A few years ago, I ran into an online buying cycle bullseye in an online newsletter, illustrating the 3 stages that people go through in order to purchase online. The graphic resonated with me and still shapes my thoughts about how every online tactic and strategy should not be pigeon-holed into producing the same goal and results. On the contrary, each type of media placement for an advertiser should be measured and held accountable toward different KPI (Key Performance Indicators) for success.
Similarly, I had the opportunity to work with a “traditional” direct response marketing group, who’s main focus was to drive customer acquisition through a conversion funnel, touching the consumer with different pieces of direct response marketing material to the end-goal.
Merging those two ideas together and utilizing them online, I believe is a strategy that can produce long-term success results for some (not all) online advertisers.
Here’s an example: The goal of the advertisers is to drive sales. The average consumer buying theaverage product online goes through a process before actually making the purchase…
1. Information Seeking/Research - What product do I need to accomplish my mission?
Message: Brand messages – get your brand in front of the consumer so they know that you are out there and that YOUR brand exists.
- KPIs - Page Views to your site, time spent on your site learning about the product/brand, interactive/assessment tools, whitepaper downloads, brand lift/awareness, etc.
- Media Venues: top-tier sites, general search keywords, ad networks
2. Decision Making - Price comparison shopping…. i.e. where can I get my best deal?
Message: Product/Brand Differentiators – WHY you brand is better than the rest, sales, incentives, etc.
- KPIs - signing up for an account, email newsletter signups, etc.
- Media Venues- phrase/exact keywords, niche content sites, consumer review sites, shopping comparison sites
3.Time To Buy - credit card in hand and ready to tackle the shopping cart.
Message: Sales, Incentives, direct response – this is the time to “reel in the fishing line”
- KPIs - sales, leads, whatever your established ROI goal is for your online marketing
- Media Venues- product keywords, phrase/exact keywords, CPA networks, affiliate marketing.
The theory behind the conversion funnel is to start at the beginning of the process and establish your brand into the mind of consumer, so that by the time they are at the stage to perform your marketing goal, there is no question that your company will be the one they choose. Along the way, each stage is measured and optimized for success, using the KPI metrics.
Continually pushing people into the top of your funnel will build your marketing program and establish long-term success. The obstacle – having the patience to see it grow.