My father was a huge fan of Formula One so, as a result, I grew up watching most of the Grands Prix that were featured on TV. The thing is I actually liked the races. I learned the rules and, of course, had my favorites drivers - but I have to confess that the handsome ones were those that I liked the most.
As a teenager, I tended to compare many things to motor racing competitions and you know what? I still do it. To prove it to you let's try to make an analogy between marketing and the Grand Prix.
In Formula One, the main goal is to win the championship and not just a singular race. For that, you have to score points. These points depend on your final position at the races. As a marketing professional your championship is proving ROI and to do so, you need to score points, or in this case, capture the right leads, nurture them correctly and convert them.
In order to win the race, you have to refuel the car or even change the tires, according to different circumstances or tactics. In marketing, this would be analyzing and tweaking the strategies according to what is working and what's not.
Eventually, you car might break down or it maybe it will hit a wall. But hey, that is not the end of the championship. All you have to do is fix your vehicle and get ready for the next race. In the marketing scenario, we can say that every marketing funnel is like a Grand Prix. You need to make it work properly to win your prize. After all, a high place in the podium is always flattering (and financially rewarding).
To make it easier, today I am only going to talk about the "Conversion" Grand Prix. Several laps that you need to complete as fast as you can, speeding up your sales cycle to convert more leads. The fuel that will make it happen? Marketing Automation.
Why your marketing funnel is not bringing as many results as you need?
As you know, your marketing funnel has mainly five stages: awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty and advocacy. To make it faster and more efficient you need to focus on improving each and every one of its steps. After all, there is no point in winning just one race. To triumph in the competition, you need to win most of them. Just like you need to manage all the stages of the funnel to accelerate your sales cycle and achieve better results.
Sure there will always be leads that exit your sales cycle. But you should try to increase the number of prospects that enter through the top and decrease the percentage that leaves before it gets to the bottom. That way, you will score valuable points to the end of the contest.
Although the basics are the same, a number of technologies and new concepts have emerged to assist marketing professionals. To mention a few: marketing automation, omni channel strategies and a customer-centric approach that puts the customer experience in the first place. These new paths optimize the funnel and guarantee that you achieve the results you need.
However, in order to use these technologies and concepts to your advantage, it's imperative that you recognize the issues that are affecting your marketing funnel efficiency (or your racing performance).
First of all, make the conversion easy: how is your website usability? Do you offer simple and clear landing pages? What about your forms? Too long or too complicated to fill in? Are your call to actions clear to understand and they actually take your customer to next step?
Consider all these questions before re-designing your strategy and, then, move forward.
Perhaps you are focusing too much on the acquisition.
The truth is: if you put too much emphasis on acquisition and neglect the others stages, you’ll have a hard time becoming as profitable as you’d like in the future. The beginning of your funnel is designed to start paying your investments back but the final part that is responsible for increasing your overall revenue. To win the challenge you need to have them both running smoothly. You can be biased depending on whether your company is primarily in a growth phase or a profit-building stage. Biased, yes, never relapsed.
I mean, a good racing car is made of different parts and each one of them has a job. If an engineer works too hard in building a really good nose cone and front wing - to make sure the car is stable - but completely forgets the rear wing, the car will not be as fast as it can. Rear wings are important to the aerodynamic of the car and help it to speed up on the straights parts of the tracks.
Another usual problem is the incorrect segmentation of leads. Lack of assertive segmentation results in poor lead nurturing - since you won't be able to personalize your interactions according to the preferences of your prospects - and the consequence is fewer conversions.
Last but not least: are you monitoring and measuring your strategies? Adjust your actions based on your leads behavior and the results you are having. If you find out that this or that strategy is actually contributing to increasing your churn rate, for example, you can change it in time and try to stop the leak. After all, if it's raining you can always change your tires so you won't slide in the middle of the track.
Accelerate your sales cycle with marketing funnel automation
In the Formula One world when something is not right, especially with the cars, the whole team takes time and effort to improve it. After all, that is a lot of money at stake.The same goes for marketing strategies. The investment is quite high to not guarantee a positive ROI.
