It's an exciting time for SEO and digital marketing. Our work as marketers (and yes, that's what we are) has taken us to new levels of strategy and has forced us to use our creativity in ways never thought possible. We have entered a time in an industry that feels much like the Old West; a world of exploration at our fingertips by way of data and a vast amount of resources available at every turn. It's a beautiful thing and it's time to dive in, taking full advantage.
But where do we start? First, it's no longer enough to increase organic traffic to your, or your customer’s, website. Don't get me wrong, that's what you are getting paid for, but your job requires a lot more effort and creative thinking beyond simply traffic. You need to answer questions…
- What happens once a user get lands on a site?
- Where do they go?
- Are they taking the actions you want them to take?
- Do they leave?
These are just a few of the questions you need to have answers for, because without these answers or ways of tracking them, you are wandering aimlessly in the dark and probably not getting very far.
The Traditional Sales Funnel
We all know the sales funnel. It's the traditional layout for the way a customer moves through the sales process, ending in the hopeful sale, becoming a customer. If you have been living under a rock, here's what I mean:
Pretty straight forward. A user or prospect comes into the funnel, some magic, schmoozing, and other things happen, and bam - a new customer. Rinse and repeat. The issue with this model is that it's no longer sustainable. And while there is no definitive answer to new customer acquisition vs. customer retention given the complexities of customers, industry, and segments, it's thought to cost between 4 to 10 times more acquiring new customers.
That's pretty substantial. The scarier thing is that this traditional way of thinking is the way a lot of companies and agencies are still running - get the customer in the funnel, sell them, and get the next. This has to change.
This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Marketing
There was a fantastic article written in May 2014 by Mark Bonchek and Cara France of the Harvard Business Review called Marketing Can No Longer Rely on the Funnel which my sentiments above echo. The issue is this: users don't just enter at the top of the funnel and step by step move through the funnel, it just doesn't work like that anymore.
Users and prospects are incredibly savvy, empowered, and well versed in research about the companies they will begin conversations with. Users now enter the funnel at any given point, expecting information to be readily available wherever they enter. If they don't find it at that moment, they will move onto the next company that will be prepared to handle their questions or concerns.