CAM: Customer Acquisition Management

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light trails on streetMarketers are brilliant at outlining and strategizing around the buying lifecycle of customers, but they generally start once the customer is—well, a customer. CRM needs to start before that, when prospects begin to show an interest in a brand or company, and the relationship should be strategically managed starting with the very first contact.

Using a hosted customer acquisition management system that includes lead generation and management, analytics, source management, and responsive technology is the best way to make sure that prospects are not dropped on their way to becoming customers—and that it’s the best prospects, the most qualified, who make it through the system. It’s a truism that follow-up is the most important part of customer prospecting, but without a strategy and a system in place to do it, it’s easy for customers—and therefore income—to slip through the proverbial cracks.

For marketers who are putting increasing resources into customer acquisition, it’s essential to determine where those resources will go, and that can only happen with a CAM solution offering top-notch analytics. Customer acquisition management requires excellent metrics so that marketers can strategize campaigns and tweak them as results come in. Getting well-qualified leads and nurturing those leads into customers cannot happen if there is no way to measure progress, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to change strategies if one isn’t working. The results of these metrics will be different for every company, but the most important factor is being sure that the changes and adjustments made are on the back-end … not in the customer experience area. That needs to be smooth, clear, positive, and consistent.

Chart_4431Lead-generation managers often make the mistake of getting caught in maximizing quantity acquired for the lowest cost per acquisition. Once a marketer has instituted a overall customer acquisition management strategy and solution—again, best done by using a third-party hosted solution—then only the best, most qualified prospects from the strongest sources will  be coming through the pipeline, and CAM managers will be able to devote themselves and their resources to nurturing positive qualified prospects rather than tremendous quantities of bad leads. and the CAM strategies will flow automatically and seamlessly into CRM strategies as prospects become customers.





Mobile Usage Continues to Climb

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.52.52 AMFrom Smart Insights’ Mobile Marketing Statistics 2014:

“As Rob Thurner explained in his post on KPIs to review mcommerce effectiveness, it’s important to keep track of the split between users of mobile and desktop devices visiting your site(s). Using advanced segments in Google Analytics is the best way to do this.

“New insight from comScore published in their February 2014 market review shows the picture that marketers need to build up. This panel data shows that the majority of consumers are “multiscreening”, accessing retail sites on mobile or desktop, so consistent experiences across device need to be deployed.”

On the other hand, you can simply use a platform that tells you which of your emails are being opened on which devices. That knowledge makes the statistics actionable: it means you can send specific emails to users of specific devices. And it’s not in the future—it’s what eWayDirect offers today!

How to Create Actionable Lead-Generation Offers

shutterstock_51955312Think of your online offer to a prospect as a first impression. That 160-character introduction to your brand can either make or break someone’s notion of who you are and what you sell… and could determine whether or not they buy from you.

An offer can perhaps be the most important part of lead generation, and it’s frequently overlooked or only given limited attention. If the famous Bill Gates quote “the Internet moves at the speed of thought” is true, then it’s time to rethink your approach to creating the right offer, because prospects are moving fast, and your brand is one of many they glance at.

So you may want to start with a few questions:

  • What are you currently saying to your clients, in store or online?
  • What marketing messages have worked for you in the past?
  • What are your competitors are doing and saying?

The real issue lies in the fact that every lead source requires different messaging, and messaging is the key to lead generation. Messaging is not one-size-fits-all, as we all learned when we moved from direct mail to online emails. So the best way to see what messaging and which offers work or don’t, and when, is to test, test, test.

First, look at your various lead-generation tools. They may include banners, co-registration, email, trade publication ads, third-party emails, and others. Each will require a different offer. And to improve results further you’ll want to create different offers for different customer segment that you’ll reach within each channel — so you may end up with sublists of appropriate offers. The more you can segment, the more your offers can target the most likely group of consumers for your services or products.

shutterstock_107479076So what do you test? There are myriad options and you need to nail down a strategy for testing. It’s important that you don’t just stick to one testing method: multivariate testing will yield the most information. But remember, the more knowledge you have about what works and what doesn’t, the better position you’ll be in to attract targeted customers who will actually make a purchase. So also try A/B splits and test the offer itself—should it be free shipping? Discounts? You also need to test other messaging, like different subject lines. What about timing: Are you getting more leads midweek? In the evening?

Be sure that you have a plan behind the testing and aren’t just throwing out random changes. Determine what you want to test based on what you want to learn, then track results, and tweak as necessary.

