By Kim Albee
I'm reading new research from Marketing Sherpa about how buyers rank the most valuable content and offer types, and it's very interesting.
As marketers, we're all so used to hearing it's about educating your buyers, providing relevant content -- so it's fun to see how marketers responded to the questions, and contrast that with how buyers responded. I think the marketers were all answering with the "right" answers -- you know, based upon all of the things that they've been hearing -- it's not about the products -- it's about the customer! Educate them, etc.
Suprisingly, when reading an email, buyers say there's an increased likelihood they'd click on News and Articles, Competitive Comparisons and Buying Guides, and Promotional Content (yep, spot #3), more than any other type of content and offer (ahead of educational content, research reports, online tutorials and demos, blogs, and live social media conversations which were at the bottom of the list).
Marketers, on the other hand, thought that Educational Content, Free Research Reports, and Peer Best Practices topped the list for what would be the most compelling content that would lead to a click.
Even more suprisingly, when buyers were asked how much more likely they would be to click on certain types of offers, buyers gave the highest rank to promotional content! Buyers do want to know a vendor, who they are, what they do, etc. It isn't always about the buyer.
So, here's some useful tidbits from the study:
1. If you're sending a product/service offer via email, the sort of links you should include, that will make the emails more useful to your audience, in order of importance: (1) provide links to relevant content, (2) ability to navigate within the email to more detailed content, and (3) highlight keywords and points.
If you've been inundated with all the buzz about social media and it's importance, you might be suprised to learn (as I was) that at the bottom of the list, coming in at #11 was Links to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks, followed by #12: Links to Active Social Conversations on the Topic, at just 18% and 16% respectively.
But here's a better question -- given that information. And maybe a better way to consider it all -- which will require that you have some of your own email metrics, history and conversion metrics:
Are those 18% and 16% who click through on social media converting? If so, is it at a higher rate than others who are converting?
Basically, if the 80/20 rule applies to your leads (and it does, trust me), then 20% of your leads are providing 80% of conversions. Given that, are those 18% that are clicking through to social media the ones that are converting? If so, you don't want to start excluding those sorts of options from your emails, right?
And while it's interesting what buyers are saying -- I'm curious how what they're saying maps with what they're doing. Studies have shown that how we say we act is very different from how we actually act in the moment. How much of the study should I really pay attention to?
This is why it's important to have your own metrics and understand your target market in an intimate way. Better than any generic study, your actual metrics on your target market can tell you what "buyers" are clicking on -- that is, what was their pathway to purchasing or converting? what content did they look at? what did they consider? Your lead tracking metrics ought to provide you with that snapshot, so you can understand how buyers typically move through the process with your organization.
What takeaways are there? I have three:
1. ABT. Always Be Testing. It's the only way you will know for sure what is working and what isn't - what there is to tune and tweak. This report gives you some ideas to try. Test them and make your own determinations re: what works in your market.
2. Listen. Know your target market intimately. Recognize that you are not your target market - so what you think while it will get you in the game, isn't necessarily going to bring home the bacon in terms of responses and conversions. Establish effective listening strategies that feed your content strategy.
3. Measure. Everything that you can. Have them available to you in real time, so it can inform your efforts today. If it takes you a month to get the metrics on what you did, then you'll always be driving through the rear-view mirror.
If you're interested in the Marketing Sherpa Research article - you can find it here.
If you're interested in learning more about how to establish an effective listening strategy, click here.
If you want to discover how to automate your marketing, and get the metrics that will allow you to test and tune easily, click here.