Hands up if you have enough hours in the day to deliver all the online marketing campaigns you want when you want?

Thought so.

For most there is a conflict, with too much required to be done with too little resource. Which leaves the challenging task of deciding which tasks will produce the greatest return when none have been deployed yet.

But what if there was a way to deploy a selection of campaigns without any manual intervention? You know – marketing campaigns running on autopilot, each focused on achieving its own little “win” for your business with little, if any, time “loss”?

Welcome to the land of online marketing orchestration. Think of this as a “techo buzz phrase” for configuring your online and offline marketing tools to achieve business benefits without the need of any human interaction.

Sound too good to be true? Over the years we have helped set up and configure a range of orchestrations for clients wanting to achieve just this. Here are three examples:

Orchestration #1: Welcoming the new email list subscriber.

I’ll start with the most basic of options which avoids the “black hole” experienced by so many website visitors completing subscription forms – receiving a “Thank You” web page and then … nothing. They then have no idea if their address made it through to the right place and if they are actually on the list.

The simple orchestration automatically sends the subscriber just what they were expecting – a “Welcome” email letting them know all went well. Because of their inherent level of expectation, you should expect an open rate that’s well above your standard baseline. What happens after that first message then depends on the frequency of your messaging and the complexity of your content.

For instance, for a large New Zealand FMCG company we configured orchestration to deliver five messages over two weeks. This dovetailed nicely with their newsletter delivery schedule and allowed them to point new subscribers to specific areas of their vast content library that the subscribers could find interesting.

Orchestration #2: Welcoming the new customer

Now let’s ramp up the complexity a bit. Let’s assume that sales and marketing have done their job and a freshly minted new customer has joined. The task now is to use a selection of online marketing tools to properly “Welcome” them into the fold. There are lots of ways to go about it – I’ll highlight a couple of projects we have worked on.

The first was for a medium-sized service business which chose email and phone as their primary channels of communication. To begin, a series of emails explained the ins and outs of how the company would manage their new piece of work.

The emails were orchestrated to drip feed out over the first few weeks. They were supplemented with a sequence of phone calls from the account management staff. The type and timing of the call was driven by how the clients had engaged with the emails. For instance, someone who wasn’t opening or interacting with anything was called earlier and by a more senior person than those who were.

My second example relates to a card-based loyalty scheme. Here, how the card was used determined the sequence and content of messaging for new customers. This requires a close technical link between the messaging technology and the client’s transactional system. Once the link was formed, the possibilities opened up and orchestration could be designed to respond to card holders’ behaviour.

Orchestration #3: Using email to complete stalled web behaviours

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who put something in your shopping cart actually purchased it? Or how about those who came to your service-based website, browsed your pages multiple times across many days, BUT STILL failed to pick up the phone or complete your online quote request?

Unfortunately, neither scenario can be completely solved by deploying orchestrations – but they can be improved upon. For instance, an abandoned shopping cart could prompt a follow up email or a tailored piece of creative in your remarketing advertising.

If the person has previously subscribed to your email newsletter (and is now a prospect), and they then return to your website many times over the next few days – all without converting – then it may be an idea to automatically schedule a phone call from your account management team to check in on their requirements.

There are many more possible orchestrations. All require effort to set up and configure; however, the effort invested has the potential to keep on giving, as orchestrations run on autopilot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sound interesting? Contact us today for a discussion on how orchestrations could help your business.

Let’s be clear first up. This is not an article to get you all motivated to strap on some running shoes and head out the door and attempt something similar to my act of lunacy. I can totally understand if this is the last thing on your mind. However, there may be a few lessons in here that may help you put in your own “marathon effort” to get your business to do what you want.

So back to the running part. About 18 months ago in a rush of excitement I announced that I was going to run my first offroad marathon. I researched my options and picked the T42 event based in a remote part of the central North Island.

Last Saturday all the training stopped and the event started. Five and a half hours later I hobbled over the finish line, way down the list of finishers. It was messy but it was over. Looking back I can see a number of lessons I learnt that I think are relevant for the small business owner struggling with their own test of endurance. Here are five that come to mind.

Lesson 1: Slowing down helps you go faster

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I have written before on my early mistakes in training. Basically, I was pushing my body to go too fast for too long. It took me a while to realise that the speed of my fitness development was limited by my capacity to recover from each session. So I had to slow the pace, back off the volume and let what recovery I had do its stuff. The paradox being that it was while I was recovering – not running – that I got fitter.

