Are you capturing leads at every stage of the customer journey? Prospects find your website at different stages, and they each have different needs. So if you want to convert more website visitors, then follow this roadmap to capturing leads throughout the customer journey.
3 Stages of the Customer Journey
To understand how to tailor your lead generation campaigns to every prospect, you first need to know the 3 main stages of the customer journey.
These stages are often referred to as Awareness, Evaluation and Conversion (or Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel and Bottom of Funnel).
The Awareness stage is when the prospect knows they have a problem, but doesn’t yet know that you exist or that you can help them solve that problem.
The Evaluation stage is when the prospect is aware that you exist and that you have a solution to their problem, but they are still evaluating other possible solutions.
The Conversion stage is when the prospect is almost ready to buy your solution, but they may still have a few questions or objections to overcome first.
OK, now that you know what the 3 stages of the customer journey are, let’s take a look at how to actually capture email leads during each stage…
1. The Awareness Stage
During this first stage, the prospect is just becoming aware of your brand and what you have to offer. They may know that they have a problem or a need, but they aren’t yet aware of what the specific solution is, or that you have that solution.
Your Goal: Aside from capturing their email address, your goal at the Awareness stage is to move the prospect from Awareness to Evaluation by introducing them to your brand, making them aware of the solution to their problem, and introducing them to your solution (your product).
The best types of content to use at the Awareness stage are blog posts (or other un-gated, educational content) that answer questions about the problem they are currently having.
This content will draw Awareness-phase prospects to your website, where you can then convert them into email leads.
You can use a tool like StoryBase to find actual questions that your prospects are asking at the Awareness stage, and then create content to answer those questions.
For example, here at OptinMonster we help small businesses to convert website visitors into leads and customers. Many of our Awareness-stage prospects are having trouble getting people to opt in to their email list, and they are looking to create better optin forms. So, we have a blog post for them entitled, 63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form.
In this post, we help prospects to create a better optin form, and introduce them to the solution to getting more email subscribers: using page-level targeting, exit-intent, 2-step optins, A/B testing, etc. to create high-converting optin forms, which is what OptinMonster does.
That way, Awareness-stage prospects become solution aware, and move into the Evaluation stage.
Awareness Lead Magnets:
Of course, we still need to capture their email address, and the best way to do that is with a lead magnet.
Good lead magnets for the Awareness stage will provide some educational content that helps the prospect understand the solution to their problem.
Some good types of lead magnets for the Awareness phase include…
- Mini courses
- …more educational lead magnet ideas here
For example, we have a lead magnet entitled, “12 Proven Ways to Convert Abandoning Visitors into Subscribers”.
This PDF teaches Awareness-stage prospects how to solve their problem (abandoning visitors) by placing high-converting optin forms on their site, and personalizing those optins to their visitors. We also introduce them to OptinMonster, which has all of these features.
Awareness Optin Forms:
There are 4 main types of optin forms that are perfect for the Awareness stage:
- Inline optin forms
- Sidebar forms
- Content upgrades + 2-step optin technology
- Scroll boxes
- Exit-intent lightbox forms
Don’t get too aggressive at this stage… you’ll need to win their trust first.
Remember: Awareness-stage prospects don’t know you very well yet. In fact, they didn’t even know you existed just a few moments ago. So you’ll want to use the most polite optin forms possible when asking them to join your email list.
For the messaging on your Awareness optin form, focus on the pain points that your prospects are currently experiencing. For example, “Struggling to Convert Website Visitors?”.
So you may be wondering, how do you actually target these different optin forms and lead magnets specifically to prospects in the Awareness stage?
To identify who your Awareness-stage prospects are, you need to understand where they are coming from.
Awareness-stage prospects usually find you through…
- Search engines – by typing in a question related to their problem
- Social media – they saw a post that someone shared about your content
- Referrals – other websites linking to you
- Paid ads – any ad campaign that you are targeting to cold traffic
Most of these people arriving at your website for the first time are landing on one of your blog posts. That means you need to have Awareness-stage offers on your blog.
We recommend that you always include a scroll box, a sidebar form and an exit-intent popup on all of your blog posts (at the minimum). On your most popular blog posts, you can boost optins even more with a content upgrade.
In addition to targeting prospects on your blog posts, you can also target them based on where they came from using referrer detection or specific URL parameters (e.g. ?utm_campaign=my-campaign).
So for example, if you have an ad campaign that is being targeted to cold traffic, you could detect those visitors with your specific campaign parameter, and then display your Awareness-stage optin form to those visitors.
2. The Evaluation Stage
At the Evaluation stage, your prospect understands the solution to their problem, and is aware of your brand/offer. However, they are still evaluating their options (and likely looking at your competitors).
Your Goal: Aside from capturing their email, you goal is to move the prospect from Evaluation to Conversion by giving them a quick win which proves that you are the authority they need to pay attention to. You may also have the goal of acquiring initial customers during this stage.
Good types of content to use at the Evaluation stage are useful blog posts and lead magnets which offer a quick win.
Also consider optimizing other pages on your site that Evaluation-stage prospects might visit, such as your About page and Start Here page.
Evaluation Lead Magnets:
While some prospects in the Evaluation phase have already opted in to your email list, you will also have some who are following you but have not yet opted in. The best lead magnets for capturing these prospects are…
- Cheat sheets
- Swipe files
- …more useful lead magnet ideas here
For example, our “63-Point Checklist for Creating the Ultimate Optin Form” is not only great for our Awareness-stage prospects but it’s also great for Evaluation-stage prospects.
