The 5 critical stages of creating an internet marketing sales process are less known than the traditional descriptor. Marketers usually prefer the term marketing sales funnel, as the top of the pipeline is wider than the bottom, where many prospects (suspects?) enter, but through qualification, choice and follow through determine how many actually proceed from suspect to customer. Some marketers also believe there is an undisputed path by which prospects make their way through the funnel, but it is my belief that there is more than one road leading from the top of the funnel to the customer bucket beneath.
A search on the internet will expose the term START. High energy information sales hawks subscribe to this formula, which is an acronym for Strategy, Target market, Aesthetics, Results and Traffic. At Zen Marketing we think they have it backwards, and in fact wrong.
The 5 critical stages of creating an internet marketing sales process in my belief mirrors the customer buying cycle.
1) Traffic – Generating enough leads takes awareness that your product or service exists, so traffic generation will be the key to success. A consumer buying cycle begins with being aware of a need and a realization that your product or service web site has the ability to service that need.
2) Relationship – The entire process of driving traffic to your site for the purposes of growing a marketing sales process is to develop a relationship to prospective customers. This may be called lead nurturing, and there are processes for it. The buying process calls this consideration. It is a customer evaluation of how your offers differ from others, and how they relate to their needs.
3) Call to Action – Providing incentive, information, credibility and reasons to act on our offers. Preference or Intent is how the customer and their inclinations are considered, whether emotional or logical, brings them closer to a buying decision. This is the foundation of good inbound marketing.
4) Transaction – The act of purchasing or passing on one’s offer. The goal is for the lead to become a customer, and the sales cycle is more individualized than some marketers appreciate, but this is individualized marketing. Reflective of the buying cycle, the sales cycle mirrors it. It is the act of purchasing from your site.
5) Repurchase or Referral – The customer for life mentality in place and acted upon in an ongoing nurturing and marketing/sales effort. Customer loyalty is key. For buyers, the process that causes them to stick with you for the long term, repeat purchasing and referring others.
Working through the critical marketing and sales processes is different than the former methodology of pushing persuasive ads and inducements to sale, and is better received than the old model. A good internet marketer understands the process and embraces it just like the consumers of the 21st century. Businesses looking to the future would be wise to embrace it as well.