Acquisition continues to take up the budgets and the focus of many a marketer. And with the support of marketing technology we can understand so much more about customer behaviour and how they go about deciding what to buy.
But when I'm running acquisition training courses with the IDM I'm sensing there's still a lot of tension around the middle stage of the customer journey.
Many of us are now comfortable with the concept of plotting the journey buyers go through as they discover what's around, weigh up their options and finally decide.
The trouble is that this is not a journey that would look good on Google Maps. People don't follow a linear path, we all dot around, giving conflicting signals, using any connected device, veering between online and offline.
The middle of the journey is where the stress is
Brands have a strong heritage in using awareness media, and have techniques and lots of metrics on the reach and frequency of campaigns. They have always been happy to make the investment here.
And at the conversion stage there are specialist channels, like affiliates, and proven test & learn strategies to refine performance. We create value trees to understand every element of the conversion stage and how we can optimise performance. We can always do better, but the issues are known and understood.
But, in the middle it can be much harder to read the signals and be sure to be relevant. Call it consideration, understanding, thinking, setting preferences, information gathering, searching; it's all about influencing people before they're ready to buy.
It's where much of the investment in content is taking place. But across B2B and B2C there's worry that much of this content is not being seen by the people it's intended for, and not achieving the goals set for it.
There are other signs that brands need to up their game here - consent for instance. Low numbers of people opting in to communications can often be as a result of this mid-funnel malfunction.
Challenge what you're doing
Often the key is to develop strategies to improve engagement with people as they consider their options.
Establishing intent - can you find ways to understand better what's behind their search behaviour? Some are now looking at machine learning to help make sense. To spot trends before others and to get ahead.
Most importantly, get to know what the most important measures are that can help overall performance. Start to understand which channels are delivering the better performing visitors down the line.
Can you do more with your landing pages? Which are working and what is the difference between those and the ones failing to deliver opportunities? These are some of the questions to ask.
And above all else, spend a little time getting to understand more about the people you're trying to win over. It's not only about what they do, but why. And painful as it may sound, you can only find that out by asking them.
To learn more about the key steps of customer acquistion and the strategies, skills and tactics that will help you win more of the right customers, attend my upcoming course on the 30th November.