7 - Grow Live - Conversion Funnels & Database Segmentation.jpg

 

Are you tired of lackluster conversion rates?

Are you ready to step up your marketing game? To do that you need to spend some time analyzing data so you can better understand the behaviors of your potential customers. Don’t worry, it sounds scarier than what it is.

Check out this week’s Grow Live with Safety Marketing Services as Renia Carsillo and Will Polliard share a few best practices for getting the most out of your marketing strategy.

Watch, listen or read now and learn more about:

  • How to prune your databases and lists for better lead conversion
  • When to use automation and when to write a handwritten note
  • The importance of delivery, open and click through rates
  • How you can turn abandoned carts into sales
  • Gauging marketing performance by tracking links with a URL shortener

 “Someone has to see something 5-7x before they take action,”—Renia Carsillo, Director of Digital Marketing

Building relationships and earning trust takes time. But, you can speed up the process simply by analyzing a few metrics. If you want tips on how to move people further down the buyers’ journey, you won’t want to miss this. 

Check out this week’s Grow Live Show to listen in as our marketing nerds spill the beans on improving your lead conversion.  

 

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Click here to listen to the audio-only version of the show on your favorite podcast app.  

 

Read the Grow Live transcript...

Renia:

Buddy, we are back. It is Wednesday, and we survived the hurricane. Hurricane Irma is gone and thank goodness for that. If you were affected by Hurricane Irma, we wish you all the best. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and please let us know if there's anything we can do to help you.

 

But we are back, and ready to talk about marketing again, instead of hurricane prep, right?

Will:

Hopefully. Super excited.

Renia:

Yeah. So you guys may remember Will, my co-marketing nerd, from "The Battle of Sales and Marketing". So we're welcoming back Will. If you didn't see that episode, Will is a senior marketing manager here at SMS. And Matt is out this week, taking a little vacation I hear.

Will:

Yeah, I heard he was just so excited about the iPhone X, that he's just flying out to Apple and waiting in line.

Renia:

I don't know about that thousand dollar iPhone. I don't know. I don't know if I can do it. Yeah.

 

So Will's back with us today, and we are gonna get super nerdy today. We're gonna talk to you about conversion funnels, and how segmenting your lists and your database, can make your conversion funnels really effective.

 

So this is super nerdy stuff. Here's our warning. There is nothing fancy or nobody is gonna cheer for you, or do cartwheels when you go to set this up. It's not like, "Look at this cool spreadsheet!" Right?

Will:

Yeah, no one actually sees what you're doing. It's just kind of behind the scenes, but makes everything a lot better.

Renia:

Yeah, so the thing about that is, is it makes everything a lot better. It's also something that you can totally do, and start looking like a ninja, because people won't understand exactly what happened, typically, but your results will really sky rocket pretty quickly, and you can totally do almost everything we're going to talk about today, within the next week.

Will:

Yeah, and it's nothing where you have to learn all these skills, learn how to program or graphic design or anything like that. It's literally just sitting down and doing a little bit of critical thinking, and just going ahead and planning things out, and then just executing on it.

Renia:

Super cool.

Will:

Yeah, actionable stuff.

Renia:

Alright, so before we dig down into the super nerdy stuff, and start talking about the spreadsheets and all that, I just want to take a step back to really simple. And Will, can you explain to our audience out there, what a conversion funnel is, to start out?

Will:

Yeah, so, probably a good way to put it would be, if you're blogging, and you're putting out content, and you're driving visitors to your website, what are you doing at that point? So, once people are getting to your website, do they know which next steps to take to become [leader 00:02:50] customer? So, a conversion funnel, or conversion path, is you're really outlining that for them. So, someone comes to the site, they're reading a blog, a lot of times we'll have a pop up or a CTA, or something like that. It's kind of like, okay, now you're read this info, here's that next step. That's part of the funnel. Take this next step, and then once they take that next step, then you kind of have all those other things that would be valuable for them, lined up, and so they always just know the next step to take, and eventually convert and close into a customer.

Renia:

So, they don't have to figure out what they're supposed to do. You're kind of offering it up to them, like a nice snack.

Will:

Yeah, exactly. It's like if you're on a hiking trail or something, maybe think of it. Or it's like, you don't just go on the mountain, and walk down a random trail, and get lost. There's signs that tell you where to go, and maybe that's a good way to think of a conversion funnel, or conversion path.

Renia:

I like it. So, there's a reason why we call them paths, right? It's like hiking.

Will:

Exactly.

Renia:

Light bulbs! So, a conversion path is how someone goes through your site, from not knowing who you are, to becoming a customer. How does database and list segmentation fit in with the conversion funnel? What is that and why does it matter in this conversation?

Will:

In a lot of digital marketing, we try to automate things. And we don't just automate things to automate things, we automate things that we would do as a person, but at scale, you can't really keep up to speed. So, what I'm trying to get at there is, it makes sense if you came to our site, and say you downloaded something, and you were interested in maybe trade show marketing. It wouldn't make sense for me to then send you things about graphic design or catalog production, or something like that, whereas, by segmenting the list and keeping everything super personalized and targeted, then I can easily send you things related to trade shows and things you might be interested in. So, it really just keeps everything highly focused and targeted for the end user.

Renia:

So, your conversion paths, or your conversion funnels, are really relevant to that individual person. So you could have lots of different paths, depending on the way your list was segmented.

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. Definitely.

Renia:

Awesome.

