Our previous article talked about what customers expect from companies they do business with. In this post we cover the steps you must take as a business to ensure you’re doing everything you possibly can to remain relevant to your audience throughout their journey with you.
At a high level, the customer journey looks like the following five steps we identified in the previous post – Awareness, Research, Evaluation & Trial, Purchase, and finally Customer success and Support. However, for this post we have listed the tasks a business must carry out each step of the way to ensure they are visible, relevant and effective.
This is what the customer journey looks like with regards to the areas businesses must focus on and the content and engagement strategies they need to work on and prepare for the customer:
- SEO/Organic (Webpages, Blogs)
- Email & Webinars
- Social updates
- Review sites
- Comparison Pages
- Social presence
- Blog posts
- Evaluation and Trial
- Trial drip
- In-app pop-ups
- Terms and conditions
- In-app purchasing page
- Customer Success & Support
- Responsive across email, social and live Chat
- Training webinars
Taking the time to understand the importance of this stage in the customer journey will help you define the activities you need to carry out to ensure visibility. The work you do here helps make the first step in the customer’s journey (with you) possible.
SEO/ Optimize for Organic Traffic
For a customer to find you, your site must first be optimized for search engines. To begin with, you need webpages that have been built around terms relevant to what your ideal customer is looking for.
An excellent free tool to use for determining search traffic for keywords is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You can are able to identify opportunities based on the work you do here.
You will notice that terms with the highest search volumes also tend to be the most competitive. A good strategy here is to go for low hanging fruit which serve as a good opportunity to capture traffic that competitors may be missing out on.
The more appealing your site is to users, the more appealing it is to search engines, too. Users don’t bounce as fast off of sites with good structure and staying longer on the site leads to improved ranking. Also, Google algorithms know a good site structure from a bad one and great site structure helps decrease bounce rates.
Sites with good structure provide your site with site links which are essentially a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below.
Here is how Kayako shows up in the SERPs.
Organic landing pages a purpose built to boost conversion. They focus on converting traffic above everything else. Your landing page needs to offer great content along with an excellent user experience, where marketing and design both come together to serve up information in a way that makes sense to a visitor. Sales can also play a major role in the success of such a page by taking it a step further down the funnel by answering queries prospects may have via live chat.
An example of how we did this can be seen in our ‘Ticketing Software’ page. After identifying search volume and potential keyword opportunities for the term ‘ticketing software’ the marketing team at Kayako built a page for the term and its variations.
The lost opportunities can be seen in the traffic and conversions we’ve had since.
The page has consistently improved when compared to last year’s performance.
The most recent 5 and a half months of data compared to the same period prior to March 1st 2019 shows how the page has improved.
Traffic has more than doubled with an increase in conversions of nearly 300%.
Always be looking for new opportunities as a well-planned page can turn out to be an excellent source for new leads.
Blogging is a great way to get more traffic. Some of our best posts see dozens of conversions. If you’re authoring a blog post for lead gen, the average word count should be 1500, however anything between 1200 and 2000 would also work.
Before publishing your post, make sure you optimize your blog content and headings with the keywords that are important to your business and what you know your customers will be searching for. Make sure you do your research before setting out to craft your page. The homework you do now will help lay the foundations for posts optimized for lead gen.
Pay per click is an excellent way to generate leads by allowing customers to find you based on the keywords you’ve researched and built ads around.
Make sure your ad copy, page URL and page content all tie in well. Your ad, the landing page it directs visitors to, and the quality of content and images on the page all lend to the customer experience, so make sure the connection between the ad and the landing page is relevant and easy to see. Many times landing page content and URL don’t connect well to the ad that served them. Google Adwords takes all three into consideration when determining an ad score. Ads are scored out of 10 and the better your score, the lower your PPC cost for that particular keyword and of course better visibility.
Also, make sure you track conversions off of certain ads to know which ad is bringing in better results. We tracked our ads and identified the ones that had the most conversions and went on to craft similar ads for that particular geographic region.
Anyone who has visited our website and signed up for our blog, newsletter or eBooks has received announcements on what’s new, feature updates, and what we have in the pipeline for the future. Of the thousands of prospects and customers we email, there are always a few that are shopping for a solution and just need to be pointed in the right direction. Many times contacts just need to hear of new features or updates to an old interface for you to grab their attention. Other times they need to be reminded that your solution can solve many of the problems businesses like theirs face. Either way, email marketing is very effective when done right and can lead to great results.
By rolling out new features, updates and enhancements, and sending out newsletters and announcements you will be able to push certain prospects to a trial, a demo, or a request for pricing.
A great way to stay on top of email updates and announcements is to regularly reach out to as many contacts as you can.
Regularly update your social channels with articles, updates and announcements, and webinar invites. Just like email, anyone that has liked a page or followed you on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram will know exactly what they need to do to get their hands on the new feature you’ve just rolled out – Provided you announce it! In addition, you can engage followers through free webinars that you announce across social channels. Bringing on influencers and industry experts will help you to re-engage prospects and fans through great content, and help build your reputation as a thought leader.
As a marketer, you should aim to control information about your product that potential customers find online. In order to do this effectively, you must know where a prospect goes to research your product and other similar solutions.
When researching software, one of the first places prospects end up looking are product review sites such as G2, Capterra, TrustRadius and FinancesOnline.
Knowing the customer will get a preview of who you are on these sites, you should do your best to keep your profiles updated with all your product features, screenshots, videos and relevant links.
Your profile is one piece of the puzzle. For a prospect to visit and consider your product profile, you must have excellent customer feedback and reviews.
To achieve this you need to always deliver excellent customer experiences by maintaining a very high quality of customer service, success and support. Focusing on winning your customers through this effort will pay off in the form of 5 star reviews and gushing comments. The constant care and concern will help you to retain customers, and will have a direct impact on acquiring new ones.
As part of their journey, customers will search product review and comparison sites in addition to any comparison pages you may have on your own site.
Competitors will also be focusing on building ‘us vs them’ pages that help educate shoppers on the features and benefits their products offer.
Consider having live chat with proactive engagement set up on a page where you compare yourself to a competitor. This is an excellent way to respond to visitor queries in real-time. Many visiting such pages will already know of your competitor and many times will be looking for more features and functionality or better pricing. Either way, they will have their share of questions, and being available on the page is the best way to show you’re eager to help and move things forward.
Depending on the type of product or service, prospects at times will research a potential solution provider’s social channels to gauge their social presence and reputation and how well they provide support over social.
Be sure to regularly post content relevant to your audience across all social channels. Content that provides solutions, tips and industry best practices help prospects realize your thought leadership and understanding of the market you’re servicing. It will help build trust in your ability to provide a solution that will help address the challenges your prospects come with.
An active blog with great content is a sure sign of a prospering business. Imagine a vendor you’re considering not having a new blog post since 2015. A lack of marketing and new customer acquisition activities will make prospects wonder whether or not your business has the resources to support new customers. Prospects will cringe at the thought of how unresponsive customer service and support might be.
To help do away with this perception, always be consistent in authoring content for your company blog. A good way to keep your blog pipeline filled with great content is to reach out to influencers and guest bloggers in addition to working out an editorial calendar internal resources will be authoring.
Evaluation and Trial
A prospect signs up for your trial based on the research they do and the information they find on your company and product offering. In the previous sections we explained how you can control the information prospects come across. It is through this content that they make a decision to sign up for a trial.
Once a prospect becomes a trial user the ball is entirely in your court. You need to have laser focus on nurturing your new trial users by walking them through each step of your trial, training them on the key aspects of your product, helping them succeed and find value in your solution. Helping trial users reach their ‘aha!’ moment should be a top priority once they sign up for a trial.
Trial Drip & In-app Pop-ups
An excellent way to onboard trial users is to provide them information on how to succeed within their trial through onboarding emails. For a two week trial between 5 and 7 emails are the perfect number to get across how-to information as well as share some case studies, customer testimonials, product awards and recognition.
During a trial, be sure to serve information based on in-app activity. An excellent tool to use for this is Appcues. We serve users with pop-ups depending on where they are in the app and the actions they’ve taken. This not only provides a tailored experience but also delivers useful information that helps a user find value in your product a lot sooner.
If a user likes your product and believes it will add value, then there is little that can steer them away from making a purchase, unless…
- Your terms and conditions were not made clear from the start and while completing the purchase a customer realizes they don’t suit them. An example of this is annual billing vs monthly billing. Annual billing requires a year long commitment from your customer whereas monthly billing requires no such commitment. In both cases the customer account is typically debited on a monthly basis. Typically such information should be crystal clear and mentioned on the pricing page.
- Your in-app purchasing page is so difficult to navigate and understand that potential customers are put off and decide not to move forward with a purchase. Many times friction such as this can push a customer away entirely as many customers are looking for self-service and don’t have the desire or the time to be helped through a poorly designed page.
Customer Success & Support
Your main focus from this point on should be helping customers get better at using your product so they may gain more value from it.
A Customer Success Manager should be assigned to each paid account and should be aware of a user’s in-app activity so they may periodically engage them. It’s vital for a CSM to know how often a customer is using your product so they may regularly check up on customers to ensure they aren’t facing any issues and are being able to set up and move forward with the solution the way you would want them to. A customer who is not using your product may be considering competitors so always be aware of customer activity.
As part of your strategy, look to invite new customers into training webinars, and in some cases schedule one on one calls to get to know your customers and what they’re looking to achieve with your product.
In addition to proactive outreach by your customer success team, your support team should be responding to tickets opened by customers in record time. Make sure your teams are super responsive across email, social and live chat. Responding to your customers should always be your highest priority as it can cost five times more to attract a new customer, than it does to retain an existing one.