All marketers with any website traffic are faced with a simple fact – potential customers are browsing their websites at any given time. Of course, this fact alone is no bad thing, but what marketers really need is a better view of the customer journey. Whilst websites are primed for gaining insight into prospect behavior, the majority are not optimized to do so.
You may have heard that the world is moving towards Conversational Marketing; part of Conversational Marketing’s appeal is leveraging the data trail website browsers naturally leave behind.
Consider what the average B2B buyer indicates – this can split the data trail into two broad categories:
- Explicit: data the visitor is actively giving you, such as submitting a web form.
- Implicit: data the visitor is passively offering you, gathered through tracking or enrichment, such as page visits, lead source, or reverse IP lookup (which we will revisit later).
Qualified sums this up as digital body language, and it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the customer journey.
Your website is (possibly) the most valuable piece of digital ‘real estate’ your brand owns – so why not maximize it? You may feel uncomfortable tracking your visitors closely. The intention, however, is not to ‘spy’ on potential customers, but to utilize information in order to serve up a personalized, better browsing and purchasing experience.
Doesn’t Pardot Track Website Visitors?
You’re right! Pardot tracks visitors to your website, but you can’t do much with this information.
Anonymous visitors are logged in Pardot as ‘visitor’ records, which includes their IP address, company name, location, the number of pages they viewed, and the date/time of their first and last pageviews. The reason these ‘visit activities’ aren’t particularly useful in the grand scheme, is that you have nothing actionable – no way to reach out to users, nor create personalized experiences as they browse your website.
Seasoned digital marketers will know that the ‘cookie’, dropped onto the visitor’s browser, is the golden link that ties together what you see in the back-end and their browsing behavior. It’s the identifier that will enable your tools to recognize this specific individual when they land on your site. Until you have cookied the visitor (known as a ‘conversion’ in Pardot), your marketing efforts are stumped.
Let’s say you have cookied a visitor, and you are starting to build up their prospect record in Pardot. How can you leverage their browsing behavior to your advantage? Pardot Page Actions enable you to inject automation into website pageviews – the most popular example is ‘when a prospect views the pricing page, notify the lead owner’, or increase their score, change a field value, etc.
Page Actions have their limitations, mainly that you’re setting your team up to be reactive. It’s likely the visitor will have left the page before your rep receives the notification; and even if the rep is ‘on the ball’, what can they do with that information? It’s essentially a nice FYI. Page Actions are two-dimensional data points that lose any ‘in the moment’ magic.
With the current state in mind, it’s important to ask which data points your visitors are leaving behind that you’re not leveraging… Let’s take a look!
Scrolls and Clicks
Tracking browsing behavior – what we know as page scrolls and clicks – gives us a front seat view of what prospects are looking at.
You may be familiar with heat mapping tools (Crazy Egg, Hot Jar), however, these report on browsing behavior at the page level, and are retroactive – you analyze results much later once their session has been completed.
So, how can we take the heatmap concept and supercharge the insights you could gain? Think how valuable it would be for your sales team to see an individual prospect’s browsing behavior in real-time.
Above: Live View, from Qualified.
Add the data points your team uses to qualify prospects into the mix – such as industry and company size, often wrapped up in the Pardot ‘grade’ – and add another layer of intel for reps to prioritize who is worth paying attention to.
This is where ‘pouncing’ comes in. Not only could a sales rep be alerted when someone important arrives, they would be able to open up a conversation using a chat window, or even start a phone call right on the website. This makes the data actionable (remember Pardot Page Action limitations).
Take a step back, and you will realize that more teams in your organization can benefit. Those responsible for website design and/or conversion rate optimization can collate the scroll and click behavior to adjust your website design (and Qualified experiences) – these design changes should be in line with whatever hit the mark with users who went on to become your biggest value opportunities. It’s a valuable feedback loop!
Conversations and Questions
The number of chatbots on websites has ballooned in recent years, as more people realize how effective chat interactions are for answering questions, resolving issues, and, of course, collecting data from prospects.
