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Your next SNA meeting could have free snacks, a raffle and more! That’s right, Picmonic will sponsor one SNA meeting per semester per school so… (Read More)
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These days, it almost goes without saying: Video is a powerful tool for driving engagement. As Google recently reported, 69 percent of people who used YouTube when buying a car say it influenced their purchase decision. That’s more impact than TV, newspaper, or magazine ads. In fact, 1 out of every 4 people that visit a showroom only do so after consuming online content about a vehicle.
It makes perfect sense — people watch a compelling YouTube video, and then hunt for more content about the vehicle that’s piqued their interest. Combine that with Google’s ability to gauge a buyer’s interest across devices, time, and location, and you have a recipe for one of the most targeted ad tactics available.
Video also reveals the ever-changing patterns of today’s car buyer. As Google reported, YouTube views of test drives, features and options, and walk-throughs doubled from 2016 to 2017. This suggests that auto shoppers are figuring out exactly what they need before they even set foot in your dealership.
Putting video to work for your dealership
For one, get to know how your customers want to buy a car, and figure out where your dealership fits in. Once you know, invest in well-produced videos that showcase the features and highlights of your latest vehicles.
Don’t be afraid to target highly-specific features — Google confirms that searches for ‘trunk space’ and ‘towing capacity’, for example, are up 15 percent and 30 percent year-over-year. Additionally, search volume for ‘nice-to-have’ features like ‘panoramic sunroof’ are up 31 percent.
You can also add virtual test drive videos to your strategy. With so many buyers conducting most of their research online, a compelling virtual test drive video can be just the push they need to take the car for a spin in person at your dealership. Even better, these videos tend to be longer, meaning your time on page and engagement rates can increase and help with SEO.
Of course, these are all ancillary benefits of the main purpose of investing in video, which is to get more prospects to visit your dealership and close more sales. Video is a surefire winner when it comes to automotive lead gen — Ipsos/Google reports that more than 60 percent of auto shoppers visited a dealership or dealer website after watching a video of a vehicle they were considering.
Adding video to your marketing strategy is certainly an investment of time and money, but the payoff can be substantial. Do your homework to see if it’s possible for your business, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Figuring out what to ask on your landing page’s web forms is no easy task. It’s important to gather enough information to qualify your leads, but you also need to keep them engaged. If your lead generation form is too long or complicated, there’s a good chance your website visitors will click away, costing you valuable prospects. It’s essential that your top-of-funnel contact forms include questions to help you qualify leads, while also keeping things concise and to the point.
But knowing what to ask on your contact forms without overwhelming your prospects can be a major challenge. If you’re feeling stuck, read on to learn about what you should be asking on your company’s lead capture forms.
1) What’s your first and last name?
Seems obvious, right? There are important benefits to asking your website visitors to share their full names with you: By asking for each lead’s full name, your marketing and sales team can learn far more about them than they could from a first name alone. When you have your prospects’ full names, your company can Google them or review their social media profiles to assess whether they are viable leads for your company.
Having a lead’s full name also gives you an edge in your email marketing, because it lets you easily personalize all messages you send to them from the very start. And sending personalized messages can give you a major edge over competitors that don’t personalize their messages. In fact, according to research by Campaign Monitor, personalized emails are 26 percent more likely to be opened than non-personalized ones, which can greatly benefit your email marketing campaigns down the road.
2) What’s your email address?
For your lead generation form to do its job, you absolutely need a way to get in contact with potential customers. At the very least, your form should ask your website visitors to enter their email addresses. Once you have a prospect’s email address, you can add them to lead nurturing email campaigns to engage them and encourage them to move down the marketing funnel and into the decision-making process. Email marketing campaigns are an incredibly effective and low-cost way to get your leads interested in what your company has to offer them.
3) What’s your company name and website URL?
Asking your audience to share their company name and website gives your sales team the opportunity to conduct valuable research into the organization. Knowing their company’s name makes it quick and easy for your team to find out what the company does, what they are struggling with, and whether you will be able to help them.
Learning this information at the start will help you determine whether they are promising leads for your company. It’s also a good idea to ask for each lead’s company website URL, which makes it that much easier to qualify them.
