in this pursuit as well. Identify gaps in your competitors’ content offerings, or find ways to expand upon the successful content they’ve created. That’s a great way to give your audience what they want.

Make Sure the Right People See It

You know that old saying about the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it? The same principle applies to your online content. If no interested parties are around to see your Facebook ads, it won’t move the needle and generate leads.

Let’s say you own a home remodeling company. No matter how great your content about preparing for a remodel is, if it only gets seen by a bunch of renters who aren’t in the market for your services, you might as well flush your advertising dollars down the (newly installed) toilet.

Once you’ve created meaningful content, you’ll turn to Facebook to share it with the world. Start by sharing your content organically on the platform by posting on your Facebook page. For your advertising purposes, you’ll want to focus on those pieces of content that get the greatest engagement. When a noteworthy portion of your existing audience likes and comments on a particular piece of content, it’s a sign. You know you’ve hit upon something that really resonates with your ideal audience.

From there, you can boost the post with Facebook via their advertising platform. Using their custom audiences tool allows you to show your content only to people who are likely to find it relevant. Meaning, if yours is a remodeling business, you can direct your ad spend at people in certain neighborhoods, age groups, and even those who Facebook knows recently purchased a home.

By boosting your posts, you expand your reach beyond your existing followers. And by boosting to a custom audience who looks like your existing best customers, you ensure you’re getting the greatest ROI on your advertising investment.

Follow Up With Your Best Prospects

Once you’ve boosted your content, it’s time to track how it performs with the broader world. Facebook provides detailed analytics that allow you to see how people react to and interact with the content. They’ll show a breakdown of organic versus paid reach. Plus, you can see likes, comments, and shares on the post.

You’ll also want to create and install a Facebook pixel on your website. This tool allows you to track customer behavior on your website. Adding the pixel enables you to see how your advertising on Facebook is affecting prospects’ behaviors on your site.

With these analytics in hand, you’ll want to follow up with those prospects who are showing the greatest promise—the people who are interacting with your content and exploring your website. Once someone expresses that interest, provide them with a next step towards conversion.

This should be advertising content that invites them to try. Show them an ad for a free trial or evaluation. By reserving these ads for those who have already expressed an interest in your brand, you’re boosting your advertising ROI once again. Save your serious advertising offers for your serious prospects, and you’ll be more likely to get a higher conversion rate.

Facebook advertising doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get results. If you’re smart about the content you create and the audience you target, you can generate impressive returns with a small monetary investment.

Why Paid Search Must Be Part of Your Mix

Why Paid Search Must Be Part of Your Mix written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Digital advertising isn’t a novel idea. From Google and Facebook ads to sponsored content on LinkedIn to banner ads on other websites, advertising online has been around for a while. Just because it’s an established marketing channel, though, doesn’t mean it’s lost any of its relevance. If anything, the importance of advertising in general, and of paid search in particular, has increased in the past few years.

So let’s take a closer look at paid search. Why does it matter for your business? How can paid search assist in lead generation? And what can you do to get the most out of your campaigns?

It’s Not Just for Retailers Anymore

Some business owners have written off the concept of paid search because they’re not a retailer or B2C. The fact of the matter is that while certain industries, like retail, have already learned how to harness the power of paid search, businesses in any field can benefit from it.

Increasingly, Google is where people head to find information about businesses. And it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is—B2B or B2C, retailer or service provider—people are opening up a search browser to find you online.

This is true of prospects who are looking for new solutions to their problems. But it’s equally true for existing customers! Have you ever wondered what time your go-to coffee shop closes, and typed their name in on Google search or Maps to scope their hours? Or maybe you’ve searched for your regular hair salon to find their number to call for an appointment? Searching for businesses we already know and love has become common practice in the Google age.

Businesses of all stripes and sizes need to be easily searchable on Google because that’s where everyone goes to find the information they need about your business.

Paid Search is Taking Up More Real Estate

So you understand that having a presence on search engines, particularly Google, is important. But why not just focus on SEO and call it a day?

