It’s no longer enough to present a message to your customers in order to influence them. You’ve heard it 650 million times, but it’s worth repeating until you embrace it – you need to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.
Your content marketing needs to assist the customer’s journey and deliver a message designed to move your audience further along the sales funnel.
Web Presence Management speaks directly to that need – making sure you reach customers earlier and more often in the decision making process with various media and messages. To achieve this effectively, four things must happen.
1) Know Your Customer Throughout The Sales Funnel
To serve your customer’s needs, you must fully understand their psychological motivations throughout the purchase process. This requires an examination of the psychographics of your target audience from the moment before they decide they want something to the point of sale (or conversion).
Note, you will need to define several different profiles. Your audience’s motivation and needs will change over time and you must use your marketing efforts to reach them with different content at various moments in time.
Your audience’s motivation and needs will change over time and you must use your marketing efforts to reach them with different content at various moments in time.
As Conductor’s CEO Seth Besmertnik recently wrote, “Understanding who these customers are, what their pathway to purchase looks like – and using the right content at the right time…. that represents the future of digital marketing.”
Imagine you own a website selling consumer electronics and want to increase your computer sales. Your customers’ needs change drastically as they move towards their purchase decision. They decide they need a new computer, define their needs, gather and filter through feature options, establish a budget, compare brands and models, read and/or watch reviews online, search for the best deal, and finally make a purchase.
Your customers’ needs change drastically as they move towards their purchase decision.
Each of these decisions can be influenced by content and provide an opportunity to interact with your audience. Analyze the pain points a consumer faces on your conversion path, create distinct customer personas, and use content to alleviate them in a way that brings them closer to converting at your site. Only by fully understanding the customers’ needs over time (map their buyer’s journeys) can you decide what content they need and how to get it to them.
2) Pick The Right Marketing Channels
Internet marketers have an incredible arsenal of tools at their fingertips – content marketing, social media, paid advertising, and email just scratch the surface of the techniques available. Each of the marketing channels has its own pros and cons. Monetary costs, effectiveness, and reach represent a fraction of your considerations for choosing among the many marketing channels.
Think back to the computer example. You may want to create an infographic flowchart-guide to computer features demonstrating why now is the time to buy, regularly tweet about the latest computer news from around the web with occasional links to products or articles at your site mixed in, provide reviews of the best-selling models you sell, and run paid advertisements targeting people closest to making a purchase.
Example: Combining Marketing Channels to Promote a Coupon Campaign
At CouponPal, that’s exactly what we did for a campaign to promote our Toshiba computer coupons. We created multiple touch points with the goals to drive awareness and sales. Among our promotional methods we did the following:
- Partnered with other blogs to host a Toshiba Chromebook giveaway in which people could earn more entries by sharing content from our site and promoting the contest via social media. This expanded our social reach and drove new visitors to our site.
- We created custom content on our blog addressing a variety of concerns that customers coming from the partner blogs might face at various parts of the decision making process – including discovery and comparison. These articles drive traffic to each other keeping them at the site, and also to the coupon page itself moving them closer to conversion.
- On the coupon page, we provided educational content about popular products, how to use coupons, and other information about purchase decisions. This content is intended to influence a customer and encourage him or her to make a purchase.
- Lastly, we drove paid traffic to the coupon page targeting purchase and discount-related search queries aiming to capture the audience closest to making a purchase.
It’s important to note that these activities took place simultaneously. Additionally, note that you can use the same medium multiple times to reach your audience at different points in their journey.
For example, you can run a paid display campaign in the awareness phase, provide content corresponding to different points in the sales journey with the intent to rank organically, target different influencers on social media with messages designed to reach a different audience, and run a Google AdWords campaign targeting the highest converting keywords all at once.
Consider what the most effective way is to reach your target audience at various points in the sales funnel and select the appropriate method for each.
3) Understand What Works Where
This is the age of attribution. An in-depth look at what attribution models exist and the technology available to you is an article for another day. That being said, it is important to understand the value of each touch point you are establishing along the way.
Just as the psychological needs of your audience change throughout the sales funnel, the best marketing channel to reach customers will vary. Your job is to choose the most effective way to reach buyers at every interaction opportunity and make sure every touch point leads logically to the next. Your marketing channels must work in harmony in order to guide the customer one step closer to conversion.
This requires you to establish micro-conversions, or checkpoints, throughout your content funnel. You will not be able to drive sales at every touch point, but every messaging channel should lead towards conversion and have a success outcome associated with it. Furthermore, you must decide the most effective way to reach customers where they are – be it at another site, in a Google SERP, on social media, or at your site. Customers can only be reached by, and will only respond to, the right type of media to match their needs at that time.
Establish micro-conversions, or checkpoints, throughout your content funnel.
Measuring content allows you to identify what messaging does (and does not) resonate with your audience and drive conversions. Do not rely on assumptions to understand the way in which customers interact with your message – let the data guide you. Only by identifying what communication and channel is most effective, can you scale out your content marketing efforts in a way that maximizes your ROI.
Multiple methods exist to measure attribution, from the very simple, to the very complicated. You can work with a big data company like VisualIQ to analyze your marketing or get your hands dirty with Google Analytics Custom Attribution Models.
Avinash Kaushik has written extensively on the subject and gives a good overview of multi-channel attribution modeling to get you started thinking about what is best for you. Whatever path you choose, make sure that you learn what efforts provide the most value. That way, when it’s time to review your strategy, you can do so in the most educated way possible.
4) Craft Your Message
By now, you should be seeing the pattern. You have already segmented your audience, selected specific ways to reach them where they are, and developed a plan to measure the returns of each channel. Now you must develop a coherent message strategy that works to drive conversions by stitching together several smaller messages.
The overarching message strategy should directly correlate with the sales funnel. Your marketing must attract new customers and persuade them to convert at your site. The message strategy paints a complete picture of how people enter your sales funnel and ultimately convert.
You must develop a coherent message strategy that works to drive conversions by stitching together several smaller messages.
To execute your marketing plan, each individual message must align with the larger messaging strategy. Each piece of content is part of a larger narrative tailored to reach the audience at a specific time and meet a specific need. To help structure your thinking about each message you create, apply the 5Ws and H by asking yourself the following:
- Who (think psychographics) is the target for this message?
- What do you want to achieve with the message?
- Where is the customer interacting with the message (e.g. what medium)?
- When in the sales funnel will the customer interact with this message?
- Why is your message relevant to the audience?
- How does your message impact the customer’s purchase decision?
Only when you completely understand your audience, their needs over time, how they interact with media, and the goals of your messaging will your marketing campaigns be effective.
This approach of web presence management forces you to look at the entirety of the customer’s lifecycle and to stop looking at content as a single-serving solution. It’s time to embrace content strategy instead of content marketing.
Don’t lose your train of thought! Start figuring out the right customer personas and buyer’s journey for your business with the interactive WPM worksheet.
Banner image via Times of Malta.