14/01/11

By Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company
Darren Guarnaccia, VP Product Marketing, Sitecore

It’s been a successful marketing campaign. The objective was to raise awareness of your firm’s innovative products and services. You developed compelling web content to highlight these offerings. You acquired the relevant search terms on Google and Yahoo, and devoted resources to your search engine optimisation (SEO) capabilities. You reached out to both current customers and targeted lists of prospects with promotional emails and provided links to tailored landing pages. You measured the results and calculated your conversion rates to find you had succeeded in increasing the volume of leads which you moved into your sales pipeline. Now what do you do for an encore?

Beyond a successful campaign

The answer is use the website content to get closer to your customers. Here’s how. The web itself is a low intimacy and noisy channel where the competition is just a click away. Nurturing relationships takes time and requires a constant supply of fresh content. To ensure prospects return to your web site time and again you need to have new and ever more pertinent information. You have to at least meet (and perhaps surpass) their expectations.

In addition to maintaining relations, your web site should also be an integral part of your sales processes. Leads need to be qualified and the most promising ones identified automatically. Your site needs to be able to tell when prospects are ready to make a purchase decision and notify the sales team right away.

However, to make all this possible you first have to listen to your customers. You can tell what they like and pick up on their concerns just by tracking their actions on the site.

How to court your customers

Content is king. It needs to be wide ranging and available in a variety of engaging media. You should also develop a content scoring system where some customer actions carry more weight and are more valuable than others. For example, requesting a product brochure may be worth 5 points, a white paper 25 points and a product demo 100 points. The higher the content value the higher the points total allowing you to distinguish those who show greatest interest in your offerings.

Encourage customers to leave something about themselves behind — for example tick boxes about age or hobbies - to provide you with added insights about their interests and concerns. When they return, you can improve their interactive experience by delivering ever more relevant content without them even asking for it. Be sure to track the results for each campaign and customer touch point. Keep tabs on how your web site, search term purchases, and email marketing programs are performing. You should track results across these multiple touch points through integrated tracking and monitoring capabilities. It’s important to collect all of your metrics in a single place so that you have a comprehensive analysis of customers’ activities across touch points and campaigns.

Nurturing solutions that deliver well qualified leads
You need to personalise your online marketing activities. The one-size-fits-all general effort, needs to transition into more segmented campaigns that leverage all that visitor knowledge and deliver well-qualified leads to the sales team. As it tracks your customers, the Web content management system (WCMS) should alert you to when they are becoming more engaged and showing greater interest.
Use email as your trigger mechanism to deliver a call to action. Your message needs to stand out from the clutter and invoke a powerful incentive to act. Once you’ve enticed customers back to your web site, you need to capitalise on the wide range of features for moulding an online experience. Each time customers access customised web pages, click on personalised links, or view dynamically generated content, you can record and track their interactions and attribute weighted values to the information they consume. As the values escalate the more mature the leads are becoming and the more deeply customers are engaged.
None of this can succeed unless you also work closely with the sales department. They need to know you can tell them the transitional moments when customers are ready to progress to the next phase in the sales process. Define the data and trends that your sales group needs to understand. Identify the trigger points and the business events that indicate when a prospect moves from one stage to the next.

Forging delightful experiences
Courting your customers in this way allows you to convert marketing efforts into sales-ready leads. But you are also building a market presence. Once you’ve made the initial investments in your web infrastructure, the online channel becomes a low cost, high volume and high impact operation. You are now able to engage with many more customers and build relationships with them regardless of how soon or how often these leads translate into revenues. At the same time you reinforce your brand, delight your customers and develop valuable insights into their interests and needs. Such early access to market trends, gives you up-to-the-minute knowledge about trends in your marketplace — something that is arguably the most valuable information of all.