Will:

So, yeah. I agree with that, and then also, it's not like one of these things where you kind of set it and forget it. People may interact with your site, two, three, five, 10, 15 times, and through proper segmentation, you can kind of analyze that behavior, and then tailor the experience as they interact more with your brand. So, maybe perhaps you first ... you download something about trade show marketing, and then I'm sending you resources about trade show marketing, kind of taking you down that path, and then next thing you know, maybe you're viewing some other content about something else, and then that would trigger that, "Hey, Renia's interested in this other subject. Let's tailor what we're sending her and send her some more info about that as well."

Renia:

So, all of that is happening based on what?

Will:

What do you mean, like website behavior?

Renia:

Yeah. All of that's not like me, as a marketing manager, sitting, watching them do this, right? Is there something that makes all this happen?

Will:

Yeah, I think you're getting at setting up lists through the CNS, like HubSpot, or one of the other tools people use, that kind of like monitor these behaviors, and then we can go in and periodically check and set up automation, based on what people do.

Renia:

Yeah, so when we talk about conversion paths, and conversion funnels, those are something that happen in the front side of your marketing efforts primarily. So they happen on social media networks, on your website itself, maybe even in traditional media, like trade shows or print or things like that. They happen with your sales team. They're all front client facing things that happen, versus the segmentation of your lists, that's all behind the scene stuff, that you're doing in big spreadsheets or in your email client tool, or in your ...

Will:

CMS.

Renia:

... CMS. Yeah, stuff like that. So, there's a little bit of two different components here today. And the reason why I really wanted Will to talk to you about both of them, is 'cause they really fit together. What I've seen out there, and you tell me if you've seen different, is one of the reasons why these conversion paths get, or the funnels or the paths get leaky, and people veer off in the wrong direction, or they fall off entirely and get lost in the woods, if we're going to stick with that analogy ...

Will:

I like it.

Renia:

Yeah. Is because they're not really set up for that particular type of person, or what they're doing, or what their behaviors are. There's just one global path set up for anybody. Right?

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. I agree 100% with that.

Renia:

Yeah, so, what have you seen? Could you give us an example of maybe a customer or something in the past, that you've seen have just one, "Hey, this is what you do, no matter who you are on the website." And how setting up a specific path or segmenting out their list, really created some new success for them.

Will:

Yeah, definitely. So one thing that I see, that's quite common, is a lot of the clients that we work with have downloadable resources on their website, that are gated behind a form. So, generally what ... I see a lot that tends to be ineffective, is basically you have your landing page set up with this downloadable resource, the user comes to the site, downloads the resource. They usually get some sort of thank you message, and then, at some point, they get a kind of a sequence, like a three to five email sequence based off that specific offer. And then it kind of just dies off, whereas I think something that's much more effective, a good way to fix that, is maybe they download the resource, so they get like a three to five email sequence based off those specific resources for the ebook that they downloaded on, but, at that point, then we look at them, and try to fit them into our persona bucket.

 

So looking at their job title, maybe some website behavior, some of these different things to gauge their interest as a whole, not just based off that one thing, and then put them into some email automation that's specific to other pain points that they have, and that tends to be a lot more effective. So, looking at things a lot more holistically, instead of just being very narrow minded, is super helpful.

Renia:

Yeah, I can totally see that. So, in our space, one of the things that we see a lot, is we work with a lot of industrial distributors, and industrial suppliers. And their pain points are ... some of them similar, but a lot of them are really different. When you're the distributor, kind of the middle man between the person making the product, and the person buying the product, what's going to cause you pain is little bit different than if you're making the product, right?

Will:

Yeah, absolutely.

Renia:

So, if we're treating them exactly the same ...

Will:

Yeah, everything has to be specific to ... everything has to have a goal or like a purpose of why you're creating something. That should be dictated up front. What problem are we solving here? Then, once you have that information, then you just kind of reverse engineer the solutions to it, and give people useful information to solve the problem. And that's really it.

Renia:

Yeah, I want to really say to you, because I think a lot of our marketing managers out there, if you're working with an industrial supplier or you're a marketing a manger for a company that makes gloves or something like that, so you are probably going to have a blog, 'cause you're a smart marketing manager. You know that blogging is important. And you're probably going to have a Facebook page and things like that. But, have you really sat down and thought about how someone moves between those things, because what we see a lot of is, even the very simplest thing, like a blog, where you have all this wonderful information, but there's no real, "What do we do next?", right?

Will:

Yeah, nothing that really ties it together. That's important. And honestly, like we said at the beginning, it's simple in a way. It takes some critical thinking, but you can literally map it out on a whiteboard or a notebook, or something like that. Just create that path, and then you just have to go through and create the resources to tie everything together. But it's simple, it just takes some thought.

Renia:

So, let's lay that out, because I know, for us, we'll say it's simple, because it's something that we do all the time. But if you are a marketing manager that's never really gone down that path, maybe you've been writing blogs every week, or you're posting on Facebook religiously, but you're not really thinking about the whole, long funnel, what would be the steps that I would need to take in order to lay that out for my company, or maybe even just one product that my company sells, or one type of persona?

Will:

So, in my opinion, I think let's kind of just reverse engineer what you want to happen. So, you have this product you want to sell, and you're creating content to try and sell that product, so obviously your end goal is to get someone to convert, whether it's on your, hopefully, it's on your website, through e-commerce, or if it's something they have to call a sales person, or something like. That's kind of your end goal, is to get someone to purchase this product. So, whatever means that is, there we go, that's what we want people to do, and then kind of just take steps backward from there. And think of it almost like ... I think you guys may have said this before on the show, like a relationship. Once someone comes to the site, and you meet someone, you're meeting someone on your website, you don't just try to go in for the close instantaneously. So we have to gradually get that point.

