Optimization is a hot topic for BtoB marketers. Developing well-crafted, relevant and engaging emails, websites and landing pages will certainly help you get closer to the ultimate sale. But optimization is about more than having the right text and visuals on a page– it’s about building better relationships.
One thing we sometimes forget is that, despite new tools and automation, the underlying principle remains: people buy from people, not websites or emails. Establishing and then nurturing a connection between the marketer and the prospect is critical if there’s any hope of a sale and long-term customer relationship.
With this in mind, it behooves marketers to:
- first, find a motivated prospect – someone who’s going to be interested in the product or service you have to offer
- second, prove that you can deliver unique value
- and third, properly overcome resistance from your prospect.
The key is engaging at the right level and speed – not moving too fast, while staying keenly aware of signals from the prospect that indicate interest.
The dating game.
To tell the truth (and with appropriate props to our friends at MarketingExperiments for pointing this out) it’s not unlike the dating ritual we’ve all been a part of at some point in our lives.
Imagine meeting someone for the first time at a social event. Like it or not, a conversation usually begins with some type of scripted overture (sometimes also known as a pick-up line). In our (admittedly limited) experience, cleverness coupled with friendly sincerity usually wins out over the bold, overly aggressive approach. Handle the introduction correctly and you’re on your way to a deeper conversation.
During that conversation, you have the opportunity to do two things: identify the motivation of the other party (are they looking for something long-term or just out for an evening out with friends?) and deliver your unique “value proposition.” If both parties share the same motivation and values, you could be on your way to a relationship.
Once kicked off, most relationships progress cautiously through a series of interactions during which you monitor your new acquaintance’s reaction for signs they are responding positively. For example, engaging someone during a first meeting with a line like “would you like to move in with me? I have a big house on the beach…” is unlikely to lead to a positive outcome (even assuming you do have that beachfront property). Engaging in true two-way conversation — listening and responding to signals from the other party — is much more effective.
Relationship building in action.
There’s much to learn from this approach when building email, landing page and website messaging. Optimize content to favor relationship building: the headline needs to be engaging without being too pushy, relevant to the prospect’s specific motivation and inviting in a way that encourages the prospect to learn more.
Landing page copy needs to connect with the ad or email link that was clicked so the prospect feels you are carrying on the same conversation. Dropping a paid search prospect onto a generic landing page or homepage is like abruptly changing the topic of a conversation. It usually leads to confusion and diminished interest.
If the long-term goal is to create a relationship with the prospect, it’s best to limit each step in the process to a single focus – amplifying the previous step and offering them an opportunity and reason for deeper engagement.
Headlines need to “sell” the opening paragraph of a landing page, landing page copy needs to deliver a clear value proposition and sell the benefits of the specific offer being made, and the offer must be relevant to the prospect’s immediate need.
If the prospect balks at any point, you’re moving too fast, like an over-eager teenager. You may need to slow the engagement process, or even move on to the next candidate. Resist the urge to push the prospect forward with increasingly aggressive message points – what didn’t work in the singles bar won’t work here either.
Getting a commitment.
Remember, you need a motivated prospect for your efforts to be successful, overcoming resistance by providing incentives, reassurances and value. Your prospect needs to clearly understand what he or she is expected to do at each stage of the “conversation,” whether it is subscribing to your email updates, downloading your latest white paper or signing up for your webinar series. The call-to-action must be relevant, delivered with clarity and without distraction, and every element should support the value proposition.
Find a motivated prospect, engage in a conversation, deliver value, and gently but firmly overcome resistance… and you will find commitment. And after all, isn’t that what everybody wants: a lasting commitment?
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