This session will cover digital marketing and how to create a conversion funnel to help your strategic marketing and advertising efforts drive engagement and sales. Digital marketing refers to marketing and advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, social media, websites, email, and mobile apps. Businesses can connect with current and prospective customers through these channels. With the already popular and even increasingly popular usage of the internet, consumers heavily rely on digital means to discover and research products and services. As a business owner today, it is imperative to involve yourself with some forms of digital marketing in order to reach your customers. You won’t learn all you need to know here. Instead, you will learn the basics and mechanics of putting together a digital marketing strategy, which will give you the tools and knowledge to create your own.
- Digital Marketing Overview
- Before You Start
- Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy with a Funnel
- Why is a Digital Marketing Funnel Important for Your Business?
- How Do I Create a Funnel?
- The Best Digital Marketing Activities for Each Stage of the Funnel
- Digital Marketing Funnel Stage One: Awareness
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social Media to Build Awareness
- Social Media Paid Advertising
- Content Creation
- Digital Marketing Funnel Stage Two: Discovery
- Email Marketing: Building an email list
- Email Marketing: A/B Testing
- Social Media: Engagement
- Content Creation for the Discovery Stage: Problem and Solution
- Digital Marketing Funnel Stage Three: Consideration
- Email Marketing Automation: Creating a Welcome Series Campaign
- SEO for the Middle of the Funnel
- Retargeting Ads
- Creating Content for the Consideration Phase
- Digital Marketing Funnel Stage Four: Conversion
- Custom Campaigns
- Email: Abandoned Cart and Segmentation
- SEO for the Bottom of the Funnel
- Smart Tactics Checklist for Bottom Funnel
- Digital Marketing Funnel Stage Five: Customer Relationship
- Email: Post Purchase Drip Campaign
- Customer Reviews
- Digital Marketing Funnel in Action
- Funnel in Action
- Top Ten Do's and Don'ts
Before You Start
Consider reviewing these relevant MOBI course sessions before diving in:
- For an overview on online communication tools, please see Communication Tools in the Starting a Business course.
- Our bonus session within the Quick Start Entrepreneur course, Selling, provides a good basis for understanding and developing the mechanics of a sales strategy and developing your sales script. Here, we dive into the digital world of sales.
What is Digital Marketing?
As mentioned, digital marketing refers to marketing and advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, social media, websites, email, and mobile apps. Traditional marketing includes print ads, phone communication, or physical marketing. Refer to the Marketing session in the Starting a Business course for an introduction on marketing. With digital marketing, there are more possibilities to reach customers electronically and online.
There are several types of digital marketing, such as those listed below. We will discuss how to look at your customer’s buying journey at a high level by creating a digital marketing funnel before getting into the details of specific digital marketing activities
Types of Digital Marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Native Advertising
- Marketing Automation
- Email Marketing
- Online PR
- Inbound Marketing
- Sponsored Content
Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy with a Funnel
The digital marketing funnel, or conversion funnel, is a strategic model that represents the entire buying journey of the customer. It begins the moment someone learns about your brand and continues until the moment they become paying customers. Not only does a digital marketing funnel help you plan what marketing activities are needed to move the prospect closer to a purchase, or conversion, it also helps with allocating money when considering advertising campaigns and additional resources. You can also use the conversion funnel to help you improve customer retention or loyalty, increase sales by “upselling," or suggesting new or complementary products for customers already in the sales process, and build an overall stronger relationship between customers and your brand.
There are five stages of a digital marketing or conversion funnel:
- Customer Relationship and Retention
To understand the flow of a conversion funnel, we look at an example of a buyer’s journey below. The stage of the funnel that corresponds with the buyer’s activity is included in parentheses.
Scenario: Sarah needs to buy a unique gift for her mom’s birthday.
Sarah realizes her mom’s birthday is approaching and wants to give her something unique. (Awareness)
Sarah uses Google.com to search or query the phrase “best personalized gifts” for ideas. (Awareness)
Sarah reads a blog she finds about types of gifts that can be personalized through engraving or printing, and wonders what item her mom would like. (Awareness)
Sarah uses Google.com to search “best personalized gifts for mom,” and reads another blog that appeared in the search results. She realizes the types of gifts she wants need to be ordered soon in order to have it on time. (Discovery)
Sarah asks her friends on Facebook for recommendations. (Discovery)
Sarah takes the recommendations and uses Google to search for each of the products and their respective company’s reviews, services, and hours. (Discovery)
Sarah narrows down her choices and uses Facebook to ask her friend network if they have used these products or if they have other recommendations. (Consideration)
While continuing her search activities on Google, Sarah sees an ad at the top of the search results for one of the companies of a product that her neighbor recommended. (Consideration)
Sarah clicks the ad and engages with a website chatbox to ask some specific questions. She books a virtual shopping appointment in under a minute, and ends up making a purchase. (Conversion)
After she receives her new engraved charm and necklace, Sarah raves on her social media accounts and to friends about how helpful, professional, and respectful the sales associates were. Simultaneously, she receives an email from the company she purchased from asking to leave a review on Google. She leaves a rave review. (Customer Relationship)
A short time later Sarah wants to buy something nice for her husband for their anniversary. Sarah saw a blog on Facebook about anniversary gifts. She receives an email newsletter from the company she purchased the engraved charm from about new men’s engravable wallets. She clicks on the special and follows a shortened loop to purchase her second item from the same company. (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, and Customer Relationship and Retention)
Why is a Digital Marketing Funnel Important for Your Business?