 

So, someone comes, and views some resources, and we capture their information, so there's gonna be a period of time where we initially give them more valuable information, try to really understand and build out their profile, really, and understand their problems, and kind of who they are, and how we can fit our solution to theirs. And then I think it's proper, at that point, you can start to trickle in some information, to let them learn about your company a little bit, after you've helped them out quite a bit.

 

And then, at that point, based on the engagement that you received from the user, you got to sell eventually. So, somewhere at that point, there's some ambiguity, and it's going to be specific to your business, but you gotta just go in for the sale. So yeah, I would say kind of reversing it backward. You just get their information, help them, give them value, and kind of nurture that relationship and build trust, and then, at that point, give them a little bit of information about your company, and then go in for the sale.

Renia:

That's really helpful. I really like the idea of working backwards, and really working backwards in little steps, because I think we're less likely to miss things if we go backwards, than trying to go forward. And the reality is, that most of us, if we haven't thought this through, are going in and expecting to go from a Facebook post to a sale. It's one of those very common things that we see, is a Facebook ad that links directly to a product page-

Will:

Which sometimes works.

Renia:

Yeah, sometimes.

Will:

Yeah, there's retargeting, which, if you're a marketing manager, and you're an industrial distributor, selling products online, trying to drive revenue through your website, yeah, I think retargeting's awesome. So, Facebook actually has the option, it's called dynamic product retargeting, or something, dynamic retargeting ads. And basically, what it is, is you go ahead and you import a feed of all your products into Facebook, and then install Facebook's tracking code across your website, and a couple of other snippets of code. So, once someone comes to your site, and say they view a 50 pack of gloves, and they get to checkout, and they never quite actually put in their credit card information in checkout, and they abandon the cart, what Facebook will then do, is retarget them with the product ads in their feed, and try and get them to come back and close, which is actually a super effective way. There's a lot of success to be had there.

 

That's not ... going from Facebook to a sale, there's a time and a place, but what we're talking about there, you've kind of already ... they've had the intent, and you've already built the trust to where they're at that point, so it makes sense to do that.

Renia:

Right. And they key is, you typically will use something like that when they've put the product in their cart. Even just a couple of years ago, we used to use a lot of ads to just straight to a landing page, buy my product. And it used to work really well, but consumers are getting more and more savvy. They know what you're doing.

Will:

And there's just so many things out there too.

Renia:

Yeah, there's so many things. So, we really want to think on a granular level, like how many times does it take. So, if you're selling a less than a couple of hundred dollars item, maybe it's vests or gloves or something like that, you may be able to do quick, especially e-commerce sales, but if you're selling products that are, I would say more than a thousand dollars, typically, you're probably going to have to take a number of steps in that path, before you're going to be able to close that deal.

Will:

Yeah, or even if it's maybe a cheaper product, but you're committing for a longer time period as well. It's all specific to your business. You have to kind of think these things through a little bit, but with a little thought and planning, it's something you can definitely figure out.

 

One of the things I want to talk about too, you brought up when you were talking about going from Facebook right to a sale, kind of the same thing. We were talking about emails a little bit and things like that. If you're a marketing manager, and you might have an assistant, or you're just running the show, like in an industrial distribution company, five emails might not necessarily close someone. It could takes someone a couple of months, and maybe because they don't bite right away, it doesn't mean that they're necessarily a bad lead. So, you were talking about everything being gradual and baby steps, and I was talking about nurturing the relationship. Sometimes it can take ... it might take 10 emails, or 10 touch points, to really get someone to that point where they're ready to close.

 

So, I think patience is key. And honestly, just doing, like we're talking about today, this stuff's not pretty, but it's the hard work, and the hard work pays off. So, just keep that in mind.

Renia:

So that's a really good point. I really like that, because I want all of you, that manage an email list of some sort, so if your job is to, in any capacity, send out emails marketing for your company, I want you to fall in love with a couple of statistics on those emails. One of them is your delivery rate, right?

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. That's key.

Renia:

Because we see a lot of people who have been in this arena and in industrial marketing for a long time, with lists that seem really, really big, and they're really excited about those really, really big lists, but when you actually look at how many people on that list are getting their emails, it's pretty small. And that's probably, a lot of the times, because they're not sending the right kind of emails, or they're not segmented properly, so their engagement rates go down. And, without getting too in the weeds about it, email services work sort of like Google now, right?

Will:

Yeah, I mean, it hurts you. If you're sending emails to people who haven't heard from your ... because you haven't done your diligence to keep your list clean, that's actually gonna ding you, and your emails are going to get sent to spam, and the more they get sent to spam, eventually they're gonna get blocked. We could talk about that for about another 30 minutes, but you don't want that to happen. So, it's best to just do your preventative maintenance, and kind of like ... if you haven't already, if you're not keeping up on your lists, then keeping it clean and pruning it, go ahead and craft up an email, send it out to everybody, and then go ahead look at your engagement at that point and clean out the people who you may have some bounces obviously, or some unsubscribes, and things like that. Super important.

Renia:

Yeah, so what I want you to think about with that list delivery, is ... let's go back to our analogy of a path. We're hiking on a trail. I love to go hiking, and there are two types of hiking trails. There are the really easy ones that everybody goes, that the runners are out doing their jogging on, and they're kept clear all the time, a little bit of pruning, but mostly just from use. They're always clear. And then there are the best trails, which are rocky and there's stuff in the way, stuff you have to jump over. Maybe not rattlesnakes.

Will:

Okay, good.

Renia:

Those are my favorite kind of trails, that are less traveled, but they're messy. They need to be cleaned up, or you've got to work around things. So, if your deliverability rate on this big email list is great, like 98% or higher ... Do you like that number?

Will:

Yeah, that's a great number.

