A conversion funnel represents the customer journey from when they first land on a website to when they actually make their purchase. It is important to optimize this journey. Each level of the funnel has a specific purpose that is matched to the needs of the customer. The key to building a high-performance funnel for business is understanding the purpose of each level of the funnel relative to the customer’s journey and provide content that meets those needs.
The User Journey
In most instances, the user journey remains unchanged and follows five key stages. Each stage represents a level of the funnel.
- Stage one: Problem or need recognition (Upper funnel)
- Stage two: Information search (Upper funnel)
- Stage three: Evaluation of alternatives (Mid funnel)
- Stage four: Purchase decision (Bottom funnel)
- Stage five: Sale Completion (Bottom funnel)
The pool of people arriving at a website represents the potential customer base. As the consumer progresses through the funnel stages, more people drop out, which lowers the overall conversion rate.
To minimize the likelihood of potential consumers falling through the gaps, three key questions should be asked and answered at each stage of the funnel.
- How will people at this stage find me?
- What information does a consumer at this stage of the journey need?
- How do I know if the consumer has moved on to the next stage?
Remember, 72% of those who land on a company website are not ready to be sold to, and 50% are not ready to buy. By asking these questions at each stage of the funnel, a process known as lead nurturing is incorporated into the funnel.
Companies that pay attention to lead nurturing have been shown to see an increase in qualified prospects of up to 450%. Lead nurturing aims to provide the consumer with all the information they need at each stage of the consumer journey to maximize the likelihood they will move on to the next stage.
Stage One: Problem or Need Recognition
The first stage in developing a high-performance conversion funnel is understanding the target audience and their problem or need.
Know Your Audience
Quality beats quantity every time. Time that could be better spent elsewhere is wasted weeding out the true prospects if we don’t learn about our target audience, their motivations, and behaviors. Taking the time to do this properly will save time and money in the long run. This should be the first step in any marketing strategy.
The target audience will dictate the content used in the conversion funnel and focus attention on how to get it noticed. A conversion funnel serves little purpose if it does not have this focus, so invest in developing a profile and understanding of the group. It will pay off in the long run.
Once the target audience is understood, focus on creating content that will drive this group towards the site. This includes deciding where to place this content so that it is noticed.
Stage Two: Information Search
This is the equivalent of a fisherman casting his net. Content marketing pieces focusing on SEO optimization linked to the landing pages on the website are ideal. It is important to take the time to do keyword research, so content is focused on the target audience.
Getting the consumer to engage with the content pieces is vital, so use blogs, videos, social media, and infographics to drive traffic towards the site. The consumer is looking to learn about the company. It is the first step in the brand awareness process.
The content is focused on the large potential audience rather than the individual consumers. There is a huge amount of content out there, making it is important to make content memorable and unique. This creates a connection with the consumer.
Stage Three: Evaluation of Alternatives
At this stage of the conversion funnel, the aim is to provide consumers with the information they need to progress to the purchase stage. This is not glossy promotional content. It is focused content that helps the consumer properly evaluate the product.
The content provided at this stage needs to have substance and meaning, so the consumer understands the product or service. Showing the consumer how value is added rather than just telling them is powerful and compelling.
This could include content that will motivate the consumer to try a free trial or request an online demonstration. Because the consumer has moved to the mid-funnel level, the content should start to become more personalized. This increases the likelihood they will progress through the funnel to the next stage. The aim is to have the consumer develop an emotional connection with the product or service.
Keyword research will assist in identifying the information the consumer needs to evaluate the product. This research can be used as the basis for developing appropriate content.
Stage Four: Purchase Decision
The purchase decision should be the logical progression for the consumer if the preceding stages have been optimized. The content at this stage should focus on supporting the consumer’s decision to purchase.
Content that includes case studies is valuable. The consumer will use case studies to confirm their decision is the right one. When creating case study content, it is important to cover the consumer spectrum, so use different industries, business sizes, and verticals to appeal to everyone.
Stage Five: Sale Completion
Many companies omit this stage, failing to recognize its importance. It is the conversation that occurs after the conversion and is determinative as to whether the consumer is retained as part of the ongoing customer base.
It is important to make sure that the consumer walks away happy with their purchase decision so they return in the future. The content could include customer care information, for example.
A conversion funnel that is properly planned with content appropriate to the relevant stage of the consumer journey is fundamental if leads are to be converted. Spending time properly planning content should not be underestimated; it will ensure each conversion funnel stage is optimized.
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