UPDATED: Should I Use Online Marketing for My Business?
Now that you’ve reached the point where you have hired and are managing your employees successfully, you need to find your audience and market your products/services to them. “Go where your customers are” should be integral to every decision you make, the strategy you compile, and campaign you execute.
The benefits of online marketing over traditional (offline) marketing
One word: Communication.
Communication with your audience is vital and, unlike traditional marketing, the online marketing space provides you with the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with them. This plays a substantial role in the customers’ journey as they travel down the conversion funnel.
However, this doesn’t mean that above-the-line advertising doesn’t have its place. TV and other mediums such as billboard and print advertising can be powerful, but a reciprocal relationship with online marketing is essential to maximise reach to prospective customers. This can be as simple as displaying your business’ website and social media icons on the ad. The ultimate goal is to get prospective customers to begin their journey down the conversion funnel.
What is the conversion funnel?
The term conversion funnel (also known as a sales funnel) represents the route that a user takes on the path to purchase your product(s) and/or service(s). The funnel narrows as the user progresses through various stages. We’ll take you through each stage in detail to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the mechanism. There are a few different interpretations of the funnel, the most common of which is the AIDA model, but we feel it’s too elementary and therefore we’ll discuss the following stages in this article.
- After-purchase actions
It’s critical to be cognisant that every stage of the funnel serves as a data-capturing tool by which you can analyse and interpret the data to leverage remarketing and retargeting customer retention campaigns (discussed in stage seven).
Stage 1: Awareness
Awareness is the first (and widest) stage of the funnel. Your potential customers (also known as prospects) are attracted to your business offerings through different channels such as your website, paid media campaigns and social media marketing.
According to an article published in the Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly entitled ‘How to give your marketing full-funnel power’, “Brand awareness prepares the ground for demand generation from increasingly informed prospects, which then gives way to the crucial business of generating leads and working with sales to close deals and increase customer value.”
The great news is all of these channels can be used to magnify awareness online through Paid Media.
Recommended service: paid media
Paid media is a marketing method that allows you to promote your products/services via sponsored social media posts, display ads, paid search results, video ads, pop-ups, and other endorsed multimedia.
The best way to reap the rewards of Paid Media is to hire an experienced marketing consultancy that specialises in this service to set up and operate campaigns for you. They can analyse your current market positioning and recommend the most effective brand messaging to attract prospects to your products/services.
As potential customers engage, leads are generated through the information that is collected. The data is then inserted into a lead management system which will assist in nurturing these leads as they travel down the funnel.
How does paid media support the conversion funnel?
The primary benefit is the cross-channel applications. As mentioned above, sponsored posts can appear on various social media platforms and take top spots on Google search results pages (SERP). Every channel can link to the other, increasing your reach to a broad audience.
Paid media creates a ripple effect that influences various marketing goals—an article published on Medium lists the following seven benefits. Paid media can:
- Amplify your reach
- Fit any budget
- Enhance your targeting
- Boost brand awareness
- Maximise your content marketing
- Gain access to mobile users
- Gather market insights
All of these benefits work holistically to achieve marketing goals.
Stage 2: Interest
The prospects (now known as leads) move to the interest stage. Here, it’s critical for the lead to learn as much as possible about your brand’s products/services, which should include important information such as case studies and/or research to support any claims that you may make about your products/services. This stage provides you with the best opportunity to start creating relationships with your database of leads. It subsequently opens the door to introduce your unique service proposition, which assists in refining your leads into marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Recommended Service: Targeted Content Marketing
Once you have a sound knowledge of your ideal audience and know exactly what they want, implementing targeted content based on a defined content marketing strategy is a recipe for success. The primary benefit of this marketing method is to bypass the abundance of unconnected information on the internet and engage with relevant, personalised content.
How does targeted content marketing support the conversion funnel?
One of the most prominent reasons for a potentially converting lead to losing interest in your products/services and consequently your brand is due to cookie-cutter (generic) content. So, it’s imperative that you create content that speaks to them on a personal level; they should feel as if they’re having a conversation with you.
