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Augmented Reality

How Augmented Reality is Disrupting your Industry

Introduction to Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) involves digital content superimposed onto your view of the real world through a device like a smartphone, tablet, or specially designed headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens. Glasses similar to Google Glass are also currently being developed. It allows users to interact with the digital content in varying ways based on the device you’re using to display it.

On smartphones and tablets, you use your touch screen to manipulate moving images that appear as if they’re in the real world. The most well-known use of this is through the wildly popular game Pokémon Go, which has an Augmented Reality function that causes the little creatures you run across in-game to appear on your screen as if in the real world by utilising your phone’s camera. The Pokémon are animated, and you use your screen to throw “Pokéballs”, allowing you to catch them as they move around.

Augmented Reality equipped headsets are the most impressive way to access this technology, as cameras and sensors track the movements of your body and eyes to allow interaction with the images that appear. This is the way forward for Augmented Reality because although less common than Smartphones and Tablets, the hardware is much more specialised and sophisticated, allowing a huge variety of uses in every conceivable industry. Imagine medical students learning anatomy through an image that can be digitally dissected, architects taking you for a walk through their design which is superimposed onto its future site – the possibilities are truly endless.

Headsets, of course, are an investment – whereas Smartphones and Tablets are a device a large percentage of the population already use. Therefore, Augmented Reality is currently mainly being used through mobile applications.

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

You may be more familiar with the idea of Virtual Reality (VR) than Augmented Reality (AR). The concept has been around since the 90s – put some goggles on and be transported to another world that you can interact with as if you were there. You could walk through the tomb of Tutankhamen without going to Egypt, explore the highest peaks of the Swiss Alps without learning how to climb mountains. It’s a very exciting idea with many applications, however, experts like Apple CEO Tim Cook feel that Augmented Reality will be a larger part of our world than Virtual. Speaking to Good Morning America recently, he said of VR: “Virtual Reality sort of encloses and immerses the person into an experience that can be really cool but probably has a lower commercial interest over time.” He went on to say that he feels that VR will be more of an entertainment-based experience, whereas AR will be “like eating three meals a day” as it has so many applications in so many areas.

Research has shown that Augmented Reality’s earning potential is higher than Virtual reality, and may eventually usurp the smartphone. A recent report from Citi Group’s research arm said “In the future, given that AR headsets allow for mobility versus VR headsets, we believe the pattern of use of AR will resemble that of smartphones, and we think AR will start to erode the smartphone market on both the hardware and the software sides.”

Further evidence for the higher potential of Augmented Reality comes from a report put together by Silicon Valley software and development strategy firm Yeti showing more optimism from developers working on Augmented and Virtual reality about the former as opposed to the latter.

Augmented Reality Technology

There are a few ways to access Augmented Reality. Smartphones are currently the hardware most commonly used in commercial applications, but we see a lot more potential in headsets and glasses moving forward. The Microsoft HoloLens is currently the most sophisticated piece of hardware available, however, glasses are very likely to be how the most common way we access AR as the technology becomes more ubiquitous. This is because they can be worn in everyday life, for longer periods of time. Headsets are predicted to be used for more sophisticated applications of Augmented Reality, like entertainment.

Microsoft HoloLens

The Microsoft HoloLens has only been available for a short time in Australia and is perhaps the most exciting piece of Augmented Reality hardware on the market. This headset is massively powerful despite being wearable, containing an entire computer that reduces any lag to digital images so they blend seamlessly with your reality. Sensors track your gaze – something that AR hardware has struggled to do effectively in the past, and this allows you to use your eyes as a cursor. Cameras and sensors also track movements, to allow you to use gestures to open and interact with applications. The HoloLens is equipped with Google’s AI personal assistant Cortana, who responds to voice commands. All of this adds up to a piece of hardware that truly mixes digital and the real world – hence Microsoft preferring the term “mixed reality” to augmented reality.

Microsoft has released the developer tools for the HoloLens, so we can, at this moment, create applications with the sophistication you will see in the attached video. It works similarly to how developers can create mobile applications for Android or Apple mobile devices, which become available for download through their respective app stores.

Augmented Reality Glasses

We can use wearable technology to create Augmented Reality solutions for many industries, particularly those in which the user would be unable to hold a smartphone but find headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens too bulky or expensive to easily replace if broken.

You may be familiar with Google Glass, which garnered a lot of press during its beta testing phase. The wearable technology was lighter than a standard pair of sunglasses and contained a camera, display and various other functions comparable to that of a smartphone. They were widely considered to be a commercial failure, however for Google, the brief time they were available was more of a research project than a product launch, and it provided highly valuable data that is helping them move forward with their AR and wearable tech programs.

There are a variety of smart glasses on the market aimed at enterprise that would be an excellent choice of hardware for Augmented Reality in sectors like manufacturing or construction. The Vuzix glasses are already being used by many companies, including Airbus, who uses them during cabin installation of the A330 to ensure that furnishings are installed precisely, down to the millimetre.

Commercial Applications of Augmented Reality

The digital disruption or fourth industrial revolution is coming whether you’re ready or not.  Just like the introduction of smartphones and the internet, some industries and businesses will resist the move towards new technological innovations – and they will suffer for it. There are a few industries already using AR to some degree, and these are also some of the areas that may benefit most from the technology – although by no means is this a full list!

