Part 1 - How Closing the Loop Means Closing More Sales
I was watching television the other day when an ad came on for a new type of television.
Have you seen it?
The newest television technology has taken the TV with a flat screen and curved it, totally transforming the viewing experience.
This new technology, put out by Samsung, was highlighted in a commercial from Agency 72 in Los Angeles and has gotten a lot of hype.
Taking the television screen from a flat line to a curve is the next big thing.
Inbound marketing is going through a similar experience.
The typical inbound model expresses the buyer’s journey through the marketing funnel in a straight line. There is a beginning and an end.
New versions of the online marketing experience for buyers are changing and include a curvature of this linear concept.
In fact, the curve has turned into a circle.
Now, instead of pushing a buyer into one end of a funnel and spitting them out the other end, marketers are figuring out that for most industries, the buyer that comes out the end of the funnel is just as important as the visitors coming in.
Closed loop marketing addresses this new approach to the inbound process, and adds the sales team to the mix, as well as a whole lot of customer delight.
WHAT IS CLOSED LOOP MARKETING?
Closed-loop marketing is a fancy way of saying that sales teams and marketing teams can work together using the data and insights that the marketing team gleans from their analytics.
It means that marketing reports to sales regarding the leads that are ready to be closed and sales reports to marketing on the leads they have received.
By working together, each team can gain a better understanding of what is working with a company’s inbound program and lead nurturing strategies and make more progress closing leads, increasing revenue and growing your company.
In the past, the straight-line method has been harder to measure and calculate things like ROI, cost per lead and cost per sale.
It has also been very difficult for a marketing team to prove their worth via their marketing initiatives.
By “closing the loop”, there are several different things that happen within a company that improve overall sales, the buyer’s experience and even a company’s culture.
It literally ties up loose ends and focusses on the differences between a visitor, a lead and a customer, making it easier to link marketing dollars back to the campaigns that created them.
Like Samsung’s curved television, taking the line and turning it into a curve – in this case a circle – it’s a little easier to conceptualize how all the components work well together and flow throughout the circle.
HOW DOES CLOSED LOOP MARKETING WORK?
Using closed-loop marketing requires connecting your customer relationship software (CRM) and your marketing analytics software. In this way you can use the data you mine from analytics to create better content for your potential clients with your CRM.
In addition, the easiest way to curve the linear nature of the older inbound marketing concept into a circle is to use your website as ‘grand central’ for all of your marketing efforts. Filter your organic searches, social media marketing, email campaigns, social shares, paid programs and other offline activities straight to your website so that everything can be tracked.
Furthermore, every marketing effort you create should have a URL attached to it on your website to make following each campaign’s progress. By attaching URL’s to each link you provide on your different marketing channels, anyone who clicks that link will signal your chosen analytics tool where they are coming from.
This also applies to your email efforts, paid searches and referrals.
You can research your marketing software or your analytics tool and make sure that you have the capability to put tracking cookies in place.
By using tracking cookies, you will know when a visitor comes back to your site. Although they are still anonymous, they are still interested as well.
Making sure that your visitors and your data get assigned to the appropriate categories is imperative for the closed-loop process.
HubSpot has broken up the circle into four pieces that include the buyer’s journey, the marketing team, as well as the sales team and how they all interact within a company’s inbound marketing strategy to create brand awareness, produce more leads and close more sales.
These four steps include:
Step 1: Visitor Arrives on Your Site
Step 2: Visitor Browses Your Website
Step 3: Visitor Converts Into a Lead
Step 4: Lead Becomes a Customer
Each of these steps can be broken down into several moving parts.
STEP 1 – A VISITOR ARRIVES AT YOUR SITE
When a visitor arrives at your website they might have typed your URL directly into a search engine.
They may very well be ready to buy your product, know your company and have their credit card in their hand.
Wouldn’t that be great?
But for the vast majority of your website visitors, it’s going to take a little more work.
Most likely, your visitor arrived at your website via a social network, email, blog or other content that you distributed; pointing them back to a landing page.
Attracting visitors to your website using offers and great content is how inbound works. As a marketer, it is your job to get more traffic to your website.
With closed-loop marketing, a visitor entering your site is the entry point of your system.
Getting them to fill out a form on your landing page in order to receive an offer is critical to having them progress further throughout your loop (also considered the sales funnel).
