Does your marketing automation strategy have the right focus on your sales funnel? The biggest mistake that most marketing automation systems have is a poorly constructed and poorly optimised top of the funnel strategy.

What is more annoying is that online articles seem to focus so heavily on the middle of the funnel and on the making of the sale. This makes entrepreneurs and solopreneurs think they are doing everything right. What they are actually doing is squeezing the people who are already part of their customer base rather than acquiring new leads and customers.

Marketing Automation Strategy Priority One

The first refinement you must make is to your top of the funnel strategy. Top of the funnel is anything that interacts with and draws the customer in. Online and affiliate adverts are powerful tools.

Be careful not to have your adverts censored. You can create several versions of the same advert to be displayed to different demographics, (you can even do this with Google Ads).

Influencer outreach is important because it delivers warms leads so that your marketing automation has something to work with. The prime areas to focus on if you want your marketing automation to work are:

Wait…This Top Of The Funnel Stuff Has Little To Do With Marketing Automation

On the contrary, the biggest problem with most digital marketing automation systems is a failure to generate enough interest at the top of the funnel. It would be like teaching somebody to make sausages without telling them to put ground meat into the mincer.

Your top of the funnel stuff doesn’t include much marketing automation (with the exception of affiliate advertising), but it is vital to your marketing automation success. If you are not feeding your marketing automation system with enough new leads, then your entire process is doomed to failure.

How A Small Business Refines Its Middle Of The Funnel Marketing Automation

It has to be assumed that a small business doesn’t have the resources or budget required to harness big data. This means there needs to be a reliance on on-page analytics (again, this is why generating enough leads to start with is important). However, as a small business, you may also use your intuition and your knowledge of your target consumer.

You may traverse each of the many steps through your automated marketing campaigns to see if it would have the desired impact. For example, you could walk through what a female, mid-twenties, English speaker, Facebook user, would see via your responsive mobile website and see why it works and why people bounce.

Middle Of The Funnel Automation Structure

Only the business owner can decide what structure to have but here are a few ideas:

Demographically selected targets > Email marketing to targets > Landing page with tracker specifically built for each email> Three options offered (1 – sell, 2- upsell, 3 – offer)

1 – Sell allows customers to purchase quickly and as guest
2 – Upsell customer is encouraged to open an account for additional purchasing perks
3 – Offer many services/products with the hope of uptake > checkout > sale > purchase email with offers for referrals

The important thing here is that each email is tracked so that the user’s behaviour can be monitored. Tracking may be as simple as adding a unique link to each email.

In the case of scenario one (sell), the user must be given the option of paying as a guest because any delays will act as barriers to the sale. Plus, that person is a qualified hot lead, qualified by the quick purchase, and you will have that person’s payment details and address by the end of it. As you already have that person’s email, so does that person really need to sign up.

In scenario two (upsell) the customer is curious or looking to be a current/dedicated customer, so signing up for an account for added perks is a good idea.

In scenario three (offers), if the person is looking for further offers, then that person is a cold lead. Try to recapture them, but it is more important that you track that person so that future marketing emails can be sent to try to rekindle interest in whatever that person was looking at.

Dynamic Websites And Cookies

A classic method for automated marketing is to have a dynamic website that reads the user’s cookies and then presents pages and widgets that would best sell to that user. Though, if your strategy is failing, you may benefit from going a little broader.

Many businesses, especially smaller businesses that have less access to digitally gathered consumer data, will over-refine their process. For example, a person with a cookie from Twitter will be blasted with hashtag references as soon as visiting the website. This may be a mistake because that person may hate Twitter but has to use it for work, or marketing, or maybe his daughter used the PC before him.

Going broader means stepping back on what appear to be common sense assumptions. For example, the typical male, twenties, single stereotype is that he will enjoy violent, funny and sexual content. Yet, single males in their twenties are the core demographic for the Bronies craze (males who love the My Little Pony brand).

Make your dynamic website assumptions a little broader, and examine the analytics you generate as a result, (especially those that lead to a conversion/sale).

Stop Buying Leads

A quick note on leads. Stop buying leads! They will muddy up your analytics and mess up any insights you glean from them.

This will happen even if you automate what you consider to be an independent system, such as setting up an email account and sending messages to a purchased list of emails. Those same people still have to go through your website in order to purchase, and their behaviour as return customers will not match your organically generated lead’s behaviour.

And the Conclusion? Retention or Selling First?

Should your automation rely on selling or retaining as a priority?

In reality, the two should never meet. The people who visit your website as customers shouldn’t be seeing the same stuff as your first-time visitors.

Credit card companies have been doing this for years where first-time visitors see offer after offer after offer, whereas people with credit card accounts see pages about how great their rates are.

Your marketing automation strategy should concentrate on selling and retaining, but its biggest priority should be learning from user interactions with the website. Learn from interactions with the chat feature, email marketing, and affiliate advertising campaigns. This will enable improvements to the marketing automation process moving forward.

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