Lots of marketers have learned how to create compelling content for what’s known as the “top of the funnel” — the stage where customers and prospects first become aware of a brand. After capturing their initial interest, though, comes the hard part, where they evaluate the products and services available and determine what they really need or can afford. This is where an assessment campaign comes in.
Some organizations don’t see assessments so much as a marketing tactic as a sort of free consulting service they provide at the beginning of the sales cycle. They might ask smart questions, for example, to guide buyers towards the right purchase. Not all buyers will be ready for that kind of conversation, however. Instead, marketing teams can use an assessment campaign to let customers and prospects take a more self-service approach to reflecting on their pain points and, in some cases, benchmarking themselves against their peers and competitors.
A good example of an assessment campaign could involve the creation of a digital calculator that’s featured on the company web site to help look at things like the costs or other resources they might need to spend to solve a problem. Calculators can also provide a snapshot of potential savings or other benefits that help customers establish the return on investment (ROI) they need to get the go-ahead from their boss for a purchase.
Not all assessment tools have to be as sophisticated as a calculator. It could be as simple as an online survey or quiz, the results of which put the customer into one of several common buckets and gives them insight into how they can think through their decision.
A good assessment campaign offers real value to customers and prospects, of course, but they can also prove highly useful to the organization that creates them. That’s because assessment campaigns often require those taking part to offer additional, specific information about the nature of their company, its spending activity and other details that might not get captured in more traditional lead generation initiatives.
If you want to know what kind of business activities lend themselves to an assessment campaign and how to begin the planning process, this is the blog post for you.
Assessment Campaigns: The Product-Market Fit Factor
You’re probably not going to see too many online assessment campaigns to help consumers decide whether or not they should buy bananas. The market already knows the cost, the basic nutrition details and other factors (such as whether they like the taste of bananas). The product-market fit for an assessment campaign just isn’t there.
With larger or more complex purchases, however, assessment campaigns can help customers determine what they need to bring to the table when they start a more serious discussion with a company. An obvious example is a first-time home buyer who uses an online calculator to figure out the approximate cost of a mortgage they could carry every month based on their income and other factors.
In the corporate world, assessment campaigns make a lot of sense when the products or services being offered are based on relatively new or poorly-understood technologies. A number of years ago, for instance, many firms might have turned to an online calculator to get a better sense of how using cloud computing services to run parts of their IT infrastructure would affect their capital, operational and other expenses.
If the sales cycle for what you’re offering will be long and requires a sophisticated level of buyer education up front, an assessment campaign can almost serve to “pre-qualify” customers to sales.
Striking A Balance Between Asking And Educating
It probably goes without saying that using an online assessment tool should not be onerous, but make sure you through the customer experience as thoroughly as if they were actually making a purchase.
Is the first screen welcoming and clear about what the tool is offering and how much time and effort is expected, for instance? Are the questions you’re asking purely new information, or are you duplicating information-gathering that was already done via other campaigns and tactics that were managed using Marketing Cloud? As they move through the questions, you’ll also want to make sure it’s not too easy for those participating to guess what they’ll get back in return — and it has to be more than a result that says, “Yes, you should buy.”
Instead, think about data from customers that might already have been collected and turned into content like white papers, blog posts or infographics. Building an assessment campaign or tool based on that kind of content can give customers and prospects a fast and easy way to get the highlights of assets they haven’t otherwise engaged with, while offering the marketing team a smart way to repurpose their best work.
Build Upon The Assessment Results
What customers get at the end of an assessment tool will vary. It could be a simple screen with a message about the category or “type” they fall into based on the information they submitted. Some assessment tools will give more detailed reporting and recommendations.
Another option is to point customers to resources that will deepen their knowledge and move them forward in a buyer journey, like watching a webinar, subscribing to an e-mail newsletter or gaining access to a buyer’s guide. In some situations, the best next step is to connect certain customers and prospects directly to a sales rep, provided that’s a step they’re ready to take.
When they’re done well, an assessment tool or campaign allows your customers and prospects to get up to speed on an opportunity or business issue in a more friendly and approachable way. It recognizes that not all organizations will be at the same stage, and also reflects the expertise of the vendor that’s created the tool.
Ultimately, an assessment campaign is like giving a customer a map, navigating them towards a more successful outcome. It can also be one of the most interactive experiences you manage with Marketing Cloud.