As much as two decades ago, the way consumers opted for buying brands depended on how much the brands were able to thrust their products into the consumers’ vicinity and at the same time, appeal to their taste. For instance, a commercial soap ad in between a TV series or a radio program, would be enough to sway consumers’ preferences of buying a soap product. In fact, that gave rise to the term ‘soap operas.’ Procter and Gamble (P&G) would produce radio and TV shows so that they could advertise their products during the breaks.
Fast forward to 2016, and you will see that brands have drastically changed the way they communicate with consumers. In the Internet era, brands push their products to their consumers in the form of recommendations. That is why Amazon and other ecommerce sites are able to execute targeted ads in the form of suggestions and recommendations.
Today’s technologically-savvy consumers are more informed and knowledgeable, and are moving out of the traditional route of researching and making purchasing decisions about products. They research well before buying a product or a service. This post that highlights ‘from search to store’ by Matt Lawson does great justice about how brands must ‘deliver on expectations in moments that matter’. Then the pertinent question to digital marketers is:
- What is our customer’s’ decision making journey?
- Why and how should we align our digital marketing strategies that will fall in place with the customer’s decision?
Let’s give a quick look at what our customer’s decision making journey looks like: Recognition → Familiarization → Consideration → Purchase
The idea is to avoid premature optimization in marketing. We don’t solve a non-existent problem, when it comes to engineering. But we identify a problem and build a solution around it. Similarly we must focus on the right things at the right stage when it comes to digital marketing.
If you think about building a business, your website would be a natural location to showcase everything about your business and product. And one way to build maximum awareness and recognition is by generating traffic to your website. So, your first objective would be to get, say, 100 visitors a day, and then, 1,000 visitors a week.
37Signals wrote an interesting post on how they built the buzz with their side projects. “It takes a lot to differentiate your brand in today’s “me too” world of electronic business solutions”, it says. And it is very important to engage in such projects that will ensure that traffic is headed your way — consistently. How:
- Hang out where your audience hangs out and sign out with your website details — answer relevant questions on Reddit, HackerNews, Quora etc., so that the audience learns of your expertise in the space.
- Use Call to Actions at different places on the site so that the visitors are engaged and are compelled to explore the website, rather than opt for an early exit.
- Invest in SEO efforts to drive organic search traffic to your website.
- Paid Search is one of the most effective ways of driving traffic to your website, but businesses must be able to justify the expenses while measuring the outcome. (Here’s a hack – you could experiment with a paid search channel like Google Adwords even before you build your product, if you have the budget. This works well as a research tool, to see if the product you are building has demand and will sell).
Right, now that you have a 1.000 potential leads visiting your site, how do you familiarize them with your product? How do you ensure that they know what they have signed up for? Customers rely on their common sense of familiarity of choosing a familiar and known brand. How do you feature there? Simple – meaningful and engaging content.
Content Marketing found its origins in 1891. More than a century ago, August Oetker, the German inventor of baking powder – Backin, sold packages to households. What made Backin a familiar brand was the little recipes printed on the back of these packages. In 1911, he published his cookbook and over 100 years, it reached a global audience with about 19 million copies. That was the first example of content marketing.
It’s 2016, and that’s still pretty much how we could do it too along with the added advantage of using social media. With the right message and relevant content, across mediums, marketers should focus their attention on their target market. How:
Tailored Messaging for signing up the right kind of users and in turn attracting the right traffic is very important. You would need to be specific about what your product is and who it caters to in as many places as possible. This could be on the website, in-app, email welcome messages etc. KiSSFLOW does a great job of getting to the point with their version of welcome email as below —
- Effective content marketing is in an essential marketing tool in a way that provides useful, relevant and valuable information
- Customer/User Engagement via social media
The top of the mind problem for a brief time is signup conversion. So you move to the next stage, which is user engagement. Now, here’s the thing about brand consideration. In today’s digital world, consumers speak with brands as much as brands speak with consumers. In this two way communication, you would need to empower customers to explore your product, to play around the sandbox test site, to ask questions. How:
- Two way engagement with customers
- Test and prioritize objectives. Optimize CTAs. Here are some great posts on optimizing CTAs by HubSpot and CrazyEgg.
- Treat pricing as a filter. Change pricing to attract the right audience that you need.
Now you are happy with user engagement, why aren’t they converting into paying customers sooner? How:
- Continue making tweaks — tweak application onboarding process.
- Setup demo calls with prospects to understand their business requirements and make suggestions on how your product can cater to them.
- Fix application onboarding with drip emails, simplifying documentation, product and measure time it takes for customers to go-live.
While you are at it, rinse and repeat what is already working for your business to bring in more traffic. With hundreds of such iterations you now have a pipe instead of a straw to convert visitors into customers. A positive user experience through all these bottlenecks will ensure that your customers who have now bought your product will spread positive word about not just your business, but your attention to detail to improve customer experience.