Tag Archive | "Funnel"

The future of search engine marketing is full funnel

A search click is not just a click. It’s a consumer on a purchase journey.



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Full Funnel Testing: SEO & CRO Together – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by willcritchlow

Testing for only SEO or only CRO isn’t always ideal. Some changes result in higher conversions and reduced site traffic, for instance, while others may rank more highly but convert less well. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome Will Critchlow as he demonstrates a method of testing for both your top-of-funnel SEO changes and your conversion-focused CRO changes at once.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Will Critchlow, one of the founders at Distilled. If you’ve been following what I’ve been writing and talking about around the web recently, today’s topic may not surprise you that much. I’m going to be talking about another kind of SEO testing.

Over at Distilled, we’ve been investing pretty heavily in building out our capability to do SEO tests and in particular built our optimization delivery network, which has let us do a new kind of SEO testing that hasn’t been previously available to most of our clients. Recently we’ve been working on a new enhancement to this, which is full funnel testing, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

So funnel testing is testing all the way through the funnel, from acquisition at the SEO end to conversion. So it’s SEO testing plus CRO testing together. I’m going to write a little bit more about some of the motivation for this. But, in a nutshell, it essentially boils down to the fact that it is perfectly possible, in fact we’ve seen in the wild cases of tests that win in SEO terms and lose in CRO terms or vice versa.

In other words, tests that maybe you make a change and it converts better, but you lose organic search traffic. Or the other way around, it ranks better, but it converts less well. If you’re only testing one, which is common — I mean most organizations are only testing the conversion rate side of things — it’s perfectly possible to have a winning test, roll it out, and do worse.

CRO testing

So let’s step back a little bit. A little bit of a primer. Conversion rate optimization testing works in an A/B split kind of way. You can test on a single page, if you want to, or a site section. The way it works is you split your audience. So your audience is split. Some of your audience gets one version of the page, and the rest of the audience gets a different version.

Then you can compare the conversion rate among the group who got the control and the group who got the variant. That’s very straightforward. Like I say, it can happen on a single page or across an entire site. SEO testing, a little bit newer. The way this works is you can’t split the audience, because we care very much about the search engine spiders in this case. For the purposes of this consideration, there’s essentially only one Googlebot. So you couldn’t put Google in Class A or Class B here and expect to get anything meaningful.

SEO testing

So the way that we do an SEO test is we actually split the pages. To do this, you need a substantial site section. So imagine, for example, an e-commerce website with thousands of products. You might have a hypothesis of something that will help those product pages perform better. You take your hypothesis and you only apply it to some of the pages, and you leave some of the pages unchanged as a control.

Then, crucially, search engines and users see the same experience. There’s no cloaking going on. There’s no duplication of content. You simply change some pages and not change others. Then you apply kind of advanced mathematical, statistical analysis trying to figure out do these pages get statistically more organic search traffic than we think they would have done if we hadn’t made this change. So that’s how an SEO test works.

Now, as I said, the problem that we are trying to tackle here is it’s really plausible, despite Google’s best intentions to do what’s right for users, it’s perfectly plausible that you can have a test that ranks better but converts less well or vice versa. We’ve seen this with, for example, removing content from a page. Sometimes having a cleaner, simpler page can convert better. But maybe that was where the keywords were and maybe that was helping the page rank. So we’re trying to avoid those kinds of situations.

Full funnel testing

That’s where full funnel testing comes in. So I want to just run through how you run a full funnel test. What you do is you first of all set it up in the same way as an SEO test, because we’re essentially starting with SEO at the top of the funnel. So it’s set up exactly the same way.

Some pages are unchanged. Some pages get the hypothesis applied to them. As far as Google is concerned, that’s the end of the story, because on any individual request to these pages that’s what we serve back. But the critically important thing here is I’ve got my little character. This is a human browser performs a search, “What do badgers eat?”

This was one of our silly examples that we came up with on one of our demo sites. The user lands on this page here. What we do is we then set a cookie. This is a cookie. This user then, as they navigate around the site, no matter where they go within this site section, they get the same treatment, either the control or the variant. They get the same treatment across the entire site section. This is more like the conversion rate test here.

Googlebot = stateless requests

So what I didn’t show in this diagram is if you were running this test across a site section, you would cookie this user and make sure that they always saw the same treatment no matter where they navigated around the site. So because Googlebot is making stateless requests, in other words just independent, one-off requests for each of these of these pages with no cookie set, Google sees the split.