With each passing year, we’re seeing the expansion of Google Ads. Google now offers dozens of types of ads, from traditional text-only ads to photos and carousels to map listings. And with all of the various ad products available, they’re giving paid search results more and more space at the top of SERPs.

I recently did a search for a local business: I Googled plumbers in my hometown of Kansas City. And I discovered that the first page of results on Google was filled with paid search and aggregator results (things like Angie’s list and Yelp). In fact, the first organic result for an individual company didn’t appear until page two!

Research has shown that the listings at the top of Google SERPs capture an outsized share of all web traffic. In fact, only five percent of websites found on page two of results get any clicks at all! Even businesses with an incredible SEO strategy can still be completely overlooked by searchers who click on one of the many ads that appear ahead of any organic results.

Get Involved in the Process

By now I hope I’ve convinced you that paid search is an essential element in any small business’ marketing strategy. But if you’ve never run a Google Ads campaign before, you may feel overwhelmed. There are a number of technical elements to consider when it comes to building out a campaign—from bid strategy to identifying audiences—not to mention the creative side of crafting your ad content.

While it might be tempting for you to hand over full control to a PPC firm, that’s risky. Even if you don’t have the technical know-how to handle the whole process on your own, you want to be sure you understand the concepts behind paid search so you’re able to be a smart consumer. Do you research on PPC firms. Speak with a number of them about your needs, and then select the one that understands your goals and has a clear roadmap to help you meet them.

And that means focusing on something beyond the number of clicks they garner for you each month. Many PPCs will proudly report to their clients that they generated X number of clicks. But the reality for the business owner is that the number of clicks means nothing if those clicks don’t ultimately result in purchases. The right PPC firm will understand that distinction and look to prove results beyond that one metric.

Focus on Purchase Intent

How do you ensure that those clicks are actually resulting in revenue for your business? Focus your paid search efforts on people that are actually looking to make a purchase.

SEO is great for those long-tail searchers. They’re seeking information about your industry and may make a purchase from you at some point in the future. If you maintain a strong, content-focused SEO strategy, you can dominate in those long-tail searches and build a relationship with prospects who will come to know, like, and trust you over time.

To connect with prospects in need of immediate solutions, however, paid search is the way to go. If a homeowner is looking for a plumber to repair a burst pipe, they don’t have time to read through page after page of thoughtful content from a dozen different providers and carefully narrow things down to their number one choice. They need a solution right now, and they’re going to go with one of the first names they come across.

When you position yourself well in paid search, bidding on keywords and search terms that indicate an urgent need and high purchase intent, you set yourself up to be one of those first names they encounter (and you’re that much more likely to be the business they ultimately hire).

Keep an Eye on Local Services Ads

Which brings me to the topic of Google’s Local Services Ads product. While Local Services Ads started out with a narrow focus—in only a few major cities and specifically for providers in the home services realm (think: plumbers, contractors, and housekeeping businesses)—their reach is rapidly expanding. The categories of businesses listed in Local Services Ads continue to grow, and the ads are now available in even more regions.

I only expect the reach of these ads to expand further. Soon, I anticipate that we’ll see everything from law offices to hair salons being listed in the Local Services framework. My advice here, then, is to sign up with Local Services right now if you can. And if you’re in an industry that’s not yet in the Local Services universe, keep an eye on that space and be ready to dive in when your field does become added to the platform.

Paid search has always been an important tactic in any small business’ overall marketing strategy. But as the Google landscape continues to shift, it takes on an even greater significance. Following the advice above can help you to build out a paid search approach that facilitates lead generation and gets the greatest possible ROI.

The Role of Your Website in Guiding the Customer Journey

The Role of Your Website in Guiding the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Today’s customer journey is more complex than ever. From social media to paid search to offline marketing, there are dozens of ways someone can discover your company. The main role of your website in this twisting journey is to be a solid central point.

