Marketers should tap every opportunity to develop a relationship with the buyer at this stage. This is often done through monitoring reviews of the products, testimonials from previous customers, inbound marketing, having a great graphic interface to draw attention, delivering more information to the customer, etc. This is a crucial stage of the marketing funnel as it is chiefly at this stage that the prospective buyer would want to remain in or leave the funnel.
Now, why do I call them ‘marketing funnels’ and not just ‘sales funnels’ like 90% of the rest of the internet? (That was an entirely made-up statistic by the way.) Because sales funnels focus on a sale, marketing funnels cover not only the sale, but general connecting, and after you make the sale. Marketing funnels help you think of your entire customer journey, not just getting money out of them.
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In the loyalty stage, customers start to develop a preference for your brand or company. They do not make repeat purchases anymore because you remind them of it, but because they genuinely like your product. Customer loyalty is therefore far more favorable than repeat purchasing. Loyalty means customers are hanging in there even when there may be some problems or negative rumours about your company. In order to create loyalty, your customers need to see the relationship between you and them as more than just a transactional relationship: connecting with your customers on a personal level is therefore crucial. Strong engagement, personalization, loyalty programs, community development, social identity and the sharing of values can help with that.
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Advocacy: Turning your customers into advocates is the ultimate evolution for nurturing current customers. Evangelism in the form of writing product reviews, posting about products on social media, and more can help drive more new leads for your marketing funnel. Having an external recommendation not connected to a brand can strongly influence prospects. Marketers can work to develop their communities to better support advocates, ask them to participate in case studies, or engage them around consumer-generated content on social media.
Yesterday I was in the Northridge Mall while my tires were being rotated at Firestone outside. When I walked in there a man was promoting Occulus, the 3D experience. . . for $5 a journey. I didn’t have any bucks so I declined. I was wondering why he didn’t use the email model of a free gift to get a subscriber; I mean a free trip using the mind altering adventure. Then I got to thinking about video and 3D in email, and it dawned on me the cycle of a company’s promotion is a like a trip into virtual reality–at least it could be a mind-altering experience for the recipient, especially for someone who’s tired of getting ads, ads, ads.
At such a point, work on making the potential customer feel confident in their decision to buy your product. Let’s take the previous example of a fitness center. Here, develop a case study showing a customer’s success story including before-and-after pictures along with testimonials. This can be related to either weight-loss or gaining substantial muscle-mass—whatever’s appropriate based on the client.
One entrepreneur who started her entire business off of funnels to delight is Marie Forleo. In her funnel for the audio training “How To Get Anything You Want” she not only provides an hour-long training to help people, she follows it with a thank you page offering even more helpful tips and insider information, and delivers a series of automated emails providing the audio training and more information around overcoming your business obstacles.
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The final and optimal stage to reach with customers is the Advocacy stage. Advocacy happens when your customers become something more than just customers: they become fans. Fans are usually so excited about something that they tell their friends and family all about it, they share positive reviews on social media, and they might even try to convince others to become fans as well. In other words, they are now helping you creating awareness just like at the beginning of this marketing funnel. When customers decide to become your own brand’s ambassadors, you know you are doing something right!
It’s important to note that there is not a single agreed upon version of the funnel; some have many “stages” while others have few, with different names and actions taken by the business and consumer for each. In the diagram below, we’ve done our best to pull out the most common and relevant funnel stages, terms, and actions so this information is useful to as many marketers as possible.