As LinkedIn grows in popularity and becomes more like Facebook, it is easier to spot the obvious outreach attempts of sales people. I recently received a connection request from a marketer that said, to paraphrase: “Hi, I’m a marketer, you’re a marketer, would you like to sign up for a free trial of my app.”

I immediately recoiled and deleted the request. I thought for a moment about calls-to-action in the buyer’s journey, and when is the right time to send out each call to increase the likelihood of conversion.

Before I have even met someone, especially online, it’s a big ask to get me to take such an important action, like downloading an app, even for a free trial.

Maybe it is not clear, even to marketers, when to place or request a call-to-action in the buyer journey.  With this in mind, let’s have another look at the beloved funnel, or chalice as I affectionately call it, and how this impacts your call-to-action timing.

Top of Funnel

Awareness

Whether B2B or B2C, this is where a lot of buyers will start their journey with your organisation’s product or service.  At this stage, a prospect could likely see your ad when searching online, or see your stand at an expo or event.  This is the awareness stage.  This is where prospects realise your business exists, and they evaluate, usually quickly, whether they want to learn more.

They have never heard of you, they likely do not trust you, and like any initial stage in a relationship they will view you with scepticism and intrigue.

They may not be ready to talk to you; they may not want you to know their personal information like their name or any contact details.  You need to respect this, yet be open in case they want to engage.  This is also where social media can play a role, as a ‘like’ or ‘follow’ has little commitment and just encourages them to the next step.

Calls-to-action at this stage in the journey should be around:

– Click Here
– Visit our Website
– Take a Brochure
– Follow us on Social Media

The main aim at the top of the funnel is to move the prospect, once they have shown interest, to the next part of the funnel as quickly as possible.

Middle of Funnel

Evaluation

Some buyers may move to this stage very quickly, especially if they have seen that you can solve a major pain point from what they have learned at the top of the funnel.

At this stage, you want the prospect to engage with your content and connect with your brand.  This may take a few minutes, or a few weeks or months.  Using data to accurately map your buyer’s journey will let you know how long this transition takes.

Calls-to-action at this stage in the journey should be around:

– Subscribe to our Newsletter
– Download our eBook/ Whitepaper
– Register for our Webinar
– Share/ Comment on our Social Media post
– Attend our Exclusive Event

Once the prospect is in the middle of the funnel, they have confirmed they like your brand and offerings, and are considering doing business with you.

Bottom of Funnel

Conversion

This is the stage where all salespeople want their leads to be at.  They want hot prospects ready to buy!  Ready to take that meeting and receive that contract!

When buyers reach this point in their journey, they are usually seriously considering your products or services, and your competitors. They have gotten to know your business, your people, and they like what they hear so far.

In B2B, this is also usually where other stakeholders are revealed and brought into the process.  They are weighing the pros and cons, and will likely take a decision. They are keen to see existing happy customers and proof that you can deliver.

Calls-to-action at this stage in the journey should be around:

– Download our case study
– Check out our testimonials
– Enquire here
– Contact us
– Request a demo
– Get our limited time offer

You can also insert here “Download a free trial of my app”.  As you can now see, the marketer who recently approached me on LinkedIn, and many similar salespeople want to skip over the previous steps and get right to this point. Trying to “close” too fast, can sometimes cause your buyer to recoil as I did, ruining the entire journey.

Getting to this stage, especially with B2B, takes patience and time, unless the prospect comes directly to this stage via a “golden ticket”…. the referral!  Getting an existing customer to refer someone to you puts them on an express train along the buyer journey, and brings them to the bottom of the funnel a lot faster.

Customer Funnel

Advocacy

This is my favourite stage in the buyer journey, as this is where a prospect has transacted with you, and moved into the realm of becoming your customer!

This is where you want their experience with your business to continue to be as positive as possible.  Any calls-to-action at this stage in the journey need to also be perfectly timed, to connect with the customer when they are most happy and willing.

Calls-to-action at this stage in the journey should be around:

– Give us a referral
– Give us a testimonial/ case study
– Write us a review
– Buy from us again

Of course, you should wait until the transaction is complete or the service is delivered to ask these calls-to-action. Your sales team, delivery team, and/ or support team will play a major role in knowing when to ask, so you need to ensure that communication channels are open across silos for this to happen.

So many businesses have neglected this stage in the funnel, and are now realising just how hard it is to keep generating new leads, rather than nurturing the customers and relationships you already have.

Intimately understanding your buyer’s journey is paramount in today’s business world, leveraging technology and data tracking to extract learnings, and hopefully ultimately shortening the cycle and improve the customer experience. Knowing when to use which calls-to-action plays a big part in this.