The following case study was written by Andrea Parker of Infusionsoft
The essence of successful business is targeting a consumer need and providing an excellent solution. It is through these solutions we find new ways to do business, interact with one another, carry out our daily lives and allow our own dreams to flourish. The goal of Infusionsoft is to help small businesses succeed by giving them the solutions they need and helping to foster their growth, so that they can make a difference in the lives of their customers.
In 2010, Infusionsoft wanted to find the best of the best and launched the Ultimate Marketer contest to see which of their customers uses their web-based sales and marketing software in the most effective and creative ways possible. Now, the contest features well over 50 entries. Applicants must fill out a lengthy application that asks for the company’s background story, software implementation process, examples of successful and creative marketing campaigns through each of the seven stages of Lifecycle Marketing, as well as the difference Infusionsoft has made in both business and personal lives.
After reviewing the submissions for 2013, Infusionsoft’s panel of judges selected three finalists, each of which presented on-stage during InfusionCon, Infusionsoft’s annual user conference. Conference attendees voted online and the 2013 Ultimate Marketer Winner was announced: The Rocket Company.
Casey Graham and Michael Lukaszewski founded GivingRocket.com in 2010, which evolved into The Rocket Company. They are a self-proclaimed “scrappy” endeavor that leverages technology for exponential growth in the information marketing realm. The Rocket Company’s mission is simple: to provide the best coaching and resources for church leaders, and through core coaching programs, stand-alone products and free resources, to equip the local church to accomplish its mission.
Like any business, The Rocket Company wants its customers to succeed, and by providing a variety of quality products and services that are customized to fit their customers’ budget and need, they have established a strong business foundation. It is, however, through the detailed and comprehensive marketing efforts of their products and services that the Rocket Company has found their success and helped churches succeed by providing solutions for church communities looking to solve the problem of having more vision than available funds.
By adhering to the seven stages of Lifecycle Marketing, the Rocket Company has grown 832% in its short lifespan. More importantly, Graham and Lukaszewski’s vision for helping others succeed has been realized.
Read on to discover the secrets of effective marketing in any stage of the Lifecycle, with real-life examples from The Rocket Company’s own success story.
Attract leads to your website with great content like e-books, infographics, research reports, webinars and blog posts.
The Rocket Company attracts attention and traffic to their website in a variety of ways, such as an offer of a free report, webinar, free event and a pre-written thank you for donors. They also utilize a blog as a conversion tool for getting people into their sales funnel. They provide useful “how to” blog posts and actionable marketing information that can be used in the church community, and sometimes elsewhere.
If you want your company’s blog to grow a strong readership, you have to make sure that the content you provide is not only of value, but is posted often. Frequency of post often directly correlates with the amount of traffic your blog receives, so follow The Rocket Company’s lead and make sure you’re posting at least several times per week; otherwise, content gets stale and readers will seek their information from other sources.
While having regular readers and rising traffic is never a bad thing, you need to take those blog readers to the next step, which involves a little more vested interest in your company and the services or products that you provide. Your business should always present prospective customers with the opportunity to provide their personal information in exchange for another lead magnet.
Attracting interest also shines in the form of offering a variety of lead magnets. These magnets can be anything from an e-book or whitepaper to a free webinar or instructional video. The Rocket Company features an opt-in box in their blog’s top right margin that asks for a first name and email address. In return, customers receive a free report on the five systems every church should have.
Encourage leads to sign up to receive your content. Be sure to include opt-in language in your web form.
Events, especially free events, present an excellent opportunity to capture leads. Those who attend—whether it’s virtual or live— have either signed up online in advance or will sign up the day of, which means contact information accompanies each of the attendees automatically. By providing content-rich, world-class events with big names in the industry, The Rocket Company is able to reach tens of thousands of people at a time.
Webinars are an extremely popular way to capture lead information. Their benefit is two-fold: they can either be done live and engage participants with Q & A throughout, or they can be prerecorded and presented in a controlled environment.
This all lends itself to accelerating the sales process, but it also insures contact information capture for your company. When the webinar is complete, you can use the replay at a later date as another form of a lead magnet. Webinars do not require an intense amount of work and preparation, though they do share a great amount of information with viewers and give insight into your business’s level of expertise.
The Rocket Company is able to capture a large amount of leads outside of their website by leveraging their relationships with individuals and organizations that are willing to send emails to their lists on their behalf. People who receive those emails already trust the sender, so when a message comes from a them about The Rocket Company, it serves as an endorsement and recipients are far more likely to look into The Rocket Company’s website and services.
Relationship marketing is a very useful technique, so long as those you partner with are reliable and trustworthy. Email recipients want the assurance that what you or your partners are trying to sell them is legitimate and useful.
