Low Sales? Here’s How to Read Minds to Close More Deals

People either do what you want. Or they don’t.

And there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

Except react. Except follow-up based on a new set of rules.

That doesn’t mean you can’t predict it, though. That doesn’t mean you can’t manipulate it. It doesn’t mean you can’t choreograph it ahead of time.

Almost every single customer interaction presents an IF/THEN scenario. They either choose to do one thing, do the opposite, or do nothing at all. And each option means you should react in a slightly different way.

The good news is that you can do it in advance. You can determine what happens, before it happens, so the message they receive next is always the right one.

Here’s how to get this insight and react in real-time to give people exactly what they want, when they want it.

1. Start by setting objectives

Personalization isn’t “Hey $ FNAME.”

It’s deeper than that. It’s about collecting various data points so you understand context. So you ‘get’ what someone wants before they want it.

In a Spy’s Guide to Strategy, ex-CIA case officer, John Braddock, says that creating a strategy comes starts with two moves:

  1. Identifying someone’s potential end game, and then
  2. Reasoning backwards to figure out how they get there.

That way, you can see what’s coming. Only when you know where someone is trying to go can you create scenarios for how they might get there.

Content mapping is a perfect real-world example.

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Some people come to your site to buy. But not most. Only a tiny slice ready to hit the Product Tour and Opt-in page before reading “Thank You.”

Others want pricing. Some want insights. And still more want information.

Which is why content mapping says you gotta give all those things to all those people. Make them stick around. Get them to click. Get them to come back.

The trick is to start here. Without determining who wants what, you can’t figure out how to get them there the fastest and easiest.

Marketing isn’t a singular campaign today. It’s not a banner ad or a drip email sequence.

Instead, it’s a series of IF, THEN statements. Conditional statements that show how people get form A->B, and then somehow to Z.

Z is what you want. Z is where you purchase. But people don’t start with Z.

That’s why you break the process down. A->B becomes a micro-conversion. It’s the step between the step. The guy behind the guy. That eventually makes stuff happen.

You start by hypothesizing. You try to infer what someone wants. Then comes the “then.”

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“Then” is when stuff happens. It’s your response.

Product companies are relatively simply. People check out a product but don’t buy. So you follow-up with retargeting efforts.

Easy, right?

Not so much for services. The sales process takes months instead of weeks. It takes nurturing instead of discounts.

Let’s say someone checks out your services. They check out some key pages. But they don’t opt-in.

“Free consultation” time? Not necessarily. That’s also not very inspiring.

So you switch it up. You could try an offer to get them to realize how much they need you. You need to make the pain real. You need them to place a dollar value on it. Otherwise, no sale.

That starts with a 1-1 conversation. It’s a spin on the “Free Consultation.” Except it doesn’t suck. It’s focused on their issues, not your own.

The goal: Get people who checked out our Services into this new 1-1 offer.

Next, you work backwards. You set-up the sequence to determine how someone is going to get from A->B.

Automation workflows can help you map this out. For example, if someone looks at the services page but doesn’t convert, do this next.

“This” could be “send new email.” Perfect.

Now do it again. This email goes out. Do they click on the CTA link?

Yes or no.

If yes, but they don’t sign up for your offer, it’s a no. Or it might as well be. So respond accordingly.

These sequences repeat ad nauseam.

There are no limits. That’s the beauty. And with some iteration, you can automate most of the entire process.

Setting a clear objective like that leads you seamlessly into the next step. Select your segment.

Except, you don’t create these segments out of thin air. Or you shouldn’t.

You should let people tell you where they belong.

2. Segment new leads

How do people get to your site?

They could punch in the URL directly. They could serendipitously run across your blog post on Twitter. Or they could find your aforementioned Services page by clicking on your Google ad.

Each of these are different channels, sure. But they’re more than that. They’re giving you more information than that.

? The direct website visit? Brand-aware. Been to your website multiple times before. Probably transitioning from stranger to lead.

? Twitter? New visit. Stranger. Needs more info to develop brand recognition.

? Google search ad? Also not brand-aware. But problem-aware. Probably solution-aware. Show them why you’re better.

Now, keep them separate. Don’t treat them the same.

Their under-the-radar behavior is already telling you something important. So keep it going by segmenting their journey.

Create different flows. Create different segments for each.

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Sometimes you have control over this. And sometimes you don’t.

For example, if you’re creating an ad, you control the landing page destination.

When you’re writing a blog post, you can control the internal links or other navigation elements they see.

But when someone finds something from organic search? You can’t always control everything.

Once again, marketing automation platforms can tell you the trigger. They can tell you the exact page someone visited. First. So you roughly know who they are or what they’re looking for.

They could leave your site right now and it would be OK. They could get distracted. Bounce. And you’d be fine.

‘Cause you’ve got the same ability to retarget in other places based on individual page views.

create audience custom combination Facebook

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You can see which of the three products they clicked on. You can see which of the five services they expressed the most interest.

That tiny clue adds context. You should know what to follow-up with.

Similarly, someone views your opt-in form but doesn’t convert.

No prob. You can still follow up. You can still tailor the message based on their non-action. You can cycle through common objections until you land on what that sticks.

This is where personas often fail. This is where ‘segments’ often don’t work.

Your decision-making data should come from people’s actions. Not just your own hunches.

3. Nurturing & re-engagement

Eventually, someone opts-in.

Someone finds something like they like and gives you something in return.

On the one hand, it’s great. You’re one step closer.

Except on the other, it changes everything. You need to update things. You need to evolve the conversation.

For example, let’s say someone downloads an eBook. Then your free trial or 1-1 offer. Both good things.

Except, it creates a rippling effect.

For example, you need to work backwards before you work forwards. You need to remove people from previous sequences because their status has changed.

Those top of the funnel eBook nurturing emails worked. Wonderfully! But now that they’ve moved deeper, they need a new sequence. Only after removing them from the previous one.

Bad news, though.

One person moved forward. They went from TOFU to MOFU or BOFU.

But most don’t. Or won’t.

So let’s plan for that, too. Someone downloads the eBook. Maybe they even enjoy it. But after the first few weeks, nothing else happens.

They received the same nurturing emails. But decided against taking you up on the next offer. For whatever reason.

Same objective as the first, but a new segment this time.

What’s happening here:

  1. It’s been at least 35 days since someone downloaded the eBook. The reason? It gives your other campaigns at least four weeks to try and move them down the funnel.
  2. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The individual didn’t opt into any other offer you threw at them, either. No other forms were filled out.

Cool. No worries. Water off a duck’s back.

IF, you saw this coming. IF, you have a scenario planned out for them.

Typically, you want to get them to ‘reengage’ here. So new emails go out. Each, with different links like this next one.

Those are all unique links. They’re split up by topic. You’re setting a trap. You’re baiting a hook.

For someone’s action to once again tell you how to better segment them.

Let’s say someone clicks on the fifth option down: “Optimizing Your Website.” That indicates they’re interested in, well, updating their website.

Cool. You saw this coming. Savvy marketer, you.

That pulls them into a brand new segment. Seamlessly and automatically.

Now, you can tailor the next few messages better. You can send them website-related tips, instead of SEO ones. You can send them more relevant offers that they’re more likely to take you up on.

Which puts you one step closer.

4. Sales qualification

Ecommerce is easy. Someone buy’s or they don’t. Most customers are ‘good,’ as long as they’re paying.

Services ain’t easy. Most leads and prospects won’t become customers.

