Most of the time, before becoming a customer, a person will go through what’s called the marketing funnel (or buyer’s journey). It consists of different stages that flow from people poking around your website to doing something on your website.

Anyone who has a website wants visitors on their website to take certain actions. It’s common to want visitors to sign up for something, fill out a form, or buy a product.

When somebody takes an action you want them to take it’s called a conversion. The visitor converts from just browsing to doing that thing you’re hoping they do. It’s a marketer’s job to give visitors the push they need and inspire them to take that action.

Think about ordering a pizza online somewhere like There are a few steps, a funnel, that visitors must go through before ordering a pizza. They must:

  • Go to 🍕
  • Start their order
  • Choose the pizza/food item they want to eat
  • Add the pizza/food item to their cart
  • Place the order

There are other steps/actions that hungry pizza lovers can take between each of these mandatory steps, but it makes no difference to the funnel. For example, the customer could add a 2-liter drink to their order, or swap out the pizza for a pasta dish. But it isn’t a mandatory action to complete the order.

Why is it called a marketing funnel/buyer’s journey?

Because your marketing funnel represents the journey your prospective customers take from the moment they find out you exist to the moment they make a transaction with your business.

The marketing funnel consists of five stages:

  • Awareness — This is the stage where people are looking for answers like “who delivers pizza near me?”
  • Consideration — This the stage where people are doing research and comparing their options—Dominos, other pizza chains, local pizza joints.
  • Conversion — This is the stage where people decide to become a customer and purchase a pizza
  • Loyalty — This is the stage where customers are retained by instilling loyalty through things like rewards programs. Sticking with the pizza theme, one way Domino’s does a great job of this is via their “earn points for free pizza” program. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s smart. Customers create an account for a speedier checkout and earn points every time they purchase a pizza until they have enough to redeem a free one.
  • Advocacy — This is the stage where customers take to platforms like Twitter and Instagram to tell people how bomb the pizza was they just ate with photos of the food, by tagging the pizza place they ordered from and stuff like that.

Industry, business model, audience, product, and pricing all play a role in the shape that a funnel takes, but all marketing funnels are built on the foundation of these five stages.

To help you understand how the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) differs between B2B and B2C brands, we’re going to highlight some key points for ya.


The Difference Between a B2B and B2C Marketing Funnel

  • B2C consumers often take a trip down the marketing funnel by themselves or with a small group of people they trust, such as family or friends
  • B2B consumers set off down the marketing funnel as part of a larger group often made up of multiple people from multiple departments across the business
  • B2C consumers may never interact with a sales rep (especially when we’re talking about ecommerce sites) and that’s totally normal
  • B2B consumers often interact with a sales rep as they approach the lower end of the funnel and that’s totally normal too


The Multi-Dimensional Funnel

There’s some debate among marketing professionals about the relevancy of the marketing funnel because the funnel is no longer linear.

Leads come into the funnel at different stages for different reasons. For example, someone might jump straight into the conversion stage and buy a pizza from Domino’s because their best friends advocated for the brand and they trust the referral.

That’s why the term buyer’s journey is so hot when talking about the marketing funnel. It better describes what’s happening as more and more customers take advantage of technology and social media to do their own brand research.

However, when referring to the marketing funnel/buyer’s journey one term does not hold more weight than the other. Both are used by marketer’s and so both are relevant.

The marketing funnel is still a thing. It’s just evolving into a multi-dimensional process that involves less hand-holding and more gentle guidance than before.


What Makes A Funnel Worth Anything?


Marketing funnel reports will show you exactly where you’re losing customers. Let’s go back to our Domino’s example. This is what we said the funnel looks like for them:

  • Go to
  • Start their order
  • Choose the pizza/food item they want to eat
  • Add the pizza/food item to their cart
  • Place the order

When you add a pizza to the cart, you get a popup to add some breadsticks (or some other side item) and a drink. Do customers have to purchase these suggested add-on items? No.

But it’s a good idea to track how many people abandon their order after this popup and how many people still purchase the pizza they put in their cart. Some people are turned off by pop-ups and some people just don’t pay attention – they may take a quick glance, think they have to spend more money to qualify for the delivery of the pizza they want and just decide to go make a sandwich instead.

