These are exciting times to be involved in marketing, the way that people make decisions about the products and services they choose is changing, the Internet has connected us all and provided the tools to help us make informed decisions.
We all know that researching purchases online is easy, and we all do it. Search engines, product reviews and blog articles tell us everything we need to know before we buy. We can all walk into a showroom knowing the exact specification, the extras we want and the price we expect to pay.
We're also getting better at filtering out the marketing messages designed to persuade us. We can avoid the unwanted emails we are sent and skip the TV adverts.
As consumers we are empowered as never before.
But where does this leave us as marketers?
It can feel frustrating as tried and tested marketing methods deliver less and less each year. Email campaigns sent to purchased lists, telemarketing, advertising campaigns and trade show response rates are dropping as people rely more on their own online research.
… the model [was] very simple. You run $100 in tv ads, you made $110 in profit. And this was true for 35 years. Mad Men was not about good ads, it turns out if you just ran a lot of ads — of any kind — they made more money than they cost. And just in the last few years, it all fell apart … the underpinning of our entire economy went away.
But what if we follow our customers online? What if we use and combine online tools to give us new ways of engaging with customers as they are researching and become part of their online research process?
I want to take a look at the opportunities that are created when we use online tools to identify, engage with and manage our potential customers. As well as some strategies for using these tools in combination.
We started a web development and internet marketing agency in 2005 working with a range of companies we began to develop tools to help clients understand their website visitors better. This led us to create an analytics tool designed to focus on people and their organisations rather than statistics.
We began by identifying the organisations that visit websites, for the purposes of lead generation. Names of the visiting organisations were identified, along with search terms and the pages viewed. Valuable information, particularly for businesses with a high product or lifetime customer value.
Since then we launched the system as a web application and have used it ever since as a proving ground for marketing ideas and techniques.
As our traffic grew we found ourselves spending more and more time chasing leads from our free trial, as well as from the identified businesses that we were being generated from our website traffic. We could have employed a large sales team to chase each and every lead, but chose instead to develop Jumplead's functionality to help us to nurture and manage the leads generated by our website. In the process making all of the useful stuff available to our customers as part of the system.
Over time we added a range of features to help us improve the way we identified, engaged with and managed our leads:
- Live chat
- Contact management
- Lead scoring
- Email nurture campaigns
- Filters and alerts
Before we knew it we'd created a system that combined website analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing capabilities. Using website analytics to grade customer activity, the CRM system to keep lead information and activity organised and email nurture campaigns to keep leads engaged over time.
All of this at a time when the use of the internet as a research tool is profoundly changing the way that all of our customers make their purchase decisions.
In developing our software we also developed our ideas as to how these techniques can fit together in the most powerful ways, and found ourselves doing this at what is recognised as a turning point in the history of marketing as interruption marketing gives way to permission based approaches.
I wanted to capture what we've learned and share my excitement for the future.