As marketers, our job is to bring products to market. At a macro-level, this process begins with the conception of an idea. Along the way, a product is developed and eventually, we get into the advertising and sales activities.
As we know, anyone can spend money on advertising. But not everyone can make money on advertising. When it comes to advertising and generating new business, we need to keep the customer buying experience in focus. This is why understanding the customer buying experience is critical to making any lead generation initiative work. As importantly, the customer buying experience is key to setting the RIGHT goals for a campaign.
Exercise: Create a Homebuilder Lead Generation Program
Let’s think about a vertical whose clients have a rather long buying cycle, new home builders. As the saying going, purchasing is a home is the most substantial investment that most of us will ever make. It’s not a surprise then that the buying cycle can be quite long. In some cases, families ponder the idea for years without pulling the trigger for a variety of reasons (financing, jobs, decisiveness, etc.).
Lead Generation Goals
Due to the nature of this customer’s buying cycle, it’s important to set appropriate goals. We know that some of our prospects will be upper funnel (just beginning to ponder the purchase) and others will be lower funnel (closer to pulling the trigger) and many somewhere in between. Goals could be:
- Upper-Funnel: Capture an email address and sell the idea of home ownership, moving to the area, etc. This customer is not ready to act but is considering building a home. If we can capture an email address, we can periodically send useful information to them (buying tips, information on financing, local area information, etc.) to stay top of mind until they move down the funnel. It’s important to note that there is not much benefit in selling “Us”, but more to sell the idea of new home ownership.
- Mid-Funnel: Capture more information and start selling “Us”. For mid-funnel prospects, we want to start moving them toward the lower funnel. Here, we’ll want to incentivize them to provide more information (when they want to move, budgets, etc.) so that our sales people have it for step 3. At this stage, we can also start selling Us as a company. We can promote beautiful work we do, our reputation, etc. In step 1, we wanted to stay relevant. In t
- Lower-Funnel: Set an appointment. Prospects in the lower funnel tend to be closer to purchase. Now we want our sales staff to get involved and do what they do best, sell! As marketers then, it’s our job to incentivize these prospects to make an appointment. Maybe we promote a monthly promotion to these prospects to bring them in-house to talk. In steps 1 and 2, we tried to warm the prospect up the idea of building a home and eventually building with us.
- Referral: Generating good referrals, there’s no better way to score big contracts with minimal costs! Once we ‘ve got the sale, our goal is to get our customer to speak kindly of us to their friends who will inevitably be our customers some day.
Advertising to Each Group
Now that we’ve identified how our custom buys and reasonable goals for each stage, we cater our marketing initiatives to support each group based on business priority. Advertising campaigns may look like this:
- Upper Funnel: Search ads for individuals looking for information on new homes in our area. Our campaign ROAS will be measured by emails which we acquire. We’ll likely incentivize prospects to give an email address in exchange for an area information guide which we put together (local schools, things to do, utilities, job information, etc.).
- Mid-Funnel: Email marketing and retargeting campaigns to brand ourselves and stay top of mind to prospects. Along the way, we’ll promote our company, products, and special offers to try to bring customers to lower-funnel. Here’, we can measure engagement in terms of clicking on emails, downloading brochures of our homes, etc.
- Lower-Funnel: We’ll be much more direct and push for making an appointment to speak with our sales team. To incentivize prospects, we’ll promote time sensitive, aggressive offers. The value of each customer is high and we can’t let them go to the competition when it’s time to pull the trigger and make a decision.
- Referral: During and after the build, we need to impress our clients and give them the tools to share their feelings. Exceptional customer service and quality products are always at the core of scoring great referrals from past clients. During the build though, we’ll do things like email project updates (under construction photos), which can easily be shared on social networks. Undoubtedly, our clients will share these photos as the process is exciting. As the build completes, customer service will follow-up with our customers to check-in and make sure everything is perfect. As we go out of our way to impress, it won’t go unnoticed. In this, we’ve optimized our chances of getting a great referral from past clients for future projects, bringing down our overall CPA (cost per acquisition).
Why This Exercise Matters
In many cases, businesses get trigger-happy and want to push for Step 3 (Lower Funnel) immediately. As direct response marketers, we do too! Unfortunately though, this short-sighted approach can lead to spending money on advertising, but not making money on advertising. When we consider the entire cycle, we can put the necessary touch points in place to nurture leads and eventually convert leads. We’re not ignoring the lower-funnel, but we’re careful not to put our blinders on to the other stages of the purchase process.
- How does this vertical’s buying cycle compare to your business model?
- Can you clearly define and match advertising initiatives with each stage?
- Are you neglecting any one stage?
- Have you clearly defined goals for each campaign in terms of tangible conversions but also strategic purpose? Don’t just spend money on advertising!
- Do you have a solid strategy for maximizing referrals, the most cost-efficient source of new business?