Evaluate SEO test on entrances

Users get whatever their first page impression looks like. They then get that treatment applied across the entire site section. So what we can do then is we can evaluate independently the performance in search, evaluate that on entrances. So do we get significantly more entrances to the variant pages than we would have expected if we hadn’t applied a hypothesis to them?

That tells us the uplift from an SEO perspective. So maybe we say, “Okay, this is plus 11% in organic traffic.” Well, great. So in a vacuum, all else being equal, we’d love to roll out this test.

Evaluate conversion rate on users

But before we do that, what we can do now is we can evaluate the conversion rate, and we do that based on user metrics. So these users are cookied.

We can also set an analytics tag on them and say, “Okay, wherever they navigate around, how many of them end up converting?” Then we can evaluate the conversion rate based on whether they saw treatment A or treatment B. Because we’re looking at conversion rate, the audience size doesn’t exactly have to be the same. So the statistical analysis can take care of that fact, and we can evaluate the conversion rate on a user-centric basis.

So then we maybe see that it’s -5% in conversion rate. We then need to evaluate, “Is this something we should roll out?” So step 1 is: Do we just roll it out? If it’s a win in both, then the answer is yes probably. If they’re in different directions, then there are couple things we can do. Firstly, we can evaluate the relative performance in different directions, taking care that conversion rate applies generally across all channels, and so a relatively small drop in conversion rate can be a really big deal compared to even an uplift in organic traffic, because the conversion rate is applying to all channels, not just your organic traffic channel.

But suppose that it’s a small net positive or a small net negative. What we can then do is we might get to the point that it’s a net positive and roll it out. Either way, we might then say, “What can we take from this? What can we actually learn?” So back to our example of the content. We might say, “You know what? Users like this cleaner version of the page with apparently less content on it.The search engines are clearly relying on that content to understand what this page is about. How do we get the best of both worlds?”

Well, that might be a question of a redesign, moving the layout of the page around a little bit, keeping the content on there, but maybe not putting it front and center to the user as they land right at the beginning. We can test those different things, run sequential tests, try and take the best of the SEO tests and the best of the CRO tests and get it working together and crucially avoid those situations where you think you’ve got a win, because your conversion rate is up, but you actually are about to crater your organic search performance.

We think this is going to just be the more data-driven we get, the more accountable SEO testing makes us, the more important it’s going to be to join these dots and make sure that we’re getting true uplifts on a net basis when we combine them. So I hope that’s been useful to some of you. Thank you for joining me on this week’s Whiteboard Friday. I’m Will Critchlow from Distilled.

Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Mapping the prospect conclusion funnel [includes free PDF example]

Is it wise to invest time in creating a funnel for all industries, including offline businesses? Read on to find out.
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Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

For each step customers take through the funnel, you must make sure to express the value of your offering relative to their place in the buyer’s journey. Read on to learn more.
MarketingSherpa Blog

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SEO Above the Funnel: Getting More Traffic When You Can’t Rank Any Higher

Posted by Tom.Capper

Normally, as SEOs, we follow a deceptively simple process. We identify how people are searching for our product, then we build or optimize pages or websites to match searcher intent, we make sure Google can find, understand, and trust it, and we wait for the waves of delicious traffic to roll in.

It’s not always that simple, though. What if we have the right pages, but just can’t rank any higher? What if we’re already satisfying all of the search volume that’s relevant to our product, but the business demands growth? What if there is no search volume relevant to our product?

What would you do, for example, if you were asked to increase organic traffic to the books section on Amazon? Or property search traffic to Rightmove (UK) or Zillow (US)? Or Netflix, before anyone knew that true online streaming services existed?

In this post, I’m going to briefly outline four simple tactics for building your relevant organic traffic by increasing the overall size of the market, rather than by trying to rank higher. And none of them require building a single link, or making any changes to your existing pages.

1. Conquer neighboring territories

This is a business tactic as well as an SEO one, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for reasonably uncompetitive verticals adjacent to your own. You have an advantage in these, because you already have a brand, a strong domain, a website to build upon, and so forth. New startups trying to make headway in these spaces will struggle to compete with a fairly low-effort execution on your part, if you judge it well.

Start by ideating related products. For example, if you’re a property listings site, you might look at:

  • Home insurance
  • Home valuation
  • Flat-sharing listings
  • Area guides

Once you’ve outlined your list (it’s probably longer than my example), you can do your basic keyword research, and take a look at the existing ranking pages. This is a bit like identifying keyword opportunities, except you’re looking at the core landing pages of a whole vertical — look at their Domain Authorities, their branded search volumes, the quality of their landing pages, the extent to which they’ve done basic SEO, and ask whether you could do better.