While prospects may discover your brand anywhere, you want to be driving that traffic from those disparate points back to your website. Your website is the one online asset that you have complete control over, and a well-designed website is the key to taking the reins on guiding the customer journey.

Let me walk you through the role that your website can and should play at each stage of the customer journey.

Know and Like

Prospects discover brands through all sorts of channels, and it’s entirely possible that your website is not the first place they’ll encounter you. It might be through a local listing service like Yelp, or on social media, or maybe they see a truck with your logo driving around town—who knows! But every other channel where you are present should include your website’s URL, so that it’s easy for prospects to go there and learn more.

Additionally, there are steps you can take to give your website the best shot at being the first point of contact with your brand. Undertaking keyword research allows you to see the real terms that searchers use when looking for the solution your business offers. Once you know that information, you can optimize your website so that it ranks for those terms. Couple keyword research with some effective, descriptive metadata, and you’ll be well on your way to generating more website traffic through organic search results.

Once prospects land on your website, you want to greet them with messaging and design that helps them come to further know and like your brand. Your homepage should include a promise to visitors, front and center. The promise should demonstrate that you understand their pain points and know how to solve them. Follow that up with a call to action; something that drives them to take a logical next step with your brand. This can be something like signing up for your newsletter or a free trial—nothing that includes too big a commitment. They did just meet you, after all! You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you at the end of your first date.

There are a number of other elements I recommend including on a homepage, but what’s most important is that you share what it is that you solve for your customers and how you can help others solve those same problems, too.

Trust and Try

Once a prospect has your brand on their radar screen, your website can help to strengthen their trust in you, until they finally decide to give you a try.

There are many trust-building elements that you can and should include in your website. Testimonials and case studies are a great way to demonstrate the value you’ve brought to other customers. They help to build an emotional connection with the prospect, who can see themselves reflected in the needs and struggles of your existing customer.

Content is also a critical element in building trust. Blogs, podcasts, and videos are all ways to share meaningful content with your audience. Your website should be the central location where all of your content lives, so that anyone interested in learning more about what you do can discover the wealth of knowledge you bring to the table. I also strongly advocate for the creation of hub pages. These pages bring all of your content on a centralized topic together on one page. They establish you as an authority on the subject (and they’re great for boosting your SEO, too!).

Once those trust elements have won over your audience and they’re ready to give you a try, you want to greet them with an appropriate call to action (CTA) that guides them to the next phase of the customer journey. Include relevant CTAs on your trust-building pages. At the bottom of your hub page, offer free access to a paid report. At the bottom of your testimonials page, include a CTA to schedule a free consultation.

Buy

You’ve reached the moment of truth! Your prospect is ready to become a first-time customer, and it’s again up to your website to help you make it happen.

At this stage, it’s about reducing friction in the purchasing process as much as possible, to ensure that you don’t lose any interested prospects at the last minute because of a frustratingly complex purchasing process. If you have an e-commerce shop, reduce the number of clicks it takes to add items to a cart and to complete check-out. Ask for as little information as possible to complete the sale. When customers feel bogged down with long forms or a circuitous route to check-out, it’s possible you can lose them at the moment of truth.

If yours is a service business, create a simple online sign-up form, so that prospects can easily make an appointment. Use a platform that doesn’t require them to register for an outside app or service to schedule. And including thoughtful touches, like a system that automatically adds the confirmed appointment to your customer’s calendar app of choice, is a nice way to make the buying process as seamless as possible.

Repeat and Refer

Once you’ve won over a new customer, your website’s work isn’t over! There are opportunities to turn that one-time customer into a lifelong one—someone who refers friends and family along the way.

A well-designed sitemap can help to encourage repeat purchases. When you’re building your website, think about the best way to showcase related product and services. Driving customers who have already made a purchase to another area of your website that covers a complementary offering is a smart way to drive upsells and repeat business. A CRM tool that’s synced up with your website is also a great way to keep track of past purchases so that you can use email marketing to send related offerings to interested customers straight to their inbox.

