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How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape. My friend and colleague Karen Kraska with Forlight Marketing does this part well.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model

The Duct Tape philosophy is that marketing is a system. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a great marketing strategy that, without a guiding framework, it’s easy to get tangled up, twisted around, and lost completely in the weeds.

Over the years, I’ve developed two systems that inform all of the marketing work we do: the marketing hourglassTM and the marketing maturity model. The marketing hourglass is a way of thinking about the customer journey. These are the steps that a consumer will take in engaging with your brand. It starts with first coming to know you, and goes all the way down to when they’ve become a happy repeat customer, ready to refer friends.

The marketing maturity model is a way for you think about your own marketing activities. What are the assets you need to build, then grow and amplify (or ignite) in order to guide those prospects from the top to the bottom of the marketing hourglass?

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how the two systems are inextricably linked, and how you can align the way you think about the work you do behind the scenes to create your marketing presence with the experience customers are having on the other side.

The Top of the Hourglass and The Grow Phase

The top of the marketing hourglass is when prospects are first coming to know your brand. We call them the know, like, and trust phases. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but as they move through these three steps, they’re getting closer.

It starts with them first encountering your brand. Maybe they hear your name from a friend, maybe they discover you in a Google search. Whatever the case may be, you need to greet them with a solid marketing base at this stage to get them to go any further.

marketing hourglass

Create a Strong Website and Tackle SEO

Don’t you grow wary when a business operating today doesn’t have a website? What are they trying to hide? Or how far behind the times are they? The first step in the marketing maturity model is building a great website because it is the heart of your online presence. A strong website is more than great design; it’s about incorporating a modern promise that shows you understand your customers’ problems and have the best solution out there to fix it.

Behind every great website is a strong SEO strategy. While SEO is an ongoing process and there are dozens of factors to consider if you’re taking a pro-level approach, even a marketing novice can use some SEO quick fixes, like repairing broken links, checking site speed, and designing a mobile-friendly site, to get your website ranking higher.

Build Trust with Content

Once the prospect has discovered your website, you need to provide them with ways to come to know and trust your brand. That’s where the other elements of the build phase—a strong content program, social media presence, and email marketing campaign—come in.

The content on your website (blog posts, explainer videos, product descriptions, your about us page—if it’s on your website, it’s content!), should help prospects get a greater sense of what you do. Your homepage will draw them in with a promise to solve their problem, your other content needs to prove that you’re as good as you say you are. Informative blog posts, glowing reviews from existing customers, and explainer videos that teach viewers something valuable are all great ways for them to come to know and trust your brand.

Get on Social Media

Social media can help in the like and trust phases, too. Simply having a presence on the major social sites gives your business greater legitimacy. Then, creating a strong social presence, with consistent posts that are relevant and helpful, builds on the trust factor.

And take it beyond simply posting—engaging with your followers on social media means building a personal connection. It allows prospects to get to know the individuals behind the brand, and when they get 1:1 responses to their questions and comments on your page, they develop a deep trust in your business: “If they’re paying this much attention to me before I even become a customer, I’m sure I’ll be in good hands once I make a purchase!”

Stay Top-of-Mind with Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a great way to continue to show your expertise and remain in prospects’ fields of vision. While they have to seek out your website content or social media profiles, creating an email newsletter filled with helpful tidbits (and the occasional offer) allows you to come to them with your industry knowledge.

The Middle of the Hourglass and the Grow Phase

The middle of the hourglass are the stages we like to call try and buy. By this point, you’ve built a lot of trust around your brand. Your prospects are intrigued and really like what you do. If you can make a compelling offer to get them to give you a try, and the trial goes well, that’s often what seals the deal and helps them convert to full customer.

At this point in the marketing maturity model, you want to continue expanding your essential blocks from the build phase. Your website and content program can grow. Adding things like a regular podcast with a cadre of exciting industry guests is a great way to strengthen your content. Gather all of your relevant content together onto hub pages to give your content program and SEO a boost.

Speaking of expanding SEO efforts, focus on building up backlinks, and get Google Search Console set up so that you can optimize your search ranking for many years to come.