Tracking this movement in the funnel tells Domino’s whether to keep the pop-up/how to trigger the pop-up based on the data they gather about whether this pop-up converts or acts as a roadblock for their customers.

There’s always room to improve the funnel and bump up those conversion stats but you must track the data first to make informed decisions that are going to impact the buyer’s journey.


Optimizing the Marketing Funnel

Optimizing the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) starts with optimizing your landing pages. As much as you possibly can, you want to control the pages on which potential customer’s land and begin their journey with your website/business.

Landing pages are places for raising awareness about what you do and make potential customer’s go, “Hey! I want you to do that thing for me. Take my money!”

Here are some tips for optimizing your landing pages:

  • Write strong headlines. They’re what you use to attract prospects to your landing page to begin with. Don’t be afraid to test a few when designing out your landing page and determine which option performs best with your audience.
  • Highlight the benefits of what you do with your copy. A landing page is the place for your business to shine. Don’t blow it.
  • Include relevant images that also highlight what your business does. Tie your copy and images together to paint a picture for your customers about what it is you do and why they should choose you over everyone else.
  • Test fonts, colors, image sizes and layouts to better understand your customers respond to and engage more visitors

CTA’s (calls to action) are another crucial piece of your marketing funnel. It’s the tool you use to tell people what to do next after your landing page copy convinces them to sign up, buy something or do whatever it is you want them to do.

Your CTAs are what take people from the consideration stage of the marketing funnel to the conversion stage.

Here are some tips for optimizing your CTAs:

  • Keep your CTA short and sweet
  • Write a CTA that’s results-oriented – Instead of writing “Order Your Pizza Now,” try “Get Your Pizza Now”
  • Use contrasting colors to make your CTA button standout
  • Test, test, test! Test the colors of your CTA, test the copy of your CTA, test the placement of your CTA on the landing page and find out what performs best

Note: none of this (the landing page and CTA stuff) will matter if you’ve got a landing page that’s slow to load. People will bounce in a heartbeat if they’ve gotta wait.

And you can’t convert prospective customer’s if they never stick around long enough to see what your landing page is offering. Here’s a tip for checking your landing page load time:

  • Use Google PageSpeed Insights to run a detailed report of the load time for all the pages on your website and make any necessary changes to improve speed

After taking steps to optimize your CTA you might think there’s nothing more you can do to optimize the funnel. Wrong. There are still a few actions you can take to make the conversion portion of the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) as smooth as possible:

  • Reduce the number of form fields your prospect needs to fill out to get whatever you’re offering. Only collect information that’s crucial for the purchase/acquisition they’re making.
  • Incorporate a one-step signup option where people can register or log-in with using other profiles like their Google Account or Facebook
  • Minimize the steps required for making a purchase/signing up for the service you offer

Like we said before, there’s always room to improve the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey). You just need know where to look.

To answer the title of this post, we think of the buyer’s journey (marketing funnel) as something that should be a seamless and memorable experience for potential customers/customers.

ZCM believes that simplicity is always best—it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about web design, content marketing, social media, or the marketing funnel. The foundation of every answer we give to every question you ask will be simplicity.

Because the fact of the matter is we have no business complicating any of these things beyond what the customer wants and what’s best for them. You don’t either.

Sorry to be frank but…not really. It’s the truth and it’s important that you hear it.

So, when you’re thinking about your marketing funnel/buyer’s journey and are wondering what you can do to make the most of it, ask yourself:

“How can I make this as easy as possible for prospects to navigate?”

If you’re always looking to make the buyer’s journey as simple as possible for prospective buyers, you’ll convert those prospects into customers and you’ll be just fine.

Instagram’s shopping feature picked up a lot of hype towards the end of March as the shopping tool was made available for online stores based in:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Australia

According to Instagram:

Shopping on Instagram gives your business an immersive storefront for people to explore your best products with a single tap.

In other words, life just got a whole lot better for online retailers.

We’re not retailers, but while we’re talking about Instagram, let’s connect on our favorite platform 😊 Click here, give us a follow, let us know you came from the blog and we’ll give you a follow back.