Renia:

So 98% or higher, you're probably on one of those pretty good trails, and you can start to look at other numbers. But if your delivery rate is less than 98%, you've stepped off into a path that's not so clear, and it's time to start pruning. So, what are some of the things that you can do to start pruning and pulling that list apart, so you can figure out what those paths are? I got down another direction. You notice I like took a fork in the road.

Will:

We've gotten a little direction. We're still talking about delivery rate. We have some other metrics we need to get to. Okay, so for that, I did mention, if you haven't connected with your database in a long time, you can go and create ... maybe you have a new product coming out, or some new news at the company, or something. There's got to be something valuable that's going on with your company, that you can reach out to your database about. So you can go ahead and send that email out to everybody, and then check your metrics after that, and look for things like bounces, which, a lot of times, if you're using most of the services that everyone uses today, if an email is previously bounced, they won't send it away, but it's still important to look at that, in case you're using something where they might not, automatically not send it.

 

So, check for your bounces. Check for people who may have not opened the email. I'm trying to think of something else. I know there's something else. I kind of went blank for a second. Yeah, basically just check ... look at what you're reporting after the fact, and go ahead and get rid of the people who didn't engage. And then, I think once you have your people who already are engaged, you need to try and gather some more information about them, and put them into the segments, or these buckets that we're talking about. So, whether that is based on your company, you can segment them based on location, based on job title, a combination of many factors, and bucket them into persona segments, there's a ton of different things that you can do, and it's gonna be specific to your business, but I would say get as specific as possible. And I really think, if you have personas developed, and if you don't know what that is, it's basically your target audience segments, if you have those developed, that's a really good way to segment people out. And then also based on intent and their buyer's journey.

 

So, if you engage with someone, and you send out this email, and they go ahead and click through, and they look at 15 pages on your website, and maybe they look at pricing for some different products or services, maybe visit the about us page and stuff like that, that's a high intent ... it's very likely that they're a qualified lead and could eventually become a customer. So you would want to put those people in a specific list as well, where you can either do some one on one email, or have sales give them a call, or whatever you decide to do at that point. But I think really doing those things would definitely help you clean up those lists.

Renia:

Yeah, it really does. So if you're using any type of email workflows already, if you're using a tool like HubSpot, which we really like, or even if you're using, I don't know, some other medium ...

Will:

Constant Contact.

Renia:

Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, anything like that, at the end of my paths, I always have kind of a fork in the road, where someone is either clicking on things, and moving through, or I have a dead list. And I'll take that dead list every couple of months, usually about once a quarter, and run a re-engagement campaign with them. So it's like three to five emails, to say, "We're going to take you off of our list unless you click on this." And I pretty much will say it up front, "If you don't click on this, you're not interested. I'm going to take you off my list." And then, at the end of that, whoever has not clicked on something, we actually take them off, and it makes the list smaller. And that is actually a good thing, right?

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. Hulu, the streaming company, it's kind of like Netflix, they actually do that. So, they're a little angry with me, because I haven't engaged with emails in a while and yeah ... not really ... Hulu's not my thing, but they do that. I think I reached that fork in the road with them, and they're trying to do this re-engagement campaign with me, actually, right now, where they're pushing a two week free promo. Sign up for the service and you get two weeks free. Sorry Hulu, I haven't responded, but that's just an example of kind of trying to get that re-engagement, before you go ahead and clear them off the list.

Renia:

Awesome. I like it. So, once you've looked at that deliverability rate, what's the next thing you think they should look at?

Will:

Open rate.

Renia:

Open rate!

Will:

Don't you agree?

Renia:

Yeah, so, we really want to look at our open rate and, Will, tell them, because remember I said 98% un-deliverability rate? Open rate, it's totally the opposite. What's a good open rate.

Will:

Yeah, 25%, in my opinion, that's a good open rate. If you're above 20, good, be happy. Once you start to get in that 15-20%, it's like, "Okay, this is like a C in school. Okay, I really have some work to do." That 15 to 20 is like that, and below 15, you have to do some triage, and get things figured out.

Renia:

So, I know if you Google a lot, or you read a lot of the talking heads, there will be all kinds of fighting about open rate, and what it really means, and stuff like that. But I think that 20-25%, that's really a sweet spot for most people to set as their goal. I know some people who are really powered, their business is really powered by their email list, that they're not happy if it goes below 35. But I don't think that's a realistic place to start, right?

Will:

Yeah. If you get to that point, that's fantastic, but if you shoot for that 25%, that's attainable for most companies, and that's a good spot to be.

Renia:

I'm going to say it's probably not attainable without list segmentation though.

Will:

Oh yeah, absolutely. That's true.

Renia:

In order to get to that 25% open rate, unless your email list is really small, and you only have like 500 people on it right now, which is a great starting point, you should still start segmenting now, 'cause it's way easier when it's small.

Will:

Yes.

Renia:

Than later, to go back and do it. But, segmenting out that list is the only way that you're going to get there.

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. And if anyone wants to go a little deeper in open rates, there's actually a really good resource that they update frequently, at least annually, I think, MailChimp puts it out. It's like if you type in "MailChimp open rates by industry" into Google, usually the first result, "MailChimp go ahead", they get a ton of email data from companies of all different industry, and they actually have stats based on industry, so if you're a supplier, you can kind of look at manufacturing, what's the industry standard, and then they have retail and some of these other things. It's kind of just fascinating and interesting to look at, and see how it varies.

Renia:

Yeah, whether or not you use MailChimp as an email service, they really do put out some really great information about how to optimize your email. And fun fact, if you catch them at just the right time ... I'm on their email list because I collect Freddies.

Will:

Is that the little chimp, little monkey?

