In my previous post, I covered how you can increase your search visibility at the marketing moment that matters with strategic search marketing.
Today I want to cover some further ways you can improve the visibility of your organisation at the moment (or series of moments) that matters. I will be covering specific ways to not only heighten visibility but also to increase the attractiveness of your brand in the eyes of your customers so not only are you present at every stage in their journey but you are also front of mind when it comes to evaluating their choices before making a purchase.
First though a recap…
What is a Breakthrough Moment™?
We live in a world of the empowered customer. We’re all digital explorers informing ourselves about products, services and the brands behind them. In fact, on average, we as customers are referring to over 10 sources of information before purchasing – that’s double what we were doing just a few years ago.
Traditional marketers may be used to the idea of marketing around the point of sale and the post-sales experience, but a series of Breakthrough Moments™ occur before both of these. In today’s world, these moments define and determine how a prospect is going to invest their money.
So how can your organisation take advantage of this evolution in the customer purchasing path? Here are 7 ways to heighten your visibility….
1) Recognise that not all of your customers are the same
This may sound like a very obvious point to make however many organisations categorise their customers only once they actually become customers. A smart marketer recognises the need to tailor breakthrough moments to prospective customers as well.
To improve your visibility and the quality of your connection with a prospective at each Breakthrough Moment™ it is important to craft the content experience so that you resonate with your various customer groups. You may not be able to individualise the experience but you can certainly deliver a much more tailored offering.
Audience personas enable us all to do this. How do you develop these? That’s a topic for another blog post but here’s a quick 30 second guide…
- Collate your data – you have so much data at your fingertips, from social media intelligence (see earlier in this post) and keyword data to real conversations with our customers and business data (examine your existing customer groups and question which are your ‘ideal’ customers).
- Categorise – you will hopefully be able to loosely group data together to give you some ‘draft’ personas to be worked on. At this stage it can be as fluid as “Persona 1” searches for these keywords, asks these types of questions and typically buys this kind of product.
- Interpret – examine attributes of the various groups and understand what they may be looking for at each Breakthrough Moment™ and beyond. For example, if you are the marketer for a travel insurance company, your customer groups are going to have very different needs in their search for information. Extreme skiers may want to know how much of their equipment is covered whilst a parent wants to know how much medical cover their child is going to get.
- Refine – now is the part where you solidify the various personas to give you a set to be worked with.
- Utilise – there is little point in having them if you aren’t going to put them to good use, therefore now is the time to plan your content strategy (onsite and offsite) and your user experience – examine exactly how you are going to serve your various customer groups in the marketing moment that matters.
- Reiterate – personas are living things that need to be monitored and allowed to evolve as time goes by.
2) Use social media intelligence to capture customers
Social media is a fairly delicate channel. Nothing causes problems like automated messages, corporate stalking and frankly outright spamming.
Users flock to social media to be social. They want to interact with, influence and be influenced by people they know and/or share a common connection with.
As part of the hunt for their 10.4 sources of information, customers will very often head to their favourite social media platform to get their ‘friends’ help in making the purchase.
This habit is useful to you as a winner of Breakthrough Moment Marketing™ for two reasons;
- The social media intelligence can help influence your content generation
- There are social listening opportunities
Social media intelligence
At a basic level, there are quite a few platforms and tools out there that allow you to monitor and learn from conversations around keyword terms… Raven Tools for example.
You can see the common questions that your customers have about product X or service Y. You can see any gripes that people have about what you offer and either improve the product or if this isn’t feasible at least manage people’s expectations via your content.
Social listening opportunities
Similarly to social media being used for intelligence gathering, it can also be used to tactically strike whilst the iron is hot – engaging with potential customers during their Breakthrough Moments™.
I could write an entire post on developing a social listening strategy and policy (and I will) because it really is a delicate art but the overarching idea is that you should be authentic. Don’t fire off automated promotional tweets at anyone who mentions the word “furniture” for example, select your moments carefully.
Answer questions people are asking
One example of how social listening influenced content creation and campaign success in a big way…
During the health care debate in the US, Barack Obama’s internet team carefully monitored the questions people were asking online.
On the back of this, they created a blog post simply titled “What’s in the health care bill?” which quite obviously detailed (for the average citizen) what was in the health care bill.
Millions if not tens of millions of people saw that blog post because it answered their question in simple terms – and was immediately visible when they asked Google that question.
Hundreds of pages of content had been produced around the health care topic but it is the one that answered the question everyone was asking that gained the lion share of the visibility.
Don’t be afraid of simple, it need not be boring…sometimes people just want the facts and the answers to their burning questions. This is the very kernel of Breakthrough Moment Marketing™ – right message, right place at the right time.
3) Work in real time
The Harvard Business Review published a study on The Short Life of Online Sales Leads which found…
“Companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour.”
Whilst this study specifically relates to ‘leads’, it does highlight the need for urgency and real-time action at their Breakthrough Moment™.
If the success rate of converting a lead drops so fast in such a short space of time, imagine what the drop off in attention is with a user during a Breakthrough Moment™ who hasn’t even committed to your organisation by making an enquiry? You’ve got seconds to push your business front of mind.
Your organisation needs to be present and highly responsive in an online world that demands ‘instant’.
There are a number of tools and software options which enable you to do this for example Snap Engage and Olark – both excellent ‘livechat’ services that give you the chance to proactively or reactively answer your customer’s questions personally in real-time (remember you may not necessarily be ‘selling them’ anything at this point).
