In face-to-face sales the traditional AIDA sales-funnel model (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action) is straightforward to execute. That’s largely due to the marketer/salesperson being able to control their message delivery to the potential consumer. However, in today’s disintermediated digital world users control their content consumption and this can completely disrupt the traditional sales funnel.
Eric Rowe is a statistician, cat video lover, craft beer connoisseur and a digital strategist at APN New Zealand.
Controlling the user conversion journey online is like herding cats – don’t even bother to try. You can’t control where people discover new information or in what media type or platform they’re going to read/watch it. So you have to think smarter and stay a step ahead of them. Make stuff they want to find and are willing to look for. Make your brand’s presence natural for them to interact with, and allow them control over how they do so.
This isn’t about creating great content that goes viral, as (even if miraculously successful) that is primarily about brand awareness factors. It is about realising that most digital advertising targets either the very top or bottom of the sales funnel. Standard display campaigns are all about Attention/Awareness and Interest, while Adwords is all about capturing people at the bottom of the funnel who are already ready for Action. The missing step in digital is Desire. Without it you can gather bad leads, deliver low conversions, and waste resources back-filling the sales funnel to try to convert your prospects.
This often happens because digital ads go from a campaign targeting the Attention and Interest level straight to the Action step. We’ve all done it. There’s an article on the freezing weather approaching the country and you’ve cleverly targeted your brand’s heater to the content. But, if the reader clicks they go straight from Interest to the Action "BUY NOW!". You haven’t let them control the sales-funnel and they haven’t had the chance to research/think more about why your product is desirable. They’re not ready yet as they haven’t bridged the gap between Interest and Desire.
So where is the digital content that creates the desire for your product/brand/service? In most cases it is right in front of your nose (on your own website) but your potential customers/clients aren’t looking there. That’s where content marketing comes in.
Air New Zealand has an impressive career site full of great text and video content on why working at the airline is so great (Desire content), but no passive job seeker (80 percent of people) is ever going to accidentally stumble upon it.
Bayleys has heaps of research, market commentary, and information on property investment (Desire content) on their site, but again, unless someone wants that information already they’re not going visit the site.
This is where you need to have a content marketing strategy as part of your overall marketing plan. Because this content already exists digitally it is easy enough to put it anywhere else on the internet. You can look at owned, earned (put those videos up on YouTube), and paid advertising to expand the reach of your Desire content. The key is to remember to make it a natural part of the conversion funnel as possible.
So if someone is on a news website reading an article on property investments surging in Auckland they’re definitely Aware of the opportunity and clearly Interested. If Bayley’s had their Desire content on the news site as part of an advertorial/native strategy it would be a natural extension of the reader’s current behaviour to keep consuming similar content in the same environment that he’s already chosen. The format and presentation would have to match the ‘native’ site of course, but that means that the site can add its context value (brand, trust, etc.) to the conversion process as well.
Users can then read what they want where they want and you’ve created a natural way for them to find Desire content without trying to force a change in behaviour or interrupting their media consumption experience.
Once the desire is created then the Action step is far more likely as you’ve not only qualified the lead better, you’ve let them control the process and bridge the gap themselves. You’re already done the hard work creating the content; now just get it out there.