Your digital marketing funnel is a guide for how you can allocate your time and resources towards marketing and decide which marketing activities to pursue, for the ultimate goal of gaining customers who make purchases. This is also known as converting prospects into sales. In creating your funnel, you’ll become even more familiar with your target audience and how to reach them in each step of the buying journey. Think of it as an exercise to better understand your customer while formulating an effective sales strategy.
Once you’ve created a funnel, keep it up and assess how each step and respective activities are doing. You may find that certain activities are playing a big role in conversions (converting prospects into paying customers). When you make discoveries like this, you can take action by putting more resources into the relevant activities.
For instance, your research might indicate that social media — specifically Facebook — plays a tremendous role in conversions because a large group of your followers pays attention to your posts about discounts and promotions. With this information, you can plan accordingly and put more effort into your Facebook content and strategic advertising of your posts.
Digital marketing is an ongoing process that is always evolving. It is good practice to build your funnel to develop a strategy with clear targets in mind, which can be refined as you take note of what’s working and what’s not.
How Do I Create a Funnel?
Structure the funnel by first defining the steps a buyer would take to make a purchase. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how they would go about finding the information they need to discover a product or service like yours. A good place to start is to list the problem they are having and the first thoughts or actions they would take to find a solution.
Continue that customer's journey until you get to a purchase or conversion. Consider using the example given above as a template.
With your funnel established, you can then decide which digital marketing activities will help generate traffic (i.e. attract or retain customers) in each stage.
The Best Digital Marketing Activities for Each Stage of the Funnel
In the following sections we will cover the stages of the funnel in greater detail and digital marketing activities you could do for each of them.
Your digital marketing conversion funnel always starts with the Awareness stage. The key to connecting with potential customers at this stage of the funnel is simple: make them aware of your business, your products or services, and the benefits you offer. You can increase awareness through digital marketing activities such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media engagement, social media paid advertising, and content creation. Here is more about each of these.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
On average, there are about 75,000 searches per second on Google.com. This provides an opportunity for your business to be seen in search results and build Awareness. The order products, services, and business are listed in search results is important too, because those listed first, or even on the first page, are seen by more users. A good way to increase your visibility and “rank” in search results is through search engine optimization (SEO).
As the term suggests search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to optimize your website to be more visible or discoverable by search engines as they comb the internet looking for information to best match queries users type in the search fields. SEO is therefore a method of getting your website pages to rank higher in search engines, or to appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Traffic to your website that comes through SEO is referred to as “organic search traffic,” or sometimes called “natural search.” These are unpaid search results. We will discuss two ways to improve your website’s SEO: keywords and link building.
As we’ve discussed, users enter a search term (query) on a search engine, such as Google.com, which then displays a results page where websites are listed. Technically speaking, “queries” are the actual words that users type into the search box of a search engine to find results, and “keywords” are what marketers or business owners use on their websites to target these users. By understanding what your customers are likely to query, you can use keywords in your marketing and your website to best match the queries.
Thinking of the above example, if you sell engraved charms, you know that people (like Sarah) often buy engraved jewelry as gifts for others. These customers might search terms like “personalized gifts” rather than “engraved jewelry” or “charms.” Therefore, when you create your website, you will be sure to use the words “personalized gifts” on your pages (in addition to jewelry, engraved jewelry, charms, or other words you choose) in order to attract the attention of search engines looking for these words. It is important to identify keywords that will match customer queries and help your website rank higher on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
The most obvious keywords that you may come up with may also come with a lot of competition. For example, if you are in the business of tree trimming, you may find that “tree trimming” or “tree service” may be competitive keywords since other competitors would also think of those as keywords for their business. It may be difficult to achieve a high rank with words that are very competitive.
Using longer and more specific phrases that visitors are likely to use when they are serious about purchasing or hiring, called “long-tail keywords” can help you improve SEO for your business when keywords are competitive. For example, “tree trimming service Santa Clara” (or your location) would be a long-tail keyword since it is five words long. From the above example, you’ll remember Sarah changed her search to “best personalized gifts for mom” when she had moved to the Discovery stage. Long-tail keywords typically have a 3-5% higher click rate than generic searches. Furthermore, voice-searching has made long-tail keywords more common as well. Through smartphones people are able to browse and search using a voice feature (called voice-search), speaking into the phone microphone which picks up the words and types them into the search application automatically. People usually voice-search with more than two words, giving business owners even more reason to leverage long-tail keywords.
