Why are companies so frequently behind their consumers? A lot of it can be attributed to their lack of a strong, omnichannel marketing approach, which prevents them from optimally engaging their customers. At Avalaunch Google Day 2020, Mitch Lunceford explains how companies can get ahead of their competition, their consumers, and technology by using an evergreen omnichannel marketing approach.
Everything we do as marketers is because of the consumer. We essentially market because the consumer needs to be marketed to. “All of our marketing is geared around the consumer” is a big concept you’ve probably heard a lot over the years. All of our consumers started shifting over to mobile. So what did we do as marketers? We started optimizing our websites for mobile. We made sure users can convert on mobile, and improved all of our page speeds. We also shifted all of our PPC spend over towards mobile devices and we also created apps.
I really love this quote
“Today, you are not behind your competition. You’re not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer,”
which is absolutely true. If our consumers move over to a platform such as Facebook and they spend all their time over on Facebook, we as marketers need to move over to that. So when a customer hears about a product or service today, their first reaction is, “Let me search for it.” They then go on a journey of discovery about a product, a service, an issue, or even an opportunity.
The Evolution of Consumer Behavior
That consumer behavior and consumer journey has massively changed over the years. Early marketing touchpoints used to be simple things like TV, brick-and-mortar radio, or maybe print ads in a magazine.
Just five to 10 years ago, we started adding a lot more different touchpoints that a consumer can go through. In today’s marketing world, there are countless touchpoints, and it just gets more and more complex over time. Just 15 years ago, the average consumer typically only used two touchpoints when buying an item, and only 7% regularly used more than four, which is absolutely crazy. According to Google, consumer touchpoints now range from 20 to 500. In 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Real-Life Examples of Customer Journeys
So, I wanted to go through our Google Analytics and look at some of our clients’ analytics to see what those customer journeys were like. You’ve probably looked at this before. You can go into Google Analytics, go to your conversions, and look at your top conversion paths to see how people are converting. This came in through paid search, then organic came back direct and then converted.
It starts getting a little bit more complex as you go down. The third one went from paid search to organic back to paid search and back to an organic search. They then got an email, then checked out a referral, and it eventually converted through email. On the bottom example, the consumer started with an organic search and was then introduced to some paid organic direct, some display ads, social networks, and an email. And then, in the end, they were converted via organic.
As I come from a big paid search background — this one pains me. This person actually went through paid search 19 different times. So, 19 different times, this person was clicking ads — super fun for the paid search team — but this is reality, and it happens a lot.
This one here was from a lead gen client of ours.
I thought it was really interesting how it started out through social media, went to an organic search, back to social, and then just went back and forth between social and media referrals. This person was doing their “due due due” diligence looking into this company. Then, later on, we started getting some paid search and email, and then, in the very end, converted via paid search.
You sometimes get some people who make you think:
“I don’t know what the hell this person was thinking.”
They went through almost every channel possible, starting with a paid search ad and every single channel you can imagine — direct, organic referral, paid search, email display ads. At the very end, they converted via email. Believe it or not, this was over 250 touchpoints before they converted. This also happens all the time.
The Problem With a Multichannel Strategy
As marketers, we understood this. We used to market to very specific channels, and we realized that they’re across all these different channels. So, we switched to what’s called “multichannel.” However, there’s still a big problem with that. Although a multichannel strategy uses all the right channels, they’re still very distinct and individual, which can lead to a very confused and fragmented journey.
To give you an example of this, I own a rear-wheel-drive car in Utah. It’s not so fun in the snow, as you could probably imagine. Believe it or not, when I bought my car, it came with summer tires. Summer tires plus rear-wheel drive in the Utah snow is not a good mix. I had to buy some new tires that could at least handle decently in the snow.
So, I went to Google and did a search for “the best all-season tires for snow.” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to winter tires yet, but I at least wanted to find something decent. I landed on an organic landing page. It was actually some pretty good evergreen content. I read the content, I looked through some tires, clicked on the ones that I wanted, gave the company my email, and then I left; I didn’t buy anything.