Your website can help you to collect feedback and reviews, which can in turn generate referral business. Through your site, you can link out to your profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook, making it easy for your existing happy customers to share positive feedback about your business on these other platforms. You can also solicit testimonials from your existing customers, which you can feature on your website.

Your website is the heart of your online presence. It needs to be ready to work for you and your customers at any stage along their journey. Whether they’ve just discovered you via a new search or are coming back to make their 100th purchase, your website should make it easy for them to find all of the information and support they need.

How to Put Together An Effective Remarketing Strategy

How to Put Together An Effective Remarketing Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Remarketing is an incredible marketing tool. Before the days of the internet, if someone came into your store, browsed, even picked up and really considered a product, but then left without purchasing, there was no way to guarantee you’d ever see them again.

However, remarketing allows you to reach out to those prospects who are on the fence. When someone browses your website but doesn’t convert, it’s now possible for you to pop up again in their field of vision through the power of remarketing! You can target them with your advertising on other websites, and hopefully staying top of mind will eventually lead to that much-desired conversion.

This already sounds like a pretty great marketing tactic, right? It is, but there are ways to build a remarketing strategy that can take your efforts to the next level and get even more conversions from interested prospects. Here’s how you do it.

1. Set Goals

As with any great marketing campaign, an effective remarketing strategy starts with goal setting. What are you trying to do with these ads? This will depend on the kind of business you run. If yours is an e-commerce shop, selling relatively inexpensive items, you might be looking to get someone to make a purchase.

However, for those who run businesses with longer sales cycles—for example, a B2B consulting firm—your ideal conversion might not be a sale. Instead, it might be getting someone to give their email in exchange for access to a free ebook.

No matter what kind of business you run, it makes sense to set really specific goals for each remarketing campaign. Rather than creating one ad that you hope will serve various audiences, it’s best to establish a handful of specific goals and then create different ads that speak to each goal.

2. Decide Where You Want to Advertise

Remarketing can be done via search engines like Google or through social media sites like Facebook. Once you’ve established your goals, you can begin to think about which platforms make the most sense for your ads.

The major benefit to advertising on social media is that you are likely to get likes, shares, comments, and reposts from interested people (and since you’re retargeting your messaging to those who have already been to your website, you know they’re already interested in your brand!). Search engine marketing, however, will follow your customers across any websites that are ad partners with the search engine you do business with. This means that your audience will be greeted with your advertising across the web, not just on the social media site you’ve selected.

There’s no need to limit yourself to one platform. There’s often a huge benefit to being seen multiple times by your audience. Most people need to see a brand seven times before they decide to engage with them, so the more times you can get your name in someone’s field of vision, the better.

3. Define Your Audience

Once you’ve come up with your set of goals, you can begin to define and segment your audience. Let’s say you own a clothing store that has both a brick and mortar and e-commerce presence. There are a number of ways, then, that you can and should break down your audience.

You can segment and target based on location. For those people who have visited your website and live within a certain radius of your store, you can target them with advertising about your brick and mortar location. These ads, of course, are not relevant to people living on the other side of the country, so those folks should instead be targeted with advertising specific to your e-commerce offerings.

Those who have visited your store and browsed your men’s clothing options, you can retarget with messaging specific to your menswear options (and you can target those interested in women’s clothing with those offerings). You can even retarget customers who have taken specific actions on your website. For example, you can set your campaign to only show to customers who have put items into their cart on your site and then navigated away without completing the purchase.

The goals you set for each campaign will inherently be aligned with a specific audience. Defining the audience for your campaign early on ensures that your advertising is only being shown to the most relevant people, meaning you’ll get the greatest ROI on your campaign.

4. Set Your Creative

Once you’ve set goals and decided on your target audience, it’s time to settle on your creative. A huge part of creating great content is understanding your audience and speaking to them in your brand’s voice and tone.