Also, continue to engage and follow up with leads via social media and email marketing. But it doesn’t stop there; now is the time to introduce new tactics to grow your existing relationships and turn prospects into customers.

Undertake Paid Lead Generation

When we say paid lead generation, we’re talking about things like search ads and social media advertising. These can come in many forms. A great place to start is with boosting content on social media, giving posts you’ve shared organically a broader reach for a small fee.

The more advanced tactics take you further into tracking your ads and getting more efficient about driving conversions.

Once you’ve established a series of Google Ads, you can use their offline tracking tool to understand how your ads are impacting business in the real world. By importing your sales information from conversions that happen in your brick-and-mortar store or over the phone, you can better understand the effectiveness of your online ads and refine your approach to win over more prospects.

For all of your ads, you should be creating landing pages that are unique to that particular campaign. In doing that, prospects find the exact deal, offer, or topic that intrigued them in the ad front-and-center on your website, and it makes them all the more likely to convert.

Create a Culture that Integrates Sales and Marketing

Your marketing efforts can take you pretty far, but you need them to be integrated with your sales approach from the start in order to get the greatest result. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in communication from day one about prospects.

Set up a clear process for the handoff from the marketing to sales teams, so no one falls through the cracks. And have your marketing team create materials for your sales team, so your brand voice remains consistent in those interactions with prospects as you’re shepherding them from your marketing to sales basket. My friend and colleague Tom Shipley at Cole-Dalton Marketing Services in St Louis does this element so well.

Focus on Customer Experience

This is the stage at which your prospects become customers. They’ve liked you enough up to this point to give you a try, so the customer experience must be stellar. That’s the way to take them from one-time customer to repeat buyer.

This starts with a killer onboarding process. No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s some kind of onboarding for new customers.

If you sell products, your onboarding has to do with getting the product to your customer and ensuring they know how to use it. If you’re shipping your items, make sure that you have a process for your customers to track their packages. Once the item gets to them, include information that will help them get the most out of their new item.

For complicated products, like an electronic device, include clear instructions and maybe even a link to explainer videos to help them get set up. Simpler products, like clothing items, can include care instructions or even just a thoughtful thank you card to show you appreciate your customer’s business.

For services, your onboarding process might be more complex. Establishing a single point of contact within your company for any questions your new client may have, and sending along forms and paperwork that can help you both get on the same page faster, are important elements of your onboarding process.

No matter what kind of business you run, reviews are also very important at the try and buy stage. If you have an unhappy first-time customer, a speedy, sincere response to their complaint can turn things around and save the relationship. Similarly, glowing reviews shouldn’t go ignored. If you take the time to thank new customers for their positive feedback, their happy feelings will only grow!

The Bottom of the Hourglass and the Ignite Phase

By the time you’ve reached the bottom of the marketing hourglass, you’ve already won over that first-time customer. This is your chance to get them to become a life-long customer, and to tell all of their friends and family about your business.

And while it’s statistically easier to hold onto existing customers than to win new ones over, the last thing you want to do is take someone for granted now! You’ve already put in the hard work of converting them; you need to continue to wow them so that they’ll stick around.

Again, you continue to work on the existing tactics you’ve got up and running, from your website through to sales enablement and customer experience. But here, you add three more elements to take your marketing approach to a whole new level and build those lifelong customer bonds.

Invest in a CRM

A customer relationship management tool (or CRM, for short), helps you to better manage all of your customer interactions, both old and new. The tool allows you to track all points of contact with prospects and customers.

This is helpful in better understanding prospects’ path to conversion, and in offering better service to your existing customers.

Let’s say you have an existing customer who’s had an issue with an order. When your team can see that they called last week and emailed a few days later to follow up—and can pull up the transcripts of those communications, plus see notes from the customer service representative who was handling the case—you’re better able to take appropriate action for your customer, without making them explain their problem over and over each time they reach out.

Or maybe you have a customer that’s never had a complaint in their life. The CRM can still help; it can provide information for you to make smarter offers to that customer. If you’re a home improvement store and you notice that a customer recently purchased a dehumidifier, you can target them with ads about replacement filters for their new machine.

