Don’t throw marketing dollars down the funnel…

While many businesses are adopting funnel and automated marketing programs, what happens when there is a mismatch with customer experience?

The trend towards automated marketing to maximise sales is a technique that is used across many industries, including food and beverage.

Basically, it entails capturing leads into the funnel and then automating messages with the intention of converting the sale.

But what happens when there is a mismatch between automation and customer experience?

Recently, I went online to purchase a case of wine to send to a friend as a thank you present for hosting us over Christmas.

Knowing that my friend likes a range of wine, I was keen to purchase a mixed case. Many wineries don’t offer this and after looking across websites of a few of my favourite Australian wineries, I went to one of my preferred wine subscription sites.

I chose a beautiful mixed dozen and added it to my shopping cart.  I ticked the option that it was a gift which would ensure the invoice was not included in the box and enable me to write a short thank you message.  However, after several attempts, the text box would not allow me to add a message.  I abandoned the cart and…no sale.

I then went to a dedicated online wine retailer. I’ve enjoyed following the growth of this brand and have found their marketing very

Their options were great, and I didn’t hesitate to order a case of wine for my friend.  However, I didn’t sign up for the discount or the free shipping.  When I got through to the cart, there was no option to ship to a different address nor indicate that it was a gift. Frustrated, I abandoned the cart again.

I then proceeded to receive a series of emails from this online wine retailer (the automation was working as it could see I abandoned the cart but had gotten as far as providing my email address). I ignored them until, on Saturday, I received an email with the following text

“Just wanted to let you know – you have great taste in wine…but there’s a lot of competition for me (the delicious wine you almost bought).

So hurry back… and give the team a call on…and they’ll sort it for you…”

Relieved I could finally talk to someone, I rang immediately to receive a voicemail saying that their opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

The automation was on auto-pilot and promised me something that couldn’t be delivered on the day it sent it to me – it took me in the wrong direction!

It’s paramount that businesses set up their automated marketing program correctly to ensure that the promise that is made can be followed through. Otherwise, you are throwing money down the drain.

So many sales are lost due to poor follow through – not clearly mapping out the customer experience from the research to the purchase pathway.  Yet, businesses continue to spend marketing dollars trying to retarget and convert the sale.

If the customer experience was solid from the outset, marketing dollars could be redirected to retention strategies which we all know are much cheaper than acquisition and conversion.

Five steps to turning customers into fans for life (and converting more sales):

  1. The basic principles for funnel marketing haven’t changed – awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty and advocacy.  Make sure each step has been clearly mapped out and stress tested with real people.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, the funnel isn’t just a tap that you turn on and let it keep running.  Conversion can’t be the only performance metric. Go back and check the numbers that have been lost through the retargeting technique not working
    and find out why.  If someone emailed me to ask me what it was that caused me not to purchase, I would have been happy to provide the feedback and help them fix the issue, convert and retain more sales.
  3. There is a lot to be said for mystery shopping programs to ensure an objective review of the customer experience is undertaken. This should be the case not only for bricks and mortar businesses (franchises do it well) but also for online shopping.  Do this
    regularly, and with different people, to ensure true objectivity.
  4. Many businesses outsource their marketing funnel and automation programs to a third party who often ‘set and forget’ as they manage multiple clients. Insist on monthly reports, read them, and above all ask questions. If you don’t understand the marketing speak, keep asking until you do. You are handing your brand over to someone else to manage, don’t let them ruin it because they aren’t paying attention.
  5. And if you have potential customers abandoning their cart, by then you have their email address at the very least. Make it your business to contact a random sample with a personal note (not an automated one), ask for their feedback and FIX IT! Then circle back to that person, thank them for their feedback and demonstrate how you fixed it.

That’s how you ensure the funnel keeps flowing!

Giovanna Lever

Sparrowly Group