Now that you’ve reached the point where you have hired and are managing your employees successfully, you need to find your audience and market your products/services to them. ‘Go where your customers are’ should be inherent within every decision you make, strategy you compile, and every campaign you execute. The benefits of online marketing over traditional (offline) marketing One word: Communication. Communication with your audience is key and, unlike traditional marketing, the online marketing space has the capacity to provide a two-way conversation. Social media platforms provide brands with a means to Interact and engage with customers on a human level. Queries can be answered, and complaints can be resolved. This plays a substantial role in the customer journey as they travel down the conversion funnel. However, this doesn’t mean that above-the-line advertising doesn’t have its place. TV and other mediums such as billboard and print advertising can be powerful, but integration with online marketing is essential to maximise reach to prospective customers. This can be as simple as displaying your business’ website and social media icons on the ad. What is the conversion funnel? The term conversion funnel (also known as a sales funnel) represents the route that a user will take on the path to purchase; the trail narrows as the user progresses through various stages. We’ll take you through each stage in detail so that you have a comprehensive understanding of the mechanism. There are a few different interpretations of the funnel but for this article, we’ll be discussing the following stages. Awareness Interest Consideration Intent Evaluation Purchase After-purchase actions It’s critical to be cognisant that every stage of the funnel serves is a data-capturing tool by which you can leverage customer retention (discussed in stage seven). Stage 1: Awareness Awareness is the first (and largest) stage of the funnel. Your potential customers (also known as prospects) are attracted to your business offerings through different marketing channels such as your website, paid media campaigns and content marketing. According to an article published in the Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly entitled ‘How to give your marketing full-funnel power’: ‘Brand awareness prepares the ground for demand generation from increasingly informed prospects, which then gives way to the crucial business of generating leads and working with sales to close deals and increase customer value.’ The great news is all of these channels can be used to magnify awareness online through Paid Media. What is Paid Media? Paid media is a marketing method that allows you to promote your products/services via sponsored social media posts, display ads, paid search results, video ads, pop-ups, and other endorsed multimedia. The best way to reap the rewards of Paid Media is to hire an experienced marketing agency that specialises in this service to set up and operate campaigns for you. Furthermore, they will be able to analyse your current market positioning and recommend the most effective brand messaging to attract prospects to your products/services. As potential customers engage, leads are generated through the information that is collected. The data is then inserted into a lead management system which will assist in nurturing these leads as they travel down the funnel. How does Paid Media support the conversion funnel? The primary benefit is the cross-channel applications. As mentioned above, sponsored posts can appear on a variety of social media platforms and take top spots in Google search results pages (SERP). Every channel can link to the other, maximising your reach to a broad audience. Paid Media creates a ripple effect that influences a variety of marketing goals. An article published on Medium, lists the following seven benefits. Amplify your reach Fit any budget Enhance your targeting Boost brand awareness Maximise your content marketing Gain access to mobile users Gather market insights All of these benefits influence each other, working holistically to achieve marketing goals. Stage 2: Interest The prospects (now known as leads) move to the interest stage. Here, it’s key for the lead to learn as much as possible about your brand’s products/services which should include important information such as case studies and/or research to support any claims that you may make about your products/services. This stage provides you with the best opportunity to start creating relationships with your database of leads. It subsequently opens the door to introduce your unique market proposition, which, in turn, enables you to refine your leads into marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Recommended Service: Targeted Content Marketing What is targeted content marketing? Once you have a sound knowledge of your ideal audience and know exactly what they want, implementing targeted content, based on a defined content marketing strategy is a recipe for success. The primary benefit of this marketing method is that it allows leads to bypass the plethora of unconnected information on the internet and engage with relevant, personalised content. How does targeted content marketing support the conversion funnel? One of the most prominent reasons for a potentially converting lead loses interest in your products/services and consequently your brand is because of cookie-cutter content. So, it’s imperative that you create content that speaks to them on a personal level; they should feel as if they’re having a conversation with you. By virtue of knowing your audience, content can be personalised and speak to a specific segment of your prospects to maintain interest and entice them to move to the next stage of the funnel. Stage: 3: Consideration As mentioned above, at the consideration stage, leads change to marketing qualified leads (MQLs). What does this mean? An MQL