Whatever you test, there are a few constants: keep the copy light, and keep the call to action large. No matter what lead-generation tool you’re using, you still have only a few seconds to catch and hold a prospect’s attention. Make those seconds count for you by presenting something relevant and targeted—and by presenting it in such a way that it clearly seems irresistible to the consumer.

What’s the Best Way to Pay for Customer Acquisition?

light trails on streetIt seems that everyone is trying out new ways of finding new customers and reviewing the already-established methods for effectiveness and cost-effectiveness alike. Co-registration has come under fire lately because of the danger of partnering with a less-than-scrupulous list broker. (Note that we’re not against co-reg: If you have a reciprocal arrangement between your organization and a few others in related areas and negotiate paying for only valid, usable leads, you’re fine—honest and effective data collection is essential to the online industry and is in everyone’s best interest; no one benefits by gaming the system or cutting corners.)

New lead-generation companies are popping up every day and it’s difficult to cut through the static to see what has the potential to really work.

For a very long time, the CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) pricing model, in which advertisers must pay upfront for a bulk amount of consumer data (and where only a fraction of that number may end up interested) seemed to be the norm. Leads were obtained, sure, but at what cost? How many non-leads had to be part of the acquisition process for it to work? How much time, energy, and money was being wasted? These questions become more and more pressing as organizations seek to streamline their lead-generation and acquisition processes.

Enter the cost-per-lead.

In cost-per-lead pricing, the advertiser pays only for a specific signup from a consumer interested in its special offer. For example, it’s not enough for a consumer to click on an advertisement; the consumer must then do something else (sign up for something, etc.).

CPL placement allows advertisers to generate guaranteed revenue as well as set both budgetary and return expectations within their organizations. Letting their feet get wet and treading lightly during these tough economic times has given the CPL visibility and marketing departments the freedom to test.

42213300-resize-380x300So what does the future hold? It’s possible that we’ll see the CPL model morphing more and more into CPA (cost per acquisition) deals, so that payment is made when a customer actually makes a purchase. Think about it: isn’t that a more efficient way to spend your acquisition dollars – by actually making an acquisition?

The bottom line? Each marketer must test their own efficiency curve, understanding the volume/cost relationship for your particular market. As campaigns are being optimized, data is been gathered, and you need to take a step back and analyze your options.

Don’t throw money away or jeopardize your brand: create a clear CPL strategy, analyze the results, tweak as needed, and repeat.

How to Avoid Lead-Generation Risks

Lead generation 2If you’re taking your marketing dollars and betting them on acquisition, you may need a crash course in associated risks and rewards. Both can be plentiful, but without a solid understanding of the space’s intricacies, your brand and budget could be on a collision course.

Let’s talk risks, which include click fraud, autobots, and lead schemes:

  • Click fraud occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad. This is generally automated, though one hears of sweatshop human alternatives as well. The point of click fraud is to generate a charge per click without there being any legitimate interest in the target of the ad’s link.
  • Autobots (no, not the Transformers kind!) are in fact the technology behind click fraud: they auto-click settings on a computer timer to make it look like an email file is performing — i.e., consumers are actually on the receiving end of a campaign, interested and clicking away.
  • In lead schemes, the potential leads receive an email saying they’ve won a prize or a contest. Such companies get leads from the bulk mailing of entry forms with an easy question to answer, or by clicking on some moving object. Instructions tell the person to respond to the promoter with certain information. Such leads may get a followup call because the company now knows the target is prone to such gimmicks.

The reality is that any company is also a possible victim of such fraudulent behavior from lead sources, so it’s more important than ever to stay alert to them. But how can you be sure that you’re getting quality leads from quality sources?

There are a few things you can consider doing.

  1. Hire a lead-gen representative or company.
  2. Put in some back-end analytics to give you solid metrics on what leads are performing and what leads aren’t. Google Analytics and/or CoreMetrics can help here.
  3. Look at conversions, not clicks. Use cookies and pixels to tie offers to campaigns.
  4. Always know the cost per sale.

shutterstock_143867509The important thing, as we’ve stressed elsewhere, is to always know how much you are actually paying to make this lead into a customer. This will keep you from paying for leads that go nowhere—but will also give you a good handle on whether the leads you’re getting are good ones.

Armed with as much information as possible, the guarantee of enjoying the fruits of your labor are directly ahead with:

  • flexibility on offer and creative changes;
  • volume and budget control; and
  • fluid scheduling that makes it easy to make swift decisions on placement, sources, etc.

Don’t ever put yourself at the mercy of third parties: if your list broker isn’t giving you the kinds of leads you need, then it’s time to tell them so … or risk losing ROI and reputation.