There are also tools that help you to optimize your approach when it comes to content. If you’re running your remarketing campaign through Google, you can use responsive ads. With responsive ads, you input your various creative elements—different headlines, copy, and images—and Google runs them in various combinations so that they can learn which ones are most effective. From there, they’ll run the best-performing ads on your behalf, to give your ads the greatest shot at success.

5. Run Your Ads and Track Results

The final step is to get your ads up and running! Fortunately, advertising platforms provide detailed analytics so that you can accurately measure the results of your campaigns. The analytics allow you to measure engagement and conversions on each ad. Armed with this information, you can tweak your strategy as you go.

If there are certain ads that aren’t doing well, consider changing up the creative. If there are certain websites where retargeting is not effective, you can ask that Google not show your advertising on those sites any longer. Being willing to pivot and change tactics along the way is a huge part of finding long-term success with your retargeting efforts.

Remarketing is an incredible opportunity for you to recapture the attention of consumers who have already shown interest in your brand. When you take things step-by-step and develop a real strategy for reaching out to various segments of your audience, you can create campaigns with a great ROI.

Why Storytelling Can Help Your Business’ Bottom Line

Why Storytelling Can Help Your Business’ Bottom Line written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you’re thinking about how to promote your business, it can be tempting to focus solely on your products and services. After all, when you boil any business down to its most essential element it is about getting consumers to purchase the product or service that’s being offered.

But how you reach the end goal of closing that sale is at the heart of any good marketing strategy. And the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of businesses out there that can offer consumers a solution that’s very similar to yours. Plus, with the internet, location is not a barrier in the same way it used to be. So how do you stand out from your global competition?

Storytelling is a great way to build a personal connection with your customers, which is the differentiator that will keep them coming back to you, year after year, rather than turning to your rivals.

It Instantly Establishes a Human Connection

In today’s digital age, it’s now possible to be a long-term customer of a business and never interact with an actual human being at the company. For online giants like Amazon, what keeps people coming back is the fact that their prices are competitive and they have everything you could ever want; Amazon is highly convenient.

As the owner of a smaller business, you’re never going to be able to compete with the likes of an Amazon on those fronts. You need to find another way to stand out. A human connection is the reason someone chooses to buy from a local business rather than the faceless multinational corporate.

When you embrace storytelling that shows off your business’s personality, highlights fun facts about your team members, and makes customers feel like they really know the people behind the brand, that establishes a meaningful, lasting connection. For some tips on how to build a human connection with storytelling, check out this post.

It Helps You Stand Out on Social

So much of online marketing now is about social media. And because the purpose of these platforms is creating connection and telling stories, they’re the perfect place to employ smart storytelling techniques.

This starts by embracing the platform you’re on. Storytelling on you company’s Twitter account will be handled in a very different manner than the storytelling you do on Instagram. Twitter is of course focused on the written word, while Instagram is about telling stories through images. Using these different media to weave together a cohesive story across platforms is another great way to build trust and brand awareness.

When prospects encounter your brand across various social media platforms, but are always met with the same voice and point of view, this establishes your business as trustworthy and authoritative. Plus, when you take the time to actually interact with people—provide direct answers to their questions, react to photos they share that are related to your business, or otherwise undertake personalized engagement—you make your fans feel seen and special.

Once you’ve made a good impression on social, that helps you drive those prospects to your website, where you can hit them with your comprehensive storytelling that’s designed to move them through the customer journey.

It Guides the Customer Through Their Journey

The customer journey is not as clear-cut as it used to be. Because there are a myriad of ways someone can encounter your brand for the first time, it’s trickier for marketers to create a clear path from first interaction through to repeat business and referrals.

However, brand storytelling on your website can help you achieve this goal. Your website is the one asset online where you have complete control of all the content, so take advantage of that. Design your site so that the home page immediately addresses the concerns of your prospects and tells them who you are and why you can help. A short video that shares your mission is a great, bite-sized way to let people know who you are.

