Despite the constant and unrelenting nature of our online digital lives and the potential disconnect of real life interactions, the importance of the human connection is ironically prioritized more than ever in the context of modern marketing.
How does this marketing priority manifest itself? We see this in hyper-personalized and laser-focused customer experiences through which YOU, the unique individual for which there is no other, are studied, mapped, watched, and nudged so as to understand the perfect approach, timing, and message required to convert you to brand loyalty.
We’re ready to support you through all stages of your martech strategy lifecycle.
At a core level, brands are continually trying to establish relationships with customers. Based on the behavior patterns of customers’ online activity, opportunities for these connections are now constantly presenting themselves. This type of relationship building requires a martech stack investment and the best way for a company or brand to build relationships within a digital-first world is through a planned always-on marketing approach of integrated communications across multiple digital channels instead of timed ‘burst’ campaigns.
In order to fully leverage a targeted online campaign, brands should embrace the following areas of focus that represent fundamental priorities if they wish to continually drive and meet the changing demands of the modern consumer. These are:
While these categories represent areas of strategy and operational processes; they also provide a roadmap for designing and implementing a tech stack which can respond to the always-on demands of modern digital marketing.
What is the Customer Lifecycle?
Every brand will have slightly different definitions of the journeys and stages their customers take through the marketing & sales funnel. One of the most recognized and accepted customer journey maps is jokingly referred to as the ‘Pirate Funnel’ based on its acronym (AARRR!!!)
How potential customers will find you
How will they use your product for the first time
How to get users to return
Strategies to increase revenue, cross-selling, up-selling
How to capitalize on recommendation
These may not be the exact stages your brand identifies for its customer journey, but they bring up an important understanding of current marketing requirements. Whereas traditional marketing has focused only on top of the funnel (attracting, then activating customers), in today’s environment, heightened by the growing subscription model of engagement (across both B2C and B2B), it’s important to recognize and deliver on customer engagement patterns deeper down into the funnel and not just focus on that first sale (initial activation).
Once the phases have been identified and agreed upon, it’s important to map user activity across each phase to determine the overall success of your marketing funnel. The only way to do that is with a solid approach to data collection.
How do You Implement Data Collection?
Prioritizing your data collection program is a key aspect of the ‘always-on’ marketing tech stack. Not only will data allow you to identify who your customers are, but it can also illustrate comprehensive trends in user activity.
Tools like Google Analytics (GA), the go-to for collecting initial web usage data, provide a good starting point to know where your website visitors come from and how they found you. To fully understand customer activity, though, you need a behavioral analytics platform that can track conversion rate optimization and ideally heat maps/session replay as well. These tools will provide much better insight into why users bounce and at what stage within the customer journey this occurs. Learn more about the power of a creative and marketing metric strategy in our recent blog post.
It’s relatively easy to answer questions such as “Where is our traffic coming from?”. What’s more important is to start asking questions such as “Why is our traffic coming from there?” This is where specialized analytics tools can be used for funnel conversion and cohort analyses which give rise to opportunities for improvement.
If you can identify specific areas of the customer journey in which a significant dropoff occurs (through rigorous and appropriate data collection), then that becomes your priority both in terms of strategy and technology.
Why Use Targeted Tech?
Different technologies are optimized to address different areas of the customer journey. Only by identifying the specific phases your own customers go through to becoming brand ambassadors (and where they fall off) can you start to identify the specific technologies your brand needs in response.
For example, low engagement among your current customers is a good indicator of poor retention. If you’re seeing a significant drop-off in activity within the retention phase of the funnel, email and marketing automation tools can nudge users to take action and pull them back into interacting with your brand.
Here are a few additional ways to look at technology prioritization by business objective (or how to address certain stages of the funnel):
Tools used to enhance Engagement/Activation:
- Email and Marketing Automation tools
- Mobile and push notifications
- In-product activation tools
- Live chat tools
Tools to enhance Awareness, Traffic, and Acquisition:
- SEO, content, and referral tools (for earned traffic)
- Advertising platforms (for paid traffic)
- A/B testing and personalization tools
- Landing page tools and content management systems
Tools to enhance Retention & Revenue:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems
- Support tools and help desks
- Payment processing tools
With prioritization on the specific weak phase(s) of the customer journey identified through data collection, select the appropriate tool set capable of addressing any leaks within your funnel and start experimenting.
What is the Value of Rapid Experimentation?
'Growth hacking’ is the hot buzzword which describes the process of conducting accessible, low-cost experiments aimed at building and maintaining a company’s customer base. It represents the antithesis of the long-planned, resource heavy burst approach of traditional campaign-based marketing and has been shown to demonstrate effective ROI.
The areas of focus I’ve outlined to this point (customer lifecycle, data collection, targeted tech) are pillars to the growth hacking strategy because experimentation relies on data-qualified targets. Once you’ve determined which channels are working and which are not within your customer journey, it’s time to plan experiments to test hypotheses and explore new marketing options.
A new category of work management technology has emerged to capture and leverage this rapid experimentation process. As a collaborative productivity tool, experimentation software allows teams to perform the following:
- Identify and capture ideas rapidly
- Categorize and apply ideas against a particular phase of the customer journey
- Rank ideas for prioritization
- Plan all aspects of the experiment including start/end dates, tools required, possible blockers, estimated costs, etc.
- Qualify the verification of results
The lightweight, rapid nature of this type of experimentation directly contributes to its tangible ability to be effectively utilized. The barriers to entry are low, but it is important to involve team members who can directly influence the technology required, such as modifying a landing page or running an A/B test.
When complete, make sure the results are statistically significant using proven verification methods such as Chi-squared tests. Vanity metrics will not produce qualitative results.
Most importantly, this is not a one-and-done approach. These experiments form the basis of continuous improvement exercises, so prepare yourself to rinse and repeat until you find winning results.
Why Engage in Non-Stop Testing & Analysis?
For maximum effectiveness of an ‘always-on’ marketing strategy, testing, review, and optimization of different digital channels is essential. It is only through repeated evaluation using concrete analytics that brands can see and understand which marketing activities work and which don’t. Without analytics, prioritization has no foundation in objective performance and optimization is nearly impossible. This is the basis of a data-driven growth marketing strategy.
Intermittent testing is not enough. Top marketing performers move to a regular cadence of testing across different digital channels in order to optimize their impact. There is no limit to how much or how often you should be testing. It can only make you better.
At a minimum, you must have a landing page to test your marketing tactics. A landing page represents the dangling carrot through which all visitor activity is directed and measured. The good news is that landing page creation and customization is incredibly easy these days and does not require any understanding of formal html coding. You can even include custom designed chat bots for real time interaction with site visitors.
The easiest way to begin testing is to create a landing page and start with a few multivariate tests, then scale down and start running targeted A/B tests, then move to those with personalization influence.
Testing and optimization platforms are one of the most widely adopted martech categories available as they allow marketers to constantly test messaging, images, and offers without requiring that IT/tech get involved.
If you do nothing else, make sure you test and analyze. Other areas of focus I’ve touched on represent more advanced strategy, but there is no reason not to increase your testing, no matter the martech strategy or how much you’re doing (or not doing) today.
By adopting and continually refining the 5 customer-based online marketing best practices, you will consistently achieve success in not only attracting new customers to your company, but also instilling a lasting sense of brand loyalty that will allow your company to both retain and expand its customer base.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” - Peter Drucker