Augmented Reality in Tourism

Augmented Reality has many potential uses in tourism, from Museums and Zoos to wineries, and historical sites.

One current application of AR technology in tourism is the Digital Binocular Station, created by MindSpace solutions and based on the idea of giving binoculars commonly placed at popular tourist sites a tech upgrade. They are installed to enrich the experience of visitors to the site by providing more in-depth information in a creative and exciting way. Visitors look through the binoculars, and see everything from a digital art show, to views of historic sites throughout the ages.

The potential exists for more portable Augmented Reality offerings, through either a headset or portable device like the Smartphone. A mobile application could be a very cost-effective way of giving many visitors to your facility an Augmented experience, as it would reduce any hardware costs and allow anyone with a Smartphone to engage. For example, visitors to an art gallery or museum could download an application that takes them on a virtual tour. Digital images could act as prompts, which when selected, offer information on various artefacts or artworks. What if Van Gogh could explain The Starry Night to visitors of the Museum of Modern Art? The piece is moving on its own, but with historically accurate information connecting the viewer to the artist – it takes on a whole new life.

The Microsoft HoloLens would be the perfect piece of hardware for creating an engaging experience in the tourism industry due to its incredible ability to mix the digital with the real. The cost involved in purchasing the headsets would certainly be recouped by the publicity generated by their adoption. Imagine visiting a historical battlefield that offered headset hire, following a digital soldier and experiencing everything from the trenches being dug in, to a mustard gas attack. The sophistication of this piece of technology would make it an incredibly real, immersive experience.

There is no doubt that Augmented Reality is “the next big thing” in technology, and will be common at tourist sites all over the world in years to come. By getting in now, you can capitalise on the publicity that will be available to first adopters. This will lead to increases in revenue through the potential for higher ticket prices or a separate cost to access the AR exhibits, as well as an increase in visitors through the door, and longer visit times. You will also be able to access Research & Development tax incentives that are awarded to projects which involve research or development that has not yet been undertaken. This could knock thousands of dollars off the price, which when combined with the publicity previously mentioned, makes being a first adopter a very attractive prospect in terms of lucrativeness.

Augmented Reality in Education

Education will greatly benefit from Augmented Reality technology, engaging students by providing a new, very visual and hands-on method of learning. It is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when this technology will become commonly found in Australian classrooms, from Primary to University.

One possibility that we at 2Excel are very excited about is the potential for science education to take on a whole new level of interactivity. Imagine learning about anatomy or cell components through an interactive hologram viewed through a headset! Students could digitally dissect animals and humans, seeing for themselves not only where things are but how they work inside the body, something cadavers cannot emulate. One currently available application from Daqri involves wooden blocks which have the symbols for elements on the periodic table that become interactive on the screen of a portable device such as a tablet. Students can see what the element looks like, and even place two blocks together to see what sort of reaction the two create when combined.

Australian students’ grasp on Mathematics could be greatly improved also. Many people are visual learners or learn by doing. Numbers on a page simply do not jump out at them and can be intimidating. With Augmented Reality, students could learn mathematical formulas and processes through engaging with practical activities made digital.

Another way Augmented Reality could engage students is through training in tech classes, and technical colleges, as well as trade or engineering courses at TAFE and University. Computer-aided Design (CAD) would take on a whole new life through AR – with students being able to interact with designs, take them apart, build them again, change them and see how they look in 3d right in front of them. Training to use potentially dangerous machines could be done through wearable technology, showing a student correct processes and shutting them down if they do something unsafe such as put a part of their body in the wrong area. These ideas would all attract students to STEM fields, keeping Australia at the forefront of technological innovation as the world continues to change, moving towards a digital future.

Augmented Reality would be very useful and engaging in Arts and Humanities too! For example, History could come to life with digital images used to show various aspects of life in a different era that students can engage with to find out more. One currently available AR mobile application allows students to record and attach a review of a novel they’ve read, which can be scanned through the app for anyone to access to find out more about the book. This type of interactivity and use of creativity helps students both grasp and retain information, while they have fun.

 

Augmented Reality in Engineering and Manufacturing

Augmented Reality (AR) has huge potential in the engineering industry and is already being successfully utilised in a very small number of manufacturing roles overseas. Everything from CAD to assembly can be made more efficient and effective using AR technology. As with all industries who choose to invest in AR, manufacturing/engineering companies will likely be eligible for Research & Development tax incentives, greatly reducing cost. There will also very likely be media opportunities and free publicity if you’re among the first, as the buzz around Augmented Reality is huge – particularly with the release of Pokémon Go bringing it to the mainstream.

Augmented Reality can be integrated into engineering and manufacturing using a variety of hardware. Smartphones and tablets can be used with CAD to augment designs already, but the real potential we at 2Excel see is through utilising glasses and headsets. Already, there are some glasses being used in these areas. As mentioned earlier, a company called Vuzix is partnered with Airbus in the final assembly of Airbus A330, whose staff wear the glasses to install cabin furniture. The Microsoft HoloLens is the sort of holographic experience you see in movies set in the future – the real and the digitally imposed blend seamlessly. As they contain the processing power of a desktop computer, you can see exactly what your design will look like, how it will move, how it will fit into real space and so on, without experiencing any lag.