When they follow this checklist, they will see immediate results. This quick win helps to convince them that we have the best solution (moving them from the Evaluation stage to the Conversion stage).
Evaluation Optin Types:
To generate leads at the Evaluation stage of the customer journey, use…
- Timed lightbox popups
- Inline optins
- Sidebar optins
- Content upgrades + 2-step technology
- Scroll boxes
- Exit-intent popups
As you can see, we are adding timed popups to our arsenal at this stage. That’s because we can use timed popups to target the Evaluation stage based on number of pages viewed.
When using a timed popup for capturing leads, we recommend setting it to display only after the 2nd or 3rd page view– this way, you aren’t showing it to brand new visitors.
For the messaging on your Evaluation optin form, focus on the solution that the prospect is seeking. Result-driven headlines work well. For example, “6 Steps to Boost Your Conversions by 600%”.
Prospects in the Evaluation stage usually come to your website through…
- Search engines – by typing in branded queries (queries that include your brand or product name, e.g. “OptinMonster blog”)
- Social media – they follow you on social, and clicked through from one of your posts
- Paid ads – they saw one of your retargeting ads
- Direct traffic – they either typed your URL in directly, or they are already on your email list and clicked on a link inside one of your emails
Evaluation-stage prospects also visit particular pages on your site besides just your blog, such as your…
- Opt-in Landing Pages
- About Page
- Start Here Page (here’s an example from our other site, WPBeginner)
- Resource Pages (here’s another example from WPBeginner)
Visits to these pages indicate that the prospect is no longer a complete stranger to your brand. Rather, they want to get to know you better, and learn more things from you.
What all of this means is that you can target Evaluation-stage prospects either by the traffic source (e.g. via a specific URL parameter) or by the specific pages that they are viewing.
And don’t forget– you can also target your most engaged Evaluation-stage prospects based on the number of pageviews, and convert them into customers right away! For example, you could target visitors who have viewed at least 4 or more pages on your site…
..and then present them with a low-dollar offer or a coupon inside a timed lightbox popup.
(For more details, check out our tutorial on converting engaged visitors into buyers.)
3. The Conversion Stage
At the Conversion Stage, your prospect is aware that your product provides the solution they seek, but they haven’t quite made the decision to buy yet.
Your Goal: Aside from capturing any leads who haven’t yet opted in to your email list, your goal at this stage is to maximize immediate customer value. You’ll do this by helping them overcome any objections to the sale, and giving them the extra “nudge” they need to buy right now. You may also have the goal of retaining existing customers and increasing buyer frequency/boosting conversions on your cross sells and upsells.
The best types of content to use in the Conversion stage provide proof that your product will solve their problem, and that it’s better than your competitors. It should also overcome any objections to the sale.
Conversion Lead Magnets:
So many marketers overlook this stage when creating their lead magnets. You shouldn’t.
Don’t assume that someone has already opted in to your email list just because they are in the Conversion stage!
Especially if your brand has already established a lot of awareness in your market, you will have prospects who are already thinking about buying, but haven’t given you their email address yet. Maybe they were referred to you by someone, or they’ve read reviews about you on another site.
You definitely do not want to lose these hot leads.
Good lead magnets at the Conversion stage include…
- Free trial
- Case studies
- Free quote
- Free catalog
- …more bottom of funnel lead magnet ideas here
Conversion Optin Types:
To capture leads at the Conversion stage of the customer journey, use…
- Highly noticeable floating bars
- Countdown timers
- Timed popups + eye-catching animations
- Exit-intent popups
You should be getting more aggressive here because you can, and should.
These prospects are actively looking to buy your product. If you don’t keep their attention and push for the sale, you may lose them forever, simply because they decided to just come back another day (and never actually got around to it). Or, they ended up going with your competitor because their messaging was stronger than yours.
For your opt-in messaging at the Conversion stage, focus on proof and urgency. For example, “300,000+ websites already use OptinMonster to get more email subscribers. Don’t get left behind!” or, “Get 10% Off OptinMonster (only 3 hours left!)”.
Prospects in the Conversion stage come to your website through…
- Search engines – by typing in conversion-intent queries such as “[your product] reviews”, “[your product] coupon”, or “buy [your product]”
- Social media – by clicking on a post regarding a sale, or other promotion
- Referrals – clicking through from another blog reviewing your product
- Paid ads – retargeting ads
- Direct traffic – people who clicked on a link inside a promotional email, or typed your URL in directly
To target these prospects, you can either display optin forms to visitors based on where they came from (a specific email link, a specific ad campaign, referrer domain, etc.), or based on the page they are currently viewing.
In addition to targeting visitors from specific email marketing or retargeting ad campaigns, we highly recommend that you add urgency to all pages with conversion-intent using a floating bar + countdown timer. This includes your pricing page, feature pages, and any other pages or blog posts where you have high sales conversions.
We have implemented this on several of our own web properties with astonishing results, which is why we rolled out the Countdown theme for our customers.
With OptinMonster’s Countdown theme, you can customize the timer to each visitor, so every visitor will see a different countdown that is tailored specifically to them.
All you have to do is set the Countdown Type to “Dynamic”, and set the length of your timer.
In this roadmap, we showed you the 3 main stages of the customer journey (Awareness, Evaluation and Conversion) and how to acquire leads at each stage.
We also showed you how to maximize the value of your prospects by moving them from one stage of your sales funnel to the next.
Now it’s your turn. Follow the roadmap above and install OptinMonster to capture high-quality leads throughout the customer journey.