One of the central concepts of sales and marketing is the funnel- as consumers go through each stage of the buying process, their numbers winnow and they become more likely to convert. It is likely you have heard of the purchasing funnel or the buyer funnel before, but it can be difficult to parse out what each level means, and what you can do to get more customers to the bottom.
Below is an overview of each stage of the funnel, and some tips for moving your consumers through each stage.
At the onset of the funnel, you are just trying to get consumers to know that your product or service exists, whether they need it immediately or not. This is where branding needs to come alive. Display ads, sponsored posts on social media, email announcements, or anything that will reach and appeal to a wide audience are good approaches to building awareness as your consumer identifies he/she has a need.
- Inquiry and Analysis
During the second stage, your leads will have narrowed down into people who may be in the market for your product or service. Before making a purchase, most consumers will do some basic research online, and you need to ensure that your company comes up in their search. Ideally, they’ve heard of your company previously so they will be more inclined to delve deeper when they see your information in their search reults.. If not, you can further build awareness of your brand through search advertising and SEO. Choosing the right keywords is imperative- even if someone has heard of your brand, if you don’t come up in their search you likely won’t be considered.
Once they’ve decided to consider your product/service, they will want to do some further analysis. They need to feel more comfortable with your product/service and be coaxed into action. The most effective way to generate leads at this stage is through targeted website calls-to-action, user ratings and reviews (e.g. Yelp), videos, and email communication. This will allow you to create a pipeline of sales leads that can be further nurtured until they are ready to purchase.
This is the most critical point in the buyer funnel- the consumer has decided to make a purchase. The key here is to make it easy as possible to buy your product/service. Offer promotion codes and easy checkout online or drive your consumer to visit in-store or call to purchase. Proactively encourage consumers to complete a purchase, rather than leaving their desired item languishing in an e-cart. To get a head start on the final funnel level, advocacy, you should encourage customers to share their purchase and experience on social media.
It is (relatively) easy to convince someone to buy your product/service the first time, but convincing them to remain loyal to your brand is a bit more difficult. Obviously, providing excellent products and customer service will go a long way toward this; but even with that, they may not remember your brand the next time they need something.
You can use this opportunity to help users get the most out of their products to improve their overall experience. Check in with them through email and on social media. Offer rewards programs for future purchases and send them new products or deals they might be interested in.
At this “final” stage, you want to encourage your loyal customers to get the word out about your awesome product/service. Asking them to post reviews and ratings on sites like Yelp will go a long way, as will actively engaging with them on social media. Sending a personalized request for feedback will work far better than any generic request. Marketing automation tools can help streamline the post-purchase process.
Keep in mind that for many customers it can be a hassle to post a review so the key is to make it as simple and painless as possible. And be sure to make sure to thank them for advocating on behalf of our brand!
Remember, it costs significantly more to attract new customers than to retain existing customers. Spending extra energy focusing on the loyalty and advocacy stages can benefit your business greatly in the long run.