CAD will benefit hugely from augmented reality – allowing everyone from the designer/engineer down to the client to be able to see how the design looks in the real world. 2d and 3d models in CAD can be hard to understand if you don’t have a technical background, and many clients do not – so seeing how the finished project will look improves communication and will be attractive to prospective clients, increasing business to account for the costs involved in adopting AR. Designs can even be animated – they move to show how different parts will work, and you can inspect them as they do so from all angles, like a virtual test. They can also be designed in the actual space they will fit once manufactured, allowing the engineer to design based on the real-life constraints presented by the environment. This allows quick changes to be made if some part of the design is not working as it should, reducing the potential for errors that have to be corrected past the design stage where it is much more difficult and potentially costly.

As a project moves from the initial concept and design stage to the manufacturing stage, Augmented Reality can help facilitate communication and understanding between the two. While those involved in manufacturing are experienced with designs in CAD, there is nothing like seeing the way the finished product looks, and how it works. This interactivity in design reduces risk, which is an attractive prospect that could save countless dollars in time spent tweaking designs or from errors in translating a design into a physical product. Time and money are also saved in assembly, as AR can deliver precise instructions to those working in these areas that make production lines flow smoothly and efficiently. Imagine those in manufacturing and production wearing glasses that tell them exactly what to do at what time. This would be especially useful when training staff, and we can even design a program such that it shuts down a machine if a trainee places part of their body in a dangerous place. This would save money and lost productivity that stems from injuries on production time.

Augmented Reality and Retail

According to research from Silicon Valley group Yeti, Retail will be one of the first industries to adopt Augmented Reality. Due to the needs of the retail sector, there are a few options that are relatively simple, and therefore cheaper to adopt. At this stage, AR headsets and glasses are not common enough for them to have much use in this area except in special events, or perhaps luxury stores. Smartphones are the way forward for now, as the vast majority of visitors to an AR-enabled store or mall will have one on hand.

Customers could download a mobile application, which when held up, shows the path to various facilities and stores in a mall, like a bathroom or food court. It could also display virtual signage showing any deals or sales on at various locations within a mall, saving money on physical signs, and improving aesthetics by reducing clutter. This allows customers to find their way around a shopping centre wherever they are within it, improving their shopping experience. It will also eventually remove the need for the interactive, digital store maps commonly found in malls today.

There are a few pioneering retailers who have tried out Augmented Reality in their stores. One example is American Apparel’s colour changer application, which allows a customer to hold their Smartphone over an item and change the colour. Another clever invention involves a large screen placed in a store, which acts as a virtual change room. These have been trialled in Top Shop and Timberland, and while the technology is not quite perfected, it has already proven to be very attractive to customers.

E-Commerce may be the specific area of retail with the most to gain from Augmented Reality technology. In China, an online grocer named Yihaodan has set up virtual stores, visible only through a mobile application, that allows customers to walk through aisles and select products to buy as if they were in a brick and mortar store. Converse has a mobile application that allows you to virtually try on a pair of shoes to see how they’d look, and De Beers, a US jewellery company, allows you to try on their range through your webcam. With an application allowing these sorts of engaging experiences, e-commerce stores will reduce returns and maximise profits by allowing customers to see what different styles and colours look like on them before they click to purchase.

In Australia, Augmented Reality has yet to be adopted by retail, and the potential to maximise on the publicity involved in being a first adopter is huge. The marketing opportunities related to media coverage may be even more relevant for this industry, as it is one that every Australian interacts with all the time. Research & Development tax incentives will also be available if the development is innovative, and offer returns up at 45cents in the dollar, greatly reducing initial cost.

Conclusion

Augmented Reality has an application for every industry we can think of, and in the not-too-distant future will be as normal to us as our smartphones. From government tax incentives to incredible PR boosts and more – the benefits for first adopters are numerous. We at 2Excel can do the things discussed in this article right now. We are on the forefront of the next revolution in technology, and we want you to join us! If you’re interested, but need more information pertaining to an industry that we haven’t covered – shoot us an email and we’ll send you an overview of our research!

Save Money on Facebook Advertising

4 Tips to Save Money on Facebook Advertising

4 Simple tips to save money on your Facebook advertising campaigns by optimising relevance scores

What’s a Relevance Score, and How do you Improve One?

 Your relevance score is a number from 1-10 that determines how relevant your ad is to your target audience. The best rating is 10, with 1 being the worst you can get. Facebook will show your ad 500 times before it determines your score using estimates based on data it collects from those views.  This is how to check your relevance score:

1.       Go to Facebook Ad Manager

2.       Select “campaigns”

3.       Select “ads”

4.       Select “relevance score”

5.       Your relevance score can be found on the bottom right of your screen.

The kind of data Facebook uses to calculate your score include the projected positive reactions like video views or engagement, as well as expected negative reactions such as people reporting your ad. Your score will continue to change as Facebook gathers more data and updates it. The higher your score, the more people will see it, and it will cost you less – so it’s an important metric to measure the success of your social media marketing campaign.

So how do you get the best relevance score possible? 

1. Know your audience

 Firstly, you need to consider your audience and goals. Who are you targeting? It’s ok to appeal to a large audience, but it’s important that they have something in common so you can make your ad relevant to them. If you don’t have market research data available to you, there are a few things to consider in order to come up with an audience to aim your ads at:

  • Marketing goals: Are you looking to build your database, or convert people already in it? Are you perhaps remarketing? This is your first step to determining your demographics.

  • Facebook Insights: You can get demographic data about the people who are interacting with your Facebook profile already, such as age, gender, and location.