At the moment, shopping on Instagram is only available for businesses selling physical goods in select product categories that fit Instagram’s Privacy Policy.

If that’s you, or if that’s going to be you soon, let’s talk about how to set up Instagram Shopping.

Why Can’t I Tag Products On Instagram?

A lot of people are concerned about their current inability to tag products so let’s go ahead and address that right now.

First things first, it just may be that the shopping feature hasn’t hit you yet. To find out if this is the case or not, determine if you can enable the ability to tag your products on Instagram.

To do this, your Instagram business profile must first be associated with a shop on Facebook or a catalog in Business Manager. To do this properly, run through this checklist:

  • Is your Instagram app up-to-date?
  • Is your Instagram account a business profile?
  • Are you an admin on a page or business manager account?
  • Do you have a shop on Facebook or a product catalog with Business Manager?

Once you’ve confirmed your accounts are linked properly, this is how to enable the ability to tag your products on Instagram if the feature is available to you:

  • Go to your Instagram business profile
  • Tap Get Started at the top of your profile
  • If you don’t see Get Started tap the settings icon
  • Tap products
  • Tap continue
  • Select a product catalog to connect to your Instagram business profile
  • Tap done

Boom. You’re all set up to tag products on your Instagram posts!

Don’t panic if you don’t see these options yet though. Your account may still be under review and it just hasn’t been approved yet. Give it some time.

Once you’ve got the green-light, Instagram has some tips for using the shopping feature we highly suggest paying attention to / doing. They include:

  • Create at least 9 shopping posts to activate the Shop tab for your audience
  • Tag multiple products to help your audience explore and browse your inventory
  • Use stories to show your audience they can now shop right from your Instagram page
  • Mix it up — tag a single image or a carousel
  • Make sure each tag touches the correct product so nobody gets confused about which product a tag is referring to

Tagging Instagram Product Posts the Right Way

Tagging Instagram Product Posts the Right Way

Instagram has made it super easy to provide a user friendly shopping experience via your business profile. As long as you follow the rules and pay attention to the tips Instagram offers, you’re going to see some positive results.

Review the tips above, most importantly:

Make sure each tag touches the correct product so nobody gets confused about which product a tag is referring to.

With that tip in mind, here’s how to tag products on Instagram:

  • Select a photo, add a caption/effects/filters
  • Tap the product(s) in the photo that you want to tag
  • Enter the names of the products you want to tag and select them when they appear in the search box
  • Tap Done
  • Tap share

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Instagram allows users to tag products in posts both new and old from your business profile. It’s exceptional to say the least because if you’ve been promoting your products on Instagram for a while now, you already got a ton of posts you can get tagged up before rolling out even more awesome stuff.

Note: single image posts have a 5 product tag limit and multi-image posts have a 20 product tag limit.

Also keep in mind that product info from your tags and product details on your page will display in the language and currency of your catalog to a global audience. It’s recommended you pay a visit to your Insights to get a feel for your audience, and use the catalog containing the most relevant language/currency for your audience.

Why Instagram Shopping is Generating So Much Buzz

Instagram has been the go-to platform for visual storytelling since it debuted back in 2010.

But why?

We think it comes down to four things:

  • Mobile Friendliness — Instagram is easy to use no matter where you are or what you’re doing. In fact, that’s the whole point. The ability to edit and post images “in-the-moment” is what attracts people to the app. Plus, it’s just so easy to use.
  • Functionality — Instagram is a unique app that caters to a wide audience. That ain’t easy to do but Instagram does it well. They haven’t limited themselves to just one social function, which makes them more approachable and more appealing to a wider group of people than say Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Visibility — Human beings are visual creatures. A good chunk of us know and understand this by now. Instagram caters to our visual nature. Of course it’s going to be popular.
  • Novelty — What sets Instagram apart the most is its simplicity. It does a great job of attracting younger audiences and is only gaining momentum (unlike other social media brands who have gained and plateaued).

Mix all of those things into a pot with the ability to shop sprinkled in and you’ve got a winning recipe. Think about this:

As of September 2017, Instagram boasts 800 million monthly active users and it’s projected that number will reach 111.9 million by the time 2020 roll around. Instagram is especially popular in the United States with 48.4% of the US social networking population on the app.