In the example above, you might find that home insurance is well served by fairly strong financial services or comparison sites, but flat-sharing is a weak vertical dominated by a few fairly young and poorly executed sites. That’s your opportunity.

To minimize your risk, you can start with a minimal viable version — perhaps just a single landing page or a white-labeled product. If it does well, you know it merits further investment.

You’ve already established a trusted brand, with a strong website, which users are already engaging in — if you can extend your services and provide good user experiences in other areas, you can beat other, smaller brands in those spaces.

2. Welcome the intimidated

Depending on your vertical, there may be an untapped opportunity among potential customers who don’t understand or feel comfortable with the product. For example, if you sell laptops, many potential customers may be wary of buying a laptop online or without professional advice. This might cause them not to buy, or to buy a cheaper product to reduce the riskiness.

A “best laptops under £500,” or “lightest laptops,” or “best laptops for gaming” page could encourage people to spend more, or to buy online when they might otherwise have bought in a store. Pages like this can be simple feature comparisons, or semi-editorial, but it’s important that they don’t feel like a sales or up-sell function (even though that’s what the “expert” in the store would be!).

This is even more pertinent the more potentially research intensive the purchase is. For example, Crucial have done amazingly for years with their “system scanner,” linked to prominently on their homepage, which identifies potential upgrades and gives less savvy users confidence in their purchase.

Guaranteed compatible!

If this seems like too much effort, the outdoor retailer Snow and Rock don’t have the best website in the world, but they have taken a simpler approach in linking to buying guides from certain product pages — for example, this guide on how to pick a pair of walking boots.

Can you spot scenarios where users abandon in your funnels because of fear or complexity, or where they shift their spend to offline competitors? If you can make them feel safe and supported, you might be able to change their buying behavior.

3. Whip up some fervor

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have enthusiasts who know your vertical like the back of their hand, but could be incited to treat themselves a little more. I’ve been really impressed recently by a couple of American automotive listings sites doing this really well.

The first is Autotrader.com, who have hired well-known automotive columnist Doug Demuro from Jalopnik.com to produce videos and articles for their enthusiast news section. These articles and videos talk about the nerdy quirks of some of the most obscure and interesting used cars that have been listed on the site, and it’s not uncommon for videos on Doug’s YouTube channel — which mention Autotrader.com and feature cars you could buy on Autotrader.com — to get well into 7-figure viewing counts.

These are essentially adverts for Autotrader.com’s products, but I and hundreds of thousands of others watch them religiously. What’s more, the resulting videos and articles stand to rank for the types of queries that curious enthusiasts may search for, turning informational queries into buying intent, as well as building brand awareness. I actually think Autotrader.com could do even better at this with a little SEO 101 (editorial titles don’t need to be your actual title tag, guys), but it’s already a great tactic.

Another similar site doing this really well is Bringatrailer.com. Their approach is really simple — whenever they get a particularly rare or interesting car listed, they post it on Facebook.

These are super low-effort posts about used cars, but if you take a step back, Bring a Trailer are doing something outrageous. They’re posting links to their product pages on Facebook a dozen or more times a day, and getting 3-figure reaction counts. Some of the lesson here is “have great product pages,” or “exist in an enthusiast-rich vertical,” and I realize that this tactic isn’t strictly SEO. But it is doing a lot of things that we as SEOs try to do (build awareness, search volume, links…), and it’s doing so by successfully matching informational or entertainment intents with transactional pages.

When consumers engage with a brand emotionally or even socially, then you’re more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to purchase — but they’re also more likely to purchase if they’re seeing and thinking about your products, services, and sector in their feed.

4. Tell people your vertical exists

I won’t cover this one in too much detail, because there’s already an excellent Whiteboard Friday on the subject. The key point, however, is that sometimes it’s not just that customers are intimidated by your product. They may never have heard of it. In these cases, you need to appear where they’re looking using demographic targeting, carefully researched editorial sections, or branded content.

What about you, though?

How do you go about drumming up demand in your vertical? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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How to Build a Facebook Funnel That Converts – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by ryanwashere

How are you using remarketing on Facebook? If you’ve ever felt frustrated about the ROI on FB ads, it just may be time to give them another chance. In today’s guest-hosted Whiteboard Friday, Ryan Stewart outlines his process for using remarketing and targeted content creation to get more conversions out of your Facebook ad spend.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hello, Moz fans. My name is Ryan Stewart. I own digital consultancy agency WEBRIS, and I am ecstatic to be doing this week’s version of Whiteboard Friday.

