How to Build A Digital Marketing Engine

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Carburetor. Piston. Exhaust. Each part of an engine plays a specific role in converting fuel into motion. Similarly, you marketing efforts --such as social media posts, landing pages, marketing emails -- play specific roles in turning anonymous people into the customers that make your business a success.

Defining a systematic marketing function is essential guiding your customers through the customer journey. There are a number of frameworks that attempt to define this process, but I have come to favor a particular method that combines the decision making journey with lifecycle stages. Allow me to use this to frame how you can create a high octane marketing engine.

Lifecycle Stages

  1. Lead: An anonymous person becomes a lead when they show initial interest in your product, often by providing contact information.
  2. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): This lead has been evaluated by marketing teams and deemed more likely to become a customer.
  3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Further assessment by the sales team qualifies this lead as ready for direct sales engagement.
  4. Customer: The lead has made a purchase and is now a customer.
  5. VIP: A customer who shows high engagement, loyalty, and repeat purchases, becoming a valuable asset to the business.

Mapping the Customer Journey

  • Awareness Stage: The journey starts with an anonymous person who becomes a lead. This is where they first become aware of your brand and show initial interest.
  • Consideration Stage: The lead then becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) as they show more interest and engage with your marketing efforts. They may then become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) as they seriously consider making a purchase.
  • Decision Stage: The SQL makes the decision to purchase, transitioning from a potential customer to an actual customer.
  • Retention & Ascension Stage: Post-purchase, the customer's journey can take different paths. In the best case, they become a VIP, showing high loyalty and engagement. The second-best scenario is they remain a customer, perhaps making repeat purchases. The worst-case scenario is they become a former customer, disengaging from your brand.

What is Stage 1: Awareness?

The Awareness Stage is about art of first impressions and laying the foundation for customer engagement. It's where you make your grand entrance and leave a lasting impression. The goal? To introduce your brand or product in such a compelling way that visitors can't help but want more. Here you want to get you brand in front of prospective buyers and as many of them as possible.

What platforms should you use for the Awareness Stage?

There are a million tools to get your brand out there. You could use social media. You could use direct mail. Hell, you could knock on people’s doors. When you are starting out, it’s worth researching and testing a wide array of platforms to see what works. Here are some platforms I have typically started with:

  • Organic Traffic Sources: Leverage SEO, social media, conferences, and direct traffic to attract leads without direct advertising costs.
  • Paid Ads: Platforms like Google and Facebook are powerful for targeted lead generation that you can heavily target your audiences, yet at a cost
  • Offline Sources: This could be a pen and paper, flyer with a QR code, or form at a conference

Additionally, here are some tools you will need to get started:

  • Landing Page Tools: Use platforms like Hubspot, Mailchimp, or Unbounce to create landing pages that can convert and be tested.

What KPIs should you use for the Awareness Stage?

To navigate this stage effectively, you need to keep a close eye on specific KPIs. Here's what you should be tracking:

  • Cost Per Lead
  • Number of Impressions (for each channel)
  • Number of clicks (from each channel)
  • Number of Landing Page Views (from each channel)
  • Number of Leads (from each attribution source)
  • Click Through Rate
  • Landing Page Conversion Rate

Your Awareness Blueprint

Now, let's talk about the tasks that will drive your success in the Awareness stage:

  1. Simplify Your Entry Point: Having a single entry point into your funnel simplifies analysis, optimization, and tracking. It streamlines the user experience and helps you reach statistical significance faster for testing.
  2. Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet: Develop content offers that are too good to pass up. These could be e-books, webinars, or discount codes that require an email address to access.
  3. Clean Data Integration: Ensure that the data from your campaigns is seamlessly integrated into your database. Clean, organized data is key to measuring success and making informed decisions.
  4. Optimize Free Content: Your content should not only attract a high volume of leads but also convert them into customers. Think blog posts, infographics, and videos that provide value and encourage sign-ups.
  5. Test Consistently: The digital landscape is always changing. Regular testing and optimization of your campaigns and landing pages are essential.

What is Stage 2: Consideration?

What platforms should you use for the Consideration Stage?

Leveraging the right platforms and tools is vital in this stage. Consider using:

  • Email Marketing: A powerful tool for personalized communication and nurturing leads.
  • SMS Marketing: Offers a direct and immediate way to engage with potential customers.
  • Sales Outreach: Involves direct contact with leads, typically through calls or personalized emails.
  • Paid Ads - Retargeting: Target leads who have already shown interest in your product or service, reminding them of your offerings.

What KPIs should you use for the Consideration Stage?

To navigate this stage effectively, you need to keep a close eye on specific KPIs. Here's what you should be tracking:

  • Cost Per Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Cost Per Sales Qualified Lead
  • Number of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads)
  • Number of SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads)
  • Conversion Rate from Lead to MQL
  • Conversion Rate from MQL to SQL
  • Avg. Time as Lead before conversion
  • Avg. Time as MQL before conversion

Your Consideration Blueprint

  1. Define MQLs and SQLs: Clearly establish what criteria a lead must meet to be considered an MQL or SQL. This definition should be objective and repeatable.
  2. Optimize Communication: Tailor your messaging and outreach efforts to effectively engage and nurture leads at the MQL and SQL stages.
  3. Develop Entry-Level Offers: Create compelling offers or incentives that encourage leads to move further down the funnel. These could be trial versions, demos, or detailed product information that addresses specific needs or pain points

What is Stage 3: Decision?

