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Once you have captured your visitor, all you need to do is convert them.  

The old ideas centered around linear conversion funnels and site design are being overtaken by a focus on the customer and their lifecycle with the brand or business.

Here we talk about some of the factors that need to be considered and suggest five proven lifecycle-related campaigns that can be implmented with today's generation of marketing automation services.

Selling to people not pages

One of my Mantras is, 'You can't convert a web page, only the person reading it'. Too often we hear people rattling on about 'website conversion rates', whereas in reality it's people we all aim to influence, persuade and sell to. 

It's about the decision to buy, not the process

In 13 years of looking at how the general public interact with websites one fact has stood out to me, and that is: once someone has it in mind to buy something from a site it is surprising how hard they will try to complete this purchase.

Now this is not to say that usability and good design count for nothing (a misplaced question in a checkout that presumes too much, or a scrambled checkout process will stop people), but it seems clear to me that the trick in getting someone to the point that they want to buy is perhaps more important than the exact tone of purple that the buy button is coloured today.

(Malcolm braces himself from a probable onslaught from the people who know that purple buy buttons never work)...

Relationship first, purchase second

I guess my point is that it's the early stages in the relationship between potential customer and brand that matter most, while the relationship is still tentative and new.

We rarely make important or valuable purchases from people who accost us in the street or bar, because we need to establish a relationship first, to be sure that we feel confident about the product, price and vendor before we part with our hard-earned cash. 

This reinforces the idea that attempting to close a sale every time someone rocks up to your site is at best optimistic,  one needs to first understand the stage in the purchase life-cycle that the individual is at, and then try to interact with them in an appropriate manner.

I think it's also now commonly accepted that the traditional 'purchase funnel' is dead, online we research, select, compare, discover new products, research compare, re-evaluate, select, compare, review in an almost infinite varieties of ways.

Therefore, we need to react to the visitor each time they arrive while bearing in mind the history we have with them, rather than doggedly sticking to some pre-defined purchase process.

The right thing, at the right time

Achieving great conversion is about many factors including design, personalisation, calls to action, messaging, targeting and retargeting and this can be achieved with knowledge about your individual customer or prospect which is both real-time and has their history to hand.

Five hot conversion optimisation campaigns

Armed with this data you can create and drive top-notch lifecycle marketing campaigns, and it's important to understand that really simple campaigns when targeted with solid data about the individual, and triggered to fire at exactly the right moment will operate really well.

Conversion rates for targeted individuals in the 30% to 60% range are not uncommon.

Here are a few we've had success with:- 

  • Brand lovers: Spot the people who look at a particular brand a lot, and use this knowledge to offer them brand-specific things (that might be a newsletter on the brand, an offer that if they register you will keep them informed of new products from that brand, or even a discount or free P&P deal).

    They will respond as now your are taking about somthing they care about.

  • Regular unregistered visitors: If someone has visited the site more than five times, but has not yet registered, then you are missing a trick. They are clearly interested in you – it's high time you were interested in them.

    Pop up a simple one-drop-down-form, asking them to tell you what they are interested in, or what type of buyer they are (e.g. buying for themselves, for children, for their business...).

    This will not be a threat, as you are not asking anything too personal, but it is a great icebreaker that will let you target them better, and move the conversation on next time they come by showing them something relevant, or maybe their answer will prompt you to follow them up via another channel (phone, direct mail etc).

  • Landing page personalisation: When someone rocks up, you will know if they're a first timer, where they are in the world, and - if they came searching for something - wht they are looking for (and if they're mobile) – all of these things can drive personalisations which will move the relationship along and improve conversion.

    You would be amazed how well an email with the subject of their search landing in their in-tray will convert.

  • Abandoned basket emails: This was the subject of the last blog, it might feel a bit “old-hat” but with conversion rates in the 40% bracket it certainly works.
  • Role specific personalisation: If you've managed to segment your visitors (using idea #2) then use that insight to personalise their web pages, emails or even a sales call.

    You probably know enough to put a killer subject line on the emails you send (or in banners you show or the calls you make), and the visitor will get that 'hey, they care about ME' feeling, and you're another step closer to the conversion.


Lastly, we need to focus on the “optimisation” part of this story.

If we are aiming to optimise our conversion rates, then we need to measure them – this measurement needs to take into account the difference in conversation between visitors you target and the ones you don't (so you will want segment-specific control groups) and also keep an eye on other factors (like which behaviours lead to conversion, which search terms are used by “converters”).

When you have solid data on these factors, you can use your targeting to encourage the behaviours which have a strong linkage (propensity) to conversion and optimise you SEO and PPC work too, or justify the cost of that 10% off voucher you sent to the Brand Lover.

As with everything in marketing, great results don't come for free, but neither are they blind chance. With today's marketing automation solutions you can “market like a megabrand” and see some of their success too.

Start today!

Malcolm Duckett

Published 16 July, 2013 by Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett is CEO of Magiq and a contributor to Econsultancy. Connect with Malcolm on Google Plus

5 more posts from this author

Comments (14)

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Lisa Moore

Great post Malcolm, I agree, there is a definite shift between brand engagement and the traditional Push style of website / internet marketing to Relationship Marketing and Contextual search within web 3.0. Brands are quickly learning how to use our individual preferences to make their websites and personalised adverts work harder for them.

over 3 years ago



Great Article, Good source for people like me to start working on website visitors conversion.
It happens to small business like us that even upon spending a good amount on adwords, we miss relationship with our visitors.

great piece, thanks

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq

It's good to know that Relationship/Lifecycle Marketing is becoming more recognized within the industry, as the returns are truly remarkable - when we started we found it hard to believe just how well this approach can work, but the data cannot lie!