Now, as a marketing consultant I get the pleasure of talking to fellow marketers and business owners all the time, and one of the first questions I ask them is what they’re doing on Facebook, because I firmly believe there’s no better way to spend your money online right now. Nine times out of ten, what they tell me is this. “Hey, look Ryan, we spent some money, we got some fans, we got some video views, we got a lot of clicks, but ultimately that return on investment wasn’t quite there, so we stopped.” So I’m going to show you a framework today that’s going to help you get more return on investment from your Facebook ad spend.

Common key mistakes when it comes to Facebook ads

Before we get into that framework, there are a couple of key things that I want to just check off right off the bat that might help you. These are key mistakes that I see people making all the time.

  1. The misuse of Facebook technology. What that means is not having the pixel installed, not using custom conversions, not using a tag management solution to help you out, and not really understanding and using custom audiences the right way, because those are ultimately what make remarketing and really what make this whole funnel thing really drive through. We need to understand and use custom audiences the right way, and I’m going to talk about that in here.
  2. We need between six to nine brand touchpoints. Another thing, and I kind of call this the SEO mentality, we think that just because somebody is interested or searching for red shoes that means they want to buy it. It’s not the case. Especially on Facebook, there’s a completely different mentality on Facebook, and we need to understand that. There’s a lot of studies that show that we need between six to nine brand touchpoints before somebody is an interested sales prospect or lead, and…
  3. We need to build that value, that relationship and really build that purchase intent. We do that through content, which I’m going to talk about in depth over here as well.
  4. The lack of trust in Facebook. Again, the SEO mentality that we’re constantly working against Google, Facebook is a complete opposite. They have done an amazing job optimizing their platform. All you have to do is tell it what you want it to do and it will go out and it will find the right audiences. Just have faith in the process. Trust that Facebook will get it done for you, and then you can focus on what really matters.

The Facebook marketing funnel framework

This is the framework that I have drawn up over here. It looks like your traditional marketing funnel. It’s got your awareness, interest, consideration, and purchase. But what’s in it is specific to this process and Facebook ads in particular.

Now I’m going to start actually not at the top. I’m going to run you through the whole thing, but I’m going to start here with interest, because this is where most people start. They build a landing page, a squeeze page that says, “Hey, opt in for our free e-book,” and they just start promoting it. They push it to fans. They push it to audiences that they think are interested in it. Unless you’re a huge brand that has all of these touchpoints and awareness taken care of, it’s very tough because people don’t know who you are and they’re not just going to start giving you their information and start buying just because you put up a nice landing page.

1. Build your content — whatever form works best for you.

So what we need to do is build the content on top of that. That’s what I have right here. So you can I’ve got different types of content that you can use — videos, blog posts, webinars, e-books. Whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter.

Create something that you’re comfortable with. But what you need to focus on is really two things.

  1. Making sure that it’s on your website, because then we can retarget people and get them down that funnel.
  2. Creating and building value for the people that you’re targeting. So again, if you’re Moz and you sell a bunch of different products — you’ve got your local solutions, you’ve got your keyword research, you’ve got link building solutions — we don’t want to just create one piece of content. We want to create specific pieces of content that are engaging to those little sub-niches of the audience and relevant to the product, and that’s key because it allows us to expand and scale this out.

2. Gather insights from people that are already aware to inform your lookalike audiences.

Now once you’ve got that content built, what I like to start doing is promoting it to what I call warm audience. These are people that are already aware. These are your Facebook fans, your website retargeting list, your customer list, all of these people. You start by promoting the content to them, and you start analyzing the data and see what’s performing best.

Understand the audience segments that are driving the most engagement, driving the most purchases right off the bat, because what we can do is create lookalike audiences based on these and we can pivot into promoting this to cold audiences. Again, this is really where you can start to scale, because this is only going to take you so far. Unless you’re a massive brand, it’s not going to take you very far. This is really mostly for data analysis and getting some initial people into the funnel.

