There’s an influx of content advising businesses on how to manage in these unprecedented times. Also, creative attention-grabbing public safety announcements (PSAs) and logos for social distancing did their rounds earlier, and now there are ample “we’re in it together, alone together” campaigns.
Is that enough?
And, what if I’m not a brand / business with deep pockets to invest on PSA? As a business owner, you may be more inclined to cutting all costs to ensure you lengthen the rope, allowing you to buy time to bounce back. As a senior executive, you don’t want to be the one taking the axe and therefore want to ensure not spending much and making every dollar count. As a middle or junior level executive, you may be clinging on to your job with all your might, giving the best you can.
As a popular brand with relatively deeper pockets, you don’t want to be caught-up in a backlash or social-mockery as consumers get tired or cynical of marketing messages. See for example the mocking supercut of all COVID-19 ads put together by a YouTuber.
Perhaps a more sensible approach that looks to optimize existing resources at a fraction of the cost. And, for popular brands, perhaps also an obligation to serve the communities. Meticulous planning across the sales funnel can help.
The sales funnel
Firstly, let’s align on the objectives for different stages of the sales funnel. It’s more B2B, but similar logic can be applied for B2C:
Secondly, let’s acknowledge that although the above stages are standard, it can be varied, for example by:
- Consumer’s experience (first time buyer vs. repeat) or loyalties towards a brand
- Category riskiness and/or spontaneity (automobile vs. snack).
Typically, an optimistic sales funnel may look like this: Let’s assume your product/service costs $10,000 (this example is adapted from Nexa). Your awareness-led digital marketing drives 1,000 prospects to your website / social channels with the cost of traffic at $5000 ($5 per visit). Say 3% of those convert into a sales lead, i.e. 30 warm leads passed to your sales team.
Say 25% are disqualified (low-budget, non-serious inquiries, poor client-fit, etc.). Now, we have 22 sales qualified prospects to whom the proposals are sent. Say 33% are convert into a hot lead because they have responded positively. Now, that’s seven hot leads. Say, 30% are closed by your sales team. You have two new customers with a revenue of $20,000 ($10,000 each)
Marketing ROI: 400%
This may seemingly represent good value for money. But what if the funnel wasn’t optimistic? And, what if we could improve the traction at each stage? Here are some suggestions:
TOP OF THE FUNNEL
This certainly is a focus area for popular brands with relatively better marketing budgets. But we all know they’re massively shrinking. Low budget, no problem. Here’s how you can make every dollar count.
Put your brand purpose to test and your brand tonality respectful to the realities of today.
Use your creativity for good: In 2010, Pepsi didn’t spend on Super Bowl ads, it awarded $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and non-profits that promoted a new idea with a positive impact. This led to months of UGC and loads of earned PR.
Use your infrastructure for good: LVMH was the first to utilize its facilities to make free sanitizer to help French hospitals. It earned tons of earned PR and many others followed with similar initiatives.
Use your promotions for good: Hyundai reprised its ‘Assurance’ program, where it would make up to six months of payments for new owners who lose their jobs; whereas current owners can defer payments for up to three months in case of job-loss or medical-related hardship. In 2009 Hyundai’s US market share jumped to 4.3% from 3.1% during the first 10 months.
Simply put, your selfless acts today will have a serious effect on your future. Good acts aren’t forgotten.
We know Google isn’t just a search engine, it’s an answering ecosystem. It organically promotes content that’s genuinely useful and relevant. Similar with social-media platform like Facebook. Think of what people may be looking for at this time and how can we be useful to them. Be original and humane.
Joe Wicks has been dubbed the nation’s PE teacher in the UK: By broadcasting 30-minute PE lessons live on YouTube in a bid to improve the health of children who are forced to stay at home, he’s built up massive global online following. His secret ingredient in his own words—“It’s a little bit of fun, a little bit of silliness at a time when people are stressed and worried”.
Similarly, Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, food blogger Antoni Porowski & Little Women star Florence Pugh invited their followers into their quarantine kitchens for free cooking lessons utilizing IGTV. The videos have been streamed hundreds of thousands of times.
As philosopher Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. For anyone who has played team sports, it echoes the T.E.A.M. acronym—Together, Everyone Achieves More. This is the best time to explore who your business can partner with. Support each other, win-win.
