Presently buyers manage their progress through their ‘buying cycle’ considerably more than today’s vendors control the ‘selling cycle’.
Buyer’s today are usually 70% to 90% of their way through their buying process before they send a true buying signal to a seller. For many product and service sectors, buyers delay talking with a salesperson until they are ready to get a proposal with pricing.
The role of marketing is travelling further down the marketing and sales funnel. What happened and how can companies keep pace with the changes and continue to create effective marketing strategies? The explanation lies in a simple answer: the traditional marketing funnel gained in complexity due to the advances of social media and businesses are now focusing on integrated marketing strategies.
Social Media and More Screens Transformed the Traditional Marketing Funnel
The very beginning of social media marketing was actually marked by the introduction of the television in the early 1950’s. The very first advertisement on TV, or social media 1.0, created the so called ‘lean forward’ modus. Viewers shifted from a leaning backward and relaxing position for viewing regular programming and leaned forward to better observe attention-getting TV ads. This phenomenon has continued with the growth of the internet proliferation, higher data speeds desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet screens.
Now, as more and more people are connected by screens to the internet, basically any business, product, person or service can be marketed online. Consequently, the importance of social media and the pervasiveness it now has to influence customer opinion, has caused it to become one of the top marketing priorities for any company.
Growing Customer Choices and More On-line Friends to Influence Them
Decades ago customers were limited by the range of products on the market and there was highly limited choice. A customer’s personal preference alone would determine if they took action and made a buying decision. That has all changed now due to a world effectively oversupplied with wide ranging product and service selection as a direct result of the Internet, globalization and the reduction of tariffs and cheaper transport.
Taking social media marketing into consideration, a new marketing metric was created. Customers have much more choice and their buying decision depends on many factors no longer limited by their personal preference (and perhaps the opinions a couple of blokes at the pub). Customers are influenced by peer reviews, competitive alternatives, recommendations from friends and other user generated content.
The impact of availability and sharing of information has transformed marketing and it is more than evident that the traditional marketing funnel is becoming more and more complex. As a business owner, your potential customers are influenced by contributors…other customers and users who do (or don’t) recommend your business, your product or service by sharing their experiences with your company via the network effect of social media. Creating a credible stance with this group of contributors is essential to the generation of your new buyers.
In the end, every company wants to acquire more customers who are more satisfied with their products or services. Today more than earlier, it takes an integrated marketing and social media marketing strategy to achieve this goal. It is important to create your own network effect. In fact, social media marketing is any marketing whereby you empower your customers to tell your brand’s story by sharing their own experiences, opinions, and views with one another.