  • Problem-solving: What problems can you solve for your customers? What problems do your customers want to be solved?

Use this information to write a short description of who you want to see your advertisement. You’re going to use this when selecting options to target the kinds of people you want to see your ad. There are so many options for this, far beyond simple demographic information such as age and gender. You can target down to hair colour – got a purple shampoo you want to sell? Blondes are your market! Another useful thing to do is to target people who like a certain page, for example, if you’re marketing a stock analysis software, you could target people who like a certain financial publication. By making your targeting specific, you know that the relevance scores you’re getting are actually based on data gathered from your ideal consumer.

2. Eye-Catching Images

So, now you know who you want to target with your audience, you need to choose an image that is relevant and appealing to them. It’s more important than your copy because most people use Facebook by scrolling through it at a pace too fast to read, and only stop when they see something that catches their eye.

The idea that using an image that is aesthetically appealing is pretty intuitive. It should be high quality – crisp and clear. If you are attempting to sell a product, choosing an image is pretty easy – you show the product. If you’re selling a service or something less tangible than say, a pair of shoes – you’ve got to think a little harder. Consider what different groups of people may find to be eye-catching. If your ideal audience is elderly, you probably aren’t going to use an image of a skateboarding youth in your ad because barring the rare skateboarding granny, it won’t tend to be relevant to them.

If you’re going to use text in your image, you need to adhere to Facebook’s 20% rule. This means the text can’t take up more than 20% of the entire image. Facebook actually has a handy tool which allows you to test your image by uploading it, and lets you know whether it will be penalised. Here it is: https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay#

3. Catchy Copy 

Once you’ve created a few graphics for your advertisement, you need some copy that appeals to those whose eye you’ve caught. To do this, let’s go back to the section about problem-solving when we were choosing our audience. There, we asked what problem you think you solve, and what problem you feel your ideal customer has. One of the most effective tools for copy is appealing to emotion, and you can do this by making your audience think about a problem they have, then giving them a solution to it.

 Let’s use an example to illustrate this:

You run a daycare for dogs. Your audience is young professionals in your city who have a dog, and their problem is that their poor pooch is lonely and bored at home while they work long hours establishing their career. You solve this problem by offering a place for them to go and play with humans and other dogs during the day. Here’s your ad copy: “All your dog has is you, but you have to work to put food on the table (and in the bowl). X Doggy Daycare provides a stimulating environment full of fun and affection, freeing you from the stress of leaving your loved one at home. No more imagining sad eyes watching the door 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Instead, you’ll get pictures of your pup living it up with his new pals!”

 This copy illustrates your client’s problem and appeals to the emotion they feel about it, then it offers a solution that you can provide. This is a short and simple rule to writing great copy for your Facebook ad. After all, what better way to be relevant to your target audience than to use their perspective!

4. Testing, Testing, Testing

 It’s a good idea to prepare multiple graphics and words for your Facebook advertisement. You can get some advice from others in your office about what they find to be the most eye-catching, but more importantly, you can test them on Facebook itself. As we discussed earlier, your initial relevance scores are based on the first 500 views. A useful approach can be to split test: creating two ads, then keeping the one with the best initial relevance score once it’s been shown to 500 people. Over time, you’re going to learn more about what’s relevant to your target audience, allowing you to refine your campaigns until you’re getting great relevance scores – maybe even the coveted 10!

That’s a wrap!

We wish you luck trying out these methods, and hope it’s easy enough to understand. If you’re still confused, Facebook’s help pages contain a wealth of information. You’re also more than welcome to contact 2Excel for social media marketing services. If you’re concerned about what that would cost, we now offer a pay-per-lead model, where we take all your digital marketing off your shoulders and you only pay when we generate a lead.

How to Engage

How to engage the 99%

Conversion rate truths that will change your landing page strategy

 

After days of struggling, you finally came up with the perfect business idea, got the capital and started a business.

Following your marketer’s advice, you created a top-notch website to reach the millions of people online. Several months down the line, despite your relentless efforts to have the perfect website, business is not booming. You know your product is right, so it must be the marketing strategy that’s wrong. Your guess might just be correct. Below are some page conversion truths that will change your method of optimisation, allowing you to beat the competition.

 

