Brian Massey’s section of The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook, Conversion Stack: Marketing Automation for Performance Marketers, introduced a hierarchical approach to developing an optimal marketing process. By implementing marketing automation in support of this process, marketers can develop measurements that help them to optimize the overall velocity of their marketing programs. I contacted Brian to ask him for a bit of elaboration about his Conversion Stack to help you evaluate your efforts.
CD: In your description of the Conversion Stack, you talk about “a set of capabilities, each enabled by and depending on its predecessor.” Can you highlight some of the most important dependencies that must be addressed to move on to the next level in the Stack?
BM: The entire stack is designed to align the way a visitor “buys” – either by purchasing products with money or by purchasing information with contact information. The bottom of the stack is very important in this alignment.
When we cross the needs of the business with what visitors want to accomplish while online, we get an important subset of actions. Those activities that a visitor isn’t interested in doing online are discarded as well as those activities that don’t help the business.
Likewise, developing the content that supports this subset of actions is critical (I started to say “obviously” but I don’t think it is). Content is not free and marketing dollars must be focused on getting visitors to take action.
Interestingly, the content and the channels it is delivered through are the least interdependent. Channels are important, but content has become so malleable that it can be molded to find its way into many channels. Whitepapers can be fit into 140 characters quite easily.
CD: When creating baseline key performance indicators (KPIs), which ones are most productive for marketers who are just getting started with marketing automation if they don’t have a wealth of historical data?
BM: The best KPIs are the ones that everybody measures: revenue, sales and units shipped. Start with these and spend your time trying to tie specific visitors to closed sales.
Your efforts will span the Web, CRM systems and financial systems. However, once you can tie an email or a blog post to a sale, you have an amazing ability to choose marketing programs that work and kill those that don’t.
CD: I’m interested in your concept of Touchpoint Personas. What key factors do you include in their development to help you determine what a prospect needs at a specific moment?
BM: The persona development process that I employ brings all of those in the company who have experience with the customer together in a room. This may include marketing people, sales people, and customer service people. I start the process by collecting the stories from those around the table.
Many of the similar stories can be grouped into themes.
“The visitor’s appliance broke.”
“The visitor has an event coming up.”
We always want to then drive to more specific stories, so we tease out the most common situations.
“The visitor’s dish washer broke, and she’s been washing by hand for a week.”
“The visitor will be attending a wedding in two weeks and wants to impress family.”
The detail tells us how quickly the visitor wants their problem solved, which influences our copy and content.
We then try to select stories that represent the widest range of decision-making modes, both quick and slow, emotional and logical.
This is the most powerful part of the persona development process.