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To create effective marketing automation campaigns it’s important to understand the various stages that potential customers go through, from the very first interaction with your brand to the most important goal, conversion, and all the way to loyalty and becoming a brand evangelist. This process is normally modelled using a marketing funnel, or describing and documenting a buyer’s journey for each of your key personae.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

A simple four-stage model created by HubSpot is something we frequently use with our clients. This model explains that there are four stages in the journey to be considered: awareness, consideration, conversion and delight. The first step to take is to raise awareness of an issue that your target audience has, one that your company is an expert in this field. The prospect then needs additional information to help him consider which approach to take to overcome their challenge. Only once they have moved through these two initial stages should you try to convert them to a customer by selling your product or service. Finally, once they are a customer, you should focus on retention by continuing to delight them with your marketing content.

Modelling your marketing funnel or buyer’s journey helps you create more conversions from your leads, but mistakes in this process cost time, profit and energy. By identifying or even avoiding these mistakes early on you can start to build better marketing campaigns. Here are some of the most common mistakes made in each funnel stage:

 

The Awareness Stage

  1. Trying too hard to sell – In this stage don’t sell or give away too much information about your products, as your focus should be getting subscribers. Prospects don’t yet know the value of your product and won’t be interested in specific content or sales material, in this case giving out educational content is more beneficial. This stage should be focused on establishing yourself as a leader within your industry, and it starts with building trust with your prospects.
  1. Poor website credibility – Does the visitor trust your site enough to give their details and personal information? Trust is built up by having backlinks from other trust worthy sites, it may be difficult for customers to want to purchase from you or give up their information before they see you as an authoritative source in the market.
  1. Poor website usability – It’s important for website visitors to have a hassle-free experience. The easier the website is to use, the more likely they stay on your site longer. A website that is not easy to use will only decrease the amount of returning visitor. There are some features that decrease website usability, such as: no search bar, pagination in the wrong places, content that is difficult to scan, tiny clickable areas, old permalinks that lead nowhere, too much functionality that requires registration, lack of mobile friendliness and duplicate page titles. Improve on these to make using your website an easier overall experience for users. They will be more likely to buy or download your products.

 

The Consideration stage

  1. Forgetting to nurture – Aim to build a more in depth relationship with your subscribers, by nurturing them with targeted content. Don’t waste time sending irrelevant content as the goal here is to be helpful. Don’t forget to focus on what stage the leads is at, hot leads are leads that are good enough to be passed onto your sales team, this is because they are highly interested in buying your services. Cold leads are leads that don’t currently show an interest in what you are offering, this means they are not ready to be passed to your sales team. To turn your cold leads into warm leads you should monitor their behavior on your site to learn as much about them as you so that can, this way you can successfully target and re-target leads with content.
  1. Lack of segmentation – Segmentation separates the people in your database into different categories that you can define. Without this you have no strategy or logic as to which content offers you are sending out to which contacts. Unsegmented lists mean that you risk sending your contacts irrelevant offers that they don’t want and this can lead to potential customers unsubscribing or reporting you as spam. If you successfully use segmentation you can effectively engage with your database, by delivering relevant offers to the right contacts at the right time. These are a few different categories you can use to segment your list: Specific interests, prospects/buyers, those which are actively interested in your site, cold/warm lead, and demographics such as age/income/gender, industry etc.
  1. Not setting clear expectations – Call to action buttons need to clearly state what the next step will be. A simple ‘Download Now’ will probably not make anyone want to click as they are not informed what they will be downloading. All CTA’s will work differently with different audiences, but they should be clear and concise. The main mistake with CTA’s is not experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. You can try changing the colour, position, size, or text. To test different variations of your CTA, consider trialing different versions with A/B testing.

 

The Conversion stage

  1. Exhausting your prospects with pushy sales calls – This is the stage where prospects realised they have a problem and you have a solution for it and this is a good stage to start introducing your products. Bombarding your prospects with sales calls is not going to help. Alternatively use an integrated approach including a couple of calls along with email campaigns or targeted ads to talk about the benefits of your products/service and show rather than tell why your product is better than your competitors. Through providing a bigger picture to your prospect and serving them relevant info about you and your offering, your conversion rate will soar.
  1. Not increasing your knowledge and understanding of the prospect – as you further engage with your prospects, it’s important to determine their needs so that you can reach your prospects successfully, and help move them along the buyer’s journey. This data can be collected through capturing information through forms on your landing pages and website or through activities such as customer competitions.

 

Delight your customers

  1. Don’t forget about retention – At this point in the funnel you don’t want to lose contact with your customers because repeat customers are too valuable to ignore. Rather than stopping interaction with them, send useful content such as educational content; Delighting will help to retain your customers and encourage loyalty and enhance the likelihood of recommendation or endorsement by sharing content.
  1. Not taking advantage of “Word-of-mouth” referrals – Again it is important to keep in contact with your customers and encourage them to become promoters of your products/services. Asking your customers to feature in a case study or offering special existing customer promotion are great ways to keep customers feeling appreciated.

From these carefully planned steps it is clear to see that ignoring your buyers journey is a sure fire way to miss out on plenty of opportunities. Whatever the length of your sales cycle, documenting your buyers journey is a great source of inspiration for your campaigns that will help them to be more effective.

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