How can you use digital to create automated processes to bring in new customers?
Digital can provide many ways to make bringing in new customers scalable. If you're able to create repeatable processes that you can automate you can sleep knowing that digital is still on the job for you. What’s more, because digital is so measurable, it also makes for a great system that can be continually optimised to make sure you’re getting the results you want for your business.
Let's step through the process of how you would create an automated conversion funnel for your business.
Step #1 – Mapping out the key points of interaction with your potential customer
The first thing to do before you can create any kind of repeating, automated process is to map out the decision-making process that a person uses when they're making a purchase from you.
You need to understand how people will find you, what kind of questions they have and what information is essential for them to decide to buy from you or not.
With this information, you then look at how these things apply in the digital space. For example:
• Are they actively searching for you on Google?
• If so, what are the keywords or language that they use when they are searching?
• What kind of content are they looking for?
What if they aren’t looking for you? Then you need to work out what you need to do to be noticed and found. For example, do you need content on Facebook? If so, what kind of content? What will be a compelling reason for them to stop and pay attention your post? What information will they then need to decide whether to you buy from you?
By answering these questions and identifying the information that your potential customer will need, this makes it easy for you to work out what needs to be on your website, or Facebook etc.
Step #2 – Create some rules
The second thing that you need to do, is to write the decision making process down. Why? To automate anything, you need to have a system or a set of processes that can be made into a digital experience. If you write down how people interact and purchase from you, then it should read like a series of if / then statements. For example if the person does this, then provide this. Else, do this or that. If you have a number of different audiences, you can get fancy and have different processes for different people depending on what they want or like.
Putting it down into a set of rules that describes the experience you want to create allows you to understand how to automate the process online.
Sometimes, this will just mean having content ready for people to access eg. a set of FAQ’s or easily accessed delivery cost information that is in the right place contextually on your website. Other times, it will be an action that they take that triggers a process. An example might be if someone provides you with their email address, this triggers a thank and welcome series of automated emails.
Step #3 – identifying what content you need
The third thing you need to do to create an automated process is to identify and list all the content you need. This will be either evergreen or foundational content that are permanently in place to roll out your automated process. For example, this might be landing pages on your website, FAQ’s, email collection forms or email series. You create it once and then it does double time working to help bring in your customers.
Then there is the content that needs to be created on an ongoing basis, such as Facebook or Instagram posts to feed the hungry social media beast.
This list of content allows you to understand what’s needed so you can provide all the relevant digital decision making touch points, as well as being able to work out how you are going to develop all this material.
If you are going to do it yourself, great! You’ve got a check list. If you are going to have someone else help you, this list will help you properly brief them so that they can deliver exactly what you want!
Step #4 – Identifying the tools and delivery platforms
The fourth step in creating an automated funnel is to select a tool to deliver this type of content or program. Examples of tools that will help you deliver a conversion funnel include emails broadcast tools like Mailchimp or GetResponse, or phone texts and email collection forms and landing pages, or delivery of PDFs or lead magnets such as Leadpages.
More sophisticated all in one type systems for automated marketing activities are Ontraport, which is slightly more expensive and has a little bit more capability than GetResponse, or Infusionsoft. These last two are more suitable for a more mature business, versus someone who is just starting out.
The most important thing is NOT to choose what system or tool you are going to use until you have scoped out the above. Knowing what you have to deliver is like designing your house before you start building. After all, you need to know big and how many rooms you will be building!
I thought it might be useful to help demonstrate the above process with an example. The example I’ve come up with is a local winemaker with a wine club.
This is a small winery that is boutique. They don’t have a big cellar door and don’t sell into all the big-box stores.
They rely on people buying direct from them or sell their wine through local festivals, music festivals, art festivals, etc. They also rely heavily on a small but very loyal group of people that love their wines, who subscribe to their wine club.
As an objective for this process, we want people to sign up for the wine club.
1. Mapping out the key decision making points
The winemaker knows that people need to taste their wine before they will decide to purchase from them. If they like the wine, they will want to know where they can purchase the wine in future and the cost. Because the winery sells most of their wine either via the cellar door or through the wine club, they need to explain these two options. They put the most focus on the wine club, but encourage people to also visit the winery so that they can see where the grapes are grown and the wine is made. A visit to the winery allows a personal connection to be made with the wine makers and their customers.
The winemaker knows that people first discover them from one of the many local and regional festivals that they participate in around the area: music festivals, arts festivals, etc.
They always have a booth at these festivals, where they’re selling glasses of wine. It helps people to taste their wines while enjoying a drink at the event. To get people into an automated funnel, they target people on Facebook attending each festival. They will have an ad that promotes the festival and offers them a voucher for a free glass of wine, which they will email to them if they provide their email address. This allows them to actively encourage more people to try their wine at the festival as well as giving them to opportunity to tell them more about their wine after the event.