This up here, the cold audiences, is where you really start to make your money. So again, lookalike audiences are a tremendous thing. You need to trust in Facebook that what you tell it to do, it’s going to go out and find the right people. But there’s other stuff you can do as well. Again, because we’re not taking a landing page, we can actually go out and do some form of outreach to get more eyeballs on the page. We can go to Facebook groups. We can go to other Facebook Pages. We can say, “Hey, I’ve got this really great guide, ’19 Things To Do to Build Links for Local SEO.” We can start to do some exchanges. All we need to do is start getting people to here, getting people to this content, because once they’re on this content, they’re in our funnel. So let me show you how this works, and this is where the Facebook ads really start to pick up and retargeting really starts to come into play.

3. Remarket with an initial offer to move your audience from aware to interested.

What we want to do is we want to set parameters that tell Facebook, “Hey, anytime somebody’s been to this blog post but hasn’t been to our landing page, show them this ad.” I love to use video in this case, again because video is a great way to build the brand, to hack those touchpoints, to get your face out there, and to start getting some recognition. So I like to use a video that says, “Hey, thank you for checking out our blog posts, our webinar. We really appreciate it. But we left some things out, and those things are included on this page.” That’s how you can start to introduce your offer and get people to your landing page, your squeeze page, or your product page.

4. Use another remarketing ad to move them from the interested stage to consideration.

We’re not done there, because there are some other things that we can do on Facebook to start really building this thing up and driving a lot more conversions.

Once we get people to the landing page, not everyone is going to convert. So what we can do is we can set up another remarketing ad that’s says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has been to our landing page but hasn’t been to the next page, which is our trial page, our thank you page, whatever that may be, we want to run this ad.” Again, I like to use video again, and we can say, “Hey, thank you for checking out our landing page, but you didn’t opt in. Did you know that we have a free trial? Did you know that we offer a discount? Did you know we have a free e-book?”

Whatever it is that you’re offering to get people to opt in, run that. What happens is then you get your people in your email sequence, your traditional marketing sequence. You run that on the side, but again we’re not done. Because we found these people on Facebook, they’re still on Facebook. There’s still more that we can do.

5. Build trust with ads that share benefits, testimonials, etc.

If you’ve got a free trial that you’re giving away, a free consultation, whatever it is, a discount for your products, we want to tell people about it. We want to make sure that they’re taking advantage of it, because again you know once you get somebody on email, you might have a 20% open rate, you’re cutting off 80% of people. But we know they’re on Facebook, so what we can do is run another remarketing ad that says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has been to our free trial page but hasn’t actually purchased, let’s drive people to use it.” You can start talking about the benefits of your product, start showing testimonials from people. Whatever it is that you can drive people to use your product and really build trust in your product, you want to take advantage of that.

6. Use your final remarketing ad to sweeten the pot and ask for the hard sell.

Finally, we’re still not done, because we still haven’t asked for that hard sell. This is where we use our final ad that says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has used our trial but hasn’t been to our ultimate checkout page, we want to run this final ad.” What I did, I have a course that I use that I sold using Facebook ads. What I did, I ran a very personalized video ad that said, “Hey, thank you for checking out my content. Thank you for attending my webinar. Thank you for checking out the free trial. Look it, there’s something that’s holding you up from purchasing. I am willing to jump on a call with you and answer any questions that you may have.” Obviously, that’s not going to apply to every business. But figure out a final piece of value that you can add to those people to really drive them to purchase and ask for that hard sell.

Again, this is kind of a quick overview of this process, but the key point here is that this part from down here’s automated. All you have to focus on now is building more content and building more traffic to that content, because once you get traffic to this content — and you know tons of ways to do that, you can even rank it in organic search and get people in your funnel that way — all you have to do is focus on getting people in here. This whole funnel is automated, and it’s a beautiful thing. When you do this, it takes patience. You’re not going to get as many email conversions upfront, but it works.

I’m telling you, if you just have faith in this process and use this to your advantage, use remarketing with everything that you can do, it will work.

Again guys, my name is Ryan Stewart. Hopefully you enjoyed this presentation. For more information, again there’s a ton of stuff on Moz. I have some stuff on my blog. I appreciate your time. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Blog Sales Funnel Part 2: The 5 Step Process I Used To Create My First Funnel

In the first part of this series on the Blog Sales Funnel, I went back in time looking at the various projects that preceded my step into blogging, and how I eventually combined the power of the email list with a blog to sell digital products. I recommend you read…

The post Blog Sales Funnel Part 2: The 5 Step Process I Used To Create My First Funnel appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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How to Put Your Email Marketing Funnel on Steroids, with Pat Flynn

yp-pat-flynn-2

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income joins host Chris Ducker on Youpreneur.FM again to talk about the biggest shift he’s made so far in 2015, the most important part of any sales process, and how to amp up your email marketing.