is a lead who has passed through your marketing lead-qualification criteria that you believe needs to be satisfied; essentially, an MQL is much more likely to convert into a customer. At this point, it’s advantageous to create a new segment in your database for leads who have become MQLs. The reason for this is that should they not progress to the next stage, you can remarket to them by communicating via numerous channels, using content that is relevant to them. E.g., It wouldn’t make sense to send an MQL a welcome email; rather, send targeted content informing them about a sale or another activity that is likely to garner interest. The ideal outcome is that it will facilitate a return and resume their journey down the funnel on the path to conversion. Visual Content Creation and Content Marketing Your target audience is watching more video content online every day, making it one of the most effective communication media for brands. So, if video advertising isn’t part of your marketing strategy, it should be – and that’s exactly what a full-service marketing agency can conceptualise, implement and execute for your business. How does Visual Content Creation and Content Marketing support the conversion funnel? This is essentially an extension of targeted content marketing but integrates visual content such as video and infographics to stengthen the targeted communication that you’re providing for your audience. The benefits of visual advertising Users share videos: Users who watch a video with content that they find appealing and valuable can easily share it with followers/fans/friends on various platforms, particularly Facebook and Twitter. This fortifies content significantly. Video ads are ideal for mobile devices: The number of people watching videos on mobile devices is increasing exponentially. Users are more likely to watch short videos (around 30 seconds) to the end and therefore have context and a good understanding of what you’re advertising. A lot of info in a short time: Video advertising provides you with the opportunity to offer a comprehensive amount of information in a short space of time. Stage 4: Intent At this point, it’s clear that the MQL is interested in your product/service and there is a high potential to purchase. So, you need to nurture them by providing a solid case for why your product is the best on the market. In order to achieve this, you’re going to have a defined strategy containing different ways to not only keep your MQL interested but to give them a reason to progress down the funnel. Recommended service: Strategy and Consultation What is strategy and consultation? Michael Porter, a strategy expert and professor at Harvard Business School, emphasises the need for strategy to define and communicate an organisation’s unique position and says that it should determine how organisational resources, skills, and competencies should be combined to create competitive advantage, which is vital in a saturated marketplace. Mind tools explains that ‘a strategy at the business unit level is concerned with competing successfully in individual markets, and it addresses the question, “How do we win in this market?” However, this strategy needs to be linked to identified objectives. Competitive analysis, including gathering competitive intelligence, is a great starting point for developing a business unit strategy. As part of this, it’s important to think about your core proficiencies, and how you can use these to meet your customers’ needs. How does strategy and consultation support the conversion funnel? Sound, well-researched digital performance strategies provide you with a clear framework and should be compiled for every stage of the conversion funnel. The goals will change depending on the relevant stage but the inherent purpose of generating leads that convert remains the same. The conceptualisation, implementation and execution of strategies requires a thorough knowledge of the marketing realm. Our agency offers consultations during which our team of experts will work with you directly to unravel your USP, review your current market positioning and business objectives. Based on the information that is gathered, we can provide you with practical digital performance strategies for each stage of the conversion funnel. Recommended service: Strategy and Consultation What is strategy and consultation? Michael Porter, a strategy expert and professor at Harvard Business School, emphasises the need for strategy to define and communicate an organisation’s unique position and says that it should determine how organisational resources, skills, and competencies should be combined to create competitive advantage, which is vital in a saturated marketplace. Mind tools explains that ‘a strategy at the business unit level is concerned with competing successfully in individual markets, and it addresses the question, “How do we win in this market?” However, this strategy needs to be linked to identified objectives. Competitive analysis, including gathering competitive intelligence, is a great starting point for developing a business unit strategy. As part of this, it’s important to think about your core proficiencies, and how you can use these to meet your customers’ needs. How does strategy and consultation support the conversion funnel? Sound, well-researched digital performance strategies provide you with a clear framework and should be compiled for every stage of the conversion funnel. The goals will change depending on the relevant stage but the inherent purpose of generating leads that convert remains the same. The conceptualisation, implementation and execution of strategies requires a thorough knowledge of the marketing realm. Our agency offers consultations during which our team of experts will work with you directly to unravel your USP, review your current market positioning and business objectives. Based on the information