  1. There’s Huge Room for Improvement
    The fact is that a quarter of landing pages have a conversion rate of only 1%. This means that 99% of the visitors to your website do not turn into customers. The industry average is about 2.35%, whereas the top 25% have a conversion rate of 5.31%. The probability is quite high that your landing page falls under the category of the majority, with a conversion rate of 1-3%. This would explain your low sales. The best strategy in such a scenario is to get your landing page to the category of the top 10% – landing pages that average a conversion rate of 11.45% or higher.
  2. Conventional Landing Page Wisdom do not Work
    Basic strategies like changing the font colour of your website, increasing the line spacing, tweaking the headline and repositioning buttons do not have a significant impact on your conversion rate. Some might argue that they do result in changes, which can be true, but they never get your conversion rate to the top pile. Research shows that their effect is only temporary. It is advisable to go for long lasting solutions.
  3. Average Conversion Rates Vary by Industry but Follow the 3x-5x Rule for the Top 10%
    Research shows that conversion rate of landing pages varies with industry. Finance, for example, has a higher conversion rate than E-commerce, at 5.01% and 1.84%, respectively. It is, however, a common feat for landing pages in the top 10% to have 3-5 times better conversion rates than the industry average. This explains why your landing page conversion rate would be at 5% but you still not performing as well as your competitors.
  4. Getting Landing Pages 5X Better than Average is Not Uncommon
    Getting to the top 10% is not difficult. All it requires of you is to put in a lot of effort testing landing page variations to find the best (font colour or button changes do not count as testing of a landing page because it is just the same page with minor modifications). To succeed, you may have to test as many as ten landing pages.
  5. The Top 10% of Landing Pages Grab 80% of the Traffic
    Statistics show that a small business has an average of three landing pages, with one taking an approximate 85% of the impressions and clicks. This means that the other two manage to rake up only 15% of the clicks. Therefore, the best strategy would be to focus your time and attention to one to get your landing page among the top 10%. It is through focus that the top 10% of landing pages get 80% of the conversions.
  6. The Standards are boring and not compelling
    Although offering incentives is an excellent way to increase your conversion rate, the truth is, it does not work if you offer the same thing as everyone else in the industry. The trick is to try and have creative offers. This is what most high performing landing pages do.
  7. Higher Conversion is not The End Game
    In your quest to have a better landing page, conversion rates should not be your only concern. You also need to work on having better leads to increase your sales. The top-notch landing page optimisations are not the ones that will only help you convert more, but rather the ones that will help you build a better firm.

The above truths show that having a website is not a sure way of getting a market for your product. You will have to face the reality and apply better ways of marketing to generate more sales.

Facing the Reality: Stages of the Standard Buying Cycle

 

Now that you have established that 99% of your website visitors will not turn into your customers, it is vital that you start to work on what you are going to do about it.

Visitors not converting into customers is not an indication of their lack of interest. Remember that Google is a research tool, and it’s the habit of people to get information about a product or a service before spending their money on it. To better understand your customers, you need to understand the client’s cycle.

 

  1. Awareness
    This is the first stage of the buying cycle. It is the stage at which potential customers, who have no idea about your product or service, become aware. It mainly happens after they have experienced a problem that needs addressing and your product or service seems to have the potential of solving it. Content that addresses the problem and how to solve it plays a great role at this stage. It usually creates a bridge to the sales conversation around how your product or service will solve their problem.
  2. Interest
    After learning how to solve their problem and that your product or service will help them achieve that, potential clients tend to develop an interest in what you are selling. At this stage, the potential customers click on a link to your website with the hope of learning more about your product. If it is a unique service or product, most customers will want a personalised approach. They will want a way to contact the sales team directly or to receive emails about the product of their interest. With the accurate feedback, it will lead to the trial or consideration stage.
  3. Trial or Consideration
    The feedback from the company might have left the customers with some questions that can only be answered by testing the product. For products without a trial, this is the late opportunity negotiation phase. Most potential clients that plan on doing large orders, usually ask for a smaller item or service to test out the company before going all in. Content at this stage should be planned out in a manner that enables a client answer any questions or objections on their own.It is advisable that you track the performance and analysis of individual content at this stage. Having knowledge of the content that leads to potential customers turning to clients will help you know how to increase conversions in future.
  4. Purchase
    This is the stage that every business wishes their potential customers get to. If a client makes a purchase, it means that you probably did everything right in the first three stages. Content at this stage should be easy to complete and intuitive. Remember that you need to create a proper base for the steps that follow. That is support, loyalty, and advocacy.
  5. Support
    After purchase, most customers need the support of the seller to better use their product or service. This stage is very crucial as it determines if the client will continue giving you more business. Content at this juncture should help the customers get the most out of their product or services. Good examples of content that will keep the customers coming back are customer forum posts, success kits, tutorial videos or blog posts.
  6. Loyalty
    The loyalty stage is the stage where the customer keeps coming back. The repeat business may be for the same or entirely new products. The loyalty of customers, especially to software companies, helps increase the sales of their subscriptions and annual maintenance plans. To other businesses, it helps reduce cash outflow. It is more expensive and time-consuming trying to get a new customer compared to maintaining existing ones.To keep your business growing, it is vital that you identify the clients who can act as your referrals. References help boost other people’s confidence in your product or service. This will help increase your conversion rate immensely.
  7. Advocacy
    This is the last stage of customers buying cycle. When a customer is at this stage, it means that they are totally satisfied with your product and services and your way of handling business, and they are ready to recommend you to their friends. Now you need to help the customers help you. Content at this stage should be designed to make it easy for them to market you through their social media. You should also recognise and reward them.

 

Once you understand the buyer cycle, you now need to put that information to good use and better market your product or service on your website.

The Better Way to Market

Many marketers want to target conversions which yield little result compared to the effort. Let’s face it, when it comes to conversions, only two out of every hundred visitors will buy. On the other hand, if you place some focus on the other 98-99% and help them through the awareness, consideration and purchase period of the buying cycle, there is an excellent chance that you will get better results in the long run. Let’s face it; 5-10% of other 98-99% of the shoppers is better than 1-2% of the active buys.

As a sales person, you should have the ability to distinguish between the three stages that you need to help the other 98-99% through to convince them to purchase. The awareness stage represents a stage where all a customer wants is to become educated on the products that you have to offer, or it could also represent a stage where they come to the realisation that they have a need that they want to fulfil. The consideration stage is the stage at which a customer starts to look at the different potential options to cater for his needs. Lastly, the purchase stage is where the customer has now made up their mind on the product they require and wants to buy it. The buying cycle will impact the sales approach that is to be used.