As business owners, we know we must make changes in our businesses — but when, why, and how do you make yours?

During Chris’s friendship with Pat, Chris has watched Pat grow and evolve his business. Today, he’s here to talk about what he’s changing and how those changes are catapulting his business to an entirely new level.

On this show, Pat shares the specific steps he’s taking right now, plus why and how he’s creating segmented lists within his audience. He also gives the first few steps you can take to have a bigger and more powerful impact on your own audience.

This is an episode you’ll want to listen to again and again because there’s that much information — tune in and enjoy!

In this 45-minute episode of Youpreneur.FM, host Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn discuss:

  • What was the biggest shift Pat made in 2015?
  • How Pat now generates 65-70 percent open rates and 15-20 percent click-through rates
  • What is the “yes ladder,” and why does it matter?
  • What’s the most important part of any sales process?
  • The one question to email your list right now
  • Much, much more!

Click Here to Listen to

Youpreneur.FM with Chris Ducker on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand digital business and marketing advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post How to Put Your Email Marketing Funnel on Steroids, with Pat Flynn appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

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Blog Sales Funnel Part 2: The 5 Step Process I Used To Create My First Funnel

In the first part of this series on the Blog Sales Funnel, I went back in time looking at the various projects that preceded my step into blogging, and how I eventually combined the power of the email list with a blog to sell digital products. I recommend you read…

The post Blog Sales Funnel Part 2: The 5 Step Process I Used To Create My First Funnel appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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About Report Details the Evolution of the Purchase Funnel

220px-Purchase-funnel-diagram.svgElias St. Elmo Lewis mapped out the route that potential customers take prior to purchasing a product. It’s referred to as the Purchase Funnel because it’s depicted as an inverted triangle funneling folks down to the moment they pull out their wallet. There are four steps in the process:

  • Awareness – the customer is aware of the existence of a product or service
  • Interest – actively expressing an interest in a product group
  • Desire – aspiring to a particular brand or product
  • Action – taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product

Mr. St. Elmo Lewis came up with this idea in 1898, slightly before the invention of the internet.

Since then, things have changed a little and that’s the subject of About.com’s latest report which they call “The Purchase Loop.”

The report states that the path from awareness to purchase is no longer a linear one. Thanks to mobile and the internet, shoppers take a more circuitous and complex path from point A to point B. And though that may sound like bad news, it actually means that brands have more opportunities to convert a potential customer into a paying customer.

Instead of four steps, the new Purchase Loop has six steps:

  • Openness – consumers are receptive to new or better experiences stemming from pre-existing interest in or curiosity about a category or topic area. Consciously or subconsciously, brands, products or services may be on the consumers’ radar.
  • Realized want or need – something acts as a catalyst giving the consumer a reason to start looking into things he/she wants or needs to do.
  •  Learning and education – understanding the broad fundamentals in order to make a purchase the consumer can feel good about.
  • Seeking ideas and inspiration – looking for, noticing and keeping track of examples, thought-starters, and motivators in order to take the next step.
  • Research and vetting – comparing options, looking for deals, comparing prices, reading reviews and determining personal associations with the brand.
  • Post purchase evaluation and expansion – consumer uses or experiences a purchase and decides how he/she feels, might post reviews and share experience, can send the consumer into additional purchase loops if  renewed openness to brand or inspiration to look into related products, tasks or needs.

Even if the consumer ends up buying offline, the internet plays a huge part in the purchase loop.

about purchase behavior
This chart shows that almost three quarters of shoppers relied on a website to advance purchase behavior. The one that really surprised me was the 73% who said the web was responsible for making them need or want an item.  This is certainly true for me, but I didn’t realize this behavior was so widespread. If these numbers are correct, then the internet is driving retail sales, even when the buyer goes into a store to get the item.

TV, which used to be the product discovery engine, is now barely a blip. Even social and online video fared pretty well when it came to product awareness and education.

About says that modern shoppers take different paths depending on the product category. Customers also make more stops along the way than they used to but they actual get to the purchase point more quickly than they did with the traditional funnel.

They also found that people have a much more personal relationship with brands than they used to. The path to purchase isn’t just about finding a product that fills the need, it’s about having social support for the decision and feeling confident that they’ve made the right choice.

You can download an abbreviated version of “The Purchase Loop” for free from About.com. Just click here then click again.

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Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

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