Catching Customers at the Right Time: It’s More Than Just Luck

August 30, 2017

Reaching out to help

The windfall that lands just as you need to make a big purchase; the future life partner who walks into a room when you’re least expecting it. Serendipity is a joy.

By definition, it’s an accident of luck – a fortuitous event that you hadn’t been seeking. But these days, it’s easier for marketers to give chance a little nudge.

When your target audience is facing a pivotal moment, reaching out to them with valuable content to aid their decision is that much more powerful. And it works whether the inflexion point is a professional or a personal one.

Help customers solve a pressing problem

Investing in thought leadership content that delivers value – rather than simply setting out to sell – has proven benefits. And if it helps your target market resolve an issue that was already on their minds, that’s the icing on the cake.

In a study of over 1,300 US decision-makers,1 the factor most likely to trigger engagement with content – rated first by 63% of respondents – was that “the topic is something I’m currently working on”.

Add value at the moments that matter, and you’ve made an ally. And we shouldn’t underestimate (as many marketers do) the potential impact this might have.

Over 80% of decision-makers agree that thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization, according to the same research, while 48% of C-suite executives say it has directly led them to award business to a company. (Marketers themselves rank thought leadership’s power to influence these things at 49% and 20% respectively.)1

Life milestones bring opportunity

This principle applies to key personal moments as well as business ones. Retirement is an obvious turning-point. Prudential’s Bring Your Challenges campaign succeeded in engaging people about their retirement planning, through crowd-sourced experiments that prompted people to post colored magnets to represent events from their past and future.

Other life milestones, such as graduation, promotion or a change of careers, are likely to trigger further changes, such as moving from renting to buying a home. So an awareness of who’s just reached these turning-points can be invaluable.

This kind of social intelligence about clients and prospects is now available through digital tools such as LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, which helps vendors to reach people at critical decision points.

Santander’s UK Corporate and Commercial Banking operation, for example, uses Sales Navigator to identify ambitious businesses it can help. Instead of low-converting cold calls, the team is now converting over 20% of its Sales Navigator prospecting efforts – and has seen a 171-fold return on its investment in the tool.

Give your content a higher purpose

Getting your content in front of people’s eyes is only part of the battle, of course. They have to be intrigued enough to engage with it. That means only content of the highest quality will past muster.

Ideally, there should be a higher purpose than simply selling a product – as in that Prudential campaign, which provided a striking demonstration of people’s optimism bias when thinking about their futures.

And content that is swatted away by its intended audience like a buzzing fly will be wasted. It has to appear in a way that people don’t find irritating. LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content is a good example. In research for Business Insider Intelligence, LinkedIn rated best for having the least intrusive ads.2

Getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time is like aligning the symbols on a fruit machine. And with the digital tools now available, hitting the jackpot is more than a matter of mere luck.

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1 Edelman and LinkedIn: How thought leadership impacts B2B demand generation, 2017

2 Business Insider Intelligence Digital Trust Report, June 2017