Imagine that you are taking a stroll around the neighbourhood and wandered into a clothing store. Your interest is not buying clothes but rather window shopping. While at it, you are approached by an ambitious salesperson whose aim is to get you to buy something. The push for you to buy clothes will get you annoyed and leave you feeling that the seller is ruining the peaceful window shopping experience that you hoped to have.

Now imagine that you got in the store with the aim of purchasing a black sweater urgently. To get the best sweater in the shortest time, you need the help of a salesperson so that you do not waste time looking for a sweater that will suit your demands. However, this time, you do not seem to get the attention of any salesperson. This will leave you irritated and feel that the service at the store is lacking.

What is the difference between the two scenarios? The two scenarios are different stages of the buying cycle. In the first example, you are at the awareness stage whereas in the second example; you are in the purchase stage.

Being at different stages in the buying cycle led you to have different expectations of the sales people. While at the awareness stage, you hoped to be left alone to look around and get informed about the various products that the store had to offer. Whereas at the purchase stage, you already had the information that the clothing store stocked black sweaters and all you needed from the salesperson was to help you quickly complete the purchase.

The above examples show that not all marketing yields into sales, especially if the seller does not consider the customers’ stage in the buying cycle. The wrong approach leads to frustration and potentially lost sales. It would be best if every salesperson first analysed the stage at which the customer is before making an approach. This will enable them to make the right approach and will help get the 98-99% on board. Treating every customer the same way will yield little or no result. This way of marketing should be applied to not only face to face marketing but also digital marketing.

How do you adapt Marketing to a Buyer’s Stage in the Cycle?

It might seem easier to adapt marketing to the buyer’s stage in the physical world as compared to the digital world, but this isn’t true. All you have to do in the online world is provide paths through your website that are appropriate for each particular stage. Most visitors will follow the path that suits them if they have the option to do so. For those that are at the awareness stage, you need to describe the problem that your products or services solve. This will assist them to establish if they have a similar problem. If your description of the problem your product solves is in line with their current problem, they will move on to the consideration stage.

For the consideration stage, you will need to introduce your solution. At this juncture, content should focus on the advantages of using your products. It should explain what the customer should expect after using your product or service. Make sure that your content is a detailed as possible and if possible, includes examples. It is also necessary that you increase the customer’s interest by directing them towards external testimonials about your product or service. This will act as a proof that the product solves the problem and is a worthy buy.

If the content is written well, it will get the customer to the purchase stage. At this stage, not all clients will be ready to buy. Some of them will still have doubts about your product or service. The best thing to do would be to give them a free trial. The aim here is to get them to purchase a product and if possible, also refer it to their friends. After trying the product and proving that all the content about the product was true, they will purchase. You are bound to have very loyal customers in the future. Aligning marketing with the stage at which your client is currently at, will help more customers buy.

If, after applying this marketing strategy some buyers are still not willing to buy, then you need to turn to lead nurturing.

What is Lead Nurturing?

It is probable that visitors to your site who are at the early stages of the buying cycle will not become your customers, even if the content on your site is right for them. There is always that group of clients who you will need to work on a bit harder to convince them to buy your product. Most companies do not go the extra mile leading to lost sales in the long run. Remember, the aim is to try and capture the whole 99% who are not buying from you, so you need to continue pressing on.

The key to getting the customers who are at the early stages of the buying cycle and are still not convinced of the need for your product and services is to employ lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is a marketing methodology that aims at building relationships with clients even if they are not willing to buy a product from you. The goal of lead nurturing is to continue to inform the customer about the company, increasing the probability that they will purchase the business’s product or service when the time comes.

Leading nurturing is a marketing process that initiates when a firm manages to get a potential clients contact information and can communicate with them. For simple lead nurturing, the customer can simply opt to send an occasional email informing the client of price changes in the product, updates to a service or a product. A company can also opt for complex lead nurturing which involves informing the client about the advantages and disadvantages of using a particular product, or pitches that encourage the customer to go for the product real soon. Lead nurturing is a form of marketing that has been utilised for some time, but it took on a new angle with the advent of social media.

Now that you are ready to do some lead nurturing, how will you get the much-needed email addresses? Most website visitors are very reluctant to dish out their email addresses, so you need to find a great way of encouraging them to give it to you. There are different strategies to employ, but the most efficient are to entice them with something they value. Once you get their email address, you can nurture them through not just the first buying cycle, but also the remaining stages up to purchase.

Lead nurturing can be a very tiring process. Thus you need to apply some technology to do it right. You can go for automation software like that provided by Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua et cetera. These solutions offer a myriad of benefits to clients looking to utilise lead nurturing. One of the advantages is that they can help you categorise your potential customers and as a result have the ability to send relevant content directly. Relevant content contributes to increased chances that the emails will be read, and hence a higher probability that the client advances in the buying cycle. The software also allows the client to track those that are advancing in the buying process by following the pages they visit on your site. For example, if a buyer who was not interested in the product suddenly starts visiting the pricing pages after a couple of emails, it means that they have advanced in the buying cycle. For these kinds of potential clients, you can opt to apply more time consuming and expensive sales resources with the knowledge that you are not wasting your resources.