Whether you’re troubleshooting, looking for new cross-sell opportunities, or simply trying to better understand your sales pipeline, a CRM is the way to do it.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and a CRM tool often go hand-in-hand. The CRM gives you all of the customer information you could need or want to enact smart marketing automation techniques.

When you understand your customers’ behaviors, you can segment your buyers into different personas. Each type of customer has their own unique needs that your business meets, and when you understand those needs, you can create marketing materials that most effectively speak to them (and direct that messaging only at the relevant parties).

Take Advantage of AI and Analytics

Also tied in with your customer information is analytics and AI. When you’re gathering information on your customers, you can use analytics to understand what the data all means and, from there, refine your marketing strategy long-term.

Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website are free to use, and can provide you with deep, meaningful information about the behaviors and attributes of your customers and prospects. You can even use more advanced techniques, like call tracking, to understand how your online marketing efforts are affecting customers’ behaviors on the phone.

Armed with this information, you can undertake A/B testing, showing two different marketing messages to two different audiences in order to understand which one works best. This kind of testing allows you to hone in on the best possible messaging for each segment of your audience, helping you to retain existing customers and win new ones who might be referred by your biggest fans.

When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you need to align your marketing tactics with what your prospects and customers want and need. By using the marketing hourglass as a guidepost while you walk through the marketing maturity model, you can build a strong marketing presence that will work for your business from start to finish.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Shaping the Customer Journey.

The Three Step System for Keeping Clients for Three Years or Longer

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 3 Step System to Keep Clients 3 Years or Longer

I’ve been a marketing consultant for many years, working with all sorts of small business owners. Not only that, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with fellow marketing consultants, having developed the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

The topic of this podcast relates to any business, but especially to those in a service business or those who are marketing consultants. When you’re running this type of business, the key to success is developing a specific method for keeping clients happy and getting them increasingly better results over the years.

My business took off when I realized that there was a process to doing this, and in the intervening years, I’ve created a three step system, which I share with the Consultant Network, that helps them to keep clients for three years or longer. Today, I’m going to share that process with you.

1. Develop a Repeatable Process

Having a process that you can repeat and get better at is one of the secrets to scaling a consulting firm and keeping clients longer.

The Duct Tape Marketing System is our repeatable system. It relies heavily on the idea of placing strategy before tactics; we call our practice strategy first. We help our clients understand who their ideal client is, what their core message and value proposition are, and then use content as the voice of that strategy. All of this is mapped out over the customer journey, or what we call the marketing hourglass. Any client that walks through our door gets a variation of this service. After that, we get into build, grow, and ignite—our terminology for our implementation steps.

This allows us to have a repeatable process that isn’t simply cookie cutter. In reality, 80 percent of small businesses all need the same 80 percent of services. They just need those services applied in slightly different ways, depending on the specifics of their business and their core strengths. That is really what the consulting part of the job is; the other stuff is about implementation.

Beyond the repeatable marketing system for developing your strategy, you must also have a repeatable methodology. Every client is educated the same way, converted the same way, the discovery process and research you do for the client is managed the same way. You not only have a repeatable process for getting them results, you also have a repeatable process for their experience.Duct Tape Marketing System

Our system is also built around the fact that marketing is always changing and evolving. We have 11 channels that our approach is built around.

We have to understand that all of these channels exist, and our job is to look at where each business is and then see which channels make sense for them. For example, if a business has an outdated website and no social media presence, they’re not going to be ready to start a podcast. We’ve got to go back to basics with them and get those foundational steps up and running before moving on to other channels.

We use the build, grow, and ignite roadmap to show a client how they’ll move down the roadmap. We charge a monthly retainer fee and can show a client exactly where we’re going to take them. A lot of consultants sell a project or specific result; we show clients how they have the ability to grow over the years if they stick with us and our broader plan for their business.

2. You Need a Consistent Flow of Leads (and a Process to Convert Them)

You don’t need a ton of leads or a complicated funnel to find them, you just need to make those leads convert. You need to get to a point where 50, 60, or 80 percent of those leads see a compelling reason to hire you.

