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Online Marketing's Soft Sell: The 2-Stage Conversion

February 13, 2013 By Marc Poirier
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The two-stage conversion is becoming more and more popular with marketers. It's a strategy for reaching a high volume of customers, and to engage them on a regular basis. There are a few things to remember when employing this strategy in order to achieve success with this model.

To begin with, remember that a two-stage conversion is a low-engagement conversion. Generally, marketers are using high-volume campaigns with the intention of capturing an email address. Getting that email address is the first step toward creating a longer-lasting relationship with that client, allowing you to target them for sales conversions on a semi-regular basis.

You'll see different businesses using the two-stage model in different ways. For example, it's a great resource for publishers who are attempting to build a subscriber list. They either ask people visiting the site to register immediately, or they capture their email addresses and send them emails with subscription information later on.

And it's not always email, either. More and more businesses are using Facebook Likes or Twitter Follows as a means of beginning the two-stage conversion process. The idea is to have the attention of your audience. This audience has gone through a bit of a pre-qualification process by expressing an interest in your product or service by providing you with their email, or Liking or Following your brand.

Stage 1
The reason we call stage one of the two-stage process a low-engagement conversion is that very little action is required on the customer's side. All you're asking them to do is provide you with the means of contacting them further.

One of the strategies that companies are using to capture these email addresses is the Lightbox. A kind of popup that appears when a visitor opens a webpage, it simply gives people information on what they would receive in the form of emails if they sign up, and then asks for their name and email address.

For those who have a high volume of visitors, the Lightbox is a great way to go to get that stage-one conversion. For those who are not seeing a high volume of traffic, using Display advertising to attract visitors to a landing page with a signup form is a great strategy for accessing new traffic.

Social media Likes and Follows can be seen as a first conversion, but one must be diligent in the second stage, as engagement levels can be very low via these channels, for a variety of reasons.

Whatever the strategy for attaining that first conversion, it must require a minimal investment on behalf of those you wish to convert. Simply asking visitors to sign up for an email list, be it on your Lightbox or on another form, enables that first conversion, and lets you begin to communicate with them further.

By completing the first step, you open the door for further communications down the road, with the opportunity to convert this same individual at multiple times.

Stage 2
Depending on the type of conversion you're after in stage two, the approach here may be somewhat different, but all with the same goal in mind: achieving a sale.

Getting a large amount of contacts, especially when marketing through email, is very important to this process. My own experience with email marketing shows an average open rate of around 18%, which then results in a CTR of around 10%. This means that only 1.8% of emails generate a click. This is the very reason why the initial conversion requires such low engagement; because we're venturing into territory where engagement can be very low.

Email marketing works very well for sites that sell apparel, such as clothing or shoes. They have an audience that is interested in what they're selling and, through email, they're able to share sales, specials and new products with them on a regular basis.

Software developers will often use step two to encourage people to use the full version of their software, pointing out functions users might be missing out on, or allowing them to access more features with no advertisements.

And social media marketers attempt to entice their audience away from the social media site they're engaging that audience on, and showing them the goods or services that they've expressed an interest in by following that brand.

Regardless of the strategy, you're still opting towards a 'soft sell' approach, as you want for your contacts to stay engaged and not feel overwhelmed. By giving you their information, they have somewhat pre-qualified themselves as interested buyers, meaning that they have, in essence, asked you to tell them about what else you're offering.

By employing a two-stage conversion model, it is possible to obtain a large volume of pre-qualified customers who can be reached on a regular basis with a low-engagement conversion at both levels of the operation.

Marc Poirier is co-founder and CMO of Montreal-based cross-channel media platform provider Acquisio. Reach him at mpoirier@acquisio.com.


 

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