Renia:

That's the little monkey, but you have to be ... they have 500 of them or a thousand of them, or whatever, and you have to get in there and get signed up for it, but they'll send them to you for free. I have like six of them lined up. Like when Reply All, do you listen to Reply All?

Will:

I've seen it, but I'm [crosstalk 00:29:37]

Renia:

It's this podcast by Gimlet, when they did the Reply All Freddie, I had to have a Reply All Freddie.

Will:

That's awesome.

Renia:

So yeah, MailChimp's resources are really, really good. So the last thing that I want you to look at on those emails, is click through. And actually, this is actually probably the metric I care about the most, is did someone take an action on my email, right?

Will:

Yeah, we were talking about intent of the user, and click through is intent, 100%. So that's most important.

Renia:

And so, when you talk about your conversion path, or when you talk about going hiking, sometimes your path is short. It's like a half a mile. We have a trail out here, that I'll go walk half a mile here. And sometimes it's a marathon, so you gotta go from the trail start to the trail end. But if someone is continuing to click on your emails and take actions, that means they're engaged. And you don't want to quit communicating with that person, right?

Will:

Exactly. For sure. And try and just continue to give them useful information. So, whatever you're doing that's working, keep doing the same. Don't move backwards, I guess.

Renia:

So, if you're working with companies ... so your e-commerce sales are maybe a little bit different animal. But, if you're working with companies, where your orders are thousand or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or whatever, or even maybe bigger than that, you're going to probably have to email with someone for a pretty long time, have them in your email funnels for a pretty long time, before you get actions. And even just a basic, old school rule of marketing, we always used to say, I think they've said this since like the 50's, that someone has to see things five to seven times, before they're going to take any kind of action, right?

Will:

Yeah, it's even ... so getting a little off topic, but you know when a new song first hits the radio, you're like, "Eh, I don't know." At least that happens to me a lot, I'm all judgmental and I'm like [crosstalk 00:31:43]

Renia:

You're introducing a new analogy.

Will:

I don't really like that song. But then I hear it a few more times, a few more times, and then I'm just singing it all the time. So, it's like Despacito. That happened to me, I didn't like Despacito at first, but-

Renia:

I'm not cool enough to know what that song is.

Will:

Oh man. They know Despacito. But yeah, you're totally right. I think here's truth to that.

Renia:

Yeah, so, fun fact, if you're ever listened to the show Every Little Thing, guys, clearly I'm a Gimlet fan girl, they talk about the beats in music, and what makes you remember songs in one of their episodes. It's super cool.

Will:

That's nice. Sweet. I did not know that.

Renia:

I'll send you one of those.

Will:

Cool, for sure. We were talking about ... oh, multiple touches at the emails. Yeah, so, like Renia said, I don't even remember now. You said like five to seven, seven to 10, that range. It takes little while for someone to take action. I think another things that's important, that a lot of us ... I mean, I've done it as well. We fall into this trap, where we have these fancy tools, and we set up automation, and I can send out these emails, and they're kind of ... while we do our best up front to make everything personalized and targeted and things like that, sometimes you're going to have to get outside the box, and hand write, maybe, a plain text email, or something like that. There comes to a point, especially with highly engaged contacts, where maybe you have to shy away from the automated emails and, whether you're a sales person or if you have a designated business development marketing associate or whatever, to just go and actually do some hand written emails to these people, because sometimes that's the most effective thing you can do to get ... once they get to a certain point, to get them to take that next step. That might be what it takes.

Renia:

Yeah, so, if you're using a good automation tool, something like HubSpot, you can even set it up to, "Okay, someone has clicked on X, Y, Z, now they move over and become an SQL." Right?

Will:

Yeah, Sales Qualified Lead.

Renia:

Sales Qualified Lead.

Will:

A really good lead.

Renia:

And it automatically assigns a task to the sales person, to start communicating on a one on one level with that person. I also just want to say about, I'm just going to go down this tiny rabbit hole, plain text emails work really well. Your emails don't necessarily have to be fancy. So I would test both.

Will:

Yeah, for sure.

Renia:

Because if you look at a lot of the big names in digital marketing, all of their emails are plain text.

Will:

We were just talking about this the other day. Yeah, check out this email from this super famous person who obviously gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do keynote speeches, and it's like something that a high school student ... it looks like a high school student wrote. Obviously it's relevant content, but super ... it wasn't designed at all, like super plain. But it's effective.

Renia:

And if you have a really good database, where you have mailing addresses, as well as email addresses, one of the most effective tools in a conversion path, that I've found, is totally analog, old school. Which is, when someone has been really engaged, so they've clicked on a lot of things, they've seen a lot of things, they've been engaged with you over time, actually send them a hand written notes.

Will:

I think that's a fantastic idea.

Renia:

I know that we live in the digital world, which means, anytime you take something out of the virtual reality of the digital world, if you will, and put it into the real world, where it becomes tangible, it's very impactful. So don't discount some of those traditional marketing things that can be really impactful. Maybe if you're doing a lot of mailing campaigns. Maybe you mail catalogs, or you mail flyer or postcards or something like that, certain actions on your website or engagements with your emails, triggers moving them into one of these traditional campaigns. So think outside of just your online conversion funnel. How do you rope them in traditionally?

 

We, right now, have been thinking through this as we get ready to do to NSC. I know a lot of you are going to NSC, so we've been telling you about what we're doing all along, so here's another thing that we're doing. If you are going to see us at NSC, you've probably received an email or two or three or a couple of more than that, from Matt and Brady, and you might have received a hand written note or an individualized email. You might have set an appointment to meet with them. After you meet with them at NSC, watch and see what happens afterwards.

