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7 growth lessons I learned for 2016

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We help entrepreneurs across Canada improve their marketing. After three years of testing and optimization in client experiments, I’ve put together this list of the most important growth lessons you need to grow your business this year.

1. Map your customer purchase journey

How do people become aware of your company? How do they decide whether you can meet their needs? How do they make a purchase and become loyal to your brand? Mapping your customers’ purchase journey—from prospect to customer to loyal advocate—is the foundation of your entire marketing plan. To do so, start by defining who your target customers are and then map their journey with your business from beginning to end.

2. Create consistent messages across channels

Once you’ve mapped the purchase journey, it’s time to craft your messages. They should be consistent across your marketing channels—website, social media, email, advertising, in-store and after-sale service. Remember your conversation with customers continues through the day and across different devices. In practical terms, this means tailoring one set of messages for customers who are on the go and need actionable information quickly and another for customers at home or at the office on a laptop who likely have more time to dig deeper into your content.

3. Educate your ideal visitor on why to buy from you

Educating your customers is essential in setting yourself apart from your competitors. Clearly communicate your brand values through a clear vision and a value proposition that highlights the key benefits of each product or service to your customer. You will simplify the buying decision and convert better.

4. Automate the journey to create a unique experience for each visitor

It’s one thing to send out an email newsletter or promotion once in a while. It’s another to communicate consistently with your prospects and customers, making them feel special at the right time, especially after they’ve taken a step on the purchase journey. The answer is marketing automation and far too few companies are harnessing its power. It allows you to nurture leads, close sales and encourage repeat business because your emails are tailored to each person’s behaviour. You establish it once, observe behavior and continuously optimize over time to improve conversion. Marketing automation systems begin as low as $5 a month.

5. Do proper visitor tracking to obtain accurate measurement

The majority of websites have poor tracking infrastructure with misconfigured goals, missing demographic and search data, among other problems. It’s vital that your site and asset measurement process is connected together and tracking properly in order to gather visitor experience insights to feed into your testing and optimization efforts for continuous improvement. In practice, this means having Google AdWords connected to Google Analytics; Google Analytics connected to Google Search Console; goals, events and audiences configured in Google Analytics; conversion tracking enabled in Google Adwords. All systems checked. You’re good to go!

6. Analyze conversions on mobile, search, social media and email

It’s not enough to just look at vanity metrics such as website visitors or likes on your Facebook page. You have to drill down to see conversion rates in each channel. Then you can devise strategies to optimize the customer experience in each channel to increase conversions over time.

7. Test, experiment and optimize to gain growth traction—Sorry, there is no silver growth bullet

To improve your performance, you have to do the hard work of testing big ideas and experimenting in different channels and assess the data to see how you did in reaching your goals and the effectiveness of the channel combination. Create campaigns with well-defined goals. Amplify them across channels. Assess your performance, optimize and try again.

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