Did you ever read a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book?
There’s a reason that these books enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1980s and 90s. It wasn’t just about looking back to read the alternate endings (although that was fun), it was about becoming an active participant in the plotline. The reader was in control, the experience was more personalized, and, as a result, even the most disinclined young reader found him or herself invested in the story.
Now apply this principle to marketing. One of the greatest things about the world of inbound marketing is that visitors to your website are giving you all the information you need to create the sales experience that they prefer. With today’s tracking tools and a little common sense, you can allow your buyer to “choose their own adventure” — you just have to recognize when they’re signaling you to turn the page.
Our friends at Brainrider discussed this topic in their recent webinar, where they focused specifically on using tracking tools to identify the actions that indicate sales readiness. Let’s take a closer look at a few of Brainrider’s points and discuss the ways in which your prospects’ actions indicate their degree of sales readiness, as well as how you can use this information to help them along regardless of where they are in the buyers journey.
Understand the story that content tells.
Every time a visitor engages with a piece of your content (downloads a white paper, shares a blog post, etc.) they’re telling you a little bit about where they are in the buyers cycle. How? Your visitors seek out content that answers their questions, and their questions are going to correspond with their degree of understanding. Brainrider breaks things down into three basic stages, characterized by the following questions:
- What is my problem?
- How do I fix it?
- Are you right for me?
A prospect in the first stage will seek out only the most basic educational materials (if you send them pricing information at this stage, it will be, at best, ignored), whereas a prospect in the second stage may download content geared towards strategy and planning. A prospect that is ready to speak with a sales rep, however, will show interest in content that is specific to your brand — demo videos, data sheets, vendor comparisons. Gaining an understanding of what buyers are telling you with their content choices helps you determine when to reach out, or, in the case of prospects in the earlier stages, what content to send them next.
For a more thorough look at what content is appropriate at each stage, check out our content marketing timeline.
Use tiered calls-to-action.
Tiered calls-to-action are about as close as a prospect can get to choosing their own adventure. Brainrider recommends placing several calls to action in the same location, each corresponding to a different level of interest and commitment (in their example, “Download this whitepaper” vs. “Get free expert advice” vs. “Contact us”). Which call to action a prospect clicks on is straightforward insight into their level of interest, and a great direction for your next move.
Tiered calls to action on your site can tell you when it’s appropriate for a sales rep to reach out, and when to hold off. When used in a drip marketing email, tiered calls to action can indicate when a prospect is ready to move on to a more advanced nurturing track, and when they need further educational content (check out Mathew Sweezey’s webinar on “killer drips” for a deeper look at effectively targeting these campaigns).
Consider page actions.
Content downloads and call to action clicks can be very revealing, but what if a prospect doesn’t give you any of these interactions to work with? You can still tell a lot about a prospect’s interests simply by the pages that they view on your site. Checking out your blog posts could indicate any stage (don’t forget to consider whether they drilled down into any specific posts), but spending a significant amount of time on your pricing page can tell you a lot about your prospect’s sales readiness. With marketing automation, you can set up real-time alerts to notify a sales rep when a prospect is looking at one of these noteworthy pages, or automation rules that automatically score a lead based on which pages they have viewed.
Take time to understand the reasoning behind the actions your prospects take — whether it’s the content they interact with, the calls to action they click, or the pages they view on your website — and let these actions decide the pace at which your prospects move through the sales cycle. Allowing your prospects to “choose their own adventure” saves time and frustration for everyone involved.
What are some other indicative actions that prospects take, and what can you do to help move them along through the decision making process?