A lot of consultants can get by with only a handful of clients at any given time. That means you only need to be speaking to two or three leads—as long as they’re the right leads—every month.

It’s important to establish a set of funnels. Don’t just put all of your prospecting eggs in one basket. Network with strategic partners to tap into their existing set of customers and contacts. Go out and speak at relevant events and conferences, establishing yourself as a thought leader and showing to people the value that you could add to their business, should they choose to hire you.

Content plays a huge role in the prospecting process. I’ve been speaking a lot recently about the value of hub pages.

hub pages graphic description

If you want an example for how a hub page looks in the wild, check out our local marketing guide. This page is structured in a way that looks like an online course, and it contains everything you could want to know about local marketing. A lot of this content was written long before we created this hub page, but it was scattered everywhere.

We know people are looking for information about this broad topic, so we built a hub pages where we’ve taken all of our relevant content that we’ve written over the years, and structured it in a way that would be helpful for someone looking for a total crash course on the topic.

Then on the page we include a content upgrade—someone looking for local marketing tips is probably interested in the local SEO checklist, too. From there, we capture their email address and are able to start a conversation that gets us on the road to nurturing that lead.

Once we’ve shared information via our hub page and gotten the attention of leads with a content upgrade, we offer our Total Online Presence Audit. As a part of this audit process, we’ll look at your website and understand the message; look at the content, structure, SEO, paid leads, competitive landscape; and then provide you with a full report and recommendations on what should be your top priorities.

We charge a little money for this service. And the reason we do this is because it attracts leads that have the mentality of wanting to invest in their marketing. We’re then able to use the research from the Total Online Presence Audit to put together a thoughtful, specific proposal for that business, should they choose to engage us for marketing services.

This approach not only allows us to convert more people, but to also convert them to a higher priced fee. Customers get bought into wanting to really fix the problems we’ve identified, and then we’re able to convince them of the value of investing in a broader marketing strategy.

3. Have Trained Partners and an Account Team

Unless you’re just doing strategy consulting and not offering any sort of implementation, you’re going to need extra hands to help you get it all done. It doesn’t make sense for you as the consultant who’s building the business to spend time on implementation for each of your clients. You need to be free to do the higher level thinking on behalf of your clients and on scaling your own business.

Bringing in a team of qualified partners and an account team allows you to free up your time. And when your process is repeatable, it’s easy to delegate tasks to this team.

There are components of a repeatable process that you can train outside people to do. There are so many great freelance remote workers out there; you as the consultant can do the strategic thinking, but then you can ask the account manager to deal with the more tactical work.

They can also manage reporting. An account manager is able to keep track of both your clients and your partners, communicating with them on a weekly basis. You as the consultant can then stay at the strategic level, but you can remain in clients’ fields of vision each week so that they know they’re being taken care of.

Bonus Step: Invest in a Mentor and Community

When you’re a solopreneur, it’s important to have a community for feedback and support. You want proof that you’re not crazy, help finding new clients, and feedback on your strategy and approach.

Working by yourself in a room every day can be lonely and leave you feeling disconnected. Finding a community that is doing the same thing you’re doing can be extremely valuable (both in growing your business and keeping your spirits high).

Want to learn more about the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network?

If you’re a consultant and anything resonates that you’ve heard here today resonates, check out ducttape.me/discover for information on an upcoming live training with me, where I walk you through the methodology of our Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Three: Ignite

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 3: Ignite

This is the third episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out the previous two episodes on Stage 1: Build and Stage 2: Grow.

We’ve reached the third stage of the model for marketing maturity. Stage one was focused on building your house and getting the five most essential elements in order. Stage two was about getting those five channels to a level where they can start to pay dividends, and then adding on three additional channels.

Now, in the third phase, you can take the foundation you’ve built and go even deeper into expanding upon the elements that will grow your business. Here, we’ll look at adding a final layer that will amplify and ignite the work you’ve already done.

In addition to going even deeper into the channels you’ve already established, here you add CRM, marketing automation, and analytics and tracking into the mix.

