Turning Online Prospects into High Value Clients Online in 2021

As technology progresses, our ability to track, measure and optimize increases.

One of the most important things to always be doing as a business in my opinion is digging deeper into patterns in your data if you havent already been doing that.

Along with that comes trying not only to know, but deeply understanding the customers and the market that you serve along with how your different avatars navigate the internet before buying if there were to be any differences in language used

Some call it the customer lifecycle or buyers’ journey but the terminology really doesn’t matter much.

here are the steps for you –

They’re all referring to knowing how and why your customers find and buy from your business. Then it dives into what steps they take that increase their lifetime value to your business. If you aren’t familiar with it and what the different stages of the buyer’s journey are no need to worry, we’ll go over them all here. 

When you first shake hands with someone and start to develop a relationship with them, do you immediately ask about what they can offer you in exchange for the friendship/relationship they have with you? I hope not.

Here’s a more dramatic but equal comparison. When you first meet someone that you think could potentially become your spouse one day, is the first thing that you ask them ‘‘Will you marry me?’’

These approaches probably aren’t the conversations that spark successful marriages or lasting meaningful relationships between people.

But funny enough, this is almost exactly what most companies are doing when trying to market online right now. Which is why we receive calls from companies that are frustrated. Companies are advertising on Facebook or YouTube essentially waving a flag, jumping up and down and shouting ‘’buy my stuff!’’ without even knowing who they’re talking to.

And sadly, what those companies don’t know is that a majority of the people seeing those ads don’t even want to be seeing them. So, instead of doing anything like that, let’s go through what a successful relationship with a potential prospect would look like using digital marketing tactics the right way.

So let’s take a look at the customer journey to get an idea as to how we would go about marketing while focused on relationship building rather than direct monetization.

1.   Aware

The first thing that has to happen with any successful marketing campaign is the prospect has to become aware of your company or your product / service.

Whether this happens when the prospect sees a billboard driving down the road or they see a social media post on Facebook, the prospect has to become aware of you or your product / service in some way or another. But the first thing that they see (especially online) shouldn’t be a ‘’buy now’’ ad or anything similar.

This is the first step in building a relationship and exchanging value with a valuable and loyal lifetime customer.

  • Touchpoint – A point of interaction between a consumer and a business.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a search engine such as Google or Bing.
  • Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) Google’s response to a user’s search which usually include organic search results, paid Google Ads results, Featured Snippets, Knowledge Graphs and video results.
  • Content – information made available by a website or other electronic medium

Examples of generating awareness using digital marketing

  • A mother of 4 children on Facebook sees an advertisement about a summer swim camp
  • A teacher searches on Google for new materials or snacks for children in her class
  • A student in high school sees a video on twitter or Instagram of her friend talking about her new favorite backpack

Social media and anywhere else where people share content with each other is the perfect place to help your company generate awareness for any products or services that you provide.

2.   Engaged

Your prospect is currently in a state of awareness but most likely, this first point of contact isn’t going to be the only one if they are going to become a customer. On average it takes about 7 ‘’touches’’ for your prospect to take action on any offers you make.

This is where you now need to further the relationship you have with them and get them to engage with your content somehow. This is usually done by entertaining your prospect or giving them useful (and hopefully actionable) information.

This needs to be done multiple times throughout the buyers journey and should be pursued even after the customer has purchased your product or service.

Examples of generating engagement using digital marketing

  • A school teacher joins a Facebook group of other school teachers
  • An electrician watches a YouTube video on how to properly install a certain brand of hardware in a home being built
  • A wealth management consultant receives and reads a letter from his client about how to market his company better

The content that you produce should be made for the kind of prospect that you are trying to attract. For instance, if I’m a manufacturer of garage doors, I would want to make content that appeals to garage door distributors/installers.

This is why creating various marketing personas is so important. This is you know who to make your content for, where they are getting their information from, and other important factors to help you distribute content to the right people at the right place at the right time.

3.   Subscribed

Your prospect knows what your company does and is most likely aware of what products / services you provide at this point.

This is point in the buyer’s journey where you start to ask for something in return for valuable content you’re distributing or getting your prospects engaged with. I’m going to refer back to the first comparison I made when introducing the idea of a buyer’s life cycle.