In fact, you can take this a step further. A small segment of people will want to work with you. But for a few different reasons, you won’t want to work with most of them.

You want the best customers. You want those that will be the best fit. The ones that ideally also have the longest lifetime value.

Which means you need to qualify. Which means you need to plan for this in advance.

You know many people who fill out your form won’t be a good fit. So you add a couple qualifying questions to the bottom of your form.

“Annual Revenue Range” can tell you a few things. It can tell you, right off the bat, if they can even afford you. Not worth jumping on the phone if they can’t.

But it can also tell you what product or service they might be best suited for.

As does “Biggest Marketing Challenge.” It helps you figure out what solution to line up with their problem.

It also helps you logistically. The person or division doing $ 100,000 websites will be different than the one doing $ 1,000,000 ad campaigns. So they need to be routed appropriately, too.

Now, think of your process and workflow. Each little decision or potential answer has another trickle down effect. It influences everything that happens afterward.

You need filters and branches and IF/THEN statements along the way. That way, you can take all of the various possibilities into account.

Before they happen. So you know exactly how to respond. When it eventually does.

Different sequences need to kick off when someone selects “Yes” vs. “No.”

Different people need to be notified. Different tasks and steps needs to come next.

Conclusion

Congratulations. You’ve made it this far.

You’ve sold a new deal. Closed a new account. Brought in a few bucks.

But a new customer isn’t the end of the process, so much as it’s the beginning of a new one.

“Marketing” doesn’t just mean advertising, after all. Onboarding is crucial. Customer service is key.

Keeping that account longer means more money in your pocket. Easier money than bringing in a new deal.

Retention is your job, too.

Which means you’re not done. Which means there are more scenarios to account for. More sequences to create.

Marketing isn’t isolated. It’s not one-and-done. It’s systematic. It’s a process. It’s a series of IF/THEN sequences.

People do what they want. They decide or click or opt-in or don’t. You can’t control that.

You can only control how you react and respond. Or how you lead them to do what you want.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

3 Kissmetrics Populations Content Marketers Can Use to Measure Marketing and Retention

Content is basically infinite. Run a Google search for a/b testing and you can spend the rest of your life reading about it.

So in this proliferation of content, it’s retention, attention, and engagement that are key for content marketers. It’s our goal to get visitors to our content, ideally more than once, and eventually get them to convert in some way.

Converting usually starts at the very top of the funnel, by giving eBooks, webinars, email courses, newsletters, content upgrades, etc. Then they’ll be put through a drip campaign to eventually, hopefully, signup or request a demo.

Before we begin, it’s important to be aware of what Kissmetrics Population is, what it does, and who it’s for. This video will explain it:

 

Now, let’s get into some Populations Content Marketers can set up.

1. Reader Retention

You probably have about 10 websites you visit regularly. Most of them you visit daily, but some others you’ll visit every other day.

I regularly visit Axios, ESPN, the Kissmetrics Blog (of course), New York Times, Drudge Report, Twitter, and ScienceDaily. I’m an engaged visitor on these sites because I visit them regularly. The publishers love a visitor like me because I am traffic, pageviews, and ad dollars for them. And most of all, they get a piece of my attention everyday.

Wouldn’t you love it if your blog was on someone’s “top 10” list? They read your blog posts, download your eBooks, and you’ve become a trusted source for them. Some may call you a “thought leader” (as much as I dislike that term).

Most marketers use cohort reports to measure retention. These reports group people together based on similar attributes and then track their behavior overtime. This can uncover some useful data. There are also “engagement” metrics that can be measured by any actions a reader may take – reading a post, commenting, sharing it on social networks. These can be easily measured with a simple funnel report.

But what about simply tracking the number of people that have visited your blog at least x times during the last week, and then have a graph to see if it’s going up, down, or holding steady?

Populations will do exactly that. You’ll set your conditions (what people have to do enter the Population) and view the graph.

In our case, we’ll set our criteria to people who have visited the blog at least 10x in the last 7 days:

We’ll click View population and get our data:

At the top, we see that there are currently 187 people in our Population. The graph provides us with a week-by-week performance overview. This Population has improved modestly, up about 2% from 90 days ago. It’s ultimately held steady over the last 90 days, staying in the 150-200 range.

What’s important here is to view this in context. Let’s say you have 10,000 monthly readers and your Population holds steady at 1,000. In this case, you know that about 10% of readers are engaged with your content. But if you have 1,000,000 monthly readers, than that 1k Population is less impressive and may signal that you need to create more engaging content that people want to read and consistently check to see what you’ve published.

2. Signups & Conversions

At the end of the day what we want are signups or some form of conversion. A blog that gets 5 million visitors a month but doesn’t convert is about as good as not having a blog at all.

We’re graded not just on traffic, nor on reader engagement, but on how effective our content is at bringing quality leads to our sales teams. HiPPOs care most about this and it’s our job to produce relevant content that brings our target audience in, and then converts them.

You may already be tracking your conversion rate with our Metrics feature, but it’s also useful to use Populations to get an idea of the amount of people that are moving from reader to converter.

Now, the question is what a “converter” is. Each team will differ. Some marketers want an email address so they can convert this reader into an opportunity through a drip campaign. Others will qualify a free trial request as a conversion. E-commerce companies may having adding an item to the cart or purchasing as their conversion.

Regardless of what you’ll count as a conversion, it’s easy to track it in Kissmetrics and Populations.

You’ll notice that in this configuration, we’re looking for the people who visited the blog and then signed up. They cannot visit our marketing site, sign up, and visit our blog because they need to visit the blog before signing up. If they visited the marketing site, the blog, and then signed up, they’ll be included in this Population.

Not good. It’s down 20% from where it was 90 days ago. We need to figure out why this happened.

In some cases, this can be caused by a/b tests that caused a drop in conversions. In other cases a traffic dip will cause conversions to drop. (As long as the conversion rate percentage holds steady). We’ll need to look at our traffic to see if there was a dip that would correlate with this Population drop. If not, we’ll have to dig deeper to see what could be causing it.

3. Visited Blog x Times But Haven’t Converted

Engaged readers are great, but if we’re not converting them to our content upgrades, webinars, eBooks, or even signing up, then we’re not doing a good job marketing our content (or product).

This Population tracks the number of people that visit your blog many times each week, but never convert. It’s simple to set up, just enter your criteria as “people who visited blog at least x times in the last 7 days and have not converted.”

This will do exactly as it says – track how many people are visiting the blog regularly without converting. We can expect this Population to go up with traffic increases, but if it shows a trendline above overall traffic, that might indicate that we’re not converting our readership.

Let’s view our Population:

So about a 22% increase compared to 90 days ago. As in all Populations, these numbers need to mean something in context. If our overall traffic has remained flat, we can try some new tests to get more of our regular readers converting. Maybe some retargeting will help (which would link to a landing page for an eBook) or other tactics that can drive conversions – exit-intent popups, content upgrades, etc.

Conclusion

As a customer engagement automation platform (CEA), Kissmetrics is made to help you analyze, segment, and engage your online audience. Request a demo today to learn more.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Growth Hacking vs. Growth Mapping: What You Should Be Doing To Scale Your Business

So, you’ve tweaked your landing pages until your conversion rates can’t get any better, split tested every facet of your ad campaigns and collaborated with influencers in your niche to maximize your exposure.

What’s next?

These tactics are wonderful and can generate explosive growth, but after a while, you’ll reach a plateau.

