Have you ever tried pouring liquid without a funnel? It can create quite a mess, with the wind possibly blowing and other distractions, while trying to hit your target. A proper funnel would have caused less waste while giving you better results. In the same way, a proper sales and communications funnel can increase the productivity of your messaging efforts and help cut down on unnecessary expenses. Digital message strategy is now more important than ever with so many messages hitting consumers today.
Whether a potential customer has never heard of your brand or is a returning customer, it is important to carefully craft messages to hit where consumers are most likely to respond and develop. The goal of a digital communications plan is to move potential customers from knowing nothing of your product or service to them completing a purchase or contract.
To do this, you must provide relevant content throughout social and digital communication platforms that meet consumer needs at each point in the purchase consideration process. For instance, social media followers should feel comfortable interacting with, and gaining information through, your social media pages. However, specific messaging must be woven into page content to ensure that interested parties are able to move through the purchase phases from beginning to end, at any point in time.
Let’s walk through the purchase funnel together and discuss how to meet needs at each phase.
There is an oversaturation of products and information in the marketplace to meet consumer needs. To stand out, it is important to know the needs of our potential buyers. After researching those needs, you must direct messaging to consumers who have needs your firm is able to fulfill. Awareness ranges from creating messages that tell the public your brand exists, to informing a potential buyer that your brand has a solution to a problem they are searching to fix. Either way, the point of this phase is to bring your company and/or your products in front of a potential customer who was not previously aware of your need-filling capabilities.
Many times, a former customer or a loyal social media follower may have limited knowledge of products or services you offer, but they may not be aware of a new or different offering that you have. Awareness can be created whether you promote your firm or a product/service.
Awareness can be created by posting organically on your firm’s social pages, then allowing others to interact with the post. Awareness can also be generated by using paid advertising on social platforms to target those who are similar to your current social page audience, or by advertising to a carefully selected audience who can be told about your brand or solutions for the first time. Email marketing can also be useful to create awareness. If you have members subscribed to an email list, you can send them messages about new products.
Through tracking and oversight, we can see which types of messages are performing more effectively. It will be important to generate more of the type and style of content that is performing well and less of the content that your specific audience is not responding strongly towards. It is key to note that not all industries, geographic locations, companies or offerings will experience the same results from the same content that worked in similar campaigns from other firms or from your past messaging. Learn what your audience enjoys through tracking, then work message strategy around that research.
Once a person has been made aware of your firm, or a specific solution you have to offer, you will want to further develop interest in the individual through additional communication. To lead them to the next step, the potential buyer must have started following one or more of your social channels, or signed up for a blog, e-newsletter, etc. so they can see new content that leads them to the interest phase.
During this phase, you want current and new digital communication channel followers to begin seeing and interacting with content you are sending them to learn more about your firm’s solutions. Messaging needs to be tied to content about your firm’s competitive advantage. If you make a product that is of superior quality, more economically friendly, makes less of a mess, is easier to use, or any other reason that may help sell you over the competition, this is the time to let those details be known.
This phase is meant to start tipping the sales scale in a favorable direction. It is important that once a potential buyer enters the communications stream, you provide them with reasons to stay there and get more involved.
Forming interest in your product or service will require targeting individuals with triggers for which they are most likely to respond. For instance, if you are selling a tool that helps the elderly open pickle jars, using messaging about how easy it is to use, plus its durability and ease to clean may be better than promoting the products’ unique style, price difference or shipping speed. It’s all about hitting the consumer with a message that makes them more interested in what you are selling. Ultimately, making them more interested in you than your competition.
Posts that generated a lot of engagement (likes, shares, comments, retweets, etc.) can be boosted to create more engagement within social media pages. This allows you to leverage the best content and create increased interest efficiently.
Once you have people engaging with you on the social or email platforms, you will want to start moving them towards your website where they can find more in-depth information and eventually purchase options. This is moving individuals into the purchase consideration phase.