Consider using your location in your keywords, as this typically narrows down a potential customer’s search criteria as well.
In addition to using your keyword(s) throughout your web pages, it’s a good idea to also use it in your title tag. The title tag for your website is the wording displayed just below your URL in a search results page. For example, in a quick search for “personalized gifts,” the following examples were displayed. The words in blue just below the URLs are the title tags for their respective websites. As you can see, you want the title tag to be descriptive, yet short enough so the full content is displayed.
As with many things, moderation is key when it comes to keywords. Search engines are smart and they can detect if you over use terms just to boost SEO. So use keywords where and when they make sense, but don’t overdo it.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. It helps drive referral traffic to your website and increase your site’s authority because links signal to Google that your website is a quality resource. Websites with more referring sites/domains linking to a credible web page tend to earn higher organic search rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Some simple strategies to get other sites to link to you:
- Content creation and promotion
- Create high quality content that people will naturally want to reference and link to, and spread the word! Some examples include creating a comprehensive how-to guide or free downloadable template. When these assets are discovered by content writers from other websites, you have a higher chance of them referring to your website.
- Reviews and mentions
- Put your product, service, or website in front of influencers in your industry, such as popular bloggers or people with a large social media following.
- Links from friends and partners
- Ask people you know to link to your website. However, keep in mind that relevant links matter. Links that are in the same general industry or niche as your website will have more value than links from random, unrelated sites.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing (SEM) is similar in concept to SEO, however, SEM uses paid advertising to increase your search rankings and ensure that your business's products or services are visible in the search results. These are the ads that show up at the top of the SERPs. This type of paid advertising is also known as pay-per-click (PPC) or also referred to as “paid search." PPC is one of the most efficient ways of quickly increasing your website’s traffic. According to Google, for every $1 spent on Google Ads, businesses earn an average revenue of $2.
How paid search works: choose a keyword or keywords that you would like to use and determine a budget. (Remember keywords can be phrases as well.) Then, whenever there is an ad spot on a particular SERP for a search related to your keyword, an auction takes place for that keyword. Depending on the bid amount and quality of the ad, determined by the search engine, the winner will appear in the top position. If your ad appears and someone clicks on it, you pay for each click. Some popular keywords can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to do some research first.
Be aware that some paid marketing opportunities incur expense on an ongoing basis, such as when someone clicks on your ad. So you want to make sure you check your ad settings before you launch your campaign. Make sure you set a time of when you want your campaign to end and the amount you want to spend per day.
The goal of your PPC ad is to lead the person viewing it to click on it, which leads them to a web page or app, where that visitor can complete an action (aligned with your goal), such as purchasing a product.
Social Media to Build Awareness
Social media is important when it comes to increasing awareness of your business and connecting with your target audience. It is not enough to simply post a piece of content and forget about it. You’ll want to build a community on your social channels and be there for your followers when they need you.
Social media channels—specifically Facebook, Nextdoor, Instagram, and YouTube—are great platforms for your company to generate awareness because those are typically where your audience goes to find information about your business or what they are looking for. It is a good idea to use social platforms to share links and content, and engage with your audience (such as “likes” and comments) on your posts. These activities increase brand exposure and can add up to even influence search engine optimization.
While social media does not directly contribute to SEO, when more people share, like, or comment on your social media posts, this generates social signals that indicate your posts are useful to your target audience. These are vital signals which Google and other search engines use to rank your website. This stresses the importance of creating great content that resonates with your audience and compels them to engage.
The best part about marketing yourself on social media is that it's inexpensive to get started, and you can have a lot of fun with it. This is your chance to show off your brand, show off your products and services, and develop a cohesive brand message.
Social Media Paid Advertising
Similar to paid search with Google Ads (or any other paid advertising on search browsers), social media paid advertising is when you pay to promote content on your social media platforms to increase engagement, followers, or website traffic. Popular platforms to advertise on are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok. Other related platforms are YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
You’ll want to identify which platform would be best fit to capture the attention of your target customer. This is to ensure your ad spending is effective and your money won’t go to waste! To determine this, you could create a relevant customer survey and invite several people to take it, or test organic (non-paid) content, like photos and videos, on each platform and see which platform sends the most traffic to your site or receives the most engagement. Both ideas could provide insight into where your target customers are online, and therefore good places to display your ads.
Using social media paid advertising in the Awareness stage is a great way to increase the opportunity to reach more people and for them to become aware of your product or service.
During the Awareness stage, your goal is to produce content that captures the attention of users. As stressed previously, good content increases your chances of attracting people in your target audience.
If you have a blog, focus on topics directed to people who don’t know your business or how you can offer a solution to some of their problems.