This is what I started seeing:
When I went to the site in the beginning, I saw an offer here for $175 back on select four tires. Later on, I did another search later on and got a generic PPC ad. I started getting some banner ads from PPC and another very generic one that wasn’t very specific to my search. Then it started getting interesting.
- I got an ad for $80 off, which is completely different than the original $175, which was kind of odd
- Then I got another PPC ad tire sale: “Buy three, get one free”
- Then on social media, I got “Up to $200 back,” which was more than all the other ones
- Then, in an email, I got the worst offer of all, which was $25 back and maybe an extra 25 if I use their credit card — usually, the email gets the best offers
Obviously, there’s still a problem. One of the problems is that only 14% of organizations say they’re currently running coordinated marketing campaigns across all their channels. As you can see, all those different ads had very different messaging and very different offers. The consumer sees you as one brand; they don’t know that you’re AB testing on social media and that you’re AB testing something completely different on paid search. By doing this, you’re actually just confusing the customer.
- Over 11% of companies have zero interactions and consistency across any channel (11% have zero consistency whatsoever)
- Tying it all back to the consumer, 90% of potential buyers expect consistent interactions across all channels
- As marketers, a lot of us moved from what’s called multichannel to cross-channel, but not quite to omnichannel just yet
I decided to do the same thing over again. I searched for “all-season tires for snow,” landed on an organic landing page, spent time in there, chose my size, browsed around, found the ones I wanted, entered my email, and left.
Here’s what I started getting:
- When I searched via organic, I’m got an offer for a $70 rebate
- Then I started getting some banner ads: “$70 rebate”
- A lot of the ads were very generic — another one for $70 rebate on paid search
- Social media had an ad about purchasing tires and becoming eligible for a $70 rebate
- The email had the same $70 rebate
There’s still a problem with this. Now the channels weren’t really working together or sharing any data, and they were all very generic ads. None of them even knew which tires I was looking at specifically. Even a lot of the branding looked different within all those ads. There was no personalization and no segmentation with any of those touchpoints that I had, and the channels are still competing to close rather than assist. Every single channel was just pushing the $70 rebate, instead of pushing me towards my goal. They weren’t showing me reviews of the tires I looked at or even the exact tires I looked at to get me to come back.
- 55% of companies (more than half) have no cross-channel strategy in place and aren’t even being consistent with what they’re offering
- Back to the consumer, 87% of customers think that brands need to put more effort into providing a seamlessly integrated experience
The Need for Omnichannel Marketing
As marketers, we need to move away from cross-channel and move into omnichannel. What is omnichannel marketing? The omnichannel approach is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it’s seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel shares data and strategies across channels, anticipating that customers may start on one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Very simply put, omnichannel is cross-channel marketing done right.
How to Create an Omnichannel Strategy With Evergreen Content
I want to do a quick refresher on evergreen content and pillar pages on your website for SEO. Evergreen content is quality, useful content that stays relevant and fresh for a long period of time. You don’t have to update it very often. It’s optimized for SEO and can drive traffic to your site through organic search. It’s a great resource for site visitors that can really position your brand as an expert in your space.
Types of evergreen content that people typically put on their site:
Using Tommy Boy as an Example
I really love the movie Tommy Boy, so I want to use that as an example. Hopefully, you have seen it before. If you’re familiar with the movie, they sell brake pads. Let’s say you own a website, you’re selling brake pads, and you want to create some really good content. Make sure to do keyword research first. Find some relevant terms with good volume that you feel you can rank for. If you did that in this example, you’d come up with the keywords “types of brake pads, the best type of brake pads,” et cetera.
Then, you create your piece of content and publish it on your site. Now you have this awesome piece of content up on your website explaining the difference between all the types of brake pads and everything else consumers need to know about purchasing the right type. However, do not just use your evergreen content for SEO without integrating any of the other channels. Google can update its algorithm at any time and things can change pretty quickly, and without integrating your channels, you’re missing out on conversions. Do not get stuck doing a multichannel strategy.
Here’s an example of a basic flow of how things can happen.