Once your startup is a fully-fledged, profitable business, growth challenges become different. While a startup is focussed on big wins to make the cash register ring, established businesses need to think in terms of more stable, incremental forms of growth. It’s no longer about growth hacking; growth mapping has to take center stage.

This continuum of business growth can be explained using sports as an analogy.

Mixed martial arts have one of the most significant learning curves out of all sports.

In the first six months of training, you can learn the fundamentals of striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

However, the longer you practice, the smaller the improvements you’ll make. Once you’re proficient at the basics, the real journey to mastery begins.

Sure, adding a spinning wheel kick to your arsenal of attacks is beneficial in the short-run, but elite level UFC fighters didn’t reach mastery by continually learning new techniques – they did it by refining their fundamentals, year after year.

Jiu-jitsu expert Demian Maia understands all facets of the game, but he didn’t start achieving spectacular results until he centered his strategy around his strongest skills: wrestling his opponents to the mat and securing a rear-naked choke. Fans often comment that his opponents know exactly what he’s going to do, yet are unable to stop it.

To achieve mastery in any discipline (especially business), tactics that provide short-term explosive growth are great – but the long game requires slower, sustainable progress.

This is the difference between growth hacking and growth mapping.

Whatever stage your business is at, consider using these growth tactics to take you to the next level.

1. Growth Tactics

Here are some non-technical growth tactics to try. These don’t require a/b tests or changing any forms to increase conversions. Instead, they’re simple tactics to test to see if they drive meaningful acquisition.

Personalized Discounts

The generic, one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is no longer applicable.

Nowadays, businesses can leverage user data to deliver more personalized, emotionally resonant messages to their users in order to maximize engagement and profits.

Email marketers have a good understanding of this. Depending on the actions people have taken in response to email campaigns, different email sequences can be fired off.

If a person opened an email promoting a webinar and attended, they might receive a sales-oriented email, whereas if they miss the webinar, their next message might be a gentle reminder of when the next webinar is available.

To take this a step further, I recommend using your analytics data to provide special deals to warm prospects. If a person has viewed a product page numerous times but hasn’t converted – there is a proven interest but something isn’t quite right.

In my experience, offering limited discounts to these users can push them over the edge and get them to convert. In this scenario, leveraging scarcity marketing in a highly personalized way can drive explosive growth.

Incentivized Referrals

Instead of pumping money into ad campaigns to acquire new customers, have you ever considered getting your existing customers to do your marketing for you?

In recent years, Dropbox and Airbnb have achieved extreme growth partially due to referral marketing. However, PayPal created the blueprint many years prior.

Initially offering $ 20 to new users and $ 20 for them to refer their friends (this was later scaled down to $ 10 and then $ 5), PayPal acquired over 100,000 users in the first month of being operational.

The bold referral program was masterminded by PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk. A consummate scientist, Musk described the viral nature of the program as “bacteria growth in a Petri dish.”

While you may not be able to spend tens of millions of dollars like PayPal did to acquire new customers, a good double-sided referral program (both the referrer and friend benefit) can stimulate tremendous growth.

If you’re not ready to create a formal referral program, consider sending your repeat customers a referral discount code via email. Since they have a positive impression of your brand (proven by repeat purchases), they’ll be happy to refer their friends to you – especially if they’re incentivized to do so.

Guest Posting

A few years back, people used guest posting for all the wrong reasons. In order to game search engines and acquire inbound links, marketers would submit sub-par content to external sites with no concern for providing value to the audience.

Fortunately, Google caught on to this unsavory practice and it’s being phased out.

However, Google is still perfectly happy for people to publish guest posts that, “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”

In other words, guest posting is no longer a link building game; it’s all about delivering value and long-term brand building.

As a free growth tactic, I find guest posting to be exceptionally effective. I aim to write multiple guest posts every week.

If you don’t consider yourself a particularly strong writer, you can hire a quality ghostwriter. You can expect to spend between $ 150-$ 300 per post. Make sure you find a quality guest writer that is an expert in their niche. They should have published on reputable blogs before, and are not a “jack of all trades”, meaning they can write on daycare blogs and b2b marketing blogs. Find writers that stick to one niche.

For startups, I recommend saving your best content for guest posts. This sounds counterintuitive, but guest posts will be read more than the posts on your site – so it makes sense to deliver the most value where you’re receiving the most eyeballs.

Gamification

If you’ve ever played the old school MMORPG game, Everquest, one of the most compelling features of the game’s interface was the experience bar, which would tell you how close you are to moving up to the next level.

LinkedIn use a similar gamification tactic to encourage new users to fill out their profiles.

linkedin incomplete profile

There is a core psychological component to gamification tactics such as progress bars.

Research indicates that the simple act of completing something, whatever it may be, leads to a release of endorphins. When the act of completion is associated with positive emotions, you’re compelled to keep completing things – which leads to a large user base for both SaaS companies and MMORPG games!

Think about how you can incorporate gamification into your user experience and you’ll reap the rewards.

Free Merchandise

In the digital era, free merchandise (a.k.a. swag) can seem like a pretty low-tech growth tactic, but this is exactly why it’s so powerful – because not many people are doing it anymore.

By handing out branded t-shirts, mouse pads, pens and other accessories, you can let your free merchandise do your marketing for you.

Counterintuitively, you don’t need a huge upfront investment.

I recommend browsing Alibaba and conversing with manufacturers. You can get your logo branded on a gigantic range of products – just shop around for the right price.

Sometimes, manufacturers will be happy to drop ship your orders, so you don’t have to hold inventory.

Instead of handing out gifts to everyone and anyone, I recommend shipping free branded accessories as rewards to customers who have a high Customer Lifetime Value (LTV).

Someone who has made repeat purchases already holds your brand in high regard, so they’re more likely to show off their free t-shirt or pen to their friends. Since they’re already a profitable customer, you’re not going to lose money on sending them a free gift – whereas you might with non-customers or one-time buyers.

Print on demand t-shirts work excellently in this scenario.

2 – Growth Mapping

Growth Scoring

Once you’ve exhausted all possible growth tactics, the first step to sustainable growth is to examine what’s working and what isn’t.

If content marketing is a core part of your company’s success, I’d recommend tracking key metrics for your campaigns.

When doing growth scoring for clients, I like to be as in-depth as possible. Before moving onto the subsequent mapping phase, I need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the ideal blog post length in terms of generating engagement?
  • What is the ideal article title length?
  • What’s the average bounce rate and time spent on pages?
  • How many social shares are generated per post?
  • Do some types of content create more engagement than others (i.e. infographics and video posts)?
  • Do articles by certain authors perform better than others? If so, why?

Strategy Mapping

After analyzing our scores, we can tell where we should maximize our investment to get the best returns.

For instance, if infographics consistently perform better than blog posts (in my experience, they often do) – allocating additional resources to producing infographics will be beneficial in the long run.

Also at this stage, we have the opportunity to revisit highly performing blog posts and optimize them.

One of my favorite optimization tactics is to provide downloadable content upgrades at the end of these popular posts.

A content upgrade is simply a lead magnet (a checklist, eBook or other item of value that marketers trade in exchange for contact information) with one key difference: they’re contextually relevant.

If you’re a marketing agency, you might feature a lead magnet on your homepage in the form of an eBook about driving website traffic. However, if you’ve seen that an evergreen article about email marketing continually gets lots of views – you might want to provide a checklist at the end of the post describing the steps to creating a killer autoresponder sequence.

Growth mapping is all about examining the data, and then mapping out a course of action for sustainable long-term growth.

