We all have an internal list of how we want to engage with digital information. We all have preferences, we all have biases, and we all have trusted sources. But those preferences develop, they change, and they are motivated by our goals, which can be transitory. As communication specialists, or at least fans of communication specialists, (hey we are in Marketing!), we’re especially in tune with the transitory nature of information delivery. And yet, it’s amazing to see how small changes to that list can impact the effectiveness of messaging.

Lead Generation Begins and Ends With Trust

While new names and delivery mechanisms may enter the marketplace, the method by which we choose to engage with our audience really just needs to address trust, disclosure and style. And if needs of your audience are not being met by the delivery mechanism those patterns will change. Search and Discovery are two lead generation pathways in our marketing arsenal that are undergoing this transition.
A recently released Forrester Research study on search and discovery methods focuses on “How Consumers Found Websites in 2012” compiled by Elizabeth Komar , Shar VanBoskirk and Collin Colburn, and the implications for digital marketing are significant. Forrester Research performed this online survey last year with a sampling of adults from the US and Canada age 18 to 88 as part of an annual series focused on monitoring trends or changing pathways for website discovery. The recently released results highlight the fact that the search and discovery landscape is evolving. Internet search and social and mobile channels along with company marketing emails are becoming the de-facto discovery standard for trust-based engagement between brands and their audience, exactly the sweet spot for today’s Marketing Automation savvy marketers. And the statistics from multiple studies, including this one, are justifying this assessment.

The pathways for information search and discovery continue to evolve, and connecting with your audience requires innate knowledge about this path.

Brands and Agencies are taking notice of this trend through accelerated use of Marketing Automation platforms to serve as a means to capture search pathways and monitor discovery methods by nurturing visitors through various channels; whether web, social, nurture or drip campaigns or natural search and adwords. To clarify the point, Marketing Automation is tool that manages a company or brand’s interaction with its prospects by providing them the right information at the right time in the buying process. An MA platform makes good use of all of the search and discovery methods described above in one easy to use platform with the real-time data you need to observe trends and respond to patterns. These are lead generation pathways that every marketing manager needs to watch.

Using Data to Plot your Course

It’s no secret that agencies and digital marketers are connecting with their audiences through channels that were unheard of even just 18 months ago. It’s a natural response to the changes in customer search, awareness and information gathering. Building awareness for products, services and capabilities requires a persistent understanding of these metrics, and the ability to adapt practices and leverage applications that are part of this sea change in these fast-paced times.
When asked the question: “How have you typically found websites you’ve visited in the past month?” the Forrester Research indicates several significant trends.
Natural search has increased from 50% in 2011 to 54% in 2012. And more adults are finding websites from information they receive on their social sites (a seven point year-over-year change) or from company direct emails (a dramatic 11 point year-over-year change).
The research shows that respondents are getting savvier in their approach to information dissemination. Marketers today realize that their audience is turning to their social and email channels as pre-vetted and trusted sources of information from which to make their buying decisions.

Marketing Automation Addresses Search and Discovery

Marketing Automation Platforms are in the forefront of the information capture, retrieval, and scheduling dynamic. With an increase in natural search, more marketing managers are relying upon the search phrase data from their MAPs to tune their messaging, adjust their adwords or focus on their SEO in real time.

Marketing managers are using data from their MAPs to isolate lead locations within social channels enabling them to monitor and schedule social postings also in real time.

Likewise, the ability to use this data to create meaningful and relevant email campaigns, (which according to Forrester, have an 11% increase in effectiveness over last year), is another benefit that Marketing Automation Platforms afford an organization. Effective lead nurturing and lead scoring requires today’s marketers to be responsive to these changing patterns.
Forward thinking agencies and businesses recognize this trend and have been leveraging applications and processes that take full advantage of this change in information discovery. At Net-Results, we’re finding that savvy marketers recognize that it takes a holistic view of the modes of interaction of their audience along with their preferred channels and touchpoints, to reach their target markets. That’s why we’re making continual improvements to our application to ensure that social posting capabilities  as well as third-party integrations, such as SugarCRM and ion are available to our clients. And we’re sure that they are leveraging these advancements, analytics and data to ensure success.
So let’s return to the data from the Forrester Research study. The study highlights several important metrics, but the three lead generation pathways that stand out for marketers to watch include:

  • Website discovery through Natural Search engine results (Google, Bing) increased by 4% from 2011 to 2012. (Forrester)
  • Website discovery originating from Social channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ ) increased to 32% in 2012 from 25% in 2011. (Forrester)
  • Emails from companies or brands impacted website discovery by increasing finds from 15% to 26% in 2012.  (Forrester)

Do You Wonder Which Channel is Most Effective?

Are you wondering which channel is most effective at generating leads? Are you aware of what social technique is returning better results and creating a more trusted relationship with your audience? How is your visitor traffic interacting with your site or gated content and is producing the lead flow that you expect? Is your marketing focused on leveraging the impact of a MAP to monitor, refine and optimize your campaigns and make effective use of all their data gathering channels? The personalization available through Marketing Automation enables brands to send the right message to their audience at the right time in the buying cycle. It also enables those channels to change, flow and unify. An audience that has been trained to engage with information through self-direction, and one that consistently interacts with brands, companies and movements on their terms is an audience that has preferences, and trusted sources. Are you the trusted source?

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