4) How many employees does your company have?
Along with knowing the name of the company where a prospect is employed, having a clear picture of how many employees work for that company is another valuable source of information when it comes to qualifying leads. Crucially, knowing the size of a company can give you an indication as to whether they can afford the services you offer.
For example, if you offer pricey cybersecurity software solutions, a small startup would not be your ideal prospect. On the other hand, if your lead is a large company with hundreds of employees, there’s a far greater chance that they will be viable prospects. By determining the number of employees, you can get a sense of whether a company is likely to have the budget for your services, which makes it far easier to decide whether to pursue a lead.
5) What’s your job title and industry?
A lead’s job title and industry are critical information for determining whether they’re a good fit for your company. If your aim is to target decision-makers in upper management, knowing a prospect’s job title upfront can help you ensure you are nurturing a sales-ready lead. (Communicating with the right person from the very start will save you a great deal of time in the long run.)
If your business has a specific area of expertise and buyer persona, knowing a lead’s industry will immediately indicate whether they are a promising prospect for your company. In turn, this information will also help you weed out leads that aren’t part of the industries in which your business specializes.
6) What is your biggest challenge?
It’s no secret that companies need to understand their customers’ pain points in order to effectively present a solution to their problems. Asking your leads about the biggest challenge they face can give you important insights into their pain points, and whether your company can help solve them.
Marketing software giant HubSpot asks prospects to identify their biggest marketing challenge on their forms to see whether a prospect is likely to benefit from their services — knowing a lead’s biggest challenge helps you to understand if they fit into the customer base you’re trying to reach, and your larger business strategy. Armed with this information, you can then determine whether it’s worth your while to spend the time to nurture them further down the sales funnel.
By including these six questions on your form, you can be confident you’re capturing essential lead data that will help you develop more effective and targeted marketing campaigns. Although lead capture forms look different for every business, these guidelines will help you ensure that you’re asking your audience the most relevant questions, no matter your industry. With these questions as a baseline, you’ll gain insights that will help you qualify and nurture better leads for your company not just for the next campaign, but for the long-haul.
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To gate or not to gate, that is the question — content, that is. The dilemma over gated content is near the top of the pack when it comes to the choices facing marketers today. Gated content has emerged in the past 10 years as a major method of lead capture and nurturing, but recent backlash has prompted some marketers to question their content strategy.
But is it really necessary to totally rethink your strategy? Sometimes, an old-fashioned list of pros and cons is helpful when making decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with gated content, so you can make the best decision for your marketing strategy.
What is gated content?
Think about a physical gate — in order to get inside the gate, you need a key (or perhaps a combination for a lock) to enter. The same theory applies to gated content, but rather than a key or a combination, information is what gives you access to what’s on the other side of the gate. In most cases, this will include your email address. Sometimes, it may also include your name, phone number, and other defining characteristics of you or your company.
Marketers use gated content in order to generate leads at the top of their funnel. For gated content to be successful, however, it needs to be valuable. In other words, it needs to be worth providing your information to get past the gate.
Generally, gated content is considered premium content. The value provided by your content should be so high, it’s worth it for the reader to give you access to their inbox. Common types of gated content can include:
- Email newsletters/subscriptions
- And more
Now that you have a high-level understanding of gated content, it’s time to break down those pros and cons.
The pros of gated content
The most obvious benefit of gated content is that, when well executed, it results in more leads. And what marketer doesn’t want more leads!
Companies like Hubspot, Marketo, and Eloqua have been using gated content for more than 10 years to build their brands and establish trust. Chances are you’ve even downloaded a piece (or 2, or 10) from these and other trusted sites over the years. Creating and leveraging your own gated content helps you become a trusted brand.
Gated content also allows you to:
With gated content, measuring the results of your marketing efforts is significantly easier than with other tactics.
Landing pages and forms protecting your gated content can be linked directly to your email marketing provider. When someone downloads your gated content, they can instantly be added to your email newsletter list, and/or be moved into an email workflow designed to nurture that lead.
