When someone lands on your blog and signs up for your email list, they’re said to have converted from your owned media.
But what about that funny piece you wrote on BuzzFeed, or that awesome Facebook post that came from a spontaneous idea?
How will you nurture leads from discovery to conversion when the content lies beyond the realm of your control?
The puzzle becomes especially difficult to crack when you are dealing with pricey B2B or SaaS products such as CRM, ERP, or subscription services, which frequently take months to consider and try out, let alone buy.
So how do you take control of content that lives outside your blog or website and present it at the right moment to customers who are at the appropriate points along your marketing funnel?
Where is the lag?
In an attempt to find widespread inefficiencies and insufficiencies in current web-based conversion practices by SaaS providers, I poked around the websites of a few ERP/CRM products and landed on Maximizer (disclaimer: random choice, no professional relationship).
Maximizer is an Enterprise CRM Software that’s apparently been using the most tried and tested methods of content marketing. From press releases to reviews, to webinars and case studies, they have been there and done that.
However, they need to take their conversion attempts a step further to leave a better imprint on people’s minds and convert leads to customers.
- For starters, they are missing out on retargeting. I spent considerable time on their website, read a few blog posts. I even went through some of their press releases and reviews on third party sites. Despite that, I failed to see their ads after leaving their website.
- A few minutes into their website, I started wondering why there’s no ubiquitous “Wanna chat?” pop-up or why they’ve managed a paltry 2 reviews on their Facebook page despite claiming to have over 120,000 customers. Whether the visitor is on your site or on your social media page, one on one conversations are extremely important to help them take the final leap to become customers.
Obviously, if you want your leads to convert after reading and interacting with your content, you need to do much more than Maximizer is doing.
There are dozens of tools, tactics and techniques out there that help you gain and keep the attention of your readers that bit longer. When each second is precious and when you are investing a significant amount of resources into producing content, there’s no way you can ignore these tools.
Here are 4 uncommon ways to nurture your leads with personalization and improve your “discovery to conversion” equation:
1. Personalize your content recommendations
Personalized and timely content recommendations are one of the most powerful ways to make your leads stay longer on your website and recall your brand at crucial times. Bloggers and large content publishers vouch by predictive recommendations for awareness, reach and engagement (as opposed to ads).
See how content recommendations work on Inc. They (and many other media publishers) show recent/popular articles on the right hand side.
In addition, a small pop-up with a link to another article that piques your interest appears on the bottom right, as you scroll down and reach the bottom of the post. This pop-up works nicely to re-attract the reader’s attention, just as it is running out.
I’ve no doubt you’ve seen this in action somewhere – and fallen prey to it too!
Image Source: Inc
While these pop-ups work wonders to keep readers on your site, don’t forget that much of your content lives outside your own website or blog. And that may often include your best pieces.
If you are a regular contributor to a third party media site or blog, your only hope for leading readers from there to your own site is through a link within the article or from your byline, which is hoping against hope. Links aren’t as attention-grabbing as – and take up much less screen space than – a pop-up.
What you normally do to circumvent this problem is share your articles and posts on social media, which again are high on the “hope” factor that someone will re-share (and associate you with the content, in case they happen to remember you by the time you consume it).
The middle way out, which helps you associate your content as well as brand with content either created by others and shared by you, or created by you on platforms you don’t own, is to use a recommendation tool like Start A Fire, which helps you draw leads to your website from all the content you share or curate.
You can add up to 5 other links, which show up along with your face/logo, in the familiar pop-up box at the bottom right, when someone clicks through to the main link that you’ve shared.
This way, there is less chance they’ll forget you’re the one who shared the link in the first place and more chance they’ll click on the other links you’ve shared once they finish reading that particular post.
Here’s an old-fashioned before-after picture of how pop-up content recommendation work:
Whoever thought you could milk more out of links shared on social media, or pop-up boxes for that matter?
