09:59:27 pm on January 17, 2011 | # |
One of my first tasks at HubSpot was to go back in time and use our data warehouses to determine when and how communication with customers occurred. Working in the Operations Department, the project was a great introduction to our various terminologies and systems. I drew out a physical timeline to scale for two “typical” customers since we have two main personas that we sell to – a business owner, and a marketing professional. The experience shaped the way that I think about both the company and our customers.
1. How Much Communication is Too Much?
HubSpot communicates actively with its leads as well as its customers post-sale. But is it too much or too little? Creating a visual, in this case a timeline, I was able to identify the means as well as the frequency and source of communication.
When you do this, you get a better picture of how intrusive or ‘spammy‘ your exchanges are, both pre and post-sale. For instance, you do not want three different departments sending three different emails to customers on the same day, with no other communication throughout the week. Inbound marketing best practices should carry over throughout the customer experience, from first touch to post-sale. Don’t beat them over the head with too much communication.
Recommendation: Create a master central list of all regular and event-driven communication that your customers receive.
2. Evaluate Your Communications Channels
Looking back at my own audit, there were certainly times where communication could have been consolidated (ex. merging two weekly newsletters together). There were also channels that should have been preference-based but weren’t. For example, when it comes to billing inquiries, you might want to offer your customers the options of being contacted by email, phone or fax.
Recommendation: Audit your various means of communication.
3. Analyze How You Track Your Marketing
Analytic and lead nurturing tools, such as those offered by HubSpot are very useful in tracking inbound marketing leads, but with so much direct traffic coming to your site, it’s hard to track the entire lead cycle from generation (the point of first tracked interaction) to conversion into an opportunity. Landing pages and capture forms help to associate direct traffic with lead conversion from inbound content. There might also be some significant overlap between the marketing and sales process, such as when a salesperson gives a demo, or offers a trial. Making sure that sales and marketing are aligned creates more stable and controlled marketing communication.
Recommendation: Use analytics such as HubSpot’s Sources and Blog Analytics applications to make sure that the source of your leads are tracked as closely as possible. If you have lots of direct traffic but don’t know where it’s coming from, you should consider using more landing pages and conversion forms.
4. The Gaps in Your Sales Funnel
Perhaps the most startling and surprising realization were the large gaps between events. In one case, there was a six-month window between a lead filling out a form and first contact by a sales representative. Gaps can signal weaknesses in the sales funnel, or that you are missing something that has not been tracked. A gap can also indicate the unique sales cycle that your product or service has. Be aware of your gaps, and make adjustments to adapt to your unique cycle.
Recommendation: To figure out where the gaps lie, you will need to delve into your CRM system, pick a few sample customers, and run reports on all of the data that you have within your sales funnel, from lead to customer. If there are gaps or mysterious events (for example, a sales follow-up on a conversion event that you don’t have recorded), you will need to make sure that your CRM is correctly integrated with your lead flow.
5. What Data are you Missing?
Undoubtedly, there is communication that occurs between the company and customer that goes unrecorded or untracked. This missing data can be invaluable when evaluating your communication flow. But that’s just the beginning. Read case studies to find out how other companies are successfully communicating with their customers, and hold brainstorming sessions to improve your communications process. Try to understand what data you are missing and why.
Recommendation: Spend a day or two doing nothing but digging through your data warehouses, creating new dashboards and reports. You might be surprised what you’ll discover.
Photo by: msandy
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