And think about what we know regarding the online shopping landscape:

  • 54% of millenials make purchases online and 49% of non-millenials make purchases online [Pulse of the Online Shopper]
  • 40% of US males and 33% of US females age 18-34 would “ideally buy everything online” [Forbes]
  • 85% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations [BrightLocal]
  • 34% of online shoppers said that social media influences their purchases [Pulse of the Online Shopper]
  • 23% of online shoppers purchased products on a social media network [Pulse of the Online Shopper]
  • Referrals from Instagram spend the longest time on eCommerce sites, with an average session duration of 3.12 minutes — almost double Facebook [Smart Insights]

It will be fun to see how those last three stats change over the next 12-18 months with the introduction of Instagram shopping. Why? Because with shoppable posts, consumers have an amazing opportunity to connect with brands they love at a whole new level.

Instagram is simplifying online shopping by helping you meet consumers where they’re browsing for products and reviews. They’re also empowering you with the ability to provide relevant information with the tap of a finger without anyone ever needing to leave the app.

It’s convenient for you as an online retailer, it’s convenient for your customers, and it’s a great way for Instagram to stay on top as the engagement leader of social media platforms. Win-win-win

Honestly, if you think about it, the only risk you have here has nothing to do with using the shopping feature and everything to do with not using it. For example, if somebody sees an item they like in their feed, but they can’t buy the item or find a link to your site, you risk losing that money.

How many times do you reckon this happened before Instagram rolled out the shopping feature? It’s scary to think about.

Track Your Instagram Shopping Success

Once you start tagging posts and promoting your products on Instagram with the shopping feature, be vigilant about tracking your stats.

To be successful you need to know how your shopping tags are performing. Lucky for you, Instagram provides insights on the click-thru on Instagram Shopping to your site. Use those insights to continuously build and grow your shopping strategy.

With Instagram Insights, you can track the following stats for your business profile:

  • Weekly Impressions
  • Weekly Reach
  • Profile Visits

And you can track the following stats for individual posts:

  • Views
  • Likes
  • Reach
  • Comments
  • Profile visits

You can even view insights for stories you’ve posted by doing the following:

  • Click the stats symbol (the bar graph looking image) in the top right of your business profile
  • Scroll down to stories

You can view insights on your current story or tap “older stories” to view insights on Instagram stories that you’ve posted in the last 14 days. You can’t watch a story again once it’s expired (after 24 hours) but the stats are good for 2-weeks post story share.

Do us a favor though and don’t forget that shopping on Instagram isn’t an advertising thing. It’s about building an engaged audience and providing them with a better shopping experience. Don’t let any increase you see go to your head.

Keep your posts genuine and don’t make it all about selling. Instagram users need a personal reason to connect and engage with your business. The moment you turn into a money-hungry salesman on your Instagram account is exactly when you’re going to see a dip in your stats.

Build Your Instagram Powerhouse

Build Your Powerhouse

Instagram is a powerhouse for you to tell a story that showcases an experience. Instagram Shopping isn’t about marketing your product; it’s about marketing the experience that comes with owning your product.

If you’re an online retailer (or any brand honestly) Instagram is the place you could build your powerhouse of a brand. Don’t be afraid to give this a shot. It’s a free tool that can potentially help your business explode.

And don’t forget, we’re more than willing to help you put together a strategy that builds the experience you want your customers to have when shopping with your brand.

You can always reach us via contact [at] zcoastmedia [dot] com.

Or, if you’re more comfortable reaching out on social media you can connect with us

Hit us up on any of those platforms/give us a follow, let us know you came from the blog and we’ll follow back and tell you something nice because we believe kindness goes a long way too when it comes to building an engaging social media community.

Xx Paige & Nick xX

We’re posing an important question to you this week: Do you know who your business’ buyer personas are? How much do you actually know about them? Take a minute and really think about this.

But, before you dive into this post, know that you have 3 options here:

  1. Read this post and take the DIY approach to creating your first set of buyer personas.
  2. Skip to the end (even though there’s some killer info in this post you don’t want to miss) and just send us a message that you’d like a little help with creating your ideal buyer.
  3. Read the whole post, tell us how much you love it in the comments, and send us a message.