Remember when I asked if you would ever ask someone what added value they provide to you in exchange for having a relationship or friendship with you? Well, here’s where you can ask them for something in return for that relationship but without doing it in a way that makes them scoff or get offended like they would have if you did what I referred to at the beginning of this guide.

At this point, you can now safely ask for some contact information so you can reach them at a later time. Most times if you’ve done stuff right, they know and trust you enough say yes to giving you their information in exchange for some more content of yours.

We are going to ask the prospect to simply fill out some contact information. This is where the term ‘’Gated content’’ comes in.

This is what the company Digital Marketer calls an “Ethical Bribe”

So, you promote an offer with lots of value but instead of asking for money, the prospect gives you a way to contact them in the future. They are then added to a list of subscribers and “bucketed” (aka segmented) with the subscribers that wanted access to the same content.

This means you’re able to from now on see what they gave their contact information up for and then target email marketing campaigns to send them offers that are related to the content that they wanted access to with your CRM.

CRM – Customer relationship management software/system is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers

Gated content – content that requires the prospect to fill out a form with their contact information (and possibly answer a few other questions) in exchange for access to some desired content. This could be a free webinar, a template, a checklist, a step-by-step guide, or any other number of things to help your prospect reduce the amount of time, energy, or other resources necessary to reach a goal of theirs.

Examples of generating subscribers using digital marketing are

  • A marketing intern signs up for an online marketing webinar put on by professional digital marketers
  • A young mother signs up for a weekly newsletter about how to properly raise and discipline children between ages 1 and 7
  • A sales manager fills out a form to get access to white papers on ‘’How to increase leads by 217% in less than 3 months’’ in any industry.

4.   Converted

Of all the prospects that you get to subscribe to your email list or give their email for content, some of them will be ready to ascend up the value ladder and some won’t take another step in the marketing funnel for a year or two or at all. It really just depends on what situation the prospect is in and how eager they are to progress.

The ones that are ready to ascend are ready to give you more time or more money. Usually if they trust you and understand what it is that you do along with understanding how what you do can help them save resources (time, energy, or money) or gain more resources in a shorter amount of time than the ways that they are currently using, they’ll invest in your offers.

These offers that I’m referring to aren’t regular offers. They’re referred to as “tripwire offers” or “entry point offers”

                Tripwire offerA relatively low-cost high-quality product specifically designed to build your customer list. Usually they’re priced at $5 – $50 with the majority being less than $20. The price point you choose is dependent on your brand, target audience, and goals for the list you are trying to get the prospect to subscribe to by taking advantage of the offer.

The marketing funnel is essentially an automated filtration system for prospects to go through so that you don’t waste time or money on prospects that aren’t qualified enough yet to be talking with you or your sales reps. This prevents you from wasting resources on prospects that don’t need personalized one on one attention quite yet.

The tripwire offer is one of the tipping points in the marketing funnel. This is when the prospect has to pull out a credit card or invest time to learn more about whatever it is that you have to offer. This is so you can focus your efforts on the prospects that matter most and are the most likely to convert into paying clients/customers.

Remember, delayed gratification pays off. You’ll be able to outpace your competition by doing things in a way that focuses more on building the relatioship than getting a transaction. This and some other things I go over later with you will show you you’ll see when we get to the end of this guide why you should just stay focused on adding value and finding the prospects that are serious.

The reason that companies make such outrageously low front end offers to get you to switch from the product or service you’re using now to their product or service is because in any business, the most expensive part of marketing and sales is the initial acquisition of a customer. This means it’s hard and expensive to get people to stop using what they are using now to switch to something else or even start using a kind of product or service that’s nothing like anything they’ve used before. They already know the ins and outs of their current products or services, know how to use them, and also most likely have a relationship with the company or people that work at the company that provides the product or service.

Getting someone to switch from one product to another is like pulling teeth. Along with getting them to switch products or services you also have to go through the phases of gaining trust and showing through your content that you really do have their best interest at heart.

