If you’re a customer service professional working for a small business, you’ve probably done a fair amount of research into customer acquisition. Perhaps you’ve already started to establish your brand on social media, or you’re growing a list of email contacts. These are good steps toward getting some qualified leads, but what about those lurkers who have browsed your site, but not yet made a purchase?
Here’s where you want to take a look at optimizing your customer acquisition funnel. If you’re not yet familiar with this marketing framework, don’t worry–we’ll walk you through it.
The customer acquisition process is what turns a prospective customer into a new customer. The customer acquisition funnel is the framework that breaks down that process into six stages: awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase.
The first two stages, awareness and interest, generate leads. Leads are individuals who are interested in what you’re selling. Awareness refers to the moment an individual becomes aware of your brand (also known as brand awareness), while interest is what keeps them browsing your site.
The next three stages–consideration, intent, and evaluation–generate “prospects.” Prospects are individuals who have indicated that they’re likely to make a purchase. The consideration stage is where a prospective customer weighs whether they want to buy from you versus another seller. They might read reviews from existing customers, compare price points, or sign up for a trial at this point. The intent stage usually includes adding items to their shopping cart, and evaluation involves weighing the pros and cons of actually clicking that buy button to complete the sale.
The final stage of the funnel is purchase. By this stage, you have a full-fledged customer—congratulations! Don’t kick your feet up just yet, though. Here’s where you’ll want to start thinking about customer retention, or what you can do to ensure a second and third purchase, and so on.
While the customer acquisition funnel is a useful framework, leads aren’t guaranteed to become prospects, and prospects might be persuaded to make their purchase elsewhere, perhaps by a more enticing deal or a better customer experience.
Optimizing your customer acquisition funnel can help you create a seamless path from awareness to purchase. Let’s take a look at three tips to get you started.
To optimize your customer acquisition funnel, you’ll want to focus on search engine optimization, troubleshooting leaks and blockages in your acquisition funnel, and making customer service your top priority. Let’s discuss how focusing on these will help.
This first tip might sound obvious. But content marketing is an investment of your time and effort, and so you’ll want to ensure your target audience enters the awareness stage of the funnel by finding the content you’ve created for them. This calls for optimization of your content strategy, and sometimes a bit of spending.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to the use of techniques to drive traffic to your website. SEO ensures that your content contains the right information, such as keywords, so that it winds up on a potential customer’s search engine results page (or SERP) when they go looking for products or services similar to yours.
Here are a few SEO techniques to get the right eyes on your content:
Scope out your competition: Search for products or services similar to yours, and focus on the top results in the SERP. What keywords or phrases are used in those posts? Then, use those keywords or phrases in your own content.
Make sure your post title contains relevant keywords: If you’re hoping to get on the radar of someone searching for “moving companies Austin,” you’ll want to add a keyword such as “Austin moving company” or “Austin movers” to the title of your content.
Upload transcripts for videos and podcasts: Creating a video or a podcast is a great way to educate potential customers about your product or service, but turning that audio into text gives you another opportunity to use keywords that will increase your chances of ranking in SERPs.
Reference yourself: Provide links to past posts in a new piece of content. These are known as internal links, which signal to Google that your page contains important content.
You can also pay for your content to show up early on in SERPs. This is known as paid search marketing, and it saves you the work of optimizing your content yourself.
The image below shows what a paid search result looks like in the form of a Google ad. These are the first results to appear on the SERP, as opposed to the results in the previous image, which appear further down on the same page.
While purchasing Google or Facebook ads is a viable strategy, organic marketing is worth the effort. It results in almost 12 times more clicks than paid traffic as well as higher conversion rates. If you decide to go the paid route, take advantage of tools such as Google Analytics, which helps you measure your advertising return on investment (ROI) and customer acquisition cost.
Unfamiliar with customer acquisition cost? Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on calculating this valuable metric.
Yes, we’re still talking about your customer acquisition funnel, which can experience leaks and blockages just like your pipes at home. As far as customer acquisition is concerned, leaks and blockages result in the same problem—a lost sale, and with it, a lost potential customer.
A blockage or leak in your funnel represents an issue with your conversion rates: a lead who doesn’t become a prospect, or a prospect who doesn’t become a customer. A leak refers to the point where a lead or prospect exits the funnel.
With either blockages or leaks, you’ll want to identify and address each issue so that leads and prospects can continue moving through your funnel and ultimately become customers. Here are some examples of what these issues might look like and what you can do to solve them:
|Users are signing up for the free trial, but not staying on for the paid subscription.||Prospects aren’t converting to customers.||Follow up with an email, and reiterate the benefits of the paid subscription. You might consider an added incentive such as an extension of the trial, or a discount on the subscription cost.|
|Your website is attracting visitors, but they don’t tend to browse for long, let alone make a purchase.||Leads aren’t moving from awareness to interest.||Address any potential navigation issues within your website, such as an ineffective search bar or broken link (hint: broken links will also hurt your SEO efforts). Also consider whether your website is easily accessible via mobile device or tablet.|
|You’re having trouble getting users to enter their email address on your landing page.||Users are stuck or exiting somewhere in the middle of the funnel, depending on the order of your website navigation.||Many shoppers are wary of spam, so getting an email address from a prospective customer is a sign that they trust you, or that they want something from you in return—usually a promotional code, access to a newsletter, or a free download. Whenever possible, try not to gatekeep your content behind a firewall.|
What do Costco, Nordstrom, and Texans’ beloved H-E-B grocery store have in common? They’re all part of Forbes’ Halo 100, a list that highlights excellence in customer service.
In building their inaugural roster, Forbes and HundredX, a data and analytics company out of Dallas, solicited feedback from 110,000 consumers on more than 2.8 million interactions with different brands over 2021. Their goal, according to HundredX founder Rob Pace, was “to measure the outcomes you’re creating for customers versus their other options.”
Shoppers have nearly infinite other options, and they will exit your acquisition funnel if their customer experience is subpar. Customer experience is the impression and perception shoppers form about your brand through each touchpoint they encounter during their customer journey. When a shopper has a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to become a loyal customer and refer their friends to you as well.
A great way for a small business to prioritize customer experience is to foster a customer-centric culture amongst the entire team. This involves eliminating any barriers that prevent team members from focusing on customers in the first place, modeling customer-centric behaviors for employees, and holding regular meetings to revisit the company’s values and expectations in regards to customer service. It also involves making sure that any marketing campaign is not only geared toward driving sales, but toward customer experience as well.
As your business grows, you’ll be able to allocate more resources toward building an effective customer experience management strategy that keeps your acquisition efforts in mind. Here are some things your strategy might involve:
Creating a customer service department dedicated to your customers’ needs.
Organizing cross-functional teams that can work with your customer service department to discuss customer experience goals and issues.
Building more advanced customer experience software stacks to set up customer profiles, collect data, and use insights to design personalized experiences for your customers.
Now that you know how to successfully lead shoppers down the acquisition funnel, here are some more resources to help your business along on its customer acquisition journey:
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