Over the River and Through the Sales Funnel
Here’s the deal: you’re likely familiar with the marketing funnel. It guides marketing strategy and helps marketers understand the psyche of customers. Awareness, research, evaluation, decision, relationship. The terms you use to name the stages might vary, but the content of the stages stays the same. They go in order for a reason, and here’s why:
When you take into account where your customer is in their journey and how much they know about your brand, you have the ability to increase your metrics – from engagements to conversions – and ultimately affect your return on marketing investment. For one of our e-commerce clients, website retargeting for abandoned carts and ads served to past purchasers or web visitors in the past 30 days results in more than 80% of the revenue. Their advertising strategy perfectly lines up to the buyer’s path to purchase, and ad messaging is served at the right place and the right time to encourage those evaluating to make the decision to purchase.
When you get caught in the loop of speaking only to your current customers (the relationship stage), you miss out on introducing potential customers to your product (research), your brand (awareness) or the value you could provide (evaluation). Therefore, you miss out on building new long-lasting relationships with these future customers. Another important element of this is producing content and advertising based on the audience you’re going after. You wouldn’t serve the same ad up to someone who is well connected with your brand as you would someone who has never heard of it. Be prepared to engage with potential and current customers everywhere along the path to conversion – it will take all of your marketing channels working together in tandem with a unified strategy. But, if you prepare and target content that speaks to each stage, you’ll be ready for customers as they pass through each one and lead them on their way to conversion.
EMBRACE THE JOURNEY
We recently wrote about the marketing funnel in content strategy for websites – but the basics don’t stop with websites. They also apply to social media content and other content marketing efforts. We’ve written about the stages before, but each piece of the funnel and their order can never have enough attention.
There’s an acclimation period with social content and digital advertising. You begin by familiarizing yourself to the landscape, just as you would on a hiking trip. The goal is to introduce your audience to your brand and vice versa. Once people see you a few times, and maybe even go to your website or interact with you on social media, they go to the next phase. After they’ve taken any action with your account or your website, you can begin targeting them based on those actions (head out for a day hike). If that goes well, you might consider offering up a more extensive experience – this is the evaluation period of the trip. Once they’re committed, it won’t end there. Eventually, you want them to tell their friends and family about you!
Much like the website content strategy topic, some brands assume that if you put your sales message out there enough, people will buy. Very rarely does a cold audience buy just because they saw an ad, just as rarely as an amateur hiker would trek the entire Appalachian Trail. While one or two might succeed, your advertising strategy can’t be built on that tactic. There’s a reason why the marketing funnel is so well-known: because it works. Understand where your target is in the funnel (awareness, research, evaluation, decision, relationship) and tailor your message to them.