So just to reiterate and condense what happens during the convert phase is you’re trying to increase the prospects investment in your company or brand and further develop the relationship they have with your brand. At this point they will show you if they’re serious about progressing further down the funnel by giving up a chunk of their time (15/30 min +) to gather more information and ask questions that couldn’t be answered through generalized content. Or they will take advantage of a great tripwire offer (high quality / low cost)

Here are some examples of generating conversions using digital marketing

  • A heavy coffee drinker (that sometimes forgets to brush) sees an ad for teeth whitening and it’s way less than usual ($15 instead of the usual advertised $125)
  • An older mother that doesn’t have the time to take care of her father that needs constant care searches for nursing homes online and schedules an appointment on the website to tour one of the nursing homes.
  • A real estate agent that just moved to a new location and buys a $12 insiders real estate guide for the new city they’re in from the top real estate group in the state.

5.  Ascending

By this stage of the funnel, you’ll have most likely invested a good amount of money and other resources into attracting and acquiring leads and you’ll probably have plenty. But we’re going to stay focused on the one prospect we have been referring to throughout this guide.

But the investment up front will lead to profits that compound in the long term. The first transaction that happens isn’t to make a profit, it’s to do everything you can to increase the likelihood of that prospect turning into a lifetime customer that always comes back to you whenever they need anything that you have to offer.

You’ll learn that customers (after they trust you) often times want to buy from you and end up begging for new products, services, or offers. This doesn’t happen all the time but you’ll soon find that it’s much easier to resell to an existing customer than it is trying to develop a relationship with a new one. Which is why promoters and advocates are so important.

At this point, if you have a core offer, you can comfortably make that offer and then help them ascend more up your value ladder by sending more relevant offers their way for them to take advantage of.

This is where you start to see the positive impact of holding off on trying to sell everyone up front and letting the process happen while adding tons of value up front. This is where all of that starts to really get reciprocated and compounded.

Examples of ascension in the customer journey and marketing funnel:

  • A young mother purchases multiple cameras for the different locations in the house where her baby sleeps and then buys the rest of a bundle offer the camera brand offers at checkout.
  • A college student buys a laptop for school and also buys a protective case, a warranty, and necessary syncing software so that all his files stay on all devices at all times.

These kinds of offers that tack on a little more to your purchase end up making a massive difference in the long run once you build up your email list and customer base. The best part about it is that once you build the relationships up with customers and show that you always add value when someone buys anything from you, they gladly buy these extra items and are often actually viewing these extra offers as great deals to take advantage of.

6.  Advocating

The prospect turned customer is happy and has nothing but positive things to say about you and your brand. This is what we would call an advocate. To make it simple, advocates are people that will recommend your business and products casually when there is a reason to during conversation.

They won’t however go out of their way to create a new conversation about what it is that you provide as a business. This is the main difference between a promoter and an advocate.

An advocate isn’t someone that’s actively trying to promote your products or services. But rather, they’re someone who will speak about your brand in a positive way whenever something gets brought up in conversation or whenever a thought triggers them to say something about your brands products or services.

Other than that, not much is said about your brand.

A couple of examples of digital marketing generating advocacy are:

  • Someone is incentivised through an email to head to yelps website and give a 5 star review on yelp along with a few written sentences about what made the experience with your business so enjoyable.
  • A professional on LinkedIn that has used your business’ products before recognizes you and your business while browsing the internet and endorses you and your business

This is a massive part of any business sales cycle especially with the higher priority and focus on SEO nowadays. Even one review that is higher than your competition can make a dramatic difference in some cases.

By now, you have the trust of the prospect / customer and they have taken a crucial step in the marketing journey toward possibly becoming a loyal lifetime customer. That is, if you do a good job taking them through the rest of the marketing journey.

To guarantee they stick with you, we need to ensure that they got value (hopefully more than expected) out of whatever time or money they invested in you or your company. This is the first investment they’ve made in your brand and therefore it becomes the determining factor for whether or not you keep them as a customer for life or lose them forever right after they convert.

The conversion is basically a test to see what you do with a small cash or time investment of theirs (whether they see it that way or not, this is the way it is). If they receive more value than expected, they’ll most likely be coming back for more of whatever it is you provide. If not, your time with them is most likely going to be short lived. So, ensuring that you provide a great amount of value in exchange for whatever they gave you, is crucial to keeping this flywheel effect going while they ascend through the customer journey.

