The Best Way to Create a Powerful Marketing Funnel
A marketing funnel is the process of converting a visitor into a paying customer and plays a fundamental role in determining the various activities that you need to undertake to attract customers. It begins with the initial stage where someone learns about your business to the purchasing stage, as well as post-purchase follow-ups to increase retention and repeat buying.
Your Website: To DIY or Not
5 Stages of Consumer Behaviour
John Dewey introduced the buying process as early as 1910. According to his theory, consumers go through 5 stages when they are considering a purchase:
These stages make up the top of the funnel (TOFU), the middle of the funnel (MOFU), and the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). To give you a better understanding of buyer behaviour and marketing funnel creation, let us look closely at these 5 stages.
Stage 1: Problem or Need Recognition (TOFU)
Awareness is the topmost stage of the marketing funnel. An unrecognized need for a specific product or service won’t make a purchase happen. With the use of marketing campaigns and consumer research, you’ll be able to draw in potential customers into this stage.
Events, advertising, media mentions, trade shows, webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, and content such as blog posts and infographics are useful tools to establish trust and thought leadership. It is here where lead generation takes place, as information is collected and leads are pulled into a lead management system for nurturing further down the funnel.
Stage 2: Information Search (MOFU)
Once a problem or need is recognized and interest is triggered, your leads will move on to this stage. Here, they learn more about your company, your products, and any helpful information and research you provide. This is an opportunity for you to develop a relationship with the people in your lead database and introduce your positioning. By using emails, targeted content, classes, and newsletters, you will be on your way to nurturing these leads.
The strategies used to gather information may vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. According to Pardot, a software company that offers marketing automation, 70% of buyers turn to Google at least 2-3 times during their search to learn more about potential solutions and relevant businesses for their needs. They also make use of social media and forums to look for recommendations.
This is the best time to position yourself as an industry expert with helpful content. But first, you have to get traffic to your site by creating SEO-friendly content, publishing white papers, and getting backlinks. You need to do some keyword research to figure out what types of content you should be creating and find out which search terms in your niche get high volumes of traffic. Make sure your content matches those queries. Your outreach methods will also get more personalized as leads progress through your funnel, sometimes involving a product demo or a phone call. Then, you wait for the purchase to take place.
Building a series of attention-grabbing content marketing pieces such as blog posts, infographics, and videos that are tied to your website’s landing pages can help engage potential customers which help them learn about your company and its services without a need for a cold call from a salesperson.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in your products, they can request an online demonstration by filling out the form on your landing pages. These requests are warm leads and can be routed directly to your salespeople, who can then provide a demo and most of the time close the sale.
Stage 3: Evaluation of Alternatives (MOFU)
With the information provided in your article, potential customers will start comparing the options available. The time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated, going through a careful and thorough evaluation process. Price points, as well as employment basis for services, will play a major role in decision making. Some may also request free trials, online demonstrations, or training videos when applicable.
Stage 4: Purchase Decision (BOFU)
At this stage, the potential customers have already determined that they have a problem, investigated their options, and made a decision on which one is best for them. Bottom of funnel content, such as case studies content showcasing the success of previous customers with different profiles, verticals, and business sizes can help them feel more confident with this decision. However, there are still factors that may hinder them from moving forward. These include negative feedback from fellow customers and the impact it will create.
Although they don’t make you feel good, complaints and criticisms give you important signals. Whatever decision your potential buyer makes based on negative feedback, make use of these criticisms to make changes, improve, and grow your business.
Stage 5: Post-Purchase Behavior (BOFU)
What happens after the purchase is as important as what happens prior to it. A friendly onboarding process, personal attention, and provision of all the resources they would need will make them feel that they made the right choice.
However, nothing beats a great product that does what it says it would. If your product truly solves a problem, you don’t have to worry about post-purchase behaviour as it will take care of itself. Product satisfaction will result in recommendations and product endorsements. On the other hand, disappointment will result in refunds, negative reviews, and unlikely recommendation from your dissatisfied customer’s social circle.
An FAQ content will also make it easier to get customer support and solicit feedback on the buying process.
AIDA Model: Another Way to Remember Sales Funnel and Content Creation Stages
Another way to remember the stages of the sales funnel and match them to content creation is by using the acronym AIDA. The AIDA model was developed by the American businessman, Elias St. Elmo Lewis, in 1898 and is used in marketing, describing the steps a customer goes through in the process of purchasing a product. It stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.
Research your target audience’s problems and passions then create content that solves their problems and focuses on their passions. Your content should also be easily discovered by your target audience through Google, social media, or another website. This will help boost brand awareness. If your content can grab their attention and deeply engage them, then your target audience will start to become curious about your company and brand.
Help your target audience learn more about your brand, the benefits of your solution, and your potential fit with them by doing the following:
Providing instant access to this information will help your target audience visualize a pleasant future with your solution in their lives.
