Do you want to take your existing business online?
You’re in the right place!
In this article, you’ll learn how to find your audience online, how to offer them your product and service, and how to generate revenue and paying customers through online platforms.
But before we go into that, let’s get the basic idea down…
What Does it Mean to Take Your Business Online?
It’s a very broad concept but I’ll share with you the model I use to bring my clients’ businesses online.
Take note though that it’s one way, but it’s not the only way.
For me, taking your business online simply means recreating the whole customer journey online.
There is no need to start from scratch. We just take your processes now and set them up online with the help of the different online tools and platforms available to us.
So what is the customer journey?
The customer journey is basically the relationship between your business and your customer.
And this journey is usually mapped out by what is known as the conversion funnel. This is the model I want to share with you today.
What is a Conversion Funnel?
A conversion funnel is a representation of the customer journey and is shaped like a triangle pointing down.
The funnel is split into the different stages in the customer journey moving downwards. As customers move downwards, the funnel becomes smaller because the reality is, a lot of people will drop off at every stage of the funnel.
The point of the funnel model is for business owners to be able to identify the different stages of the customer journey. This allows them to craft specific messaging and different offers to help people move to the next stage of the funnel. This process is called a conversion.
Why is this important?
I was once in the mall with my wife when we were stopped by a random person to sell us insurance.
Don’t get me wrong, I like insurance and I encourage people to get it. And I do not mean any offense to people selling insurance. But here’s my point.
We found it annoying and as a marketer, I found it very ineffective. Why?
- We were not in the market for insurance at the time.
- We did not know the guy nor the company he represented.
- My wife nor I were not at a stage in our lives when we wanted or needed insurance.
- We already had insurance and we didn’t feel the need to buy at the moment.
He wanted us to buy immediately on our first touch point.
Would you propose to someone on your first date?
The reason why mapping out the customer journey with a funnel is useful is because it helps you identify who are in what stage of the journey so you can how to speak to that person to get them to convert and move to the next stage.
The beauty of taking your business online is that you are able to easily identify where your customers are in the funnel. this knowledge, with the help of different platforms, allow you to market to them online.
Each online business has its own specific funnel but let me share with you a common model identifying 4 key stages in the customer journey.
Let’s discuss each one and how you can recreate each stage online.
The awareness stage is your business’ first touch point with your customers. It is designed for you to reach the people in your audience who have not yet heard of you yet.
The key idea here is to introduce yourself without introducing yourself.
Think about it. The guy selling insurance earlier introduced himself to us by trying to immediately sell us his offer.
Don’t you hate that person at a gathering who is always immediately trying to sell you something?
You don’t know them and already, they are wanting to take something from you. What’s worse, they try to tell you what you need without even getting to you first. How can that person know that you indeed need what he is offering?
You know who we do like though: the guy who is talking to us and is genuinely interested in what we have to say.
Have you ever been to a dinner or an inuman where someone brings a friend you don’t know but at the end of the night, you feel like you’ve been friends for some time now?
That’s the kind of person we want to be at this stage of the conversion funnel.
And we do this by talking about your target audience’s favorite topic. And this happens to be everyone else’s favorite topic.
To be specific, talk to them about the problems they are facing which your business seeks to solve. Give them free advice on what to do with their dilemma. Ask for nothing in return.
We do not want to be to sale-sy at this stage so avoid talking about your business as the solution to the problem. When it’s apt, you can mention it as a possible solution, but do not dwell on it.
Two common ways to do this would be through a blog post or through video content shared on social platforms like Facebook.
At this stage, offer value and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
It’s ok not to sell or make an offer at this stage. If this does not immediately lead to a sale or a lead, don’t worry.
This step helps your branding and puts you in a much better position to make your offers later on.
In the awareness stage, we want to find the people who are experiencing the problems your business is trying to solve. But the reality is, not all of them will want to solve those problems.
The objective of the consideration stage is to get the audience to self-identify as those who are interested in solving their specific problem. These people who self-identify will now be your leads.
The key concept here is to generate leads by offering something to your audience in exchange for their contact information.
That ‘something of value’ is commonly known in the online business space as a lead magnet.
You’ve probably seen a lot of these online. The most common example is a free e-book which you can get when you give your name and e-mail address. We’ll discuss why this is important in the next stage.