Have you used any other growth hacks that have been effective for your business? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your replies.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Reason Why All Those Marketing Tactics Keep Failing

Tactics don’t necessarily fail because they’re bad.

They fail because of the context around them.

The customer segment was off. The timing was bad. Or the attempt was half-assed.

It all works. SEO works. Facebook ads work. Conversion optimization works.

But the degree to which they deliver depends wildly on other factors.

And the only way to ensure success is to get those things right, first, before jumping head-first into the tactics.

Here’s how to do the hard work, up-front, to make sure your next campaign goes off without a hitch.

Facebook ads “don’t work”

You can’t browse the interwebs without running into a new shiny hack. A brand new strategy or tactic to implement.

So you ditch the to-do list. You push off the important. You bend to the urgent. (Or at least, that which faintly resembles the urgent.)

You try the new hack. You invest hours that don’t exist and money that you don’t have.

You follow the “Launch Plan” from influencer XYZ to a T. Literally: Every. Single. Thing.

And then?

It falls flat. It works, but not enough. It produces, but not enough.

Seth Godin published Meatball Sundae in 2007. A decade ago.

Strange title, right? There’s a reason behind it:

“People treat the New Marketing like a kid with a twenty-dollar bill at an ice cream parlor. They keep wanting to add more stuff—more candy bits and sprinkles and cream and cherries. The dream is simple: ‘If we can just add enough of [today’s hot topping], everything will take care of itself.’”

Except, as you’re already all too familiar, that’s not how it works in the real world:

“Most of the time, despite all the hype, organizations fail when they try to use this scattershot approach. They fail to get buzz or traffic or noise or sales. Organizations don’t fail because the Web and the New Marketing don’t work. They fail because the Web and the New Marketing work only when applied to the right organization. New Media makes a promise to the consumer. If the organization is unable to keep that promise, then it fails.”

It’s the context, not the tactics.

We aren’t talking about 1960’s advertising. We can’t run ads in a vacuum and shape the public’s opinion.

There’s a lot of other things at stake. There’s a lot of other aspects to consider.

Facebook advertising is one of the best examples because it’s surprisingly complex and nuanced. You can’t just throw up a one-and-done campaign to see revenue pour in overnight.

That’s why it’s a waste of money according to popular opinion.

68 million people can’t be wrong… can they? (How many people voted last year again?)

Let’s click through a few of these to pull out the real gems:

“Facebook’s stock tanked after the IPO for one singular reason. Their advertising model does not work well. Most people who’ve advertised on Facebook, including myself, have been disappointed.”

Um. Ok.

“In that case, not only has Facebook and other digital technology killed ad creativity, it’s also killed ad effectiveness.”

I’m not even sure what that means.

Ok. Well, please, nobody tell Spearmint Love that Facebook ads don’t work. Because they just posted a 1,100% revenue increase last year using… Facebook ads.

Now, it wasn’t all rainbows, sunshine, and unicorns for them. They ran into problems, too.

It took six months for them to figure out one of the reasons their campaigns were stalling. It was simple and right in front of them the entire time.

Kids grow up.

Which means baby-related ads only work for so long with a particular cohort, before it’s time to refresh, update, and move along.

Again — the underlying issue was the market, the people, the life stage. Not the tactic.

They adapted. They went upstream. They followed customers as they naturally evolved.

So, no. “Boosting” posts endlessly doesn’t work. Buying likes doesn’t work, either. Not by themselves, obviously.

Likes, impressions, and fans don’t pay the bills. Leads and customers do.

That holds true regardless of which advertising medium we’re discussing: TV, radio, billboards, Google, Facebook, or otherwise.

You need a customer acquisition machine on Facebook. Simultaneous campaigns running in parallel. One building the attention and awareness for the next. Another nurturing those and presenting different enticing offers. Only after the foreplay can you get down to business.

Yet, that doesn’t happen. At least, not as often as it should. Which leads to… “It doesn’t work.”

This is far from the only scenario. This same issue pops up over and over again.

It even applies to the proposed Facebook solution you’re putting in place.

Custom audiences aren’t segmented

Facebook might not have the same level of user intent that AdWords does.

However, they do have custom audiences.

These dynamically-generated audiences can help you laser-target campaigns to skyrocket results. (Or, at least, push unprofitable ones past break-even.)

They allow you to run retargeting campaigns on steroids. You can overlay demographic and interest-based data with past user behavior, so you can accurately predict what someone wants next.

Custom audiences help increase your Relevancy Score, which in turn, lowers your Cost Per Click while also increasing your Click-Through Rate.

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Awesome, right?

So what could possibly be the problem?

Too often, your custom audiences aren’t custom enough.

Let’s talk about your business. How many products and services do you sell?

Now, how many of those do you sell to different customer segments or personas?

Imagine a simple matrix:

The possibilities might double or triple as you add each new variation. Exponentially.

It’s not my place to tell you that such a business model is too complicated. It is, however, to say that you’ve just made your ad campaigns infinitely more difficult.

Because this matrix doesn’t even take into account the funnel stage or intent level each audience has for each product. So we can add another layer of complexity here.

Let’s say you have a custom audience set up for past website visitors to your site. Fine.

However, in that one “custom audience” you’re lumping together all of these personas and products.

In other words, it’s segmented. Barely. A little bit. But not good enough.

The trick is to think through each possible variation and have your customers help you.

For example, the services page from Work the System segments you into two groups right off the bat:

Now, subsequent retargeting campaigns can use the right ad creative. The one that talks about the unique pain points of an online business (like remote workers) vs. that of the brick-and-mortar variety (like local hiring).

See? Everything is (or should be) different.

You can even do this on pricing pages.

For example, Credo names each plan for a different audience:

You segment product features based on personas. So why not your ad campaigns?

Agencies have more fixed expenses than freelancers. Therefore, their project minimums will be higher. Their goals are also in growing and managing a team vs. doing the work themselves.

They’re similar once again. But vastly different when you get down into the weeds.

MarketingExperiments.com worked with a medical company on a similar issue. Simply rewriting collateral pieces for a specific segment (as opposed to a nameless, faceless audience) increased CTR by 49.5%.

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Another trick you can try is including different ‘paths’ for each potential problem (and your service that lines up with it.)

So you send out a re-engagement email campaign with links to content pieces for each. Then you see who clicks what.

And then you sync your email data with custom audiences to add these people to the right destination.

Follow any of these recommendations (or better yet, use them together), and you’ll get custom audiences that are, in fact, custom.

It also means you’ll have about 3-4 times the number of custom audiences and campaigns running at any given time.

But it means you’ll have a better shot at success. And at getting Facebook ads to “work.”

All because you put in the proper work ahead of time.

Conversion tracking is off (or non-existent)

People think data is honest.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Data lies more than we care to admit.

Case in point: Conversions.

WTF is a “conversion” these days, anyway?

An email subscriber? A marketing-qualified lead? A sales-qualified lead? A one-off customer? A repeat customer? A high LTV customer?

Sometimes, it’s none of those things.

Years ago, I worked on a new client’s ad account.

The Conversion Rate column inside AdWords showed totals over 100%.

Now, obviously, I know that I’m dashing and brilliant and debonair. But not that much.

Because technically that’s impossible.

So we looked at it for only a few seconds to realize what was happening.

In almost every case, the Conversions total was equal to or more than the Clicks one.

That ain’t good. Here’s why.

Problem #1. It looks like we’re tracking clicks to the landing page as conversions.

