According to MarketingSherpa, a whopping 79% of leads do not successfully sail through the conversion funnel, leaving only a mere 21% to sales. Essentially, you’re only capitalizing on a fifth of your business’ potential. Imagine what you could do if you could realize even half of your possible sales. Impressive, huh?
So, what could be the main hindrance to your success? What could you be possibly doing wrong? Is your marketing strategy seriously underperforming?
Contrary to popular belief, marketing isn’t usually to blame. As a matter of fact, marketing has helped you identify prospects and subsequently turn them into leads. But unfortunately, that’s where it ends. As much as we might hope for a comprehensive marketing process that simply and efficiently brings us sales, it’s just not possible.
The principle goal of marketing is brand and market awareness; the best it can do is generate warm leads and subsequently pass them to your lead nurturing process. Unfortunately, 65% of businesses have yet to establish such a framework that effectively moves their leads through the conversion process. That alone places them way below the 21% successfully converted leads level.
There are many strategies to building an effective lead nurturing and conversion framework. And since there’s no way we could cover them in a single post, we’ll begin with one of the simplest, most effective methods which can be implemented by both large and small businesses: SEO.
Search engine optimization isn’t just for waving a flag to get your site noticed by search engines – it’s also a tool, which if leveraged correctly, could significantly boost your success at converting leads. Ideally, you’ll be able to seamlessly move more visitors from visiting, through to the checkout process and ultimately finalize with actual sales. If your strategy works, you could even induce additional loyalty, and subsequently achieve what more than 95% of other SEO users are already trying to accomplish.
Since this strategy ought to be implemented systematically, we’ll discuss it according to the four main stages of the conversion funnel:
Creating awareness of your products and services is usually the first step of the conversion funnel. Giving your visitors a rough understanding of what you do will prompt them to proceed to subsequent steps of qualification. To further define this, let’s look at an example of a fictitious car sales company, Automot, which – unlike its competitors – strives to deliver more personalized services by delivering vehicles right to their owners’ doorsteps.
When Tom, our fictitious customer based in Chicago, thinks of buying a car, he’ll skip the hard part by trusting Google with the search process. By searching “car dealer in Chicago”, he’ll get instant results on various dealers within his locality, as well as what they offer. And that’s exactly where SEO comes in. By building their landing pages around keywords like “cheap car dealer in Chicago” or “car sales and delivery Chicago”, Automot could capitalize on these search queries to create awareness of their unique package of products and services.
Now that the customer is beginning to develop interest in the company, Automot has ignited a process that could see them increase their opportunities of making sales by 20%. Going further, a particularly holistic approach could involve providing brief, but comprehensive information within the site’s landing pages to make the consumer fully aware of what he/she is dealing with before proceeding. Additionally, it should provide quick links to other pages where customers can find important information relating to the company and their products/services.
Tom is now aware of a car sales company that can save him the trouble of visiting the yard by offering to ship any car to his home. Of course, just like most buyers, he’ll probably still have additional questions especially regarding the special services – in this case, vehicle delivery. He’ll then turn to Google and type “vehicle delivery” to learn more about it. By this time, our customer has moved to the interest stage of our conversion funnel – he’s aware of your business and related products, but still needs additional information.
An effective SEO strategy at this stage would involve providing informative content that’s optimized for keywords relevant to your business. For instance, your blog could provide further information on what delivery entails, its benefits and related costs, plus other critical dynamics of buying a car. According to 53% of marketers, this strategy alone has proven to be the most effective SEO tactic, meaning that it could subsequently have the biggest impact on your lead generation process.
Unfortunately, it’s also the stage where you could lose a bulk of your leads, especially if you don’t provide a rich source of information. Imagine seeking information on a product, only to be forced to scroll through several web pages, all seemingly advertising to you without providing actual concrete information. You’d leave the page, right? Your readers will too, so roll up your sleeves and get your content game on.
At this stage, Tom will have been intrigued by the information you’ve provided, and is consequently seeking a company that he could proceed with. He loves the idea of having his cars delivered right to his doorstep, but he still hasn’t made up his mind on which company he can trust. As a result, just like 78% of internet users in the United States, he’ll turn to Google to compare different brands according to their reviews and packages to get a clearer picture of what’s actually out there.
Now, we all know that internet surfers like getting things the easy way. So, instead of Googling “vehicle dealers delivering cars to buyers” and subsequently clicking on the top results to review the companies individually, he’ll most likely search for something like “compare vehicle dealers delivering cars to buyers”. With that as your main SEO keyword, you stand a good chance of winning Tom over again.
But not so fast – that still doesn’t guarantee you a nurtured lead. You still have to convince him to trust your brand by cleverly and strategically reviewing and comparing your company against main competitors. Outline all the benefits of relying on your company and include a couple of testimonials, especially from past customers placing you ahead of your competitors. The more realistic the reviews seem, the higher your chances of bagging Tom as a customer.
This is the final – and definitely my favorite – stage. It’s where you get to make the big bucks. But unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Since actually driving a prospect to convert to a customer is a particularly delicate process, there are countless mistakes you stand to make.
Tom has successfully sailed through the preceding stages and is now sure that he wants to go ahead and commit to your company. According to a research conducted by Earnest Agency in 2014, purchase cycles don’t just flow smoothly and concurrently from start to finish. In fact, 81% of buyers initiate it with a web search and consequently carry out research, as expected during the three preceding stages of the conversion funnel. Then, 90% of them leave it at that and only come back when they are ready to buy. So it’s only fair to make it easier for Tom when he comes back to buy from you.
In terms of ability, human minds are far from computers. So unless Tom has bookmarked your site, he’s most likely to have forgotten your domain name. In a bid to recover from where he had previously left off, he’ll pose “Buy From Chicago Auto Dealer Providing Delivering Services” as a query and hope your site will pop up among the results.
As a strategic entrepreneur, you should use SEO to ensure such a page exists to direct Tom right to your conversion page. In addition to a streamlined checkout process, you should provide a search tool that he could use to crawl through your stock to identify his choice vehicle. To make a sale, ensure that the interface is simple, intuitive, straightforward and user friendly.
With effective SEO, therefore, you’ll not just invite prospects to your site, but also push them down the conversion funnel to ultimately convert them into sales. Unless you’re an advertising website, your traffic is barely an indication of the quality of the prospects you attract. Success is only measured by the number of leads you nurture and eventually convert.
Do you approach SEO in this strategic way? If so, share what particular approaches have proven effective for your company by leaving a comment below: