Some years ago, when I worked in wealth management marketing, I tested automated marketing on Facebook. The results were mixed - lots of clicks on the ad we ran, but not enough conversions i.e people didn't sign up in response to an offer of a complimentary consultation.
There was, however, a great lesson learned: marketing automation, when done right, can be a cost-and-time effective way of generating specific prospect interest that would convert to paying clients.
In not doing it the right way, the firm learned the following valuable lessons, which I happily share with you here:
Lots of people clicked on the firm's Facebook ad - which meant that the ad was a good one (good message, image). So we knew the ad was working.
Upon clicking the ad, prospects were taken to what is commonly called the "landing page". This is the all-important page as it is where the real interaction truly starts. The landing page is where you pitch something compelling that moves the visitor to connect with you. That something compelling is an offer or piece of content that they become interested in. It's called the "lead magnet". Examples of lead magnets include an e-guide, white paper, or even a complimentary consultation. To access such content, the visitor has to provide her first name and email address. This requirement makes the content "gated content". Gated content when done right helps you capture someone's e-mail i.e. it is crucial to your e-mail list-building.
This overall process is called a marketing/sales "funnel". The most important result is clearly the capturing of email/contact info -- once you have their email, you can start to truly customize your conversation with prospects, making them a worthy lead (e.g. send them another article or useful piece of content or invite them to a seminar on that very topic that they have indicated strong interest in).
Certainly most captured prospects are unlikely to respond immediately, but adding them to your newsletter database is one way to keep in touch. Some may decide to unsubscribe, but it's just as likely that most won't. The point is to stay in touch, as you never know when a person may eventually need your services or know someone who does. What's more, frequent and regular e-mail drips will, over time, capture behavior - your marketing automation software will track who clicks on what. These are indications of interest and can help you refine which prospect gets what content/offer. This is what is commonly known as nurturing your leads.
We found that there were quite a number of visits to the landing page, but somehow, the lead magnet didn't compel email sign-ups to download the lead magnet/gated content.
The reason was simple: the landing page simply wasn't compelling enough. It offered a complimentary consultation. This pre-supposed that people were ready to meet the wealth manager. It should have instead offered an e-guide on financial planning for families (which was the subject matter of the ad that generated so many clicks). Due to the long lead time required to get an e-guide vetted and approved by the compliance department, the firm had decided to offer a simple complimentary consultation instead.
All this was a real pity. If you run your own business or have tried Facebook advertising, then you'll know just how hard it is to get people to even click on your ad in the first place. A lost opportunity? Perhaps. The firm decided not to move on with testing, and so my curiosity was never satisfied with subsequent efforts (tip: if you are going to invest in automated marketing, make sure you have a series of campaigns to test what works and what doesn't. Marketing in one-off, piececmeal efforts never pays a dividend).
I still think automated marketing is a great tool for generating real leads. In fact, it can become an indispensable tool in your marketing arsenal. If you knew what a person wanted to know more about, then you could market to that very precisely, thereby increasing your chances of engaging them on an even deeper level. And as both business owners and consumers, we know that when we are well engaged with a website (useful articles, interesting media, great testimonials, a professional and modern look), we start to think that maybe we should take the next step: make an appointment with the professionals on the website. If, for example, some of the people who clicked on the firm's Facebook ad were single moms looking to build financial stability for themselves and their kids, and the landing page offered an e-guide for single parents (lead magnet), the results could have very well been different (ie more conversions).
Which circles back to how compelling the content your website offers truly is - your visitor needs to be persuaded to think, "It's worthwhile giving my email and first name because I think their white paper is going to be a worthwhile read." (note: part of this persuasion of course is the quality and quantity of your testimonials, professional expertise and track record, and personal brand in your community).
I'll be writing more about the specifics in how automated marketing (or "marketing automation" as it's also referred to) in a later post. But for now, if you're about to try it for your own firm's marketing, pause a little and learn from the lesson of my own experience - make sure your lead magnet is a strong, enticing one, prepare for your series of nurturing emails to cultivate your prospect and do it way before you launch your marketing automation, make sure you target your prospects correctly, especially as regards where you are most likely to find them online. And above all, don't buy all the bells and whistles immediately - work with a vendor who offers scalability, where you only pay for the tools you can use at your current stage of marketing.
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