Browse around here for ten or so minutes and we’ll hit you with a taste of truth, asking that you to wake up and challenge the marketing status quo.
And by “status quo” – we mean the marketing conversion funnel myth, the social salesman theory in business and the analytics software car salesman who sold you a VW bug with a Ferrari price tag – complete with matching emblem.
Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…if you rely on industry segments, demographics, lifestyles or past click behavior to segment and target your audience, you’ve already lost the battle for conversion in most cases. Why?
Because you have no idea where on the Conversion Ladder each person is standing – and while segmentation helps across the board, it’s useless if you can’t see which step the user is on when you start encouraging their climb to the top.
0. Experience the problems that you can solve and might notice the problem, but don’t yet consider it a real issue
1. Knows the problem, but no idea that a solution exists
2. Aware of solutions to the problem, but not yours
3. Know of your solution – but not sure it’s any better than the others
4. See the benefits of your solution, but not ready to convert
5. Conversion – think you’re solution or service is the best, and will likely buy it
6. Reward – why wouldn’t you reward the early buyer who makes the climb? Do you expect them NOT to share what’s at the top?
On average, the digital consumer goes through 5 or 6 steps of awareness – where #6 and #7 are not tactically in your area of execution. So how can you make sure their climb to the top is worth it? You reward them FOR Socializing the Campaign.
Social sharing and social login are nothing new to the modern era, even if you haven’t executed these game-changing tacti
So getting someone to share your boring product or service with friends and family – shouting your praise in public – requires more than just the placement of a few buttons in your design team’s build kit of non-fixes.
You reward them FOR Socializing the Campaign.
Social sharing and social login are nothing new to the modern era, even if you haven’t executed these game-changing tactics to enable the analytic storytelling that comes with them.
Merely getting someone to share your boring product or service with friends and family – shouting your praise in public – requires more than just the placement of a few buttons in your design team’s build kit of non-fixes.
The user needs an incentive…a reward. And this doesn’t stop in social media (i.e., incorrect butchering keyword of social networks – or publishing obnoxiously therein). As a modern marketer, it’s your job to know….
The Entire Web is “Social”
From emails and blogs, to review sites and social networks, even the worst search engines crawl social behavior daily. Whether you choose to have your brand in these discussions, they happen. And the longer they progress, the weaker your digital presence gets.
So get in the mix! Listen to the conversations and respond when you can help them. But in the beginning, mostly just listen…
- What is each user’s current level of awareness?
- What are they looking for RIGHT now?
- What are they open to hearing, seeing or receiving from us at this point?
- What will get the user’s attention?
- What next step can you invite them to take?
- What can you give them to help the next step upward worth their while?
In my friend’s case, the user has already opened a new account – but made no conversions. Nonetheless, conversations are happening in social media, email and across the web that can help his company see where they are on the ladder, and what should be done to either get users to the next step or keep them from jumping off.
For the sake of a good friend and respected peer whose line of questions inspired this post, let’s look at a product that is rather esoteric – and more difficult to specify these scenarios than most…shipping.
Namely, small business, micro-business and B2B startups who have opened an account – but haven’t shipped anything since doing so.
For each step on the Conversion Ladder, a solution exists – though not always in the order a traditional “marketing funnel” would have you erroneously believe.
Step 0: No Need to Ship
At this point in the user lifecycle, do nothing and say nothing. The only way to ensure failure with this persona MORE than ignoring them after this step is to intrusively spend ad dollars annoying the irrelevant and uninterested user.
Don’t worry…you’ll get back to reaching this one later on – with more conversion potential than you could have ever hoped to gain on your own.
Step 1: Aware of Need to Ship
The first thing you’ll want to do is target non-brand search keywords and #hashtags VERY HEAVILY – no competitive focus just yet. General “shipping” queries and localization are the battlegrounds in this stage.
- Optimize your on-page SEO keywords…use landing pages to focus one keyword per page – targeting problem areas with one solution
- Blog heavily on the issues – one post per customer pain point, then spread this educational content into info-heavy B2B social hubs like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora, or even Facebook and YouTube if you have the visual assets to support it
- Research reports and infographics are a good place to start with both neutrality and – if you’re capable of working it in… lead managment / nurturing.
- Messaging: Growing trend of Problem X in shipping, Acknowledge the economic pitfalls, and suggest there might be a solution – which brings the user to…
Step 2: Know that Solutions Exist
Here, the prospect is actively searching and reaching out to social networks for answers – across multiple touchpoints online. So your efforts in #2 need to have been well-executed to segue into the next phase of conversion tactics.
Keywords like “best freight shipping company” or “top overnight shipping” are the main SEO focus, which means they are also a good time to introduce content marketing via…
- List-style blog posts that specify the “top X” number of solutions for their shipping need
- Set up landing pages with forms for any and all case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, infographics or other asset matching the “top X” items in your blog / news articles / etc.
- Use social media to capture top-level interest via contests or sweepstakes, where opening a new account is all that’s required for entry – and social shares gives 5x daily entries
- Set up a forum where customer service has a place to field requests, discuss new innovations and ask for user feedback on any project redesign or development underway
Now that you’re on the competitive map, and in some cases leading the race…
Step 3: Know Solution, not Benefits
For the SEOs reading this, NOW you can pepper in the beloved brand name, which your URL should have covered. You may also want to try a social tool like Power Reviews or even surveys to ask what the user thinks of the product experience so far?
- Demo the product experience (s) from the program
- Hold a webinar to both capture leads, convert existing accounts
- Landing pages with directional cues to boost form conversions & new accounts
- Reward the early bird company switcher and the first-time shipper who choose your brand – rewards programs, discount, mobile app or other…
- Place share buttons after each conversion page (TY page), transactional emails, etc.
- Reward those who share and bring in new accounts via “Share and Save” program
Step 4: The Finish Line
Responsive design, web usability, readability and a seamless user experience will be the way to minimize churn rate now that steps 1-5 have boosted the new accounts coming into the program.
- Social integration –> Be sure NOT to distract conversion, but ALWAYS have social sharing available post-click and in the confirmation emails, SMS or thank you pages
- “Share and Save” can be activated here if you haven’t already in Step 4 – as it could fit into…
- Rewards Program integration – treat each sharer as an affiliate with their own link, and reward them at every turn
- Open a user-generated forum to give customers access to your product development plans
- Continue to develop more personalized landing experiences, share-bait content and education – soft “try it free” or “compare” pricing widgets, visuals, etc. with Ship CTA button staying in same location every page – NOT in the way of the content
- DO NOT SAY “SHIP NOW” EVERYWHERE! They will ship as long as you don’t blow this one…
Once the user moves into conversion and loyalty, your Step #0 user will take notice via social proof – and the advantage is multiplied exponentially as the campaign progresses – and the competition fades.
What are your thoughts on testing out the unfunnel Conversion Ladder?