To make your marketing efforts successful, the first step you should take is to deeply understand how consumers make decisions. In part one of this blog series, we considered what the user conversion funnel looks like today, and in part two we looked at how consumers have changed their buying consideration process. Today, we focus in on tactics to effectively use the user conversion funnel model.

Most marketers find it difficult to focus their strategies and funds on influential touch points. One reason behind this is that their marketing effort’s direction may have to change. For instance, you may need to consider shifting from advertising during the initial-consideration phase to coming up with Internet properties that allow buyers to assess brands while they actively evaluate it.

Other marketers may have it easy as they would only require tweaking their loyalty programs to focus more on active rather than passive loyalists, invest in value-adding in-store activities, or come up with programs that motivate the spread of word-of-mouth. The constant growth of the conversion funnel’s complexity will force all companies to develop and embrace new ways of measuring consumer attitudes, product or brand performance, and the effectiveness of fund utilization across the whole process.

If you decide against re-aligning your marketing funds, you will have to face two risks. First off, you will be wasting money, which is the last thing to do while revenue growth is critical and funding is tight. Any investments you make in marketing and other aspects will be less effective because consumers won’t be getting the information they need at the right time. Secondly, marketers may come off too strong and repel their buyers. This can be done, for example, by pushing products on customers rather than offering the information and other important factors they need to decide on their own.

If you want to avoid these, you need to carry out four kinds of activities that can help you implement the realities of the user conversion funnel.

#1) Set priorities for objectives and spending

Previously, marketers focused on only one of the ends of the marketing funnel, i.e. either building awareness or ensuring the loyalty of current customers. Studies show a need to be much more specific when selecting and using touch points to influence consumers from the initial consideration stage and all the way to closure. By looking just at only one end of the funnel, companies will easily miss out on a number of opportunities that can help them focus investments important parts as well as target the right customers.

The skin care industry again is a good example of this. Some brands display more strength during the initial-consideration phase than during active evaluation or closure. What they should do is shift their efforts from overall brand positioning to efforts that make consumers act since the prior is already strong.

#2) Customise your messages

Some companies would require new messaging to achieve success regardless of whichever part of the consumer journey provides the most revenue. If you have used a general message across all stages, it’s time for you to replace it with one that tackles the weaknesses of a specific point, such as initial consideration or active evaluation.

In the case of the automotive industry, a number of brands can easily experience growth if consumers considered them. Hyundai, the South Korean car manufacturer, tackled this issue effectively by adopting a marketing campaign that assured consumers that they’re protected financially by enabling them to return their vehicles if they become unemployed. This message handled a very real issue Americans face, allowing the once last-thought-of brand to become part of the initial-consideration set of many new clients. Now, despite the poor state of the automotive market, Hyundai’s market share is rising.

#3) Tackle consumer-driven marketing

In order to move beyond traditional funnel-inspired push marketing, companies should invest in methods which allow marketers to get in touch with consumers as they discover more about their brands. The heart of consumer-driven marketing is the World Wide Web. It is extremely important during the active-evaluation phase since consumers are always in search of information, reviews, and recommendations.

Strong performance during this segment of the decision making journey will mandate a shift from buying media to coming up with properties that reel in clientele. The latter include a number of digital assets such as sites about products and apps and platforms that ensure the spread of word-of-mouth. This, of course, comes with ample risks. Some companies have faced difficulty shifting money to new properties over the years. For instance, you have P&G which stepped into the new world of radio in the 1930s and then moved on to television in the 1950s.

Today, broadband connectivity allows marketers to deliver rich applications to their target audience and educate them on their marketed products. Simple, dynamic tools that help customers determine which products are best for them are now essential elements for every online marketer. Two instances of these are American Express’s card finder and Ford’s car configurator; both are quick sorting features that make every step of the decision journey convenient and easy. In addition, marketers can manipulate the direction of online word-of-mouth by using tools that detect discussions initiated about brands, analyze what’s being said, and allow marketers to respond in a more effective way.

These aside, content-management systems (CMS) and web-based targeting engines allow marketers to generate numerous variations of a single advertising. Each variation will take into account the context it will appear in, the past actions of viewers, and a real-time inventory of what the company plans to market. For instance, different airlines come up and optimize thousands of offers, prices and promotional messages to ensure that potential travelers realize that they offer the most opportunities. Digital marketing has always been helpful in this type of targeting, but now we have the tools to ensure a more directed approach that doesn’t exhaust companies’ funds.

#4) Pour your efforts on the in-store battle

One of the results of the new complexity in the world of marketing is that more consumers delay their purchase decision until they reach the store offering the products. This explains why merchandising and packaging have become vital selling factors. Consumers want to look at a product while it’s functioning and their decision is influenced by what they see. In fact, up to 40 percent of consumers change their minds because of what they see, learn, or do at this point.

For instance, some brands never reach the initial-consideration set at first, but manage to be selected during the point of purchase due to their appealing packages and promotions on the shelves. These small quirks are quickly becoming essential selling tools as they grab the attention of consumers when they enter a store. The same is also applicable to the consumer electronics segments, which is why stores flaunt high-definition TV sets and play music or videos on them.

There will be times when a combination of approaches, such as attractive packaging, a prominent position on shelves and informative signage, are required to attract consumers who enter a store determined to stick to their initial-consideration set. Studies show that in-store touch points are what give other brands the chance to shine.

In my next blog post, we look at how executives must broaden their view to take conversion optimization marketing into account.

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