There are also services that offer real time lead management (inc.live chat) software options like Jumplead which gives you the chance to interact with your users at their Breakthrough Moment™ and start them on their road to becoming your customer.
Being real-time might not necessarily improve visibility in the Breakthrough Moment™ per se, however it certainly will enhance the quality of that interaction with your brand.
4) Allow reviews, embrace and be proactive about negative reviews
As part of your aim to “own the SERPs” (discussed below), you should embrace 3rd party review websites e.g. ProductReview.com.au or an industry body if you are operating in a B2B market and where applicable explore integrating reviews into your own website (if you have a large enough customer base).
3rd party review sites can become an extension of your customer service strategy because very often you’ll get feedback in a review that a customer would never give face to face or as a matter of the usual interaction with your company.
As in social media marketing, the best strategy with reviews can often be to focus around a smaller number of platforms to try and be as proactive as you can on those platforms. Obviously you shouldn’t necessarily ignore some of the smaller review websites out there but it is time consuming for some businesses to respond to every single review that’s been written.
Monitor your SERPs and be proactive about negative reviews – don’t just seek to bury them with “reputation management”, look at how you fix your offerings or manage customer expectations. Speak to the person who wrote the review, offer to put it right. A company that fails to manage reviews correctly will often lose the Breakthrough Moment™.
Reviews are an important part of Breakthrough Moment Marketing™ and if you want to win the moment that matters then a blend of customer service, monitoring, listening, fixing and delicate optimisation is what is required.
5) Own your SERPs (Search Engine Positions)
We don’t live in a perfect world but there is every chance that you can put together a fairly accurate ‘map’ of your customer’s journey – you’ve categorised your keywords according to where the individual is on their journey and you have all the data you need to start looking at how to optimise their path.
A good place to start is to view the SERPs that your customers are likely to see en route to purchase. You need to really own these SERPs if you want to win the Breakthrough Moment™ – your organisation needs to be front of mind every step of the way so that in the mind of that customer your brand and the product or service they are looking for are synonymous.
It would be unrealistic to think you are going to own every slot of the SERPs with your domain alone, although Google results sometimes lack domain diversity you can’t rely on a quirk like this.
Some steps to consider:
- Promote 3rd party sites – This is a great way of giving the customer a great Breakthrough Moment™ experience whilst also ‘controlling’ their path to purchase in an invisible way. Some customers may be put off by the idea of one company owning an entire search result page (which is why Google tries to avoid this) but what if you ‘owned’ the SERP through some 3rd party websites that just so happen to put your organisation front of mind once again?
- Be the most relevant - it sounds obvious but the average searcher is getting smarter and more adept at getting what they want out of Google. They know what they want and they use cues (see next point) to help them find it. If you present something that is the most relevant to that query then you own that SERP whether or not you have all the listings or not.
- Optimise your listings – linked to my point above, but if you rank well for terms then make sure you are doing everything in your power to draw that user off the search result page and into your content.
- Consider website acquisitions – not necessarily an option for every company but acquiring websites, SERP competitors and strong domains can help you to improve your coverage of a key SERP.
6) Use retargeting to cement your position
Retargeting is a hot concept at the moment and in fact you’ll likely have been retargeted at some point on one of your favourite websites.
What is retargeting?
This post from Joanna Lord offers a very thorough introduction of the basics but quite simply it is re-marketing to users who have visited your site previously by placing advertising on other sites around the web that they visit.
The idea being that if they visit your website but don’t take action then you can gently remind them of your organisation at a later stage on another website that they visit with a targeted advertisement.
The rationale for retargeting is clear – the average website converts at 2-5% on first visit… retargeting brings back the other 95%+ of users to attempt a conversion on a second, third…(ad infinitum) visit.
How can it be used to assert market leadership?
The emphasis here is on delivering the right message, in the right place at the right time.
To assert market leadership and secure maximum conversions, you need to ease the customer’s journey.
In one of my previous posts I discussed a theoretical customer purchasing path, highlighting various search queries along the way. A sophisticated use of retargeting would be to tailor the banner and the landing page to where you believe the customer to be. For example, if they’ve just visited your pricing plans page then this user is probably ready to buy…you don’t want to retarget them with a banner and a landing page that offers up a load of information and pushes them backwards on their journey (or even turns them off your brand entirely).
At least anecdotally it is acknowledged that too much retargeting (or poorly executed retargeting) can reflect negatively on a brand – users feel like they are being stalked across the web.
Arguably retargeting requires a dedicated budget with landing pages, banners and analysis specific to this channel so this is worth bearing in mind before simply diving in.
7) Forge relationships with key influencers
Social media at Breakthrough Moments™ extends well beyond a prospective customer firing up their Twitter stream and asking their friends their opinion on a purchase.
In every industry there are now influencers; as the power has shifted from traditional media outlets to online where key individuals wield all the influence and reach. These are the people that your prospective customers know, respect and trust.
Your customers will seek the opinion of that influencer either personally or through previous reviews they have written or interviews they have given because they see them as the impartial expert.
Read The Tim Ferriss Effect which details how Michael Ellsberg launched a book leveraging the power of a key digital influencer (Tim Ferriss) – this is just one example of the power influencers have when it comes to marketing.
This is why the establishing and fostering of relationships should be core to any online marketing campaign.
I hope you’ve found this post valuable. If you’d like help winning your customers Breakthrough Moments™, we’d love to hear from you..