The buyer journey is not a path that can be scripted. Each consumer’s experience is unique. However, your strategy to converting sales heavily influences where targets end up.
Will they wander off the conversion path or make it through each stage to ultimately become a customer?
Sales success depends on how effectively you guide consumers through the sales funnel. You can pump out creative content all day long--and even find success attracting website visitors by doing so--but if your efforts fail in navigating consumers to the next stage, your marketing will fall short of achieving optimal results.
Funnel Prep: Awareness, Education & Engagement
Essentially, a conversion funnel is a consumer's progression from being completely unaware that your business exists to becoming an active customer. Funnels line up with the consumer life cycle: target, prospect, lead, active customer, and past customer. The number of stages a sales funnel has will depend on the marketing expert you ask.
Glad you asked!
First things first. Before you can get to sealing the deal, there are a few points of consideration.
Remember, the funnel begins with the completely unaware. You have to get in front of targets to make them cognizant of who you are and what you can offer. Identify individuals who most resemble your vital few, and make your presence known. Social media and other digital marketing methods (e.g. video) can be very effective for driving visits to your website, where you can begin to build more brand mindfulness.
At this point, folks are usually not ready to buy yet. But that’s okay, you’re warming them up.
You’ve garnered attention, now it’s time to inform. What differentiates your company from the competition? Why should they choose you? Spark interest by revealing what makes you special and showcase your brand value through high-quality content (video, blogs, articles, etc.).
We live in a world of accessibility, which allows consumers to be meticulous buyers. They want to know as much as they can before initiating a financial investment. Make sure you’re set up to answer any questions about your product or service offerings, and then open up the conversation via various digital channels to show you really care about their potential concerns.
- Convert Visitors - Since consumers do not move in straight lines, the way to convert visitors into prospects is by giving them a reason to return to your website. The goal is to reach an effective frequency, the optimal number of times a person must be exposed to your marketing before making a decision.
- Convert Prospects - When a prospect starts to move into the decision-making process, they may need additional education about your company, products, and services. As an example, they’ve made the decision to upgrade their kitchen; they just don't know exactly what they want or which contractor they want to do it.
- Convert Leads - At this stage, it’s time to close the deal. Depending on the industry, product, or service, this can take days, weeks, or even months to reach. Nevertheless, you’ve done most of the hard work. The person has traveled through your conversion funnel and will have visited your website on numerous occasions.
- Convert Customers - An inbound marketing strategy does not stop with gaining a new customer. The final stage is creating content that will not only engage customers, but convert them into repeat customers and even brand promoters.
Once you understand proper progression of a successful conversion funnel, the next consideration is to build appropriate content around each stage. This is where businesses often falter. Just as the buyer’s journey differs per consumer, there’s no “one size” content solution for inbound marketing. Next week we’ll look at creating compelling content for every stage of the conversion funnel.