Except, their goal wasn’t even a form fills opt-in. It was phone calls.

They anecdotally told me that phone numbers brought in better customers who also converted faster.

Ok, cool. Unfortunately, though, there was another issue.

Problem #2. No call tracking was set up, either.

So the phone rang. Constantly. Several times an hour. And yet PPC got no credit. Despite the fact that PPC probably drove an overwhelming number of the calls (based on the data we saw earlier.)

This client was primarily running classic bottom-of-the-funnel search ads. No display. So the peeps calling were converting. We just had no idea who was or why they were.

This creates a cascading effect of problems.

It meant that there was no historical conversion tracking data to use to draw insights. We literally had no idea which campaigns were converting the best or even which keywords outperformed others.

rabbit out of hat gif

But wait, because it’s about to get worse.

Problem #3. Aggregate numbers of leads to closed customers was being tracked in Excel.

In other words, X leads from Y campaign turned into customers this month.

Obviously, that’s not ideal. We couldn’t even track PPC leads accurately because of the issues above.

But from there, nobody could see that customer John Smith who converted on Wednesday spent $ 5,000 and came from Campaign XYZ.

Their “industry specialized CRM software” (read: sh!t) didn’t have an API.

A dude from the “industry-specific CRM” company gave me the following response: “We do not allow for any attempts to manipulate data in the database. Any attempts to do so would cause errors and result in data corruption.”

Which meant that even if we fixed all of these other problems, there was no way for us to pass data back and forth when PPC leads did, in fact, turn into paying customers.

So.

We’re blindly spending dizzying amounts of money. Daily.

And yet, somehow we’re supposed to come in and start driving new customers ASAP?

Without any idea of what’s currently happening, what happened previously, or even what we’re supposed to be optimizing in the first place?

via GIPHY

I’ll spare you the boring details. It involved months of going backward to fix various tracking problems (none of which we scoped or billed correctly beforehand #agencylife.)

We basically did everything imaginable.

Except our job.

We designed and created new landing pages so we could use form fields to track and painstakingly set up call tracking on every single landing page. Then we went so far as to create a process for their internal team to manually reconcile these data points each month and figure out how many customers were finally coming from PPC.

Then after we stopped working together, they undid all of the call tracking work we set up. Because: clients.

</end rant>

The point is, no tactic in the world can make up for this scenario.

Yes, SKAGs are good. Geo-targeting is good. Day-parting is fine, too.

But none of it matters if you can’t address the underlying issues. Otherwise, you’re just flying blind.

Not just a single goal inside Google Analytics. But many. Multiple. At different stages. For different personas. For different products/services.

Which always never happens.

First, create a good-old Google Analytics goal. You know, create a ‘thank you’ page, redirect opt-in users there, etc.

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More than one persona? Create more than one landing page and form. Message match from the last section helps you keep this all straight.

Then go back into AdWords and create new goals there, too.

The key is to set up the script properly on the new thank you page, and not the landing page. Otherwise, you’ll run into the issue we saw earlier (tracking clicks instead of opt-ins.)

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Last but not least, noindex and nofollow the thank you page. Because the last thing you can afford now is for people to find this page from Google, bypass your form, and distort your data.

But wait… what about the initial problem? Phone calls!

We can’t let those go untracked, either. Unfortunately, both Google Analytics and AdWords fail us here. (You can track them as Events, but you’ll still only get aggregate data at best.)

Unless… you hook up another tool like CallRail to swap out your web and landing page numbers. Then you can add a ‘swap target’ to destination phone numbers. It will give each visitor a new number so it can appropriately track all calls.

However… that means you’ll have to go back and append your AdWords and Analytics goals so that they pass the appropriate referral data.

You want to see which AdWords campaign, ad, and keyword delivered each lead.

Only then can you make tactical, day-to-day changes with any certainty.

This OCD-level tracking changes everything.

For example, if you know that a customer is worth $ 1,000/mo over 12 months and the cost per acquisition is only $ 200… you can afford to bid up the Cost Per Click aggressively.

Yes, you might pay more in the interim. But you’ll also make more in the long-run.

Context changes everything. But only if you see the entire picture.

Conclusion

All tactics work to one degree or another.

Some might be more appropriate for a particular company. LinkedIn ads, say, would be better for a recruiting company than a baby blog.

However, beyond the obvious, there are margins for error.

Those margins get worryingly large when you’re neglecting to take context into account.

Tactics are good, but they’re not miracle workers. What worked for one person on one site at one particular time will almost certainly not work the same for you.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad, you were wrong, or you suck.

It just means there were other factors you neglected to take into account. And it’s why copy/pasting tactical roadmaps or launch plans often falls flat.

The more time you spend doing the hard, boring stuff to get a better handle on your scenario, the better your probability of success gets.

And the more lucrative those changes can become.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

3 Ways You Can Use Sales Automation to Convert More Leads into Meetings

Salespeople are at their most valuable when interacting with customers one-on-one. They are highly trained, highly paid professionals who want to convert as many leads into sales as possible. In fact, 80% of sales people think the phone (where they can sell one on one) is the best channel for closing a deal.

The problem is that setting up a meeting with a lead requires a lot of tedious and repetitive work which humans don’t do well. Automation helps a lot but doesn’t replace the sales person. Instead, it takes care of the necessary tasks that don’t require a human touch, freeing up your salespeople to have as much one on one selling time as possible.

Adopting automation doesn’t even mean upending your sales process. Here are three simple ways of harnessing automation which will unlock your sales reps’ ability to make conversions.

1. Stick to Email For as Many Interactions as Possible

One on one interactions are essential for closing but it is difficult to scale them. Where somebody talking on the phone might be able to make 8 calls an hour, you can prepare and send 200 personalized email campaigns in half that time.

Because email doesn’t require a person to communicate in real time, it allows human input to be focused on creating personalized content. Repetitive content and delivery scheduling can be handed over to your sales automation software.

Let me give you an example. Most of the words in an email can be repeated. This means that you can create a template with spaces left for the sections you want to personalize. If you use an email outreach automator like Growbots, Yesware, or Outreach, all your sales rep has to do is create personalized information to feed into the template, saving them from having to write a completely new message every time.

That really comes in handy when you consider that with cold outreach only half of the responses you get come after your first email. We did a study of over 600,000 cold email campaigns sent on our platform to find out what percentage of positive responses come after each email in your outreach sequence. What we found was to get 97% of your potential responses, you need to send at least four emails.

Graph showing the percentage of positive responses that come after each email in your sequence.

It takes only a few minutes to set up a sequence of messages to be scheduled automatically to hundreds of email addresses. Not only that but most decision makers check their own email. Over the phone, that many touch points would take over three days. Even then your sales reps are more often than not likely to reach their lead’s secretaries or some other gatekeeper that they will need to work past.

It is easy to test and optimize different aspects of your delivery and messaging. Your templates can be easily A/B tested to see which subject line, format, and sequence works best. Even optimizing the time of delivery can have a big effect on the response rate. Different targets have different habits when it comes to positively responding to your emails. Take the example of this prospect:

You can double your conversion rate. (Image Source)

Automation means you can schedule your emails to be delivered at the right time, pretty much doubling your conversion rate over less desirable times.

2. Collect and Reuse Content That Works

You will find that certain responses to questions and objections work better than others. These can be loaded into an email accelerator like Cirrus Insight or Mixmax. They sit in your inbox and provide you with a previously prepared response you can send out immediately. You can also share these responses with new members of the team so that they don’t need extensive onboarding before they can begin fielding queries from leads.

