A Prospect’s Journey through a Small Manufacturer’s Digital Marketing

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Personas

Personas are used to help you keep a segment of your audience, or prospects, in mind as you create content. Like most business to business sales, you likely have more than one type of buyer. This may be because of the buyer’s type of organization, their job function, how they buy your products, age, career stage, or any of a dozen differentiations you need to make. Personas give you a profile, so you can keep different buyers’ motivations and concerns in mind as you write a blog post, come up with an offer, develop up-sell strategies, etc.

The example persona I’ll use to illustrate how a suspect became a lead, a prospect, a customer, and ultimately, an advocate I called George. Here is the persona I developed to help me keep this kind of buyer’s concerns in mind:

Manager of State wildlife programs, George is a US-based, senior researcher and program manager with a lot of experience in herpetology. He has worked extensively with and in governments and nonprofits at different levels. George is a very thorough professional and project manager. He is a great interdisciplinary team member and leader with particularly good communication skills. George is a go-to guy at work, and he likes to help people solve problems. He has been married for 27 years and has four children and two grandchildren.

I’m pretty visual, so my persona also includes a photo of someone who makes me think of George. When I want to create something that needs to connect with ‘George,’ I review the persona. It helps me make decisions about the length of the piece (considering the medium), the images (if any), and language. Most importantly, it helps me to pick a subject and link the offer to an issue George likely has. It can also add to my consideration of how to approach a particular piece of content- as a story, a promotion like an ad or a coupon, or technical content. It helps me figure out where George might get this link. Does George appreciate detailed email or is a video or social media more likely to be where he goes for information like I want him to get?

So right away, in the planning stage, you see how valuable a persona can be.

Key Words

This is a critical step in setting yourself up for success. Keywords are the terms your audience uses when they are looking for what you sell.

From any of several sources like Google Search Console or Uber Suggest, I can see what keywords my website ranks for, and what keywords my competitors rank for. These will tell me what words and phrases to include in the copy (text) of the content. I want to use it where it is a natural and logical fit, and informative to the searcher or website visitor. (Be sure to include the keyword/phrase in the landing page url and title, too.)

Remember to consider keywords that are used in broader conversations that involve your products. In this example manufacturer, someone searching for ‘research project budget planning’ might very well be one to target. How you do that can be via a tool like a calculator, or a blog post titled ‘How to Plan a Research Project Budget.’ Notice it’s OK to have a variation from the specific keyword. Modern search engines will still connect the search to the content, but the more precise you can be, the better.

Keyword research usually includes information that tells you about the difficulty in improving your ranking for a particular word or phrase. This metric is a rating for how competitive that keyword is. The point is to help you understand the level of effort it will take to move up in the rankings. If you are already ranking, even on page nine, getting to page four will not be as difficult as getting to page one. If the competition for a keyword is low, then you can expect to see relatively rapid movement up the rankings with appropriate effort. The effort here means content that includes the keyword ranking you want to impact.

With the persona and some reflection on market conditions and your differentiators, you decide to appeal to the financial facet of wildlife research. George, you figure, as a senior member of his organization, can influence project budgets. You decide to create a landing page for George to attract his attention to your site.

Landing page

Landing pages are your opportunity to directly respond to a search someone enters into a search engine like Bing, Google, or others. A landing page is the page on your website you want presented to someone who typed in a particular phrase. Additionally, you can target locations and leverage local languages for better matches and results. Landing pages are one form of content you can choose, and in this example, it is what I will refer to.

So in my illustration here, I created a landing page that is addressing a fairly narrow search. I know it is one I can rank well for. I have written succinct copy and have a button on the page inviting visitors to view a blog post on a related topic. I’ve written the copy for George. The page is a project budget planning calculator, and my audience has a decent chance of entering when looking for help when considering what I sell. Here’s how that might go:

He sees a search engine result while searching for the phrase “reduce wildlife movement research costs” that links to a project budget planning tool. He has his own methods, but is always looking for better approaches. He clicks on it and appreciates the intent of the tool. He tries it out and gets a pop up in his browser to get notified of updates to your website. He holds off on the notifications, but does click on the link to the related blog post. That blog describes an approach to allow organizations like his to reduce costs for wildlife tracking research. He is fascinated and bookmarks the page. The invitation to get notified of website updates comes up again. He accepts, and will now get browser-based notifications of updates to the website.

George is in the middle between a suspect and a lead. He hasn’t completed any conversion forms, but we do have a way to alert him of updates to the website. We continue to work our strategy of addressing the financial side of research work. As part of this campaign, we decided to include another piece of content relating to this keyword, an infographic about planning a research project. When it is posted on the website, it is gated, meaning the visitor looking to download the infographic needs to complete a form, providing their name, email and organization.

George gets the browser based notification for the infographic and clicks on it. Reaching a landing page, he reads a description of the infographic and clicks on the download button. He completes the very short form and gets an email with a link to the download.

