Today's conversion journeys often involve several touches across many channels, as well as a wide range of asset types and modes of engagement. As a result, the sales funnel has become non-linear, and marketers are struggling to keep a handle on things.

According to a study by Nuance Communications, 67% of buyers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. On the other hand, according to the AMA, customers who engage with sellers via live chat are three times more likely to place orders than those who don't.

What are we to make of this apparent contradiction? How are marketers to provide guided sales nurturing while also giving people space for self-education? The answer is nuanced, complex and different for each company. Here are some of the principles at play.

Personalized Content and Engagement Wins

Providing user-specific content recommendations is also crucial for deepening brand awareness, engagement and trust. This is, however, easier said than done. According to a study conducted by Experian, when it comes to their personalization efforts, 40% of brand marketers struggle with gaining insights quickly enough and 39% don't have access to sufficient information.

That's where tools like TrenDemon, which lets you track content journeys to purchase, come into play. Based on the data that TrenDemon gathers, it can identify specific content items that match specific visitors' interests, suggesting next steps below articles and with exit intent popups.

"Until relatively recently, technology hasn't made it so easy to map the full customer journey and identify the most impactful touch points towards conversion," says TrenDemon CEO Avishai Sharon. "That's why we built TrenDemon--to help companies uncover the real value of their marketing efforts by mapping and visualizing the customer journey, with a special emphasis on content pages."

Getting to Know Them

"Marketers are obsessed with customer insights," recently wrote Mary Shirley Sheehan, Product Marketing lead at re-marketing platform AdRoll. "In the hunt to understand who's visiting our site and buying our products, we perform a variety of time-consuming and complicated tasks--everything from coordinating focus groups to conducting surveys."

The answers may be right in front of you, in the form of cross-channel behavioral analytics, which can be configured to sync with your CRM using tools like Oktopost and HubSpot Sales.

People Interact With Brands on Their Own Terms

Today's buyers have gotten used to gathering information from a variety of sources. Many of these platforms can help expedite purchase and spread word-of-mouth. According to Ambassador, 71% of consumers who have had a positive social media interaction with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

The challenge, however, is managing so many different presences while still maintaining quality. Tools like Bontact allow you to manage cross-channel discussions with leads easily from a unified dashboard. Offering phone call, live chat, email and text options, Bontact's software lets customers choose where and when they want to communicate. From the platform's dashboard, marketers can track leads, view histories and manage chat agents.

"We've found that different people prefer to interact with support and sales on different channels, depending on what device they're on, what generation they are, the specifics of their plans for that day and what channels they as individuals spend the most time on," says Bontact CEO Sari Roth. "Are you a Facebook Messenger junkie? So let's talk there. You prefer a real voice talk? No problem--someone can instantly call your phone or Skype you. You started an online chat but have to run? We will update you via SMS. It's all just a click away."

Killer Conversion Rates Are Within Reach

Although today's journey to conversion is no longer linear, there are many ways that you can identify relevant touch points within the user journey. With the right strategy in place that reflects current trends and insights, your brand can successfully stand out, engage and convert.