It's been a marketing truth in the digital age: If you can answer the questions "Who?", "What?", "When?", "Where?", and "Why?" about your online visitors, you'll likely be able to serve up the right offers to generate sales, contacts or other conversions. Financial firms have been developing digital experiences based on this concept for a long time.

For the typical financial company, it's usually easy to answer the who, when and where questions. An example: Prospect A (who) is viewing a web page (where) right now (when). 

However, most marketers "cheat" the strategy and don't bother to take the time to understand the tougher what and why questions before serving-up an offer. For marketers that don't get answers to these questions, the next step is to identify the content Prosect A is reading or to look at previously stored information about them to come up with an offer.

In this case, if Prospect A is reading about mortgages, a financial company would likely present a mortgage offer. Or if Prospect A had just applied for a mortgage, the firm might use that information to serve-up a homeowner's insurance pitch.

Sounds logical, right? 

Not really. Why?

Because by not getting answers to the questions what and why, this approach simply becomes ineffective direct marketing. Pushing an offer too soon -- or worse -- pushing the wrong offer, will turn off the prospect and stop them from looking at your offers in the future. To make this more relatable, think about how this compares to direct mail. People stopped opening the envelopes when the offers inside regularly had little or no relevance to them.

If you take the time to ask "Why" before you serve-up an offer, you'll have a greater understanding of the reason for Prospect A's visit to your website. Is it to learn and do research or is it to buy? You can figure this out based on their journey to and through your website. Once you know why they're visiting your site, you can serve up the right offer at the opportune time -- not too soon.

If you ask "What" before you serve-up an offer, you'll avoid irritating Prospect A with too many offers or product pushes that simply aren't right. If you ask "What" and you can come up with something genuinely valuable to offer, you're on to something. If you can't come up with something worthwhile, you're forcing it, and you could be jeopardizing a valuable client relationship.

Taking the time to get the answers to "Why" and "What" isn't easy, but it's worth it. It takes extra time and care to map, monitor and track the client journey and refine your responses throughout it. This approach puts more of the focus on the client and less on the product. It makes it more likely that you'll serve-up a meaningful offer at the right time and not an unwelcome one. It can be a great way to improve your client relationships and improve your conversions and sales.

What's next?

Need help mapping and optimizing your online client journeys? Then contact Carpenter Group. We can provide the support you need to build online strategies that will help you serve up content and offers your prospects and clients will find valuable.