So where’s the “recovery” part in the full on mental side of business life? We all know the weeks that are packed with effort from start to end. What are our options to take a break and let the clarity return? I admit to being a very sporadic meditator. However, when I do take the time to “rest the chatter” for a few moments, I get the break I need and my thinking deepens. And, probably like you, some of my better business ideas have come not while at the desk, but after a day or two away from the office. Maybe we make smarter business decisions while away from the office rather than in it?

Lesson 2: Fuel is reasonably important

I ran with a backpack that looked twice the size of the others. My logic was that I would be running for twice as long so I needed double the fuel. Plus it was nice to plan each hour knowing I was going to slow down and munch my way through the weight on my back. Babyfood, pretzels, beef jerky – I mixed them all up depending on what my body wanted, and every hour I shoved down a bit more of each mixed with a couple of magic pills to delay the onset of cramp. No, it didn’t prevent the gradual drain of energy from my legs – BUT I didn’t hit the wall at four hours either.

So what fuels your appetite for business? Last year I took time out for the inaugural Nurture Change event in Fiji. For three days I listened and absorbed speakers’ stories from all parts of business. Each provided their own piece of motivation to ensure I came back fired up and ready for the next stage of the company. Those three days gave me enough motivational fuel to push through the next six months.

Lesson 3: There’s not much flat along the way

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When it came to the event this was not a surprise. The organisers had earlier posted a map and profile. Yep, 800 metres of climbing from start to finish with a few streams and mud trails along the way. Other than the car park where we started and finished, we were running either up or down.

I was once told by a business mentor that running a business doesn’t have many flat bits either. You are either growing or you are not. Which can be a challenge for those looking for an easy life.

Lesson 4: It’s a bit easier when you love what you do

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But me, I love running in the hills. Now I admit that running up the hills is no fun – but running with hills around me is the best. I put it down to my Capricorn goat-like star sign. Show me a trail which is heading up and away and you have me.

So training was something I looked forward to. In fact, when the feeling fell away I knew I had to dial back the volume as it was a sign my recovery was underdone. Twenty five years ago I ran a road marathon and ended up hating the training. I didn’t run on the road for months after. Motivation had pushed me to keep on doing something that wasn’t for me and once the event passed then my desire to run went with it.

It’s the same in business right? To keep going for the long term you have to love what you do. There’s only so much personal motivation that will push you to drive forward. Things are a lot easier when you are pulled along by doing something you love.

Lesson 5: There needs to be a time to celebrate

I crossed the line, received the medal, was given a sausage and a beer and I was done. I texted Claire to let her know I was OK then sat down chatting with others who had run with me over the last few hours. There wasn’t a lot of jumping around with excitement – just quiet sitting and enjoying the fact that we had done what we had set out to do and how that mattered to us in our own different ways. It was a great feeling.

How many times do you stop to celebrate in business? Do you take the time to reflect on what you have achieved and what that means? Marathons have an end point, otherwise nobody would enter them.

So where are the end points in your business? Think of them as the places where you take the time to look back and be thankful for the effort you put in and the goals you achieved. Perhaps they arrive each quarter or after delivering a chunky and challenging project.

Then you can allow yourself to rest, recharge and plan the next adventure.

Just as I am.

Can one thing really transform your website marketing? Yes it can.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as writing better ads, buying more clicks or changing the colour of your website.
But it helps if you redefine your opinion of the “job” that Google does for your prospect.

To do that, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes for a moment. Now think of the last time you made a decision without having any alternatives to choose from. It was probably a long time ago, if at all. It is a challenge to know you are making the right choice when there are no wrong choices available.

That’s how it is for your prospects who arrive via Google. When they have only one option, Google doesn’t feature. They go to Google looking for options, plural, not an option.

But they don’t want dozens of options – research has shown that too many options can make forming a decision nearly impossible. I’m going to guess (ie, I have no scientific proof – the number just “feels” right) that they look for around five.

Their task, then, is to whittle this list down to a small group they think are worth their most precious of resources – time. And the focus is on whittling down, rather than keeping on.

And this, my friend, is where the “one thing” lives that ensures your business remains on your prospect’s list.

Is it your many years of experience fixing their kind of problems? Or the speed at which your vans arrive. Or the cost of your solution? Or the technology you provide that your competitors can’t?

Remember Marketing 101 and your Unique Selling Proposition? I know it’s basic stuff, and we are all a lot smarter than that now, but in the rush to establish a successful business did you perhaps overlook this when creating your website’s content?

I believe all successful business are that way because they have a USP – whether the business owners understand what it is or not. So the conversation may go like this.

“Ok Jane, I can see that your business has grown like topsy over the last 10 years and has an impressive list of clients. So tell me, what makes your Accountancy Practice so different from others in the Auckland region?”

