Ops Talk: I know what you did last Summer

September 10, 2014 By CRM Technologies

In my last post I talked about the lead lifecycle and the internal pressures and external expectations of the marketing role. In this post we start from the beginning of the cycle.

You are already doing your best at waving your hand in the air, trying to engage people. You will be doing the SEO thing, advertising, PPC, PR and tradeshows, buying in lists for email campaigns. There is an art to all these things which is out of scope for this humble blog.

But what about anonymous people? Those you haven’t engaged with in any way are likely to turn up on your website doorstep unannounced, dark and mysterious. It’s time to start tracking their every move. This is your first conflicting responsibility. How do you stalk nicely?

Your Marketing Automation platform will provide the means to track visitors on your website - usually by means of a set of Tracking Scripts, the purpose of which is to place a Tracking Cookie on the browser of the visitor. The rule of thumb is to put these scripts on every page on your website, even the jobs page. Knowing where your website visitors have been is valuable information for engagement and segmentation. It’s their digital footprint.

Once your website has batted its eye lashes, you have flashed your smile and you and the visitor are headed for the dance floor, your next move is to acquire a name and an email address. Don’t let them leave till you have it –email address at the very least. You may solicit company name, social security number and marital status later in the interaction. But you are going to stalk them in the nicest possible way for the rest of this information anyway so we can bide our time. We want to know everything …well, enough to match our ideal customer profile(s).

But from a visitor’s point of view, why should they trust you with this information? My opinion is that it’s best to be honest. A simple pop-up light box saying “why do we need this information” on all your forms would do the trick:

“We will use this information to establish communication with you and to send you information to help you understand our products and services. It also helps us track your interaction on our website so that we understand your interest in our products. You may opt-out any time using this … link. Your privacy is as important to us as it is to you - read more in our privacy policy…”

The implication here is that you are an honest company. It may garner a warm fuzzy feeling or a wry, knowing smile but I’m experienced enough to know that if I come to a campaign landing page I am likely to be marketed to and a sales process is underway.

But play it cool. Don’t ask for everything at once. Don’t scare them off at your first meeting. Your Marketing Automation platform will have Progressive Profiling capability. This is a simple mechanism whereby certain fields – “Job Title”, for example - can be displayed on a form the next time your mysterious visitor returns. On subsequent visits other fields may be displayed, such as “Industry”, “Annual Turnover”, etc.

The trick is not to ask for information you already have. They’ve already divulged their vital statistics, so remember them. This is done by Tracking Cookies which provide unique identifier to tie the information a visitor completes on a form to a record in your Marketing Automation platform.

A returning visitor may not wish to complete a second form for another white paper download, and may even be annoyed and turned away by a request to do so. If you know them anyway by their Tracking Cookie, don’t ask for their name and email address again. At the very minimum auto-populate this information for them and present other Progressive Profiling questions where appropriate.

Some visitors may become uncomfortable by this level of tracking. Furthermore, auto-populating a form will display information such as email address at a moment they may not wish for this information to show on their screen, so you may wish to give them the option:

“We use cookies to enhance your experience on this site. We believe you may have visited before. You can download the article here using the information we have stored about you. Or click here to complete a new form”.

Tracking Scripts and form completion are vital mechanisms of the first part of the lead lifecycle. Tracking visitors when they start interacting with your website can give you statistics on page visitors. When they complete a form you can marry up their Tracking Cookie to a contact record in your Marketing Automation platform. Anonymous visitors move from step 1: ‘Unknown’ to step 2: ‘Known’. The first stage is completed.

You may not know what they did last summer, but you have succeeded in your first duty as a marketer which is to get leads into the funnel - and in the nicest possible way.

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