So what can you do to ensure that? Bet on a marketing automation platform to automate your marketing funnel.
I have listed the advantages for you:
- 1. Use web forms to capture more qualified leads (or test the car at the practice sessions and make sure your car is ready before the qualifying session)
- 2. Use lead tracking and triggered actions to talk to leads whenever they do something (or follow the car's performance to adjust possible problems).
- 3. Automate your lead scoring (or defining how many stops you will do during the race)
- 4. Improve lead nurturing to move prospects through the stages (or create a fuel and refueling strategy*)
- 5. Personalized content (or personalize your wheel - did you know that a formula one wheel can have up to 40 buttons?)
- 6. Monitor and analyze (or study your team's strategy to adjust and win the championship)
Web forms are the simplest way to grab your leads contacts and it can be used on several occasions. For example, you can add it on rich content landing pages - pretty obvious - or in the middle of the bottom of your funnel texts to speed up your sales cycle. If a prospect fills a form, chances are they are very interested in the content, or even in the product itself. Make sure to ask for all the essential data to better qualify your lead.
Just like web forms are you first attempt to win your leads data and create a plan based on that, the practice sessions are the driver's opportunities to see what needs to be improved before the qualifying session. So when it comes to Grand Prix itself, they will have higher chances to be in a good start position.
When you track everything that your lead does in your website or product you can speed up the lead response. With it, marketing and sales teams can see when high-value leads are engaging with the website. This means providing a solution for someone at the exact moment that they are looking for it. According to the Harvard Business Review companies that contact prospects in an hour or less are 7 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with key decision-makers than those who wait longer.
After the practice comes to the qualifying sessions. This is the final chance for the engineers to take note of everything that is happening with the driver's cars and fix them before the next race.
Who are your hotter leads? How do you prioritize them? With the help of automatic lead scoring, you make sure that your sales team talk only to qualified leads, saving time and money from your company. This helps to shorten the sales cycle as you secure that only the right leads are pushed through the funnel.
For Formula One strategists it’s very important to plan the stops that the car will make in the race. So they have to prioritize and classify what will happen in those stops. Will the car change the tire? Alter the angle of the wings front and rear, increase or decrease downforce levels? The list goes on.
Once you identify all your leads behavior patterns, it becomes easier to know exactly what problem they have and what solution they need to be nurtured about. With marketing automation, you can segment your leads and nurture them via behavior-based triggers. This helps to educate and prepare them for the sales team.
Fueling a Formula One car is quite similar to a lead nurturing strategy. Will you give all the rich and relevant content for your lead at one goal or will you give it to bits? Well, it depends on how hot is your lead, right? In a Grand Prix, the team has to decide if the driver will start the race with a full tank (and start it heavier) or refuel it along the race. If the choice is to refuel, how many times it should be done?
I know I sound like a broken record by now, but here it’s again: because you track all your user's activities, you can find out what type of content has more effect on them. Not only by seeing which pages they visited the most on your website, but also by analyzing your email marketing statistics, like open and click-through rates. With these, you can personalize your content strategy.
In motor racing competitions wheels can be personalized in a dozen of ways. The drivers use this device to steer, operate the clutch, change gear, and also control numerous electronic functions (like a button that lets the driver send a signal to the pit team, alerting them that they will be swinging by after the next lap is completed). Everything is customized according to the team's strategy.
Reports are crucial to measuring your marketing and sales performance in order to identify what needs to be changed. With the help of business intelligence, you have access to relevant data and can build as many boards as you need with everything that is important to your company, over any given period of time.
All these benefits of a marketing automation tool will accelerate your sales cycle and improve the efficiency of your marketing funnel. It's a simple process: when you capture the right leads, track their behavior, qualify and nurture them with personalized content and analyze if the strategy was successful, your chances to reach only the sales-ready leads and highly enhanced. Consequently, you will close more deals faster.
Just like a Formula One championship, you need to score points along the way to make sure you win your prize at the end of the journey. In this case, your prize is a high ROI. So take advantage of an automated marketing funnel to accelerate your sales and hit the podium in the first place!
*refueling was banned in 2010 but is set to return in the 2017 season