Jane then goes on to list five significant areas that make her stand out from her competitors in a way that is relevant to her prospects.

I then get out my laptop and load up her website’s home page in my browser. This is the page over 80% of her visitors see first. And we start looking for each of the five points she mentioned being highlighted on the home page. And they’re not. (Or not much.)

That’s why Jane’s home page bounce rate is so high and her conversion rates so low. It’s also why her existing online marketing support hasn’t been able to solve the problem over the last six months.

Owning a strong USP can be a magical thing in transforming your online marketing.

I have found myself willing to struggle through more than one poorly designed website with atrocious graphics that load at a snail’s pace all because the website told me this business delivered EXACTLY what I was looking for.

But present a website that tells me you offer the same as everyone else on my list and I don’t care how appealing your site looks – I’ll find a reason to bumped you off. And it won’t have to be a big reason. It might be how fast your website loads, or images I don’t love, or difficulty in reading your content on a mobile device. Dumb things that cause you to lose business because there is nothing else to engage prospects’ attention.

Now I realise that competitive markets are competitive because the USP’s that survive in them are subtle and transient. So creating this “one thing” will be more challenging for some than others. Nevertheless, time spent here will be well rewarded in your online marketing efforts.

For instance, your USP-driven ad copy will push your PPC click through rates up – improving your quality score, which will lower your per-click cost. Landing pages written with your USP in mind can raise your conversion rates, lower your cost per lead. Benefits can also flow into your email marketing and social media.

So why not take some time this week to get back to Marketing 101 and list the points that define your USP, then see how good a job your landing pages are doing at explaining them?

Let’s think of your website as a sales person. Let’s also assume they are not a high performing soul delivering you a mass of leads and sales every month, but the opposite – someone struggling to make a dent in their monthly quota.

But there is hope. Just like salespeople, websites can be turned around. The first step is to pinpoint the exact areas of struggle then quickly coach the person or fix the website – to direct things back on track.

I have first hand experience in this turnaround process for both people and websites: fourteen years running Ark Advance and, before that, five years managing a sales team for an outsource mail processing company. I can assure you, the attributes of troubled salespeople and troubled websites are very similar. Here are the top six that come to mind.

1. Not seeing enough people

These were the sales people everyone in the office liked, mainly because they spent so much time in our office instead of in the offices of our prospects presenting great solutions. Just like your salespeople, your website needs visits to make it work. Now we may not require thousands per week, but there needs to enough to make it work. And if you are struggling to rank naturally within Google then it could be time to whip out your wallet and invest in some paid advertising to get the wheels turning.

2. Seeing the wrong people

Some salespeople making enough visits, but with the wrong people. For instance, they chew up hours presenting to people without the authority to make the purchase. In website marketing, this is similar to buying Google Advertising clicks on keywords that your target audience will probably never use. For instance clicks on the search phrase “business profit” for a business coaching service when most prospects arrive behind the keywords “business coach” or “business mentor”.

3. Failing to get the message across

These salespeople make it into the right office to pitch the right product to the right person – and still it turns to custard. There are a few things that can go off the rails here.

In direct sales, the first place I’d look would be the questions the salesperson is asking. But websites struggle to ask questions, so all you have is your content. Perhaps it’s the format that is failing. Perhaps it’s all a mass of text when your prospects will respond better with a mix of text, video and audio. Maybe you’ve got content written for all your prospects instead of content in different sections, each talking to the needs of specific audiences?

4. Failing to ask for the sale

And then you have the person who is great until the end when – BAM! – they don’t ask for the sale. This is similar to a website which hides its Contact Us page or fails to offer any juicy conversion choices that allows prospects to ‘raise their hand”.

5. Not following up on those who are “thinking about it”

Nearly there – we now have those who present well, ask for the sale and get the common response “let me think about it – come back to me later”. And guess what – they don’t. Nobody is followed up and prospects go cold and sales go begging. In website marketing this is about failing to deploy all the clever electronic reminder tactics available to you. Email marketing and Google’s remarketing product are great examples of tactics that neatly fit this need. Which leads me to the final hurdle.

6. Not selling to those who have bought before

Our salespeople began with a territory with customers to manage. The smart ones – wanting the easy way in life – began by selling more services to existing clients. The strugglers avoided those customers like the plague and went out to make a name for themselves quickly with new work from new clients. Very rarely did it turn out well. Think of this like avoiding your sizable email marketing list of current and ex-customers to instead embark on some Google Advertising.

There you go – six attributes that will ensure marketing failure. Do the opposite, and you will be well on the way to turning your struggling website into something that sells for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All without the hassles that come with managing their human equivalent. Contact us today if you would like to introduce us to your online marketing experience.