We marketers sometimes wear blinders when developing our marketing strategy. We focus so much on the decision-making part of the purchasing lifecycle that we overlook the opportunities in the pre-transactional conversion stage.
In general, being focused is good, but it also may mean we’re not opening our eyes wide enough.
If you’re an e-commerce marketer, you may be stuck in that scenario and don’t even know it. There is a huge opportunity that the vast majority of e-commerce marketers are overlooking, one that will allow you to radically scale up your marketing and boost results.
To explain this huge opportunity, we must first take a step back and look at how people make purchasing decisions.
There are four distinct stages of the typical e-commerce consumer’s lifecycle.
Stage 1: Awareness Stage
People in the awareness stage are not interested in hearing about sales, products, or promotions. Any mention to those may annoy them and cause them to leave.
Stage 2: Consideration Stage
The consumer understands he has some sort of problem and now researches to find out what solutions are out there. The consumer also will be creating criteria to evaluate various solutions.
Stage 3: Decision Stage
Now, the consumer has identified a problem, researched the solution options, and narrowed them down to two or three vendors.
That is the point almost every e-commerce marketer obsesses about. This is where promo codes, free shipping, specials, and bundling will push the consumer to complete the purchase and convert into a sale.
Stage 4: Delight
In the delight stage, your goal is to give your customers such an overwhelming experience and develop such a deep emotional connection that they become brand advocates. Even this stage requires a specific strategy. Simply sending out more promo codes to your customer list won’t build advocates.
Where Most E-Commerce Sites Fall Short
The vast majority of e-commerce marketers (all marketers, really) are obsessed with the decision stage. They eat, sleep, breathe, and are evaluated on turning website visitors into sales. And although the decision stage is certainly critical, solely focusing on that stage means missing out on other opportunities. And it’s here where the huge opportunity for e-commerce marketers lies: the pre-transactional conversion.
Why Are Pre-Transactional Conversions Important?
A pre-transactional conversion is an event where a customer completes an action in the first two stages of the lifecycle. Don’t let the name fool you… Although no money is exchanged, a transaction is still taking place. In a pre-transactional conversion, the person is submitting his information (instead of money) as a form of “payment” for the item of value you’re offering.
Those items of value can come in many forms and vary based on your audience and the lifecycle stage they are in. Typically, these are e-books, whitepapers, webinars, comparison guides, and case studies that educate and inform the person about a particular topic.
The pre-transactional conversion is important for many reasons. One is that it will help skyrocket your contact database. Most e-commerce sites only have two conversion points: a newsletter signup and a purchase. That only gives you two opportunities to collect contact data, and so the website visitor-to-contact conversion rate is typically very low.
When an e-commerce site offers many pre-transactional conversion points for specific personas and at all stages of the buying cycle, they will dramatically increase the amount of conversions they complete and new contacts in their database.
All those new contacts are leads that you can continually engage with additional helpful information and new content offers to nurture them down their lifecycle path. When done correctly, that will result in an influx of decision stage leads ready to make a purchase.
Additionally, converting leads earlier in their lifecycle and nurturing them helps build relationships, trust, and credibility. By slowly interacting with these early stage leads in a personal way via email and social, they will get to know you and start developing positive feelings towards you and your brand.
As you send them high-quality expert advice and information, you will build trust and credibility in their eyes. As any good salesperson knows, a good relationship, trust, and credibility keeps you top of mind, gives you an edge over the competition, and ultimately increases your sale conversion rates.
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We marketers can always work harder to increase conversion rates on our website. Getting fixated on one single step or lifecycle stage and forgetting the other equally important stages is easy, unfortunately. However, taking a step back and looking at the whole picture can give you some incredible insight on other areas of opportunity.
Do you believe in pre-transactional conversions? How would this apply to your business?