From there, you want to structure your website in a logical way that moves customers through the stages of their journey, with storytelling as your guide. The home page is the start of the story: the solution you offer. The next pages should address the middle of the story: how you fix their problem and why you’re the right people for the job. The end of the story is where the prospect reaches out to learn more and become a customer.

It Drives Conversions

Sometimes business owners focus solely on the ultimate conversion: the sale. But in reality, there are multiple conversions all along the customer journey. If a first-time visitor to your website comes back again several days later, that is a conversion. If that person then requests a white paper on a topic of interest, that’s a conversion, too.

Using smart storytelling that’s targeted at prospects and customers based on where they are in their journey, is a great way to drive those conversions.

Think about it this way: let’s say you have a video that covers your company’s origin story. It tells a compelling story, and is great at grabbing the attention of prospects. But this asset is not going to serve you well with those repeat customers who already know your business’s history. They need another story that speaks directly to where they are in their history with your business, and drives them to make the next conversion on their journey (which, for a repeat customer would be to refer you to someone else).

This kind of customer you’d want to greet with another story. Perhaps you create a referral program and pair it with a note that explains why you’re so passionate about sharing your business’s solutions with the friends of your existing customers.

Just like you wouldn’t hand a toddler a copy of Wuthering Heights (or a high schooler a copy of Goodnight Moon, for that matter!), driving conversions is about greeting different people with different stories.

Storytelling is at the heart of any strong marketing strategy. Knowing what your business does best and sharing why you’re passionate about your work is the way to win trust (and customers). Effective storytelling will keep your bottom line healthy and your customers coming back for more.

How to Create Effective Follow Up Campaigns

How to Create Effective Follow Up Campaigns written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Follow up campaigns can be a tricky thing for small business owners to manage. Not only do they take time and energy to create, but there’s always that nagging question: What is the line between being persistent and being annoying?

While it might seem like you’re crossing that line, the reality is that most people don’t take you up on an offer the first time you make it. So if you’re not organizing a follow up campaign, you’re losing out on converting prospects that would have become customers if they had heard from you one or two more times. Or you’re leaving behind the chance to drive customers up the product ladder.

Today we’ll take a look at the elements that go into creating an effective follow up campaign and which tools can help you get it done.

Define Your Goals

The first step to just about any marketing strategy is establishing the why behind it. The same is true for your follow up campaigns. Begin by asking yourself what you want your prospects or clients to do as a result of receiving the campaign.

Maybe it’s getting a prospect to hop on a demo call with someone from your sales team. Maybe it’s getting an existing customer to join your referral program. Whatever the aim is, it’s helpful to get specific about the action you want the person to take so that you can tailor your whole campaign towards driving that action.

Keep Your Messaging Fresh

Anyone who has an email address knows that there’s a lot of mail coming your way every day. If you continue to make the same ask in the same way, over and over again, that’s a surefire way to get your email filtered out or deleted.

Even though you have a goal in mind, your follow up should not just be the same content copied, pasted, and re-sent. Let’s say you own a landscaping business and you reach out to former customers towards the end of winter, encouraging them to sign up for recurring lawn care appointments in the spring and summer.

You set your goal to be having clients sign up for a full package of 10 sessions, but each email should take a different approach. The first one might be a video, showing families spending more time together at the beach because someone else is taking care of their landscaping. The next one might be a set of testimonials from customers who signed up for the lawn care package last year and loved it. The third might be an offer to package your lawn care services with managing spring plantings, and the fourth might be a request to set up a call to discuss the services.

Be Strategic About Your Timing

There is a bit of a science to timing out when to schedule your follow ups. Send the communications too close together, and it starts to feel spammy. Leave huge gaps between communications and your run the risk of missing out on the opportunity to close a sale.

A good rule of thumb is giving at least two days between emails. For the most part, if someone is going to respond to your email, they’re going to do so within 24 hours of receiving it. That means you don’t want to send an email each and every day, but you also don’t want weeks worth of lag time.