The person clicks through from the Facebook ad and lands on a page with a form. The person completes the form and submits it so that the winery now has the email address and mobile phone for that person. The person receives an email with their voucher for the event and on the day of the event, they send a reminder text with their voucher on the phone.
One thing to note is that even though we’re in the digital world, most businesses have some kind of intersection with the real world. It’s always important to map out where you intersect with the real world because those are important moments to pay attention to. You want to have the online and offline come together in a way that creates a great experience, where it adds value or it makes something much easier for the potential customer to know or achieve something with your business.
Continuing the process map that we’re creating, we then start an email series for selling people into their wine club.
This series is all about the annual wine making calendar and it provides a rich story on what’s happening throughout the year. They create a number of beautiful videos showing the vine yard and the wine making process with lots of behind the scenes information. It’s a courtship that allows the wine maker to develop personal connections and regularly invite them to visit their open cellar door days. Remember, one of the objectives is to encourage a visit to the cellar door. They use the fact that they’re small and personable as part of their selling strategy.
This email series starts with a seasonal report, and what it’s looking like in terms of the grapes and how they’re developing, and how they think that might affect the taste of the wine that they’re going to be making. They include the next cellar door date in the email and talk about this being the only opportunity to taste a particular kind of wine before it is removed from the shelves due to limited stock and only available to members of their wine club.
The second email that goes out will be reasons to consider joining a wine club such as access to exclusive wines that no one else has, as well as having a whole lot of benefits around getting to know the winemaker and understanding the process that that wine has undertaken to be made.
A third email would tell their potential customer that the wine is now ready, and introduce a fear of missing out element along the line of, “Well, this is how many bottles we’ve made, and there are only x bottles available.” By joining the wine club you’re guaranteed to get your bottles as only limited stock will be available for retail.
A fourth and final email is sent, with a special invitation to meet the winemaker and taste the wine before it goes on sale. This is an exclusive offer, again giving people an insider’s track as to how the season is going, how the wine is looking, but it’s only open to members of their wine club.
Once a person joins, a series of welcome and thank you emails are sent to encourage the new member to bring their friends along. The emails might speak to rewarding the new member for new visitors and members that they introduce to the wine club.
- Facebook ads and posts aligned to festival promotion to maximise the reach to new audiences.
- If people click through to the website, then capture of emails on website form
- If not, provide postcards at the event to encourage people to sign up for notifications of the next Open Cellar door and festival events.
- If people sign up with their email, then send a series of ‘getting to know us’ email which includes invitations to the cellar door. Using an automated marketing system, they are tagged as potential members.
- If they sign up to the club, they are tagged as new members for the welcome series.
- If they don’t sign up, they are tagged as ‘festival goers – non-members’ for future promotion.
The collateral that they need
- New Facebook posts to align to Festival event but they should re-use festival promotional material as much as possible
- Ongoing new Facebook posts about Open Cellar door events and happenings in the winery
- Website landing page and opt-in form (evergreen content)
- Membership benefits page and sign up form /shopping cart and FAQs (evergreen content)
- Email series for acquisition (evergreen content)
- Postcard to hand out at festival events and at Open Cellar Door days (evergreen content)
- Email welcome series for new members and referral asks (evergreen content).
Note how much of the above is evergreen content to be created as once-offs.
- Automated marketing tool that will allow members to be tagged for future analysis and segmented communications.
- Email broadcast tool (usually comes with automated marketing tool).
- Email collection tool which can be a pop tool or a form connected to the automated marketing tool.
This is just an example of what an automated conversion funnel might look like. It’s not very hard once you start with what do your potential customers need to know and the questions they have.
From there, you can create a system of rules and processes. The goal is to have minimal intervention so that you get to a point where it’s as automated as possible. Then you need to map out exactly what content is required to make it come to life, and then select a tool.
Try and select your tool/s only after you have gone through this process of mapping out what you need to do in the first instance, because depending on what you actually create and what your customers want to see, you don’t want to choose a tool that really is going to limit what you can do. Having said that, you need to be reasonable and not go for the full-blown, most expensive tool on the market just because you’ve created an incredibly complex automated conversion funnel.
My best advice here is start out small. Understand that you can scale it up and go big once it's working well. Work out what’s the minimum piece that can get away with and put that in place. Get that up and running, optimize it in terms of watching it. Ask if it's working regularly?
Once it’s working in a way that you feel really confident and it’s delivering at a conversion rate that you’re happy with, you can start to scale up and target more of your audience to increase the number of leads and sales.
If you’d like to work with a digital strategist to see how you can create your own automated conversion funnel, book in for a Digital Discovery Session to explore how digital might help with your business.