 

So, we're doing this stuff right alongside you. We are doing it with this live show. So, every day, not every day, every Wednesday, when the live show ends, I go back and set up a Facebook retargeting ad, that retargets you to a certain thing if you watched three seconds, a certain thing if you clicked on a link and watched part of the video, and a certain thing if you watched ... I think it's 25 seconds, 'cause Facebook jumps. I have to look at my path.

 

So that's us experimenting with our conversion paths. We're also doing that in the email that you might have received before this show came out today, if my automation worked properly. There are two calls to action in that email. One is a button that comes after just a little, one sentence introduction. And one is a prettier graphic that comes lower in the email. They're there for a reason. It tells me, based on which one you click on, what type of user you are. It tells me a lot about you, how much you're going to read the emails, versus take quick actions, things like that.

 

So there's really a lot you can do to tailor those conversion paths. Start with the big stuff though. What are the big things that you would start with? Let's break the list into three segments instead of 100, to start. What would maybe be the top three or five?

Will:

Wow, this is a good one. This is a tough one. My list is like 30 long.

Renia:

But we're taking baby steps.

Will:

Yeah, absolutely. So, to me, based off, I would say, one thing for a lot of the clients we work with, would be if someone's actually downloaded what we call a "top of the funnel" offer. So something high level, doesn't really promote the brand that much, it's really just something that someone has to fill out a form to access, and gives them top level information, useful information. So, we have a ebook, the Effective Trade Show Marketing ebook, it's not really specific to SMS, but provides a lot of value for distributors, and I think, also, suppliers can use that as well for setting up trade show booths.

 

So, kind of bucketing things out at that level, I think is super important, resource downloaded, a number of resources downloaded. And then, also, persona, that's a super important bucket. So, we have on our forms, a drop down, where it's "describe yourself", and then it kind of has a few different options. And that's really so we can easily ... you're self-identifying in some of our pre-determined personas. So, persona, I think resource, is also super important, and those are like behavior type of actions that we're bucketing on.

 

Email, I think email engagement would be ... I don't know if that maybe makes the top three to five, but based off email engagement, that's pretty important as well. I also like to bucket people based off where they came from. So creating segments of our organic leads and organic customers, social media, things like that. Because that gives us an indication of how these people are interacting with us, so we know, "Okay." We get ... organic search is super profitable for us. We actually convert 3% of our leads from there into customers, or something like that. These are fictitious number. Whereas, direct traffic maybe, people who just type in our email address, we're much less likely to convert them. So, super important to segment based off source, because then you know where to put your efforts.

 

And then, I don't know. What do you think's another good one? This is ...

Renia:

Those are some really good ones, and I find it interesting that you started with behaviors, because I think most people's tendency would be to try to start with demographics.

Will:

Yeah, that's a good point.

Renia:

But I really like that you're starting with behaviors, because those are really going to, in the short term, create the biggest actions, I think. So I would actually look at some of those behavioral tendencies first. Personas will cover some demographics, but I really like starting that way, and coming to your demographics after that, because then you have a little bit more holistic understanding of how someone's using your [crosstalk 00:41:13]

Will:

Yeah, that's good point. I think I was thinking too granularly about your question. Yeah, if we look at things in giant buckets, for segmentation, demographics, behavior, source, I think those are the three, and then some of the stuff I was talking about there, is a level deeper, within those big buckets. But yeah, I think those three really cover it. And you can really become quite effective, starting with the behavior demographics, and the other one I said, and then kind of drill it in through there.

Renia:

Yeah, and this will really set you apart, because just frankly, most people don't want to do this work. You are not likely, in the short term, to get any praise from your boss or your coworkers for this. It's not like, next week we're having Luke, our senior graphic designer come on. It's not like when Luke makes something that's super beautiful, that everyone is like crowded around his computer, and we're like, "Luke is a god." Right? It's not like that with this. You're not going to get any praise for this, until farther down the road, when magically these things start being more effective.

 

But at the end of the day, for a marketing manager, what people really care about, is results. And this is going to get you the results that you've probably been chasing a lot. It's easier to go to your boss and ask for budget, to make a video, or design a new website, or do a graphic, or something like that, than it is to go to your boss and ask for budget for some of this technical stuff, typically. Because the end result is less tangible. So if you can start out on some of this stuff on your own, and show how it's working, it's a lot easier to go even deeper, like with an agency, or with a consultant, to help you, once you've already started showing how it works.

Will:

And this stuff too, like segmentation, this is really if you're considering getting into inbound marketing, or content marketing, or really any facet of digital marketing, or honestly even, traditional marketing. For inbound, a lot of the foundational things that we do, like persona development, and we do initial SEO audit, website audits, things like that, this segmentation should be at that, ideally, at that foundational level, because, like you were saying earlier, it's way easier to segment the 500 person database, as opposed to a 10,000 person database.

 

And a lot of times what happens is, quite frankly, you have incomplete data. People, when they've been building these lists for a couple of years, or even a decade, and back when they started creating the lists, they didn't think they were going to kind of embark on this journey, and don't have complete info. So it really, the more context you have to segment out, the harder it is. So I can't stress that enough. If you're just starting out, this stuff is foundational. And then also, what that means, proper SEO, proper persona, proper conversion path, conversion funnels, through a website audit, and proper segmentation, once you have that foundation strong, you can build the skyscraper on top, and it's going to be able to support it.

Renia:

I really love that, because some of the most effective sites, when I look at really effective sites, particularly in this space, in industrial supply, industrial distribution, stuff like that, some of the most effective sites are not the ones that get the most traffic. Because traffic is great if you can do something with it. We have this conversation all the time with people, about ads. You can have millions of people clicking on your site, if they never convert, you're just wasting them. In fact, it will actually begin, eventually, to actively hurt you in organic rankings.

