Published 12th April 2016 | Marketing Strategy

How do you convert a prospect into a customer?

Over the past couple of months, we’ve looked at how you can attract prospects and then keep them interested in your brand through your digital marketing. Now you’ve acquired and engaged those prospects though, you need to ‘seal the deal’ and turn them into clients or customers.

This process is known as ‘conversion’, and we should begin by defining specifically what we may consider to be a conversion. Conversion can take many forms, but always results in a customer reaching a goal that you have previously set, such as:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Downloading a brochure
  • Signing up to receive an e-newsletter
  • Making an enquiry via phone or email
  • Requesting a quote or consulation


The psychology of conversion

Before we look at some specific methods that you can use to convert interested prospects into paying clients, let’s consider what people are actually thinking about when they’re considering purchasing a product or service.

What’s motivating them and driving towards looking in the first place?

As we discussed last time, the buyer’s journey begins with their “awareness” of having a problem and moves on to “consideration”, in which they look for a possible solution.  Now we come to the third step in the journey: “decision”.

By now, the prospective customer has weighed up many options available to them, and has probably narrowed their choice down to a few final options – so they’re about ready to make a decision. So what drives that critical moment of decision?

  • Urgency – In some cases, the purchase of a product or service becomes critical due to external pressures – an existing service contract may be about to come to an end, machine may have stopped working, or an upcoming audit may be hastening the need for advice, for example.
  • Gratification – “There are few things that our brains love more than immediate stimulation,” writes Gregory Ciotti over on Copyblogger. “In [the case of conversion], the gratification is about getting instantly rewarded by doing business with you.”
  • Pain and pleasure – Ask any psychologist and they’ll tell you that most human decisions and interactions are driven by the desire to avoid pain and experience pleasure. Purchasing decisions are no different, so it’s important to understand what your potential customers perceive to be both painful and pleasurable.
  • Novelty – More so in B2C than B2B services, the pursuit of novelty and stimulation are strong motivators. People want to experience something different. “Why do you think Apple releases a new iPhone and iPad every few months,” writes Akshay Nanavati in a Kissmetrics blog on, ‘15 Psychological triggers to convert leads into customers.’
  • Simplicity – When most people purchase a product or service, they want to simply pay their money and have their problem solved for them. The perception of simplicity and the absence of further effort on their part are often therefore strong motivators. Perceived complexity may conversely be off-putting at the critical moment of purchase.
  • Trust – In all areas of human interaction and trade, people seek trustworthiness in those they have dealings with. In the online world, a potentially anonymous realm where people are quite rightfully wary, trust is a highly important factor for consumers and business clients alike. So it’s important to be perceived as an ‘authority’ on what you do.


Putting psychology into practice in the digital world

To successfully convert your engaged prospects into fully fledged customers, you need to account for these powerful psychological motivators and work them into your digital marketing activity.

Where should you do this?

  • The product/service and conversion pages on your website. Getting a visitor to take the action you want them to – “Buy Now”, or “Download” or “Submit” – is a perennial problem for website marketers. At these ‘conversion points’ there are just a few clicks between someone being an engaged prospect and a converted customer. The right words at this point can make all the difference – and it’s why Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is such a hot topic. (That’s another article in itself).
  • Email newsletters – If you’ve been engaging with your prospect on a regular basis via email, today may well be the day they’re ready to make a commitment. Use language and techniques which will encourage conversions in your email communications, always subtly reinforcing your expertise by demonstrating your knowledge in a way which will help your prospects or clients.


Pushing your prospects’ buttons

Looking at the above, it’s clear that certain emotions and mental processes play a key role in the decision-making process for potential customers.

In these cases, skilful copywriting is the tool which can tap into these.

In generating a sense of urgency in your online copy, copywriters talk about ‘today’ and the need to ‘act now’, to reinforce that psychological sensation that the prospect may already be feeling. Offering free trials or special offers within a limited timeframe can also push the idea of urgency and emphasise the need to take action now rather than deferring until another day.

Similarly, you should infuse your copy with a sense of impending gratification. What immediate benefits will your customers get when they take the plunge and purchase your product/ acquire your services? Remind them how soon they will be able to enjoy these, and include any details about things such as ‘instant access’, or ‘fast shipping within x days’.

This sense of gratification is of course intertwined with the prospect’s perceptions of pleasure and pain. By doing your research and understanding your prospects better, you should be able to leverage these pleasure and pain points to your advantage (it may help to construct a few ‘pen portraits’ of your target demographic).

In your copy you should emphasise how the prospect can move away from their pain, which is in part caused by them not using your service or owning your product, and towards the pleasure and satisfaction (benefits) that they will experience once they have made the purchase.

Trust and simplicity

Your copy should also remind the customer how trustworthy your company is. The overall tone of voice employed by your brand should engender trust, and you should use certain words and phrases such as ‘guarantee’, ‘security’, ‘secure’, ‘we’ and ‘you’ to build a feeling of trust between you and the client, without overdoing it so it sounds insincere.

Wherever relevant, you should also give prospects specific and concrete reasons to trust you and your processes. For consumer-facing businesses this will be things like securely encrypted payment and data protection processes, while for B2B firms you might talk about your many years of industry experience and provide case studies and testimonials.

This image of trust should go hand in hand with one of simplicity for the prospect. The easier they perceive the process of purchasing and using your product, the more likely they are to convert, particularly when faced with a choice between your product and a near-identical one which has a convoluted purchase process.

Calls to action

Finally, to ensure that your digital copy converts, it must include powerful calls to action. These should be:

  • Direct – They should address the prospect directly
  • Compelling – They should excite the prospect to take the next step
  • Specific – The action that the prospect must take and the result of that action must both be concrete and clear.


Eliminate obstacles

If your conversions are currently a little slow, then it’s worth checking for potential obstacles that may be blocking or deterring prospects.

What the obstacles are will depend very much on your definition of conversion. The following is a list of possible obstacles preventing an ecommerce shopping website from converting interest into sales and is based on statistics from an infographic by SmartInsights:

  • Slow checkout – 53% of consumers will abandon a site after just three seconds of waiting. 10% of a survey of 1,200 people meanwhile said they would abandon a purchase due to a ‘lengthy checkout process’.
  • Hidden charges – 41% said they would abandon due to hidden charges, so be upfront from the start.
  • Registration – 29% would abandon if they had to register before making a purchase.
  • Unclear details – 11% said they would abandon an order due to ‘unclear delivery details’, while 8% would if a phone number was not provided on the website.


Get in touch

Hopefully with these tips you’ll be able to further maximise your conversion rates. If you’d like any additional help or advice on how to excel at digital marketing, get in touch with C4B Media.

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