Expand On Your Website and Content

With a fully functioning website, your focus now should be on optimizing the various elements even further. You’ll want to track your conversion rate and make changes to optimize those numbers. This is also where you should think about segmenting your content. You might even build mini-websites on top of your larger website, with content that is targeted at specific groups and buyer personas.

Finally, you want to think about harnessing your existing content for specific stages of the customer journey. How can you use content to ignite sales? How specifically can it assist in cross-selling and upselling? And how do you create content that gets shared and establish viral loops?

Add to SEO

Once you’ve created your on- and off-page SEO approach, you can continue to build on it. This is where you can add other forms of content, like a podcast, to increase your authority and ranking within search results. Appearing as a guest on existing podcasts allows you to build up even more links to your content.

Continue to dive deeper into your Google Search Console data. Take what you learn there and use it to increase organic click through rate on your website. This data can also help you to make changes that will allow you to appear in voice search and featured snippets, both of which are becoming increasingly relevant in the Google landscape.

Build Social Media Campaigns

Now that you have a presence across all relevant social platforms and have begun to boost posts and take a stab at paid advertising, now is the time to create broader campaigns. You might even look to create your own community online, with groups that encourage your fans and customers to come together.

Live video is another critical element in social media, and a lot of business owners are tempted to start putting out video content immediately. In reality, it’s not worth adding live video into the mix until you’ve done the work in the build and grow phases and have the basic framework of your social media presence in place.

Enhance Email Marketing Campaigns

In the earlier stages, you cleaned up your email marketing list and ran reengagement campaigns. This is the phase where you can begin to further segment your audience and run more and more complex campaigns.

Grow Your Paid Search Approach

The next step with paid search is to build an even more robust approach to your Google Ads. Establishing landing pages on your website that are tailored to specific campaigns is a great way to enhance the personalization of your messaging and impress prospects. You can also add display ads and re-marketing to your paid approach.

Establish Processes Around Sales Enablement

In the ignite phase, you’re able to get even more strategic about the way in which you present your offers to prospects. What gives you the greatest shot at making the sale? How can you best nurture leads that come in? If someone is already a customer, what do you do to get them to repeat?

You can also consider adding speaking engagements into the mix, here. Like what you did earlier in establishing a partner network, speaking allows you to tap into others’ existing networks and grow your brand’s reach even further.

Delight as Part of the Customer Experience

A top-notch customer experience is about delighting them so much that they not only repeat, but refer your business. What can you do to stand out from the competition and win their repeat business? Maybe this is something like the talk triggers that Jay Baer advocates for, which not only encourage repeat business but create word-of-mouth marketing. Maybe it’s an event that offers a unique experience or access to valuable information to your existing customers.

Whatever it is, you should be using customer feedback to inform these marketing decisions. When you understand how your current customers feel about the service they receive from your business, you can create future campaigns, events, and products that directly address their needs and any gaps they’ve identified in your current approach.

You also should establish a concrete way to generate referrals; this is where a referral program comes in.

This is what a fully realized marketing maturity model looks like. It’s the groundwork for your marketing plan moving forward. Use this as your roadmap, and in some cases it can be your three-year marketing plan.

From here, we add in the final three elements of the ignite phase.

1. Customer Relationship Management

You’ve already organized contact information in the build phase. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help you further organize and track all relevant customer data.

What does it take to initiate a record? How are you going to segment prospects and customers? What does the customer journey look like within your CRM tool? Once you’ve answered these questions and established a clear process for tracking and responding to customer behavior, you can go back in and take a look at the results.

Which approaches are generating conversions, and which ones are falling flat? When you’re tracking responses within your CRM, you can continue to refine your marketing approach over time.

2. Marketing Automation

Most CRM tools today include a marketing automation component. This allows you to track behavior, score leads, and create and launch campaigns that are triggered by specific behaviors or actions.

You can create campaigns that are triggered when someone opens an email, clicks a link, visits a website, or makes a specific purchase. This again speaks to the importance of personalization. When your business responds to customers’ actions with relevant follow-up, that is a key component in creating a great customer experience.

3. Analytics

Hopefully, you installed Google Analytics on the very first day you created your website. But now that the site is up and running, you can begin to set goals within Analytics. Decide on the KPIs you want to monitor, track your results, and tie all advertising activity back to what happens in Analytics.

