Picture this scenario: A small child tugs on his mother’s shirt and repeatedly says, “Mom...Mom…Mom…Mommy…MOM!” Eventually the child’s mother turns around and impatiently says, “What?” Suddenly the child can’t remember what he was going to say or ask. We’ve all witnessed this type of parent-child interaction (if only on "Family Guy.")
Websites without customized calls-to-actions (CTAs) to meet the needs of prospects throughout the various stages of the buying cycle can elicit the same type of negative response by visitors.
Pushing a free consultation or free demo to someone who’s on your site for the first time and unfamiliar with your product is a colossal waste of time and effort and can possibly scare off prospects. Marketers must create a mix of CTAs that span across the different stages of the sales funnel to deliver the right content at the right time to potential buyers to move them along in their individual buying journey.
Here are a few tips on how to create compelling offers that appeal to prospects in all the different stages of the buying cycle.
Top of the funnel
At this early stage, prospects may be aware of your product or service, but more likely they have become aware of a problem they need to solve. Your goal should be to create a CTA that helps educate the prospect—not on your specific solution, but on their need.
The goal should be simply to move potential buyers to the next level of interest, the evaluation phase, by promoting something—a free whitepaper, eBook, tip sheet or how-to video—that requires less commitment on their part.
Middle of the funnel
At this stage, prospects are aware that your product or service could fulfill their need and are trying to determine if it’s the best choice. These visitors possibly have been on your website before or perhaps have shown some levels of interest in the past, but aren’t quite ready to buy.
Offers at this stage should address the specific ways in which your product can solve their need. Examples at this stage might include an invitation to download a more in-depth eBook, a form-free case study, a webinar about your upcoming product launch, a free sample or a demo video.
Bottom of funnel
At this stage, prospects are ready for very specific and detailed information on products or services as they hone in on a purchasing decision. CTAs at this stage require higher commitment on the part of the visitor, typically a full lead-capture form, but are considered more valuable in terms of qualifying prospects and closing sales. Examples of these types of offers would be product demonstrations, sales consultations, free estimate, a coupon or free trial offers.
Proper placement of CTAs is also crucial, as certain pages within your website are typically aligned with certain stages in the sales cycle. For example, someone visiting the pricing page is clearly farther along in the sales funnel than someone checking out your blog, so place your CTAs accordingly. Also keep in mind that all CTAs should be displayed above the fold or in clear sight on a page so visitors can see a clear path to their next step.
The Bottom Line
Always create customized CTAs that align with your prospect’s needs as they move through the various stages of the buying cycle. Doing so will help identify any holes in your content strategy and help you create a full suite of compelling offers that provide prospects with the information they need when they need it to continue on their buying journey.
Barb Schmitz is professional writer with more than 20 years of experience writing for B2B and B2C publications and web sites. She served as an editor on Computer-Aided Engineering magazine for more than 10 years before starting her own PR/freelance writing business in 2000. Her expertise includes interviewing, researching and writing whitepapers, blogs, eBooks, case studies, and feature articles.