Everyone is talking about the funnel. A business dumps a prospect in the top of the funnel. As the viewers travel through the funnel, they become a leads. Then, they pop out the bottom as full blown conversions! At least, that's the general idea.
Personally, I don't often used the funnel analogy. When I was a kid, the funnel was the tool I grabbed when I was spilling hot chocolate all over the counter while trying to pour it into my thermos. A funnel feels like a trap, forcing something in a direction it wouldn't naturally proceed willingly. If I owned a business, I would value my customers too much to put them into this type of a forced “funnel.”
I prefer to view the marketing conversion process like a journey to commitment. Take a walk with your prospects and see how far they’re willing to walk with you. Your goal is to make yourself as “followable” as possible with the right type of leadership.
However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you call it. It does matter how you do it.
Marketing Conversion is a Journey to Commitment
A purchase is an act of trust. When a customer clicks the “order” button, writes a check, or signs beside the ‘X’, they’re trusting your business to provide satisfactory value in exchange for their money. First-time buyers are going out on a limb, taking a leap of faith. Your job, as the seller, is to make that leap as small as possible. In fact, just take a walk with them.
Commitment Means Lots of Small Steps
Levels of the Funnel (Top, Middle, Bottom)
You want to lead your potential customers through a series of steps as opposed to just waving at them from the opposite edge of a chasm. If the only actionable item on your webpage is the “Order Now!” button, that’s just too far for them to jump. However, give them the option to see reviews from other people who have used your product or services and see other social proof. They can walk with you that far.
A series of these steps will build a relationship with your viewer. If they've seen social proof, shared your content on their Facebook page, followed your Twitter feed, subscribed to your blog, and commented on your posts, the “Order” button or phone number to call begins to look quite inviting.
Strategically Plan Your Walk
Construct the Funnel
Easy, Paved Trail (Top of the funnel)
- Easy and informative
- General topics, covered lightly
- Education on product or service
- Answers your viewer’s question of, “What is your purpose as a business?”
Onto the Gravel Path (Middle of the funnel)
- Down to the nitty-gritty details
- Specific topics, covered thoroughly
- Education on company mentality, detailed procedures, user reviews, etc.
- Answers your prospect’s question of, “How exactly do you deliver benefits to your customers?”
The Last Leg (Bottom of the funnel)
- Persuasive demonstrations and requests
- Easy transitions to a buying mentality
- Discounts, free trials, deals, demonstrations, etc.
- Answers your lead’s question of, “Will buying from you be worth the risk?
Ideally, we want to see a viewer move through these stages. However, in the transition from one stage to the next, businesses always lose a certain percentage of their followers. For instance, viewers who are not interested in learning the specific details of your company offerings will stop following when they reach the threshold between the paved trail and the gravel path. Prospects who are interested in your company but are not yet willing to pursue purchase options will turn back when the last leg of the walk begins.
Ultimately, you want an easy transition over the thresholds between each commitment stage. The best way to help your potential customer want to follow you is to use “Call-To-Actions.”
Keep them Walking Using Call-To-Actions
Interact with your viewers. Give them buttons to click, links to follow, forms to submit, and a number to call. Show them cool posts they can share, great contests to enter, Twitter feeds to follow, and Facebook pages to “like.”
These points of interaction are small steps on your customers journey toward commitment. These are tools you can use for your call-to-actions (or CTAs).
CTAs Using Social Media Platforms
“Find Us On Facebook!”
Your prospects will be more likely to follow you to places they frequent. Having an active presence on all avidly used social media platforms is a must. Call-To-Actions connected with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn are essential for viewer interaction. These are the smallest steps your viewer can take.
CTAs On Your Pages
“Recent News!” – Your Company Blog
Select Call-To-Actions that advertise your site content. Blog content is most effective during the second stage of the marketing conversion process, where users are looking for in-depth information. Always make sure to include social media sharing buttons for each of your articles.
“Read this Featured Article On…” – White Papers
Authoritative white paper reports are brilliant ways to feature the benefits of your business or educate customers on certain facets of your company. They carry authority on their own and provide confidence to the reader. These are most effective during the second stage
“Read More…” - Links to Similar Content
On any given page on your site, you want to provide your viewer with somewhere new to go. If a viewer is reading your “About Us” page, give them a link to your Services page with a button titled, “View our Services >>>”. If your viewer is reading an article on interior decorating, post links to similar content within that topic. These points of interaction will keep your viewer moving through your site.
CTAs As Buttons
Buttons are used to attract attention to a Call-To-Action point on a page.
Present Company Offerings
- “Get a free consultation!”
- “Schedule a free appointment!”
- “Save 30% Today!”
- “Enter our Contest!”
Open Lines of Communication
Assure your viewer that your business is interested in what they need.
- “Contact Us Today!”
- “Have a Question? Ask Us Now!”
Followers Create Conversions
A viewer who has followed you this far is a prime candidate for conversion. On your journey with your viewer, conversion is your destination. A conversion is the point at which a viewer commits to interacting with your business as opposed to merely interacting with your website. Conversion points are elements like the “Order Now!” button, or a form submission for a fee consultation or quote. There are more conversion-related tactics you can use to encourage your leads to take the final step.
A landing page is designed as a channel for conversions. A website can have a general landing page for the company, or they can have multiple pages, tailored to a specific product or service. Essentially, the goal is to provide a persuasive presentation that will inspire your viewer toward commitment.
Be Creative with your Conversion Points
Use creative conversion points that evolve with changes to your website and business offerings. Conversion points will look different depending on the deals, discounts, coupons, or trial packages you’re offering. Customize the conversion points on your site to enable ready access whenever your leads are ready to respond.
By the time a viewer has navigated through your site, you want them to be confident in your business. Rather than thinking of you as a risk, you want their commitment to steadily grow, creating an easy road to conversion. Walk your viewers through the steps necessary for them to learn about your company. Even after you have both reached the end of the journey, they will keep following you.