Lance Loveday, the CEO at Closed Loop, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on digital advertising and maximizing the user experience. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
Below are a few highlights from the conversation:
TechnologyAdvice: How do businesses analyze the buyer’s journey to craft a helpful experience that moves prospects further down the sales funnel?
Lance Loveday: In terms of how you craft the journey, once you understand the big picture and have a sense for where to pin optimization efforts, that process of figuring out exactly how to do it, and what tests to run, is definitely a creative process. You brainstorm all kinds of hypotheses for why things may be under-performing. And then brainstorm potential solutions associated with those hypotheses. And then you’ve got to translate those solutions into actual designs and interfaces.
That process is definitely more art than science. We’ve been at it a while and I think we’ve got pretty good instincts at it; but, we’ve got to validate it with users. So we try to build some user validation into our testing plans to ensure that we’re only testing things that, to some degree, are proven or have a high likelihood of success, as opposed to just deploying something blindly. Because testing is a finite resource.
You can only run so many tests realistically over time. One of the things that we’re big on is stacking the odds in our favor. One of the ways to do that is to actually run some of your designs and concepts by users for feedback midstream, before you get too far down the path and over-committed to a direction that might not work out for you.
Taking the time to do that really increases your odds of success and helps you make better use of the testing resources that you do have. It’s hard to answer the what question. So I’m talking about the process, and how you get to it.
TA: So the first step is to understand those foundations: the user journey, as well as what is working and what’s not based on the user validation. Then you can start scaling with tools like marketing automation software to help generate and nurture your leads. Then what’s the next step — to identify how you can add more value to them?
Lance: It is. Once you’ve got that pre-sales experience really optimized and humming and feeding a high volume of quality leads in to your sales pipeline, you can then use your marketing automation systems to do the look-backs, and on the different customer segments that you have, to start to derive some additional intelligence as well.
Let’s say you’ve got to apply a flat CPA, maybe it’s a $40 CPA across the board. But with the really finely crafted marketing automation software, you can do the look-backs on your different segments and realize, not all those leads are worth exactly $40. Some of them are worth $4.00, probably, and you don’t want to pay more than that.
But, some of them that you thought were expensive and maybe couldn’t afford to pay for, are actually worth $400. So you’re absolutely willing to pay for those. And you can’t develop that intelligence until you put effective marketing in place that’s on a mission to adequately value the traffic and the leads that you do get.
I’ve seen it transform companies when they can take that kind of intelligence and apply it back to their front-end marketing campaigns and their front-end experiences. It’s really powerful when done right.
TA: What are some ways to broaden the bottom of the funnel, and why would you say that’s so important?
Lance: For me, I think of the buyer journey as a marathon and, depending on your sales cycles, sometimes maybe it really is. But you really want to make sure that you are investing just as much in the bottom of the funnel in your efforts there, as you are at the top and the middle. I use the marathon metaphor and say, “Don’t run 25 miles of a marathon and then quit. I mean, you’re almost there. Keep it up. Finish strong.”
An example of that might be if you’ve got a commerce site, and on your payments page, it’s just super-confusing and unintuitive, and you’ve got high drop-off as a result, or you’ve got credit card processing errors. We’ve uncovered, over the years, errors that are fatal, that are causing a drop-off of 20, 30, 50 percent sometimes, at that very last step of the buyer’s journey.
It’s just deadly to have problems at that critical interaction point when you’ve done all the work to get someone to that step, to then fall flat on your face. It just hurts. It just hurts me.
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