How to Grow Your Digital Marketing Campaigns
Nurture your digital marketing campaigns by intentionally guiding your customers
Don’t Ignore Your Garden, or Your Customers
My six-year-old daughter was astounded at how much attention goes into raising tomatoes. It’s not that there is a ton of work at any one time, but she’d never been a part of a project that required the focus to complete small, often repetitive, tasks over many months. Beyond the initial excitement surrounding the planting of the seeds we had to return to the garden week after week to weed, feed, water, support, and otherwise nurture our plants on a regular basis so they could produce beautiful fruit about 3 and a half months later.
In some respects, the experience of running online digital marketing campaigns is akin to tending a garden – we are constantly generating new campaigns to feature new products, to adjust to the seasons, and to announce merchandising changes – all in an effort to keep the attention of, and build relationships with, our customer base and grow lifetime value. But after driving those customers to the homepage, or to specific campaign landing pages, our level of engagement seems to slow or even stop. Planting the seeds but then forgetting about your tomatoes and failing to engage your customers after you’ve driven them to your site, are two great ways to turnout an underwhelming product.
Intentionally Guide and Nurture
The key to not letting your campaigns die on the vine is to make sure your customers are not left on their own when they arrive. Could you imagine Apple launching a new iPhone and on the day the phone goes on sale, Apple makes the decision to line the store shelves with great looking product but otherwise pull all of those blue-shirted associates out of the store? Picture those beautiful stores with customers milling about trying to decide between product options, plans, and accessories all on their own.
And when they’re done with that, they’d be expected to go work the cash register by themselves… Could be chaos, or at least it would lead to an underwhelming result. But these are the conditions your customers who’ve responded to your campaigns often find online – often “beautiful shelves” lined with products but with no level of engagement looking out for their experience, pointing them in the right direction, helping them make buying decisions, or helping them work the cash register.
Here are several things you can do to tend your online store and effectively guide your customers to produce a bountiful harvest.
1. Nurture Your Visitors Through the Entire Journey
Realize your digital campaigns don’t end when the customer lands on your site. Given that 60 to 70 percent of your site traffic abandons, or bounces, after one or two page views, realize your campaigns need to continue engaging customers all the way to the add-to-cart event, or all of the way to through the quoting process, or all of the way to the account sign up page, or to when they actually book a trip.
2. Rely on Your Relationship to Combat Bounce Rate
When a customer lands on your site, greet them proactively with an understanding of whether you know each other – whether the customer has been here before or not, or is in the middle of a process, and then offer a nudge to keep them clicking. Here are a few examples:
- New Visitor on a campaign landing page: “Welcome to our site! I see you’ve landed on our Sales page, you can get free shipping with orders over $50 using code SAVEMORE. Click here to join our loyalty program” Not only do you welcome the new visitor, but you cater to their interest in sales giving them an extra impetus to click and advance their relationship with you.
- Returning visitor in the middle of a process: “Welcome back! We see you’re in the middle of getting a quote. Would you like to pick up where you left off? Click here.” First thing you’re communicating that you know them – it’s important to retain a customer by realizing that buying and sign up decisions often take time and several site visits. Acknowledge your relationship and nudge them to pick up where they’ve left off.
- Repeat customer visit: “Great to see you again! We’re offering discounts on Wallets to all of our recent handbag purchasers with code WALLET18. Click here to check order status”. Acknowledge and reward your potential repeat purchasers. Also get out ahead of their potential service concerns with proactive contact deflection by offering them order status info.
3. Combat Indecision
Be aware of the signs of customer indecision and proactively help them make decisions. If the bouncing traffic wasn’t shrinking the funnel enough, many customers will hesitate while making purchase decisions before abandoning their session. While you won’t prevent everyone from putting off their purchase or sign up decisions, there are several behaviors that indicate hesitation and indecision that make customers easy to approach with buying guides, fit guides, layman tips that cut through financial jargon, and videos that show the products being reviewed by experts or arranged by stylists. Some behaviors where the customer is showing interest but is hesitating in making a purchase or signing up for a service include:
- Clicking on “More Information” or “Product details” tabs or links.
- Clicking on the product reviews widget.
- Using the product comparison feature
- Doing multiple searches.
- Bouncing around between multiple products in a category.
4. Guide all the Way Through Check Out
Guide your customers as they work the cash register. Congratulations! Even though your traffic has dwindled to almost 1/10th of what you started with, you’ve successfully marketed to customers in this final group – the ones that want to sign up and hand you their money. One of the quirks of eCommerce relative to the brick and mortar environment is that we make customers navigate the labyrinth of forms and submit buttons required to sign up for a service or purchase a product instead of having a sales associate do this process for them.
It boggles the mind when you step back and think about all the challenges this presents, but it’s a ubiquitous reality across all ecommerce verticals that is further complicated by the fact that each “cash register” is different from the next from site to site. Even though the campaign to get your customers to select a product may now be over, this is not time to take your eye of the ball – your customers will still need proactive guidance.
- Look out for error messages: error messages around data entry are an extremely common experience. But they are extremely unhelpful in many cases creating roadblocks rather than facilitating a purchase or sign up.
- Promo code errors: customers love to use promo codes, but they often put in old or invalid codes. The standard error message of “Promo Code Invalid” while technically true, does little to help anyone. For the less initiated customers, it simply holds up a stop sign without providing a work around (e.g. “You’re not getting past this step until you remove that bogus code”). Even for the seasoned ecommerce vet, this error message can send your customers back to the internet to look or wait for a working code. Who knows if they’ll ever make that purchase. Make sure you proactively intervene in these scenarios – explain how to get around the speed bump, or better yet, offer a working code to the higher value customers.
- Personal information errors: if a customer is signing up for a bank account and puts a PO Box in the address field, proactively engage the customer and explain that “you can use a PO box in the separate mailing address field, but we need a physical address here” instead of waiting for them to fill out the whole form, submit it, get the errors, resubmit only to get more errors because you stripped out other data from the form for “security purposes”. A truly annoying loop that is easy to avoid.
- Look out for repetition in this phase – it’s bad! As easy as it would seem to react to error codes in this phase, there are other less overt signs of confusion and struggle that the customer displays when they can’t get passed something in this phase, namely they will make repeat attempts that you can engage on. If a customer is repeating a step in the process, in general that’s bad. If you see a customer go through Step 2 of the loan application 3 times. This is the best time to intervene proactively with a tip or an offer to chat.
You can’t run a garden on auto pilot, just showing up a few months later to collect your produce, and you shouldn’t run your digital store like that either – just turning up every once in a while to collect the revenue. Even though it’s a digital store and we’re not face to face with customers, to produce the best results and create long term relationships that retain customers, we should do our best to engage and be present with them, responding in real-time to their needs at each step of the buying journey.