Depending on the specific information you require for access to your gated content, you can paint a fairly thorough portrait of your leads. By asking for more than just contact info, you can enrich the data you collect with key identifying elements: Company name, first and last names, website domain, role, and more. This aids in segmentation, and allows you to deliver relevant follow-ups with pinpoint accuracy.
The cons of gated content
Gated content has been helping brands grow for over a decade, but marketing has also changed over the past decade. As we have evolved as marketers, some cons around gated content have emerged. When planning your next content marketing strategy, it’s critical to take the following concerns into account.
With the prevalence of gated content in recent years, backlash was inevitable. Many professionals today suffer from ‘inbox fatigue’ — they are becoming more discerning about what they allow in their inboxes, and are leery about sharing their email addresses (or other personal information) in order to download or access content.
Unfortunately, some content marketers use gated content to ‘trick’ prospects into providing their information. If your prospects don’t feel that the content delivered is worthy of the information they provided, it could harm your reputation and cost you that lead. It could also result in negative reviews for your brand. As with any type of content, but especially gated content, it’s critical to ensure your content is truly premium.
Learning more about — and ultimately accessing — gated content typically happens via a landing page. By design, landing pages are short, visually-rich pages that are designed specifically to convert. Unfortunately, these shorter pages tend to have less search engine value as a result. That means if you rely too heavily on gated content, your site may not rank for key terms.
Additionally, search engines are unable to crawl and index gated content. In essence, this renders your gated content fairly, well, useless from an SEO standpoint. Going a step further, your gated content will also fail to contribute to link equity on your site.
We’ve all seen content go viral on social media. Whether it’s professional content on LinkedIn or other types of content on Facebook or Instagram, sharing can have a tremendous impact on your brand. While your gated content is likely (and should be) amazing, it is less likely to go viral if someone needs to enter personal information in order to access it.
Does gated content makes sense for my business?
A theme throughout this piece merits additional mention: Focusing on quality first is the key to successful gated content. If your content is valuable enough, your prospects will happily share their information in order to access that content. However, today’s most successful marketers avoid focusing solely on gated content for their lead generation. Instead, they craft robust strategies that are centered around pillar content, topic clusters, and other high-quality un-gated content.
While you are likely crafting regular blog posts that offer value to your prospects at every stage of your marketing funnel, pillar content is different from a standard blog post. Rather than short (typically up to 2,000 words) content focusing on a highly specific subject, pillar content takes a ‘deep dive’ approach to a broad topic. We dive more into pillar content and topic clusters here. You can also see more specific examples of pillar content here, here and here.
Your traditional blog posts will explore specific subtopics of your pillar content. This approach is extremely SEO-friendly, offering value to and building trust with your prospects. When you take this approach to your content marketing, focusing first and foremost on value at every step of the buyer’s journey, your prospects will intuit that your gated content is really good. After all, if your un-gated content offers that much value to the reader, they can only imagine how much value your gated content will provide!
Additionally, technological advancements like Chatbots (which use AI to provide targeted, relevant answers to your prospects’ questions), and membership sites or members-only content (which puts a range of premium content in the hands and devices of your warmest prospects and most valued customer), can make a big difference in successfully executing your marketing strategy.
Implementing pillar content and other technologies alongside your gated content is more likely to result in better-quality leads who are more engaged with your brand. They are also more likely to be receptive to follow-up email workflows and calls to action.
This proven effectiveness of this strategy stems from the natural evolution of content marketing since those early days of gated content. With the right approach, you can take advantage of the traditional value inherent in gated content, leverage the best of today’s technology, and respect the needs and wants of today’s consumers to boot.
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential new customers and proactively reaching out to them with cold calls, emails, and social messaging in an effort to convert them into paying customers. For most businesses, this is typically done by representatives of the sales team.
Why businesses should use outbound marketing, not just inbound
Inbound marketing is a great way to drive sales-ready leads to contact your business, and then move through the sales funnel. Many of these leads reach out because they have a problem that your business can solve — whether that be through a product or service — but first, they must have a baseline level of awareness that you can help them.
