Article

John Beckett
John Beckett 21 January 2015

Beyond Storytelling At Scale: Conversion At Scale

You're losing more customers than you can imagine. The good news is it's totally avoidable.

Storytelling at scale is primarily about positioning your messaging so that it’s not just the super-fans of your brand that see and interact with your content – that content is also available, visible and consumable by a wider, more passive audience who did not previously have your brand on their radar.

 

This is a major step forward for brands in their drive for increased reach and ongoing engagement in an always-on, connected world – there’s no point in simply telling existing customers or loyal fans about your latest product or offer, as they are likely to buy or engage with the brand anyway. By casting a wider net with your messaging, you’re going to catch more fish. However, there’s a whole other layer to this process that is being largely ignored by most brands: how to drive the maximum number of users successfully through to a point of conversion - typically an act of purchase or, even better, a repeatable act of purchase.

Making The Most Of Consumers’ Attention

Brands are spending a fortune to generate traffic and engagement with content being pushed out daily. The more users that engage the better, right? Sort of. Once a user has engaged with an ad or another piece of content, your brand has their attention for only the briefest of moments. What you do with that user while you’ve got their attention is central to achieving the core aim of that marketing – to ultimately drive more sales. To do this, brands that are starting to master the art of storytelling at scale also need to consider how to drive conversion at scale.

First, you need to consider at what point you’re pushing your potential customers off a cliff. That’s what’s happening, and it’s obviously not intentional. Having spent lots of money driving traffic from various sources and carefully curating the user journey from your TV ad, YouTube pre-roll, Facebook post or tweet through your site to the product page they’re interested in, what happens next? Do you provide a store locator? Do you sell direct? Do you list partner retailers where they can buy that product? None of this is good enough. Fewer than one in five consumers buy direct from the manufacturer, and your core business typically isn’t selling direct – that’s generally the job of your channel partners. Vague information on how users can find a partner retailer falls well short of what’s needed and what’s possible.

Dealing With Distractions

Every time there’s an opportunity for the user to switch attention, lose interest or be distracted by a competitor, your brand loses conversions. Think about what you personally do when you’ve found a product you’re interested in but it’s not immediately, blindingly obvious how to complete that purchase. Try to find the product again on a search engine? Visit a comparison shopping site or online retailer only to get distracted by a competitive offer? Call or visit a local retailer and hope for the best? It’s slow, frustrating and unnecessarily cumbersome. So you’re less likely to buy. This sort of friction vastly reduces the effectiveness of your media spend.

By refocusing on how you can manage and guide your traffic not just to the product page of your website, but right through to the shopping cart of your channel partners, you eliminate many potential points of friction and retain the user’s attention right up until they’ve completed their purchase. It sounds obvious, but until very recently for many brands it’s been almost impossible to do well, or easily.

Brands are enabling this undesirable situation to exist for two main reasons. Either they’re completely focused on generating traffic with their marketing budget, rather than optimising the conversion rate for traffic that has been generated, or they don’t know that it’s now possible to quantify, track and ultimately prevent that drop off of users when they’re ready to buy, or even what tools are available to assist with this.

It’s not just your website that can be optimised to guide users through the path to purchase. By embedding a subtle but easily accessible “Buy It Now” call to action in every piece of content from video to social media posts to email campaigns, you can actively reduce the many friction points that exist along a user’s path to purchase and drive huge increases in conversion rates.

Managing The Modern Funnel

A traditional brand-controlled buying funnel was easy to manage – run an ad, create interest, generate engagement, a purchasing event and (hopefully) brand loyalty. The modern, consumer-controlled funnel is totally different – the consumer is influenced from many sources – social media, word of mouth, television, banner ads, videos, billboards, etc., and they may decide to purchase at any point in the consumer journey. The brand needs to passively enable those users to purchase at the point they decide to buy, rather than making them jump through hoops to figure out how they can buy your products.

With the right strategy and supporting tools, you can also generate staggeringly useful insights and data around this newly optimised purchasing path. You can see what ads and content are driving the highest conversion rates and adjust/optimise your messaging in real time to maximise the ROI from your campaign spend, and that’s just for starters.

Amazon owns a patent on one-click buying, and defends it vigorously. This is because they know that removing friction from the buying path is critical to maximising conversions. Brands need to accept this principle as infallible and fine tune every aspect of their marketing and customer engagement around it. Consumers, channel partners and shareholders will all thank you for it.

About John Beckett

John Beckett is co-founder and CEO of ChannelSight, and works with brands to maximise conversion rates by optimising the path to purchase and providing a consistent cross-media experience to improve user engagement.

Twitter: @johnbeckett Web: www.channelsight.com

This post was originally written for and posted on CMO.com.

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