When a visitor arrives, they can be assigned a tracking cookie that will follow them throughout the entire loop. These tracking cookies will allow you, through your marketing software, to identify where they came from, track a visitor’s trends, and compare which channels are working best for you.
If you aren’t attracting much action from Instagram, but your Pinterest account is gaining lots of traction, you know where to put more effort – at least in stage one of the process.
The data will tell you exactly what you need to do.
In this stage of the process, it’s all up to the marketing team.
STEP 2 – A VISITOR BROWSES YOUR WEBSITE
If you can attract a visitor and get them to stay on your website for longer than a few seconds, then you have done a great job so far.
Now it’s time to identify where they came from and track their behavior.
What pages are they looking at on your website?
How long are they staying?
Pinpointing this information will allow you to map out a better optimized path for future visitors and faster conversions.
The most complex part of the closed-loop marketing process happens in Step 2. This is where a visitor is most likely to convert into a lead if you are appealing to what they need and value.
However, it is also important to know their movements while they were still anonymous. This is where a good marketing automation platform comes in.
While Inbound Marketing Agents utilizes HubSpot for marketing automation, there are several excellent platforms available that can do the same thing.
Step 2 is still very much in the hands of marketing.
STEP 3 – VISITOR CONVERTS INTO A LEAD
If you want the most value out of your inbound efforts, which means sending qualified leads to your sales team, then converting visitors into leads is the next step in the closed-loop marketing circle.
Ideally, visitors are coming to your website directly onto a landing page. If designed correctly, a landing page will entice them to give you some of their valuable personal information (on a lead-capture form) in return for an offer they perceive to have some kind of value.
At this point, they are no longer an anonymous visitor, but a lead.
As you create more offers that gently push leads further down your sales funnel, you can collect even more Intel on your leads. The more you know about your leads and who they are, the better chance you have of converting them into a paying customer.
By the time you hand over a qualified lead to your marketing department, they will have enough information about the user’s online behavior, demographics and personal information to be able to close much easier than with traditional sales methods.
Step 3 is a crucial part in closing the loop because you get concrete information about your visitors based on the fields you put in your form. Name, email address, phone number and other information can all be added to your lead database and added to as your lead is nurtured through the funnel.
This step of the process also takes the most time, depending on the industry you are in. Even if your buying process only takes a couple of weeks, your company will want to have offers and emails set up that capture your lead and nurture them throughout the funnel.
This is also the point in the closed-loop process where it’s time to decide when to send a lead to the sales team.
STEP 4 – LEAD BECOMES A CUSTOMER
With solid planning, valuable content and a well-timed lead nurturing process, there is no doubt that your inbound marketing campaign will close leads.
- Which offers worked best?
- Which marketing channel contributed to the most sales?
- How can you optimize those processes for more success in the future?
Having a closed-loop marketing plan in place allows you to figure out the answer to all of these questions.
Take a look at your closed leads and trace them back to their beginning marketing sources.
If you don’t have an automated marketing system, then keeping the information in spreadsheets could work for you, especially if you are a small business just starting out.
For many companies, closing the lead is the responsibility of the sales team.
However, isn’t it great how the loop brought sales and marketing together?
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE CLOSED-LOOP WORK?
Ideally, having a CRM and an automated marketing platform are the best ways to institute a closed-loop marketing program for your company; however there are ways around it.
There are other analytics programs available, and spreadsheets work fine for businesses with smaller databases.
There are also other components to ensuring the success of your closed-loop methods.
Having a sales team and a marketing team who are on board together with the program is probably the most important aspect to turning this new wheel.
Then there are the buyers themselves.
The closed-loop method recognizes how important a delighted customer is.
In the second part of this blog we will discuss pulling the sales and marketing teams together in order to make it all work.
We will also examine how your current customer base has become a critical element in getting new leads on social networks like Facebook; who now wants your advertising dollars in order to show your feed.
And we’ll wrap up with some ways you put closed-loop marketing to work at your company.
For now, tell us how you feel about this new process. Is it a little overwhelming, or are you all over it? Do you think you can pull it off using free analytics and spreadsheets, or is your company at the tipping point where they are too large? Give us a comment or two about what you think about re-inventing this marketing wheel, and, as always, feel free to ask questions.
Thanks to HubSpot for the Closed Loop Image.