I recently heard an SEO-turned-social-media speaker talk about how to use social media to get people to buy. He talked about writing copy that gets clicks and how to get people to take action based on your social media posts.
The problem with this approach is that it’s only targeting one part of the purchase cycle. Whether you’re buying lip gloss or a new database system for a business, buying is a process, and to simplify buying to the single point in time where we take action means that you’re limiting the appeal of your marketing, and probably missing out on 80 percent of the people who might not be ready to buy right now.
The Purchase Funnel
The idea of the marketing funnel is that people go through stages before they buy. We rarely buy something immediately upon hearing about it. Think of it this way: 95 percent of the commercials on television aren’t encouraging you to pick up the phone and buy. The 5 percent that focus on the direct sale are usually on the shopping channel, where they use intense psychological marketing to get you to buy.
The other 95 percent of ads build awareness so you’ll choose the product or company when the time is right. Think about a Tide laundry detergent commercial. You don’t run to the store when you see a commercial, but when you get to the store, you might look for the new scent you heard of, or you may choose Tide because it’s familiar to you, or you think that it’s the best.
The purchase funnel shows us that there is value in building awareness, interest, desire, action, loyalty, and advocacy. All of these factors combined lead to purchase – not just one link prompting you to click.
The key to successful social media marketing is to keep in mind that your audience may be in different stages of the purchase process. If you focus all of your efforts on “buy now” you could be isolating a huge segment of your audience. Furthermore, we know that for most businesses the people who connect with them on social networks are already customers (or are planning to become customers).
If you only focus on action you can miss out on a huge part of your audience.
Creating Content Across the Funnel
The key to success is to create content and calls-to-action that target all of the different stages of the marketing funnel. Here’s an example of marketing across the funnel.
Let’s say I have an insurance business. I want to have an Internet marketing and social media strategy that reaches across the funnel:
- Awareness. Increasing visibility with social media, Facebook ads, driving interactions on social media, and earned media based on content.
- Interest. Showcasing expertise, creating content that highlights points of difference, etc.
- Desire. Showing results, focusing on how you solve a problem, and longer-format webinar content that builds a need or desire.
- Action. Coupons, percent-off, call-to-action, limited time offer, etc.
- Loyalty. Responding to questions online, taking an interest in customers, sharing customer success stories, etc.
- Advocacy. Rewarding customers for sharing their stories, referring a friend to campaigns, and driving awareness through social interactions.
The key to success is to understand people, psychology, and marketing, and know that even though people may not buy from you right away, building awareness and an impression in the minds of your customers is what ultimately leads them to buy from you.
We do business with people, products, businesses, and brands that we know, like, and trust. Building these three elements is the key to your success. A social media strategy that attracts prospects and over time brings them through the funnel is the best way to deliver long-term ROI.