- Your evergreen content ranks on Google
- You start getting some organic traffic
- Your leads land on your evergreen content
- You have some good calls to action like a form that pushes them over to a product or service page and gets them to convert
- Those who bounce are most likely going to get bucketed into a generic remarketing campaign just as if they landed on any other page on your site
How to Integrate the Various Channels With Evergreen Content
So what are some ways that you can integrate other channels with your evergreen content? To keep it simple, I broke it down into four different things.
Traffic is the easiest way to integrate other channels and send people to your evergreen content, and there are a couple of free ways to do it. The first one is through social media, which you already have. Make sure to post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and add in images. You can also turn your evergreen content into a video. At the top of the search results page, you’re going to see a banner with a bunch of videos. Typically, it’s just an average person talking about a product or a service or leaving a review. Not a lot of companies are showing up there because they’re not creating videos. You could create a video about your evergreen content and show up at the top as well as below the organic results.
Another free way to drive traffic is to not forget about your existing contacts. So many businesses have existing contacts from previous purchases, and they need to target them through email and marketing automation. You can send out a monthly newsletter, promote your evergreen content, and get them to visit your website. You could also create an upsell flow for previous purchasers if they purchase a different product. Send them over your evergreen content and make sure to share that data with the other channels so they can use it, too.
Moving over to the paid side, there are a lot of different paid ways to drive traffic over to your evergreen content. Starting with paid social, we just talked about organic social posting on Facebook. You can also boost those posts by creating some social ads around that to get more people over to your content. As far as targeting goes, you can use those existing contacts from your marketing automation platform and target those people. You could even create lookalike audiences off of that list and then create custom targeting for different audiences that would be interested in your content.
On the paid side, you can also do search ads, but you don’t want to compete too much with your other keywords, so you can target some more broad top-of-funnel, low-CPC keywords and get them over to that evergreen content.
Shifting gears, we have a big personal injury lawyer client in Las Vegas, and since they handle workers’ compensation cases, we created an evergreen piece about what happens when you’re injured at work in Nevada. We decided to turn it into a video. Once we did this, we started advertising that video on YouTube. Some of our YouTube ad targeting was keyword and custom intent. Anyone that searched that, even if they didn’t hit our site, could be retargeted with our video.
We also did custom affinity targeting where we plugged in all the competitor URLs, which allowed us to retarget any person that’s visiting sites with similar content to our competitor URLs. With our original search campaign going after that low fee and those low-funnel keywords, we had a cost per acquisition of $121.14. Our cost per click was about $38.
Then we started running the video ads. With our video, we were able to get a cost per acquisition of $16.39. If you break it down to a cost per click to the page, it was 44 cents, and the cost per view was 8 cents — literal pennies just to show our video per view. Our cost per acquisition was over $100 cheaper than our search campaign. Then, our video campaign began getting up to three times the leads that our search campaign did. We have a pretty high impression share, meaning we’re maxing out what we can get from it. Once we turn on the video, we’re getting about three times the leads in our search campaign. Just by running the video campaign alongside our search campaign, our search campaign cost per acquisition dropped as well, down to $89.35 — a decrease of 26%.
Last but not least, driving traffic over to your evergreen content is programmatic. Let’s say you hold an expo like the one in Tommy Boy. If there’s an auto expo with people who are really into cars, people you know are probably going to want to install those brake pads themselves, so you could geofence around that and start targeting them. At a conference like this, you could target anybody that walks in. You can even target competitor physical locations, and with programmatic, you can now start targeting the IPS of the businesses that you want to target. All these channels are now funneling traffic into your evergreen content. You’re not just relying on organic traffic anymore.
Not everyone who visits your site is going to make a purchase. As soon as they land on your page, some people are going to leave. There are going to be more touchpoints with these people. Make sure you have good touchpoints via email and create personalized flows for any new contacts that you do get as well as any custom flows for existing contacts that ended up visiting that page. If you have the right marketing automation platform that has lead scoring, and if you ever have a high-intent group of contacts, make sure to share that with your other channels.
Here’s an example of a basic email flow that you can do. Say somebody comes in to use your evergreen content and you have their contact information. If they convert, that’s awesome. We can start sending them a series of welcome emails or maybe an upsell series into additional products, but maybe they don’t convert. You want to start what’s called a nurturing campaign.