Stage: 3: Consideration
As mentioned above, at the consideration stage, leads change to marketing qualified leads (MQLs). What does this mean? An MQL is a lead who has passed through your marketing lead-qualification criteria that you believe needs to be satisfied; essentially, an MQL is much more likely to convert into a customer.
At this point, it’s advantageous to create a new segment in your database for leads that have become MQLs. Should they not progress to the next stage, you can remarket to them by communicating specific information and content via the most-used channels. E.g., It wouldn’t make sense to send an MQL a welcome email; instead, send targeted content informing them about a sale or another activity that is likely to garner interest. The ideal outcome is that it will facilitate a return and resume their journey down the funnel on the path to conversion.
Recommended service: visual content creation and content marketing
Your target audience is watching more video content online every day, making it one of the most effective communication media for brands. So, if video advertising isn’t part of your marketing strategy, it should be – and that’s precisely what a full-service marketing agency can conceptualise, implement and execute for your business.
How does visual content creation and content marketing support the conversion funnel?
This is essentially an extension of targeted content marketing but integrates visual content such as video and infographics to strengthen the targeted communication that you’re providing for your audience.
The benefits of visual advertising
- Users share videos
Users who watch a video with content that they find appealing and valuable can easily share it with followers/fans/friends on various platforms, particularly Facebook and Twitter. This fortifies content significantly.
- Video ads are ideal for mobile devices
The number of people watching videos on mobile devices is increasing exponentially. Users are more likely to watch short videos (around 30 seconds) to the end and therefore have context and a good understanding of what you’re advertising.
- A lot of info in a short time
Video advertising provides you with the opportunity to offer a vast amount of information in a short space of time.
Stage 4: Intent
At this point, it’s clear that the MQL is interested in your product/service, and there is significant potential to convert. So, you need to nurture them by providing a solid case for why your product is the best on the market. To achieve this, you’re going to have a defined customer nurturing strategy that not only keeps your MQL interested but to give them a reason to progress down the funnel.
Recommended service: Strategy and Consultation
Michael Porter, a strategy expert and professor at Harvard Business School, emphasises the need for a strategy to define and communicate an organisation’s unique position. He says that it should determine how organisational resources, skills, and competencies should be combined to create competitive advantage, which is vital in a saturated marketplace.
Mind tools explains that ‘a strategy at the business unit level is concerned with competing successfully in individual markets, and it addresses the question, “How do we win in this market?”
However, this strategy needs to be linked to identified objectives. Competitive analysis, including gathering competitive intelligence, is a great starting point for developing a business unit strategy. As part of this, it’s essential to think about your core proficiencies and how you can use these to meet your customers’ needs.
How do strategy and consultation support the conversion funnel?
Sound, well-researched digital performance strategies provide you with a clear framework and should be compiled for every stage of the conversion funnel. The goals will change depending on the relevant stage, but the inherent purpose of generating leads that convert remains the same. The conceptualisation, implementation and execution of strategies require a thorough knowledge of the marketing realm.
Stage 5: Evaluation
Buyers are in the process of evaluation so that they can make a well-informed final decision about whether or not they’re going to make a purchase. It’s usual for marketing and sales mechanisms to be used concurrently to convince the MQL to buy the product/service.
Suggested Service: Targeted Campaigns
At this point, the potential customer is more than halfway down the funnel. Now, it’s your job to nudge them over the threshold. This requires using specific information that hooks them so that it’s difficult to resist making a purchase.
Once again, we specialise in this service and will help you craft enticing brand messaging.
How do targeted campaigns support the conversion funnel?
When a campaign is complete, the measurable data collected and analysed so that the performance of campaigns can be assessed. It’s important that you have access to the necessary campaign tracking tools. It’s worth speaking to a marketing consultancy with expertise in website analytics and tracking.
They can offer omnichannel campaign data collection, which means that they can track how various channels may interact and assess audience engagement. They will show you the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign and offer insight to help you leverage and refine campaigns that will have the best bait on the hook.
Stage 6: Purchase
You’ve reached the final stage of the funnel; congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. Your MQL is about to become a customer. It’s time for the transaction process to take over and complete the transaction.