Will:

Talking about like bounce rate and things like that?

Renia:

Yeah, if they're bouncing off the site, or even if they're never converting, 'cause I mean, we think we have a pretty good idea that Google is actively looking at conversion actions, the ranking factors. So, now, conversion actions don't necessarily mean a cart close. It could mean an email sign up, or engagement with an interactive thing, or something like that. That's in the weeds. But if you've got a lot of traffic, but your website doesn't seem to be making you any money, it's not converting a lot of leads, or it's not converting a lot of e-commerce, it's probably because you have holes in these conversion paths.

 

And so, we've talked a lot about the segmentation. Let's take a little bit of a turn in our path, and talk about what happens to ... how do you identify some of these holes in your path, and what can we do to patch them up?

Will:

Yeah, so, I think the first and most important ... another really foundational level thing, is tracking. Anything that you do, figuring out how are we gonna report on the effectiveness of whatever we're doing. So, when we're talking about conversion funnels, you need to have all of this stuff tracked properly. So, if we have links within a blog, maybe that leads to the next step in the conversion path. Depending on whatever software you're using, HubSpot makes it really simple, but have those set up as tracking links, or something, so you can see how many people have viewed this, and how many people have clicked and performed that action. You sounded like you were gonna.

Renia:

No, I really love that. I just want to stop you for a second, because I want to tell you how to do this. If you're not, because most of you are probably not using a tool like HubSpot yet, so you can actually do it really simply in one of two ways. If you're using Google Analytics, you can set up a Google campaign, where it will just Google, go into a Google search bar, and Google Google campaigns. We'll put the link there for you in the show notes. But you can create a Google campaign, which will create a custom URL, that you can use wherever that campaign is running, and it will create tracking in your Google Analytics.

 

If Google Analytics is completely Greek to you, and you just can't go there yet, just go to the Google URL shortener. Again, open a search tab, type Google URL shortener, and you can shorten your links there, and it will track every click, so how many clicks you got on that link, and where the clicks came from, so that is absolutely like the very simplest beginning of tracking. If you take that one step with everything you've put out on Facebook and in email, it will give you a much greater understanding of what's happening.

Will:

Yeah, absolutely.

Renia:

I'm sorry. I just wanted to tell them how to do it.

Will:

No, perfect. I like doing an action, so that's good. Yeah, so back to reporting. That's the key to kind of everything. If you're not reporting on anything, and you have no way to measure the effectiveness, you just don't know what's working and what's not. It's like a science experiment. If we don't have a hypothesis, we don't know if we succeeded or we failed. So we need to measure those things.

 

Tracking links is super important, and then actually back to Google Analytics, even if you install just the base code across your whole website, so depending ... Most people, you probably have your website on WordPress or maybe even Squarespace or something like that, those tools have the ability where you just set up your Google analytics account, and then you'll be given account ID, and you literally just have to put in the account ID in the correct spot, and it'll do the rest. Basically what it's doing, is it's putting the code on all the different pages across your website that you create.

Renia:

So, if you are struggling with how to do this, I wouldn't worry about it. If you have an IT person, or a web company that you work with, that person can do this for you. All you have to do is open the account, so they have something to work with.

Will:

And yeah, once that tracking is across all pages of your website, then you'll actually be able to Google Analytics without any work, gives you some insight into some of these conversion paths, and there's actually like a mapping tool in there. We can see starting point, user started at the home page, and then clicked to the products page, and then clicked on the gloves section, and viewed this pack of gloves or whatever. And then, at that point, the session ended. And the user ended up not purchasing, or whatever. That's just an example.

 

But, through proper tracking, you'll be able to easily identify your holes. And I really don't think we need to actually talk much more about that. I think Google Analytics, or if you're going to use a tool like HubSpot's really good, we're able to see all of those things of what people are doing, and kind of where they cut off.

Renia:

There is one other tool there when it comes ... that I do want to mention. The other thing I really like is, you've hear me talk about it way back if you were with us in episode two, is heat mapping.

Will:

Oh, yes. Sorry, I had left you guys hanging there.

Renia:

Yeah, I know. I love heat maps, because they're so visual. So, if you've ever seen like an AC company, that comes around with a gun, and they show you where the hot spots in your house are, this is the same things that you can use for your website. I like a tool called Hotjar, that has a free version, and they have a little more sophisticated paid version, but there's lots of other ones out there, that it's just going to track where people are clicking, and where they're falling off in your site, in a really easy to understand, visual way.

Will:

Yeah, absolutely.

Renia:

So, that really helps with your conversion paths, because if you look at a page, and you see everybody's clicking down here, but there's no button there, or maybe that graphic is not actually clickable, that tells you to go make that graphic clickable. Or if they land on the page, and they're always exit, exit, exit, maybe something's wrong there. So, what other things do you look for when you look at something like a heat map.

Will:

And literally, like Hotjar you mentioned. I think you can get Hotjar for one website for like $10 a month. Literally so easy to understand, and so helpful.

Renia:

I don't even think Hotjar has code you have to install.

Will:

I think there's like a quick little script snippet that you put in the head. A fantastic $10 to spend, super, super good. So what kind of things are we looking for when we're looking at heat maps?

Renia:

Yeah.

