Guiding leads through the sales funnel can be one of the most nerve-wracking things we do as digital marketers. In an ideal world, customers would simply show up at our literal or proverbial doorstep, cash in hand, ready to go. The reality is that everyone approaches the purchasing process differently.
The Awareness Stage
A savvy business owner, therefore, knows not only how to identify where a particular lead is in the sales funnel, but also understands how to adequately nurture that lead further and further down the funnel towards an eventual conversion. The first stage of the sales funnel, known as “Awareness”, is where many sales people find themselves having significant difficulty in gaining traction with their leads.
Let’s take a closer look at the “Awareness” stage of the sales funnel, and why it is so important to the process of gaining sales.
A Quick Look at the Sales Funnel and an Example
Different marketing experts have different interpretations and names for the various parts of the sales funnel, so don’t worry too much if you have a different name for this stage.
For the purpose of this article, “Awareness” is the very first stage. This is when your potential leads aren’t even leads yet. Prior to this stage, they have little to no idea that you and your business exist. They may not even have a need for your product or service yet.
How do these individuals find their way to the “Awareness” stage, then? Simple: they have a need.
Imagine your kitchen at home. You’ve been making the same staple recipes for years. Suddenly, a spectacular dinner at a new restaurant has you inspired to try new recipes. Many of these recipes call for a particular ingredient – let’s say garlic. You love garlic, but you have no idea where to get it, what type to buy, how to store it, or how to get it from its natural state into your new recipes. What do you do?
If you’re anything like the typical consumer, you head to the internet and start searching. As you search for “how to store garlic” or “how to grow garlic” or “how to chop garlic”, you’ll start seeing well written articles and ads for various companies who sell gadgets related to these searches. You know you need them, but you’re not quite ready to explore them in detail, so perhaps you bookmark a few and keep searching so you can gain all of the information you need before you dive deeper.
Do you have problems to find the right product for your audience? Let’s have a look here.
Can You See the Cause/Effect? And now… What’s next?
From the “Awareness” stage, leads head into the “Interest” stage. They actively browse your site, sign up for your newsletter, and follow you on social media. Then comes the “Decision” stage, in which they narrow down who might receive their business, and try to find the best fit for their situation. Last is the “Action” stage, at which point the purchase is made.
With a few exceptions, such as impulse purchases, significant time passes between “Awareness” and “Action”. Understanding your customers is what helps draw them through this process quickly and effectively.
Your Actions Matter
The “Awareness” stage can be a precarious location, mainly because you don’t quite know how your potential lead got there. It might be a social media posting you made. They might have heard about you from a friend or relative. As in the example earlier, they might have simply stumbled upon your fantastic SEO ranking.
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Many experts consider your role as a business owner during the “Awareness” stage not unlike that of a courtship. You want to connect with these newcomers to your sales funnel, so that you might engage them into the “Interest” step. At this point, however, you don’t know how these individuals found you, or what brought them here. Therefore, much like a suitor in a new relationship, you much tread cautiously.
A lead in the “Awareness” stage is trying to understand their needs so that they can solve their problems and get answers for questions they may not have fully grasped yet.
As in the earlier garlic example, they may still be at the cusp of understanding what they need to search for. This means they’re very much not ready to buy, so attempting to engage them in high pressure sales tactics or lure them in with discounts and deals will not be helpful at this point. They aren’t ready to reach the “Action” step, because they still aren’t sure what action they need to take in order to get the desired result or solution.
Drawing the Audience from “Awareness” to “Interest”
Since the “Awareness” stage is so precarious, it may seem that there is little to nothing you can do to encourage these leads to engage more. While it is true that being pushy or overly aggressive is not going to help them become lifetime customers, you don’t need to stand by passively, wringing your hands and hoping for the best.
Instead, put your efforts into creating specific content that will attract deeper awareness and inspire interest. These individuals are searching for answers, resources, more information, education, and insight. Meet their needs by creating specific content for new comers and people in this “Awareness” stage.
For example, you can target blog posts and social media posts to those who are experiencing a specific problem or have a specific need. This information can be found by Google crawler bots, making your outreach to this audience searchable. Customized landing pages are another excellent way to keep the awareness alive, with ads that target a common pain point in your niche.
From these landing pages, you can also consider offering lead magnets such as free how-to videos, ebooks, webinars, and more, thus automatically pulling the lead into the “Interest” stage of the sales funnel by gently asking them to sign up for your newsletters or emails.
A few more words about the Awareness Stage of the Sales Funnel
While there’s no guarantee that every individual who reaches the “Awareness” stage of the sales funnel will ever go further than knowing you exist, there are benefits to being memorable for positive reasons. Though this lead may never make a purchase, they may remember your site and the excellent information you provided.
They might recommend you to others, and continue to subscribe to and learn from your newsletter or blog, which they in turn might share with others. Through these shares, your network will continue to grow, with more and more leads entering the sales funnel each day, increasing your organic traffic and overall authority within your niche.
Therefore, it is important to make those at the very rim of the sales funnel feel most welcome, and to provide them with ample opportunity to learn more and engage with your business.
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