The Decision Stage is the critical point in the customer journey where prospects make the final call to purchase your product or service. This stage is all about converting Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) into actual customers. It's where your efforts in nurturing and engaging leads culminate in a tangible outcome – a sale.

What platforms should you use for the Decision Stage?

In this stage, the following platforms and tools are crucial:

  • Email Marketing: For personalized, final-pitch communications.
  • SMS Marketing: To send timely, urgent messages that can prompt immediate action.
  • Sales Outreach: Direct engagement to close the deal, including phone calls and personalized follow-ups.

What KPIs should you use for the Decision Stage?

To navigate this stage effectively, you need to keep a close eye on specific KPIs. Here's what you should be tracking:

  • Number of SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads)
  • Number of Customers
  • Conversion Rate from SQL to Customer
  • Avg. Time as SQL before conversion
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) = Ad Spend / Number of New Customers
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) = (Total Revenue / Number of Purchases) * (Number of Purchases / Number of Unique Customers) * Avg. Customer Lifespan
  • Return on Investment (ROI) = LTV / CAC
  • Average Order Value

Your Decision Blueprint

  1. Offer Clear and Compelling Calls to Action: Ensure that your marketing materials and communications have straightforward and irresistible calls to action that encourage the final purchase.
  2. Identify and Address Common Objections: Understand the hurdles or doubts that prevent SQLs from becoming customers and adjust your sales process to address these concerns effectively.
  3. Optimize Sales Scripts and Letters for Conversion: Tailor your sales pitches and written materials to resonate with the needs and pain points of your SQLs, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.
  4. Simplify the Purchasing Process: Make the path to purchase as easy and frictionless as possible. A complicated or lengthy process can deter potential customers at the last moment.

What is Stage 4: Conversion?

In Stage 4, the journey shifts towards deepening the bond with your existing customers. The Retention & Ascension Stage is crucial for sustaining long-term business growth. It's about turning one-time buyers into repeat customers, reducing churn, and maximizing the Lifetime Value (LTV) of each customer. This stage is not just about keeping customers but also about elevating their experience and encouraging them to engage more deeply with your brand.

What platforms should you use for the Conversion Stage?

  • Email Marketing: For personalized communication, updates, and special offers.
  • SMS Marketing: To engage customers with timely, relevant messages.
  • Sales Outreach: For direct engagement and personalized follow-up with customers.

What KPIs should you use for the Conversion Stage?

To navigate this stage effectively, you need to keep a close eye on specific KPIs. Here's what you should be tracking:

  • Number of Customers
  • Number of Churned Customers
  • Number of VIPs (Very Important Persons)
  • Conversion Rate from Customer to VIP
  • Churn Rate
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) = (Total Revenue / Number of Purchases) * (Number of Purchases / Number of Unique Customers) * Avg. Customer Lifespan
  • Average Order Value

Your Conversion Blueprint

  1. Collect Customer Feedback: Implement a system to gather insights from your customers regularly. This feedback is invaluable for understanding their needs and improving your offerings.
  2. Optimize Communication Methods: Identify the most effective channels for communicating with your customers and refine your approach to ensure your messages resonate.
  3. Identify Key Stages in the Retention and Upsell Journey: Understand the critical touchpoints in the customer journey where you can enhance engagement or offer upsells.
  4. Continuously Improve Customer Experience and Product: Use customer feedback and data to constantly refine your product and the overall customer experience.
  5. Encourage and Reward Referrals: Implement a referral program that incentivizes customers to recommend your brand to others, thereby expanding your customer base organically.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Each stage of the customer journey, from Awareness to Conversion, plays a crucial role in transforming prospects into loyal customers. By understanding and effectively implementing strategies at each stage, businesses can create a seamless and efficient pathway that not only attracts leads but also nurtures and retains them as valuable customers. Here are key takeaways to remember:

Key Takeaways

  1. Lifecycle Stages are Crucial: Recognize the importance of each stage - Lead, MQL, SQL, Customer, and VIP - and tailor your strategies accordingly.
  2. Awareness is the Foundation: Invest in diverse platforms and track key metrics like Cost Per Lead and Landing Page Conversion Rate to build a strong initial connection.
  3. Consideration Requires Precision: Use targeted tools like Email and SMS Marketing, focusing on KPIs such as Conversion Rates from Lead to MQL and MQL to SQL.
  4. Decision Stage is Critical: Optimize your sales scripts and simplify the purchasing process, keeping an eye on metrics like Customer Acquisition Cost and Return on Investment.
  5. Retention & Ascension for Growth: Focus on deepening customer relationships in the Conversion Stage, using feedback and personalized communication to increase Lifetime Value and reduce churn.
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