Will:

Yeah, like you said, we're looking at where people are clicking. So, a lot of these tools, they'll actually show you here people are clicking on the web page, and then also there's like an equivalent for mobile. But then, another really important thing is scroll. So, a lot of people, especially when you're redesigning your website, especially your homepage, everyone's trying to get as much info above the fold as possible. And these tools do a really good job of actually showing you what percentage of your visitors to this page or this site are going down a certain portion of the page. So maybe, 75% of visitors scroll below the fold, but after halfway down the page, only about 25% of visitors are getting there. So that's a good indicator of, if we have really valuable information, like a customer testimonial or something like that, that we're putting it at the bottom, because whatever happened in the design process, we didn't know where to put it, or something like that. That stuff's valuable, and you would want to make sure that you move that up, so people are seeing that front and center.

Renia:

I like heat maps so much, because when I'm arguing with companies about making their above the fold content simpler, it's always helpful to be able to show them the heat map, because that makes that argument a lot easier.

Will:

Yep. And then also, something that's super valuable, so I use Hotjar. I haven't actually used a couple of the other ones. Hotjar's just been really good to me. But they have a feature in the tool where it actually creates recordings, screen recordings, based off a user session. So if you came to my site, and I had this tracking set up, it's kind of creepy, but it would actually show me your location, which is actually valuable as well. It shows me your location, United States, Florida, and then the duration of your session, so you were on the site for a minute and half. And then I could actually watch all the different actions you took, where you clicked, which pages you viewed, all of that information, and that stuff's invaluable.

Renia:

Yeah, when I told you a few weeks ago, when we were talking about usability, it's a great way to understand usability, to be able to watch that. There is one last thing on conversion paths that I want to point out to you, because we've struggled with this at SMS as well. And I see it from our clients all the time, which is ... In the old days of digital marketing, we used to set up a big giant list of like hundreds of organic terms that we wanted to rank for, and we called these keywords. And most of them were short in the old days and whatever. And so, if you've been doing any type of internet marketing for a long time, and you've had any measure of success, you probably rank for some things organically. Some of them may be really good, and some of them may be really random.

 

And so, what I want you to check before you look at your conversion path being like completely broken, if you're looking at your organic traffic. This is specific to your organic traffic. I want you to make sure that you're ranking for the right things, because what I see a lot, is an example of what we've seen with ... we have a blog that's like "Top 10 PPE Distributors", or something like that, which we thought was going to be a really cool term back in the day, 'cause we're in industrial marketing, right? But it turned out, that what ended up happening, is the comments section ended up becoming like a black market for foreign companies and whatever.

 

And so, it wouldn't have made sense to try to fix a conversion path for that organic traffic, because it was just fundamentally the wrong traffic. So I just want to back up to the very beginning of this conversation and say, if you're looking at your organic rankings, or even maybe your email list, if it's been around for a long time, the first fundamental question that I want you to ask is, "Is this the right type of traffic? Does this fit my buyer personas?", that we talked about weeks ago, because it may be ... all of this will be for naught if it's the wrong customer for you.

Will:

Yeah, exactly. Definitely. I agree.

Renia:

So, you feel like that's a good place for us to wrap up, or do you have something else you want to share? I looked at you and I was like, "Aww, you got something."

Will:

Nah, I was just holding on to this thought for a little bit, it's kind of off topic now, but it's still super important. I was listening to a podcast, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, he has a podcast called Masters of Scale.

Renia:

It's awesome.

Will:

Super awesome. And he was doing an interview with one of the founders of Airbnb, super successful company, and they were going through the origin story of Airbnb. And they had a really tough time kind of trying to get things off the ground, and they eventually got accepted to Y Combinator, which is like a incubator type of deal for startups, out in the west coast. And one of the things that was like pivotal in their company taking off, was they were given this piece of advice of, "Don't try to make a product for everyone. You just need to make a product for like a hundred core fans, and if it's that good, those people will talk to the other people that are interested, and it'll spread via word of mouth, and it's going to take off."

 

So what they started doing was going and actually ... early adopters of the service, they went, and they were actually interviewing them, going to their homes, knocking on the door, and they would take pictures of their home, as a value ad, and to get some information from them. And through interviewing these people, and targeting and personalizing the service to the people who it was most valuable to, they were able to switch things around and, now, Airbnb, everyone references them as super successful company.

 

So, kind of long winded there, but really what we're trying to get at is the importance of personalization and creating value, targeted value, for your users. And that's all I've got.

Renia:

I really love that, Will. So, I'd love it, on that conversation, if anyone watching this goes out and Googles "1,000 True Fans", the number one article there should be an article from way back in like 2008, or 2009. And it is my belief that every business's foundation is that thousand true fans, so that's exactly what Will is talking about here. And your goal, your ultimate goal with your segmentation, and your early conversion paths, is to figure out who those thousand people are, and what they want from you. And if you can answer that question, it makes all of this big stuff a lot smaller. Who are your thousand true fans, and what do they want from you? And when I say identify it, I mean I want them on a spreadsheet. I want them in a database somewhere. And I want everyone in my organization, from the marketers, to the sales people, to know if they're talking to one of those thousand true fans, because they get special treatment, and that's what this segmentation is ultimately about.

Will:

Exactly.

Renia:

So thank you guys so much for being with us today. Will, thank you for coming and filling in for Matt.

Will:

This is a blast. Hopefully ... Matt, you can take more vacations, buddy. This is fun.

Renia:

Yeah, this is lots of fun. So, next week we're going to, actually, the nerds are gonna take a break, and we're going to bring Luke, who is our senior graphic designer in, and he's going to talk to you about how to work with designers, so you can take the awesome ideas in your head out, and get them into something tangible in the world. So, we'll see y'all next week. If you missed any part of this, you can watch it back at growwithsms.com, or you can listen to the podcast at letsgrowpodcast.com. We'll see you next week.

 

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Topics: Grow Live, lead conversion, lead segmenting, conversion funnel, metrics

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