It is important to understand that lead nurturing is all about accelerating the client through the awareness and consideration process. It is about feeding them more information not just what is contained on the website. And if it so happens that the data is already on the site, it is a way of getting the information closer to their reach. People are more likely to read what is in the emails than go to a website every day to check for content. Filtering through your website can be a tedious process for a client who is not willing to buy. Remember, they are not motivated.

Feeding potential customers with product comparisons, customer success stories etc., will help provide them with info that they did not think they needed. In the long run, you might send the right buying trigger that might get them to get to the end of the buying cycle. After a couple of emails, your product might top their shopping list.

Ways to Nature Leads

With the belief that lead nurturing will work, appropriate software and contact information, you now need to know the different methods you can employ to be effective at lead nurturing.

Before applying any method, you, first of all, need to establish how your online lead sources apply to the customer buying cycle. Each particular lead source provides buyers that are in different stages on the client buying cycle.

A lead source like Google review sites tends to present buyers that are at a later stage in their buying cycle. The potential clients often have a high intent of buying the product thus should be highly valued. They are usually at the purchase or consideration stages of the cycle.
Other lead sources like Facebook, or stories, banner ads, social referrals and educational presentations at conferences tend to present buyers that are still at the awareness stage. These clients have just learned of the product and thus need to be appropriately directed.

When choosing the method, you are going to employ to do your lead nurturing; you need to select one that is not only suitable for you, but also for the category of lead source you are dealing with. Read on to learn ways of nurturing leads.

 

  1. Content Marketing: Content marketing can best be described as a marketing approach that involves creating and distributing content that is consistent, valuable, and relevant to attract or retain a unique audience and ultimately to increase profitable client action. Content marketing is known to be an effective lead nurturing tool if applied correctly and below are tips that will help you use it appropriately.For the users that are in the awareness stage, the content created for them should have the aim of creating brand awareness. It should cast a wide net, cover relevant topics and evoke emotions. Some of the to go to types of content for buyers at this stage are eBooks, white papers, infographics, blog articles, FAQ page and videos.The eBooks can be used to cover topics on what you are offering. Downloads of the different eBooks will help you know what the particular user is interested in and help you to be more targeted with your future content. For the blog articles, it would be best to provide information that is more geared to an emotional appeal. It helps build a brand personality. The FAQ page helps at providing more information about the company and the products. Lastly, videos help in dishing out content that is more engaging, thus more likely to be viewed and ultimately get more people informed about your product.For those in the middle stage, it would be best to use newsletters and emails, product buying guides and client reviews. Remember the potential clients at this juncture are now at the consideration stage, and all they need is a slight push, and they will buy the products. The product buying guides should offer the client with several ways that they can use to purchase the product. While writing the guides, try to make it seem easy to get the product and begin its immediate use. For the client reviews, your role is to ensure that the potential customers can access them quickly and easily. You can do this by providing a link to them on the emails you send. The newsletters and emails should be used to inform the client of any changes in price or technology in the product or services. More knowledge about the product will make them more likely to go for the product or service. Remember to keep them short and within the user’s specified interests.Those at the last stage will need to be nurtured through coupons and custom proposals. Clients at this stage are ready to buy, and all they need is a smooth process or motivation to get the money out of their pockets. For the coupons, all you need to do is offer some that are peculiar to a client’s preferences. Custom proposals are also an effective way of closing a deal. You need to ensure that they provide the user with the information that is required to make a purchase. Well-written proposals often portray a firm as a professional organisation with proper client skills.Properly written content for your lead nurturing can lead to the 99% potential customers becoming actual customers.
  2. Remarketing: Remarketing is another great option that you can go for if you are keen on lead nurturing. Remarketing involves connecting with clients that have visited your site but did not make any attempt to purchase your product or services or make an inquiry. This strategy allows you to place target ads elsewhere on the internet for clients who previously visited your site.It is the responsibility of Google Ad Words to manage the ads and ensure that they are displayed on sites that your target audiences visit. For the ads to be displayed, the website visited by your target audience must accept Google advertisement placements. The remarketing ads can be either in text, image, or both text and image formats.
    Google remarketing is ideal for firms whose sales process is long and very competitive. The ads act as a constant reminder to your potential clients that you offer certain services and products. Your company will always be on their minds, so to speak.So how does Google remarketing work? The process is quite simple and involves placing cookies on the on the machine of the website visitor when they meet certain criteria set by you. If they fit the criteria that you set, their cookie identification is added to your remarketing list. You can opt to have just one list with a particular standard or multiple lists with different criteria. For example, you can choose to add to your remarketing list all visitors who visited the FAQ page but did not make any purchase and so on.For your remarketing to be efficient and yield the results that you are looking for, there are certain controls that you can employ. For example, you can choose the length of time a cookie ID remains on your market list, the ability to block your ads so they don’t appear on certain sites, or the number of ads that will be shown to a particular individual within a certain given period.To enhance remarketing, Google has gone on to add more controls and features for advertisers. For example, the remarketing feature now allows the use of Google Analytics code that gives advertisers more flexibility. The flexibility enables advertisers to create more lists and manages them without inputting a specific code on the site.To effectively use this strategy, there are several things that you need to be aware of. One of them is to ensure that your ad is relevant. It needs to focus on what the clients are looking for. In line with that, it needs to encourage the customers back to your site. Otherwise, it is of no benefit. To get your customers back, you can choose to add some form of enticement to the ad. For example, you can display a discounted item that your target audience wants.You also need to know that before a particular campaign can become active, the remarketing list needs to have a minimum of one hundred cookie IDs. So fill up that list with as many potential clients as you can, who fit your criteria.
  3. Social Media: If you are confused about how social media can play a role in lead nurturing, then you’re not up to date with the statistics regarding the use of social media. According to research, approximately 74% of adults use social media. This means that if you are an advertiser that ignores the use of social media, you are losing out on the most economical and efficient way to boost your demand. Check out some techniques you can employ to integrate lead nurturing with social media.1. Use marketing automation to your advantage
    Social media has the advantage of allowing advertisers to identify, and build relationships with the online community. You need to maximise on this benefit that social media offers and create as many connections as you can. You will then take advantage of the marketing automation of social media to start, lead nurturing by sending an email each time one of your many friends mentions your company. These relationships will increase the probability that your company name or products and services are mentioned. Marketing automation in social media also allows you to set up alert keywords. This means that each time a client says a particular keyword; you will know which stage they are at in the buying cycle.2. Segment leads based on social media personas
    People regularly express their personalities on Facebook and as an advertiser; you can take advantage of this by using the information to segment your different customers. The views expressed by your different followers about your company and its products and services will help you know what their position is regarding your business. You can then group the members who are at similar positions and initiate your lead nurturing. The grouping will help you feed them with the most relevant information.3. Use email to invite more action on Social Platform.
    The easiest way to do this is by including social share and social follow buttons in emails that you send to clients who had given you their contact information. This strategy works especially if your company is new, and your main aim is to make people aware of your business and the products and services that you have to offer. It also works for the companies that have been there for a while, because the more information that is out there about your business the higher the probability that those potential customers will end up buying goods. The increased popularity of a company also tends to boost consumer confidence. This means that those at the consideration stage will be more likely to make the move to the purchase stage.4. Respond to Social Inquiries
    Social media also presents an easy opportunity for potential customers to ask questions about your products and services. It will be beneficial to you if you do not leave these questions unanswered. Answering questions will help customers move through the buying cycle, so it is a perfect way for you to do your lead nurturing. It is also a perfect way of offering client specific information. While answering the questions, you can also try to refer the clients back to your website.
  4. Email Marketing: Just as the name suggests, email marketing is the use of emails to market products and services of your company. The tricky part to email marketing is getting the email addresses of potential customers. While there are those that will give you their email willingly, the majority will not do so easily. Their biggest fear is of having their email inbox filled with spam content or that their personal email will be shared with other people. Since email marketing is not possible without potential clients’ emails, you will need to find a way of getting them.
    The best approach to getting the emails is by enticing the potential customers. For example, you can decide to set up a discount for any registered member of your site. Also as a form of encouragement, it is advisable to let them know that you will not be sharing their personal information with anyone and mention that this includes their email addresses.