In the nurturing series, they viewed our evergreen content. They’re educating themselves. Maybe I can send them another educational email about that same product. Then, based on whether or not they open that email, I can send them additional emails. Maybe they did open it and they didn’t click it all. I’m going to hit them with some more educational content. Maybe they did click it, but they didn’t click to my website. I can then send an email showing them some product reviews to keep them on the journey. If they do click and they do convert, we can start the welcome series or the upsell series. If they weren’t converting yet, we can start hitting them with an offer once we know that they’re really engaged.
Be sure to retarget your audiences. You can retarget them on:
- Social media
When you’re retargeting, make sure to segment and personalize your marketing efforts across channels. Do not just have one blanket remarketing campaign that targets everybody who visited your site. Customize it to those users who viewed your evergreen content.
An example could be targeting users based on time on page or scroll depth. Maybe someone went to your evergreen content and they were only on it for 30 seconds or so. We know that they didn’t engage with it completely. We could retarget them and say, “Hey, come back and do not buy brake pads until you finish reading this. We’ll make sure you get the right type.” You can also target them based on any links they click or URLs they visit on your site and send them very specific remarketing ads.
Last, make sure to test gated content. Gated content is basically content that requires a form to access. It can be an article, an ebook, a white paper, a video, or a webinar. Basically, if they want to see your evergreen content, they need to give you their name, email, and phone number. Roughly 80% of acts of gated content out there are B2B.
To give you an example of this, we have a B2B client that we run gated content for. We use all the different channels to drive traffic into that gated content, and then we have nurture emails and specific remarketing campaigns for that, with our original search campaign shooting straight for a demo, for example. We have a search campaign for those low-funnel keywords.
Our cost per demo was $1,367 — pretty expensive. But once we started gated content, that changed very quickly. Sending people to a white paper of some evergreen content, we ended up with a cost per download of only $15. Then when that actually turned into a demo, the cost per demo went down to $100, which makes it about a thousand dollars cheaper to run them through the gated content with the evergreen content, rather than just sending them to a regular landing page asking for a demo.
We need to make sure that we’re using an omnichannel approach with our evergreen content and our other marketing efforts. Make sure to utilize all your other channels to funnel traffic. Have specific remarketing campaigns and specific email campaigns so it’s very personalized and helps that user down their journey.
How to Shift to an Omnichannel Approach
So how do we make the shift over to omnichannel? I broke it down into four areas.
- The first is cohesion and consistency. We need to make sure that we’re consistent with our ads. Make sure that they’re consistent across those channels.
- Second, remember that it’s about coordination, not competition. A lot of times, different channels will start competing with one another. Everyone wants to close the deal, so they start competing, giving different offers and that sort of thing. We need to stop that. We need to make sure our channels are coordinating with one another so that we can bring our customers through that journey to a conversion.
- Third, you need to understand your top conversion paths, which you can discover through Google Analytics and figure out how most of your customers are converting. What channels are they going through? Where are all those touchpoints?
- Fourth, know your “assist leaders” — or as I call them, your John Stocktons. Some of you may know John Stockton, the all-time leading assist leader in the NBA. No one’s ever going to touch his record in the history of time. Know which channels are giving you an assist in your Google Analytics. Also understand that all your channels leading up to those assists may not be getting the close, but they’re helping with it. If any of your NBA fans are new, the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone wouldn’t have been anything without John Stockton.
Imagine your digital marketing campaigns without a John Stockton and then imagine them with one. Campaigns integrating four or more digital channels will outperform single or dual channels by 300%. Also, companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in their annual revenue compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Omnichannel consumers also spend up to 25% more than standard multichannel consumers, which also makes it so omnichannel customers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Retention is also much, much higher for anyone that uses omnichannel compared to companies that don’t.
Consumers Expect a Seamless Brand Experience
- 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless and integrated experience.
- Consumers viewing a consistent message across a variety of channels can actually improve their purchase intent by 90%
I wanted to end on the same quote I started with, which is:
“Today, you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.”
Presented by Mich Lunceford