2. Amp up your retargeting on social media
Retargeting works on the principle of effective frequency, i.e. the exposure of your audience to your message must range between inadequate and wasteful. Thomas Smith, author of Successful Advertising, got it right way back in 1885.
If you want to create a leak-proof sales funnel, make sure your customers see your ads on all relevant sites, if they ever happen to leave your site without buying (or subscribing, or downloading).
Baremetrics used retargeting to acquire customers for as little as $6 on Facebook and $21 with banner ads. Nothing exceptional, you might think, until you realize that a single customer is worth $650 to them. That isn’t exceptional, that is phenomenal!
Baremetrics caters to startups and ecommerce companies, so it was natural for them to advertise on websites that offered startup advice, marketing tips, etc. That is a highly targeted approach considering Baremetrics is a SaaS-based analytics tool that focuses on revenue and customer growth metrics.
Crazy Egg has been doing something similar for a long time, but their approach is a bit different. What makes their retargeting campaign equally effective is that they follow you almost everywhere for a few days, and then for months on certain websites, until you are forced to consider their tool.
Image Source: Psychology Today
Now, both of the above examples apply to people who visit your website. What about targeting those folks who see your content but have never been to your website?
That’s where social network-specific retargeting comes to the rescue. For instance, Facebook remarketing ads allow you to define an audience based on their interaction with your content. So, if someone liked a page, post or video that you promoted, you can start serving them targeted ads the next time they get on Facebook.
Of course, you can target customers or visitors to your site or app by including them in a “Custom Audience” on Facebook. What’s more, even if someone hasn’t visited your page or website or seen your content, but share similar interests and characteristics, you can reach them on Facebook with the “Lookalike Audience” feature.
“Retargeting” can be taken to mean not only users who’ve engaged with your content, but any content in your industry. A friend started getting a tea company’s ads in her feed five minutes after she looked up a competitor:
While you can’t directly target all of your competitors’ fans on Facebook, you can target people who have “expressed an interest in or Liked a page related to” a specific business using the “Interests” field.
With a little bit of testing and tweaking, you can create an ideal retargeting campaign for any of your owned digital properties. You just need to understand your audience’s content taste and consumption habits to make your campaign a success. Repeated exposure will ensure your leads start converting.
Pro Tip: While you’re at it, also include social proof in the form of details of your current customers in your retargeting campaigns. Smiling faces of happy customers might just tilt the balance in your favor.
Grammarly’s remarketing campaign on Facebook shows you all your friends who like Grammarly on top of the ad, which itself has has over 1600 likes and 130 shares. Not bad at all for a subscription service provider!
3. Have more one-to-one conversations
When Facebook introduced page messaging for businesses, it opened many doors for one-to-one conversations. You can not only respond quickly to customers’ queries, but also earn badges like “Very responsive to messages” that speak volumes about your prompt services.
One-to-one conversations can be the fastest way to close deals, even better than emails.
Here’s another example from a friend’s conversation with a club and the transaction was finalized within 30 minutes. Needless to say, the chat below is not typical of a B2B conversations, but the idea is to show how being prompt on social media can work in your favor:
Don’t waste any time striking up a conversation with newly-discovered leads or those who’ve engaged with your brand on social media. Make it a point to introduce yourself and your company to new followers of your brand (even if it means using those annoying DMs):
If you’re a B2B enterprise or large organization aiming to personalize the experience for your leads and be everywhere (multiple digital platforms) at the same time, without having a sales team tuned in and listening with flashing beacons on their heads, you need to rely on a bit of automation.
And just like Start A Fire, there’s another “solution to a solution” tool that comes to the rescue, LiveAgent. This multichannel helpdesk and live chat tool allows you to connect with visitors in real time and get a head start in converting them to customers. It doubles up as a customer service agent by automatically scanning multiple email accounts and sorting emails into pre-defined departments.
