You've seen the chart before, "Attract, Convert, Close and Delight". It’s the classic inbound marketing visualization tool to show how your prospects are intended to move down the funnel — from first touch all the way through to customer acquisition and retention. Lifecycle marketing plays a huge part in this "big picture" diagram, helping to move potential buyers down the funnel from one level to the next. But what are the core actions that incite this movement? You need to focus on a few key lifecycle marketing tactics at each stage in order to be successful.
As you know, this stage is all about bringing in strangers, making them aware of your business, engaging them with your website and turning them into visitors. You need to attract someone before you can get them to convert on anything. But how will they find you?
- Blog - Keeping up your blog with relevant, persona-optimized content will continuously create visitor traffic on your site. Speak to your primary buyer personas' pain points and create helpful, informative content and you should have no trouble attracting visitors to your site.
- SEO/Keywords - Making sure your site is Search Engine Optimized is going to ensure that the strangers looking to visit your website can actually find you. With the right keyword strategy in place, you'll be able to tailor your attraction messaging to exactly who you want visiting your site. Do some keyword research and find out what your primary buyer personas are searching for most frequently in order to adjust your marketing strategy and increase organic traffic.
- Social - There's a saying, "fish where the fish are biting." You know plenty of strangers are sifting through their social feeds for hours a day, so why not leverage social media as a means of attracting visitors? Find out which social channels your ideal “fish” are swimming in and drop a line. Having a recognizable social presence is a great way to bring visitors to your site and position yourself as an industry thought leader.
So you've gotten people to visit, but if you want that visit to matter, then you need to shift your focus to some good ol' fashion lead generation. You've spent time carefully luring visitors to your site — make sure when they get there they have something to consume.
- CTAs - Speaking of fish, a CTA, or Call To Action, acts as the visual bait that's going to get your visitors to convert into leads. Strategically placing CTA’s throughout your blog and your website will give your visitors a logical next step to continue their journey. You'll want to prompt them with interesting and relevant offers that can help them become more aware of the problems they're facing. Consider using a mix of inline and visual CTA's to provide options for your visitors to click and continue their journey.
- Landing Pages - They took the bait! Now make sure the bait tastes as good as it looks (yes, I'm going to continue with these fish analogies). What I mean is, your landing page is the next thing your prospects will see after clicking a CTA and if the offer doesn't match what it was built up to be in the CTA, then you probably won’t get a submission. Make sure your landing page follows best practices and outlines the exact offer the visitor was expecting to see when they clicked on the CTA.
- Forms - Your form strategy needs to be solid in order to get your visitors to convert into leads. Whatever you're offering, make sure the level of questioning on your forms matches. In other words, if you're giving your visitors the third degree on a form for a TOFU (Top of Funnel) free eBook, you might be deterring them from submitting because the level of information you're asking for is worth more than the offer itself. Consider this on all of your forms and you'll soon master this give-and-take game with converting leads.
Once they're really — and I mean really — in the system, the most important phase involves closing the lead as a customer. This is the phase where leads spend the most time because there's an enormous amount of interaction happening from marketing and sales between these two points. As a marketer at this stage, there are a few core areas to narrow in on.
- Email - Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective methods for obtaining ROI from your efforts. Make sure you have consistent email campaigns set up to nurture your contacts throughout the funnel. If you're hosting a webinar — launch an email campaign. If you're launching a monthly newsletter — introduce it with an email campaign. If you've released a new premium content offer — share it through an email campaign. The more you can be warming your prospects' inbox with valuable and relevant information, the better. The words valuable and relevant are key, as there is a fine line between spamming versus nurturing your leads.
- Workflows - Use your marketing automation platform to the fullest by setting up workflows to automatically nurture leads throughout the funnel with content and emails. Chances are, you're marketing to hundreds or thousands of people at a time, so you can't possibly be successful with continuous real-time nurture. You can also think about setting up internal workflows to trigger leads to the next lifecycle stage and communicate this movement down the funnel with your sales team.
- CRM - Utilize your CRM tool to gain as much information as possible about your leads in order to communicate the appropriate message to them. They may have downloaded one of your offers, but are they a good fit for your company? Having a good understanding of the quality of the leads coming into your funnel will help you, as a marketer, understand how effectively you and your team are operating in the previous Attract and Convert phases. Leveraging the tools in your CRM will not only aid in the test of lead quality, but will also help guide the marketing discussion and act as a sales enablement tool for potential customers.
They took the bait, they swallowed, and you've reeled them in (I told you I wasn't finished with the fish). They're a customer, but you're job's still not over. You want customers to transform into ambassadors of your brand or evangelists to speak high praise of your company. Furthermore, you want them to see continuous value from your company beyond what they've already bought into. So how can you do this.
- Surveys - Just ask. Find an appropriate time to ask your customerswhat they thought of their experience with you. What did they like? What did they think could be improved? Is there anything else that they are interested in that you can offer them? You'll never know if you don't ask.
- Smart Content - Your customers want to feel like they're part of your elite club (the in-crowd, if you will) and want to be treated as such. If your customers are receiving the same email and website messaging as an ordinary lead, they're not going to feel the favoritism they're seeking. Using SMART content in emails and CTAs will help you differentiate how you market to your customers so that the messaging is more personal. Custom-tailoring your marketing is one of the many ways to delight a customer and turn them into an evangelist of your company.
- Social Monitoring - Do you have customers continuously sharing your social content with their industry peers? Are they commenting on all your posts and referring people to your site via social media? This is a good indicator of a customer that is going above and beyond to sing praises of the work your company does. Be sure to monitor their social activity and don't let the relationship become too one-sided. Send them some love to reward them for promoting your business.
It’s important to know this chart like the back of your hand — but remember to think practically and comprehensively about the work that each phase involves. If you don't focus on the actionable steps within each stage of the buyer’s journey, then you're missing the boat on lifecycle marketing. Utilize the tools and information you have available to focus your efforts on nurturing your prospects throughout the funnel in the most efficient and effective way possible.