Ensure that your website is designed and optimised for a user-friendly customer experience. This includes everything from the UX, UI and payment portal works perfectly. By removing any obstacles on your buyer’s path to purchase, they will be happy and likely to leave favourable reviews and refer other prospects to purchase your products/services.
Stage 7: After-purchase actions
You don’t want a customer to make a once-off purchase. So, you need to have a strategy in place that sustains and strengthens their loyalty to your business. You want to add customers to your community so you can keep them coming back as frequently as possible. There are two effective ways by which this can be achieved:
- A mailing list
After a customer has made a purchase, ensure that you ask them to subscribe to your mailing list and offer them a reason to do so. For example, give a discount on their next purchase. Also, punt the value they are receiving from signing up to your list. `make sure you add icons that link to your social media pages in your mailers.
If you are going to send them content regularly in a mailer/newsletter covering various topics, make this clear up-front, and explain how they can benefit from the information. Be completely truthful because the second they see that not offering them what you promised, it is likely that they will unsubscribe or send any further correspondence to spam.
- Social media
The majority of customers are likely to engage on social media platforms more frequently than email, so offer ‘follow’ buttons for all your social media accounts on your order confirmation page and encourage them to contact you via the relevant instant messaging platforms such as Messenger.
Tell customers about the benefits of following your social media pages – whether it is exclusive weekly content about how best to use your products or monthly competitions, make sure communication is exclusive to social media channels.
- Monitor Your Funnel
Optimising your conversion funnel involves research and a comprehensive understanding of what your customers want from you. This can be achieved by consistently evaluating success/failure at the various stages of the funnel. So, it’s important to constantly refine the touchpoints to attract more people into the funnel and use supported data to entice them to move down the funnel to the point where they become advocates for your product/service and brand.
- Analytics audit
The main reasons for conducting an analytics audit are to ensure the appropriate tools are being used to collect accurate data. We want to understand the data to provide valuable insights and detailed reports to develop actionable strategies. These tactics are fundamentally based on comprehending user behaviour.
The benefits include
- Improving user experience.
- Conversion optimisation (potential for more sales).
- Stronger, engaging content that leads to customers performing the intended action.
- Tracking refers to monitoring and analysing user interactions on your website.
The data collected plays a significant role in refining organic and paid media marketing activities. Conversion tracking (a more advanced form of tracking) explicitly specifies the path to completing the whole process: a successful purchase. Tracking is a fundamental part of assessing whether paid media ad campaigns are successful.
In summary, the generation of quality leads that convert is essential to sustainability and growth. In theory, it sounds simple, but practically, implementing effective marketing strategies that hit the correct touchpoints at every stage of the conversion funnel are an entirely different monster. However, with the correct mindset and assistance from industry experts, all the facets of online marketing will harmonise, resulting in quality conversions.
Key takeaways: Building a lead-generating conversion funnel
- Focus on a specific message and call-to-action
Whether you’re launching a new website or promoting a campaign, a lead funnel gives you the platform to shout out a strong CTA that will drive organic traffic to your website.
- Data capturing tool
By incorporating an automated marketing platform such as Mailchimp with your lead funnel, you can easily add their information to create (or add to an existing database) of leads.
- Help you define your ideal customer
Quality leads that convert are the customers you want to deal with, but consistently tweaking the messages conveyed from conversion funnel observations can turn a prospect into a paying customer/client.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of top-of-funnel marketing campaigns
The upper part of the funnel serves to spread awareness, educate prospects, and cultivate brand buzz for your product or service. Measuring the inbound channels at the top of the funnel helps you understand your marketing landscape.
If you want a website that turns visitors into customers, you need to gather and understand the supporting data.
- Always be searching for ways to add more value
The relationships that you build are reciprocal, meaning that the relationship’s longevity relies on the client gaining a level of value that keeps them interested. By increasing the value, you give to customers at each stage relevant to a particular phase of the buying process; you can gently nudge your visitors all the way to the checkout and beyond, so they become advocates of your brand.