I think this is also helping the design and build-side vendors develop a competitive edge for themselves as they demonstrate their ability to master the art of integrating of Data, Design and "Customer" to deliver better (and measurable) returns for their clients.

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq


Aine, you're right adding relationship and lifecycle to the mix is important as driving conversion is "close to the money" for any business.

What's great is that the emergence of cloud-based marketing platforms has brought the power of "big data" within reach of the "ordinary" business.

You no longer need to be a MegaBrand to market like one, and typically for a cost that is substantially less than your PPC budget you can deliver returns that will stretch the reach of your existing marketing budget, deliver improved ROI, and probably improve the performance of your SEO and PPC programs at the same time.

over 3 years ago



Another important factor is trust. Reviews, stats, referrals, badges will increase the credibility, as giving out personal information & credit card information is a big risk to take.

over 3 years ago


Mark Garner, Owner at Make Them Click


while what you've said is true, it doesn't alter the fact that most websites have conversion rates around 2% while the very best have them around 80%.

Clearly this provides an enormous space for any business to increase their onsite conversions.

over 3 years ago


Mike Boogaard

Great article Malcolm but it still focuses the purchase process squarely on the website, whilst I believe to achieve greater conversion we shouldn't focus on the channel but on the customer.

We all know no customer is the same. Someone will convert themselves (self-serve), some need help to complete purchases online, some wont convert online and need to be guided into the physical store. Conversion will only increase beyond the magic 2-5% when retailers focus on understanding the customer and allowing them to seamlessly channel shift, as well as provide the 'hi, how can I help you?' sales support online, by adding human interaction on their sites. The challenge with that is you need to get the timing right. No one likes a pushy sales assistant!

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq


Yes trust is central to a lot of this (hence my comments about buying off strangers in the street) - Lifecycle marketing comes into its own when dealing with this, as you can tune your questions and calls to action to the level of engagement you have achieved so far in your relationship with an individual. So you can start with a simple "what are you interested in" type of question, there is no threat in this, you are not asking for personal information, when you use that data to provide something in return the trust starts to build.

Also this business of asking questions based on what the visitor has already told you, stops you looking dumb - so you would never pop a form looking for email address if you already have it in the visitor's profile or asking them to register when they already did. Failing to do this properly is another sign to the customer that you are "faking" your relationship with them....

I always approach the problem by imagining the interaction happening face-to-face, maybe even "role-playing" it... if what you are trying to do feels uncomfortable in the real-world then it will feel worse on-line, and as you say Trust is Everything...

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq


You're right there is a lot of scope - and we should shoot for the big game-changing issues - shaving half a percent off the checkout process drop-out is all well and good, but it's not the real opportunity.

Some of our customers have set up triggered call center programs based on lifecycle data where they close 30% of the people they ring (for $200+ items).

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq


Sorry my comments did tend to focus on the web, but you are right the customers talk to a brand in other ways too - and expect you to recognize them as a single individual - that's very doable on-line, on email, on the 'phone, but as you say harder in the store.

We were convinced that the cross channel piece was vital when we got started, so the ability to integrate the phone and email campaigns which are triggered based on the user's profile, history and real-time interaction is a very important part of lifecycle marketing platform that you choose.

The other point you make is that some transactions and customers will never complete on-line and will always need some help from another channel - and evidence shows that you're right here too!

To spot these people and engage them on other channels you will need reporting that shows you the propensity of an individual to convert having exhibited a given behaviour. So, for example you might find that exhibiting the behaviour "looking at FAQ" is associated with visitors who do not convert. Once you know this you can tune your interactions (call, mail, live chat, store demo invitation) to target those individuals appropriately and drive the close...

If you want to get scientific then there are companies who can take the kind of customer profile data we are talking about and "run the math" and provide models that can be implemented as automated marketing campaigns to trigger these cross channel campaigns in very subtle ways...

...and importantly modern technology means this can be done with marketing budgets and resources that will not break the bank...


over 3 years ago


Emily Brewer

Relationship/Lifecycle Marketing is vital but this cannot be a generic behavioural attitude to 'one size fits all' markets. To understand the customer's journey is to understand their innate values, belief system and semiotic connection with web design (which is all tied closely to culture - see Hofstede). This is integral to purchase decisions - only then can your marketing be truly effective.

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq


Maybe I am missing your point, but the idea of Relationship Marketing is exactly that you do not create a "one-size-fits-all" program, but adjust to respond to the individual you are talking to....

Now clearly some of the factors you highlight (like belief system and "semiotic connection with web") might not be obvious from their behaviour, but other factors can help. For example,

1- search terms can often give strong clues in that direction. Search can often provide strong information on intent and aspiration and motivation which are close to what you are I think pointing at...

So, for example, if someone arrives saying "top quality noise cancelling headphones" we know what they desire even if they buy a $10 set of ear buds...

So for us search is important, because it not only provides clues as to the content we should show on the landing page, but also provides these deeper insights into motivation....

2 - As you say cultural issues are important too - so being able to exploit information about location (e.g. London) and keyboard Language (e.g. French) might help you personalize to reflect those national subtleties for the individual which will help you build that relationship further yet...

over 3 years ago


David Hickey, Senior Ecommerce Producer at Oxfam

Good post. Saw a few typos so thought I'd let you know.

"They will respond as now your are taking about somthing they care about." should be " you are" and "something"

"and - if they came searching for something - wht they are looking for" should be "what they are..."

over 3 years ago

Malcolm Duckett

Malcolm Duckett, CEO at Magiq

David, thank you for spotting that; I'm afraid it's my enthusiasm overtaking my self-editorial efficiency!

I am sure my English mistress would put it all down to my left-handedness and autistic spectrum tendencies :-) As Temple Grandin says, "without us Silicon Valley would not exist" - and she's right!


over 3 years ago

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