When a lead needs more convincing or stops responding, they are not lost. An email automator like followup.cc, rebump, or vocus, lets you set up a sequence of automated messages that you can customize to address the specific pain points the lead has. Your sales rep can use a combination of responses that have previously been effective and then set them to deliver automatically. This way they can keep in contact with this lead without having to take the time to continually check in with them.

3. Don’t Leave Meeting Scheduling to Chance

After your sales rep has done all of the work to get a one on one meeting, they don’t want to lose the lead in the time between agreeing to meet and holding the meeting. Despite the fact that your sales rep’s lead has signaled that they want to meet, they can still lose them if your sales rep isn’t careful.

The ensuing back and forth that comes from agreeing to a time to meet loses a surprising number of leads. An automated meeting scheduler allows your lead to pick a time when both of you are available. There is no back and forth and no chance for the meeting to be broken.

An automated scheduler will not only update both your calendars but send a friendly reminder to your lead. While this may not sound like a lot, it makes a big difference. Before we started using a scheduling automator like Calendly, only about half of the meetings we set would be attended. After that number rose to 74%.

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A scheduling automator frees up your sales rep’s time while doing the job better than they could do themselves.

It is time to unleash your sales reps with automation

Automation is most effective when it gives your sales people more time to speak one on one with their leads. Things that computers do well and humans don’t, like scheduling interactions and doing repetitive processes, can be easily automated. This means that your sales reps can add their human touch to many more interactions. We have found that on average, a sales rep can triple the number of meetings they book using automation than they can without it.

About the Author: Lewis Stowe is a content marketing specialist at Growbots and has written extensively about building an automated outbound pipeline in The Art of Customer Acquisition.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Why Unscalable Marketing Activities are Best for B2B Companies

Most blog posts talk about going viral.

They talk about network effects and refer-a-friend tactics.

They talk about switching your orange button to a green one.

They talk about sending out automated, cold emails.

Well, guess what?

None of that works in B2B. Not at a high level. Not when you’re selling to smart, educated people. Not when there are tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) at stake.

All of those easy, ‘scalable’ tactics that blogs love to rave about fall flat.

The best way to close high-dollar B2B accounts is to do the opposite. You need one-to-one communication ASAP.

The problem is that the best methods are largely unscalable. At least on the surface. So they appear to require tons of your time and energy. Of which, you’re already running dangerously short.

Here’s why seemingly ‘unscalable’ activities work best. And what you can do to lessen the pain.

Why 1-to-1, unscalable B2B activities convert best

Sales is positioning.

B2B sales, especially.

It all comes back to the bottom line.

Are you an expert or a hack? A partner or a vendor?

Your ability (and almost as important, the perception of your ability) is on the line. It’s what separates cost-plus vs. value pricing. Thin margins from fat ones.

Experts and consultants? They don’t email customers garbage. Customers go to them.

That’s why your approach matters. A lot.

All those fancy growth hacks? They might work on the mass market paying $ 0.00 for your shiny photo sharing app.

But not as much when tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) are on the line. Not when MBA-toting, C-suite execs with decades of experience can sniff out your bullshit from a mile away.

B2B doesn’t buy on impulse. A rush of blood to the head won’t cut it.

Instead, they’re conducting at least a dozen searches before ever visiting a brand’s website. Most of the purchasing process actually takes place before they consider you personally.

They’re informed. And there are usually many of them required before signing on the dotted line.

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All of this means the average sale is going to take longer. It’s going to be complex. It’s going to require many conversations over many weeks with many different people.

You can scale some of it. You can automate parts of it. But when it matters most, when the chips fall, unscalable activities win.

Take a look at these example conversion benchmarks for the software industry from Capterra:

conversion rates for software companies capterra

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Average website conversions hover around 7%. If you’re lucky.

After that, the qualified conversion rates jump to 36% and 27%. Why?

Why is the top of the funnel conversion rate so low, while the bottom of the funnel one is so high?

One answer is that people become more qualified as you go. And the other is that you’re handling the qualification or sales personally.

Lead scoring might help. A tiny bit. But otherwise, you’re sending emails, making phone calls… selling.

All of which is manual, time-intensive, and unscalable.

That’s the theory, anyway. Now, let’s evaluate it in practice.

What’s the average click-through rate for online ads?

Around 0.5% for display ads and about 3% for search ads according to WordStream.

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Those numbers are… not good.

Doesn’t matter how you frame it. We accept it and continue to spend money on it because it’s scalable. It allows us to go and do other things. We put up with mediocre response rates in the hopes that it’s all justified in the end.

Now let’s compare it to alternatives, so you have some context.

Funnelholic used to see the same average 2-3% results, too. Until they made a few changes.

And then? Open rates shot up to 60%. Reply rates leaped to 31%. And they netted 15 new meetings.

What was the difference?

They took unscalable steps first. They thoroughly researched each prospect and personalized each outreach attempt.

Different channel or medium. Same story.

One company used direct mail to get a foot in the door with $ 30 million+ companies, receiving a 25% response rate. Another study shows that first-time buyers are 60% more likely to visit a website URL after seeing it on a piece of direct mail.

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Let’s do another one.

Spoke with another founder recently. He literally walked into 13 multimillion-dollar companies cold one day. Now, has two proposals out. That’s ~15% response rate.

Again: Compare that with ~0.5% and ~3% for online ads. And that’s for just a measly click! The vast majority of which won’t go on to become a lead, qualified opportunity, or sales prospect.

So really, you’re looking at fractions of a percent.

The problem with these high-performing tactics?

None of them are scalable. At least, not on the surface.

Researching individual people within accounts isn’t. Hand-writing letters isn’t. Creating and sending personalized packages isn’t. And walking into offices definitely isn’t.

The trick is to make the unscalable scalable. Doesn’t make sense, I know. But it hopefully will in a few minutes.

You should be able to find a way to scale multiple “unscalable” activities with people, processes, and tools. Here’s how.

Start at ground zero with your target accounts

The lazy answer to this quandary is “account-based marketing.” Which is really just a euphemism for “not terrible marketing.”

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Instead of only qualifying and disqualifying toward the end, you do it upfront. You invest more time and energy whittling out the junk so that you can focus more attention and resources on fewer, better potential customers.

Don’t take my word for it.

This is the essence of Predictable Revenue. The same one that added $ 100 million to the top line of Salesforce. The same one that the fastest-growing SaaS sales teams use today.

It’s a mix of inbound + outbound. You use the best of both to expedite the process.

Inbound is great. But it takes for.ev.er. And results don’t always pan out like they should. Not like you were told. Not in the beginning. Not in competitive industries filled with low-volume, long-tail queries.

Example: “Content marketing.”

Ninety-freaking-two difficulty score. While the volume range puts it around mid-tail, best case scenario.

Now, try ranking on that term with a 500-word blog post. Try ranking for that term with “Best Content Marketing Tools” or some other inane post.

That might work in the local pool biz. Ain’t gonna cut it here.

That’s why it takes more. It requires more. The only way you’re going to sell five or six-figure deals is to pitch the hell out of a dedicated account.

The trick is to do the hard work upfront. Define your ideal Customer profile, and everything else becomes easy.

But we can’t do that for you. Unfortunately, you’re on your own.

LinkedIn does, however, give you a few ways to pre-qualify prospects at scale.

The first step is their LinkedIn Sales Navigator. You can select firmographic criteria like job titles, company size, geography, and more to have them compile a prospecting list for you.

