I spend a lot of time thinking about the consumer buying process. Whether it is making a decision to travel and book your stay or transfer/apply to higher education, purchase decking, buy a car…you name it. I think about HOW that happens and what can possibly help move the consumer along that decision process. While all of these industries and processes are very different; the basic path of awareness, interest, consideration, intent, purchase and advocacy apply to all.
Many campaigns are designed to “increase conversions” and some are still designed to “increase awareness”. Unfortunately the “conversion” is often defined as the final, directly-measureable metric (i.e transaction, form fill, email, phone call etc.). However, there is a LOT that happens between awareness and conversion. What is being done to move this middle? The people in the consideration/intent phase of this cycle are the most likely to convert soon. What are you doing to move them? Also, people who are already aware of you are the most likely to consider doing business with you. What are you doing to motivate them? How strategic is your retargeting strategy? When someone visits your homepage and leaves, what do you say to them? What are you asking of them? BUY, BOOK, ENROLL NOW!? I hope not. That is not going to hold their hand and walk them into the consideration/intent aisle. Many e-commerce businesses have developed very effective retargeting campaigns to influence your purchase (once you have engaged a product). You have all seen the item you almost bought follow you around everywhere, in your email, one facebook and on every webpage you visit. This is a great way to influence that decision. However, most businesses are not e-commerce and most people are not on the edge of intent consideration. So how do you move the people who are aware you exist into consideration to intent to get near your ultimate conversion?
I have been working on a strategic theory called Intent Acceleration. This utilizes on-site user engagement data to pinpoint a consumers location in their path to purchase, isolate where they are and where we want them to go. Once we know where they are and where we want them to go next (not just BUY NOW), we are able to create the most effective creative message with the appropriate click destination and optimal conversion experience to move them through the middle. This brings much more sophistication and intention to most retargeting strategies and will help move that precious middle that is too often undervalued. There are many challenges with concepts like this that include data analysis and processing, custom audience segmentation and creation, a vast array of creative messaging, website/landing page development and design and effective goal tracking and optimization. However, the right thing to do is never the easiest path. This takes smart people who truly care with the necessary technology in their hands. Therefore, if you don’t have both of those in-house, find a trusted partner to fill the gaps of your team.
Increasing awareness is futile unless you have a great plan to move the middle. Focusing on the final conversion leaves too much good stuff on the table and forcing a final conversion too early is off-putting to the consumer. You invest far too many dollars to waste them and leave it up to the consumer to find their way. Care about your middle, court them through the process with intention and maximize your marketing/sales funnel conversion ratios to enhance your performance. Do great work, be passionate, have fun and share your success. We are all trying to keep up with the consumer. Good luck out there!