He opens the email, clicks on the link, receives the infographic, and is now a lead.

CRM

Automating eMail is a powerful way for you to create material you send to your audience. Think of it as sending your customers a web page. Use the persona to guide you in creating the eMail. This powerful combination enables your eMail to speak to the recipients in the most effective terms. The goal of the eMail is to get them to engage with your organization, and in terms of digital marketing agency, this means interacting with your website.

Most Customer Relations Manager (CRM) platforms, like SharpSpring, Hubspot and Salesforce.com, support the automation of email for your marketing agency and administrative needs. In particular, you can have dynamic content that changes for each email. You can change more technical sentences for less technical, as well as images, based on things like the persona assigned to a contact, where they are in the sales process, campaigns they are assigned to, and more.

With these kinds of resources, you can see when someone comes back to your site, what they look at, and if they view videos, complete forms or download anything. You can assign point values to the level of interaction, which is valuable in knowing what to send someone and when they may be ready for a sales call. For example, if they download a product sheet, this could have a greater point value then downloading the infographic. This is another key in creating appropriate messaging; you have more insight into the person’s readiness for higher levels of engagement. The product sheet download tells you they are more interested in specifications, and so it is reasonable to see them as more ready for a discussion with a sales rep. A CRM is the most effective way to do all this.

Now that George is a lead you can send him well targeted and timed messages that are personalized. The point is to keep him engaged with your company, at the right level for him, so when he is more ready to investigate what you make, you know it.

George visits your site several times over the next couple of months. He gets an email from you offering to conduct an on-site workshop with his co-workers, as well as several from an NGO George is familiar with, and his associates from the state college.

Sales qualified

Using scoring in your CRM, George has accumulated enough points from his interactions with your company that he is deemed sales qualified. This means ready to talk to a seller, who will find out if George is ready to start investigating specific requirements for a project and your company’s offerings as a match to them.

Depending on your industry, it could be a relatively long time before the time is right for your sales to contact him. George may have accumulated enough points to justify a rep contacting him, but he still may not be ready to buy. In this case, the rep should be able to determine this, and put the contact record into the appropriate marketing agency workflow. The CRM will enable you to stay in contact with your prospect when this happens, and do so at the appropriate level of frequency and material, until they appear to be ready again for sales to engage. Better yet, they contact you!

Over the next five months, George becomes aware of projects his colleagues at the DNR and at the state college are pursuing. These involve very different species of animals. He thinks this is the time for your company to come present on the capabilities present, and sets a date, as funding is starting to be made available for relevant projects.

Selling

Your sales effort includes preparing for the meeting with George and his associates. At this stage, your website has diminished prominence, but content and automation are still valuable aids. You can use these resources to ensure George gets a copy of the draft agenda and possibly even the presentation to help him become part owner of the event. The steps in preparation and after the event can be automated in your CRM, and this includes customer facing and internal steps like ensuring the latest product sheets are included in packets you want to leave with attendees, company information is up-to-date, and references are approved.

The Lunch-and-Learn seminar is successful. George asks attendees about collaborating, financially at least, on several projects he has insights on. You send George and his team a preliminary layout for the components at their properties. You send a quote for what turns out to be a $225k opportunity, for the first year alone. We provide a plan and estimates for costs and the range of data points they should see, and compare the volume of data and cost per data point with traditional approaches. We also provide a roadmap for the following two years, to grow the coverage. Total for the three years is $630k, with a 2x upside as other researchers surface.

You travel again to meet with the State Director, college department chair, and NGO leadership. George champions the idea and the work you’ve done, and the value to the State. He sees his department doing much more research, and this motivates the University too. That this will attract increased funding opportunities for the NGO motivates them, too. All agree the cost per data point will be significantly lower, and this will be an easier plan and infrastructure to manage.

Post sales service and support

The value of your digital marketing agency system is also important in keeping customers. Post sales engagement eMail can be automated to ensure the right material goes out consistently, in a timely manner. New customers can be reassured they made the right decision, reducing cancelled orders and increasing referrals to other prospects. For the right situations, you can solicit guest blog opportunities, interviews and press releases, helping to increase your search engine results placements higher in the listings for your keywords. Even customer support issues requiring staff involvement can be reduced, by, for example, providing links to FAQs and other helpful material. All this can go a long way to providing your customers a very satisfying experience.

You are involved with the initial setup of the system at the NGO’s first site, and help tag several animals. You attach transmitters to collars George sends for his research project and ship them back. You use your digital marketing agency and CRM system to automatically schedule weekly reviews for the first two months, then fall back to monthly for the balance of the year. We leverage these to ensure customer satisfaction and identify potential new projects that can use the system.

The costs are documented and compared to forecast, proving the value of the system. They speak about this success at several conferences and the following year two other States/Universities/NGOs sign up for the Lunch-and-Learn.

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