For those of us seeking to market a business online (hopefully everyone at this juncture), the customer you’re targeting has an overwhelming connection to your content – good or bad.
Now some of the big enterprise aficionados out there may find this an odd statement. If so, I’m willing to bet the house that social media, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, response triggers, and optimizing site speed are a bit challenging as well. And of course, lead generation tactics like blogging are only needed for hippy kids with nothing to do all day.
Please exit if so…and pack your bags for another department, which hopefully has no connection to your customer or the real world.
The Power of the Persona
Now that we’ve eliminated the irrelevant, let’s discuss online targeting in agile terms. I’m sure you have Adobe Digital Marketing Suite, Google Analytics, WebTrends or whatever IBM is calling their buyout bundle this week.
I’ve got sad news…there’s no consistent path to building a web persona using any two of the above (sorry Audience Manager and automation “me-too’s” out there). What I can tell you is where to look, who you’ll find, what they want, and how you answer the bell.
They want to buy, and only after they have the information they want, the assurance they need, and if you’re wise – the ability to share with like-minded others how much they like what they’re seeing. NONE OF THIS INVOLVES REVENUE – YET.
I’m sure you’ve heard of a sales funnel. And given our name, you’re sure of where we stand on that theory. Advertising, like sales, believes in this outdated psychological theory of control. But online, this simply isn’t the case.
Lead generation is critical. But with a rock solid web content strategy, tailored to a PERSONA BEFORE A USER STORY (or if you’re lagging, a target audience overview) is even considered. But Joey, this is AGILE MARKETING IN MOTION?
I know, and sadly there is commonly a big misunderstanding of User Stories in Agile Methodology.
Here’s the missing Lego…Without at least one User Persona, you have no user and thus…no user story. Despite what pieces you like to add to the persona creation puzzle, a few things should always be constant…
- There is no online marketing funnel in effective web strategy. People move in at out, over, and circle back through channels and devices constantly. Drop the dead theory. Welcome to the UnFunnel.
- Users move through an inconsistent path online, called the Customer Journey, always circling back to the content sources they find are best fit with their current needs, and most helpful with concerns – quickly.
- In this journey, they share this content and triple its reach – this happens whether yours or someone else’s – via social networks, using website share icons, and curating their very own collection of ‘this is me’ content. You don’t do anything – they do everything for you.
- Plan for and measure conversion potential throughout the user flow…but NEVER make hard asks in an outbound manner. Your analytics already show newsletters getting pummeled by click-backs on confirmation emails, yes?
- The answer is yes. Now map each piece of content to the person seeking it, keep moving up levels in your calls-to-action.
- If they fall off or lapse, GO BACK TO BEING HELPFUL.
Whatever the temptation, DON’T PANIC and pound them with promos if she’s not responding – because if she does see them, it’s rare that this tactic will trigger the action you’re wanting. And even more rare that this is customer you’ll want.
In the list above, #5 and #6 are the beginnings of well-planned user story creation. After planning conversion potential, you’ve now set the stage for discovery of new (and more effective) user stories that will benefit the user, the metrics, and your conversion rates.
Stop thinking in terms of the end-game conversion event. Eyes on the prize, but don’t reach for it immediately. You need to focus on two very important things before you swing for the fences…
- Get Found Online
Despite Google’s war for analytics, which is triggered the keyword scare, you’ll always be able to find keywords. Don’t freak out…plan ahead and optimize on the fly, matching these keywords to other user behavior.
- Capture Leads with Content
Regardless of persona, they’re at your site for a reason. And it’s rarely to make a rapid decision of your choice in a funnel…they want to know something. Give it to them, and if you ask, they’ll often give you a qualified lead in return.
How the User Makes the Call to Buy
The effect of the Internet on lead generation and sales flows is tough to debate. Prospects ARE NOT waiting for you to sell them something (don’t call them with surveys either, please).
In today’s digital economy, prospects are proactively collecting information (on TOPICS FIRST, not BRANDS). When they find a handful of key players, they ask for recommendations from peers. At this point, social proof is a solid tie-breaker. Decisions are made about you and your competitors…all before you even know what’s going on.
What this means? Prospects have a preconceived view of your company before the Mass Media Machine can even respond to the ‘ON’ switch. Worse, they see little if any significant difference between you and your arch nemesis, Brand X.
Once you’re in this rabbit hole, it’s too late to be Agile. The lowest price wins – and both of you are screwed.