Is pushing so hard for the close actually costing you money?
The answer may be a difficult truth to accept. Is it counterproductive to squeeze the sales funnel in the hope that more dollar signs come out?
How to Tell if You Are a Greedy Marketer
Let’s start with the assumption that you are already infected with “greedy marketer syndrome.” The following will serve as a quick diagnosis:
Do you care only about money?
It’s great to run campaigns based on objective data and “by the numbers,” but if the only number a marketer watches is the bottom line, this will warp and color his or her thinking. Much like a publicly traded company, the focus often gets narrowed to measurable short-term results. This usually happens at the expense of longer-term, more strategic, initiatives that could have a longer timeframe for pay-off.
A profit focus also makes marketers risk-averse, and unwilling to innovate and try new unproven initiatives (which have risk associated with them). It also leads to an underinvestment in launching new campaigns, since even out of the gate they are trying to keep costs low (instead of maximizing the chances of having a “win”).
Are you a one-trick pony?
Many greedy marketers are also lazy. They have pioneered a single successful tactic and think that they are successful. Examples include PPC (often brand-squatting and not really creating new value), SEO (sometimes relying on gray- or black-hat tactics), email list buying (and deploying them in spammy ways), tweeting (relying on automated bots and a barrage of low-quality content) and remnant ad buying (from disreputable and shady sources).
They often jealously guard their knowledge of their single trick and do not share the details with others because they view it as a competitive advantage. As long as the tactics are working, they also neglect to get training in other areas of online marketing, and will not invest in hiring in-house or outside experts in other disciplines.
Is your message the same for everyone?
Greedy marketers have no need to empathize with their visitors. In fact, they view them as undifferentiated cattle or “eyeballs” parading past their website. They also mistakenly believe that they are similarly motivated, refusing to cultivate a deeper understanding of their audience and to glean insights from psychology, behavioral economics or neuromarketing. As a result, marketers continue to crank out off-point, “on-average” content that serves their view of visitors as generic and interchangeable.
Are you lazy?
Once a program is working, chances are greedy marketers ignore it, and simply cash the check. The greedy marketer manages by exception, and pays attention if profitability or program scale decline abruptly. They pride themselves on paying the minimum possible for supporting marketing technology and tools, and they also don’t invest in their own (or their teams’) online marketing education – preferring quick, surefire hacks and tricks to a deep understanding.
Do you expect people to “go big or go home”?
This single sign is probably the most tell-tale of all. Greedy marketers actually expect them to always desire to take their bottom-of-the-funnel conversion action. In fact, they try to railroad people into doing what they want even if they are not ready (by removing alternative calls to action and stripping away “distracting” content). At best, they want to cherry-pick the people who are ready to act right now, and ignore the rest of them.
The Road to Recovery
The good news is that there is hope for greedy marketers, but it will take real effort to change their perspective and practices, because the focus should not be on them in the first place – it should be squarely on the needs of their visitors. Being of service is at the heart of real conversion-focused online marketing.
Let’s take a look at what this means in practice:
+ Created from the needs of the visitors – not the business
+ Does not ignore early stage prospects
+ Must be of excellent quality
+ Durable and laser-focused
+ Integrated with marketing technology
+ Measured to the ultimate downstream conversion
Here are some other key ways to recover from the dreaded disease.
Help your visitors to accomplish their goals
Marketers need to understand their visitors and how to best support them. They shouldn’t ignore the full lifecycle of the customer journey. Engage with them from their earliest stages of uncovering their problems to their detailed resolution of them. The key to this is to take people as they are. Marketers must always imagine that their website visitors are impatient, misinformed and acting out of their irrational primitive brain centers. Conducting a detailed content-for-conversion audit can help. This includes a complete touchpoint analysis (Web, email, store, call-center and packaging), conducting user research and user testing, and defining mission-critical roles and tasks to focus on visitor intent. Marketers can then identify gaps in the Web experience and the supporting content that they have available.
After that, they can develop a prioritized list of what needs to be created, with particular attention paid to the connective tissue (flow, hand-offs, calls-to-action and “gating” of information behind appropriate forms if necessary).
Don’t ignore the power of self-service
During the Internet era (and especially with millennials) people are much more comfortable doing things in a self-service mode. In fact, they prefer it because self-service leaves them in control. They do not want to talk with a representative, or get “sold” by a marketer. They are informed and autonomous, and increasingly adept at finding the information that they need. That means that marketers have to design landing pages and websites from a user-centered perspective. Each part of the customer journey needs to be addressed on the site, even if marketers do not directly support the earlier parts. Think of it this way – if they don’t find the information they want on a site, they will probably find it elsewhere – never to return.
Marketers need to learn to ask without asking. The site architecture can serve as additional content marketing research. If the navigation is based on roles and tasks, marketers can see how many people are taking each path through their sites. They can also come up with very targeted downloads to identify key customer segments (e.g. “The single parent’s guide to going back to college,” or “The 7 biggest mistakes when applying for a jumbo mortgage”).
Don’t be satisfied with your current capabilities
Invest time and money to continually improve. Add value beyond just optimizing traffic sources. Learn new skills at conferences and through online courses. Hire smarter co-workers, use outside specialist agencies when existing staff is out of their depth and invest in a company’s marketing technology stack to really turbo-charge a brand’s knowledge of their visitors (through analytics, split testing tools, marketing automation, predictive modeling, lead scoring, and real-time behavioral targeting and personalization of a site experience).
If this all seems like a lot of work, you are right. If you follow the advice outlined here, however, the good news is that you will continue to thrive long after all of the greedy marketers are gone from the scene.
This article first appeared on the Website Magazine.
About the Author
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book “Landing Page Optimization”, and CEO of SiteTuners, a conversion rate optimization firm that helps companies make their websites and online marketing programs more effective.
Over the past two decades, Tim has helped major US and international brands to improve the outcomes of their web-based initiatives. Companies like Sears, Google, Expedia, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, Autodesk, Yahoo! and many others have benefitted from Tim’s deep understanding and innovative perspective.
Tim is a highly-regarded speaker at industry conferences worldwide. He is the founder and chairperson of Conversion Conference and a frequent contributor to print and online publications. Since 1995, he has authored more than 100 published articles. He earned a dual-major Bachelor of Science degree “with highest distinction” in Computer Engineering and Cognitive Science and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from UC San Diego.