An average buyer’s journey today has changed drastically from what it was a few years ago. Thanks to the internet and of course changing consumer expectations, a lead finishes almost 60% of his buying journey before getting in touch with your sales rep for the first time.
A marketing automation software can help you reach your customer during this first half of his cycle and increase your chances of selling to him.
But your customer’s journey doesn’t end there! Post sales, he would still interact with your business in multiple ways, thus giving you more avenues to improve his experience with your company. A marketing automation software can help you here as well. In our earlier blog, we discussed how marketing automation is a fantastic customer retention strategy. Here, we will explore both these aspects and see how to improve customer experience throughout the entire journey.
The first step in any customer cycle is lead capture – the moment he enters your system as a lead. This could be through social media, your PPC ads, offline events, inbound phone calls and even walk-ins. Since the sources are so different, it is pretty easy to lose track of some leads causing lead leakage.
Getting a marketing automation tool that has an inbuilt lead capture system can help in plugging this lead leakage. That means, your system should have landing pages, contact forms, telephony connectors and ways to import leads manually. So every lead that comes in via any of these sources is safely captured for you to act on.
Lead leakage is a major problem for your business – it drastically reduces the number of leads you can sell to, thus leaving you with lesser sales. That is purely from your business perspective. However, let us consider this from the customer’s perspective.
The lead has signed up and filled a contact form or an enquiry on your website and is waiting to hear from you. He has no idea that his request could possibly be lost due to your business processes. Ultimately, he ends up waiting for a call that never comes! And that, right there is terrible customer experience.
Getting a marketing automation software that has an inbuilt lead capture system will help you avoid this problem. It will provide a centralised system to store all captured leads, without letting any of them slip away. For you, this means that you can ensure every lead gets contacted – an email, a phone call – something! For the lead, it is the start of a great customer experience.
There are never enough number of sales members in your team – yeah, it happens to everyone! As the marketing efforts soar, so do the number of leads. Though your sales members contact every lead without fail, they might not always get there on time!
The auto-responders in your marketing automation tool will come in handy here. As soon as the lead fills up an enquiry form, he gets an acknowledgement, with a prospective date as to when he can expect further communication. Some tools allow you to notify the sales rep automatically every time a lead is assigned to him, thus enabling your sales rep to get in touch with the lead quickly (through email or call)
The sooner you reach out to the lead, the better are your chances of making the sale – you’re already well-versed with this part. The real question is, why? From a business standpoint, it could be because you have beat your competition in reaching out to the lead. From the customer’s point of view, it could simply be because you made a better first impression.
The amount of time a lead thinks is ‘acceptable’ to wait for a response varies.
And if you respond to your lead later than when he expects you to, he will obviously be unhappy.
What is your response time? Try and make it a point to respond to a lead within the first 60 minutes – regardless of whether he is just a prospect or a customer. Even if it involves sending a simple acknowledgement or letting them know you will get back to them with more info, the first response matters! It tells them that their question is important to you and that you are eager to help them out.
Assessing lead requirement
Knowing your lead’s website behaviour can tell you a lot about what he is looking for. If, for instance, Lead A downloads a brochure for an ‘MBA course’, checked the admission fees page and then spent a lot of time on the scholarship page, his intentions are pretty clear. It is, in fact, different from another Lead B who has downloaded the same brochure (MBA course), but has spent a lot more time on the campus page and ‘Hostel Life’.
Lead B’s primary concern could be the accommodation in the college, while Lead A could be more interested in the scholarship programs offered. A marketing automation tool that can enable this level of lead tracking can give you a basic insight into the lead’s requirement.
From the business perspective, it means your sales rep can make a customised pitch to each lead. The first call he makes can be extremely relevant to every lead, instead of a shot in the dark.
From the customer’s shoes, it means less time explaining his requirement and plunging directly into want he wants to know – the specifics. Though it might seem like a minor step, I assure you it is important. The internet savvy customer of today has very high expectations from your business. One way to meet that is by ensuring that the lead doesn’t have to repeat the details he has already told you via his behaviour. It will show the lead that you have done your homework, has taken the time out to know about him and thus care about his requirements. That is an excellent first impression to make!
The heart of any marketing automation software is it’s drip marketing capabilities. It is essential because not all leads who come to your system are ready to buy immediately. However, that does not classify them as ‘junk leads’. With steady engagement through a series of informative emails, the leads can be pushed further through the sales funnel.
The success of your drip campaigns is not just measured by the open and click rates. But also how much value the leads get out of it, whether they take an action (visit your page, click the CTA) etc are some key parameters.
As a general rule of thumb, many businesses severely restrict the number of emails they send. Otherwise, they get marked as spam. While it is a good practice (it doesn’t do to pester the lead after all), drip campaigns are different. They can genuinely add value to your lead (if done right) and can keep him engaged, regardless of where he is in the buying funnel.
