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From Strangers to Promoters: How to Make it Through the Four Stages of Evolution

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Customers can love your product, but what they lust for is the ability to share the story of the experience your product gives them.

Cue the orchestra, channel your inner Frank Sinatra, and belt out your best ‘strangers in the night…exchanging glances.’ You’ve just described the average website visitor. They were enchanted by your SEO fandango. That’s what inbound marketing is all about. But it’s not just some voodoo that you do so well. Things are just getting started. The last thing you want at this point is a parting glance.

You want them to become customers. More than customers. You want them to fall in love with you—so deeply that they become a part of your ongoing marketing machine. It’s a process with clear steps. Here’s how to orchestrate the dance that transforms strangers into promoters.

Step 1: Attract

Not just anyone will do. You want the right kind of strangers coming to your site. They should be just like your existing—and bestcustomers. And you know who they are, right? Of course you do, because you’ve created customer personas.

Your personas are rich ideals of a collection of customers. They’re so real to you they even have names. They can tell you their pain points, their goals, and even what they don’t like about your products. Because you know them so well, you also know where to find them. Cupid has arrows. You’ll use these lures instead:

  • Your blog. A love affair starts with a story, and your inbound marketing begins with articles on your website’s blog. Strangers are coming to hear how you can solve their problem. You win their hearts with entertaining and educational content.
  • Social publishing. All that content needs a shout-out. Publishing excerpts and teasers on social media helps you shake your stuff. It’s often where you’ll make initial engagements with prospects. People relate to people, so your goal is to put a human face on your brand.

If you’re successful, strangers become visitors.

Step 2: Convert

And there they are! Prospects are visiting your website. Now you’ve got to start making them fall in love with you. How do you show them you’re interested in getting to know them better? Back in Sinatra’s days, it was as simple as getting a phone number. Today, you’re looking for an email address.

Remember, though, that they recently were strangers. You can’t come on too strong—and you certainly can’t make demands. The rules of attraction decree that you make them willingly share this information with you. And let’s be up front about this: you’ll have to put out if you expect them to part with contact information.

You’ll offer tip sheets, white papers, eBooks, videos, and even podcasts. No hoop-jumping necessary. Dazzle them with optimized forms that are easy to fill out. Extra points for making it as simple as signing up using their existing social media credentials.

If you’re successful, visitors become leads.

Step 3: Go for the close

You know they’re interested. They wouldn’t have shared their contact information with you if they didn’t see something they liked. It’s still too early to pop the question. They might be ready to buy, but now you’ll start using their contact information to intrigue them with more communications to point them to specific content on your website designed to help them with the process of discovery.

It’s a time to get cozy and familiar. You’re keeping track of their responses and return visits to the website. Each interaction is a deeper indication of consideration. At a certain point, they’ll ask themselves if they’re getting an acceptable return for their investment of time spend with your content. You’re on the right track if they like the ROI. It validates their desire.

Your website content has moved them along a specific path. They found you because your SEO showed them you address their problem. Your content demonstrated you understand their problem. Additional content has introduced them to the solution—your product. They’ve reached the point of conversion.

If you’re successful, leads become customers.

Step 4: Delight them

Step away from the champagne bottle. You may have succeeded in the wooing process, and now you have them as customers. There’s something else you need from them, and it’s more valuable than the money they paid for your product.

Word-of-mouth promotion is by far the most effective way to generate new leads. There’s only one way to get customers to talk about you—at least in a positive way. You have to delight them. The form of that delight they desire the most is experience.

Experience creates the ability to tell a story. Storytelling is the only currency that is universally accepted. We crave stories because we are social creatures, and sharing our experiences is how we validate our place in society. When we buy something that doesn’t reward us with an experience, we view it as a cost. When we buy something that delights us—whether it’s the customer experience or the performance of the product—we view it as a reward.

When your customers feel rewarded, they feel compelled to share stories of that experience. And while that could be with a total stranger, it’s often with friends or family. They don’t have to establish credibility or authority to recommend your product.

If you’re successful, customers become promoters.

We learn how to tell stories as soon as we can talk. It’s a skill we acquire before we learn how to read, and how to add or subtract. It is an integral part of our social operating system, and it’s at the heart of marketing.

As marketers, we use passionate storytelling to take people through these four stages. It transforms them from strangers to promoters. They, in turn, carry our marketing forward as passionate stories distilled by the experiences from their interactions with us. It begins and ends with storytelling.