Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing indeed if each and every person that visited your website for the first time made a purchase?
Yes. Yes, it would.
However, wonderful things such as this are very rarely as forthcoming as any of us would like.
According to ReTargeter, only 2% of site traffic converts on the first visit – meaning, as the wilier mathematicians amongst you will have already surmised, that there is a whopping 98% of your first-time website visitors who click away without making a purchase.
The question, therefore, that inbound marketers are faced with is: what can we do to entice these visitors back and convert them into buyers?
Understanding Buyer Journeys
Research reveals that 67% of the buyer’s journey is now conducted online. Above all else, this figure shows that inbound marketing – i.e. the online marketing techniques that draw visitors and customers to our websites – is absolutely critical to attracting and retaining customers at every stage of the journey.
Importantly, however, what companies need to pay attention to is the fact that inbound marketing is not just about creating website content that bring new visitors to the door, but rather it’s about creating a range of content assets that are optimised specifically for different visitors at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
So what are the different stages?
Well, essentially there are three:
HubSpot produce the following graphic illuminating the process.
(Image source: cdn2.hubspot.net)
But let’s break the stages down so we understand them each a little better.
- Awareness Stage: This is the stage when a new prospect will become aware that he/she has a problem and begins research into what solutions there may be. Unsure what it is they are looking for at this point, these prospects are open to suggestions from all angles.
- Consideration Stage: Now that the prospect has conducted some research, he/she has discovered that there are a number of potential solutions being offered by a number of different companies. The prospect will now evaluate the various options and pit them against each other.
- Decision Stage: This is the point where the prospect becomes a customer. Having weighed up all options, the prospect takes the decision to make a purchase.
- Post-purchase Stage: There is of course a fourth stage not featured in the HubSpot image – the post-purchase stage. This, essentially, is the aftercare stage, where the customer will be deciding whether or not he/she is happy with the product or service just purchased. Building loyalty and efforts to retain customers are all built into this stage (from an inbound marketing perspective).
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How to Optimise Your Site for Multi-Visit Buyer Journeys
It’s pretty clear now why so many (98%) of first-time visitors don’t convert – most of them will only be at the awareness stage, and therefore the decision to make a purchase has not been made.
And so, as inbound marketers, we must therefore ensure that we have adequate hoards of inbound marketing material that are optimised for each cohort of visitors at the various stages of the buyer’s journey.
So, let’s consider what that optimal content might be for each of the four stages we have outlined.
During the awareness stage, we can assume that your prospects will be full of questions – usually quite broad – about how to solve the problem (or problems) recently identified. They will begin to search for educational information concerning the issues they are having, and also about the industry that may be able to provide solutions (i.e. your industry).
Developing buyer and inbound marketing personas is crucial here for identifying what sorts of questions these prospects will be asking. Getting into the minds of those at the awareness stage will help you craft content that is specifically designed to answer their questions.
When creating this content, you must pay careful consideration to keywords that reference the issues that they are facing. As such, blogs, articles, infographics and videos that address the concerns of those in the awareness stage will prove to be your most valuable assets.
During the consideration stage, your prospects will be beginning to formulate more specific queries as they consider which of the services they’ve discovered will provide the best solutions to their problems.
Prospects will now want to know more about your company, what your values are, and a hell of lot more about the services and solutions that you offer. It is now, therefore, the job of the inbound marketer to ensure that there is plenty of easily-discoverable information on the company’s website that answers these questions.
eBooks, case studies, webinars, white papers, service/product/solution demonstrations and research reports are all of top value for prospects at the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
Congratulations! You’ve got a new customer.
But, the work doesn’t stop here. Now you need to ensure that they are a happy customer. This means solving any pain-points that there might be with using your product or service, sending thank you emails, surveys and invitations to attend customer care or service calls.
In terms of website content, keep lively with blog posts – this time with a focus of adding value rather than raising awareness. Provide tutorials, either formatted as blog posts, infographics or videos (or all three!). Ensure you’ve got your thank you emails waiting to be fired off, and that you have a range of surveys that you can invite your new customers to participate in.
This is the stage where you need to be ensuring that you’re doing everything to turn your one-off customers into loyal and returning customers. This means keeping them engaged with your brand, and offering a few incentives that entice them to make repeat purchases and keep your business in mind.
Email newsletters are a good place to start, especially if they contain exclusive offers for your valued customers. Triggered emails, too, are useful when sent out at strategic moments – such as just before a subscription renewal. Unlocking gated content is another good strategy, as is sending out discounts and special offers for repeat renewals and purchases.
It will also pay to remind your customers of the value of staying with you – so send out information pertaining to this. If you’re saving them money with a special FinTech app, remind them weekly about exactly how much they are actually saving. If it’s something like a brain-training game or what have you, send out improvement reports.
All of this comes down to improving the lifetime value of your customers. Since customer retention is far more cost-effective than acquisition, the post-purchase stage is perhaps the most important of all.