Keep serving your prospects with content that they will enjoy and which will help them think that your product or service will be even better. To generate excitement and help them envision a future with you, make sure they subscribe to your blog, follow you on social media, and download your offers. The more prospects you get to interact with your brand, the more they will trust you. This will compel them to act on that purchase.
After you’ve piqued your prospect’s attention and desire with content creation and relationship building, you can generate action from them by placing “request a demo”, “free trial”, and “contact sales” call-to-actions (CTAs) on your homepage, pricing page, and product pages.
A Proven Formula
In theory, consumers who learn about your brand will develop certain feelings or emotions about your product or service as they progress through each stage of the model. This is what compels them to act.
Brands use the AIDA model to determine the way they should craft and distribute marketing messages to their target audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey. When applied to your content marketing, you’ll be leveraging a proven formula that can consistently engage, persuade, and convert an audience into customers and just like a typical marketing funnel, each stage will have fewer consumers than the previous one since many will drop off as they move through to the bottom of the funnel.
Some people enter the sales funnel at the top while others enter at subsequent stages. Whichever entry point they take, the process remains the same. They go through a process of discernment and choose to either move to another solution or purchase from you. The action at the end of the funnel—the purchase—concludes the stages of the sales funnel.
Content for Each Stage of Your Marketing Funnel
To create appealing content for every stage of your marketing funnel, you must know how your customers at each stage will find you. This is why it’s important for you to know what kind of information you need to provide them with to help them move from one stage to the next.
Cold traffic is made up of people who have not heard of or interacted with your brand before. They click on your ads simply because they are intrigued by what you are promoting. They are not searching for a solution but for information.
Content shared with your warm or hot audiences is not the same content that should be shared with your cold audiences. They need to be specifically top of the funnel and non-promotional so as not to scare them away for good.
The goal of TOFU content is to increase offer awareness, grow your retargeting list, increase engagement, and grow website traffic. The most common types of content for this stage are blog and social media posts, interactive quizzes, videos, podcasts, surveys, infographics, ebooks, and guides. The first two are most used as they are extremely entertaining and engaging, help to grab the cold traffic’s attention and make them want to learn more, and hopefully convert them into customers down the line. A helpful strategy is to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry expert.
Warm traffic is made up of people who know about your brand but have not yet made a purchase. They may have read your content, visited your site, followed your social media pages, or signed up for your email list and were interested in your brand enough to engage with you. What you need to do is to keep them interested and nurture them through the sales funnel since they still don’t know enough to make an educated decision on your products.
In this stage, it is essential that you create content that will help them decide to purchase your product. You can share a video or infographic explaining how your product compares to others and why it is better than another product on the market. You can make use of landing pages with lead generation forms for customers requesting online demonstrations, competitor comparison charts, case studies from successful customers, and pop-ups such as “Need help with [that service]?’ link on site relevant to pages the lead is on.
Warm traffic is made up of people who already know about you, your brand, products or services, and most likely have bought from you already. Your goal, therefore, is to remind them about your brand or products so they keep buying from you again.
You can create new checkout page content and post-purchase email funnel that you can roll out over time. It will also be helpful to set up PPC ads for this traffic that will send them to sales pages, landing pages, product pages, offer pages, and service pages.
Two Types of Qualifying Leads in Your Sales Funnel
Reality wise, not every prospect will complete all the stages of a sales funnel for reasons that include lack of financial capability or authority to buy. This is where Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) come in.
- MQL refers to a prospective customer who has shown a particular level of engagement but is not ready for the buying stage although is more likely to become a customer than other leads.
- SQL refers to a prospective customer that has progressed past the engagement stage, has been thoroughly analyzed by both marketing and sales, and has been qualified as a potential customer.
Salespeople qualify leads by looking at interest and fit. Interest refers to how invested the prospect is in moving forward with your company’s type of solution while fit refers to how closely the lead matches your company’s definition of an ideal buyer. This includes factors such as company designation, industry, and budget.
There are four possible primary combinations in qualifying leads:
These parameters are helpful in identifying marketing campaigns and content leading to the newest qualified prospects and ensures that you’re using your salespeople’s time effectively.
Marketing Funnel Metrics You Should Track
Tracking how well your funnel is functioning using a set of metrics can help you improve and optimize. You can work with your SQL and MQL data to see who closes and how they interact with your site, content, channels, and ads. This is the last process of funnel creation that you need to take.
Listed here are some of the different metrics that you can choose to focus on.
Utilise the different tools on the market today to help you track these and other metrics. You can opt to use Google Analytics just like most businesses since it provides the most comprehensive, easy-to-implement solution, and more importantly, is free to use. You can always switch if you feel that you need a more advanced sales analytics program or a complete marketing automation program.
Creating a sales and marketing funnel is not a simple undertaking, but it helps drive significant improvements in your efficiency and effectiveness when closing deals. It provides you with a useful model for visualizing the customer journey from initial awareness all the way through conversion. Make sure to take advantage of this useful framework to help you analyze your business and identify areas for improvement.