Creating a low-risk avenue for customers to experience your offerings is the fastest way to get your subscription-based services or products into the hands of your customers. While traditional sales cycles work for other industries, you have the unique opportunity to allow your customers to experience your offerings first-hand, and modern marketing can help you connect with your target audience before and after they try your offerings.
Instead of relying on word of mouth within the industries you serve, intent-based advertising and retargeting efforts engage your target audience and encourages them to use your low-risk option. An effective digital advertising program targets individuals who are actively searching for the products or services offered and engages them with your low-risk offering so your products or services can speak for themselves.
Whether your business is a B2B or a B2C, most subscription-based businesses can utilize a low-risk offering option to encourage initial engagement and lessen the sales-intensive acquisition process. This can be automated through a specific marketing funnel using communications programs—such as drip email marketing campaigns, social media content, videos, and website content, as well as online reputation management—to increase brand awareness and engagement while nurturing leads. This automated marketing funnel can serve as part of your customer service efforts, too, aiding acquisition and retention.
Continue reading to learn how modern marketing can integrate with your offerings online and improve your customers’ experiences. Videos, website content, email marketing, blog articles, and urgent calls to action will typically encourage your low-risk option users to convert into long-term customers.
FOUNDATION SETUP : 65 – 85 Hours
LAUNCH TIMELINE : 6 – 8 WEEKS
MONTHLY ACTIVITY : 30 – 40 Hours
AD BUDGET : $1,000 – $5,000 MONTHLY
COST PER Sale : 50% – 100% of INITIAL Sale
REASSESSMENT : EVERY 3 MONTHS
Note: These metrics are based on averages from our team’s experience supporting small businesses since 2010.
Your customers likely have a pressing need for your subscription-based products or services, which is why establishing a marketing foundation based on a very low-risk package is ideal for your business. Then, after the introductory offering (we recommend starting out with a free trial for most subscription-based businesses) it’s best to incrementally scale your customers into your regular pricing model. This way, new customers have a smooth transition from their first interactions with you to a “normal” interaction with your business. Plus, this self-serve trial basis helps your prospects experience your offerings on their terms and schedule, which a demo or chat with a customer service representative does not offer.
For this customer experience to be effective, your onboarding processes must be effective, as they are critical to your business’s success. This is where your marketing funnel comes in. Your sales process is the foundation of your marketing strategy, but also the beginning of your marketing funnel. When sales and marketing are fully integrated, your customers will experience a smooth onboarding process, successfully experience your offerings, and most will convert to paying customers.
Most businesses or consumers who are searching for your services or products need to be targeted and retargeted. They likely perform research before choosing a product or service provider, especially because of the recurring, subscription-based model, which means they may not try your offerings right away and need to be reminded of their benefits as well as your free or discounted trial. This is where advertising comes in.
To develop an advertising strategy, you first need to identify your goals, such as lead generation, brand awareness, impressions, and website visits. Then, identify the unique selling proposition for why visitors should choose your business instead of your competition. Lastly, who is your audience? The answers to these questions are the basis of your advertising strategy.
Before creating the advertising strategy, you need to spend time understanding the business, including learning its language and messaging guidelines. For this effort, you need more than just keywords that describe the products or services. Identify your customers’ problems and imagine what they might type into a search engine to find a solution. Whatever that solution might be, you want to include that in your ad copy. Ideally, use a mixture of short- and long-tail keywords. An example of a short-tail keyword would be “software for banks” and an example of a long-tail keyword would be “payment processor for all kinds of payments.” Spy on the competition to see what paid keywords they’re targeting. Look at their web design and observe how they’re driving conversions. What lead magnets are they using? Use a brand campaign to contain keywords related to your business and bid on your own company name as well.
Consider making a competitor campaign that would target keywords specific to each of your competitors’ brand names. This is a great opportunity for you to capture your competitors’ customers. Target their product or services names and brand name.
Utilizing display campaigns for retargeting is a must. For example, you should retarget all visitors who visited your web page and exhibited the behavior of someone who is likely to convert. This kind of behavior could be: viewed a certain number of pages per session, time per session, viewed a key page, etc. You can also use a display campaign to gain exposure and spread brand awareness.
For subscription-based businesses, your lead nurturing strategy needs to embody your messaging guidelines. (When a lead nurturing strategy is focused on communications efforts, it may be called a communications strategy.) To nurture your leads, you need to create content that answers prospects’ and customers’ questions based on the intent behind their questions. To do so, you need a three-tier communications strategy based on the three tiers of your audience. For example, your three tiers may be 1) Prospects who are using your free trial, 2) New Customers, and 3) Affiliate Customers. Based on your tiers, you need to develop a lead nurturing strategy that conveys the best content for each tier. Following this example, you would create content for your prospects, including information on how your products or services works; new customers, including how to actually use your products or services, how to get the most out of them, and how to become an affiliate; and affiliate customers, including how to get the most out of your referral program as well as informing them first when you roll out updates.
For each tier, focus your content on the value and benefits of the next tier up. This will help them get the most out of your products and services through our content as well as see the value of upgrading to the next tier. For tier three customers, focus on the future of what your business will offer them because they are already brand advocates as well as customers.
Once you create your tiers, which you should already have in your messaging guidelines, you can determine what content you need to create for each audience segment (tier) and in what formats. Then, once you create the ideas for the blog articles, videos, ebooks, etc., you need a plan to distribute the content.
The combination of your audience tiers, content types, formats, and distribution plan will be the basis of your communications strategy.
Tip: Use your messaging guidelines to create your communications strategy. Be sure that your content includes very focused messaging to easily convey the most important details to your audience segment in each tier.
Remember: Your content marketing efforts are only as strong as the distribution of your content, so don’t skip that step.
If a specific tier of content is underperforming, survey your audience to find out why. Reevaluate your content marketing plan and strategy for that tier and make changes accordingly.
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