Types of Content that work well in the Awareness stage:
- Educational video
- Pros and cons list
- Social media updates
You’ll want to keep your content fresh, so it is good practice to update your content each year. Also, keeping in check with your SEO, ensure that your keywords are relevant and if there are any new internal or external links to new content that can improve the reader’s experience. Remove outdated links, old visuals or out of date statistics. Another tip is to update the publish date, as search engines generally pull more recent content then something that is older.
In the Awareness stage the objective was to make your prospective customer aware of your business. In the Discovery stage you’ll want the prospective customer to learn more about you, and discover and become more interested in your products, services, and solutions. Email marketing is one of the best tools during the Discovery stage, in addition to social media engagement and content creation. We discuss each here.
Email Marketing: Building an Email List
Your efforts in the Awareness stage have led potential customers to your website or social media pages where they have learned you exist. However, at this time they may not be ready to make a purchase yet and instead just want to learn more about your product or service.
One of the most successful channels to convert prospects to paying customers is email. When someone subscribes to your email list, it gives you a chance to share more information about your business through an email or newsletter. You can share more about how your products work through tutorials, or notify them of promotions on your website — to name a few ideas.
When managing and writing the emails that you send to subscribers, the below are a couple examples of free email service providers (ESPs) that are worth considering:
Having a list of subscribers to send your emails to is just as important as the emails themselves. One of the best ways to build your email list is to include a simple email signup form on your website. This can be done using one of the ESPs above or through other services. This form can be as simple as including just a visitor’s first name and email address.
Types of email subscribe forms
Single Field Form: A simple form for the purpose of submitting email only, but can also have a field for “first name” along with “email address."
Pop-up Form: A form that appears as a dialog window box when a visitor lands on your website. You can set a timer (i.e. five seconds) for how long the form will appear before providing an option to close out of the pop-up. A high converting strategy using this type of form is to offer an introductory discount when a visitor subscribes to your list. For example: “Subscribe and receive 15% off your first order!”
“Get to Know You” Form: These types of forms ask for more than the visitor’s email. You may want to know more about your visitors interests, their birthday, or type of products they are interested in, or include a “message” area in the form where users can type in a few sentences.
Email Marketing: A/B Testing
Now that you have started growing your email list, you may be sending emails as newsletters, announcements, or general information to your subscribers. One important step to take at this point is to look back at the performance of your emails. Two metrics to determine the effectiveness of your email efforts are “open rate” and “click through rate” — meaning, the percentage of people who have received your email and opened it, and the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email, respectively.
One way to improve these metrics is through A/B testing.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a process of showing two versions of the same email to different segments of website visitors at the same time, with the goal of comparing which version drives more conversions. A/B testing in email marketing is one of the most important ways to optimize your funnel.
What can you test in your email campaign?
- Subject lines
- Preview text
- Written content
When testing, you’ll want to test one item at a time. For instance, you may test two different subject lines to see which version was opened more times. In this case, everything else in your two emails would be identical except for the subject lines. Isolating what you are testing gives you a better idea of which ones are performing better.
Most email service providers (ESP) such as Mailchimp or MooSend provide you with A/B testing features, so consider looking into this as you are building your email list and creating emails to send to your subscribers.
Social Media Engagement
The importance of social media engagement
A common misconception about measuring the success of your social media efforts is that the most important metric is the number of people following your social media accounts. On the contrary, what’s actually more important is the level of engagement with your accounts. You can have one million followers yet only 1% engagement, showing that people are not connecting to or interested in what you are posting. On the other hand, if you have 1,000 followers and 40% engagement, this means you have 400 people actively taking an interest in your post content.
Engagement on social media is defined by the actions people take per post. They can interact or engage with your post by simply hitting the “like” button. Other examples of engagement are leaving comments, clicking on an image to expand it, clicking “read more,” or clicking a link in your post caption. Followers who take the extra step to engage with your content show that they have taken an interest in your business.
A simple way to track your engagement on social media is with the formula below:
- Total Engagement refers to the number of interactions viewers make with your account. This includes the sum of comments and likes on a post. (Likes + Comments)
- Total Followers refers to the total number of individuals that are following your account/page/etc.
Total engagement is calculated differently depending on the platform. For example:
- Total engagement on Facebook would be comprised of the total amount of shares, likes, reactions, and comments
- Total engagement on Instagram would be comprised of the total amount of likes and comments
How Do I Increase Social Media Engagement?
The first step to increasing engagement rate is to create great content. Content consists of videos, photos, tutorials, giveaways, or blogs. Your audience should feel like they learned something new or felt inspired by your content.
Observe your social media analytics on specific posts and how they compare with other content ideas. See what your audience is responding to by their likes, comments and clicks.
If you are unsure of what kind of content to create, you could start collecting ideas through a survey or interview with people from your target audience. Listening to your target audience can provide insight into what they are interested in and how what you offer can fit into those interests. You could also see what type of content your competitors are creating for reference and ideas, and see how you can make your content better.
