Today your business website is more than just a marketing asset. It’s a sales tool.
But the way a consumer behaves while shopping your website is much different than how they behave in a physical store. Online, you need to build your website and digital marketing strategy around the online conversion funnel. When using your website as a sales tool or for lead generation you need to understand how to build content assets tailored to each individual section of the funnel. That way, you’ll reach your maximum audience using a trusted system.
Join me in tackling the online conversion funnel, as we figure out how to build content geared specifically toward each individual phase.
Related Post: Ultimate List of OnlineConversion Tools
What Is The Online Conversion Funnel?
The online Conversion funnel is your ideal customer’s optimal path to completing a designated goal.
The purpose of a conversion funnel is to nurture prospects into leads, gaining customers and repeat buyers. “Funneling” potential customers through a sales process isn’t a new concept, but has been slighted over the years thanks to the rise in Internet stores. You need to understand the four main groups of the online conversion funnel.
AIDA is an old marketing concept, describing how customer relationships are built. The online conversion funnel follows the same framework, and by using designated content marketing tactics, you will keep current and future buyers from “spilling” out of your sales process and falling into someone else’s.
Here’s an example of an ideal path to conversion for a SnapAgency.com visitor:
Google “SEO help” >
Visit Snap blog, build awareness >
Convert on sidebar CTA >
Click through whitepaper, build trust >
Navigate to Product/Service pages >
Click through to site case study, build desire >
Request newsletter >
Receive free SEO tips email >
Download ebook >
Receive discount offer on services within ebook content >
Use offer, becomes customer
The online conversion funnel has 4 stages: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action – or, AIDA as I mentioned above. It’s important to know how to write website content for each stage, as there are specific ways you’ll be speaking to the visitor to keep them going through your funnel.
The first stage of your online conversion funnel is Awareness.
This is where your prospect first learns of your brand. But how do you reach someone who isn’t necessarily looking for you? Smart content marketers know that consumer culture has changed. Independent research – and purchasing in general – has become extremely easy without the help of a salesman. Online ratings give power to well-liked and dependable products and services, while reviews provide first-hand customer insight that a salesman would likely never divulge.
To see success within this stage of the funnel is often difficult, as you’re competing with virtually any competitor in our industry, but if planned right will be your most valuable phase.
This is where your new brand, service and/or product makes it or breaks it. And producing Awareness-focused content plays a huge part. What’s the most important element to be successful in this stage, perhaps? Time.
As the widest funnel stage, your content shouldn’t focus on your solutions, but on the visitors needs. For example, drill down into the insight your business has and feature a write-up detailing the “insider’s secrets to [broad subject]” in your blog. While the article is a perfect fit for this stage of the funnel, the task isn’t important, it’s what you do with the end result. So how do you make them aware of your content?
Conducting content marketing in this stage of the funnel requires some creative thinking and outsider help. To find out how to reach your specific online audience, you need to know what they’re searching for. This requires in-depth keyword research, a pillar of any content strategy. Conducting keyword research doesn’t just provide a wealth of top-of-funnel ideas, it gives you search volume on the keywords letting you know what the consumer thinks is important.
To be successful in the Awareness stage, your content should reflect high volume, low competition keywords that have the best chance of ranking you high in search engines. Boosting awareness requires some SEO savviness as you need to be at the top of the SERPs. The first 5 results have a 50% more chance of increase your organic search traffic, meaning you’re 50% more likely to make a sale if you rank that high. Also, always have your ecommerce SEO best practices in mind – a 250 word blog post is useless. Push your word count up into the thousands and for humanity’s sake – add some images.
Let’s say you’re trying to build awareness for a new ultrasound product for your ecommerce healthcare store. There’s already a lot of competition in the ultrasound market, so products won’t fly off the warehouse shelves immediately. After conducting keyword research, you’ve found some promising terms that are low competition and topically-broad. You’ve settled on a few keywords in the vein of “best ultrasound machine.”
Using your insight, write an in-depth article titled something like, “The Best Ultrasound Machines Revealed By Medical Experts.” Okay, maybe that’s a little clickbait-y, but you get the idea: provide facts, statistics, interviews–anything that only your brand has, and say it with meaning. In this stage, the buyer is simply searching all available ultrasound options, and will take into account reputation. Make sure you’re using the best keyword density, as well.
When a healthcare provider decides it’s time to buy a new ultrasound machine, will they trust the brand they found on their favorite healthcare blog? Or one that ranks page 7? The wider your brand awareness is, the more likely that a consumer or supporter will reference your article or website within their content. In turn, this increases your search engine value (through linkbuilding, a.k.a awareness) and will rank you higher towards the top. And with the right combo of high-quality content pieces and enough time, you’ll hit the top 5 and links will grow exponentially. That’s how awareness skyrockets – and it all starts with making yourself visible online.
When content marketing for the Awareness stage of your online funnel, there are several ways to rank in organic search. Awareness assets include:
- “Free!!!” content
- Blog articles
- Statistic overviews
- Social posts
- Tips + trick sheets
Next in the online conversion funnel is Interest.
