By employing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" technique with your calls to action, consumers will be able to feel that they made the choice to continue down the sales funnel on their own, instead of being forced into it.
About four years ago, I was speaking to an audience in Atlanta about advanced lead nurturing techniques. I was explaining the idea of secondary calls to action (CTAs), and decided to use the example of the Choose Your Own Adventure novels from my childhood. The concept is to provide your recipients with more than one piece of content and allow them to choose the content that is most relevant to them. The content they pick will determine the next email they receive - allowing them to move themselves though your sales funnel. (The best part was, our friends at Brainrider thought this was so hilarious that they sent me a set of Choose Your Own Adventure books three days later).
Now, with the advancements of dynamic content and lead nurturing, this technique is a modern marketing best practice for increased conversion and shortened sales cycles. Here are a few good examples of how to use the Choose Your Own Adventure technique with dynamic content in your marketing campaigns.
Email marketing is often used to help further a relationship with a prospect, as well as generate more leads. To best accomplish these goals, consider the following example: When crafting an email for lead nurturing, the Choose Your Own Adventure technique will help you:
In your email there should only be a couple of calls to action when using this technique. If you are using links in your signature, I'd suggest removing them. You can check your email tool to see if these links are receiving clicks, but your click-through rates on links in your email signature are likely the lowest of all. If they are high, then your signature is more enticing than your content, which means you should reevaluate the message of your email.
There is a reason for only offering two CTAs (and therefore two options), and a goal. The goal is to drive engagement, and to help your prospects move themselves though your sales funnel. If you give more than two options, your email is not targeted to its goal, and will likely miss its target. The second reason for the two CTAs is because people will only engage with relevant content. So if you are offering two options, the odds are in your favor they will only engage with the more relevant of the two options. So if your content is crafted for each stage, they will tell you exactly which stage they are in, and if they are ready to move to the next stage of content they can do so.
In content marketing, regardless of where your content is hosted, optimizing for engagement is always the goal. Let's focus, for a moment, on increasing the engagement after their first touch - so after the form has been completed, or after they arrive on a landing page from a keyword search. In the case of video marketing, consider giving your prospect different options as to what to do next after the video finishes playing. This will give them the option to stay engaged, and help you to identify where they are in the sales cycle. Using this technique with content marketing helps to:
For gated content, or content hidden behind a form, consider the following example. When your prospect fills out the form, they are saying, "Yes." This is a clear sign that they are willing to engage with you. Many people use forms that can automatically display messages, or what we call "thank you content," after they are completed. If you are using this technique, you can say "thank you," and offer two more choices of content. This will allow you to take advantage of the person's state of mind. They are in a place where they're hungry for content, so help feed them. Give them another option for more content in that stage, or the choice to a download a piece of content that will take them to the next stage.
Here is a great example of this being used by ATS. Notice the form changes after submission to offer more content. The offer is dynamic, so it can offer the most relevant content at the correct time.
The Choose Your Own Adventure technique can also be used on your owned media channels. Let's take a look specifically at your website, and at a more advanced technique that can allow you to have dynamic content on your website. Many marketing automation tools and CRMs can provide this functionality to you. Using this technique with your owned media channels helps to:
Marketing automation enables you to see where a prospect is in the sales cycle, and allows you to use dynamic content to serve up different content based on this information. So whether they're on your homepage, pricing page, or login page, you can serve up different content. I'd suggest using a few dynamic content blocks side by side, or one on top of the other. This will allow you to show a piece of content that's relevant to the stage a prospect is in, as well as give them a chance to move on to the next stage.
Here is a great example from Merchantry showing how they use targeted content options to help increase engagement rates by showing the correct content at the correct time. Notice how the orange block allows the prospect to request a demo, while the two blue blocks provide thought leadership content.
So if you're doing any type of content or email marketing, the Choose Your Own Adventure technique is a must for all modern marketers. I've taught this technique for years, and have seen companies double their content engagement simply by utilizing the Choose Your Own Adventure options. It also allows the consumer to choose, so they feel they made the choice, instead of being forced into it. Good luck with this technique, and please feel free to share examples of how you're using this technique in the comments below.
Homepage image via Shutterstock.
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Mathew is the head of thought leadership for B2B marketing at Pardot, a Salesforce.com Company. A consummate writer, he has been featured in numerous publications such as Marketing Automation Times, DemandGen Report, Marketing Sherpa, ZDNet, and is the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies (published by Wiley February 2014). As a speaker Mathew speaks around the world at events such as Conversion Conference, Dreamforce, SugarCon, and to companies including Microsoft, Investec, NetJets, and Restaurants.com, to name a few.
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