Lead magnets are usually free and are ideally filled with value. It is a continuation of the previous stage where you help out your audience with the problem they are dealing with by offering possible solutions.
Why do we not start with this in the first place?
Because the difference now is that you’re asking for something in return.
When you walk around in the mall, do you take anything just because it’s handed free to you? Of course not!
We led with the awareness stage to introduce ourselves as someone who knows their problem and is genuinely there to provide help for them. This puts you in a much better position to ask for something: their contact information.
Common lead magnets around the internet also include:
- Free Webinars
- Demo or Trial
- Free Strategy Call
It’s important for you to identify lead magnets which are specific to your audience’s problem and can be a smooth lead-in to your main solution.
The main objective of the conversion stage is to turn your leads into paying customers.
As simple as it sounds written down, this is where the hard work comes in.
Just because your audience is interested in your solution doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll purchase from you.
This stage is more than just following up with your audience. It’s more than just sending cart abandonment e-mails on those who did not proceed to purchase from your e-commerce store.
Because this stage is a deeper part of the customer journey, the conversation tends to happen over e-mail to make it more personalized. This is why we ask for the audience’s e-mail address. Take note though that this isn’t always the case. This stage can be done through social ads (through remarketing), instant messaging platforms or even traditional one-on-one phone calls.
This stage is where you now put some of the focus on your business and your specific solution. More importantly, this is where you highlight how your solution can be the most beneficial for your leads to get their problems solved.
The level of difficulty of this stage will vary for every business. One common differentiating factor would be price point.
If you are selling a low-priced item or service, it’s much easier to get a lead to buy. Compare it with people who are in the market to buy a car or a house. They may express early on in the customer journey that they want to purchase these properties (making them leads) but getting them to actually make a purchase may take some time.
Since this is the narrowest part of the conversion funnel, here are some ways to help push more leads out of that funnel and get them to buy. You can use any one or a combination of these, whichever makes the most sense.
Nurture Through Content
Sometimes customers need some form of content to convince them to proceed with the purchase. Talk to them about the product or service, its benefits and how it can help them.
Higher-priced products or services may face questions and objectives from the potential customers. It may be a good idea to talk them through these concerns to get them to purchase.
Case Studies & Testimonials
If you can’t convince your leads to purchase, maybe other people can. Share with them how your business has solved the same problem for other people. Social proof can do a lot to boost conversions.
Trials & Demos
If applicable, your business may offer free or discounted trials and demos. The best way to convince someone to purchase something is to have them try out the product or service. It puts you in a much much better position to make an offer later on.
Tripwires & One Time Offers
Tripwires are very low-priced offers which are usually offered for a very limited time. The logic here is that once a customer takes out his/her wallet to pay for a service, the business relationship has changed. It will be much easier for people who take this offer to buy your future offers considering the tripwire they purchase will be very value-filled.
Flash sales are when your business offers discounted prices for a specific period with no previous announcement of the promotion. The idea is to create urgency for non-buyers to purchase or miss out on great deals.
Free + Shipping Offers
This is usually a strategy by businesses who can afford to give something away for free. Something of value is offered for free to the user with the user shouldering just the shipping charges.
Now you have acquired a new customer!
But you know very well that it the work doesn’t stop there.
After getting a lead to convert, the objective now is retention and to make sure that the customer keeps coming back.
The initial way to do this at this stage is to ensure that you are able to deliver everything you promised.
We’ve all probably fallen for some sales talks or ads before into purchasing something which ended up disappointing us. Chances are, you won’t ever buy from that business again.
But if you have a good experience, the likelihood of us being a repeat customer is much higher.
That is the most important thing to do. Apart from that, here are some ways to help increase retention:
- Produce Content – This may be through a blog or even as simple as Social Posts to engage with your customers. The key is to post content which are relevant to your customers
- Have a Newsletter – Keep your customers updated with any updates or promotions.
- Provide Rewards – Reward loyalty by providing gifts or discounts to frequent purchasers. You can also incentivize your customers to do other actions such as to provide a review and referrals.
- Start a Community – One of the best ways to keep customers engaged is to set up a community like a Facebook group. Here, people can discuss questions about your business as well as other similar interests. Everyone loves being around people like them!
No matter how your business looks now, you can definitely take it online.
All it boils down to is to recreate what is already happening offline on the internet. There are a lot of platforms available out there which will allow businesses to do this.
Your customers are online, you should be too.