The world of online marketing and e-commerce is insanely complicated and ever-changing. Take the conversion funnel–which lots of companies fail to reconsider, continuing to follow the same old practices.
Consumers now live in a digital, social, mobile world. They are more knowledgeable, connected, and empowered than ever.
Yet, most marketing funnels still focus on targeting prospects at the top of the funnel–ignoring those that come in at different stages. Besides, online consumers move up and down between stages, and sometimes stay in a stage undecided.
For instance, a typical online user will visit your website after reading a Facebook post, or clicking on a search ad. This can immediately lead to adding items to your cart, putting them straight in the purchasing stage. Is your funnel optimized for this?
For example, if you're selling skincare products, your customers' decisions on what to buy may come from friends' recommendations discovered in a Tweet on Pinterest board who share their experience. Therefore, you should have an online community where people can interact with experts and other consumers about your products and brand.
The digital funnel is more orbital–customers move around through ongoing touchpoints throughout their purchasing lifecycle. The key is identifying the user profile, in order to personalize their experience and target them appropriately.
Another important aspect of the orbital funnel is the link between buyers and advocates. Many traditional marketers have a hard time understanding that today's customers don't need to purchase or use a product to be an advocate of a brand. It's all about making a connection with those influencers through content, social media, videos, webinars, etc. Do you think all the fans of Porsche's Facebook page own a Carrera?
When you're done reading this post, spend some time on Google Analytics, Adobe or whichever web analytics tool you use, and map out the sources of your visitors' experience, top conversion paths, and channels. What you'll find is, not all channels or sources resulted in transactions, but they are all paths to opportunities for advocacy.
Leading marketers today integrate marketing into the product itself. There is no separation. The orbital funnel allows marketers to move from cross-selling a product to up-selling a service as consumers move from awareness to purchasing on-the-spot.
However your decided to target customers in the funnel, the most important thing is that you personalize the experience, and make sure that it is social-friendly, connects with advocates (not just customers), and offers nonlinear purchasing paths.
Please share your advice, experiences, critique, and life lessons via comments below.