Then, you can save companies as new accounts to get access to all of the individuals inside.

Next, cue: stalking.

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator will provide a never-ending stream of updates when filled with accounts. Every time your key people do something on the site, you’ll see it.

And you’ll be social selling in no time. The same strategy IBM has used to increase sales 400%.

This is the hard part, though. You need to get on their radar. Not by sending spammy InMail messages. But by reaching out and discussing. You build that whole relationship-thing.

You can also combine some inbound with your outbound here.

For example, you can run content promotion to these target accounts to passively build brand awareness.

Then, you can use LinkedIn’s new Matched Audiences feature. This is more or less their version of Facebook’s custom audiences.

You can target contacts that have been to your site before. Or you can upload a list of contacts that have opted in somewhere along the way.

This is where you add scale. You shouldn’t necessarily automate meetings with prospects. You really can’t, in fact.

But you can start to automate some peripheral activities, like these retargeting ads that run in the background.

And you can also start to streamline “unscalable,” individual prospecting techniques. Here’s how.

Now, make the unscalable, scalable

There’s one thing standing between you and more paying customers.

It’s not time. It’s not money. It’s not a tool.

And it’s not even a hack. It’s a process.

That’s it. Sexy, right?

A little over a year ago, my company sent these out in the mail (among other things).

direct mail advertisement missing piece

Not the best. But not bad.

We sent each one with a handwritten note. Then we stuffed both inside an envelope and mailed it to an individual within an account company’s headquarters.

Now, you’re probably thinking that this sounds time-consuming. And that’s because it was. Very.

Initially, we did all the work. Even bought the envelopes at a Staples (remember those?) and brought them to an honest-to-goodness post office.

The initial results were promising. Solid responses started to roll in.

So here’s where things get fun. You create a process around this to hand off to someone else.

Fortunately, there’s this magical secret to dealing with menial, recurring tasks like this. They’re like little magical elves who just come sweep up after you so that issues go away.

They’re called: interns.

The trick is that you have to tell them exactly what you’re looking for. Most don’t. They just expect them to know. And results suck. “Interns are lazy” etc. etc.

Each step is its own little process. There should be details on how to stalk find key accounts on LinkedIn, how to build a prospecting list, and so on.

Pretty soon, you’ll have hundreds of names. For pennies on the dollar.

Re-visit those stats above. A 10%+ response rate with hundreds of names, with each potential client worth well over $ 10,000 over the next year?

I’ll take that over ‘going viral’ any day.

Change your perception on what can or can’t be scaled

People like their habits. They like their business-as-usual.

Take forms. Do we need them?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Here’s how it typically works. A person visits your site and opts in. Awesome! Except, they’re not super clear on what comes next.

Internally, that notification goes… somewhere? You get around to vetting the lead, eventually. And then reach out hours, days, or weeks later.

By then, the prospect has already moved on. It’s too late.

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Your chances of qualifying each new prospect fall by 400% past the five-minute mark.

So how can you scale the unscalable?

Live chat is one solution. It satisfies 92% of peeps. Companies like Influx have used it to bring in 27% of inbound leads and grow companies by 20% each month.

But not the way you’re thinking. You can’t afford to hire someone to sit there all day.

Thankfully, you can now use chatbots to do everything from qualifying new prospects to scheduling sales calls with hot prospects. And then helping you close more deals.

You can pre-program the sequence. And your chatbot will do all of the heavy-lifting for you.

TrainedUp, a video training service for church leaders, recently implemented this approach.

Think about your average form-based conversions for a minute. You’re lucky if 7-9% of visitors are opting in for your services.

TrainedUp is seeing 25% of visitors interacting with their chatbot. Then 15% of those go through with scheduling a demo. And 40% of those chatbot-driven demos are converting to paying customers.

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A lot of TrainedUp’s success is coming from using Drift’s Playbooks. This feature poses three simple questions to completely onboard new leads for you.

Directive Consulting does something similar. For example, the chatbot can qualify (or disqualify) prospects for you without a single person manning the station.

For example, you only want to work with decision makers. So ideally, you’re looking for “CEOs” and “VP/Directors” who can sign on the dotted line. Then, you can customize a different response for “Managers” to make sure nobody’s wasting each other’s time.

Let’s select “VP/Director” to keep the conversation going.

Next up, you can get some basic budget information. Once again, this helps better qualify and segment new leads. If someone’s budget is “Less than 5k,” for example, the chatbot politely informs them about project minimums.

It can even help you route leads to different reps or divisions. The services you deliver to a client in the $ 5-10k range might be vastly different from those in the $ 50k+. So this allows you to figure out who each visitor should be speaking with internally.

Because the next step is to solve the main problem we had earlier: planning the next step.

You now have all of this valuable data. You know if they’re a good fit or not. You know exactly which department, division, or rep to refer them to.

So why make them wait for a “follow-up” that’s not likely to happen anytime soon?

Instead, you can then immediately have them schedule a new sales call.

Drift has a built-in calendar feature that integrates with most calendars. So, the chatbot can even schedule conversations in real-time.

Otherwise, you can respond with a Calendly link (even customizing different links and availabilities for different types of leads).

So if someone successfully makes it through the first three questions, they receive a link to schedule a conversation immediately:

Replacing a traditional “Thank You” page with a Calendly link so that visitors could schedule appointments on their own helped Virtru increase conversions from around 30% to over 61% in a single month.

virtru schedule demo ab test

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Conclusion

‘Viral’ marketing might work for B2C. Network effects might help you get more users into a free photo sharing app.

But none of that realistically works for B2B.

The problem is that you often shoot yourself in the foot when you focus exclusively on scalable marketing activities. Those things only work at the bottom of the food chain.

Selling intangible, high-dollar services to execs is a different story entirely. The only way you get on their radar and earn their trust is by doing the hard stuff. The time-consuming stuff. The stuff that almost never scales immediately.

The trick is to scale the unscalable. You use processes, delegation, and technology to overcome the burden.

That way, you’re still seemingly delivering the same 1-on-1 personalized touch that people crave. However, you personally aren’t doing it. And that’s critical.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

The Metrics Every E-Commerce Store Should be Tracking to Drive Growth

The most successful online stores winning at e-commerce are doing so because they’ve become absolutely obsessed with metrics. They swim in data.

Every marketing and promotional decision is driving by the data. Because without data you have virtually no chance at making improvements. You don’t know what’s working, what’s failing, or even what success looks like.

Driving growth in your e-commerce business requires a few key components:

  • Setting measurable goals (key performance indicators)
  • Identifying the metrics necessary to track those KPIs
  • Monitoring performance and making adjustments as necessary

While there are numerous metrics that can be tracked, I’ve listed the ones most commonly tied to the growth of your store.

Segmented Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate is a pretty cut and dry metric. It’s the percentage of the visitors on your website who decide to make a purchase.

It’s calculated by taking the total number of website visitors who make a single purchase and dividing that number by the total number of people who visit your site.

For example; 14 customers made a purchase among 150 visitors, so the conversion rate (14 divided by 150) is 9.3%.

Your conversion rate is a good overall indicator of success, but don’t stop there.

If you break it down and segment your conversion rate you can get a lot more granular with the data, giving you tremendous insight into individual campaigns you’re using to grow your business.

A few ways to segment your conversion rates include:

1. Conversion by traffic source

Reviewing how customers convert based on the traffic source (Google, Bing, Facebook, Reddit, etc.) can tell you where you should be investing in driving traffic, or what channels to focus on improving the targeting or message you’re using for campaigns.

