Tag Archive for Marketing Funnel

5 Ways Social Media Impacts Consideration

Ask any marketer to draw you a picture of the sales funnel and you’ll get virtually the same picture.  There are a number of proposed ways to look at the funnel applied to social media, including a post I wrote last year about the New Marketing Funnel and the new book, Flip the Funnel, from Powered/crayon’s Joseph Jaffe.  What’s clear though, is that social media provides definitive means to impacting the “consideration” phase – when a customer makes the leap from awareness of a brand or product to evaluating, before committing to make a purchase.  Here are five ways that social media can impact a customer who is considering a purchase.

1. Research

When deciding to make an important purchase, like a car, a cell phone or a home, few people do so without evaluating options and doing some research.  You may have a friend who knows a lot about cars.  You might start searching online for consumer groups.  You might ask your family, neighbors, work colleagues.  Social media provides means do do all of the above online, including looking at reviews from perfect strangers.  It’s more relevant to look at reviews of products than to trust marketers alone.  Allowing user ratings and reviews on your product site, which can be moderated for abuse, can be a very effective way to engage in user generated content without the open-ended risk associated with a platform like Facebook.

2. Validation

Is there any truth to what my neighbor said about that product or service?  Or the recall rumor I just heard yesterday? Look at blogs, discuss on Facebook, search on Twitter.  Consumers can use social platforms to validate or refute information easily with their social graphs or through searching.  With Bing and Google indexing much of those discussions in real time, answers can be found immediately.  Separately if you have a perception of a brand (positive or negative), social channels can help validate those thoughts and views.

3. Creating an Emotional Connection

An emotional connection to a product, service or brand can influence purchase behavior.  Cause marketing can be an indirect way to build brand loyalty.  One of my favorite recent examples is the Chase Community Giving program on Facebook.  Personalized stories of real customers can also be a way to build an emotional connection.

4. Creating Touchpoints

How many brand touchpoints and impressions does it take to impact consideration?  I’m not sure, but chances are that it’s more than one.  An impression or interaction in social media can be measured in a lot of ways, but it takes multiple exposures to a brand to have it be front of mind when a consumer moves from awareness to consideration in the funnel.  Sure, no one actually talks about themselves moving from one stage in the funnel to another.  But as usage of social media grows, having a presence where consumers are will be a way to foster those impressions in a different way than traditional advertising.  Marketing behemoth Proctor & Gamble is exploring Facebook more aggressively for just that reason.

5.  Search

The folks at ComScore and GroupM have a great study that shows the impact of social media on branded search – just one way that shows how social media is impacting search.  Discussions related to a brand in social networks, discussion boards, forums, and on brand-owned assets will impact search results when a consume starts to look for information.  Brands can’t ignore the SEO implications of any content they own – Lee Odden has a great post about tools that can help optimize social content for search.

Think about the last time you moved from awareness to consideration.  What influenced you?  Did I miss any other way that social media could have impacted your decision process?

Photo credit: cpstorm via flickr

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The New Marketing Funnel

(Jointly authored with Rosetta‘s Director of Social Media, Gargi Patel)

The world has changed. We are in the midst of an unprecedented shift of power to the consumer fueled by the virtual megaphone handed to them through social media outlets. When a customer is angry or has a bad experience with a product or service, the old rule of thumb was that they told an average of 10 people about it. In today’s world some could easily be telling 10,000 (or more!). On the flip side, happy customers can be telling many more than the old average of 3 people about their good experience. Marketing executives just need to design initiatives that enable and activate them to do so. That shift can be represented through adapting one of every marketer’s favorite marketing conceptual frameworks, the funnel.

Infusing Engagement into the Marketing Funnel

With the expansion of the marketer’s toolbox to include social media, marketing is no longer about pushing out one way communications. The marketing world is no longer defined solely by impressions; it’s now a world of interactions. Today’s marketing includes the customer’s voice throughout the process, whether it’s intentional or not. Customers will talk online and comment on a brand’s marketing campaigns, products, services, and even how a company treats employees. It’s not enough to think about how companies communicate outwards; it’s just as important to think about how customers can communicate back, with each other, and arguably most importantly, with new prospects.

Rethinking The Funnel

A few years ago, Forrester Research published a report on “engagement” and suggested that the marketing funnel has become much more complex in today’s environment.  (See image.  Former Forrester analyst Brian Haven wrote about the complexities impacting the funnel in 2007).  While the influencing factors are more complicated, the same simple, visual framework as the traditional marketing funnel can be leveraged to show this complexity. The design needs to account for engagement throughout the process rather than looking at it through a lens of static messages we push out.

For example, traditionally, marketers look to create awareness by placing carefully planned messages across appropriate media outlets. Today, customers can create and spread their own messages about a brand through user-generated content and social networks. Traditionally, marketers would hope to influence customers in the “consideration” phase through strategic promotions and sales tactics. Today, user-generated ratings and reviews are frequently enough to convince a customer to make the purchase. Building loyalty is no longer just about loyalty points programs for repeat purchase or sending regular emails to customers. Building loyalty now means entering into a dialogue with them and letting customers participate in more meaningful ways than static customer feedback surveys or a constant barrage of emails announcing special promotions.

Extending the Marketing Funnel

The old marketing funnel generally followed some version of this pattern:

  • Awareness > Research/Consideration > Purchase / Conversion

With the widespread adoption of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the 1990’s, marketers began focusing more on loyalty or customer retention and brought the funnel one level deeper. The customer’s voice was considered important, but only in the context of customer service and a closed feedback loop. The old thinking was that sending customers regular emails would keep the brand top of mind and that special offers would keep customers from switching to competitors.

As mentioned before, today’s marketers will need to build a more authentic, deeper relationship with customers by truly engaging them to earn their loyalty—and this is how companies can begin to cultivate advocates.

Figure 2: The New Marketing Funnel

It’s time to extend the marketing funnel one level deeper to account for advocacy. There are two reasons that cultivating and enabling advocacy is critical in today’s world:

  1. People trust other people more than they trust companies. A recommendation from a friend or family member is still the single most important criteria in making a purchase decision and recommendations from strangers online also hold more weight than marketing messages.
  2. With the growing voice of the customer online and the “power” (virtual megaphone) handed to them through social media outlets, it’s important to help make sure the voice of happy customers is louder than that of the few unhappy customers.

Cultivating and enabling advocates will generate authentic word-of-mouth, bringing the best new customer prospects into the marketing funnel. The ROI on that? Priceless.  (Rosetta does in fact have a framework to measure ROI on advocacy programs.)

What do you think?  Is this old news?  Would this help you construct a framework to measure social media initiatives or sell the concept of driving advocacy to executives?  How would you change it?

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