Success is rarely coincidental. The companies that enjoy large ROIs are usually the companies that have developed well thought out strategies for every stage and every process. They have toiled over the designs of their products, can tell you a hundred reasons why their product is superior to that of their competitors, and know buyer personas as well as they know their best friends.
One of the most distinctive traits of a successful company can be found in its marketing funnel. Every company’s funnel looks different. Prosperous companies have funnels that are closer to the shapes of cylinders, while under-prepared companies are thinner and leaking leads all throughout because they are ill-equipped to nurture them. You can determine what your marketing funnel is saying about your company by analyzing the number of leads you have in each stage of the funnel. You can learn where it’s strong and where it needs improvements.
However, funnels are so much more complicated than that. If you believe that your work is done at the purchasing stage, you’re missing out on opportunities to compound your success and really amplify your brand.
Your Awareness Stage
To reach out to your target audience and show them that you have a solution to their problem.
Your top of the funnel is wide and acquiring many qualified leads. Companies successful in the Awareness Stage have a strong social media presence and are able to get people reading blog posts and watching viral videos about their products. You will see high levels of traffic, downloads, likes, shares, views, and click-throughs. When done well, there will be enough to drive leads to the Evaluation Stage.
Your top of the funnel is small, or you are acquiring weak leads who aren’t interested in your product and can’t be encouraged to buy. You are not only receiving low traffic, but people aren’t watching your full videos, reading your full blog posts, and aren’t interacting with your content.
How to fix:
Create content that makes people curious about your brand without selling to them. People on social media are looking for entertainment, not a sales pitch. If you can construct a creative, informative blog or an intriguing video that stops people from scrolling through their news feed, you have got your first foot in the door.
Expedia’s Out There Starts Here blog is an excellent example of the kind of content that will attract leads. While Expedia is known for selling flights, hotels, and other accommodations, their blog is full of guides, tips, and inspiring images of the many destinations you can visit when booking your next vacation. Each post incentivizes readers to plan their next getaway, complete with sights to see, places to stay, and where to eat. After a lead is drawn in by posts such as their Luxury Guide to Queenstown, they don’t even have to leave Expedia’s site to start booking their next vacation.
Your Evaluation Stage
To prove to leads that your product can solve their problem better than your competitor’s.
Your leads have a wide variety of information about your product and company that they can easily access, which encourages them to decide to buy from you. Among this is social proof that your product is worth buying, via user-generated content, case studies, and demonstrations among other forms of content. All of this leads to a large number of leads continuing onto the Purchasing Stage.
The middle of your funnel will go from wide to thin. Either your company is trying to push leads through to the Evaluation Stage before they are ready, or lack the information that leads need to feel comfortable with continuing their buyer’s journey. If you aren’t there to help them along their way, your company will atrophy in this stage.
How to fix:
Create an easy-to-find FAQ section and how-to blog to address the most common concerns, and make yourself readily available to answer any questions to make potential customers feel comfortable and confident about your product. Also, provide a wealth of content that shows why your product is right for them—including case studies and white papers.
According to Angie Mansfield, the self-proclaimed “case study and white paper geek,” case studies are essentially customer success stories that give your prospects the experience of using your product before ever laying a hand on it. Meanwhile, white papers are ranked second in terms of the most influential content buyers can read before making a purchase. Her portfolio is full of excellent examples of both covering a wide variety of niches.
Your Purchase Stage
To guide the lead to buy your product.
Your company will enjoy a high number of converted customers, and your Evaluation and Purchase Stages will resemble a cylinder more than it does a funnel. A combination of easy-to-find web pages and purchase pages, testimonials, reviews, and offers have convinced your leads that your product is a must-have.
Your company is failing to recognize that your potential leads still need a little more coaxing before buying from you. They may be suspicious by a lack of positive reviews or testimonials, and if you aren’t offering them any special promotion or discount to make up for it, they may be led astray. Also, if your website is poorly designed with too many graphics, slow load screens, and confusing toolbars, they may not be able to navigate your page.
How to fix:
Think about what would entice you to hit the ‘buy’ button. Chances are, your leads are in the same boat. Have the necessary social proof needed to make your leads feel comfortable with the final stage of their buyer’s journey, and provide special offers to sweeten the deal. Also, have a simple, easy-to-navigate website like Big Apple Hot Dogs or Anet Design.
Turn Your Funnel Into a Cycle
You have around a 5% chance to sell something to a new customer, but a 60%-70% chance to sell something to a repeat customer. As a result, 65% or more of an average small business’ revenue comes from existing customers.
Customers that trust your content don’t have to go through the Awareness and Evaluation stages with them. They already know that your product is great and was convinced by the content you have shown them to buy! Smart e-mail marketing, such as campaigns that the Inn at Seaside has conducted, can drive repeat business by offering timely specials, attract design, and customer raves.
Catering to happy customers saves you money on marketing material and shortens long sales cycles. If your company doesn’t have a strategy in place to encourage customers to become repeat purchasers, you are missing on a significant opportunity.
Take a minute to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing funnel. Chances are that the improvements you need to make have simpler solutions than you think.