The conversion funnel is one of the main concepts that marketers need to understand to be able to connect to consumers effectively at the right place, in the perfect time, and with the ideal message.

Marketing focuses on reaching out to consumers at the moments that can increase your conversion rate. This is why electronics producers don’t only display televisions in stores, but also flaunt vivid hi-def pictures. This also explains why Amazon.com started offering targeted product recommendations to buyers who are already logged in and ready to buy. It also explains why Proctor & Gamble stepped into the world of radio and then TV to reach the audiences who will buy its products thus the birth of “soap opera.”

Marketers have always focused on availing moments, which are termed touch points, when consumers are easier to influence. Touch points have always been explained via the metaphor of a “funnel.” With numerous potential brands available to consumers, which make up the wider side of the funnel, marketers aim to direct their target audience towards the tighter end of the funnel. As a result, they reduce the number of brands a consumer goes for until consumers emerge with the one brand they decide to purchase.

Unfortunately, the funnel concept doesn’t allow marketers to cover all touch points and key buying factors. This leads to an increase in product choices and digital channels and the emergence of well-informed consumers. As a result, a more sophisticated approach is necessary for marketers to achieve their goal. They need something that is less linear and more complex than what the funnel requires. What they need is the conversion funnel.

Applicable to all markets that have different kinds of media, access to the web and a wide choice of products, the wide reach of media and products demands new ways to get brands among the initial set consumers consider (the wide range of the funnel) to initiate their decision journey. In addition, due to the shift from one-way communication to two-way conversation, marketers are relying on a systematic way to tend to customer needs and manage word-of-mouth. Moreover, studies uncovered two types of customer loyalty, forcing companies to re-think their loyalty programs and the way they focus on customer experience.

Finally, the research we conducted proved the importance of aligning all the elements of marketing, i.e. spending, strategy, channel management, and message, with the procedure consumers follow while making purchasing decisions as well as integrating those elements across the levels of a business. By understanding this process, marketers will be able to effectively target their spending and messaging during moments that guarantee maximum influence. As a result, they stand a higher chance of reaching consumers and ultimately achieving a higher conversion rate.

The procedure consumers follow to make decisions

Consumers form impressions of brands through touch points like ads and conversations with family and friends, and product experiences. Unless buyers are actually shopping, many touch points can go to waste. However, when something activates buyers’ impulse to buy, the accumulated impressions become essential because they determine the set of options a consumer will initially select from.

According to the funnel analogy, consumers narrow down their set of initial-considerations by weighing options, making decisions, and then buying products. The time after a sale is considered a trial period that helps determine consumer loyalty to brands and the chances of buying from them again. For years, the norm has been to “push” marketing towards consumers during the stages of the funnel process. However, sectors like automobile, skin care and mobile-telecom industries shows a different growing trend.

Marketers need to understand that the decision-making process is more circular in shape. It is divided into four primary phases where marketers can succeed or fail accordingly:

  1. Initial consideration
  2. Active evaluation (the process of studying prospective purchases)
  3. Closure (when buyers purchase from brands)
  4. Post-purchase (when consumers experience them)

With these in mind, the funnel metaphor can be quite helpful. For example, it allows marketers to understand the strength of a brand as compared to its competitors during different stages. Therefore, they can understand what hurdles delay adoption; this enables them to focus on the aspects of the marketing challenge. Nonetheless, due to massive changes in three areas, the way consumers make buying decisions required an innovative approach.

In my next blog post I’ll look at the four ways consumer behaviour has changed and how it affects what you have to do as a marketer.

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