5 Tips to Keep Customers Engaged

blog-image-11-18-13-006Getting someone to join an email list can be difficult, but it’s even harder to get those who have stopped opening and responding to re-engage. What can a marketer do?

  1. Use your analytics. Cross-referencing website visits with the email list can reveal interesting information—for example, that a subscriber is ignoring emails but still browsing website content. In such a case, the marketer could attempt to re-engage the subscriber by sending an email related to what he or she is viewing on the website.
  2. Resend messages that were never opened. If their content is good and relevant, marketers can give prospects another chance to read them by resending the message with a different subject line.
  3. Analyze the last messages that were opened. Marketers can learn a lot about why subscribers aren’t opening messages—and what to do to get them to re-engage—by looking at what excited them in the past.
  4. Don’t up the offer. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is they simply keep sending emails with bigger and better offers, hoping that one will catch a prospect’s eye. This trains people not to open emails or respond because they know there’s always going to be a better offer.
  5. Ask them back—or let them go. Sometimes, remarketing to prospects and customers can help clean the list. Marketers can send out an email asking whether or not they’re meeting subscribers’ needs. If not, there’s no reason to keep sending.

Email Is Far From Passé

Email_CustomerOne of the reasons people speculate that email will soon be dead is because it can’t deliver as well as other applications on the need for instant gratification. Instant messaging, texting and smartphone apps all provide people with information they request more expediently than email.

But not so fast!

Emails triggered by consumer actions provide incredibly fast access to relevant content, including a company’s best up-to-the-minute offers. Information can arrive faster than search engines can deliver, faster than product intelligence sites and faster than cell phone connections. More importantly, the information is intuitively on target.

Click on a travel banner ad and flight information appears instantly in your inbox. Visit a specific website and the best offers involving products on that site appear in your inbox, or you might receive more in-depth information about the products along with great offers. But why is that important if I can just click on the web page and get all the information I need?

The answer is that while consumers are looking for instant information, they’re probably not looking to make instant buying decisions. They get information from brand websites, product review sites, daily-deal and auction sites. They may visit five to 10 of these kinds of websites simply reviewing information and pricing. Consumers frequently travel from one website to the next doing research. In the process, they often forget which website provided the most valuable information.

shutterstock_59406445The winner in this situation is the company that sent the instant information to the consumer’s inbox. That company wins because it wasn’t only there during the research process, it was right there when the consumer was ready to pull the trigger.

And the consumer never asked for a single thing. The company figured out what content to send by paying attention to what the consumer was doing on the website — which pages were visited, which links were clicked on, time spent on specific pages, which pages were visited multiple times and so on.

The company accomplished this using keyword tracking — i.e., tying keywords to every page, link and image on its website, social network pages, banners and videos. Each time a visitor hit a keyword, it instantly told the company which content to send.

At the end of the day there’s in-depth content and relevant offers sitting in the consumer’s inbox ready to be perused at their leisure.

Lead Generation Through Content Marketing

50s women gossipingContent marketing seems to be currently perceived as the Next Best Thing, which is quietly amusing to those of us who have been doing it—without the moniker—for years. The reality is that sharing information will always draw prospects to your business, as more and more people and companies see you as a resource. And, best of all, quality content is consistently shared.

Quality content can

  • educate
  • inform
  • generate leads
  • entice customers

Online visibility is obviously enhanced by providing free resources, and building your brand’s image and reputation through corporate websites, blogs, and social media is helpful; but how does it translate into new customers?

The first step is to design your landing pages with care. Persuasive content on the landing page can bring good prospects through the purchasing funnel. Don’t know what content works? Test! Try different content formats to see what works best with your particular customers and prospects.

Make sure that the content you offer is a good fit for your customers and subscribers, and prospects looking for the same kinds of content will follow.

Marketing content isn’t confined to web pages. Make sure that you bring the same content, branding and messaging through online articles, guest posts, blog and social media posts, ebooks, conference talks and presentations, product FAQs, videos, graphics, info graphics, and customer reviews.

However, this isn’t a question of “if you build it, they will come.” Content does you no good if no one sees it. So make sure that you promote your content through strategic promotion and integrated marketing communications.

The result will be better conversion rates and better lead generation. Content marketing cannot be the whole of your lead-generation efforts, but it should have an important place in the overall strategy.

The Best Customer Acquisition in the Business Starts Here

man in pipeline 2Marketers know that email marketing delivers the best ROI in the digital world, and they’re acting on it… with the result that consumers are being overwhelmed by the sheer volume in their inboxes. Keeping your prospects and customers engaged in reading and responding to your emails is what makes for the best deliverability anywhere.