Content Creation for the Discovery Stage: Problem and Solution
We have previously mentioned the importance of creating good content. In the Discovery stage, it is good practice to structure the content around presenting a problem and offering a solution.
You can create a mix of content types that will spark interest in your product and help you stand out against your competition. Below are the four categories of content to consider:
- Convince - Convincing a potential customer that your product will serve their needs.
- Inspire - People use social media to get inspiration or escape the day-to-day. Mixing in inspirational content can leave your visitor feeling motivated or intrigued.
- Educate - Providing information on how your products work and can be used. These could be in the form of quick tutorials, for example.
- Entertainment - Ways you can make your target audience smile or feel joy.
These different content types and the problem/solution exercise can be used for all online channels such as social media, your website, blog posts, or online advertisements.
Below is a chart to help formulate these ideas, with examples from a fake company called “Sugar & Dough” that makes and sells cookies and cupcakes. These are basic ideas just to show the concepts we’ve discussed. Feel free to use the provided MOBI Content Creation Worksheet to help document and expand on your ideas.
List Customer Problems
List how your product provides a solution
Customer needs a dessert to serve at a birthday party, but needs gluten free options
Sugar & Dough sells party platters for celebrations with options to add gluten free flavors.
Social media photo showing two cupcakes on separate tiers with a clearly labeled sign for “Gluten Free” on one of the towers. Show tagline “Cupcakes for All!”
Customer wants a custom design on their dessert but the bakeries they know of don’t do custom designs
Sugar & Dough creates custom decorations for cookies and cakes.
Share a customer testimonial/experience with photos on the blog.
Customer wants to present the dessert in a nice way at their event but doesn’t know how to do it
Sugar & Dough has tips on how to create beautiful presentations of cupcakes.
Create a step-by-step guide through video and share on social media. Theme: “How to create that ‘wow’ factor”
Customer is looking for a kids birthday dessert other than a large cake
Sugar & Dough desserts are all about enjoyment and celebrations. Kids love cupcakes.
Showcase a humorous photo involving a cupcake - such as a pet with a birthday cone on its head and your cupcake in front of it
Your ultimate goal with “top of the funnel” marketing (Awareness and Discovery) is to capture your users’ attention enough to send prospects down the funnel to the Consideration stage, where the first signs of purchase intent surface.
Once your target customer is aware of your business they move into the Consideration stage. At this stage, it is important to stand out from your direct competitors and become a serious consideration for potential customers.
In this section we’ll cover four activities that will help turn a potential customer into a paying customer.
Email Marketing Automation: Creating a Welcome Series Campaign
In the Discovery stage we discussed how including a signup form for your newsletter will help build your email list.
An effective strategy to “convert” new subscribers and send them to a further stage in the funnel is to send them through a welcome email series. This is a series of emails (also known as a drip campaign) that are automated, or scheduled, on specific days after the initial sign up. The purpose of the email series is to send information or details about your product or service to help the customer make a decision.
These automated, scheduled emails are referred to as Email Automation. This tactic gives you the ability to send time- or action-triggered emails to subscribers with relevant information.
In a welcome series email campaign the “trigger,” or activity that starts the automation, is when someone subscribes. This subscriber will immediately be sent a welcome email followed by 3-5 scheduled emails, each offering different information about your business.
You can set up your welcome series email campaign through your email service provider (Mailchimp or MooSend). Most simple automation email features are covered in their basic plans.
SEO for the Middle of the Funnel
We discussed the basics of SEO in the Awareness section. Now that your potential customer has traveled to the middle of the funnel, we will discuss activities to optimize your search rankings even further.
Having an active blog, meaning one to two blog posts per week, can help bring more traffic to your site. This is because the more you can include relevant words and information on your website (such as through your blog posts), the more likely you are to appear in search results. At this stage of the funnel, customers are looking for more specific information. You’ll want to further appear in search results and establish yourself as an expert in your field to enter into the customer’s consideration set.
One to two blog posts per week might sound like a lot of content and writing, but the blogs don’t have to be very long. Even 300-600 words can provide useful, interesting information about a topic. Visitors may skim a post to decide if they want to read it. So keeping it short, adding images or photos, and organizing information into bullets or paragraphs with titles, can all help make your blog more appealing.
One useful way to find inspiration on what to write about would be to create a list of questions (relevant to your business) that your customers might type into a search engine.
A few examples might be: How do I redecorate an office? How do I plan a kid’s birthday party? What supplies do I need to go camping? You can even notice what other questions appear in your search pages when you enter these queries. You might get more ideas for your posts.
After creating your list of questions, you can answer each one in a blog post format. And there you go! You have multiple blog posts to share on your website, which will be more likely to come up when a customer searches for relevant topics. Consider inviting others to provide “guests posts” on topics you have identified to help you produce new content. You can create requirements or guidelines to ensure guest posts align with your brand, message, and strategy.