After getting the email addresses, the next step is to input all of them in your CRM database. Make it a habit of exporting the list of emails regularly. You then should decide how often you will be sending emails to the potential clients. When using this technique, there are several things that you need to keep in mind:

  • The first thing that you ought to do is design an email template. Remember that most people have very little time to read emails and that you are not the only person that is sending emails to them. Therefore, you need to entice your target audience to read your emails. One way to do so is to have a template that will make your emails looks organised, easy to read and attractive. Templates make emails look professional. Professional emails have a zero chance of being considered as spam by readers and thus the probability of them being read is higher.
  • You will need to use an email program. Great examples of email programs include Constant Contact, Vertical Response, and MailChimp. These programs help you know the recipients of your mail and what specific content they love reading once they have opened it. With this information, you will know more about who to send an email to and what kind of content to include.
  • Lastly, you need to always address relevant topics. Remember that the information should always be about the company. It should also relate to the stage of the buying cycle where the client is. Remember, a customer will not continue opening emails from you if they do not benefit them in any way.

Once you have your tactics right, you can use the emails to market your products and services vigorously. Always remember to provide a share button to social sites so that readers of your content can share the information with their friends. You should also provide a link to your site just in case the reader wants to learn more about a particular item. The advantage of email marketing is that you are confident the information will get to the recipient.

Landing pages have for a very long time being exaggerated as a great way of marketing. Seminars and workshops on marketing tend to feed people with a long list of advantages of having websites to the point that business owners believe that with an attractive internet site, you do not need to do more marketing. It is true that sites do increase sales, but they also tend to lose a lot of potential sales. The conversion rate of a site performing at its peak has an average conversion rate of about 12%. This means that over 85% of potential clients go to other businesses. It is, therefore, a necessity that a company puts extra effort and focus on the 85% who are not buying their products.

As it has been seen, understanding the market cycle will help a business market its products better. It is evident that the best way to promote your business is to align your marketing strategy to the customers’ stage in the buying cycle. If you do not get more clients through this method, you can encourage it with lead nurturing.

There are different methods a business person can employ to nurture their leads. Each has got its own technicalities, but they all lead to the same result. A company can opt to apply all the methods or concentrate on one. The only thing that will matter at the end of the day is that the number of conversions rises from a 1% to almost 100%. Although trying to convert the 99% is a daunting task, it will pay off in the long run.

Facing the reality will help you break away from the belief that a website will get you customers without you going the extra mile. Go ahead and try to lead nurturing.