Leads, like water, generally take the path of least resistance to reach their destination. Unlike water, though, people aren’t perfectly predictable; sometimes they surprise you. They may trickle in from an unexpected source or arrive in a torrent from a channel you didn’t know they were tuned into. Marketing automation systems help you understand customer motivations, prepare for surprises, and create nurture programs that guide your customers along their buying journey without forcing them into place.
Customer Journey Mapping
Before you can create useful, functional nurture streams, you first have to develop a clearer map of how your leads typically progress from an initial contact to an ultimate buying decision. With a data-driven approach and marketing automation technology that lets you see behavioral trends in context, you get a good overall picture of how your leads interact with you.
Say you find a strong correlation between webinar attendees and downloads of a particular white paper. That white paper, in turn, is highly correlated with sales readiness, which you can see by monitoring RFQs and inbound sales call volumes. You’ve spotted a wide point in the customer journey, a well-worn passage you can then use to help other leads along the way. Knowing this information, you decide to feature your webinar and its associated white paper in an upcoming series of blog posts to encourage even more leads to head that way.
Finding the Forks
One of the limitations conventional marketing software faces is that it can only trace the customer journey within its own parameters. It’s siloed and can’t look too far beyond its own horizons to include information from your CRM, buying histories, or real-time web data. Without that knowledge, you can’t effectively pinpoint the forks in the road, the pivot points in the buying journey at which your leads are most likely to forge ahead – or head for the exit. These points might appear in somewhat different places for each lead, but over time, your marketing automation system gives you insight into where you’re likely to find them.
When a lead is close to making a purchase, for instance, he or she has already traveled most of the distance needed to reach a buying decision. Many leads go quiet at this time not because they lose interest but because they’re investing energy in moving the decision up the chain of command. You want to present these leads with content they can take to their higher-ups, not treat them as lost leads. They know where they’re going, and with marketing automation, you’ll see it too.
Flowing around Obstacles
Would-be buyers often face obstacles both within their organization and outside it when making buying decisions. How you smooth the path for them and help them go around them is critical to delivering them safely to their destination.
Here’s an example. You have plenty of traffic to your landing page, but fewer leads are taking your offer than your marketing automation system would have predicted. That lead has reached a sticking point – but what is it? After some A/B split testing, you discover your information form was making too much of a demand on your audience; they wanted to get at the gated content, but the gate was a little too high. By creating shorter progressive forms that only ask for a small amount of information with each visit, you ease the flow past that obstacle.
Forging a Path vs. Forcing a Path
Ideally, marketing automation supports and guides leads’ choices rather than forcing them. The technology gives you a wider, deeper view of how people buy so you can help them do it more efficiently. It’s the opposite of conventional marketing that defines a single rigid path for customers to follow. Your marketing automation platform’s ability to define lead-activated nurture programs, create triggers, and act as a predictive system sets it apart from other models.
Think of marketing automation as a way to optimize the customer journey and smooth the road for your leads, and together, you’ll both go places.
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