Many potential customers are simply unaware of what you do, or are using a competitor that might not offer nearly as many benefits and solutions as your business. That said, if a customer is unaware that a better solutions exists, they won’t be driven to look for one. This is where outbound sales comes into play: Reaching out to perfect fit prospects who wouldn’t contact to you otherwise, and convincing on-the-fence leads to take the next step.
Prospects VS leads: What’s the difference?
Prospects are potential buyers that likely have a problem that your business can solve. They’ve probably had little to no interaction with your website, and have not shown that they’re actively in need of your services.
Leads are potential buyers that have shown interest in your solution by visiting your website, following you on social media, responding to messaging, or giving general signs that they’re in need of the solution you’re selling.
Prospects and leads are both potential customers, and likely require proactive outreach to convert into customers. A mixed approach of inbound marketing to drive leads and outbound marketing by prospecting to find new opportunities can help you increase revenue, shorten your sales cycle, and grow your customer base without solely relying on inbound marketing.
Prospecting tips: Where can I find prospects?
Sales prospects can be found a myriad of ways, some more effective than others depending on the buyer personas you’re focused on and what industry they’re in.
Google search is a great way to find businesses that could benefit from what your business has to offer. Using Google is free and easy, but it can also be rather time-consuming, and some of your work might end up being redundant. One rule of thumb: The more specific your search, the better your results.
LinkedIn can help you pointedly search for businesses that fit your ideal customer profile. An added benefit of Linkedin is that in addition to finding the business, you can find the individual prospect that best fits your ideal buyer persona. LinkedIn Premium is a paid version that while expensive, gives unlimited searches and the ability to get more flexible with social media outreach.
You might not realize it, but social media platforms like Twitter can be a powerful tool for sales reps when searching for your ideal customer. Look at the followers of the accounts of companies or individuals that are of interest to your prospects. Then, you can cross-reference these followers with your research on the other platforms mentioned in this article to find new prospects.
4) Industry-specific lead services
Depending on the industry in which your ideal customer works, you can likely find a service that provides a list of sales prospects based on your customer profile. While often pricey, you’ll save time prospecting by partnering with a service that specializes in the industry you’re targeting.
5) Credit-reporting services
If your customer base routinely pays for services that would indicate their scale and level of need, a credit reporting service can help you identify them to create a prospect list. For instance: If your ideal customers ship freight, you can find how much they pay transportation carriers monthly, and even search by spend in specific areas.
6) Sales intelligence tools
Your ideal customers are often using services or technologies related to what you offer. By making effective use of sales intelligence tools, you can find prospects who are a perfect fit for your services, like an unfinished puzzle just waiting for you to place the final piece.
7) Third-party user review sites
Reading competitor reviews can help you find prospects not happy with their current solution. Find a competitor, look at the 1-and 2-star reviews, and reach out to those unhappy clients. By acting quickly and coming in with a sales pitch that includes referrals and case studies, this outreach will typically turn into a successful sale.
In the age of digital marketing, the car-buying journey has evolved. Your dealership’s customers are no longer coming into your showroom before they’ve made up their mind about which vehicle to purchase. Instead, they’re doing the majority of their research (and decision-making) online, long before they enter your dealership.
New competitors, the rise of the internet, and shrinking profit margins are making it harder for your dealership to compete. But don’t worry, we’re here to help: Here are five key statistics — along with actionable next steps to take — that can help you boost your digital lead strategy.
1) 92% of car buyers research online before they buy
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of car buyers conduct research online before they buy. The plethora of information available online means your dealership has to work even harder to cut through the noise, and spark impactful engagements with potential customers. Long before they contact you, car buyers are researching their next purchase through video, third-party websites, and their own social networks.
Action step: Invest in your online marketing and lead tracking to make sure you are reaching as many customers as possible. Tactics like paid search, display ads, social media marketing, call tracking, and web optimization should all be considered for your integrated marketing plan.
2) Your service department accounts for almost half of gross sales
Dealers are feeling the pinch as profit margins continue to shrink on new vehicle sales. The average dealership’s take is just 2 percent of a vehicle’s list price. (Or, a mere $400 for a $20,000 car sale.) This makes the revenue you earn from your parts, services, and body shop even more important to your business.
