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Vacations – I love them! Don’t you? I work to live and when I contemplate a new life experience, there are many facets to creating the perfect journey, the perfect memory – the perfect vacation.

Like most people, I have budget and time constraints, so before I buy my plane ticket, I start a research process.  Of course, mine is web based.  I usually have a list of places I’d like to explore, and using my constraints (usually budget), I set out to match dreams with reality.  I am a member of an airline loyalty program (I love Delta as they recently gave me a Gold Medallion status), so I start with them – but don’t stop there. In practice, I begin the path down a Conversion Funnel.

A Customer’s Conversion Funnel defines the typical path a consumer takes before converting. Conversion reflects the end goal, and in this case, it’s the sale of a vacation and all it’s component parts such as airfare, car rental and a hotel booking. Most consumers go through a funnel before purchase.

If you look at the four basic aspects of a websites, they are broken down into  1) content, 2) e-commerce, 3) lead-generation and 4) self-service. A content site, for example, might provide newsletters or brochure information. An e-commerce site is looking to complete a commerce transaction and a self-service site seeks to scale support to its customer base, providing them with on demand access to materials and information.

Here is a Conversion Funnel.  Let’s take a look at the various phases of this as described by the diagram above.

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1.     Discovery

The Discovery process begins with a mission statement; such as I need a break.  This is the broadest level of content consumption and at this stage a consumer is probably not thinking of you or your brand.  The Discovery phase seeks to relieve a demand (I need a Hawaiian vacation) and the stress of task completion drives this process.

2.     Activate

This phase is driven by the thought “maybe a vacation is an affordable way to relieve my stress”,  and the consumer begins researching that possibility. The consumer is not usually considering a particular brand or set of brands to complete the task at this stage unless he/she has prior knowledge.

3.     Research

Here is where brands starts creeping into the picture usually via comparative research. For my vacation, researching when I’m anticipating to take my vacation and picking a destination are all part of the research process I, the consumer,  take before making a final decision. By the end of this point, I’m likely to have determined that I’m going to Hawaii on Delta Airlines for 5 days over Memorial Day.

4.     Purchase

The moment both consumer and brand are waiting for … Conversion. For the consumer, the task is completed and the excitement of anticipation begins. For the brand, commerce is completed and the investment in online readiness has paid off.

5.     Stay

Since Delta treated me so well, and I had a great experience with the airline, I’ve decided to consider them first when I decide to fly. The benefits to both customer and brand as reflected in my frequent flier program is a tangible demonstration of how I’m participating in the stay portion of that airline’s customer conversion funnel.

In previous posts, Web analytic has been discussed; how to optimize your site’s conversion rates by visualizing where customers convert and where they exit the conversion process. Using your existing Web analytics data to optimize multiple conversion paths for your customers gives your customer base the accurate perception that you know what is important to them.  It relays that human sentiment of caring and individual treatment that makes your customers feel special  and engenders a willingness to return. Bon Voyage!

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