You’re Still In The Early-Stage Buyer Journey; What You Do In This Stage Will Make Or Break Deal Flow
A lot of funnel models have the Consideration Stage identified, but do people really know what to do with prospects in this stage or do they simply consider them nurture candidates?
By understanding exactly what prospects are thinking in the Consideration Stage, you can dramatically change what tactics you use to move them along in their buyer journey.
Prospects in the Consideration Stage are still looking at options, and these options might not include your company.
If you’re a software company, they might still be considering build over buy. If you’re in professional services, your prospects might be considering an in-house hire over hiring your firm. If you’re a manufacturer, your prospects might be considering a retrofit versus a new product.
Prospects always have options. One of those options includes doing nothing, so the Consideration Stage is one of the most important from a marketing perspective.
The Secrets To Marketing To Prospects In The Consideration Stage
What you have to keep in mind is that the focus should not be on you but rather on your type of solution. For example, our marketing to prospects in the Consideration Stage is not about Square 2 Marketing. Our focus is on using an agency in general, what kind of agency you need and the value of working with an agency.
Because they’re not sold yet on you or your company, consider keeping the heavy-handed sales to a minimum. Lead nurturing works well here, especially if it’s focused on directional guidance as opposed to company-specific features and benefits.
The key is identifying prospects in this stage. Our research shows that there is usually an uptick in activity associated with your content and, in some cases, specific types of content when prospects move from the general and broad Education Stage to the Consideration Stage.
As we’ve mentioned in other articles, the identification gets easier when you have highly specific Consideration Stage content, conversion points, CTAs or pages. When prospects engage with this content, you know they’ve moved down in their revenue cycle and are close to being ready to talk with you about what you do.
Most Common Mistakes To Avoid In The Consideration Stage
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the most common mistake at every stage: You can’t try to sell them at this stage. Suggesting they schedule a call with you is not going to produce the desired result.
Another common mistake is not attempting to personalize the experience by getting to know them better. Even if they have not engaged with a salesperson yet, you can attempt to personalize their experience on your site and with your content by using progressive profiling and smart content.
This allows you to ask them additional questions that provide more insight into exactly what they’re considering, their timing and what other options might be on the table.
You can also do this with chat tools, which allow you to start engaging in a conversation as opposed to having people complete a series of forms.
This stage might be a touch early for chat, but for those prospects who like chat and want to get answers quickly, it does wonders for shortening your sales cycle and helping your prospects to know, like and trust your company.
When you look at your pipeline and your buyer journey by stage, take note of how many people are in this stage. Some companies see big bulges in their revenue cycles. This is usually an indication that the early-stage tactics are working but the mid-stage tactics are not.
Instead of adding more gas to the early stage in the form of more suspects and prospects, work harder to convert these mid-stage sales-qualified leads into more qualified sales opportunities.
Tactics To Consider For The Consideration Stage
Many tactics contribute to influencing prospects in the Consideration Stage. Some were discussed in the previous three articles in the series on Pre-Awareness, Awareness and Education, so I’m only going to talk about new tactics here today.
Specifically, most of the tactics in Consideration are going to work to continue to reinforce your type of solution over some of the other types. Lead scoring, as mentioned above, is going to be important to know how “good” these prospects are and what resources (marketing or sales) need to be deployed based on the quality and opportunity.
Here’s more detailed description of some new tactics:
- Influencer marketing: This is a pretty big one for this stage. We did cover this earlier, but people are always looking for comfort in crowds. If an influencer has something good to say about you, your company or your generic solution to a challenge, it goes a long way with people in the Consideration Stage.
- Blogging and guest blogging: Probably not the nuclear option for tactics, but it is a solid ground-game tactic. People are looking for content that helps them get to know you and they’re looking for guidance, so a blog article gives you the chance to show how you think.
- Video marketing: Video is just too good of a medium to ignore in almost every stage. It’s a storytelling platform, and in this stage your prospects need a high-level and simple story to grab onto. Focus on customer success stories, but instead of the details, highlight the high-level results your customers found by choosing to go in this direction as opposed to an alternative. Video content for the Consideration Stage is different than video for prospects later in the buyer journey.
- Content marketing (make or buy content, in-house or outsourced content): Again, no surprises here, but the big takeaway should be the different types of content. You want to focus on the big solution, not your specific solution. For example, create content designed around make or buy, in-house or outsourced and the cost of doing nothing. This directional guidance helps your content move prospects along and into the bottom of your revenue cycle faster.
- Lead nurturing and email marketing campaigns: The last tactic worth talking about here is lead nurturing and email marketing. You’re going to want to track prospects. I don’t mean monitor; I mean create workflows for them based on their expressed interest and perceived stages.
Metrics To Measure During The Consideration Stage
The key metrics associated with this stage are flow-through or conversion-related metrics. How many marketing-qualified leads are turning into sales-qualified leads?
How effective are your lead nurturing and general email campaigns at moving prospects from Consideration to Evaluation? Since Evaluation generally means a conversation with sales, this is easier to track than you might have thought.
Here’s what you could be looking at to measure the effectiveness of your Consideration Stage marketing tactics:
- Percentage of highly qualified leads (of total leads) based on lead score
- Number of sales-qualified leads
- Conversion rate on marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads
- Email click-through and email open rates
- Lead nurturing click-through and open rates
You should have some specific Consideration dashboards set up that keep real-time track of these metrics. If you’re reviewing these weekly and rolling them up monthly, looking for gains month over month, you’ll be well on your way to having a good handle on the performance of the tactics in your Consideration Stage.
Technology To Make Execution In The Consideration Stage Easier
Here are the stage-specific software tools we’ve looked at, tested and recommend to clients building a rich tech stack around the Consideration Stage. Remember, these are all built on top of platform software like HubSpot, Marketo or Salesforce.
Here’s your Consideration Stage tech stack:
- Seventh Sense: This is an excellent tool to help your email marketing get smarter. Instead of sending emails to everyone on Tuesday at 10 a.m., try sending to people when they open it. If your prospects open emails on Saturday at 9 p.m., Seventh Sense knows this and schedules accordingly.
- Drift: The latest and greatest in chat tools, this allows people who have questions to engage directly and meter their own buyer journey pace. If you do a good job educating them, they can accelerate that pace directly with your sales team.
- Hushly: Improve your conversion rate for prospects in the consideration stage by encouraging them not to abandon your pages.
By smashing the funnel and applying a new map (the Cyclonic Buyer Journey map), we’re encouraging people to start building more buyer-centric marketing and sales strategies, executing tactics more thoughtfully, tracking the performance of everything and using technology to automate and analyze your results.
The business outcomes? Month-over-month revenue growth and consistent, scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue generation machines. Give it a try, it works! That’s why we guarantee results for our clients.
Square 2 — Building The Agency You’ll LOVE!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.