Break on through to the other side: 3 reasons why marketers need to think beyond the click

Recently, Sean Callahan published a terrific article on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog titled: B2B Beat: Reach Prospects While You Sleep With Always-On Marketing. In his post, Callahan makes a compelling case for “always-on” as the natural evolution of marketing.

As Callahan writes, always-on marketing isn’t a new concept. It started with the corporate website that allowed prospects to access content from anywhere at any time of the day or night. We forget how revolutionary this was back in the day: Rather than be constrained by regular business hours, prospects could interact with an organization’s web content and “self-educate” according to their own preferences and timeline.

Today, always-on marketing encompasses all channels from paid search and SEO to email, social media, display and online advertising, but the basic premise is the same: Marketers need to nurture prospective customers wherever and whenever they’re ready to engage. This means empowering busy prospects to engage with your content on their schedule, not yours.

Always-on marketing and omni-channel go together like PB&J or Kim and Kanye. With omni-channel, you’re basically serving “doors” for prospects to walk through wherever and whenever they’re ready. But what happens next? How do you convert your buyer’s fleeting moment of interest into real engagement by taking them on a journey through your content? To help you do more with the moment, here are 3 things you need to consider about doors and content journeys.

1. Is your omni-channel strategy content-optimized, or what’s behind door number 3?
Let’s say you’re “all in” with omni-channel. You’re spending a lot of time, effort and money to serve all those different doors – paid search, social, online ads, etc. Wherever your prospect happens to be online, you’re there too. And because you can’t always tell at what stage your prospect is along their path to purchase, you’re waiting with a big smile to hold open the door whenever he or she is ready to walk through.

Instead of putting your prospect on the receiving end of the classic standard-issue weekly email nurture campaign that, let’s face it, probably arrives in his or her inbox at the worst time, you’re putting your prospects in the driver’s seat. You’re letting them choose the channels they prefer and empowering them to engage at their own pace.

Now you’re probably waiting for the “but,” so here it is: But what about the content experience you’re serving up on the other side of the door? Are you satisfied with how your prospects are engaging with your content? I’m talking about the stuff you really need them to read and watch to get up to speed on your product or service.

If you’re not quite sure how to answer that question, you’re not alone. The Economist Group surveyed 500 global business execs and 500 global marketers, and found that 40% feel they aren’t getting sufficient ROI for their content and 33% don’t feel they even have sufficient metrics to measure content ROI.

This is a big problem because your nurturing needs to spur profitable customer action, and unless you can educate and inform your prospects by getting them to read your stuff, they’ll stay prospects and never buy. Here’s a stat that keeps many a marketer up at night: According to SiriusDecisions, 94% of marketing qualified leads never close. This is because marketers haven’t done enough to get their prospects to engage with their content.

2. Shouldn’t every click be the start of a journey?
Consider the content journey on the destination side of the click: You know that you need your prospects to make their way though a lot of content before they’re sales-ready. Studies show that a person consumes as much as 10 pieces of content* before a purchasing decision is made (and there can be many different people involved in a purchase).

To nurture effectively, marketers need to stop serving up single pieces of content per hard-won click and think in terms of guiding their prospects along a content journey. It’s about orchestrating a meaningful and relevant content experience on the destination side of the click (or door) with these goals in mind:

  • Increase engagement with your content wherever and whenever someone starts their buying journey
  • Tell a consistent story across multiple mediums and channels
  • Deliver “always-on” content in a way that allows busy prospects to move through multiple content assets at their own pace – engaged prospects will consume a lot of content in a short period of time if you let them
  • Serve a personalized content experience based on what you know about the individual and their behavior

It’s tough to get someone in the door. We’ve entered a new era of content engagement in which attention is a rare commodity and clicks are really hard to come by – that’s why most marketers are so pre-occupied with them. But the click is wasted if it doesn’t start your prospect down the road to consuming more of your content in the moment when they are most engaged. This is why marketers need to think beyond the click. As any retailer will tell you, there’s a big difference between someone walking though the door and actually buying something.

3. Does your content strategy need some retail therapy?
Take a sec to think about the best retail customer service you’ve ever experienced. I’m talking about that all-too-rare type of knowledgeable and friendly salesperson who isn’t pushy in the least, but seems to have ESP when it comes to anticipating your every question and need.

For marketers in the digital realm, your content has to stand in for this kind of stellar customer service. This is true because so much of the buyer’s journey happens before a prospect ever gets in touch with one of your sales reps. Too often marketers focus on serving doors, not people. They forget that they need to deliver an amazing experience.

Sure, you need to produce great content, but you also need to think about how it’s packaged and when and where it’s delivered. What you don’t want is for your content to deliver that typical lackluster retail experience: You walk through the door and the salesperson is nowhere to be seen or quickly reveals that they know less about their products than you do. Prospects today do their homework, so the content journey you take them on better be relevant, engaging and tell them something they didn’t already know.

Want to build a breakthrough nurture program?
For tips on how to build a next generation “always-on” nurturing program and take your nurturing from okay to awesome, check out our lead nurturing checklist.

* Source: Google “Zero Moment of Truth” Study