You’ve built in-depth content based around solid keyword research. After a few weeks, you’ve seen a modest boost in website traffic, but a huge bounce rate. How do you keep people on your site and interacting with your brand?
Pique their interest.
What content do you need that will further nurture the prospect who has recently become aware of your brand? How will you connect the bridge between education and product/service? In the second stage of your funnel, prospects have been (or are currently in the process of being) exposed to your brand strategy, and now it’s time for you to take advantage of their undivided attention.
There are plenty of ways to make a consumer interested, and in my opinion the best way is offering free stuff. Everyone loves free stuff.
While there are certainly in-depth content opportunities here, the Interest stage is quite a bit lighter than the Awareness stage. That’s because people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold anything. So you only have their attention for mere seconds if you want to sell them on your brand. They won’t hesitate to take that free article, playing you like a fool, and hop in bed with the next search result over.
Putting visitors through the Interest phase can be – and in most cases should be – as simple as placing a call-to-action at the bottom of your web pages.
Let’s say you’ve finished and posted your article on “The Best Ultrasound Machines,” and now want to boost in the interest in your health care product online. At the end of your article, include a call-to-action motivating the reader to continue into another part of your site. Exclaim, “Free Ultrasound Report!” at the bottom of the page – Remember, if they’ve made it all the way to the end of the article, they’re finding use with your information and are much more likely to continue interacting your brand. Take advantage.
By offering a free report of top-performing ultrasound machines, you’ve captured their interest. And with the form you’ve created for them to fill out in order to receive the gel, you can score some contact information to maintain communication.
Creating in-depth, broadly-focused content for your highest funnel stage and adding an element of Interest is your best chance at capturing leads and nurturing them into the next stage of the funnel. Other Interest assets include:
- Contact forms
- Free trials
- Free samples
- Contest entry
- Relative content
- Email touches
- Free reports
Third up in the online conversion funnel is Desire.
Now it’s time to separate the big dogs from the pups. You need to transform your brand, service or product from interesting into desirable. To get the customer to desire you, you must solve their problem. That’s the reason they’re shopping anyways, right? They have a problem and are looking for the solution in the form of a service or product.
But, this is a difficult stage. One that’s in limbo, stuck between interest and action. Sometimes it’s easy to get a customer to convert when they desire a product, but sometimes it’s challenging. Instead of moving directly to purchase, they’ll put it in the “Wish List” category, or bookmark it and sleep on the decision, possibly coming back and buying – possibly going with a competitor, or possibly not purchasing at all.
This is where the really brand-personal content performs the best. Anything from a case study, to a customer review on Amazon, to an advertisement retargeting your product to a recent site visitor on Facebook can come into play in this stage. It’s all about “guided” trial and error. The nuances of analytics play a huge role here, which is why it’s important to have a analytics guru leading your content strategy, monitoring visitor’s path to purchase.
Let’s say your analytics person sees that your CTA “Free Ultrasound Report” is getting a lot of traffic and generating shares and likes on the Texas Healthcare Professionals Facebook profile. With this information, the strategy side can tell the copywriters to build content making targeting the health care professionals in Texas. A Facebook ad geo9.-+targeting these individuals with a coupon would be a solid idea. Another way you could grab their attention is research niche forums that they may be active on. Create an account, and as an ‘expert’ start posting solutions to queries put forth by forum users, using website content as support.
Other types of Desire content include:
- Image of product in use
- Product descriptions
- Product demonstrations
- Guest blogging
- Press releases
- Forum postings
- Adword targeting
- Social targeting
- Retargeting ads
The final and most satisfying phase of the conversion funnel is Action.
This is what it’s all about. This is for the whole enchilada – the whole kit n’ caboodle, so to speak. This is why you’re in it: to have the consumer act upon the brand you’ve built.
Throughout the conversion funnel, your prospective buyer has most likely taken an action, whether it be clicking on a CTA or filling out a form, but you don’t want just a slice of the pie – you want the whole thing. As the funnel gets down to this level, it starts shrinking in width. This may seem alarming, considering you started at the top with 95% of visitors going on to a next step, while maybe only 2-3% actually get through to Action step, but it shouldn’t be. It’s cheap and fun to desire a product, while only a handful of people will end up actually spending their money.
That’s fine though; you don’t need every person on the Internet to buy from you in order to build or maintain great business. You just need enough. As long as you’re around another day to improve your online conversion funnel, you’ll slowly start to see improvements in sales.
Using the help of analytics, find the weak points, or “exit points” in your funnel. Where and why are people hopping out of your content and onto others? Similarly, what is your return customer rate, and how are you ensuring customer satisfaction after they’ve completed your sales process?
Brainstorm other funnel opportunities, and if you’re scratching your heads, it may be time to update your product line, or offer a new service.
Online Conversion Funnel In Conclusion
So, now it’s your turn to put this into action. Take the time to discover the path to purchase of your ideal customer buckets, and how your website will market to them directly. Tailoring the conversation towards which ever brand, product or service you want to to sell requires a tried and trusted method. Improve your marketing efforts with the AIDA system and watch as your website goes from a simple sideshow to the mainstage.