As we enter the final quarter of the year and approach the holiday season, we are doing so under conditions that are unprecedented and which could present a challenge to many small businesses. Firstly, the cost and time of getting products from overseas are at unprecedented levels thanks to Covid, and secondly, targeting your customers is getting more expensive as data privacy restrictions make it harder to find your target market.
The convergence of these two factors at this particular time of year means that this is the perfect time for us to look at solutions and strategies to make sure your business continues to survive and to thrive.
And, if you’re thinking you can just bury your head in the sand and hope it will go away, then you’re in for a shock. Digital marketing is changing irreversibly and the current supply chain crisis is likely to continue for at least another year. You need to be prepared with a strategy to approach this new environment so you don’t get caught out. We will show you some of the measures you can take to protect your business by building a strong sales funnel and taking control of your customer data. These steps will help you to master Black Friday and thrive far beyond the holiday period.
That Apple iOS14.5 Update
Apple claim that their new iOS14.5 update aims to protect customers and their data, but we all know what it’s really about … siloing off their customers so that they can build their own marketing platform to target them exclusively. Small businesses selling on Facebook are those who are going to be the most affected because Apple sends data to Facebook sometimes days after the action took place. Because small businesses have less data to begin with, it becomes even more difficult for them to find meaningful patterns that can help them with targeting.
These changes don’t necessarily mean that small businesses will lose sales, but it does highlight the importance of not being 100% reliant on just one platform for your advertising. If you are too dependent on Facebook, it’s time to start spreading your net more widely and one way of doing this is by building a strong lead and sales funnel for your business.
You can access the full Masterclass with expert Duane Brown by joining us as a Data Driven Insider.
How to build a strong lead and sales funnel
When you think about a sales and marketing funnel, you might think about the classic ‘funnel’ image where leads go in at the top and customers come out at the bottom.
If you’ve been taking Data Driven courses, you might have a slightly different idea of funnels as a continual loop of active evaluation and customer loyalty or you might think of them as more of a sales flow which has different potential routes and outcomes.
Whichever way you think about sales funnels, you won’t know which one defines your sales process until you get started. So, essentially it is your customers who will define the funnel.
Creating your content
The first thing you need to do is create quality content that people care about. Whether you are a plumber, dentist or a small ecommerce store, you should start creating blogs or guides so that Google can start to rank you and your customers can find you.
To work out what kind of content to create, think about the kind of topics that are current or constant in your industry. What kind of problems are your customers looking to solve? A useful place to start is answerthepublic.com, a website that lets you look at your industry and, using certain keywords, find out the latest industry trends and what people are searching for.
There are three main types of content that you should look to create:
- ‘Evergreen’ content that is either educational or is somehow going to be relevant in the long term. This kind of content will mark you out as a thought leader over time.
- Trendy and topical content addresses questions that are hot at a particular moment in time. These can get you noticed to help grow your audience and improve your SEO.
- Video content can be super popular as it’s a medium that people like. However, make sure you provide a transcript so that Google can access your keywords.
Focus on creating quality over quantity: Not only will this ensure you stay relevant to your audience, it is also more sustainable for you.
Spreading the word
Where to create and distribute your content is another question you need to ask yourself: If you are creating a lot of videos, should you set up a YouTube channel? Does your audience spend more time on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit? What about podcasts? Should you create your blog on your website or post to Medium? It’s important to think about all of these questions to ensure your content reaches the maximum audience possible.
Email marketing is something which you should also consider. This doesn’t mean you have to be creating huge campaigns, but if someone requests more info or a quote, you should have templates ready to go.
Use a service like Mailchimp.com to manage your email lists; they offer 2000 subscribers/emails for free and have lots of templates for you to use. They also have useful analytics that can help you analyse the results of A/B testing.
Finding your audience
It’s easy to waste a lot of money when using PPC advertising if you don’t know what you’re doing. When thinking about what media to use, whether that’s Facebook, Google, etc, it’s important to know what you are hoping to achieve.
First, define your strategy: What is your CPA goal? What are your ROAS goals? Are you focused on leads, sales, conversions, etc? In addition, if you are working with an agency, it’s even more important that you make these goals clear so that they can plan their strategy and you can see whether they have been successful.
For example, a not-for-profit organization has advocacy as their goal. To achieve this, they need to increase awareness, engagement and grow their audience. To measure these, they should choose some KPIs; for example, CTR and shares to measure awareness, form completion to measure engagement, newsletter subscriptions for audience growth, etc.
It is essential to know what outcome you want before you start so that you know what success looks like.
The other thing that you need to think about when planning your strategy is to understand the awareness level of your audience.
Often, as business owners, we overestimate the level of awareness of our customers: We think they are at level 2 or 3, but they are actually at 4 or 5. Knowing where your customers are at is key to knowing what kind of message to send them and how to send it.
Let’s take a look at the different stages of the sales funnel and what specific marketing methods and channels are more useful considering the goals of each type.
Top of the Funnel: Prospecting
Customers with a very low level of awareness are at the top of the funnel and should be treated as cold traffic. These customers don’t know anything about you and so the objective should be to raise awareness. They can be targeted with blogs, social media updates, infographics, photographs, digital magazines/books, podcasts, video, microsites, newspapers and primary research.
At the prospecting end of the funnel, it’s important to be creative with your targeting. Customers don’t know you or your product, never mind why they should buy it. Facebook offers custom audiences (with email upload) and saved audiences (using interest targeting) which are useful for prospecting. Lookalike audiences can also work but are a bit more hit and miss.
Here are some examples of how you could use Facebook to target different audiences:
- Parents – If you want to target parents, use interests such as “minivans”, “little league”, “after-school activities”, or familiar baby brands. Speak to others who have kids to understand what they are interested in on Facebook and where they spend time. Remember that areas of interest which are less broad also have less competition so dive deep to find niches where you can stand out.
- Greenpeace – To target a green audience you might look at things like environmental issues, eco-friendly products, Greta Thunberg, celebrities who speak about Greenpeace issues, etc.
- Students – Facebook allows you to hone in on university-aged people who have recently moved – a demographic who are likely to be students. You can also look at popular bands or brands
If you want to look for new audiences in Google, in your Google Ads account go to Audience Insights. You will see how Google have conveniently put people who have bought on your site into different buckets based on age, gender, and whether they have kids. You can also see them grouped by location and device and by affinity and interest.
You can then use this information to go and build audiences in Facebook.
Google Analytics takes data from across the internet to show general trends. This kind of global data can give you some interesting insights. To find out where to loathe this data in the Analytics interface, check out the full webinar in our Insiders program.
Middle of the Funnel: Consideration
Customers in the middle of the funnel are warm traffic; they know about you but need some convincing. You can target them with educational resources, quizzes & surveys, discounts & offers, downloads, webinars and events.
It’s easier to target people who are in the middle of the funnel because they know who you are and you know who they are. You could go for those who have liked your IG profile or your Facebook page, people who have viewed 50%, 75%, or 95% of your video, people who spent a certain amount of time on your site.
Timing your campaigns
Most content should be refreshed every 1-2 weeks. This includes ‘Top 5 reasons’ style articles, customer reviews (50/50, 5* and video), user-generated content (UGC), story poll ads, influencer ads, etc.
For new releases, you should make sure your ads go out 7-10 days before the launch. In your ads, send customers to a customized landing page and capture their emails so that you can target those specific people on launch day.
If you want more from Duane, go and check out his Academy on Google Shopping Ads and benefit from a special Data Driven discount if you sign up between now and the end of the year.