Not all customers are created equally. In fact, no two shoppers of any kind are the same. That’s why it’s so important for marketers to consider multiple factors when targeting a given prospective customer. How old are they? What marketing mediums do they respond to best? How likely are they to actually make a purchase? You might not be able to answer all of these questions initially; but it’s the last question that you can address right away. If you can do nothing else, start by identifying where a given consumer exists in the marketing funnel.
What’s the marketing funnel? It’s a high-level way of stratifying your various leads and prospects so that you can give each group a message that’s tailored uniquely to their status. As the name suggests, the funnel narrows out towards the end, so the large group of prospects at the beginning are narrowed down to a smaller group by the end. That’s not a bad thing — it just means that you’ve identified your most likely customers and focused your energy on appealing to that group.
There are five categories in the marketing funnel. Let’s go through each stage and discuss some strategies for handling people at each stop along the way.
While the awareness stage does occur when an individual learns about your company, in reality, it’s more about the person becoming aware of his or her problem. They’re realizing that they need to make a change or make a new purchase, and they’re exploring their options.
This is a great opportunity for any business, and this is where solid website content becomes your best friend. Promotions come and go, but a business that brands itself as an industry expert and a thought leader will attract people in the awareness stage. It’s also a great time to encourage potential customers to sign up for your email list, and you should incentivize them by offering video content, white papers or podcasts that will further educate them.
Now that your prospect is aware of their issue, they want to know more about it. And if you’ve shown them that you know your stuff and that you’re an expert in the field, they’ll want to hear more from you. An email list signup is a good indicator of interest, as is repeated website visits, social media follows or email inquiries.
While these are all encouraging signs, they don’t necessarily mean that this person is ready to buy just yet. That’s where lead nurturing comes into play. Kick off an email drip campaign that steadily provides more information and encourages the recipient to return to your website to read more. Your emails should also include links to YouTube videos and presentations you’ve made, as well as any newsworthy items that transpire in your industry.
The person you’ve been targeting is quite impressed with what you’ve given them so far. They’ve acknowledged their issue, and they know they have to make a purchase in order to remedy that situation. However, they’re not totally sold yet. In particular, they’re not certain whether your business provides the best solution. The consumer must seek out other alternatives, including reading online reviews, speaking to friends and relatives, checking out other companies and comparing your offerings with those of the competition.
There’s nothing really you can do in this phase besides continuing along with your current recruitment strategy. Your emails might talk less about the customer’s problem and more about them making an actual purchase, and your promotional offerings might include more personal mediums such as podcasts and videos, but at this point, you’re best served to stay the course. Being too aggressive while a consumer is shopping around may serve to alienate them and drive them to a competitor. Don’t make that mistake.
It’s time for the consumer to make a choice, and if you’ve gotten this far with this individual, you’re one of the finalists. They’ve already decided to take action, and it’s now time for them to decide whether it’s going to be you or a competitor. It’s now time for your full-court press. Again, don’t be overly aggressive. Simply make your best offer now. Entice the consumer with a promo code. Offer them a free trial or provide them with a demonstration. Whatever it takes to seal the deal. There’s also this — you’ve properly educated the customer and given them all the tools they need to make their decision. There’s something to be said for that. If all else is equal, the customer is going to have a soft spot for the business that was honest with them throughout the process and told them everything they needed to know. Use that to your advantage where appropriate.
The prospective customer is finally a customer. They’ve made it all the way down the marketing funnel, and they’ve made the right choice — they’ve bought from you. Congratulations!
However, your work isn’t done. First and foremost, you need to make buying from your business as easy as possible. A mobile-friendly website is a must, as is top-notch customer support and transparent shipping and service policies. Don’t fumble the ball at the goal line — carry it into the end zone with confidence.
Loyalty and Advocacy
It’s become increasingly clear to marketers that, while the textbook may say that the marketing funnel ends with a purchase, nothing could be further from the truth. In many ways, your work is just beginning. A bad post-sale experience destroys everything you’ve just accomplished. An unsatisfied customer doesn’t just keep it to themselves — they tell everyone they know.
Needless to say, you don’t want to find yourself in this scenario. You want the opposite, where the consumer is gushing to all of their friends and recommending you left and right. There’s a way to do that, and it’s not through some complicated rewards program with meaningless points. Instead, maintain regular contact with your customer and offer them assistance. Give them something for free. And when they’ve had enough time with your product to truly know if it’s been life-changing, offer them referral bonuses when their friends make purchases.
A customer that merely buys your product and uses it and never discusses it with others is an opportunity wasted. You want all of your customers to become advocates. The only way to do that is to truly show your appreciation for your customers and their associates.
The marketing funnel is easy to conceptualize, but it isn’t always easy to master. However, with careful preparation, great content and endless dedication to customer service, you’ll be able to use the marketing funnel to its fullest potential. If you need a little help getting started, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.