In an age of immediate access and increasingly complex digital buying processes, businesses are pushed to find new and creative ways to get in front of consumers with the right message at the right time. Focused media planning and efficient inbound marketing are more important than ever, and marketers are continually pushed to reach an online consumer base drawn to hypertargeted and visually effective messaging.
Many companies are doing well on the first part of this strategy — getting initial interest. Marketers are intently focused on optimizing the initial message and obtaining a good response rate from prospects, be it through search engine optimization, mobile, email, banner ads or a mix of activities. That’s great, but not enough. There’s more to be done when converting a lead into a customer. The crucial mistake many organizations make is optimizing the initial message, but not managing the experience through the entire buying process. Media dollars are spent filling the top of the pipeline, but holes in the funnel are letting transactions slip away.
The good news is that there’s a method to combat these leaks and earn more of those lost dollars back. Here’s an example: A manufacturer of hot tubs saw quite a few leads land on its website thanks to an effective media buy strategy, only to have these visitors drop off before inquiring about area dealers. This problem was solved after leveraging different call-to-action visual displays to clearly articulate how the visitor can find out more. In doing so, lead conversion rates nearly doubled in a matter of weeks.
Put it another way: By managing the consumer experience through testing and conversion optimization, marketers can achieve more with the money they spend on media. In the hot tub manufacturer case, nearly doubling the conversion rate means that only one-quarter of its current ad buy budget is now needed to garner the same results. That’s a lot of money saved that can be used to further fill the more efficient funnel.
For truly efficient media spending, marketers must pay the same attention to optimizing the entire customer experience beyond the initial ad buy. Their field of vision must be as crystal clear with landing pages, websites and in-store experiences as it is for the creative, messaging and media placements that secured the lead in the first place.
Going back to the hot tub manufacturer example again, if the messaging and illustrations used in the online ads are different from what’s shown on the website or in-store materials, prospective customers will be confused and turn away, all the while muttering “this isn’t what I was anticipating.” The real trick is to continue to meet or, better yet, exceed their expectations throughout their engagement to the point of converting that prospect into a customer.
In addition, organizations and their marketing teams could be of great value by optimizing the post-sale experience that turns that one sale into a lifetime of lucrative, profitable revenue. While this isn’t necessarily a new concept, the idea of engaging a customer and tracking their needs throughout the purchase journey will reap big rewards to the bottom line.
As marketers continue to evolve with the increasingly complex customer life cycle, let’s refocus on making the most of our efforts and alter the current thinking of “media as a means to an end.” By committing to aligning resources and managing the experience, brands can ultimately get to more holistic and higher profits.
Reid Carr is president and CEO of Red Door Interactive, a data-driven advertising agency that delivers the right message to the right targets in all the right places regardless of media. Follow Reid at http://twitter.com/icowboy.