Bandsintown (a concert discovery service) partnered with Twitch (Amazon’s livestreaming site) to allow musicians to monetize live-streamed performances via paid fan subscriptions and online tips. Result: 725,000+ unique viewers in less than 3-weeks of launch
In its recovery path, in China the Shanghai Fashion Week partnered with Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao live to stream the shows live, supporting several brands and independent designers. Result: 11 million+ views and $2.82 million+ in gross merchandise volume.
MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL
Going back to the conversion funnel, between the top of the funnel (1,000 visitors) to the bottom of the funnel (2 sales), there are many steps in the conversion process that you could optimize with low OR EVEN ZERO INITIAL COST.
Does my website have worthy enough content to attract more leads?
Tip 1: Explainer videos (Cost = $5500 upwards)
With reducing attention spans (average 8.25 secs in 2015), more are unlikely to read long text on your website. Explainer video can help understand your value proposition in few mins with more engaged eyeballs. 95% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service, compared to 10% when reading it in text (Wow!)
Google’s algorithms are also increasingly prioritizing websites with video content.
Having a video on a landing page makes it 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of the SERP (Forrester)
Tip 2: Self-improvement of your website content (Cost = $0)
Just by working on different aspects of your website with your team, you can improve the conversion significantly. Think of your audience—who are you writing for? what solution are they seeking? which words would they use to search for your product / service? what kind of title is likely to get people to click on your post?
Tip 3: How to content (Cost = $ 0 for written. $3500 upwards for videos)
This can significantly improve your google-search rankings and conversions by giving confidence of your knowledge and authority on the subject.
Think with questions like—what types of questions does your audience ask about your product/service? what questions do they ask about your industry? what problems does your product/service solve?
Apart from Google Trends, there are several free keywords tool to learn about the types of searches your audience is conducting and content that you could create to answer them.
Tip 4: Client testimonials (Cost = $ 0 for written / self-shot videos. $3500 upwards for professionally managed videos)
Not only they help you to look more valuable and believable, helping conversions; they also help in google search ranking. 72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business. And, customers who interact with reviews are 58% more likely to buy (Big Commerce).
They can be in form of customer’s experience statements, case studies, reviews, even star-ratings designed to inspire trust and confidence.
Sales followups and proposals
Tip 1: Clear processes and templates (Cost = $ 0)
Optimize your sales follow-up process by scheduling and automating follow-ups. Even the free limited capabilities of many CRM or email productivity tools, allow to compose and schedule emails to send at a later date, or in the event that a previous email went unanswered.
Using follow-up templates or script-content can also help simplify the follow up process. That said, avoid leaning too heavily on the same template and language for every lead. People know when they’re receiving a formulaic response. Taking the time to craft a personalized response shows how much you value their potential partnership.
Tip 2: Making proposals irresistible (Cost = $ 0)
Review your proposal template and make sure the content is written for your audience. Neither it’s your creds document, nor just an estimate. Minimize jargons. To improve productivity you could also consider automation tools like PandaDoc that enables fast, easy-customization, tracking (insights like received, read, forwarded, or completely ignored) and workflows
Say if you’re able to implement a lot of the above suggestion, here’s the potential result:
Improvement in brand awareness and affinity results in say conservative 25% increase in traffic to your website / social channels, i.e. 1,250 prospects. With more compelling and engaging content, conversion to lead increases from 3% to 5%. Now you have 63 warm leads passed to your sales team
With a quality website that better educated prospects the disqualification rates reduce from 25% to 20%. Now, there are 50 sales qualified prospects to send proposals to. Your proposals are better, client focused, there’s timely follow-ups. Consequently, more qualified prospects are interested, and hot leads increase from 33% to 40%. Now, that’s 20 hot leads.
Assuming a slightly higher closing rate of 40% by your sales team, you have eight new customers with a revenue of $80,000 ($10,000 each). Marketing ROI: 1500%. This allows you invest more and continuously improve.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL
Better ROI also allows us to serving better and turn customers into brand advocates via testimonials. There’s also an opportunity to strengthen and deepen relationship by cross-selling and up-selling.
Many of the examples above are clearly a simplification of reality, but it demonstrates how small changes in the content across the funnel can have big positive overall impact on your business.
Whether you’re a popular brand, a business owner, a senior middle or junior level executive—each have an important role to play and perhaps, an obligation to give more, add meaningful value.
Rohit Arora is business director and head of content strategy for Liwa Content Driven.