Typically, drip campaigns are designed according to lead’s behaviour (check out the Drip Marketing Guide for best practices). That means, if a lead has shown interest in a particular offer (say an MBA course), he gets emails only pertaining to that course and not any other (like say a regular Masters program). Further, depending on whether the lead opens his emails, clicks on it, the next email that goes to him can differ. This is how a sample workflow for automation will look like:
Notice that depending on whether the lead opens or clicks the emails, you can change his next message. By predicting the lead’s behaviour, you can send him customised emails that work!
Depending upon how far down the conversion funnel the lead is, the content of your email can vary. For eg. check out this email I received some time back:
I received this email exactly 2 days after my subscription ran out. Had I received it at the start of the subscription, before buying, or even midway through it, I would have marked it as spam. Plus, these people kept up with the school cycle (Summer holidays just around the corner…) and knew how to word their emails as well. I eagerly clicked on the hyperlink provided and was really glad I received this email.
Adding a personal touch to each of your emails (even if it is automated) is vital for great customer experience. Here is an example of an email that did not include it:
No, I really did not appreciate being called ‘First name’. Clearly, they had tried to personalise this email. Unfortunately for them, it backfired rather spectacularly. If you are sending such emails to your leads, I heartily recommend you rethink it. No customer will love you back when you call him ‘FirstName’.
Right, thus far things have been pretty straight forward. We have talked about certain critical aspects of the lead’s journey till he makes a buying decision. A lot of businesses drop the ball here and do not think of customer experience beyond sales.
Like we already discussed, the experience the customer has with your business post sales matters! Marketing automation can help you win this part of the cycle as well.
Getting a lead to buy your product is one thing. Getting their team to use your product is something else entirely. Often, the person making the buying decision and the end user are different – resulting in the end users not adopting to your product. Sometimes, the team is so used to the existing system that they find it difficult to change. But mostly, the customers simply need to be made aware of the various features in your product and how it can benefit them.
In LeadSquared, we faced the exact same problem. Despite countless onboarding and trial sessions, we found that some customers were not comfortable using the LeadSquared mobile application. But, look how we changed that:
That’s right – our mobile app installs, the number of calls and SMSes sent via the LeadSquared App and the general usage of the mobile application drastically increased. How? Simple – we engaged our audience using webinars and showed how simple it was to use; And more importantly – how their business will benefit from it.
I am sure you will be wondering now how a marketing automation software figures here. Well, the webinar was so successful because the audience we invited were that targeted. We made sure to invite only those customers who would have found it useful and who were to some extent not using all the features of the mobile app. This level of segmentation and targeting could not have been possible without marketing automation! (Check out more tips on running successful webinars here)
So, from the business perspective, all was hunky dory for us! We got our customers to increase using our application. But the primary objective of this engagement was not just that. It was to genuinely add value to our customers and help them get the most of out our product. Here is one email response we got to our webinar:
It was pretty apparent that we succeeded in making our customers happy Not only did they come back to us for more information, but a lot of our customers started attending our webinars without fail. A clear customer experience win!
Check out this email from UberPool:
Back when UberPool had just launched in India, it was slightly difficult for a friend of mine, Shibani, to wrap her head around this idea. The extra wait at every point and the slightly circuitous route taken were inconveniences that she could not handle. All that changed with this E-mail.
It showed Shibani how much value she has gained by using the UberPool service. Shibani decided that these slight inconveniences were well worth the value she ultimately gained – and she happily continued choosing UberPool every time.
It is not important for customers to choose your product or service. If it is to win loyalty, they should be happy to do so. Otherwise, the minute competition gives them a better offer, they will switch. Reminding them of how far they have come with your business and how much value you have added to them can help reaffirm their loyalty to you. Not only will they come back, but they will come back with a smile.
Happy, satisfied customers are your best bet to approach again for another sale. Through email campaigns in your marketing automation software, you can send them targeted personalised E-mails, inducing them to buy more from you. You can send them offers (say a referral campaign or simply a 40% off) and more suggestions and prompts right to their inbox. However, I am sharing with you an interesting example:
A few weeks after I bought this book, Amazon sent me an email asking me to review it. I gave it a great rating and then moved on. However, seeing that I have given it a great review, I got this email from them again.
Through this email, Amazon tried to make me not just a buyer – but also a seller. It tried to involve all it’s loyal users as much with the brand as possible – buy and sell on amazon as you please.
As a customer, it did not bother me because I was not annoyed with this book in anyway. Since I have bought a lot from them, gave them glowing reviews, I was curious enough to check out what selling options I had. If I had chosen to go ahead with it, Amazon would have helped me sell a book, while gaining another seller!
Clearly, their targeting was spot on. They made sure to write to only those audience who liked their books, and tried to involve them more. Timely, precise targeting – something you can achieve with your marketing automation tool as well.
When you think of ‘How to increase customer journey’, marketing automation is your best bet. It looks at gives you invaluable insight into the entire customer journey and provides you with a powerful means of communicating with them.
Drip marketing, email marketing, landing pages and of course building automation workflows will help you send out highly targeted communication to your clients. If you are planning on moving towards a ‘customer-centric’ organisation, investing in powerful marketing automation software is an absolute must.
This blog originally appeared on Leadsquared’s website.