Action step: With dwindling margins, dealerships need to make sure they are dialed in and meeting needs around staffing, customer outreach, and fixed-ops. Your team should be proactively scheduling routine maintenance appointments, upselling customers with warranty extensions, and making regular service calls.
3) 59% of car buyers are not contacted post-purchase
A reported 59 percent of consumers say they were never contacted by their dealership after purchasing their vehicle, and that’s a major missed opportunity for dealerships. A significant amount of your dealership’s revenue comes from customer loyalty (repeat customers) and fixed ops. In other words, not reaching out to customers after they’ve purchased a car from your dealership means you’re leaving revenue on the table.
Action step: Make sure you follow up with your customers post-purchase. You can email or call them to schedule maintenance and service appointments, check in on how they are enjoying their car, and of course, follow up with new promotions and any specials you have.
4) Nearly 2 in 3 potential car buyers are considering a used vehicle
Higher auto loan financing rates, combined with a higher price point for new cars, means that nearly 2 out of 3 car buyers are leaning towards purchasing a used vehicle instead of a new one in 2019.
Action step: Don’t just run digital campaigns for the new vehicles on your lot — take the time to target your marketing towards prospects that are on the hunt for used cars as well. By creating digital campaigns that reach out to potential used car buyers, you’re guaranteed to win more business.
5) Only 1 in 3 potential car buyers know the exact vehicle they want to purchase
A 2018 study by Cox Automotive discovered that 2 out of 3 car buyers don’t know what car they want before beginning their car buying journey. With such a high percentage of prospects being undecided, it’s critical that your digital campaigns reach and influence them during the ‘awareness’ and ‘research’ stages of their buyer’s journey.
Most new car buyers start their search on a third-party site before moving to your dealership site. In order to effectively capture their interest and turn them into a lead (and then a sale), it’s important to try to reach them on these increasingly important third-party research sites.
Action step: Set aside a budget to market your dealership on third-party sites so you can capture your prospects’ interest while they are in the awareness and consideration phase — before they have moved into their final decision phase. Key third-party players include Auto Trader, Kelly Blue Book, Cars.com and CarFax.
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We all know that Google Analytics (GA) is the data analytics tool most commonly used to analyze marketing performance and guide overall strategy. And there’s a reason it’s such a popular tool: The data you get is invaluable.
But when it comes to improving user experience, looking at data from GA doesn’t tell the full story. It’s like reading a box score from the World Series and trying to tell someone what happened during the game — you have all the data, but none of the context. With that in mind, let’s explore how you can take the data you get from GA and start putting it to work to improve user engagement today.
This is a guest post by Ben Hicks, the director of SEO at Pilot Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based agency.
Part One: Start with quantitative (GA is your engagement compass)
You shouldn’t rely on GA to analyze engagement metrics, but it is a great compass to point you in the right direction. We recommend using GA as a tool to identify areas of the website to explore further, including:
- Poorly performing channels
- Landing pages with a high bounce rate or low conversion rate
- Devices or browsers with metrics worse than your site average
Learning from your call tracking data
Set up event-based tracking so when someone makes a phone call, Google Analytics pulls in the active page path. This data will help in two ways:
- Understand what pages are driving conversions
- Understand which pages drive calls to customer service
How to gather qualitative data from session recordings and heatmaps
Now that you’ve identified problem areas using Google Analytics, let’s use qualitative data to learn what’s happening. Now is when we lean on ‘heatmap’ tools such as Hotjar and FullStory to find data that tells a story of how users are engaging with your website.
Heatmaps are a great tool to aggregate user behavior and audience engagement on your website, and then use the data to improve UX. There are three popular types of heatmaps, all with their own use-case:
- Scroll maps: These show the average fold and how far users scroll down that page. Scroll maps are great at showing what content is seen by most users, and where you’re losing their attention.
- Click maps: A quick and easy way to see what users are clicking on. One obvious benefit of click maps is seeing which menu items are most popular, or which CTAs do (and don’t) get clicked on. Another use for click maps is to identify rage clicks, or clicks on elements that aren’t clickable. These are often confusing UX elements that should be fixed once you’ve identified them.
