The consumer is in charge, and he has a power like never before!! This has caused a major shift in the entire art and science of marketing.
It is no longer acceptable to consumers of a company to simply tout its products or services. It is no longer acceptable for a marketing team to throw lots of direct sales campaigns against the wall and see what “sticks.” These things are expensive, and, in today’s environment, they fail.
Customers must be nurtured. They must understand the value of your product or service. They must believe that you want a relationship with them. They must believe that you can address their pain points and their needs – better than any of your competition.
Enter Sales Funnel Mapping!!
And this is where a sales funnel comes into play. Why? Because when you understand your customer, his pain points, his values, and how he makes purchasing decisions, you will have a key to how you get him to buy from you. By mapping a sales funnel for your business, you are not going to rely on “hunches” and what you think might work. You are going to rely on research and data, and use it to segment your customers and to meet their needs with the right messages at each point in their buying decision process.
So, how do you get that mapping accomplished? Here are the key steps you must take.
1. Get the Right User Persona
If you have been in marketing for any period of time, you have developed a customer persona. You have based this on current customers no doubt and probably some research about their demographics. But, in order to put your target audience into a sales funnel, indeed, even to create a sales funnel map, you have to dig much deeper. You need the following:
- Getting basic demographic information – knowing age range, gender, marital status, job/career information – is pretty easy to get. It comes from your current customers, but it can come from other sources as well.
- Identify the problems that your product or service will solve for your target customers. This may require some deeper research but the sources and the information are out there
- Other interests your target customers may have – lifestyles, hobbies, etc. This allows you to create content and tell stories that will be of interest to them.
- Where they hang out online – social media, influencers they follow, perhaps blogs they frequent, etc.
Where do you get all of this information?
From the following sources:
- Current customers and the information they provide on contact forms. But be careful. If you ask for too much information upfront, they are likely to be a bit suspicious and bounce. Better to get the information through surveys later on.
- Consumer insights from current customers. Holding conversations with them can be via surveys or questionnaires. Most will be willing to provide responses, and you can even offer a discount if they are willing.
- Use Google analytics to retrieve information on your current demographic – these will even include interests.
- Use Facebook Audience Insights and get the same types of information.
- Go into a few social media accounts of customers you currently have. Review the discussions they engage in and the posts they publish. You will gain a lot of customer insight here – their sense of humor, their values. What are the common denominators? This can drive the types, style, and tone of messages you create.
- If you have enough data about your demographic group, you can even contract with a data science service to run deep analysis, based upon questions you ask. This can reveal buying behaviors, needs, values, and even the times of the year when your product or service is most popular.
2. Start Segmenting Your Audience
You have customers, potential customers, long ago customers who are in all different places in their buying journey. And you need to develop different marketing messages for each of these segments. A loyal customer, for example, deserves a discount; a lead who is not yet a customer needs to know more about you and the value you can offer.
And this is how the mapping of the sales funnel begins
3. The Sales Funnel
There are definite stages through which all buyers go, and that is called a sales funnel. While the naming of each stage may differ, it is basically this:
- Customer identifies a problem or a need – awareness
- Customer looks for information to solve the problem through a product or a service – interest
- Customer looks at alternatives for the product or service and makes a decision to buy
- Customer makes a purchase and takes post-purchase actions
Consumers may move through these stages differently and certainly at different rates. Some, for example, are impulse buyers who will make a decision quickly. Others are far more considered, especially with large purchases, and may spend far more time in stages 2 and 3, looking for information and considering alternatives.
To accommodate all of the customers and targets at every stage and length of the stage will require what are now called “touchpoints.”
This is the “meat” of mapping a buyer journey. At each stage, there are marketing messages that will be most appropriate. So, a touchpoint might be an email to a subscriber who has just opted-in. A touchpoint might be a link to a page or a blog that provides information about a product. In short, a touchpoint is any type of interaction you have with a customer or a target at any point in the buying journey.
Here’s a typical example that you have probably experienced on your Facebook page.
Women over 50 become concerned with facial wrinkles and sagging skin, and a company sells a line of products to address this pain point. All of a sudden on such a woman’s Facebook feed appears the following post:
Note the “learn more” box – this will take the viewer to a landing page with detailed information about the product. This is a touchpoint for someone who has an awareness of a problem and is ready to begin to look at options for solutions. The company is going to provide one of those options and promote the value that it will bring, probably providing a video of someone using it, as well as content that speaks to ingredients, etc.
Your job is to come up with the right marketing messages at the right time. and this can certainly take some work. If you struggle with some of your message content, you can certainly outsource some of it to a company like Topessaywriting or find an experienced content provider on a freelance platform like Upwork.
Touchpoints can provide insights as to exactly where your potential customers are in their journey. For example, if a customer has accessed a landing page and looked at your prices, they may be ready to buy. If they don’t buy immediately, your next touchpoint will be a retargeting message, perhaps with an incentive – free shipping, a special discount if purchased in the next hour, etc.
5. Choosing the Right Platform for Your Audience
Again, if you have done the right research, you know where your audience hangs out online. As well, you have built an email list and have segmented that list according to their current places in the sales funnel. Now it’s time to determine where those touchpoint messages will be placed. Here are some key considerations:
- Social Media
Using social media will mean that you use the demographics of your target audience to message them where they are. Facebook probably has the widest range of demographics, but definitely an older audience. Over half of Snapchat users are 25 or younger. And both Facebook and Instagram allow you to target your audience by demographics.
Despite what you might hear, email remains a powerful touchpoint for marketing messages at any stage in a sales funnel. In fact, the ROI from email is this: for every $1 a marketer spends, there is an average $38 return – that’s powerful. Obviously, it must be done right. And here’s where segmentation really comes into play. You will have different email messages for each group in each stage of the marketing funnel.
Subject lines are critical if you are to get opens, and the content of the message itself must be engaging and compelling. Each email must contain one message and a call to action.
Content can be a great touchpoint, especially on landing pages and a blog, if you have ways to drive your customers to them. The content itself must be compelling, written simply, and include plenty of visuals. User-generated content can also be powerful and provide social proof – something that can motivate those who are in approaching or are in the decision stage of your funnel. Again, crafting this content can be tough, and writing services review sites are a good source. While many of them focus on the best research paper writing sites for students, they also assess such services for their creative copywriting departments.
- Using Influencers
This is a great touchpoint if you can nurture relationships with influencers whose following is your audience base. This is a longer-term activity because you need to nurture those relationships before you can ever approach an influencer with a proposal for featuring your product or service.
Remember – It’s All About the Customer
As you begin to implement customer journey mapping, you have to maintain a key mindset – it’s all about the customer, not about you. Your focus has to be on their needs, what engages them, and what they need from you to move down through that funnel. You have two tasks – collect the right data and then correctly put it to use, by crafting the right messages at the right times to a fully segmented audience. These five points should get you started.