Many of the actions taken in marketing are about awareness. It’s certainly the top concern of most every prospect that I talk with.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a colleague that focused on awareness. We probably didn’t talk about it in the same terms as most. We were both a little frustrated that awareness was the main priority of so many people and so much of the marketing that went on.
Awareness is great but it isn’t the only thing to think about when selling your products and services. There are other aspects of the marketing funnel that carry great importance but I can understand why there is a heavy focus on awareness.
For ages, an advertisement would be the primary tool to create awareness and some interest. Thena salesperson would pull a prospect through the funnel to get the sale. Those were the good old days but times have changed and so have your customers.
Chances are really good that a prospect will visit your website before ever calling you or visiting your store. This means your website needs to nurture your leads and pull them through the funnel. It can also push people away if they don’t find what they are looking for.
This isn’t just for e-commerce companies, it applies to all of us.
The Marketing Funnel
Let’s do a quick review on what the marketing funnel is. I have seen many different marketing funnels out there. Some are very simple and some are really complex. I prefer a more simple model and have defined it as:
The content on your website should address each one of these steps. While awareness tends to be the top consideration, I’m suggesting to you that each stage is equally important.
They are also dependent on the previous stage. Without awareness, there can’t be interest. There won’t be conversion until there is consideration and so on.
Most of the marketing funnels I see stop at a conversion which is the sale. I feel this is a mistake. It costs up to 5x more to get a new customer than to retain a current customer.
Don’t forget about your current customers. If you have a great product or service and you also provide great service, you may find your customers actively marketing for you. They will become evangelists for your brand and they are worth their weight in gold but let’s take a step back. Actually, let’s take a few steps back.
It Starts with Awareness
The top of the funnel is where we find awareness. It’s where the customer journey starts. If people have no idea your company exists, they aren’t going to buy its products and services.
However, awareness isn’t where the journey ends. Awareness doesn’t mean people are going to buy anything from you. It just means they know who you are.
I’m aware of many things such as Burger King, Budweiser, Farmer’s Insurance, Cigna, and Chrysler but I don’t buy products or services from any of them. In fact, I don’t plan on buying anything from them now or at any point in the future.
Now stop for a moment. Consider all the companies and products in which you are aware. How many of them do buy or plan to buy?
There may be many reasons why you wouldn’t do business with any of these companies. You don’t like or need the product. Maybe you don’t like their political leanings or actions they took.
All awareness isn’t the same. It can be positive, negative, or in somewhere in between.
Most companies invest heavily in awareness with the idea that if people just know about them, the customers will come flowing in. That’s not the way it works. Especially in a day and age where getting information is as easy as doing a Google search.
Are You Interested?
In the middle of the funnel, we have interest. Like awareness, all interest isn’t the same. Sometimes it pushes us to find more information while other times it’s just something that makes us think for a minute.
If I told you that Tony Williams was one of the greatest drummers in the history of music would you run out and start searching to find more information? Unless, you were a drummer, probably not.
When I moved to the Boise area 12 years ago, I found out they have a minor league baseball team here. I like baseball and thought it would be fun to go to a game.
I’ve lived here for 12 years and I still haven’t been to a game. I’ve never even looked into tickets but I’m still interested in going to a game. Maybe. Do you think that’s the kind of interest the team is looking for?
We want there to be enough interest so somebody takes action. They visit your website or blog. They make a phone call or visit your store. Essentially they are trying to find out more.
Once you have them, you need to provide information that will move them to the next step. If you don’t they will lose interest and leave. Chances are when they leave they won’t be back. In most cases, you will only get one shot.
So how do you help prevent this? I talked about this last week. Talk to your customers. Ask them what piqued their interest to take the next step then use this information to build content.
It can be something as simple a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Looking at a Few Options
After interest we have consideration. At this point, a potential customer has decided that your product/service is something they might buy.
This is where they will search for reviews and do product comparisons. Testimonials will typically carry more weight in this stage than other stages as they are social proof.
Trials are great because people can actively use your product to experience how it works for themselves. If they are taking the time to give your product a trial, they are most likely pretty serious.
You can even help your prospect out by showing a side by side comparison of both your and your competitors product.
People want value. Don’t confuse this with cost. A product can have a high price tag and provide more value than a cheaper competing product.
If you only compete on price you will end up losing. There is always somebody who can provide the same product (or service) at a lower price.
I use a social media tool called CoSchedule and one of the things they hit on when I was trying it out was how much time I would save. They give me a reminder when they send me a weekly roundup of my actions, “You saved an hour using CoSchedule this week.”
I pay more for their product than I did for the product it replaced but it’s easier to use, gives me more flexibility, and saves me time. That was worth the cost.
I’ll Take It
Your prospect has made a purchase. There is nothing more to do right now is there? I’m going to suggest you have an opportunity. People want to feel like they did the right thing, especially if the cost was high.
Give them something that shows them they made the right choice. Make them feel like you have their back and that you appreciate them.
Years ago I bought a CD from an independent retailer called CD Baby. After I placed my order I got the confirmation email just I like I did with every other online retailer but theirs was very different. Instead of just including an order summary they included this:
“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterward and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!“
I thought it was hilarious and shared this email with everybody. This was almost 20 years ago and I have purchased plenty of products online since, but out of all the confirmation emails I’ve received, this is the one I always remember.
How Do I Reach You?
As I pointed out earlier, it costs less to retain a customer than get a new one. This is important to keep in mind. Buying from you once is no guarantee they will continue to be a customer.
Provide them content that supports the product they purchased. If they have an issue, how do they resolve it? What if the information online still doesn’t solve the issue?
You can’t possibly foresee everything that might occur but it’s a good idea to have the proper resources in place to help. If you don’t, chances are good that your customer is going to bolt at the first sign of trouble. Once they are gone, you may never get them back.
If you are lucky, you will have customers who will not only market your products but they will defend you in times of trouble.
They used to call it the Cult of Mac because many Apple users were passionate their Macs. They were extremely outspoken about everything Apple. Rain or shine, they were there promoting the product.
Keep evangelists in mind when creating content because they will pull from it to promote the company to anybody who will listen.
Awareness is a starting point and doesn’t guarantee success. It’s not any more important than any other step in the marketing funnel.
There needs to be content for the right place and time. This means there needs to be information that addresses the rest of the marketing funnel: Interest, consideration, conversion, retention, and evangelism.
Your prospects need help to become your customer and many won’t bother contacting you until they are well down the funnel. Don’t ignore the opportunity, cultivate it with the right content.