Evaluation

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What is Evaluation?

So you have created your strategy to optimize the awareness of your product or service. Now, it is time to transition your potential customers from awareness of your product or service to evaluating it as a plausible choice for them. During the awareness stage, your goal was not only to optimize the chances your brand would be noticed, but also to begin building your brand as a reliable authority in your field. Building trust with potential customers remains a priority in the evaluation stage, but now, you need to prove to those potential customers that you care about them and your product or service is the best option for them. 

During the evaluation stage, customers will be comparing your offering to other solutions on the market. Therefore, as you build your evaluation strategy, you need to be considering what you can do to stand out from the competition. What can you do to be more reliable? How can you cultivate the customer experience to be better than the current market? How well do you understand your potential customers’ needs? The answers to these questions will drive the decisions you make to form your strategy. 

Notice that the questions being asked are all about the customer. In the BROCSway model, you will not focus on bombarding the customer with sales pitches. Instead, we focus on the cultivation of the relationship between you and your customers. With the customer’s needs in mind, let’s look at their primary needs during the evaluation stage. 

Designing Strategy Around the Customer's Needs

If your potential customers have reached the evaluation stage, they are asking you to give them a reason to buy your product or service. You can give them that reason by designing evaluation content around their needs. 

Product or Service Specifications

Being clear and transparent with your customers is a necessity in an effective evaluation strategy. Customers are more likely to buy your product or service if they know the inner workings of what you will be providing them. If your customers can say, “This is a cool concept,” but they don’t know how it works, chances are a competitor is providing that information and your chances of proving the superiority of your product or service dwindle. Remember that nowadays, customers take precious time to research their options. Therefore, the more informed your customers are, the greater the probability that the customer will move to the fulfillment stage.  

A Quality Customer Experience

Even if you have the most informative content on your product or service, if your customer experience isn’t engaging and easy, you are missing a key opportunity. The customer experience is twofold — logistical and personal. 

From a logistical perspective, you want to be sure elements like your shopping cart and website navigation are easy and natural for your customers. If customers have to try too hard to find essential information or your checkout experience complicated, you are likely to lose their attention and patience. Once this is lost, they may be moving on to another option. Prevent this mistake from happening by ensuring the most pertinent information is easy to find on your site and the payment process is smooth. 

The personal part of the customer experience is how you and your business engage with your customers. Remember, they need to feel like you care about them specifically. An easy way to do this is to be highly responsive to people who want to talk to you. And when you do talk to them, make sure your interaction is friendly, professional, and true to your brand voice. Another consideration to have with the personal customer experience is engaging content. In other words, much like the dating scene, can your potential customer picture their lives with your company in it and is that future a better one for them? The more tactics you can utilize to ensure the answer to that question is yes, the more your chances increase of making that potential customer an actual customer. 

Credibility of Your Business

We cannot emphasize enough that your customer has to be able to trust you. Nowadays, it is extremely easy to make a website look legit. In a technological world where customers are acutely aware of the possibility of being scammed, the responsibility of communicating your reliability falls on you. The core of communicating the credibility comes back to authenticity. Does your ‘About Us’ page provide thorough information about your story and mission? Are your FAQs concisely answered and pertinent to most potential customers questions? Are you using third-party providers like Verisign that ensure the safety of their information? What guarantees are you making to your customers in regard to their experience (i.e. money back, 30-day trial, warranty)? All of these factors can contribute to your credibility and trustworthiness.

Social Proof

The final need is very closely related to credibility in that customers need social proof that choosing your company is a safe bet for them. Social proof primarily centers around reviews and testimonials. Potential customers are not only looking for their existence, but they are also looking at the number of stars, content of the reviews, and how you handle negative reviews. Your handling of negative reviews are particularly telling of how customers will be treated by your company. There is no way to avoid negative reviews of your business at some point. However, if you are gracious in your responses, fix the problem, and offer incentives to ensure the customer is happy, then your potential customers know their voices are heard and their business matters to you. 

Applying Customer Needs to Your Strategy Tactics

While understanding what customers need is the starting point, the next step is for you to decide which tactics you will use to optimize the evaluation process within your business. At this point, it is important to remember that the evaluation stage is a combination of awareness and fulfillment tactics. Consider evaluation the limbo land step, and because potential customers are in limbo, your strategy should include continuing education from the awareness side and providing incentives to ensure purchases. 