LiveAgent not only works with your website and email provider, but also social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It can monitor Facebook Messenger chats and convert wall messages into tickets, which can then be dealt with by your support team in the same way as email, chat or tweets.
Finally, LiveAgent integrates with popular CMS, CRM, ecommerce, collaboration and billing platforms. Crucial, considering your customers are already more than half-way through their purchase process before their first commercial interaction with a vendor, and over a quarter of your competition is getting back to them within five minutes.
The automation part? Your customer care team has help from chatbots that are able to answer common questions, pull up order details, and so on.
4. Give your influencers leeway
If you are using Fiverr or Famebit for your influencer campaigns, you can stop reading here; they’re going to do what they want anyway.
Businesses that aim to develop a long-term relationship with their influencers need to get them not just interested, but deeply involved in your product, so that they engage with your leads using any means they might have in their content marketing arsenal.
First, build trust with the influencers that you work with. Trusting them with your brand’s messaging, voice and personality is the best way to show that you respect them.
Treat them as creative partners and give them the liberty to take the campaign in the direction they want. You may give your final inputs in order to make sure your core offering isn’t misinterpreted, but make sure you don’t control the flow of the campaign too tightly.
A lot of influencers try different methods to keep their followers interested, and most of the time, intuitively know what’s best for their audience.
For instance, Emma from WhispersRed uses the ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Median Response) technique to unbox an online order of cosmetics. The video has heavy tapping, crinkles, lid tapping, glass tapping, and lots of whispering.
It might sound like mumbo jumbo to a typical audience, but has over 65,000 views and 120 comments to its credit. As a brand, you might not want to throw valuable marketing dollars at associating unproven therapies with your product, but believe it or not, just like your spouse, you never really know your customers.
In another example, Swanson Health Products, who sell vitamins and supplements, got “Chocolate Covered Katie” to share a chocolate cake recipe on their blog.
Image Source: Chocolate Covered Katie
Chocolate cake and health supplements make for an unlikely combination, but Swanson gets a lot of leverage by inviting guest bloggers to create content for them on linearly related topics.
So trust your influencers. They are experts in their field and have a lot of experience in what will work with their audience. Just give them the background on your brand and the context of the campaign along with some guidelines, and let them unleash their creative genius to create a post or video of their choice.
Crowdtap’s “State of Influencer Marketing” report found that 77 percent of influencers think creative freedom is the most important factor that encourages them to build up a long-term relationship with brands.
Image Source: Crowdtap
The trick is to keep the interaction going with your influencers on a regular basis, and keep increasing the value they get out of your product. SEMrush has been doing just that – with a broader audience as well as affiliates – for some time now. They proactively reach out to industry experts, bloggers, and the like, and give out free trials to their communities and readers too. I am one such lucky recipient of their Guru account.
What sort of results are they getting? Rishi Lakhani wrote an Ultimate Guide that’s probably more comprehensive than their own documentation. Affiliate Anil Agrawal not only wrote a long, “unbiased” review but also went ahead and convinced his readers to try SEMrush by comparing it favorably with competing offerings.
Image Source: Bloggers Passion
Pro tip: Allow your influencers to be fully transparent. For example, if a reviewer or affiliate is allowed to be forthcoming about special prices or offers, they have that extra “authority” needed to convince undecided customers.
Over to you
That’s it folks! I seriously hope you can figure out how variations of the best practices, methods and tools we discussed here work for you.
While we started with a lackluster example that showed us what isn’t enough to drive visitors towards conversions, there’s no doubt that retargeting, content recommendations, timely personal conversations, and win-win influencer partnerships are all really good ways to nurture those leads.
Guest Author: Rohan Ayyar is a creative content strategist and CRO specialist at E2M, digital marketing firm par excellence. He doubles up as the resident UX authority at Moveo Apps, a premium app dev agency. Rohan is also an avid business and tech writer, with articles featured on The Next Web, Fast Company, and Adweek.