As you see above, chatbots allow you to present a variety of options to visitors. Clicking through options will direct your customers to the correct action – be that an answer to their question, or routed to sales.
Question fields (where visitors type their answers) are another option. Data input can be used simultaneously to gather key information – their interests, their urgency to purchase, or important data points you will use to qualify them. As an example, if your product/service price point is only suitable for larger teams, you can ask about the size of their team.
Visitors self-guiding through the options will build up a picture of how keen prospects are when landing on your site:
Above: Qualified Conversation Flow Analytics, showing how sales-ready prospects on your website are, overall.
While pre-defined options are effective, the richest data points are freeform questions from prospects. These are the candid questions that pop into their mind as soon as they land on your site, which would otherwise fizzle away by the time a salesperson got to them.
Capturing rich question data, and syncing it to CRM records could prove hugely valuable for sales teams to decode their intent and sentiment further down the line.
Data Submitted via Webforms
While it’s used universally on every website, the humble webform is getting tired. It’s an unexciting interaction for prospects; they spend time submitting their information, see the “we’ll get in contact soon!” message, and wait in hope that their request hasn’t disappeared into the abyss.
The time that passes between a lead completing a form and gaining any response can negatively impact the likelihood they will do business with you. One study quantified the cost delays in initial lead response time cause:
“Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later – and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.” – Source
Webforms will collect a mixture of leads – from your ideal prospect through to spam leads, and ‘tyre-kickers’. Webforms are effective filters, as when the record hits your CRM, a prospect’s suitability can be determined: Good? Assign it to sales. Bad? Automatic disqualification. Regardless, a chunk of time passes, and your ‘VIPs’ have already moved on.
But what if webforms could qualify a prospect, on-the-fly? If they meet certain qualification criteria, why not open up the conversation there and then? Not leveraging data submitted via webforms in this way is a missed opportunity that’s hurting your conversion rate.
Above: how Smart Forms work in Qualified.
Where They Came From (Referring Channel)
Known as the ‘referring channel’, the place your visitor was before they landed on your website, is a very rich data point.
Marketers obsess over this data, not only for lead source attribution (campaigns/adverts are worth investing more time and effort on), but also to understand their experience encountering your brand ‘up until now’.
Someone that’s clicked on a social media post may only be in the beginning ‘awareness’ stage of what your brand does. Alternatively, if someone entered from a review site, it means they were actively researching a solution.
Above: how ‘referring channel’ is useful intel, eg. for sales reps.
We’ve established that not all visitors are created equal, depending on their referring channel. To ‘roll out the red carpet’ for valuable prospects, why not show a personalized welcome message, before taking them on a rich chat experience?
One example of this in action can be found on The DRIP blog. Here, Qualified considers you to be a VIP as, by browsing a Pardot blog, it’s clear that you are interested in Pardot/Salesforce. By clicking on the Qualified advert (top-left of the sidebar), you will be greeted with the message “Hello Salesforce Friend” on the other side:
Every browser has an IP address that is linked to data points such as company name and location. This is data that marketing automation tools can capture (eg. Pardot, mentioned previously), however, in that state, it’s neither insightful, nor actionable.
Reverse IP lookup takes the visitor’s IP address and pulls in a wealth of firmographic data (data about a visitor’s company and propensity to purchase). What if this visitor matches with a company on your target account list? Bingo! You should seize the opportunity to guide them through a VIP website experience, or a sales rep can pounce.
One market leader, 6 Sense, has combined reverse IP lookup and account-based engagement. Integrated with Qualified, this dynamic duo primes your website for account-based marketing, and prevents missing opportunities to engage.
As mentioned at the start of this post, websites are primed for gaining insight into prospect behavior. However, a lack of optimization means that the majority miss opportunities to connect with customers in a meaningful way. Now you know five additional data points you can capture to bring marketing automation to the sales team, allowing them to ‘sell smarter’ to customers, as they leave behind subtle hints of intent.