Throughout the buying process, there are points that, depending on where a lead is in the funnel, can cause friction.
These points are usually when the lead is forced to take an action or give up contact information. The modern consumer has had their data bought and sold so many times that they are wary about giving it out to yet another company.
The only way to smooth out these points of friction is to ensure that the leads are ready before you ask them for anything. This can be determined by answering the following questions.
First, let’s map out the stages of the buying process:
- Problem Recognition – In this stage, the buyer is aware of their own need and the fact that they need to purchase something to solve their problem.
- Research – The buyer starts doing some research on their own, they are starting to learn what they are looking for but are still nowhere near the purchase. They may find your brand here, but are not likely to buy at this stage.
- Evaluation of Other Offerings – Here, the buyer is comparing your offering to those of others.
- Purchase Decision – Those choices have narrowed to a few choices.
- Purchase – This one is obvious. Your lead is now a customer.
Now that we have examined the different parts of the funnel, we can talk about how it relates a lead giving you their information. In other words, the points of friction wherein you can lose a lead by asking too much.
WHEN should you ASK FOR MORE?
As a lead progresses throughout the buying process, they increasingly will be looking for more and more information and will be willing to give more for more information as they build a relationship with your brand.
So, when should you ask for that information, which usually ends up necking down the number of leads that successfully pass through?
WHEN SHOULD I….
ASK FOR AN EMAIL ADDRESS?
A lot of companies come on too strong, basically taking the opportunity to hit up anyone who lands on their website for an email address.
This is fine, so long as the tactics aren’t too overwhelming or aggressive. I’ve been on web pages, about to start reading my very first piece of content, when a full screen popup fills the page, demanding my email address.
That turns me off, and I’m not the only one. When asking for an email using pop ups, make sure the pop-up either gives your audience some time to appreciate your content first, or is located somewhere unobtrusive (like the side bar).
You don’t want to hurt your already shaky credibility by throwing in-your-face banners demanding an email address. The companies that get away with this usually already have a decent brand reputation.
For example, Inc.com used to ask users to sign in to read their content. That’s risky on their part because it likely resulted in a lot of users saying, “I don’t need to read this that badly” and leaving.
But because they offer such quality content and are so well known that they could get away with this. It appears that they didn’t stick with this very aggressive tactic, though, because it appears that their content is no longer gated.
You can ask them for an email address as soon as they hit your homepage but ensure that they are ready before you ask.
ASK FOR A FORM COMPLETION?
A form completion used to be one of the first areas marketers could track the movements of someone as a lead. But because of CRM systems and marketing automation platforms, this is no longer the case.
Someone could become a lead when they click through an email or simply spend a lot of time on your page.
Form completions are almost always a point of friction because they are usually asking for more information than just a name and email address.
Those in the earlier stages of the pipeline will often opt out of filling out a form, because they aren’t ready to make the commitment of giving you all that information. They might not want to fill out a form until they are late into the research stage or just beginning to consider other options. They will want to know why they should stick with your brand. Your gated content must provide them with that answer or they won’t be back.
Another thing to consider is removing that friction in general. If you buy third party engagement data from an outside source, you can often match your contacts with those you purchase. This means that you won’t have to gate content to get more information, you simply need to match your contacts with the users that convert.
HAVE THEM SIGN UP FOR A FREE TRIAL?
Too often, I’ve just started researching a problem I’m having and will be checking out some brands with offerings that fit my need.
Then they immediately ask me to start a free trial, before I know anything else about the product or brand.
Getting someone to sign up for a free trial means you are that much closer to making a sale, especially if the product is good. But often, asking too soon is too much of a commitment for buyers. Make sure that you have enough materials about your product and how it works before you try to force someone into a trial. That way they will want to try your product, not feel forced into it.
Ensure that your leads keep moving down the funnel by asking for the right level of commitment at the right time. Instead of driving leads away, asking for the right commitments at the right time will result in leads that make it further down the pipeline.