The Invisible Lead: How to Engage and Not Enrage
Across the board, shoppers are balking at filling out contact forms. In the past five years, our internal research at AVALA shows a form conversion rate drop of 10 percent to 20 percent. Rather than being an anomaly, it’s becoming the new norm.
Why the reluctance to provide even an email address? Consumers don’t want the bombardment they know will come. They’ll be immediately inundated with automated replies by anyone from the retailer to the manufacturer. Plus, they might receive endless phone calls and texts from brand representatives.
Of course, those prospects still want information. For that reason, more and more are browsing behind the scenes is taking place. Want to turn these invisible shoppers into paying customers? Prepare to engage innovatively.
Tapping Unseen Prospects
Invisible consumers are passive leads. They haven’t expressly raised their hands to be contacted, but they may still be interested in your services and products.
If you buy consumer data and send out emails, those potential customers haven’t opted in. However, if they click through to a landing page, you can track their behavior. In fact, you can track the digital path via marketing automation technology platforms for almost anyone who visits your site.
At this point, you’re able to watch these consumers’ actions. Did they head straight toward pricing packages? Were they meandering around a certain section of your product pages? Their web behavior will tell you their location in the sales funnel — even if you haven’t made one-to-one connections.
In a changing market landscape, you must view their journey as activity. Forget that they’re invisible; treat these shoppers as if they just submitted a lead form. Investigate and analyze their footprint to personalize future engagement. Even if a modest percentage become brand advocates, your company will be better situated to grow.
Converting Invisible Shoppers
Ultimately, your goal is to prompt invisible prospects to take a next step. They might submit a lead form, visit your store, or make a purchase. Below are three techniques to encourage different types of behind-the-scene shoppers to take the bait:
1. Nurture browsers.
An unknown shopper spends time in the area of your site that’s dedicated to ski boats. If you can match her cookies with an email address, you can trigger very customized emails to her. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t fill out a contact form during that visit; you’ll still be able to tailor communications based on what you already know.
Sound like classic abandoned cart nurturing? It is. Offer meandering shoppers specific deals, including exceptional ones to invisible shoppers who seem ready to buy. The more individualized your incentives are, the more likely you’ll make a sale.
2. Engage in retargeting.
By now, everyone knows about retargeting. If someone’s been to your site, hit them up with relevant ads based on the pages they viewed and how long they stayed on a page. For instance, if a shopper spent a lot of time looking at prices, focus on retargeted ads that give him more pricing information, or whet his appetite to spend wisely.
The key to retargeting is to develop a big database that’s highly active. Consider people who invisibly visit your brand as highly interactive targets (HITs), and develop campaigns accordingly. Be specific about which ads make the most sense for each type of HIT. Then, track your results and tweak from there.
3. Reach out to select invisible shoppers.
A personal contact via phone or email works well for a select group of invisible shoppers, as long as it’s done without creeping anyone out. Therefore, discern which invisible actions deserve this type of one-on-one follow-up — tire kickers don’t count. But how about someone who submitted a lead eight months ago and exchanged a dialogue with you? Sure, she fell off the radar, but she’s back on your pricing packages page. That’s a good reason to reach out, without mentioning the past, of course, or that you noticed her on your site.
Still, don’t call or email immediately; it seems sketchy and forced. Wait a few days to approach shoppers. They’ll think it’s coincidental (and not that you’ve been stalking their online behavior).
No matter how much you wish you could increase lead form submissions, you can’t change a savvy marketplace. However, you can massage invisible shoppers and turn them into leads ethically, practically and profitably.
Jeff Coffman is president of AVALA. Coffman has worked in various roles at AVALA since 2003, including account management, strategic marketing, and business development for some of the agency's largest clients.