A successful entrepreneur is like a chess master, thinking several moves ahead and taking into consideration the possible moves an opponent might make. This forward visioning allows him or her to prepare for multiple outcomes and to be prepared with the best response to each. An entrepreneur is a master of What If and What’s Next.
Growing your business is not a one step at a time and then see what happens next recipe. Planning and strategy are the cornerstones of a growing business. That’s why there are insurance plans, crisis plans, back up plans, contingency plans, operations plans, financial plans and selling plans.
At a recent class I was teaching on Social Media for Business, while covering the use of social media to generate leads, the idea of driving leads to go somewhere to do something that brings them into a lead funnel was addressed. Most business owners look at social media and email marketing as another advertising tool and nothing could be further from reality. The idea that just being out there and promoting your company will produce sales is a common misunderstanding.
The most common mistake made is that they are so busy selling that their foray into digital marketing falls short of delivering results. Business owners get involved in social media or start an email marketing campaigns because they know they have to. However, without a strategy, a plan and a supporting selling system to handle the leads generated, the time and effort could be wasted.
While it is possible a sale might occur, it is more likely that the initial connection is just day one in a marketing process, and why Drip Campaigns are important.
Drip Marketing, by definition, is a communications strategy that delivers (drips) a set of messages (via email, snail mail, phone calls, and social media) at scheduled intervals to customers and prospects.
The term derives from an irrigation technique used in farming to grow crops by delivering just the right amount of water directly to the plant at exactly the right intervals. This conserves resources and keeps the crops nourished, and avoids over watering, which would kill the crops.
Having a plan and process in place will facilitate moving prospects through the buying stages.
What are the buying stages?
A visitor to your website can move from Awareness to Consideration in a matter of seconds, and could even result in a sale. However, this is commonly a small percentage, and unless your web traffic is Amazonish (the kind of traffic that amazon.com gets) you may not experience the return on your investment or efforts.
Even if your traffic is high and your conversions to sales is impressive, you’ll still want to move customers from purchase to repurchase and on to loyalty and advocacy (less expensive than a sales force).
An effective marketing strategy is to create drip campaigns. Effective campaigns require a solid understanding of the target audience psychologically and demographically. Without knowing what their buying triggers are, you’ll be committing a hit and miss communications campaign.
A prospect’s hesitation to buy could be from lack of trust, cost, timing or it might even be that they are investigating on behalf of someone else and are just gathering information.
There is a lot of information from studies and anecdotal evidence regarding how many touches it takes to close a sale. The count ranges anywhere from 7 touches to as many as 20 touches. Touches are points of contact between company and prospect, and can be any combination of emails, letters, phone calls and interactions through social media. There are a lot of factors that make up the required number of touches, such as the greater the level of investment, the more touches required, as an example.
Assuming that you’ve created something worth while and made available on your website, such as a blog series, tip sheet, a how-to guide, an eBook, white paper or some piece of content that would help a prospect buy, and set it’s availability in exchange for an email address, you now have a lead capture mechanism. Next is the challenge of doing something with that lead. The risk of having a leads fall through the cracks is a pain point most growing companies suffer. A system that automates touches to prospects and clients can help move them through the buying cycle and improve revenue outcomes.
A worthwhile investment for any business owner is to conduct an in depth discovery of their target audience’s profiles and buying habits, and explore the relationship needs between the company and the prospect. This information will help to develop an effective selling system.
After completing discovery, your next action is to create a series of touches – no less than 7 and as many as 20 – that will be automatically be deployed once a lead enters your system and a sale is made.
Helping prospects to buy and helping customers to buy more and refer others is the goal of a Drip Campaign.