Call tracking is another important element for any small business. Interactions through your online channels generate tons of data. You can see where you got a click on your website, who liked and shared your social media, or who opened your email newsletter.

But beyond that, you want to understand who actually became a customer. Call tracking allows you to keep tabs on who actually called your business, what happened in the interaction, and whether or not they decided to make a purchase from you.

The model of marketing maturity is divided into three phases for a reason. The build phase is about getting your house in order, and some businesses remain there for a very long time. Hopefully, though, you aim to progress to the later stages. But you can’t do that without the fundamentals from the build stage being in place. And you can’t do the work to ignite your marketing efforts until you have established all the channels in the grow phase.

The key thing to remember is that all of these elements are the tactics that make up a larger marketing strategy. You must have the larger strategic picture in place first, and use that to guide the implementation of the individual tactics.

If you want to learn more about the model of marketing maturity, or you feel like this strategy first approach is missing from your business, reach out to us.

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by AXA Equitable Life.

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Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Two: Grow

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage Two: Grow

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 2: Grow

This is the second episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out Stage 1: Build and Stage 3: Ignite.

The idea behind the marketing maturity model is that every business needs to begin by building the foundation for their marketing. Once they’ve built a solid foundation, they can start to grow and later ignite, or amplify, their marketing approach.

Website, content, social media, SEO, and email marketing are the primary five channels. In grow, now that we’ve built those foundational elements, we can add on paid lead generation, sales enablement, and customer experience.

1. Grow Your Website

In the build phase, you established a modern website. It has a clear promise and is mobile-friendly. Now is the time for you to add your business’s story. Incorporate your customer into the experience. Create segments so that visitors feel like the story you’re telling is speaking directly to them.

You also want to address additional technical concerns. Your website must be HTTPS secure. This is something that Google is taking note of, and those visiting your site on a Chrome browser now see a big “Not Secure” warning next to your URL if you haven’t switched to HTTPS (more on how to do that here).

Your website must also load quickly. Not only is this an important element in the customer experience, Google will also punish you in search rankings if your site loads slowly. Not sure where you stack up? You can check your site’s load times for both desktop and mobile with the PageSpeed Insights tool.

2. Get the Most Out of Your Content

Once you’ve begun the process of creating content, you want to use it as a lead generation tool. In the grow phase, the focus should switch from getting traffic to winning conversions.

In the build phase, you established a site with a review funnel, video, and core pages. The next step is to create hub pages.

Hub pages are the best way to create a content asset for your website. The pages bring together all of your relevant information on a given topic all under one roof, and so readers love them and Google rewards them in their rankings.

3. Grow Your Email List

Hub pages have an additional benefit. Once you’ve proven your thought leadership and expertise on the hub topic page, you can marry these hub pages with content upgrades. Visitors will be convinced by both the quality and quantity of information on these pages that you are the subject matter expert, and so they’ll feel there’s a good reason to give you their email address in exchange for more information.

Once you have obtained their email address and captured, you can begin to nurture your relationship with them through effective email campaigns.

3. On- and Off-Page SEO

In the build phase, you established your Google My Business page, ensured that data directories were all correct, and included descriptive, keyword-rich title tags and meta descriptions for all pages of your website.

As part of the grow phase, the first step is to master Google Search Console. This free tool from Google gives you remarkable insight into how and why people are coming to your website.

You also want to begin thinking about SEO beyond the bounds of your own website. How can you get other people to link to your content? Guest posts are a great place to start. Reaching out to relevant thought leaders in your industry and offering to write for their blogs (and asking them to contribute to yours) is a way to build up a network of external links—not to mention meaningful business connections.

Refreshing and updating your existing content is another part of the equation. For your evergreen content, what can you do to keep it relevant? Is there updated information that will keep this content useful for readers finding it today for the first time? Can you add new links that will enhance its usefulness and boost SEO?

4. Social Media Engagement and Outreach

Once you’ve established your social media presence, branded it, and have started posting content, you want to begin thinking about generating engagement. This is about asking questions that get your followers involved and start a conversation. It’s also time to think strategically about how to get people to like and share your content.