That engagement starts from your very first contact with the prospect. No one wants to receive emails that they didn’t sign on for, but getting that first signup can be tricky, and many marketers shy away from the constant testing that’s required to sanitize email lists. And yet data, and learning from data, may be one of the most critical jobs of any B2C marketer today.

The reality is that performing list hygiene after the fact can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. A far better idea is to pay more attention to how those lists are being obtained in the first place.

Excellent list-acquisition is a process that begins by automatically evaluating each individual lead source, rather than lead quality and performance in the aggregate. Aggressive acquisition practices will harm your inbox delivery rates and may even get you listed on email reputation sites; so proceeding with traditional acquisition processes not only makes your company assume a good deal of risk, but also tells potential customers that they are of little value to your company. Not the best idea from a CRM point of view!

pipeline at sunset 2So if you perform this evaluation, you will automatically identify the sources of any risky leads and eliminate those sources, as well as identifying your best-performing lead sources and subsequently increasing budget to those sources. How? By turning off lead sources that provide a disproportionate number of high-risk leads before they injure your ISP reputation, and automatically throttling to receive more leads from your best-performing, clean, low-risk lead sources.

Many acquisition processes implement auto-responders for new-customer signups, but isn’t it time that we went beyond auto-responders? Why shouldn’t marketers up a system that immediately nurtures leads? That system would deliver a cascade of behavior-based promotional emails, so that the same cascade would not be delivered to every single lead that comes into the system. Instead, the cascades will respond in near-real time to prospect actions. What cascade is received depends on what the person did, requested, commented on, or filled out. And that continues once the prospect has become a customer and begins to watch for your emails: once they become customers, people get cascades that react to the actions they take.

Combining the best list hygiene with the use of live data is the best way to grow your email lists, convert prospects to customers, and maintain high customer lifetime value.














Live Data is Your Best Data

imagesSlow, expensive, time-consuming, minimally effective, and so yesterday, are all adjectives that can be used to describe the way many companies still use static demographic data to target marketing campaigns. It’s been done that way for so many years that it is difficult (and uncomfortable) for companies to think about how the level of expense they have invested (and continue to invest year after year) in data warehouse initiatives aren’t paying the kind of dividends they would like to think they are getting – and just maybe there is a fast, inexpensive, and far more effective way to target marketing campaigns, using live data.

Live data has always been the most effective way to target marketing initiatives, especially email marketing. Simply think about how loyal customers are generated from thank-you notes sent to customers immediately after they make a purchase, or even when they visited a store and didn’t make a purchase.

What has changed in the last year, and what makes the use of live data today revolutionary, is that there are significantly more readily available sources of live data than ever before: it’s simple to collect live data, and even easier to automate the campaign process that triggers email campaigns to individuals based on live data they generate. Note: triggering snail mail campaigns based on “live” data is also more effective than demographic data, but it doesn’t have the impact of online campaigns due to the lack of immediacy.

Live data includes online behaviors such as when your customers or subscribers visit your website or your Facebook page, send your company an email for any reason, make a purchase or return a product, re-tweet one of your tweets, or read your blog, view one of your videos on YouTube or post a photo on Pinterest, fill a shopping cart but don’t complete the purchase, click on one of your banner ads, download your app to their cell phone, “like” your company, “share” your content, forward information about your company to their friends and colleagues, and hundreds of other actions.

shutterstock_155376581And live data has real depth. What specific page on your website did they visit, which specific link(s) did they click on, what was the actual content of the email they sent, which video did they view on YouTube, and which tweet did they re-tweet? While many of these actions show intent to buy, others simply provide opportunities to get to know your prospects and customers better, so you can reach out to them with relevant content, and generally set the stage for future purchases.

Live data goes way beyond showing companies what products and services consumers have an interest in purchasing or learning more about. Live data also exposes intent to buy and urgency to buy, allowing companies to set up a scoring process for consumers the way B2B companies view lead qualification. Live data also shows companies how people buy; do they respond to quick sales, or are they influenced to buy mostly from friends and colleagues, are they quality researchers or do they buy based on price?

Even in the days before most data warehouses ended up in the main frame junk yard, people were trying to get to live data paying the highest premium for hot lists, people who took actions recently.

With live data, recently means less than one second ago, and the response to recently will happen in less than one second. Initiating live data campaigns costs a tiny fraction of traditional data warehousing costs, involves far fewer internal resources, and delivers immediate results.

The live data revolution is on us today and the companies that take advantage of the opportunities drive a hell of a lot more revenue at a fraction of the cost. Think about building a live data marketing engine for your company today!