Website 

In the customer needs, we already addressed the navigation aspect of your site and the personal attention. For this reason, your website design should make it very clear how you can be contacted and how soon your customers can expect a response. You should also consider how your ‘contact us’ wording can be utilized to communicate value to your customers. Phrases like “click her to schedule a free consultation” or “To learn more about how we can meet your needs, click here” hold much more personalization and value than ‘contact us’. 

Content

You will be able to use many of the same methods as you did in awareness for content. However, for the evaluation stage, more emphasis should be placed on case studies, testimonials, explainer videos, and walk-throughs. Whereas awareness content focused on educational explanations of subject matter, evaluation content needs to focus on the specifics of your offering illustrating just how your product or service is the superior choice and the benefits of choosing your business. 

Sales Approach

Whether your business has the ability to have a sales team or you are the team, the customer centric approach of BROCSway requires a much more empathetic approach to leading a customer to the fulfillment stage. Instead of using typical sales techniques, the key to converting a potential customer in the evaluation stage to making a purchase is listening more than talking. 

If you are truly going to embrace the customer-first approach, convincing the customer to choose you requires your business to actively question potential customers in order to gain an understanding of the potential customer’s specific situation and needs. Therefore, when responding to inquiries, you or your employees responding to these requests should be able to provide content that speaks to the potential customer’s challenges, issues, or concerns. 

Capitalizing on Potential Customers in the Evaluation Stage

Analytics play a critical role in your business’s ability to follow up on leads. Obviously, you will know a potential customer is interested in your product or service if they directly reach out to you. But there are other ways to determine other leads that might be out there. Tracking leads through these methods will help inform you which future tactics to utilize in order to increase your probability of a purchase. 

Keyword Groups

As potential customers advance in their journey map, their search queries in search engines become much more specific. Further into the journey, a customer’s keyword choices may include the brand name, product name, or include words such as ‘reviews’, ‘testimonials’, ‘alternatives’, or price indicative terms. Running analytics for specific keyword searchers can help you determine potential customers who are in the evaluation stage. Based on the evaluation search queries, the specific wording can also offer insight into which tactics to employ on certain leads. 

Website Metrics

How people interact with your site can be very illuminating to the interest in your business or a certain product you are offering. Analyzing metrics such as returning visitors, time spent on the site, and page views can give you insight into where customers are primarily spending their time on your site. If you have interactive content or exclusives and collect emails through that content, those emails are particularly valuable of customers in the evaluation phase. Not only are they already showing particular interest, but with the personal information, you can personally reach out to solidify the customer’s choice of choosing your brand. 

Mapping Helpful Content 

Mapping your content is another way to help you move customers from the evaluation to fulfilment stage. Mapping your content involves looking at past analytics in order to determine which content was the most influential during different customer stages. Using your content metrics, you will be able to create a flow of the customer’s journey which will help you decide the most effective content to use in each stage moving forward. 

Next Steps

Now that you know a bit more about the evaluation stage and how you go about creating your strategy, it’s time to put those thoughts into action by applying it to your content and customer interactions. Remember, that the design and messaging of your content now needs to be the balance between educational yet product or service specific. Quality content and positive customer experience during this stage is the key to moving your customers from evaluation to fulfillment and continuing the journey of building trust with your customers.

Methods for Evaluation Stage

The evaluation stage, in terms of communication between you and potential customers, should be thought of as a courting process. Your goal is to build trust with the potential customer through your content and personal interactions so that, at the end of the day, that potential customer is checking the ‘yes’ box for you and your business. 

The methods of communicating your value proposition to the customer during evaluation look very similar to the ones during the awareness stage. The difference is in the specificity of the content and the amount of personal time spent with the potential customer. In the awareness stages, methods focused on how you could best communicate your story and value. In evaluation, methods have a two-fold purpose of determining which ones are best suited for communicating your value and how potential customers will be evaluating you through each method. 

Calls

The personalization of hearing someone’s voice when you are trying to establish trust can do wonders for that relationship. Whether a potential customer is reaching out to you via your website or your information has been passed along, taking the extra time to actually talk to them not only humanizes your business, but it also shows the level of care needed at this level. Emails and other methods will probably be less time consuming, but making time for calls and personally responding to potential customers gives the message that customers aren’t just another sale to you. The personal attention you give could be a big difference between you and the competition, and customers are more likely to choose the option where they feel like their needs and time are valued. 