When you go to write your blog posts for your website, always check to ensure that the mobile format of your posts looks legible and offers a good user experience. This especially applies to the font size - if not optimized for mobile devices, the font could appear so tiny on what is already a small screen, that a user wouldn’t be able to read your blog post! Many website builders already have a mobile-friendly view built into the builder. Consider viewing the Ecommerce session in the Starting a Business course, which covers relevant information on building your website.
Customer reviews are important in the Consideration stage. Approximately 92% of online consumers read them, and 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. People often shop based on other people’s experiences, and are more likely to consider using your products or services knowing someone else had a good experience. Not only does this stress good customer service where people want to write a good review about you, the more (and better) reviews you have, the more likely you are to rank higher in search rankings, thus improving your SEO.
To get customer reviews, the best way is to simply ask. Get in the habit of asking all your customers to post a review about your product, service, or business and let them know where. For example, what platforms do your customers use most? If you have a house cleaning business, you might ask your customers to post reviews on Nextdoor or Yelp. You could offer “10% off next service” as a thank you for the post.
A similar concept to reviews is “social proof," which is achieved through positive engagements on social media. Social proof can include likes, comments, or engagement on your posts, or unofficial endorsements through experts, influencers, or followers. Consumers who discover businesses on social media look at the level of engagement by other people to validate their decision to make a purchase. Having a strong social media presence and staying active through content and partnerships with influencers and experts can help increase your social proof.
In your store or on your business cards, include your social listings and invite people to follow you. You could even provide discounts for social engagement. For example, perhaps you could offer 5% off your order for a “like” on Instagram.
Many of us have had the experience of browsing for something on a website (a pair of sneakers perhaps), then going to another, unrelated website and seeing an ad for the very sneakers we had been browsing. This is an example of retargeting. Retargeting ads (also known as remarketing ads) are advertisements that allow you to reconnect with people who have already interacted with your business in some way. If you set up paid search as discussed in the SEM section during the Awareness stage, the Consideration stage is where you would apply retargeting of those ads. You can also set up retargeting of social media ads on Facebook or Instagram through Facebook Business Manager.
Example cases where users have interacted with your business in some way:
- A user shared their email with you to respond to an offer or subscribe.
- A user followed your Facebook page or Instagram account or interacted with either in some way.
- A user clicked on a previous ad or product page.
- A user interacted with you on your website.
Retargeting ads help bring back those who expressed some interest in your business in the above ways, and can be created through paid Google or paid social media advertising. If you’ve set up advertising on either platform, you’ll be able to further set up retargeting/remarketing ad efforts to track user activity and retarget them.
If you’ve set up paid ads through Google, a good additional tool to use is Google Analytics, which is a free way to get more insights into how people interact with your ads and website. This tool can give you clues as to where people are clicking, what pages are most visited, how long users spend on pages, or if they are clicking away. Google Analytics provides insight into what areas are performing well versus those that may need improvement.
Helpful Resources in creating retargeting ads:
Google Ads Remarketing Tutorial (YouTube)
Creating Content for the Consideration Stage
In the Consideration stage your potential customers already know about your business and what it does. One way to move them to Conversion at this stage is to share the benefits they will receive when using your product or service. This can be done through more content creation.
Think about the decision making process of your customer and what is important to them when deciding to make a purchase. Similar to the exercise we did in the Discovery stage where we listed pain points/problems and solutions, you will want to do the same here, but this time with benefits or value gained from using your product. Using the same example of our fake company called “Sugar & Dough," that makes and sells cookies and cupcakes, and the same four content categories, we might complete a Consideration stage worksheet with the following:
Important decision making attributes
List your business’s benefits
Needs gluten free options
Offers six delicious gluten free flavors
Blindfold tasting guessing the flavor with an influencer
All cookies and cupcakes made from scratch using real butter and eggs, without commercial fats and preservatives
Short video of the baking process - showcase the attention to high quality ingredients
Delivery and setup
For a fee, staff can deliver the cookies or cupcakes and set them up at your event
Share a customer testimonial/experience with photos on social media
Looking for something that aligns with theme of the party
Creative presentation and decorating features
Create unicorn cupcakes with edible glitter and place on themed table setting
If you know your direct competitors, you can show what makes you different and what you excel in. Consumers like to compare offerings. If they see they are getting more value from your service, then your business will be chosen.
One idea is to use testimonials in your social media captions or advertisements — an endorsement from a previous customer can be a strong way to convince customers to buy your product or service.
If applicable to your business, you could also invest time in creating case studies, or summaries describing the buying journey of a particular customer. This is an excellent way to clear up any doubts potential customers have regarding what you offer, and to showcase different ways your product or service could be used.
After all the work you have done moving your potential customer down each stage of the conversion funnel, it’s time to move them towards a decision to purchase — a “conversion". Here we’ll discuss some strategies to help turn a prospect into a paying customer.