The next step in the excite stage is making sure that whenever anyone invests any amount of time or money in anything that you provide as a product or service, you leave them wanting to come back for more because of how much value was given in exchange for their investment.

The positive impact that you leave on customers compounds over time and makes dramatic differences that you couldn’t imagine. The “excite” part of the customer journey is something that needs to be considered and sought after during all phases of the marketing funnel. Whenever there is an exchange of value between you and your clients, you should always feel like your company walked away from the exchange delivering more value than was expected from the prospect or client. This applies especially after the initial conversion happens.

Here are some examples of using digital marketing to create excitement:

  • A young woman struggling with her weight receives 4 emails from a personal trainer about the exact health/weight issues she is struggling with and how to start eliminating them before he even meets with her for his obligated weekly meet up.
  • A new Xbox gamer gets a walkthrough on how to navigate his new gaming system and take advantage of new releases, insider discounts, and other deals on games and movies when they get released.
  • Parents that just purchased their first minivan receive a link via text to an entire video series on how to take advantage of the technology and new software/hardware in their new minivan. The videos show how to navigate and personalize the interior along with improving comfortability and safety for anyone in the van and at the end of the text it includes a personal point of contact for them to reach out to if they have questions about how to customize the van.

This part of the customer journey is really all about going the extra mile to make sure that there is a noticeable positive difference dealing with your brands products and services compared to competitions.

Personal example:

When I started getting serious about productivity, I downloaded a lot of different apps and software to help me track and increase my productivity levels. Taking a look back at them all there was one software that I installed on my phone and desktop that really stood out.

Upon paying for the software, RescueTime sent me a sequence of emails (one of them was a personalized video recorded by a team member using my name in the video) on how to set goals and set limits for certain activities. There’s a ton more they showed me how to do. But the point is, they didn’t have to do any of what they did. But they did it anyways, which won my loyalty as a customer.

I received emailed instructions on how to personalize my preferences and how to label the URLs I visited often and it made a world of difference in how much value I got (and still get) out of the software.

I tell you this story not to brag about a desire to be highly productive but to illustrate a personal example of how I experience(d) added value from a company going the extra mile with something pretty simple that they didn’t HAVE to do but did anyways. You can and I would even say should be adding extra value in every situation you’re able to. This will undoubtedly differentiate your brand from your competitions and in the minds of those who buy from you.

7.  Promoting

Lastly, the best part of the funnel, and where you’re really going to see stuff catch fire (in a good way and at scale) if you do it right is here; the promoter’s phase.

The phase where your customers are actively looking for opportunities to tell more people about your brand, product, or service. This last step in the funnel can generate tons of exchanged value for everyone involved.

The benefits of having someone that has dealt with your business before, vouch for you and your company is huge. Just having one person alongside you and promoting your business is great. Now imagine a swarm of promoters helping you wherever they go. Always on the lookout for opportunities to promote your brands products and services.

Promoters start being promoters for 2 reasons usually

The first is because they enjoyed working with your company and had an incredible experience throughout the time they were working with you and are hopefully still recieving services or are seeing benefit and added value even to this day without you being there for them

Or the second, which is because you’ve incentivised them in some way to become a promoter of your business.

A few examples of digital marketing That creates promoters

  • Someone that hosts a YouTube channel that does electronics reviews receives a 15% commission for any new keyboard sales they generate through their personal affiliate link provided in the description of the video.
  • A SaaS company doesn’t charge customers their usual monthly billing amount if they get someone else to sign up for a free trial using a specific link to sign up.

Many companies do this, especially today where there are so many digital apps, sites, and software systems that we are becoming more and more reliant on with the rise of technology and digital devices throughout the world.

A good example of a company that creates promoters is Trello.

Trello is a free team organization & collaboration tool people use for free. And in order to get users to share it with their friends, they incentivize them to share it by giving the people that share, access to free gold memberships for every month that they get one user to sign up for Trello.

I hope this post served you well and hopefully broke down what a good relationship cultivation process online looks like.

Thanks for taking the time to read this all the way up to this point. I know it was a bit of a long read. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below about any questions you may have for me or even any insights you gained while reading.

If you need any help with your marketing efforts online, feel free to schedule a call with me to see how we may be able to help you.