Joanna Prospect needs a solution.
After Googling some pertinent keywords, she comes across your site.
The first thing she sees is a CTA pushing her to sign up for a free trial that promises to address her every need.
“This could be the answer to all my problems,” she thinks. She signs up. Fantastic, right?
Actually, you and Joanna might both benefit from slowing things down a little.
If your site is set up to convert prospects from their first visit, Joanna Prospect may miss key bits of knowledge to make the most of your product, or she may try to use your product to solve the wrong problem.
Your website should focus instead on educating prospects, leading them gradually down a path of increasing knowledge.
By taking more time to move a visitor toward conversion in their purchasing journey, companies can decrease customer churn and protect their brand’s image. Let Joanna understand who you are and where she’s headed before asking her to convert.
Hold on. Am I really telling you to put barriers between potential customers and a sale?
Absolutely. Because there’s solid evidence that backs me up.
Mom was Right: Patience Pays
Rand Fishkin of Moz wrote an intriguing post examining how converting a customer too early actually ended up losing Moz some business.
Fishkin found customers who convert on the first few visits to the website had a tendency to leave the solution “early and often,” while customers who visited at least 10 times were more loyal.
Further, those loyalty rates actually increased with the number of times a customer visited the site before converting.
This suggests that developing a brand relationship — largely by educating customers — creates longer-lasting relationships and reduces the costs of churn.
Those initial customers who converted on the first or second visit to the site weren’t properly educated on what Moz’s solution could do for them and how to use it, so they ended up quitting the free trial after a month of mediocre experiences with the product.
Those who had a better understanding of why they had converted were the ones who stuck around.
So, how do you keep your own leads and prospects from converting too early?
Map Those CTAs to Your Funnel Stages
To keep your CTAs thoughtfully and effectively placed, map out each piece of educational content to a stage of your customer’s journey. Then optimize your CTAs with a focus on moving each prospect organically down that pipeline. Let me explain.
The first time a visitor lands on your site, the CTA they experience should be to learn more, not to sign up for a free trial. Airbnb’s front page has an excellent example of a CTA for potential hosts, leading them to a page that answers “how does this work” questions.
Identify pieces of your educational content aimed at the top of the funnel, and then design them to answer initial questions and lead the prospect to educate themselves further (with, for example, CTAs to learn more or read additional content).
As a prospect moves through the funnel and seeks more informational content, they’ll begin to trust and rely on your brand’s expertise.
CTAs for middle-of-the-funnel, often before they have signed up for a trial or a sale, content should offer prospective customers substantial ways to cement that reliance. Give them a chance to:
- sign up for a webinar
- take a free online course
- download a white paper
- read some case studies
On their Sales Cloud page, Salesforce includes video case studies and white paper downloads:
At the bottom of the funnel, customers will finally encounter your lead generation content. At that point, they should be well educated and primed to convert.
This is where those CTAs for free trials and pricing packages should go.
Remember These Cs: Content Creates Confident Customers
Of course, these CTAs will only be effective if your educational content genuinely answers the questions prospects have along their journey.
To identify what your ideal customers need to know before making a purchase, consider these factors:
- What do they need to know about your product to get the most benefit out of a free trial or other initial offer? Target your educational content to those topics and keywords.
- If you run a third-party seller platform, what skills do your providers need to optimize their listings and have success on your platform?
- If you run a sales CRM, what knowledge do your customers need about forecasting and sales pipelines in order to benefit from your free trial? If you’re not sure, try surveying current satisfied customers.
Great educational content clearly conveys that if prospects have questions, you will reliably provide the answers. This gives them the confidence that when it comes time to try your product, they’ll have support. In the meantime, your educational content is building up the skills and mindset they need to properly use your product.
The website of the sales CRM software Pipedrive is a good example of that. Along with a comprehensive support center, they publish a ton of content to help people become better at sales.
In the eyes of your prospects, you’re now head and shoulders over other untested brands.
If you already have a good customer training and onboarding program in place, then you already know the value of educating customers after the purchase.
And once you begin to educate prospects before the sale, you’ll reap the results of conversions who are already loyal to your brand.
About the Author: Becky Krill heads up marketing at SchoolKeep, a modern platform for optimizing full-funnel training operations. You can follow Becky on Twitter @RabeckaKrill.