Downloads

If you used downloadable material in the awareness stage, chances are the information was more broadly addressing the pain point and how your business can help. In the evaluation stage, your downloads should be more solution oriented in the way of how-to guides or ebooks. You are now going one step forward and actually presenting the details of a solution. 

Downloadable content in the form of infographics or comparison charts can also be extremely beneficial to your customer’s research journey. Imagine if you were in your customer’s shoes. Coming across your site, they see a page that not only illustrates your value, but you have also succinctly created a comparison to the competition for them. In addition to your content backing up your value, you have also made the research process easier for the customer. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your information is accurate and cited, but the extra effort goes a long way in the eyes of the customer as even researching options can be a pain point. 

Email Nurturing 

For those new to the term, email nurturing refers to planned email campaigns that are meant to educate and engage potential customers. It is the long game in the evaluating methods because email nurturing isn’t about your current sale or direct promotion of a product. Insead, email nurturing encourages conversion from evaluation to fulfillment in the sense that they are personalized and educational to the customer’s needs. Emails can link to your own material, but the focus should be on personalization and engagement. Just like calls, emails have the advantage of being able to personally appeal to customers. The advantage to email nurturing is that you have a paper trail for your analytics of what people responded to the most which will inform your future decisions.

Reviews

From the customer’s standpoint, reviews are commonly used to help them make a short list businesses they will research further. Others use them to gain information about how your product or service works in certain contexts. Unlike other methods to engage the evaluation stage, reviews are the one method you don’t have control over the original content or what is posted. For this reason, what contributes the most to reviews in the evaluation stage is how you respond to them. Yes, you have control over the customer experience which is directly related to your reviews, but no one can count on 100% positive reviews. When constructive or negative feedback does happen, potential customers are also looking to how you are engaging with the reviews. Consistently responding to reviews and considering feedback will show those potential customers you have the customer’s best interest. 

Website

Your website should contain information for customers at anying stage of their journey. However you can enhance engagement with customers at the evaluation level by including other methods in the design of your website. Having a ‘learn more’ page that includes demonstration videos or downloadable content is a great way to engage those evaluating your offering. Incorporating customer testimonials and case studies into the site is very beneficial as well. 

You can also reverse engineer the information on your site and incorporate it into other methods of communicating with customers. Instead of your FAQs existing on the website, find ways to answer those questions on other platforms as well. Perhaps you have a video series addressing each question or other customer questions. Or your guest blog pages echo the most commonly asked questions in your fields. The point is to make sure your site doesn’t stop at the ‘about us’ page and that you are replicating the information on your website in as many places as possible. 

Testimonials and Case Studies

Consider these methods the means to unapologetically promote your success and value. Undoubtedly, the more stories you have to illustrate you value, the more you gain customer trust through social proof. The additional advantage that case studies have, though, is that you can go more into metrics and details of a particular situation than any other content style. For those potential customers really wanting to get into the details of your business, case studies give them a great insight to how you conduct your business and the subsequent results. 

Video

In the awareness stage, we already addressed the importance of utilizing video for engaging content. Video can continue to be a vital tool in the evaluation stage as well. As you become more product or service specific to draw customers specifically to your business, videos can be used to explain how your product works or a day in the life of someone using your service. 

At the evaluation stage, webinars also become a prime mode of video communication. Much to the same premise of downloadable material, webinars can offer a basic level of your product or service in order to build reliability and trustworthiness. The advantage here of video is that you are again adding the humanizing aspect to your business. The more human interaction you can incorporate into your strategies of the customer journey, the more you will be able to authentically connect.

Choosing the Right Methods for You

Just like any other strategy you will create, this is not a one size fits all situation. Based on the benefits of each method, you will have to decide which ones best fit your business model and which ones you have the time to prioritize. If you are just starting out, your evaluation strategy may look much different from the business that is growing and has the material to utilize some of these methods. Wherever you are in your journey, know that your evaluation strategy should ebb and flow as your business goals and customer needs change. It will always be in your best interest to return to the data and feedback in order to ensure the continued sustainability of your business. 

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Chapter 1: Getting started

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Chapter 2: Coronavirus Cyberattack Statistics

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Chapter 3: General Cybersecurity Statistics

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Chapter 4: Phishing & Email Attack Statistics

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Chapter 5: Industry Cybersecurity Statistics

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Chapter 6: Privacy Statistics

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Chapter 7: Privacy Statistics

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Chapter 8: Privacy Statistics

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