The ideal timing will look different for every business. Part of getting the timing right is understanding your sales cycle and your customers. If you’re a B2B, you have a longer sales cycle, and a company’s decision to purchase your product or service likely has to go through an internal approval process. That means that you’ll want to allow more time between emails, so that your contact has adequate time to run your proposal by the decision makers at their company and come back to you—either with a decision or a request for more information.

The timing will be different for an e-commerce business who’s dealing with an individual consumer. Let’s say you’re a clothing retailer who establishes a follow up campaign that’s triggered when someone abandons a cart on your website. Those emails should be grouped more closely together, since it usually doesn’t take someone weeks to make a decision about a new pair of shoes or t-shirt.

Think Beyond Email

Email is a hugely beneficial part of any marketing campaign, and it’s certainly a useful tool for follow up campaigns. However, there are other channels out there. Sometimes in our tech-saturated world we forget about the tried-and-true communication methods like phone calls or snail mail.

With so much mail hitting a person’s inbox each day, sometimes it’s taking a less conventional, more old-school approach to reaching out that can get you noticed. A great follow up campaign will include timed emails, but should also integrate other means of communication. Plus, technology allows you to better utilize old-school approaches. Some of the examples we covered here of tech-enhanced direct mailers include sending highly customized mail to prospects, which include offers specific to that individual or even unique landing pages based on their interests.

Let’s say you run a law firm. You have someone who visited your website and filled out your form, requesting more information about one of your estate planning services. While this can and should trigger an email follow up campaign, you should also aim for a phone follow up. If you’ve sent a couple emails with no response, give your contact a call, mentioning that you’re following up on the emails and are happy to answer any questions or provide additional information. You can also incorporate mailers into your campaign. A few weeks after they’ve filled out the form, send them a pamphlet on estate planning, with a personalized letter attached, offering to speak one-on-one, if they’re interested.

Find the Right Tools to Get the Job Done

Using a marketing automation and CRM tool to track your interactions with prospects or customers and ensure that you’re actually following through on your follow up is a critical piece of the puzzle.

There are a number of tools out there that combine CRM and marketing automation capabilities. Consider a platform like ActiveCampaign or OntraPort to help you manage both the tracking and execution of your campaigns.

A joint CRM and marketing automation tool allows you to keep tabs on all points of contact you have with a person—whether that’s an analog form of communication like a postcard, or a digital one like an email. And the marketing automation component allows you to schedule out email follow ups, SMS campaigns, or other tactics, which can all be triggered by the client or prospect taking a certain action.

So much of making the sale or moving a customer further up the product ladder is about persistence. It’s sometimes difficult for one person to manage it all, but with the help of a marketing automation tool, you can easily set yourself up for success by establishing a campaign that, once you’ve created it, essentially runs itself.

Why Behavior Scoring is the Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing Approach

Why Behavior Scoring is the Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing Approach written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

With inbound marketing becoming ever more popular in recent years, a marketer might be tempted to think broad when it comes to their approach. After all, when anyone can happen upon your brand, it means that anyone’s a potential customer, right?

That’s not quite true. In fact, the number of leads that actually become customers is only around 10 percent. So that means you should really be focused on creating highly targeted marketing messages that are likely to appeal to that small sliver of the population, rather than trying to please everyone.

But how do you find those people? And once you’ve found them, what can you do to make sure you’re speaking to them in a way that really resonates?

That’s where behavior scoring comes in. When you understand the behaviors that are most often exhibited by your customers, you can begin to identify your most promising leads and refine your marketing messaging so that it speaks directly to them.

What is Behavior Scoring?

Behavior scoring, sometimes called lead scoring, is assigning a numerical score or grade to prospects based on certain behaviors they exhibit. You start by analyzing the behaviors of your best existing customers. Are there ways they interact with your brand that consistently result in conversions? Is there a certain page on your website they visit, social media platform they follow, or email newsletter they sign up for?

When you understand the behaviors of your existing clients, you can then create a “composite sketch” of your ideal customer. Those customers who do X, Y, and Z convert a high percentage of the time, so your prospects who do those same things are given a high behavior score. They’re the people you want to focus your marketing time and effort on.

