Companies with retail products are at an exciting time right now in relation to mobile technology. What has been released so far has been lackluster to say the least. At the same time, nothing has been more valuable to the sales process than mobile devices.
While I hate to sound like an alarmist, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this. Apps and sites that get it right in the next 12 months will be industry leaders for the next half decade.
The sales funnel is a long-time aid to communicate how customers turn from strangers to owners of products. Some companies just focus on specific aspects of the funnel, while others try to catch customers at every stage. The names of each stage may change in name or number, but this is a list of the five major steps along the path to purchase and how mobile can assist:
- Awareness: This stage is for customers that don’t even know your product exists. Broadcast and print ads used to serve this stage. Now, with mobile SEO and social media platforms you can let targeted, local customers know there is a solution to their problems that only you can provide.
- Opinion: Browsing usually comprises this step. Think Sears catalog. Now, with sites like Amazon, there is a multitude of online catalogs that allow customers to shop and compare in the comfort of…wherever they are. SEO and placement is even more valuable here, because now you are competing for attention with like-minded products.
- Consideration: You are this close to a sale, but your competitor has recently discounted their solution. How do you stack up? If you have done a good job of collecting contact information, you can deliver reviews of satisfied customers or notify them of your own sale. The SMS platform is perfect for this. Studies show customers are more willing to engage via text than through the phone.
- Purchase: Congrats, the user wants to give you money! How easy are you making the checkout process? How many touches and screens are you making them go through to get an order confirmation? Remember, no device has more information stored in it than a smartphone. Retailers that find an easy way for users to share it will make the purchase stage one of the most pleasurable parts. Think Apple stores.
- Service: How engaged are you with customers who have already received their product? Make sure you capture their satisfaction quickly through an easy, targeted survey that allows them to show the world they would buy from you again. Also, keep them abreast of updates coming in the future that involve a companion product or successor. Repeat business is built best through post-purchase engagement.
Before I leave, I wanted to add a few disclaimers. As always this is not a one-size-fits-all practice:
- Distraction is the #1 barrier to a sale. Are you removing them from your involvement with the funnel?
- Not every customer enters the funnel at the same spot. Make sure you allow for easy entry at every stage.
- It would be nice if everyone followed the same path to purchase and service. Unfortunately, someone might have browsed somewhere else. They may be trying your product because of a failed experience with your competitor and are bringing in a bias. They might have even purchased somewhere else and are wanting you to fix the seller’s problem.
Just think carefully about your funnel and how your mobile aide can make entry and exit of each stage fun and profitable for both of you. While it’s not a magic bullet, there is a lot to be excited about integrating mobile devices into this plan.