“Marketers can harness digital information to enable more effective engagements, and to provide the right message to the right person at the right time.”
by Susan Poser, July 2013
According to research by McKinsey & Company, consumer experiences drive two-thirds of the decisions that customers make, while price often drives the rest. This notion enhances the urgency of the ever-present question for marketers: how do you provide a meaningful customer experience that positively impacts decision-making?
Consumers leave a digital fingerprint through the plethora of touch points available today such as search, social media, and actions they take via their mobile devices. With these touch points, consumers are empowered to engage with and opt into the information that they want. For example, I recently received an email from my financial institution offering to connect with me on Facebook so that I can “conveniently read information about my account and return to socializing without missing a beat.” In this guise of offering something of convenience to me, they were really looking for a way to access my information to see where I was traveling, when there was a life event, etc. This would allow my bank to customize their offers to me.
Marketers need to harness this digital information to enable more effective engagements to provide the right message to the right person at the right time. Tailoring or personalizing content to consumers’ needs before the sale can result in a 13.5 percent increase in new revenue and 10 percent increase in cross-sell (buying more from other categories) or up-sell (buying more expensive models or features) revenue, according to Aberdeen Group.
There are also new opportunities around lead nurturing for the digital age. This requires automated, trigger-based nurturing campaigns that have multiple touch points depending on the customer’s responses. It’s a sophisticated tactic that has proven to increase response rates, as well as lead quality.
To take advantage of these new opportunities, successful companies employ some of the following strategies:
Develop reusable content components. Invest in creating compelling and impactful content, and then break that content into various components to be used at different states of the lead nurturing process. Just as Legos can be broken down and rejoined to form a variety of objects, marketing content can also be made up of components that can be assembled in a variety of ways, depending on different use cases. The core content offering is typically a larger research piece or survey that can then be converted into smaller assets to be used in different formats, such as webinars, reports, eBooks, blogs, and infographics. Each content format conveys a different aspect of the same topic, while addressing the information needs of the customer at each point of the decision-making process. According to Aberdeen, best-in-class and higher performing companies are 46 percent more likely than their competitors to develop content as discrete, reusable components rather than as complete, single-purpose deliverables.
Enable progressive profiles. Sending general emails to broad target lists is no longer adequate to generate interest. According to the Corporate Executive Board, 51 percent of respondents have tuned out a supplier as a result of unwanted contact. Instead, best-in-class companies are providing prospects with content based on how much they have progressed down the nurturing path. Interest is captured with a disruptive idea in the form of an infographic or some other “teaser” content. A customer click creates the opportunity for marketers to collect the right level of information commensurate with the amount of information shared. Management at a high technology company recently employed this tactic and transformed their usual method of collecting 12 fields of data for a white paper download to progressively collecting bits of information over each interaction. This dramatically improved the conversion rates for leads at the conclusion of the nurturing process. Progressive profiling is a great way to engage the customer in a non-intrusive way, because customers are opting in for information based on their own interests.
Monitor digital body language. The ability to capture information at each interaction point to understand the level and topic of interest can increase pipeline conversion rates; but more importantly, it can demonstrate value in the customer’s experience. Leveraging robust scoring and prioritization methods enables companies to decipher the stage of each prospect in the buying cycle. Best-in-class companies look at the different stages in the buying cycle, map out the different types of marketing collateral for each stage, and introduce a score for each piece of content. By calculating the scores from the different interactions, marketers can pass higher qualified and more mature leads to the sales organization. An IT service management software company that employed this sophisticated scoring methodology found that 60 percent of leads handed to sales converted to an opportunity, versus five percent the previous year.
With all the different communication mediums, customers are over-communicated to and frustrated. To market effectively, companies need to cut through the noise. In order to maximize reach, leading companies are leveraging sophisticated marketing automation and analysis tools to improve the experience and deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. Not only does this increase marketing effectiveness, but it also improves lead and sales conversion rates. It’s a win, win, win—for sales, marketing, and most importantly, the customer.
Susan Poser is a senior director of Oracle Insight & Customer Strategy and a global lead in the Customer Experience Practice at Oracle.