We design your e-Commerce marketing #1 – marketing funnel vs. sales funnel
Attention, everyone! According to the newest forecasts, experts’ opinion and common sense (as it’s most clearly visible on the charts), e-Commerce worldwide sales value will reach approx. 620 billion dollars in 2018. And that’s a lot of money. Given our core business (e-Commerce platforms development), we are pretty excited by those numbers. What’s more to be happy about – unless some true disaster happens, the trend will be stable and the value will go higher next years.
In fact, we use the Internet to buy more, more frequently and more willingly. It’s convenient to buy groceries (and all other products) while being stuck in a traffic jam. On the other hand, the sellers themselves see the trend and it results in growing number of e-Commerce stores. The market stays open to everyone, from local stores, through distributors, producers to large marketplaces. There are even bloggers with their own brand. Somehow everyone now sells on-line and we are there to buy their offer. What a great time to be alive 🙂
There are also some bad news
My purpose is not only to talk only about good things because you would probably learn nothing and it’s not the point here.
You could probably think that if the market is so big, the needs are so big and basically we all buy on-line, the best way to speed up your retirement is to transfer your offer to the Internet and let the magic happen. Unfortunately, that won’t work (ok, some magic may happen, but you won’t necessarily be satisfied with the final result). And it won’t work because regardless of how great your offer is, your competitors are also there (performing better or worse than you).
Of course, every segment is ruled by its own laws, there are monopolists, segments with huge dynamics and also those slowly adapting. Nevertheless, you most probably won’t be alone. Chances are that you will start your business in the middle of the war between companies fighting for clients. What you need here is a long-term strategy, that will allow you to:
- reach your target audience (or even enable your audience to find you),
- keep your customers for longer than one-time order.
Going live with your offer is simply not innovative enough to be a competitive advantage in itself.
This is the point, where you’ll be introduced to building a solid marketing foundation, that will help you design all activities related to your store to become attractive in the eyes of your customers. We’ll start from the very positive beginning – if you have already established your off-line marketing and sales process, there’s a huge chance you and I already speak the same language.
In order to properly respond to customers’ needs, you need to be aware of those needs (yes, seriously), which leads to understanding your customers’ daily activities, their problems and ways of working them out. We can simplify it a little, you can actually divide those “emotional states” into several groups. For example, a customer may be generally “interested in your offer” or he/she may be “ready to buy”.
Understanding your customer will improve your sales performance
This division is your marketing funnel. The most general version of e-Commerce marketing funnel stages looks like this:
- awareness – the user finds out his/hers needs (for example after checking what the competitors are doing or reading a newsletter about market trends),
- interest – the user is interested in your story and offer,
- decision – the user is at the stage of making decisions, choosing the optimal provider, calculating the budget and looking for reasons not to buy,
- purchase – the final stage, where the user becomes your customer.
Of course, you can modify the stages to better fit your business (for example by adding additional stage between decision and purchase, for customers that requested a demo of your product). It’s important to stick to these two rules:
- the funnel tapers down,
- you are able to distinguish the stages.
In our example, the first point is preserved, and we distinguish the steps in the following way:
- we activate the user,
- then we tell him more about the solution,
- then we tell him more about us (this is where sales process kicks in),
- finally we facilitate his checkout process.
How is it different from sales process?
Connecting sales and marketing is an important issue, mostly forgotten by many companies
I once made a terrible mistake. Fortunately, it taught me something, so now I can make such a confessions. Namely, I thought we already had a sound sales strategy and the main purpose of marketing is “making noise”. Yes, I’m not too proud of it, because we ended in throwing a lot of money away. To be honest, in my opinion even in B2B-commerce you need marketing processes more than sales. It’s because, honestly, most of the orders happen without your participation (so your super-cool sales reps won’t be even needed).
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about building relations with your customers and you definitely need a sales process to do it properly. Then the main difference between these two funnels is that:
- marketing funnel is about customers’ perspective, their emotions and a state of mind,
- sales funnel helps you organize your sales activities.
You could say that the difference is huge. But the truth is that there’s something more. In fact, those two funnels overlap, creating something entirely new – a coherent purchasing process. Remember this one time, when a customer came into your store, and you started pitching your sales offer and it didn’t work out? Well, that’s because he was in a totally different stage of the marketing funnel, and you needed to show him a solution rather than bragging about your company.
That’s the main reason you should stick to both funnels, remember about the whole process and coordinate marketing and sales activities. When all of your activities revolve around customers, you are in a great position to build something better than your competitors.
The key issue here is to properly look through the funnel
Today’s article is more of an introduction. You need this theoretical basis to understand next subjects. This whole series will help you:
- build a customer journey map,
- understand what happens with your customers on each marketing stage,
- respond to the customers’ needs,
- see how the best-performing companies did it.
We have a lot of work to do, so see you soon!