This headline contains a piece of advice I wish I had received long ago. I might not have tried, persisted, and failed at the old way of running bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns for various B2B marketing efforts.
For businesses with the willingness to engage contacts in a longer self-selection sales process that involves a combination of pay-per-click advertising and email marketing, you may find my strategy worth enacting.
No more demos or consultations or contact requests
As a consumer, when I want something, I go get it. I schedule the demo, I book the consultation, I call the phone number. Other times, when I’m on the fence about a purchase, I read around, compare options, watch review videos on YouTube, and I buy when I’m good and ready.
If you’re a business and I find your website but I’m still making a decision, would you want me to leave without getting my contact information? Many businesses let tire-kickers and researchers off the hook by letting them go.
I’ve launched paid advertising campaigns where the end goal is a demo or a consultation, but conversion rates are low and cost per acquisition is high. Clients become dissatisfied because they think the advertising does not work or the platform is not for them or their audience just does not search that way.
The fact is that consumers aren’t ready until they’re ready. If they find your website and they’re not ready, it’s better to lower the barrier to conversion, entice them with a low risk offer, and gather contact information instead of allowing them to get away. Now that you have their contact information, you can stay engaged with them through email marketing campaigns and feed them the information they need in order to make an informed purchase decision.
Lower the barrier to conversion for more leads
Every now and then I work with a business to drive warm, sales-ready leads and we have a real tough go of it. While these are my favorite kind of leads to deliver to businesses, the ones I strive to attain at every turn, sometimes the cost per acquisition is too high. In the past, I would remain rigid and continue fishing for these types of leads even when the metrics suggest changing course.
Today, I’ve learned enough to pivot and lower the barrier to conversion by offering them a video demo instead of an in-person demo or a product comparison pamphlet instead of a sales consultation. If I find that these leads are at the very beginning of their journey, I want to offer them a content download so that they can learn more about the problem they have and certain scenarios for solving that problem.
These types of leads inevitably need to be nurtured through an email marketing campaign, but now they’re a contact in your database when they once were not. Now you can continue a dialogue with them after they leave your website.
Specific search queries (and interests) are not a sign of pure buying intent
I find many instances of people using very specific search terms on Google but being at the beginning of their purchase journey. They may have researched enough that they use the same language you use to describe your product or service, but they still are not ready to buy.
I like to believe that the concept of F.O.B.O., The Fear of Better Options, comes into play here. If I want a “flannel lined waxed trucker jacket” and I’m about to spend $300 on that jacket, I want to see and compare all of the flannel lined waxed trucker jackets I can find. That’s this consumer’s philosophy on finding the right jacket.
What about people looking for automotive shop software or fractional CFO services or business continuity planning software? You can bet that these people are searching a similar way (maybe as obsessively, maybe not), and rather than let them come to your website without buying, encourage them to give you an email address.
Real life examples of lowering the barrier to conversion
With every business, I start by launching bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns aimed at luring in warm, sales-ready leads. When the program is not generating enough leads, or when more budget becomes available, I work with the business to come up with a low risk offer that can help drive more leads that we can drop into email nurture campaigns.
Below is an example of a program where sales-ready software leads dropped-off around September, and in October we chose to implement campaigns that offered searchers a content download instead of an opportunity to book a consultation:
In another software example, we were pressed to generate a higher quantity of conversions, so starting in October we implemented a video demo instead of an in-person demo:
Use this strategy to get more for your money
Digital advertising is not getting any cheaper. There are ways, however, to get more out of these online platforms more cheaply.
Businesses would do well to relax their thinking about lead generation and create a more comprehensive purchase journey for their consumers.
For some consumers, the journey starts and ends on paid advertising channels. For others, the journey through this medium is the starting point. Email can be the continuation of that journey. With the right content and enough time, the right people will raise their hands when they are ready to buy.