The sales funnel is the visual path of a customer, all the way from awareness and interest to sale and retention. Traditional methods of nurturing the sales funnel include advertising, sales calls, and lead generation via outbound and inbound marketing. Even using 800 numbers for global reach, email marketing techniques, and building an SEO strategy are considered staples of the marketing handbook in today’s digital landscape.

 

In today’s digital world, it extends much further than that. Businesses not only need to generate and retain, but they need customers to become ambassadors of their brand. They need to inspire a community of people to vouch for them online via social platforms, directories, and review sites. With 77% of online shoppers consulting reviews before making a purchase [1], it’s more important than ever to develop your sales funnel beyond conversion. To do this, you need to amaze and delight your customer within their social sphere.

 

This infographic reveals what today’s sales funnel should look like, with six phases: Awareness, Interest, Conversion, Sale, Loyalty, and now, Advocacy. Below, there are also some key takeaways to help you apply social techniques effectively at each point of the journey.

 

sales funnel

Engaging at every stage

Today, social media marketing should be used at every stage of funnel. Within CX (Customer Experience), social media plays a major part. Being able to connect with brands via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat is not a desire, but an expectation. In order to maximize social success, these platforms need to be exploited at every step.

 

As Todd Kunsman, Head of Marketing at EveryoneSocial advises: “Salespeople need to be on social media, it’s where buyers and customers are and doing research on products.

 

“This doesn’t mean sales should be spewing out check out our product content. It means, engaging, commenting, answering questions, sharing educational content and resources.”

 

As millennials and Gen Z shift into the main customer demographic, having a choice in the way of communication will become paramount. Today’s digital shopper wants to choose how they reach out across a multitude of channels, whether that be Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook Messenger or through Whatsapp and other instant messaging apps.

 

Creating content for social media

In addition to using social channels to offer more choice in communication, brands need to focus on creating content for maximum social media engagement. The way we consume content has changed dramatically in recent years, and it will continue to transform as the IoT (Internet of Things) grows and hands-free smart devices become mainstream household objects.

 

According to research, 82% of online customers now prefer to watch a live video from a brand than to read social posts [2]. Furthermore, 90% of shoppers say that product videos influence their buying decisions [3]. Brands need to be proactive, adapting to their customer’s habits, and meet them online using social media content.

 

Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mettl, says: “The content has to be readily consumable, short, attractive, and directly hitting at the user intent. In the present time, plain old vanilla content doesn’t work and calls to focus more on interactive content which prompts a sure-shot action from the audience like a checklist or an infographic apart from engaging them thoroughly.”

 

As early on as the Awareness and Interest stages, you need to start thinking about building a social media community. Include video content and live streaming to your social media calendar to capture those customers who will become leading stars at the Advocacy stage later on.

 

Running targeted social ads

As seen in the infographic, targeted social media ads are an important tool at the Awareness stage. By pushing Facebook adverts based on demographic data and using promoted tweets, you can widen your audience reach.

 

On Facebook alone, there are almost 1.5 billion daily active users worldwide, spending an average of 35 minutes on Facebook every day [4]. When done correctly, Facebook ads are highly effective and can create social media lead generation opportunities to boost traffic through your sales funnel.

 

Meisha Bochicchio of Content Marketing Manager at PlanSource advises that one way for effective targeting is to build your own custom audiences: “Custom audiences are a marketer’s best friend when nurturing the sales funnel via social media. Though these highly segmented lists do take time and effort to set up, the time is well worth the return.”

 

Today though, brands should optimize targeted social media ads for mobile. Over 95% of all Facebook usage is accessed on smartphones [5], not desktop or laptop. This means that your ads should have shorter headlines and mobile optimized images. Plus, mobile social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat should also be considered when building your social media editorial calendar.

 

Social media remarketing techniques

Social media remarketing is one of the most effective ways of nurturing the marketing-sales funnel. Here are some ways you can use Facebook remarketing or other social media remarketing for visitors who have left your site:

 

  • Remarket to specific landing page visitors (ideal for product-specific data)
  • Remarket to past purchasers (ideal for increasing repeat customers)
  • Remarket to free subscribers (ideal for pushing paid sign-ups after trial services)
  • Remarket to cart abandonment customers (ideal for boosting conversion)

 

Kunsman goes on to advise: “Remarketing can also be a good addition and separate campaign. Focus on the high-level landing pages when creating a social media remarketing campaign. A mistake a lot of marketers make is lumping everything together in one, then providing an ad. But pending the viewer’s interests and moves on your site, there should be a more unique experience to your remarketing.

 

“For example, someone who’s looked at your resources a few times might get an ad about a resource. Someone who has looked at pricing, features, a demo page, but didn’t book, might get an ad encouraging them to schedule a demo. Two different experiences based on what someone did on your company site.”

 

 

Customer loyalty through social media

As the infographic shows us, conversion is not the end of the line. The next phase, Loyalty, needs to be nurtured through continued care. Aftersales is essential if you want customers to come back, and this means looking after your international customers as much as your local ones. Use social media to connect with them too, and encourage sharing of product photos with you on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 

Continued engagement is one way you can develop warmer prospects and receptiveness from customers, according to Matt Erickson, Marketing Director at National Positions.

 

“Engage with your audience by commenting on content, replying to comments, direct messaging. Cement yourself as part of the social community. These combined efforts not only puts your brand in front of more prospects, but it also makes for warmer prospects when your ad comes across their social feed.”

 

Ultimately, the final stage of Advocacy is what brands should be aiming for. Because authentic customer reviews are so much more valuable than paid adverts. In order to achieve this, you need to understand how to create a sales funnel with social media as your secret weapon at every phase. Social should be used for everything from advertising and lead generation to customer support and complaint handling. Because today’s online sales funnel is powered by the digital generation’s need for constant connectivity and instant gratification.

 

To create real, organic brand ambassadors, businesses must ensure that social media is harnessed as a tool throughout the customer journey, and that all customer feedback is collated for a better Customer Experience in the future.

 

Sources:

[1] 77% of UK Shoppers Consult Reviews Before Buying Online: Report – by Econsultancy

[2] Live Video Statistics: What Consumers Want – by Vimeo Livestream

[3] 16 Video Marketing Statistics to Inform Your 2018 Strategy – by Hubspot

[4] 28 Powerful Facebook Stats Your Brand Can’t Ignore in 2018 – by Sprout Social

[5] Device Usage of Facebook Users Worldwide as of January 2018 – by Statista