Creating Custom Campaigns
This is the time to focus on content that will convince a potential customer that you can offer the best solution for their problem or need. A custom campaign is a collection of content such as social media posts, blogs, videos, or retargeting ads that are targeting a specific customer goal, need, or want. For example, your customer may have two main needs, such as saving time or ease of use. You would create a custom campaign for each.
For the “saving time” theme, you could create a blog post or landing page that specifically addresses this need. (A landing page is a web page created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign where a user “lands” after clicking on a link, or other call-to-action, also known as a CTA. There are many tools, including the email service providers mentioned above, that allow you to to create a landing page.) To strengthen your case for this theme, include links to relevant support, such as a case study of how your product was used to save time.
Take into consideration that if you are using Google Analytics to track user behavior, you may notice that a blog post or landing page that addresses a specific need may not have the best performance in terms of traffic. However, it would be a good idea to observe how many sales were received after a user visited this blog post or landing page, as this is the main focus in the Conversion stage, and the number of sales compared to number of visits could indicate success even if overall traffic is low. (Remember the above social media example, a lot of followers may not be the most important metric if they are not engaging.)
The Conversion stage is a good time to utilize retargeting ads. Your retargeting ads can target people who added your product to their shopping cart, to nudge them to make a purchase. Or, you can use a retargeting ad to lead the user to a landing page focused exclusively on sales conversion — meaning, a landing page that showcases your product with multiple call-to-action buttons to make a purchase.
Other ideas for custom campaigns include product demos, free trial offers, coupons, and fact sheets. Using the same “saving time” theme, you could create and share a relevant short video on how your product will save you extra time in the morning. Use this video in your retargeting ads or in an email to engage subscribers.
Email: Abandoned Cart and Segmentation
There are two email strategies that can help “convert” your customer: (1) abandoned cart emails (for ecommerce businesses) and (2) email segmentation.
An estimated 69% of shoppers abandon their carts before checking out. An abandoned cart occurs when a website visitor views a product and clicks on the “add to cart” button. They start to go through the online checkout process (and even input their email address), but they do not complete their purchase. Instead, they leave your website. They may have left because they were distracted or needed more time to think about their purchase decision.
This is where the abandoned cart email comes into play. This email is automatically sent to the prospective customer with a call-to-action button in the email to return to checkout. It is a reminder for them to come back and purchase. An abandoned cart email is an effective way to help reengage the customer and get those sales that you may have lost.
Email segmentation is categorizing email subscribers into smaller groups (or segments) based on set criteria, and sending tailored content to those segments. Segmenting your email list allows you to personalize their email experience, leading to more conversions and less “unsubscribes.”
You can segment based on demographics, email engagement, or buying behavior. If you are just starting to build your email list, you can simply segment by the number of emails that have been opened. Your email service provider will often have options to set up email segmentation.
SEO for the Bottom of the Funnel
While in the earlier stages of the funnel, SEO is focused on bringing customers to your website via a search engine like Google.com, at the bottom of the funnel, customers may be searching for information within your website. It is good practice to include a “search” feature on your website, where users can type what they are looking for into this search field. It is to your advantage that this feature works well — you’ve already become a top choice in your customer’s mind, and they are returning to your website for more information.
You may ask yourself what questions your potential customers are typing into this field. Make a list of questions that they might be asking, and ensure you have content on your website that answers them. The answers can be information on your homepage or other pages on your website, in a frequently asked questions section, or in individual blog posts.
Smart Tactics Checklist for Bottom Funnel
Here is a brief checklist to help your digital marketing efforts at the bottom of the funnel to maximize conversions.
- Install a website chat service so customers can instantly get their questions answered and book appointments/purchase products.
- Create personalized content (78% of U.S. internet users said personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent).
- Advertise case studies.
- Advertise testimonials.
- Advertise free trials of your product or service.
- Advertise white papers (in depth reports, guides, or discussions of a particular topic) or other marketing collateral that show off the effectiveness (or awesomeness) of your product or service.
- Customize presentations based on the consumer.
- Advertise live demos and Q&As.
Congratulations! If you are reading this topic, you have prospects who have converted to paying customers through the success of your funnel!! But your work is not done yet. The next step is to get closer to your customers and create customer loyalty. Here again email is a valuable tool, as are customer reviews.
Email: Post-Purchase Drip Campaign
Investing in a post-purchase drip campaign, or email series, can further educate the customer and keep them interested in your products or services. Similar to a welcome series email campaign, the post-purchase campaign is a series of automated emails after a purchase has been made. Typically, the first email is a Thank You email.
Being able to show that you aren’t just interested in getting a sale but want to help the customer solve their problems will strengthen your business’s brand and value.
Building a customer relationship is about establishing a direct channel with a customer and being there when they need assistance. At this stage, they know about your business and how you can help them, so you’ll want to continue standing out from your competition by remaining at the top of mind. Some examples of this are by sharing exclusive content, presenting a new product release, providing sneak peaks of what you are working on, or offering loyalty “friends & family” sales or discounts, etc.
Reviews matter—a lot. So, how are you going to get this new customer to review you? Or share their story about you on social media? How are you going to get them to recommend you to their friends? As mentioned above the best way is to reach out and ask! Reviews should be shared on your website, social media, PPC ads, retargeting ads, or social media ads.
Funnel in Action
Below is the same example from earlier with callouts on what types of marketing activities you could do in each step of the buyer’s journey.
Scenario: Sarah needs to buy a unique gift for a mom’s birthday.
- Sarah realizes her mom’s birthday is approaching and wants to give her something unique. (Awareness)
- Sarah uses Google.com to search “best personalized gifts” to gain insight into her options. (Awareness)
- Activities: SEO, PPC, Content Creation for Awareness Stage
- Sarah reads a blog she finds about types of gifts that can be personalized through engraving or printing, and wonders what item her mom would like. (Awareness)
- Activities: SEO, Content Creation for Awareness Stage
- Sarah uses Google.com to search “best personalized gifts for mom,” and reads another blog that appeared in the search results. She realizes the types of gifts she wants need to be ordered soon in order to have it on time. (Discovery)
- Activities: SEO, Content Creation for Discovery Stage, PPC
- Sarah asks her friends on Facebook for recommendations. (Discovery)
- Activities: Facebook Paid Advertising
- Sarah takes the recommendations and uses Google to search for each of the products and their respective company’s reviews, services, and hours. (Discovery)
- Activities: Local SEO
- Sarah narrows down her choices and uses Facebook to ask her friend network if they have used these products or if they have other recommendations. (Consideration)
- Activities: Facebook Paid Advertising, Retargeting Ads
- While continuing her search queries on Google, Sarah sees an ad at the top of the search results for one of the companies of a product that her neighbor recommended. (Consideration)
- Activities: Google Local Services Ads
- Sarah clicks the ad and engages with a website chatbox. She books a virtual shopping appointment in under a minute, and ends up making a purchase. (Conversion)
- Activities: Website Chat Services, Blog Posts, Landing Pages
- After she receives her new engraved charm and necklace, Sarah raves on her social media accounts and to friends about how helpful, professional, and respectful the sales associates were. Simultaneously, she receives an email from the company she purchased from asking to leave a review on Google. She leaves a rave review. (Customer Relationship)
- Activities: Social Media, Email Marketing (i.e. Post-Purchase Drip Campaign), Customer Reviews
- Sarah wants to buy something nice for her husband for their anniversary. Sarah saw a blog on Facebook about anniversary gifts. She receives an email newsletter from the company she purchased the engraved charm from about the new men’s engravable wallets. She clicks on the special and follows a shortened loop to purchase her second item from the same company. (Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Customer Relationship and Retention)
- Activities: Facebook Paid Advertising, Email Marketing
Creating and defining a digital marketing funnel for your business is fundamental for your marketing efforts and making an impact and positive impression on your customers. There are many options to promote your brand digitally, it can feel overwhelming — using a funnel can help narrow down and organize the way you utilize resources and tactics effectively to win sales.
THE TOP TEN DO'S
- When creating your business’s digital marketing funnel, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and list the process they would experience from discovery to purchase.
- Update the publish dates on your website’s blog posts for SEO purposes — search engines generally pull more recent content then something that is older.
- Include an email subscription form on your website where visitors can subscribe and obtain more information about your business.
- Use the engagement rate formula for social media to identify high performing posts.
- Enhance your social media content by creating a mix of content that is convincing, inspiring, entertaining, and educational.
- Send personalized emails to your subscribers based on where they are in their journey to conversion.
- For ecommerce businesses, include an “abandoned cart” email to capture potential sales of left shopping carts.
- Create a content distribution calendar so you can keep track of your website content, measure performance, and reuse or repurpose content that performed well.
- When doing a paid Google search campaign, use a combination of short phrases and long-tail keywords.
- Ask customers to write reviews on the social platforms most visited by your target audience.
THE TOP TEN DON'TS
- Feel like every blog post has to be really long, it's better to be consistent in your frequency of posts of shorter length than posting longer blogs every once in a while.
- Consistently send the same email to your subscriber list week after week. You can start with a template to save time, but be sure to segment and personalize!
- Stop your marketing efforts after you convert a customer. Build a relationship with them to increase loyalty to your business.
- Don't use the same type of content over and over again, mix it up to entertain, educate, inspire, and convince.
- Launch a paid advertising campaign without checking the settings. Some ads incur ongoing expenses, and you want to make sure you have limits and timing set.
- Ignore the stages of the funnel as you plan your marketing efforts.
- Spend advertising money without identifying the proper channels, audience, purpose and goal of the ads.
- Forget to listen to your target audience to gain insight into what they are interested in and how your product or service can be a fit.
- Overlook the power of SEO when writing the text for your website pages, but also don’t overdo it.
- Don't make it difficult for users to find information on your website, add a search feature or chat box to help convert them at the bottom of the funnel.