- Movement maps: These track areas of your pages that users hover over with their mouse, making them a quick and easy way to identify where users focus their attention. Movement maps can reveal CTAs that are being ignored, or sections of the website that are unimportant but receiving outsized attention.
Watching session recordings to get the story behind the numbers
Watching playback sessions of on your website is like flipping on the lights in a dark room — you can see everything. It’s rare to sit down to watch session recordings for the first time and not see something that surprises you.
Session recordings will help you:
- Diagnose poorly performing landing pages
- Understand why users are abandoning the funnel
- Identify rage clicks and other obstacles that may be frustrating users
- Find bugs that otherwise may have continued for months
Rather than watching hundreds of sessions, use the data you’ve gathered to create a segment of target users. A segment will filter recordings of a certain page, funnel, activity, channel or device. Targeting your replays with segments will help draw out better insights.
Part Two: Improve user engagement with these four tools
Tool 1 — Using data to drive experimentation
Once you’ve spent time identifying obstacles, it’s time to put your hypotheses to the test. Experimentation is the best way to test new experiences, marketing copy, and designs to steadily improve your website — think of it as a way to test and filter out bad ideas.
Using testing tools like Google Optimize, Optimizely, VWO, will help your website:
- Convert a higher percentage of users (conversion rate optimization)
- Improve website users engagement rate with landing pages and blog posts
- Increase the impact of email newsletters, chats, and popups
Improving your conversion rate will have a larger impact on your business than growing your target audience will. Doubling traffic is impressive, but how much as spend will it take? Doubling your conversion rate will double your revenue, while keeping your ad spend flat. It also has the positive side effect of improving your user experience, sales, and business processes.
We could dedicate an entire post to the benefits of CRO. But for now, just imagine what doubling you or your clients’ revenue could do for your business.
Tool 2 — Pairing QA with your experimentation process
You’re sold on the idea of experimentation, so now you need to figure out how to connect the dots and put your data to work. But before you start any tests, take time to pore over your data in GA, Hotjar, Fullstory, and any other tools.
Create a list of your underperforming initiatives or channels, and then establish a hypothesis about why each is coming up short, along with the type of test you’d like to run. (We strongly recommend you keep a record of all your ideas, tests, and test results in a spreadsheet — this will help keep your process organized and methodical.)
Tool 3 — Using chat to provide better customer service
Chat is a powerful tool to improve engagement and help users. Be wary of too much automation, though — according to research by Forrester, consumers are revolting against chatbot experiences that aren’t backed up by live customer service.
62 percent of users on mobile devices expect live chat to be available on websites to help them during their session. As more users lean on chat as a support channel, it becomes a necessity to improve customer service. Chat can improve customer service by:
- Helping users find the product or information they’re looking for
- Providing more personalized service than a traditional ticket-based system
- Enabling easy bug reporting that helps both users and your website
- Sending a message to let people know someone is there if they need help
- Sending product recommendations to help users find related products and boost order values
Pro tip: Chat transcripts can be a gold mine when it comes to identifying stumbling blocks in the user experience. For example, if you see the same question or inquiry from multiple users, you’ll know you need to make that information easier to find.
Tool 4 — Popups & Interstitials (Building long-term engagement via targeted content)
There’s a reason you see so many popups while navigating the Internet: They work. There is, of course, a fine line between annoying your users and introducing them to relevant offers and content they’ll find useful.
Popups work so well because they can:
- Drive subscribers at a much higher rate than passive embedded newsletter subscription forms
- Easily be A/B tested to improve interactions rates
- Target users based time on page/site, scroll depth, URL, geography, exit intent, and more options.
Popups are effective at promoting gated content when used alongside free content. If a user is reading an article about call tracking, a targeted popup promoting a related white paper the best method to get more sign ups.
Part Three: Commit to your plan
Continuous growth and change are the only sure things in digital marketing — your business should be constantly striving to optimize your site, boost engagement, and improve the overall customer experience. Improving your conversion rate and UX is good for business, but these plans take time, effort, and a long-term commitment.
Your company (or client) will need to frame the work as a new way of doing business, rather than a quick win. But with the right mindset and a data-driven approach, better user engagement and more revenue will naturally follow.
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