Preaching to the unconverted: the benefits of conversion marketing

07 Jul 2010  |  Gavin Sinden 
Gavin Sinden

Gavin Sinden, digital strategy director at Equi=Media, on how weaving conversion strategy into wider marketing plans can lead to success.

The customer journey is a topic that's been raised and revisited countless times by brands and agencies, but it's often misunderstood and not analysed with the aim of improving marketing practices. This is the function of conversion marketing; looking for ways to optimise customer journeys and making sure that marketers can anticipate and respond to the way their audiences behave and interact with their brand. The old skill sets of understanding your audience and the messages that best motivate them are still the most valuable skills to have, but in this highly fragmented and increasingly complex media world you have to be able to steer a customer through this environment to achieve your goal.

Conversion marketing relies on optimising the use of the whole range of digital toolsets: media, search, social, website, email, mobile etc, but an effective conversion strategy goes beyond simply using these techniques well and looks at interactivity and the dialogue between the consumer and brand. By delivering a good conversion marketing strategy, consumers will enjoy the journey and follow it through to an end result (making a purchase, signing up for a service) which pleases both the consumer and the company paying for the marketing.

So how do we execute a successful conversion campaign? In order to answer this, we must first look at what isn't being done and what could be achieved by weaving conversion strategy into wider marketing plans. In terms of onsite conversion, many brands are still not using the latest tools to their full extent (such as Google Analytics and Website Optimiser) to maximise the value from all site visitors.

Often we see clients who are prepared to invest large sums of money in new and exciting media or creative executions to drive site visits, but a much smaller amount is dedicated to understanding how the site performs and what visitors did or didn't do when they were on the site. Understanding which pages were ignored, which were favoured and which features led to high click-through rates is vital, as it allows brands to eliminate any features which aren't converting visitors and maximise the elements which are. Making the site work harder at converting visitors delivers a far superior ROI, and in a climate where every penny is being scrutinised, it's essential that media investments are justified.

"Many brands have an erratic track record of digital execution, and quite often, exceptional and creative campaigns in one channel do not relate or work with other key areas of their digital offering."

However, conversion marketing should not simply be limited to structuring a site. Integrating all forms of digital communications is vital in order to ensure customers enjoy a seamless journey which isn't peppered with mixed messaging, style, or creative. Many brands have an erratic track record of digital execution, and quite often, exceptional and creative campaigns in one channel do not relate or work with other key areas of their digital offering. For example, great display, search or social campaigns often lead through to poor websites, or good websites are let down by bad application or checkout processes. Similarly, many good acquisition campaigns have no CRM follow-up to really leverage the value of the fledgling relationship.

In order to prevent these challenges, it's important to avoid a few common traps, such as internal politics splitting control of the online communication strategy within the business, or IT departments slowing down progress on internally hosted programmes. Breaking through some of these boundaries and building integrated business cases that acknowledge the way customers move through different digital channels is the key, not only to successful conversion marketing, but to an effective business strategy. Conversion marketing is all about understanding the routes for prospects to convert to customers and offering pragmatic or creative routes around any blockages that exist.

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