Capturing Online Customers at Every Step of the Sales Funnel

Immediate sales conversions are great, but even your ideal customer isn’t always prepared to purchase. It’s doubly true if they don’t know you exist or what you sell. That’s why your marketing efforts should be working at three levels: Attract, Acquire, and Retain.

Attract: grab their attention

While sales-oriented direct action messaging is important, the reality is that not all your potential customers are ready to buy the first time they come across your brand. In fact, if they’re not familiar with your company and what it does, the odds they’ll be swayed by your sales pitch aren’t particularly high anyway. You wouldn’t expect to win an election without campaigning, would you?

The Attract stage of online marketing is intended to get your name out there, preferably in a favorable, highly visible light. You’ll be targeting users who aren’t exactly on the precipice of purchasing your products, and are most likely unaware of your brand. You’ll want to make them aware of the product or service you sell and what need it fulfills.

Your primary goals will be to drive brand awareness and/or improve brand perception, which can be measured by increased brand-name searches and direct traffic to your site(s). Efforts at the Attract stage will include:

  • Video, including pre-roll ads/viral content: deliver a comprehensive message to your audience
  • Display (banner) advertising: contextualize your brand on related websites and social spaces
  • Social media activity: show users that your company is knowledgeable, helpful, funny, and active
  • Public relation and events: real-life engagement is more likely to persist in potential customers’ minds
  • Blog articles, landing pages, and other web content: reach and inform casual search users about you
  • PPC advertising w/upper funnel keywords: introduce your brand with early stage keywords
  • Website SEO w/upper funnel keywords: drive curious clickers to your site for helpful tools or info
  • Search retargeting: reinforce your brand with users who are searching in your vertical

All of these media will increase your exposure to potential customers regardless of their immediate intent to purchase. That way when they’re ready to buy something, they’ll either think of your brand on their own or recognize it with increased trust.

Acquire: get their business

Acquisition – this is where all the sales start rolling in, right?

Well, mostly. Once consumers have been introduced to and Attracted to your brand, sales generation could be immediate… or it could be years off, depending on what you’re selling and how much convincing it’s going to take. As such, it’s important to have a wide variety of acquisition paths, including immediate purchase options for buy-ready customers and educational/persuasive messaging intended to win over people who are still on the fence about your products. Everything at this part of the funnel is designed to make it easy for would-be buyers to make a transaction.

As such, both the immediate and slower paths lead to the same goal: pushing consumers towards conversion. Now, you’ll be able to measure macro and micro conversion rates, as well as the immediate value of your ad spend in terms of audience actions. To that end, your marketing should now include:

  • Non-branded search terms (SEO and PPC): this is where you can start driving direct sales
  • Search retargeting: continue these efforts, but transition from branding messaging to CTAs
  • Email marketing (promotional): lure customers with offers and show off your product line
  • Email retargeting (behavior triggered): convert cart abandoners and others effectively
  • Site retargeting: turn visitors who have left your site into customers

Your target audience already knows who you are and what you sell; these forms of marketing will seal the deal with additional product details, irresistible pricing, and impactful messaging that leads directly to sales conversion.

Retain: keep their loyalty

As with any relationship, the brand/consumer paradigm demands constant attention. It’s not enough to win people over for one-off purchases; each customer is a long-term investment, a person who will not only return to buy from you again and again, but will also spread the word about your goods to friends.

To some extent, gimmicks end at this stage. Witty slogans and high-frequency advertising won’t work if your website, service, or product itself is bad. Retaining your audience is reliant on substance more than style. Your products must meet or exceed consumer expectations. Your customer service efforts must be ready to handle all communications, positive and negative. And your marketing efforts must remain relevant and valuable to your audience, giving them real reasons to return to your ecommerce store.

Once again, the proof is in the pudding data. Look at churn rate, estimated CLV, and social mentions for clues to how well-received your company is. These metrics will help you assess customer loyalty, likelihood of additional purchases, and overall customer satisfaction. Focus on the user experience with:

  • Email marketing (promotional): continue to push purchases with direct action-minded messaging
  • Email marketing (behavior triggered): use your customer’s actions to give them the most relevant offers
  • Social media (to engage fans): entertain your fans and subtly remind them of your brand
  • Social media with viral value: give your devotees something cool to share with their friends
  • Brand reputation management: keep competitors off your brand and maintain a positive image
  • Customer service improvements: strong customer service is a leading loyalty generator
  • Overall product quality: let’s face it, if your product stinks, buyers won’t be coming back, ever

From there, you can identify areas for improvement and gain insights into why buyers like your brand – perfect for planning your next Attract and Acquire messaging. The Retain stage is perfect for surveying and optimizing your campaigns and product offerings based on customer feedback.

Keep in mind that while these stages are chronological for each individual customer, the funnel needs to be filled at every level simultaneously. That way, you’re constantly turning potential customers into current customers, current customers into brand advocates, and getting brand advocates to help attract new potential customers.

Ripen’s Services:

Implementing just one of these steps could improve your customer conversion and retention rate, but for the best results, you need all three. Control your ecommerce company’s reputation with the integrated marketing and web web development services at Ripen.


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