Media outreach can be a part of this next phase of social media as well. Are there publications in your area that you can share your content with? This will open you up to their established readership base, and introduce your name to new people who might be interested in what you do. Reaching out to influencers in the industry is another part of outreach. How can you get those who already have the attention of your ideal prospects talking about your products or services?

The key to expanding on the strategy you established during the build phase is doing it in a logical order. This chart provides an overview for the three stages of the marketing maturity model, and how you can begin to expand your existing channels and add new ones as you move through each stage.

Marketing Maturity Model for Small Business

Now that you’ve progressed to the grow phase, it’s time to add the following channels:

  • Paid Lead Generation
  • Sales Enablement
  • Customer Experience

Once you have the foundational assets down, you can use these assets to generate leads and get sales conversations going.

1. Paid Lead Generation

Paid lead generation is about advertising on social media and search engines. I’ve written before about best practices for Facebook and Google ads, but this is also the phase where you should begin boosting your existing content on social media.

This is precisely why paid lead generation isn’t introduced until the grow phase. You can’t boost content that doesn’t exist, and you don’t want to begin spending money to generate leads if you don’t have a solid foundation of content, reviews, and trust elements for them to look to. Spending money to drive prospects to a bare-bones website will not generate leads and may, in fact, scare people off. Prospects need to have a clear sense of what they’re supposed to get out of your website once they arrive there.

2. Sales Enablement

The first step of sales enablement is looking to establish strategic partnerships. Are there other business owners that you can network with to generate leads for your business? These partnerships are great because they’re mutually beneficial: you get access to their existing network, and vice versa. For more on how to establish a strong network of strategic partners, check out this post.

This is also the phase where you should introduce what I like to call the discovery process. Someone visits your website, clicks your ad, or gives your business a call—now what? How do you know if they’re a good fit for you, and if they’re someone you want to work with? In this phase, you want to build a concrete process around what you do when someone expresses interest in your business.

3. Customer Experience

The build phase was about generating reviews, the grow phase is about responding to them. How you respond to reviews is a critical part of the customer experience, not just for the reviewer, but for any other customers who may happen upon the review in the future. And in fact, your responses to reviews, when handled properly, can become a great form of content that business owners often overlook.

You also want to build a structured onboarding process for new customers. Marketing is about so much more than just getting the sale; it’s about keeping an existing customer happy and coming back for more. Once you acquire a customer, what happens? What does their welcome kit look like? How do you set expectations moving forward?

The build phase was focused on the fundamentals. The grow phase was about adding components onto those essential channels, plus introducing three new channels to the mix. Once you build these areas out, you have a well-oiled marketing machine. There is, of course, still fine tuning and tweaking to be done, but this establishes a strong basis for all marketing moving forward.

In the final episode on the model for marketing maturity, we’ll cover the ignite phase, where you build even further on these channels and introduce new tools to automate and strengthen your approach.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage One: Build

Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage One: Build

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the Model for Marketing Maturity, Stage 1: Build

This is the first episode in our three-part series on the Model for Marketing Maturity. Want to learn more? Check out Stage 2: Grow and Stage 3: Ignite.

A lot of small business owners hear about the latest trends in online marketing—AI, paid marketing, marketing automation—and begin to feel overwhelmed. There are already so many channels and tactics to consider, and it seems like there are new ones each day.

Of course, in an ideal world, your business would be taking advantage of all the available channels. But there’s no point in trying to jump ahead to the latest and greatest technology if you don’t have the basics under control.

That’s why I propose a specific model for marketing maturity. Made up of three stages—build, grow, and ignite—it encourages businesses to start with a solid foundation and work their way up to the final stage where all channels are being used, and you’re optimizing and maximizing your existing marketing assets.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the first stage, build. What goes into building the foundation of a business’s online marketing presence? There are five key elements you must include, and we’ll go through them here.

1. Marketing Website

The first step to getting online is building your website. A small business can’t survive today without one. It is the hub of your business’s online presence. And it’s not just about creating any old website, it’s about building one that is modern, accessible, and gets your story out there.