Create a consistent campaign of useful information and offers with automated, personalized follow-up messages.
Once lead information has been captured, your company needs to make sure it is being proactive and nurturing this new prospect, otherwise all of your marketing efforts to get leads through the door will be for nothing. This stage of the Lifecycle is important because you’ll have to classify your new lead based on your perception of their interest in your company and place them into a nurture sequence that moves at a comfortable rate for them.
The Rocket Company understands that everyone has unique needs, and a business can’t treat one new lead just like every other one. If your new prospect feels like just another person in the sales funnel, they won’t feel special and will likely ask to be removed from your mailing list, which is the kiss of death for any business.
When a new contact enters The Rocket Company’s funnel, they are placed into a warm-up sequence geared toward the area of interest they signed up for, which also tags them as having requested specific information (preaching, giving, etc.).
This warm-up sequence introduces people to The Rocket Company and gently shows them how the company’s products can help them in a way that meets their needs. The sequence is set up to deliver seven emails over 30 days with valuable content that helps recipients become better leaders. The ratio of helpful content to CTA is about
80/20. The first few emails provide extra value and deliver what the recipient asked for and more.
Once prospects have completed the warm up sequence, they are placed in the nurture sequence that adds a lot of value while also selling products and coaching services. This is typically one email per week that provides helpful content that drives recipients to a resource or coaching program.
It is important that this sequence really fosters trust in your company’s relationship with the prospective customer as well as making them feel like you have their interest at heart.
The Rocket Company says that as their sequences proceed, emails become more targeted towards the core coaching program. The percentage of help and CTA of 80/20 flips by the end of the two sequences, which don’t even feel like sequences since the information is based so heavily around helping people. The emails all have a very similar flavor, but there is just a difference in time of delivery.
Your company should be sure it is segmenting its communication with leads based on what people are interested in (which lead magnet they signed up to receive) by using tags and action steps based on their behavior. If someone has already purchased a product, don’t clutter up inboxes with sales emails about the same product.
Turn browsers into buyers with e-commerce tools and a well-defined lead management strategy.
Turning leads into customers all happens in one little step, but it is arguably the most important step of the Lifecycle. Up until this point, your business has been using all of the marketing tools in its arsenal, and it’s time to go in for the hard sell—though this can be tricky. You don’t want to overwhelm and bombard your customer with direct, flashy pitches; that style can be too aggressive and actually turn your customers away from buying from you. However, you do want to ensure a purchase.
One way to get your potential customer’s attention focused on your business is through use of subtle cues or “by-the-way” selling. This is an indirect mention of the products. It’s not straightforward; rather, it’s more subliminal, and you are able to hit mental triggers with people.
For example, The Rocket Company mentions products or services in blog posts and readers get to consume a quality blog post as well as a call to action.
While the subtle “by-the-way” strategy is not the most effective sales pitch, you don’t feel like you’re bombarding your prospect and you can layer this less invasive tactic and use it often. Directly marketing your services and products to consumers allows you to be upfront about your company’s offerings and, at times, interaction with leads will give them the final push to close the deal.
Occasional posts in a members forum where you use a link can be effective as well. The goal is to get readers to click through to a sales page on your company’s website that will take them to either an order form or a store product.
The Rocket Company has a proven track record of in-person sales at their live events because people can interact with Graham and Lukaszewski and have any questions they have about the product answered immediately.
Sometimes, however, a gentle nudge towards a sale is necessary, and that’s when your business can offer a promotion. Nothing gets people moving like a time-sensitive offer, like a structured three-day sale or limited registration for an event. The Rocket Company utilizes their online events to convert leads into customers. They also choose to promote their offers, specials and events through email communication, website, social media and referral partners so that all bases are covered and they don’t miss an opportunity to convert a sale.
Deliver and Satisfy
Fulfill your commitments on-time, then provide additional value that surprises and delights customers.
Sometimes delivering a product or service just isn’t enough and customers need a little something extra to feel fully content with their purchase. It is at that moment that customer service becomes critical to the process and experience. Once a sale has been made, a customer wants to know that they are valued by your business and that if they need you, you’ll be there for them. They also want follow-up, even if they don’t say it.
One of the easiest ways to follow up with a new customer is to send a thank you email that not only lets them know you appreciate their purchase, but that your company is available to meet their needs and that you value their feedback. Also, reiterating the benefits of your product or service in that first follow-up email helps to cut down on that pesky feeling of buyer’s remorse that can tend to crop up. If you provide a service over time, make sure that your emails are connecting with your customers and asking for feedback along the way can be helpful and enlightening. By including questions those customers can respond to, you begin a conversation with them, and this allows you to fine tune the way your business interacts with its customers, as well as how it handles those inevitable bumps in the road.