2. Conversion by device type

Mobile devices accounted for 19% of US retail e-commerce in 2014, and that’s expected to climb to 27% by the end of 2018.

The traffic coming from mobile is much higher. According to Yotpo, mobile accounts for more than half of all e-commerce traffic.

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If there’s a growing or uncommon gap in desktop and mobile conversion where one is outperforming another, review the user experience and see where improvements can be made.

3. Conversion of new vs. returning visitors

Keep in mind that conversions for returning visitors are traditionally higher because those customers already know you, trust your brand, and are more willing to make a purchase.

For example; if your returning visitors are converting at ~7% but your new customers are converting at ~2% then the average is going to fall somewhere around 5%. If you use that average to calculate your max budget for acquisition campaigns that actually convert at ~2% you’re going to lose money.

Segmenting these conversions can help you more accurately calculate what you should be spending on your acquisition campaigns and how well they’re performing.

Segmented Revenue

You should segment your revenue the same way you segment conversions. This loops back very well to tracking your conversions by traffic but you can get just as granular with segmenting your revenue.

Like conversions, you can weed out sites that are just giving you a spike of eyeballs but aren’t really contributing anything to your bottom line.

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There’s a pretty clear difference in revenue by the sources in the example above. Note the one referral with just 3 visits generating far more revenue per visitor.
This is a great way to see how different traffic sources contribute to your bottom line such as:

  • Organic search
  • Email campaigns
  • Referral traffic from blogs or social

Like the example above, segmenting your revenue gives you a look into how customer spend changes depending on the traffic source.

For example, you might get far more conversions from Facebook referrals, but those people only buy a single product. Compare that to traffic from email campaigns where the conversions are a bit lower but the average order value is twice the size.

Use that data to replicate what you’re doing right with certain channels and where to invest more time and resources.

GrowthScout has a step-by-step guide to setup your Google Analytics for tracking revenue by traffic.

Conversion by Product

If you only have a handful of products in your online store this is likely less important. For e-commerce stores with a huge SKU inventory though, this is a necessary metric to pay attention to.

Google Analytics Enhanced E-commerce has this data readily available in the “product performance” section.

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It’s a great metric for tracking the performance of individual products when you compare individual product conversions against product page traffic and those who added the product to a cart or wish list but abandoned the purchase.

Not only can this help you spot the popular or trending products, you can also find the under-performers.

Looking at the conversions by product can make it easy to look into individual barriers that could be impacting conversions (price, descriptions, product images, better benefit statements, etc.) and make strategic adjustments.

Funnel Abandonment

Cart abandonment is fairly common metric that’s tracked by online stores. E-commerce platforms are even designed to help you keep up on cart abandonment with built in autoresponders to help win back abandoned carts.

Pixels are even in place for many brands to setup ad retargeting for customers that bail on the checkout process. But are you looking at the rest of your funnel to see where customers are dropping out during the shopping experience?

This can be done manually by checking the visitor flow on your site, or you can setup a conversion funnel in Google Analytics to see where potential customers are bailing on you.

The Funnel Report is one of the most popular features in the Kissmetrics platform. Identifying where customers drop off and segmenting your traffic to find the most valuable marketing channels are game changers for e-commerce stores.

Here’s a great example of a conversion funnel setup in Google:

Like the example above, tracking funnel abandonment can show you key points early in the buyer’s journey where customers are exiting your site – whether it’s at category pages, the product page, etc.

Percentage of Returning Customers

Returning visitors is a great metric to track for measuring customer loyalty, but it helps to know how those returning visits translate to revenue. That’s why you should track your percentage of returning customers – the people who come specifically to spend money.

A lot of e-commerce platforms provide customer reports with details on the number of returning customers.

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Shopify provides detailed reports for first time vs. returning customers.

If you don’t have a way to access a report like this, you can export your total orders and scrub the data for duplicate emails/customer data to get a sense for repeat orders.
Percentage of returning customers is important to watch. It tells you where you stand with your customers on a number of key things:

  • Customer service
  • Price
  • Trust
  • Customer sentiment

Returning customers are highly profitable because you don’t have to pay those acquisition costs to get them back. If you see a decline in return customer rates then you need to look at overall customer delight and try to find what’s keeping customers from coming back.

It’s not just about return revenue though. The best marketers for your business are your happy, fully satisfied customers. Those are the customers who will talk you up and take the time to leave you reviews. Data shared by Kissmetrics shows that 55% of customers say that reading reviews online influences their decision to make a purchase.

All the more reason to track your return customers so you can identify the ones who aren’t coming back, and ramp up your re-engagement strategy.

Average Order Value

Your average order value (AOV) is the sum of the value of all of your orders (the total revenue for a period) divided by the total number of orders for that period.

For example, if you were tracking the sales for the month of August and found a total revenue of $ 25,000 with 760 orders. The revenue ($ 25k) divided by the total orders (760) equals a monthly AOV of $ 32.89 ($ 33).

Knowing your AOV is necessary to understand the lifetime value of your customer and helps you better align strategies for growth.

According to ConversionXL, there’s only three ways to grow an e-commerce business:

  • Add more customers
  • Get customers to make more repeat purchases
  • Increase the average order value

Increasing your AOV is the one that costs virtually nothing, so focus on that.

Optimizely offers some tried and true strategies for boosting AOV, such as:

  • Cross-selling (offer a product that is relevant to the product customers are interested in)
  • Upselling (offer an upgraded option, or premium product, for just a little more)
  • Volume discounts (offer a discount if a customer buys multiples of the same product)
  • Free shipping (offer free shipping when the customer hits a minimum dollar threshold)
  • Coupons (offer discounts/offers on the next purchase if they hit a minimum dollar threshold)

Lifetime Value of the Customer

Customer lifetime value (LTV) is arguably one of the most important metrics to track in e-commerce. This is the overall revenue you forecast a customer to bring you during their lifetime, or span of time as your customer.

In an earlier example calculating average order value I said the AOV was $ 33. If the average customer purchased 14 times at that AOV then the customer’s LTV would be $ 462.

This can be difficult to track for businesses with more sporadic returning customers because you have to know the lifetime of the customer, at what point they leave, the frequency and other variables.

Depending on your platform you may have built in reports to show you your top customers as well as the lifetime value of those customers (and overall customer LTV).

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BigCommerce offers similar reporting tools to help calculate and forecast and better understand LTV.

It’s worth forecasting with the data you have because this can help you better understand your cost per acquisition and how much you can afford to spend on both acquisition campaigns and retention/engagement marketing.

Aside from better calculating what you can spend on acquisition, returning customers just spend more overall.

Businesses with 40% repeat customers generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only 10% repeat customers.

Improving customer LTV has a lot to do with loyalty and retention, so look closely at what you can do to keep your customers coming back.

Check out this great list from Mike Bal of Singlegrain offering several tactics to boost loyalty and increase customer LTV.

Conclusion

Putting this information together on a regular basis (at least monthly) is the secret to running a data-driven e-commerce business. One in which campaigns are launched, managed, and refined with a purpose.

Stay in tune with that data and at any time, at a glance, you’ll be able to pinpoint areas that require immediate attention and a change in strategy in order to see your business grow.

About the Author: Ronald Dod is the Founder and Owner of Visiture, an internet marketing agency that focuses on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click management for eCommerce businesses. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the SEO & Social Media landscape and put together a plan to increase the bottom line through new traffic and conversions.


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