When a consumer is sitting in the purchase consideration phase they definitely have a problem in mind and are actively looking for the right person to fill that need. You want to be the resource they choose. In this stage, potential buyers will want to see evidence of the claims you have made about your product, service or firm. Potential buyers will read/watch testimonies from others who have used your product or service in the past. It is important to offer technical information from time-to-time on social channels or in email marketing, and to offer even more in-depth information on your website.
It is worth noting that consumers will look to third-party resources to gain knowledge of your firm and offerings. This could be an influencer’s YouTube channel or online forum. Your reputation will precede you, and today’s consumers are very savvy when it comes to information searching. Be conscious of this while crafting communication campaigns and when handling PR issues. A mismanaged parts recall, for instance, could turn away some future buyers.
Your website should contain detailed information about your firm and offerings. Reviews, testimonies, how-to videos, product descriptions, timeline information, etc. should be included on your website. Social media and email marketing efforts should link to some of these important information pages so the content can be communicated to potential buyers. The goal of the consideration phase is to answer as many consumer questions as possible in a natural and easy way for them to find and interact with.
You can find out, through data and analytics, who is searching for what type of information and then use direct messaging to influence their decision. During the consideration phase, those who have been viewing your messages will begin to talk over the potential need-meeting options with other stakeholders within their company or personal group. Facebook’s ‘Look-a-Like’ advertising feature is handy during this phase to send communications to friends-of-friends or those who share in the same interests as your current social channel members. It is helpful to influence the whole purchase group as much as possible. Presenting the facts and some emotional appeal in messaging will help move potential buyers into the purchase intent phase.
During the intent stage of the purchase process, you must have resources in place where potential buyers can request detailed and personal information from a sales person, watch a demo video, request a presentation, etc. It would be beneficial to have a contact form or lightbox on your website where personal contact information can be obtained for more personal communication to occur in the future. Certain content in this phase should be allowed access by only those who provide an email or fill out a form to receive the content. This ensures that only relevant people are seeing the information, and those contacts can be saved and targeted specifically later by your sales team.
Through the intent phase, it is vital to articulate, as thoroughly as possible, how your firm’s products or services can meet the nuances of each individual consumer’s needs. Here, potential buyers want to know how you are different from the competition and how you will be helping them specifically. A plethora of information is recommended to live and be organized on your website so consumers can find it easily and refer to it as many times as necessary. This phase is less about informing and more about convincing. Potential buyers will have been shopping around for who can solve their problem in the best way for them. Make this phase personal, build a relationship and make the sale organic.
Not everybody will go through the same purchase journey. There could be some who fly right through it and buy – which is great! There will be others who seem to be interested, leave and then come back later – not bad! However, some will collect information and move on to a competitor – bummer! As this happens, use the data on who is buying and why, or who is not buying and why they aren’t. Continuous additions and revisions to content will be necessary to keep these potential buyers moving toward the purchase phase of the trip and selecting you over the competition.
At this point, potential buyers are planning to use your firm for their purchase. Agreements and contracts are submitted and waiting to be finalized, or shopping carts are filled and awaiting payment confirmation. Once sales are finalized, post-purchase follow up is advised to ensure happy customers. Job is done, right? Not necessarily. Post-purchase evaluations will be a crucial time for your firm’s product or service. The larger the purchase, the greater your risk of buyer’s cognitive dissonance.
It is vital that your offerings meet their expectations as closely as possible. If you promised more than your service could fulfill, you risk receiving a bad review, losing a client, or gaining less clients in the future, among other negative actions. Follow up with buyers, send them a survey, offer a warranty, or simply call them and see how happy they are with the purchase. This can be a great time to correct a problem or to supply a greater level of confidence in your buyer’s decision to purchase from you.
KM&A is known for not just building strong business relationships, but for creating lasting personal relationships with those we do business with. We believe a personal approach style is needed to launch and maintain social pages, email campaigns and digital content that successfully fosters community, builds stronger relationships, passes along vital information and finally, generates unique sales through these efforts.