Okay, enough chit chat. Let’s do this.

Tell Me, What’s a Buyer Persona?

Buyer personas—sometimes referred to as marketing personas—are fictional representations of the ideal buyers who make up your target market.

HubSpot Academy elaborates on my simple definition by explaining that, “Personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better.”

Understanding your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving pretty much everything in your business from content creation and product development to sales and follow-up practices. At least, it’s critical if you actually want to attract and retain customers. Just saying.

“Okay, they’re important. I get it. Are you gonna tell me how to make one or what?” We are! But we need to discuss something else first. Just hold your horses.

The good news is that creating a buyer persona is pretty easy. The better news is we’re going to give you the basics on how to create your buyer persona(s). But you have to hold your horses because we need to make sure everyone understand why they’re so important.


Okay, Fine. Why Are Buyer Persona’s Important?

Thanks for asking! I’d love to drop a knowledge bomb on you today. Here we go:

Buyer personas are important because they help you understand your real (and prospective) customers better.

Understanding what makes your target audience click, and the things they’re looking for makes it so much easier on you to create the right kind of content, messaging, product, and services to meet the needs and concerns of the people you’re after.

In other words, you may know that your target buyers are campers, but do you know what their specific needs and interests are? Are they RV campers or tent campers? Do they prefer warmer climates or colder ones?  Do they just need something that can withstand the elements of their own backyard or a 7-day trip in the Pahsimeroi Valley?

The strongest buyer personas are assembled via market research and the insights you gather from talking to your real-life customer base. Depending on the business you’re running you could have as few as 2 personas or as many as 20.

Pro tip: If you’re new to creating buyer personas, start small.

Wait, What About Negative Personas?

Negative personas are a thing. Think about your ideal buyer for a second; the people you want as customers. Now think of a persona that reflects the type of buyer you don’t want as a customer. Boom. That’s a negative persona.

Moving on…

How To Create A Buyer Persona

It’s time for the fun part! First things first:

Buyer personas can be created through things like:

  • Surveys
  • Market research
  • Interviewing current customers
  • Interviewing potential customers

Easy stuff, right? Right. Now, because we’re here to help, we’re going to dish out some of our favorite tips for gathering the information you need to create a buyer persona:

  • When you create forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture useful information for building your buyer persona(s). For example, if all of your personas vary based on the number of employees a company has, ask each lead for information about how many employees they have.
  • Talk to your sales team. Nobody knows your customer base better than your sales team. The feedback they can provide about the leads they’re interacting with and the different types of customers you’re already serving is invaluable. Don’t let it go to waste.
  • Get on the phone, send out a survey, or start inviting people out to lunch for a little interview. Let your customers tell you what they like most about the products or services you offer and how it’s solved a specific problem for them.

“Hold up, how do I find people to interview?” Try and challenge me next time, would ya?

You have so many options for gathering info for your buyer personas right under your nose that it’s ridiculous. You can contact people in your current customer base, reach out to current prospects, and use your current network to ask for referrals for other people to talk to. Don’t make it hard on yourself and start by dropping your line into those pools.

How Many People Should I Interview to Create a Buyer Persona?

There’s no right or wrong number here but a lot of people around the blogosphere and in the marketing community typically suggest 3-5 interviews for each persona you’re creating. You just have to go with your gut.

After you’ve conducted a few interviews you’ll start anticipating and predicting what the person you’re interviewing is going to say. When you’ve reached this point it’s usually safe to stop.

If you’re not sure what questions you should be asking your interviewees or you’re still a little fuzzy on how to get started building your personas, we recommend reading Buffer’s recently updated blog post: The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas.

The guide is pretty comprehensive and will provide you with a lot of actionable tips and templates for building your marketing personas/buyer personas, in addition to providing question examples for interviewing people while doing research.

Talk to Z Coast Media

Told ya we were going to drop some heavy marketing knowledge on you this week. This was a lot of information to digest but if you made it all the way down here without freaking out congrats!

Diving into buyer persona creation for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. If you’d feel more comfortable getting a little help than taking the DIY approach, or you just want to talk about this topic with us, shoot us a message.