So you’re ready to start optimizing your conversion rate. Where do you start? If you are already thinking about how to get those visitors on your website to make a purchase, then you are skipping over some important steps along the way.
Optimizing your conversion rate is not as simple as comparing the number of website visits to the number of purchases. In order to optimize effectively, you must optimize for each stage of your customer lifecycle, or buyer’s journey. What is that, you ask?
The customer lifecycle will vary from industry to industry, but generally all customers will go from an awareness, consideration, and finally a decision stage throughout any purchase. Your job is to ensure that within each stage of their journey, you are optimizing that conversion (as within each stage your “conversion” will be different) from step to step.
Let’s take a look at what is going for the customer within each stage of customer lifecycle. This will ensure we are answering the questions our potential customers have along the way.
Awareness Stage. Our goal? To increase subscribers.
In this stage, the customer has just realized they have a problem or a need. Before this, they didn’t know that something was wrong. They didn’t think they had a problem, and definitely didn’t know there was a solution if they did.
For example, someone sees an ad for my health club that is not only a gym, but an online community. Currently, that person thinks that their current gym is ok, or that they don’t need a health community or gym at all. In the Awareness Stage, I provide them with information that drives them to the conclusion there may be other options.
For my health club, I create content surrounding the main benefits of my club. I want my prospects to acknowledge that what they currently have is not working, or that it could be better! My main selling points for my club are:
- It is more than a gym–it’s a health community accessible 24/7
- We provide express classes for time-constrained folks
- We offer on-demand, web-based classes and personal training
- There are physical assessments monthly to track progress and goals
By creating “generic” content highlighting why those benefits are important, while not doing a straight up sales job about my club, I drive those folks into the consideration phase. Some topics I may cover across various channels–blogging, social media, infographics, videos, podcasts–might answer the following:
- Why your gym membership could be more cost-effective with at-home training options.
- Why a monthly professional assessment of your health is imperative to your overall success?
- How can a 20 minute workout be just as effective, if not more so, than a typical 60-minute run?
For every piece of content created, there should be a relevant call-to-action (CTA). We’ve introduced a new concept or issue to your readers, and now they want to learn more. For example, I include a CTA that invites them to sign up to receive a free ebook, email series, or webinar with content inline with my topics above. I am still not asking them to join my club–just providing them with more value-added content.
With custom-made CTAs, you can tweak your content based on what resonates most with your audience. If most of my readers are converting around the online classes and training information, I should create more content around that subject.
Now that we have our prospects aware of the problem, let’s move with them into the Consideration stage.
Consideration Stage. Our goal? To increase leads
Now your prospects realize they have a problem and that there are solutions out there that can help them with it. They’ve been actively engaging with your content and have decided they want to take a deeper look.
Much like in the Awareness Stage where you optimized content to increase subscribers, in the Consideration Stage you need to optimize to increase leads.
As for my health club, I now have folks looking at me because I offer online classes and training sessions. (Big perk for membership if they cannot make it to the gym the week they are traveling for work, since that is not super cost-effective for the customer.) What other health clubs offer that feature? Yes they will be looking at the competition and alternate solutions! You’ve made them curious after all…now you just have keep them on your conversion path.
Within the Consideration Stage, I turn my calls-to-action to be less about requesting additional content and more about a free trial or free demo. We want to give this away, as although the user knows these benefits are important, they have not decided if they want to invest in them yet. For my health club, I definitely want the user to have a free 30-day trial. Enjoy the benefits of a real gym PLUS the online aspect you crave!
Decision Stage: Our goal? To increase sales.
Finally, we’ve come to the big Decision Stage, when that potential customer is making the choice to invest in your service, in another option or not at all.
This is where a strong onboarding process becomes imperative, and is often overlooked or not managed well. Your job doesn’t stop at optimizing content offerings. You must work with your internal teams to continuously make the product easier to use, and create an onboarding process that pushes the user along so they see the value in your offering…and want to stick around! Are your customers using your product during that free trial? Are they seeing all the right features–especially those they are interested in–within the demo? Have they forgotten about the product already and aren’t using it?
Because you’ve watched each customer through each stage of the customer lifecycle to this point, you should know their needs, concerns and wants from your product. Remember in my health club example, my leads love the online classes—so are they actually utilizing them in the trial?? Do they feel those classes are high-quality? Track their actions and see if there’s any correlation between those actions and them making the decision to become a customer. Optimize and then start the process over.
Whew! So. Much. Easier.
Once you’ve broken down the stages your customers go through in the customer lifecycle, and truly understand what they are looking for in each stage, it is easy to optimize for conversions accordingly. The days of wondering why visitors aren’t signing up or buying your product will be over. Now you can focus on educating prospects, discovering their problems, and helping to solve them within each stage—then watch them become loyal customers!
Start by drawing out your customer lifecycle. What stages are there and what questions are your visitors asking? Identify what works best to take customers from one stage to the next and start optimizing conversion rates accordingly.
There are many advanced platforms (we LOVE Hubspot!) out there that help you create content based on what stage your customer is in. You can even track your visitors as they poke around your site to see what visitors become leads on their own, or what visitors you may need to pay special attention to for conversion. Pretty fancy stuff.
How do you optimize within your own customer lifecycle?