There’s an evolutionary secret that separates the caveman from the spaceman when it comes to digital marketing today.
You’d think it’s a digital marketing cabal secret because all the successful businesses have evolved through it, yet so few people have ever even heard of it!
It would appear to be very advanced–maybe something that must come after setting up all the digital bells and whistles.
Yet, it’s a concept you should fully understand before you start marketing anything online. It’s certainly where I wish I had started with my handcrafted jewelry business years ago!
But before I get into the details of this concept, let me take you along the digital marketing evolutionary journey, stage by stage.
The Stick-Figure Cave Drawing Stage
Like most people, I started my craft business with simply setting up e-commerce shops, social media profiles, and a blog. This is like the caveman stage of digital marketing. Everybody knows you need to make some scribbles to start drawing attention to your thing in the cave, and it’s easy-peasy.
Soon, if you draw enough stick-figures often enough, you start drawing in a nice little crowd. If you’re selling things you pop in the mail, it works, somewhat. People see your thing, maybe they buy it.
But what do you do then? A lot of people leave your little cave and never come back. And if you’re selling services or things in real-life shops, you haven’t sold anything yet!
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
The Carnival Caricature Stage
We’ve hardly even started, yet this is already where 90% of solopreneurs and small businesses get stuck (me included!). We keep waving people over to look at our cave drawings, but the people get distracted because they see these stripy big top tents with signs that say, “Get a free caricature of yourself! Just come over here!” (and by the way, caricature is pronounced ‘car-eh-ca-ture’, not ‘carry-catcher’ as I once use to say!)
People are like, “hot damn! I’m gonna get me something FREE!” And so they leave us and go and sit for a while with the caricature artist at the carnival tent, because it’s more interesting and they get free stuff that keeps them hanging around longer.
And while they are there, they get to know the artist better. They are also pretty chuffed about the awesome free drawing of themselves, and so they start telling their friends about it.
And that’s all great, but the artist needs money to buy materials for all the free stuff, or what’s the point, right?
You can only take so many peanut shells and the smell of elephant dung before you start to feel like it’s all a waste of time!
SO WHAT NEXT?
The Art Gallery Exhibition Stage
Meanwhile, more evolved marketers paid a sharp kid named Mark to hang all these flashy banners, flyers, billboards, and newspaper ads all over the carnival ground talking about some life-changing artwork that’s only going to be in town for one week. The ads say, “If you see it, all your problems will melt away! Your life will be a-ma-zing! You will never get the chance to see this incredible artwork again, so you need to buy a ticket NOW!” And tickets sell because everyone is so keen to have all their problems solved and they believe all the hype because it’s so convincing. It’s just like these marketers knew all along what they wanted ever since they wandered over to the cave and to the carnival, and even knew that they’d be hanging out there, chomping on cotton candy.
Inside the gallery, a handle-bar mustached artist is doing a happy dance because he’s made lots of money!
But even though his artwork is amazing to see, some gallery visitors are like, “Where is the toilet in this place?” or “There is NO toilet paper!” and it does NOT matter how great the artwork is, they are pissed. And the artist is just too busy doing his happy dance to notice.
So the people take a big black Sharpie and write on the toilet stall wall for everyone else to see, “This gallery sucks! What a rip-off! They can’t even stock enough toilet paper!”
And enough people see and hear about the lack of toilet paper that they start demanding refunds and telling their friends not to go there!
SO WHAT NOW?
The VIP Opening Night Stage
Elsewhere, another artist never did the happy dance at her gallery exhibition. She paid attention to her guests and kept the toilet paper well-stocked. She took notes of what her guests said, gave them helpful brochures about her work, checked to see that they could easily find the gift shop and coffee shop, and continued to chat with them even when they were not looking at her amazing paintings. Then she invited them all to a special V.I.P opening night and served them free canapes and champagne to view more of her work.
People wrote lovely, effusive things about her work in her guestbook, and there were NO Sharpie incidences all evening.
This artist continued to sell many, many artworks and more and more people heard about her and her work.
She was happy, and the people were happy.
THEN A CURIOUS THING HAPPENED…
The Online Forum Stage
Without even being asked, the people starting telling each other about the great artist and her VIP treatment, amazing artwork, and all the pleasant experiences they had visiting her exhibitions and chatting with her. They got online and scribbled their praises all over the virtual walls of Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, etc. until thousands more people heard about the great artists and started to buy from her too.
So how does all this relate to digital marketing?
What I’ve just described to you are the 5 parts of a digital marketing sales funnel. It’s the secret recipe to selling successfully online. It’s the psychological journey of how somebody goes from knowing jack about your business to getting freakishly cultist about it, and in modern terms it is summed up like this:
1 – Awareness = Foot Traffic
This is your social media profile, your blog, your SEO (search engine optimization), and your website. It’s ground zero, and it is STATIC. It doesn’t move. Unless it has a shopping cart right there, it doesn’t do much. It’s just a digital brochure.
2 – Interest = Email Marketing
To get people engaged, you need to make an offer, and give them something for free or that will make them stick around a bit longer. It’s offers that lead to email marketing, and it’s absolutely critical to success online.
3 – Conversion = Sales
Once you get people interested and hanging around, there is a special way of talking to them that leads to them buy something from you: the things you have to offer are ‘limited time’ (the gallery exhibition lasts only one week), will solve problems, will make you’re life amazing, etc. This is what is called conversion copy and it is the pillar of digital marketing–it’s backbone, if you will. Nothing works without great copy. It is an art form in its own right. It takes skill and a lot of practice to get right.
4 – Retention = Customer Nurturing
You must take care of your customers after the sale and monitor and respond to what people are saying about you and your brand online. Sour Facebook reviews are basically impossible to remove, and there are dozens of seedy corners where people huddle online to whisper about you. If you’re not paying attention, these sticky digital footprints can cost you money and strangle your business reputation.
5 – Advocacy = Loyal Customer Referrals
Truly the crème de la crème of a digital marketing evolution, a customer outreach and referral system you’ve masterminded but that takes off on it’s own is where you want to be. It may be on auto-pilot, but only because you set it off that way.
This is why I am all about the sales funnel now (besides loving vortex graphics, that is).
In my first year as a freelance social media manager, I realized that many of my clients lacked the digital parts to move their customers into the next stage. Because I work with mainly solopreneurs and small businesses, I now see my job as more a digital marketing sales funnel strategist, managing their social media while advising on the bigger picture.
I aim to help my clients move from having dormant websites to activated ones that work like automated machines to generate leads and sales. I help them take the baby steps to get there by giving advice and helping build up, bit by bit. For those who want it, I also build the big kahuna, whole-shebang sales funnel as well!
If you’re a creative person or aspiring business owner, start studying what sales funnels are all about. There are many kinds and they can go from very basic to very complex. You can invest in expensive drag-and-drop software to help build them or you can DIY it yourself.
But the basic concept is that to make money online you’ll need a sales funnel, honey child!
Want to learn more about marketing in a fun, no gobbledly-gook way? Join my free Facebook community, Marketing For Creative & Unconventional Women. It’s where I help creative women overcome their imposter syndrome and learn to kick-ass with their marketing to fund their DREAMS.