This article is part of our series about tailoring your content strategy for the ecommerce sales funnel. Check back for an in-depth look at how to cater your content for each individual stage of the funnel.
You’ve gotten your name out there and generated positive buzz about your brand, but now it’s time to get down to business. You’re targeting customers in the third stage of the ecommerce sales funnel: Desire, or as modern marketers know it, the decision-making phase. In the previous stage of the sales funnel, you’ve cultivated your customer’s interest in your brand— and now it’s time to take advantage of that interest!
The decision-making phase is one of the most important stages of the funnel; it’s where you proactively win over customers by handling objections, offering deals, and flaunting your brand image. It’s the stage most familiar to traditional marketers, as many of the goals and strategies carry over from the pre-digital era.
The stakes are high at this point in the sales funnel, with better planning leading to better returns. Let’s discuss how to convert your shopper’s passing interest into a genuine desire for your products.
As opposed to the first two stages, the Desire stage allows for an appropriate amount of self-promotion. Customers won’t mind if you get a little salesy, as long as you keep it in small, tolerable doses. You spent the last phase building trust, so now you can leverage that trust to openly present your sales pitch.
To put a fine point on it, at this stage your main goal is to prepare for a sale by laying all the groundwork and overcoming obstacles. Specifically, you want to accomplish these goals:
Address customer concerns and assuage fears.
A long-standing objective for salespeople in every industry, addressing and ultimately alleviating customer concerns is a common stepping stone right before closing a sale. This includes tackling questions or objections shoppers have about your actual products, but onlines stores also have to deal with the usual fears surrounding ecommerce in general: online crime, inaccurate product descriptions, or lackluster return policies.
To get more sales, it’s your job to make it clear that your customers’ concerns are acknowledged and that there’s nothing to worry about. This is typically accomplished through website content — placed at strategic locations throughout the customer journey. However, if some of your policies are strong selling points, you may want to promote them more aggressively by tying them in to your brand image, i.e., mentioning your free shipping in your company slogan.
Prove yourself as the best option.
At the same time, you also want to prove that it’s in your shoppers’ best interests to buy from you instead of your competitors. What makes you a better choice than your competitors? Lower prices? Faster shipping? Better product quality?
We already wrote about showcasing your value propositions in the Brand Awareness and Interest phases. At this point in the sales funnel, you need to make sure your customers already know what sets you apart — these have the biggest influence on your customers’ buying decisions. .
Convince shoppers to buy ASAP.
If you’ve already managed to show customers that you’re the best option, a secondary goal is to speed up the sales process. Offer incentives or deadlines to encourage them to buy sooner rather than later; “sure things” don’t exist in sales, not until the check clears.
Set up a sale.
Another secondary goal is to get most of the preliminary steps to a sale out of the way. This is more about ushering shoppers through the sales funnel and setting up all the pieces in the right spots. For example, getting a shopper to place an item in their cart — or even just getting them on the product page — increases your chances of a sale.
Anyone who’s ever made an important purchase is familiar with the mindset of the customers at this stage of the funnel. It’s all about definitive decisions: should I buy this product, and from where?
At this stage, the customer is researching their options, both in which products to buy and which stores offer the best deals. Of course, different shoppers value different criteria, but in general most will share the same objections or priorities.
Considering your shoppers’ curiosity, it’s acceptable to be obvious with self-promotion than in other stages of the sales funnel. Promoting deals is a bad idea during the early awareness phases, but now the timing is perfect, as that’s the exact information your shoppers are sniffing out.
Best Types of Content
Moving past broad content that appeals to large pools of people, now you want to narrow down your scope only to people who are serious about making a purchase. That means moving away from social media and blogs and going towards site copy, particularly the product page.
Here’s the best types of content for increasing your customers’ desire for your products:
- Customer reviews
- Product videos
- Product descriptions
- Product page copy
- Buying guides
- Customer service
This content strays from what we usually think of with content strategy. Some of them — like customer reviews — aren’t even written by you. On the other hand, you can still take advantage of regular content marketing by releasing articles that address customer concerns like buying guides, as well as product videos, explained below.
When it comes to swaying your customer’s decisions, nothing works better than customer reviews. According to G2Crowd, the statistics speak for themselves:
- 97% of shoppers say customer reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
- Having at least 5 reviews makes it almost 4x more likely to land a sale.
- All other things being equal, customers will more often purchase the product with the most reviews.
- 68% of Americans say positive reviews increase their likelihood of patronizing a business.
For these reasons, you want to have an effective strategy in place for eliciting reviews after a purchase. For Amazon sellers, we already explained how to get more reviews and how to deal with bad reviews, but many of these principles still apply outside of Amazon as well. See how this online retailer used Google Customer Reviews to increase conversion rates by 60%.
Not all content marketing strategies are complicated and involved. If you want a straightforward shortcut to more sales, just include product videos. Based on a study from Animoto:
- 73% of American adults are more likely to purchase after watching a product video online.
- 96% of shoppers find videos helpful when making purchasing decisions.
- 58% of consumers find companies with videos more trustworthy than those without.
A good product video will not only entice buyers by demonstrating the product’s benefits, it will also answer a lot of their questions about how to use it. This serves your other goal about addressing customer concerns — a video can clear up fears that photographs cannot.
Hands-on Customer Service
Some customers require a “human” touch to ease their fears, leading to the recent popularization of online chat windows for ecommerce stores. Having an actual back-and-forth with a representative can do wonders for overcoming customer objections by allowing shoppers to voice questions openly with answers in real-time. Customer service apps such as Zendesk can help you institute this feature on your site.
Persuasive Sales Copy
You can add some classic persuasion techniques into your site copy, promotion announcements, pricing techniques, and product descriptions to make your products seem even better. For example, you can use framing to make a normal feature seem like a bonus feature, or price anchoring to show how much lower your price is compared to the suggested retail price.
Address Concerns with Transparency
A good product page addresses a consumer’s pain points to entice them to buy. So, too, should content marketing address pain points in the shopping process — deliveries, returns, privacy, and total price.
Rather than waiting for your customers to bring this up to your sales reps, you can preemptively address their concerns with your site copy. You can use a grand gesture, such as broadcasting your free shipping on an ever-present banner at the top of your site. Or it can be more subtle, such as a small blurb before newsletter signups that says you don’t give out email addresses to third parties. Some approaches are so essential they’ve become necessities, such as displaying security icons so your customers know their credit card data is secure.
The important thing is that the answers to your customer’s questions are readily available in a location they can’t miss.
Ready for the next stage of the ecommerce sales funnel? Check out how to create a content strategy to close more online sales.