At a time when there is so much talk about the trends and technologies driving marketing transformation, there hasn’t been enough conversation about what marketing has transformed into because the very role of marketing has changed…profoundly.
Marketing goals must evolve from simply generating leads to feed hungry sales teams. In this ever-evolving digital-first world, marketing and sales now share the responsibility of converting prospects into customers, across the entire buying journey.
And that means a complete rethinking of how we engage our audiences across every touchpoint.
Why marketing is moving toward prospect conversion
It starts with our buyers. According to Forrester, the number of interactions it takes to drive a prospect from lead to revenue has gone up from 17 to 27. And most of those interactions are happening through digital channels without sales being a part of the conversation.
It’s a tough reality but across many industries, sales have largely been left out of the selling. Our prospects often don’t engage with salespeople until a purchase decision has already been made and it’s simply time to negotiate the deal.
This is why, today, simply having a “lead generation” strategy will no longer work. Marketers must have a full-funnel approach to engaging audiences and driving a purchase decision. We can no longer just help our sales teams by driving pipeline; we need to partner with them to unify around a single goal: conversion.
This requires a tremendous change of mindset, process and goals, but it can only be achieved by rallying around a basic concept. Engagement is EVERYTHING!
Modern marketing is all about relationship building. It’s also about creating experiences that engage audiences, and through that engagement, capturing the first-party insights and data we need to further personalize the next interaction.
To help you evolve your prospect engagement, here are five tips you can use to optimize your digital experiences for more effective conversion.
Optimize for engagement
There is no linear buyer’s journey anymore, no sequential step process to get someone to make a purchase decision. Audiences today are pinging all over the place, taking in content in no particular order, on their time and terms. It takes an always-on, omnichannel approach to drive engagement and accelerate the prospect journey.
Every digital experience – from thought leadership webinars, to discussion-based forums, to content hubs, personalized landing pages to large-scale virtual conferences – must be optimized for maximum engagement. The more your audience interacts, the more you will learn about them.
There are a myriad of interactivity and conversion tools you can integrate into each experience — and you can be strategic in directing that engagement. Choose key CTAs for every experience to drive people to the next logical step in their journey, whether that’s an invitation to an upcoming event, a link to a demo, free trial or free consultation.
While the goal is to progress someone towards a purchase decision, prospects will be all over the place in their interests. So put an entire buyer’s journey of content options and engagement tools in every single experience, enabling each audience member to choose their own adventure.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if they go downfunnel, upfunnel or sideways, as long as they are engaging then you are learning more about them and helping them in their journey.
Create engagement triggers to help sales
One clever method many marketers use to help SDRs and sales teams is to create engagement triggers to identify hand-raisers, areas of interest and intent.
A good example of this is using strategically created “trigger polls” in a webinar, where if an audience member chooses a certain option, it would automatically trigger a response from an SDR.
You can also have hand-raiser opportunities embedded in surveys, chat and Q&A sessions. The idea is to give your audience an opportunity to tell you that they have a specific need or interest that your product/service might solve.
Bringing sales into the experience
It’s incredibly challenging to be a sales rep these days. It’s hard to get someone to pick up the phone, let alone schedule an appointment. If our prospects are educating themselves in our digital experiences, then the logical thing would be to bring our salespeople to where our prospects are.
There are a variety of ways companies have integrated sales reps into marketing experiences, such as holding discussion-based forums where your audience is on camera and participating in a conversation. Even if sales reps are not actively participating in the discussion, by joining the experience, they can get to know who their prospects are, hear directly from them and understand their needs and interests. We see salespeople joining post-webinar breakout sessions after to talk about what was just presented.
Many virtual events these days even offer real-time one-to-one video chat opportunities so that prospects can engage directly with someone while interest is piqued during the event. Even on-demand content hubs will often integrate a live or automated chatbot just to get the conversation started with prospects that are binging on content.
Pre-and post-event engagement
There are so many missed opportunities to drive engagement when people sign up for webinars and virtual events. Instead of sending a standard confirmation email, how about sending your prospect a personalized landing page from their sales rep, thanking them for registering and suggesting a few helpful pieces of content? Maybe include a few pre-event CTAs like invitations to attend a product demo.
You could do the same thing post-event, where prospects receive personalized landing pages with content and engagement options to keep the conversation going.
Putting engagement data into the hands of your salespeople
All of this engagement, across all of these touchpoints, are pointless if you don’t turn data into action. By integrating every bit of audience engagement into CRM systems, you can give your salespeople something much more valuable than a qualified lead: you can show them who the prospect is and what their needs and interests are. It’s the difference between making a cold call and continuing a great conversation.
To learn more about “How to Optimize Digital Experiences for Better Sales Conversion,” watch the on-demand webinar here.