People visit sites or interact with brands for all sorts of reasons. Let’s say you own a tree care company. You may show up in search results for an apartment-dweller looking for advice on tending to her indoor potted tree, a student thinking about starting a lawn care business who’s doing research on pricing in similar industries, and new homeowner in the area who wants to replace some of the older trees on their property. Only one of these people has the potential to become a legitimate client, and since you don’t get full biographical information on those who visit your website, tracking behaviors can indicate their level of seriousness.

The woman in the apartment might watch a short video on plant care your site and then disappear. The student might beeline to the pricing page. But the homeowner looks at several pages outlining services and pricing, plus checks out your testimonials. If this is activity you’ve seen from past customers, then you know this is a lead worth spending some time on.

Lower Your Customer Acquisition Costs and Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are two critical metrics to track for your business. When you understand how much it costs to acquire your customers and how much value they produce once you have them, you can tweak your sales approach and pricing models to ensure your acquisition costs are covered and you’re still able to make a profit.

However, the reverse is also true: When you understand the behaviors that make someone a promising lead, you can lower CAC and increase CLV. By only marketing to those prospects exhibiting desirable behaviors, you stop wasting time on prospects who will never convert. This means that you’ll get more marketing bang for your buck overall, since you won’t spend dollars chasing those who would never become customers anyway.

Plus, as you begin to develop a more and more nuanced understanding of your customers’ behaviors, you can continue to refine your marketing approach to get even greater results and drive existing customers towards purchasing bigger and better products. All of this leads to an increase in overall CLV.

Understand What Resonates with Your Promising Leads

When you understand the actions of your ideal customer, you can create marketing campaigns that drive prospects to take those actions. Experimenting with website layout, calls to action, and your messaging and tone can all help to drive people who are interested in your business to take the steps that are likely to lead to conversion.

A/B testing is a particularly effective way to further refine your approach. Try running different variations of your web pages to see which gains the greatest traction.

Showing half of your hot leads one option and the other a variant of the same page allows you to understand the messaging and layout that works best. If there’s a significant difference in response to the two variations, that tells you something.

You then can do the work of analyzing the differences, identifying the aspects that made the one page so successful, and replicating that approach across other pages, platforms, and channels.

Further Refine Your Outbound Approach

Once you understand what resonates with your hot leads, you can move beyond inbound tactics and create advertising that’s highly targeted to those leads.

Facebook’s advertising platform offers business owners a number of ways to identify and target hot leads. With the Facebook Pixel installed on your website, you’re able to track visitor behavior—a key part of the scoring process. On the Facebook advertising platform itself, you can create lookalike audiences, groups with attributes that mirror those of your existing customer base, allowing you to target them with advertising.

All of this becomes a positive feedback loop. As your marketing approach is refined, you continue to attract more qualified leads. These leads in turn give you an even more nuanced picture of what your ideal prospect looks like, which allows you to further tailor your marketing approach. Over time, you generate greater and greater results.

Pass on the Leads that Will Never Convert

The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of leads who will never convert, no matter what you do. If you spend your time and energy reaching out to every person, the majority of your energy is being dedicated to people who will never convert.

That’s why a critical part of behavior scoring is not just assigning positive points to those leads who exhibit certain behaviors that often lead to conversion, but also taking away points from those who exhibit less-than-promising behaviors.

Leads who consistently delete your emails without reading, have only been to your website once or twice, or are in a location that your business doesn’t service are ones that you should not spend time pursuing.

Inbound marketing can sometimes make you feel like you need to be everything to everyone. In reality, the most effective marketing strategies—inbound and outbound—are those that speak directly to the small percentage of the population that actually need the solution your business offers. When you use behavior scoring to better understand the actions of your best customers, you can create messaging that resonates with the leads who have the best shot at conversion. All of this saves you time and money, and it makes your customers happier, because they know they’ve found a business that really gets them.

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.