When said bump arises, you want to make sure you respond quickly, effectively and through the medium in which you were contacted. If a customer is upset about a particular issue and tweets about it, make sure you’re tweeting back and engaging them so that you can work out the problem. The Rocket Company makes it a point to respond as fast as possible to customer issues, look for key phrases that may indicate a larger problem and own up to the issue.
For example, if someone complains online that The Rocket Company is selling too hard at an event, Graham loves to reach out to each customer individually to handle the issue because it always makes a person feel like they matter when the CEO is connecting with them personally. It also helps in winning over that customer when their problem is handled from the top down because it humanizes the company and allows others to see that if something is wrong, it will be made right, not ignored.
An excellent way to set the bar high for customer service is by being proactive and over delivering on your promises. Don’t wait until there is an issue; make sure you customer is satisfied and that they are getting even more than what they signed up for, as this glowing review of your business will inevitably be passed along to others.
The Rocket Company likes to send its new customers a box of swag. Recipients are delighted when they open up the unexpected package, so they often tweet pictures of the gear to say thanks. Both the new customers’ followers and The Rocket Company’s followers see the tweets, so the positivity spread online very quickly.
Keep in mind that being proactive in satisfying your customers is not just about the tchotchkes in the beginning. It’s about making sure your customer is having your business’ ultimate customer experience in the long term. Be sure you are sending out personalized emails that let customers know that you are there to serve them and that you are available, and don’t forget the impact a hand-written note can have on a customer. Many businesses have become too impersonal by doing all business and communications, but the human element that is absent can quickly be recaptured if you simply take a moment to let you customer know you care.
Develop a long-term strategy, tactics, products and services to help generate additional sales and recurring revenue over time.
One of the best ways to grow your business is through the upsell. If a customer is at the end of the sales cycle and has another product recommended to them based on their current purchase, you can bet most people will at least pause and consider the benefits of the recommended product.
Customers who receive emails thanking them for subscribing to or downloading a lead magnet might be delighted to find a “special one-time discount” on products or services. It is in these moments that a customer who may have been wavering on another product based on pricing or timing is pushed over the edge and into the sale.
A company knows its best-selling products or services, so it never hurts to highlight or promote that product in the shopping cart page because that product just may work for the customer!
If a person signs up for an event or a lead magnet, why not offer them a free gift?
Often, your business can figure out which free gift or service will work best for you, as well as for the prospective customer, and that can lead to larger sales numbers because it gives that lead a taste of what your company has to offer.
For businesses that offer higher priced goods and services, payment plans can be very helpful for customers. By highlighting the more expensive product or service in comparison to what is currently in a customer’s shopping cart, the customer gains insight into how a pricier product or service may benefit them even more.
Your business can also offer add-on services or products that only some customer are eligible for, as add-on services or products offered in the shopping cart are particularly successful due to key placement.
Do be sure to tag your new customers based on their purchase history, as this help to tailor the content and offers in your follow up sequence. If you have a new product that would be a good fit for a current customer in a particular purchase category, all you have to do is make sure the appropriate email is sent to them and the likelihood of a purchase from a satisfied customer receiving an email offer “just for them” is instantly elevated.
Encourage referrals by encouraging and creating incentives for customers and partners.
If you have a friend who is looking for a service provider and you’ve had a great experience somewhere, you will probably provide a recommendation to that friend and expect that they will have a similar experience, right? Many small businesses with marketing and advertising budgets to match get a bulk of their business by word of mouth, so you can imagine how important it is to be sure your customers enjoy their experience with you at the time or purchase and beyond. To promote your event in a very easy way, try integrating customers’ registration for an event with social media so they can easily click to share on twitter and Facebook. Your upcoming event will get much more exposure this way.
Referrals can come as simply as asking a happy customer to forward an email about a free event to introduce more people to the company. The person who forwards this email is not asking their friend to buy anything, but simply come to a free event and see what it’s all about.
There doesn’t always have to be an incentive for the referrer, but if your business needs to entice some customers to become repeat customers, your company should consider creating an incentive program for referrals.
Happy customers are more likely to send friends and family to your front door (real or virtual). This can mean something as simple as offering 10% off a product for a referral or a free service from your company. This is a very small cost to absorb to gain a new customer.
To accelerate the referral process, your company can create a partner program that gives higher-volume, reputable referral partners a certain amount of kickback for their referrals. These partners know and believe in your product or service, and with the ability to answer questions and sell your company’s product, they are ideal people to be “out in the field” when you must tend to your business. If a mutually agreeable deal can be worked out, referral partners can do a lot of the customer finding legwork for your business.
Make sure to form strong relationships with people in the industry and try asking for people to refer business to you. No matter what, you must always ask for referrals and you can return the favor to those acquaintances when the opportunity arises.