Websites today must be mobile friendly. Mobile sites are getting indexed first by search engines, and the vast majority of searches are now happening on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re starting at a deficit.

Once you have cleared that first technical hurdle, you need to ensure that your website clearly articulates your promise to solve the greatest problem your audience has. It needs to tell the story of why your audience should trust you to do the job. If those most essential elements are missing, you shouldn’t pass go.

The other key to creating an effective website is having your full editorial plan and SEO approach in place before you begin the design or build process. Your website, content, and SEO techniques have all risen to the strategic level in terms of marketing importance, so your plan to get your website up-and-running must seamlessly incorporate those three critical elements.

2. Approach to Content

Your content must all work to tell the story of why a prospect should choose your business. This means leading with that value proposition on your home page. Each subsequent core page should build upon that message, and include video to tell your story.

A review funnel should also be a central component of your content program, particularly if you are a local business. These funnels are a way to stop bad reviews from being posted across various sites, and they make it easy for your happy customers to share their thoughts on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or any other platform of their choice.

Once you’ve built your content, you want to make sure the meta data (the titles and descriptions that display on search results) are keyword rich. It should be clear exactly what you do in your title tags, so that prospects looking to solve a problem understand immediately that you offer a solution.

3. Search Engine Optimization

SEO sounds confusing, but in reality it’s pretty simple. The most essential SEO component for any local business is making sure your business’s name, address, and phone number are correct on your website, and that that information is the same as what’s displayed on your Google My Business page. Just go onto Google and claim your profile there to make the appropriate changes and keep your information up to date.

If your business has moved, you’ve changed your name, or you find that there is conflicting information online, you can use a service like BrightLocal to ensure that your data is correct across all of the directories out there on the internet.

4. Social Media

The first step to building your social media presence is making sure you’re present on the major networks where your customers are. Claim your profiles, make sure your branding is all over it, include links back to your website, and ensure that it’s a good experience. Even if you don’t plan to be active on social media, these profiles still must be claimed and established, because they’re going to show up in searches related to your business.

In order to tackle the branding aspect, a free tool like Canva can help you create images that are the right dimensions for each kind of social media profile.

Once you’ve got the pages established, claimed, and branded, you can begin thinking about putting out some basic content. If you have promotions, products, or sales that you’d like your audience to know about, a channel like Facebook can be a great place to tell them about it. You don’t want every single post to be a promotion, but you can begin to get the word out there on social media.

You can also begin to show off a bit of your brand’s personality. I like to call these culture posts. How can you start talking about a “day in the life” of your business? Show off how a product is made. Share posts about the office birthday party of one of your colleagues. This allows your audience to see the real people behind the brand and builds trust with your audience.

5. Email Marketing

You already have a list, but what state is it in? Before you begin thinking about marketing campaigns, you need to do some list hygiene: how old is the list, how long is the list, and how relevant are the names on it?

If the list is full of people who haven’t purchased from you in five years, it’s time to get rid of those names. If there are people on there who have made a purchase in the last 24 months, those are contacts that are still valuable.

Once you’ve cleaned up your list, you can run a reengagement campaign. What’s the best way to reach back out to those who have bought from you in the past, to either get them to buy again or get them interested in doing something new (passing on a deal, referring us to their friends, or otherwise reengaging them)?

You also want to think about how to grow your mailing list. That’s where having calls to action on your website come in. And I don’t mean a tiny box at the bottom that says, “Sign up for our newsletter.” I mean offering up valuable information, which visitors can access if they share their email address. How about a free evaluation, comparison, or checklist?

You should also provide a variety of calls to action on your site. Multiple calls to action are ways to engage people no matter where they are on their individual customer journey. Different calls to action address the different needs of your various prospects or clients.

These are the basics of the build phase of the model for marketing maturity. In subsequent shows, I’ll talk about the grow and ignite phases. Once we have the foundation built here, we want to address paid lead generation, sales enablement, and the customer experience component—the factors that go into growing your marketing. Then once we add those, we’ll start talking about data, CRM tool, marketing automation and even AI. Stay tuned over the next week for the next two installments.

Marketing Maturity Model for Small Business

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