that is gathered, we can provide you with practical digital performance strategies for each stage of the conversion funnel. Stage 5: Evaluation Buyers are in the process of evaluation so that they can make a well-informed final decision about whether or not they’re going to make a purchase. It’s usual for marketing and sales mechanisms to be used concurrently at this point to convince the MQL to buy the product/service. Suggested Service: Targeted Campaigns What are targeted campaigns At this point, the potential customer is more than halfway down the funnel. Now, it’s your job to nudge them over the threshold. This requires using specific information that hooks them so that it’s difficult to resist making a purchase. Once again, we specialise in this service and will help you craft enticing brand messaging. When a campaign is complete, the measurable data collected and analysed so that the success of a campaign can be gauged. We can implement the necessary campaign tracking tools for you. Our holistic approach allows us to offer omnichannel campaign data collection, which means that we can track how various channels may interact and assess audience engagement. From this, we will be able to show you the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign and offer insight to help you leverage and refine campaigns that will have the best bait on the hook. Stage 6: Purchase You’ve reached the final stage of the funnel, congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. Your MQL is about to become a customer. It’s time for sales to take over and complete the transaction. Ensure that your website is designed and optimised for a user-friendly customer experience. This includes everything from the UX, UI and payment portal works perfectly. By removing any obstacles on your buyer’s path to purchase, they will be happy and likely to leave favourable reviews and refer other prospects to purchase your products/services. Stage 7: After-purchase actions Loyalty You don’t want a customer to make a once-off purchase. Without a way to stay in touch with your online customers. So you need to have a strategy in place that sustains and strengthening their loyalty to your business. You want to add customers to your community so you can keep them coming back as frequently as possible. There are two effective ways by which this can be achieved: A mailing list: After a customer has made a purchase, ensure that you ask them to subscribe to your mailing list, and offer them a reason to do so. For example, give a discount towards their next purchase. Also, punt the value they are receiving from signing up to your list. Add icons that link to your social media pages in your mailers. If you are going to send them content regularly in a mailer/newsletter covering various topics, make this clear up-front, and explain how they can benefit from the information. Be completely truthful because the second they see that not offering them what you promised, it is likely that they will unsubscribe or send any further correspondence to spam. Social media: Some customers may engage on social media platforms more frequently than email, and so offer follow buttons for all your social media accounts on your order confirmation page. Tell customers about the benefits of following your social media pages – whether it is exclusive weekly content about how best to use your products or monthly competitions, make sure communication is exclusive to social media channels. Monitor Your Funnel Optimising your conversion funnel involves research and a comprehensive understanding of what your customers want from you. This can be achieved by consistently evaluating success/failure at the various stages of the funnel. So, it’s important to constantly refine the touchpoints to attract more people into the funnel, and using supported data to entice them to move down the funnel to the point where they become advocates for your product/service and brand. Advocacy Professional marketer Breanna Hale, comments, ‘Having your customers so happy that they not only purchase (and re-purchase) from you, but refer more business to you from friends and family, and become an advocate for your product is one of the biggest indicators of success.’ Creating the best points of contact is indispensable for customer retention. Consider enlisting the services of a professional marketing company that specialises in website analytics and tracking. Analytics audit What is an analytics audit? Our primary reasons for conducting an Analytics Audit are to ensure the appropriate tools are being used to collect accurate data. We want to understand the data to provide valuable insights and detailed reports from which to develop actionable strategies. These tactics are fundamentally based on comprehending user behaviour. The benefits include Improving user experience Conversion optimisation (potential for more sales) Stronger, engaging content that leads to customers performing the intended action Tracking refers to monitoring and analysing user interactions on your website. The data that is collected plays a significant role in refining organic as well as paid media marketing activities. Conversion tracking (a more advanced form of tracking) specifically specifies the path to completion of the whole process: a successful purchase. Tracking is a fundamental part for assessing whether paid media ad campaigns are successful. How does an analytics audit support the conversion funnel? The primary question you need to answer here is, ‘what does your audience want?’ Specific data needs to be collected to give you a clear picture. You’ll have access to vital metrics such as customers’ locations, product interests, names, and the possible reasons they may be buying your products. Through email and social media, you can begin to target them more specifically with content that is relevant to that specific type of customer.