Anyone who wishes to have a smooth and efficient sales process should ensure that they’ve got a powerful marketing funnel. A smooth sales funnel ensures that the website page visitors or browsers soon get converted into paying customers. Many business owners are nowadays avoiding using the word “marketing funnel” as they think that it’s too simple or mechanical to describe the lead promotion sequence through which the customers shift from awareness to buying. However, it still seems like a great way to describe the complex process and one can only imagine the whole process of conversion from the beginning to the end.
Let’s break down all the essential details of a sales funnel and know HOW TO START A MARKETING FUNNEL.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY A MARKETING OR SALES FUNNEL?
The marketing funnel can be said as a method of breaking down the whole customer journey from the stage of “awareness” to the “buying” stage. Sometimes these funnels also comprise post-buying follow-ups for gathering retention along with up-sells and cross-sells.
Of course, the first step would be to gather traffic for the website. This can be done by making SEO-friendly content, getting backlinks and publishing white papers. As lead progression happens through the sales funnel, more personalized outreach methods will be applied (sometimes it involves a follow-up phone call or giving product demo) until sales occur.
SALES FUNNEL BREAK-DOWN STAGES
Irrespective of the type of purchase made by customers or the budget they’re willing to spend, everyone goes on the same path when they’re thinking of what to purchase. These stages were categorized firstly in 1910 by John Dewey, but even after a century – this method is still the gold standard to understand buyer behavior and create an effective sales funnel.
Let’s understand the five marketing funnel stages.
IDENTIFYING THE ISSUE/ RECOGNITION OF NEED (TOFU) – STAGE 1
It’s understandable that when someone doesn’t recognize that a need has to be fulfilled, they won’t buy. With that being said, such requirements can be anything like the solved problems or issues without any clear solutions.
For example, if your furnace stops functioning in the winter season, your problem would be obvious: you need a new furnace. Here, you’ve got a simple solution – you’ll have to contact HVAC experts nearby and ask for quotes.
BROADEN THE MARKETING FUNNEL REACH WITH ORGANIC BUYER TRAFFIC
The initial step towards the decision-making process is a great opportunity for pulling a great amount of audience into the funnel. The most cost-efficient way to do this is by gathering organic traffic. Search traffic has monthly recurrence and doesn’t have any ongoing cost, unlike the PPC.
Also, the search traffic has clear intent. If you exactly know what people are searching for, it would be simple to move further and pull in more people to the funnel. This is not straightforward like other channels such as traffic from social media.
It is easy to find TOFU topics through keyword research, but when you’ve got an established rate, there can be some easy wins within the current content.
SEARCH TRIKING DISTANCE’ TYPE KEYWORDS
By triking distance’ type keywords we mean keywords that are in positions of 11 to 20. These present some of the best opportunities for finding easy uplift to get conversions. By ensuring content optimization strategies, it is possible to upgrade the content which is more likely to get your product page bumped into 1st page of SERPs.
The free and easy method for searching these are going through the data in Search Console and sorting all queries according to the position. After target pages are available for upgrade, you can make upgrades/edits through a content editor.
SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION (MOFU) – STAGE 2
Identifying the issue is the essential step for triggering information search. The main strategies required for gathering info can vary according to the scope and size of the purchase. For example, knowing that you’re hungry can result in a Yelp search to show nearby restaurants. On the other hand, deciding the provider for installing a new pool in the house, involves calling around and reading reviews, having a conversation with the salespeople, visiting showrooms, etc.
Pardot suggests that 70% of buyers try Google a minimum of 2 to 3 times while searching for solutions. A lot of people also try social media forums to get recommendations. Here they’re not looking for promotional content but are finding genuine solutions.
In this situation, you can position yourself as an industry expert with content for helping them. Also, some keyword research is necessary to know the type of content you must form for the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
EVALUATING ALL ALTERNATIVES – STAGE 3
After the information search, prospective customers start comparing alternatives to the discussed article. Selecting the alternative will be quite simple like deciding, “I’ll use the car, instead of the bike.”
However, let’s assume that if you’re having an accounting business, in this stage, your customers would evaluate various service providers. They would require resources such as price guides and evaluating accounting services landscape (whether they should hire any agency, solo accountant, etc.).
BUYING DECISION (BOFU) – STAGE 4
The final buying decision would be the conclusion formed through the three previous stages. The prospective customer determined that they’ve got an issue, investigated all options, and decided about the ideal one.
Here, the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) content helps instill confidence in prospective customers regarding buying decisions.
The case study content, which showcases the success of the current or previous customer, is highly useful, especially when these case studies show the lead. Form case studies with customers reflecting verticals, business sizes, customer profiles, etc.
Let’s assume that you’re selling automation to a business, you can showcase a startup, to make their leads 10X. When you’re selling an enterprise version of the marketing software, you can share a case study for another enterprise company. The enterprise case study would be aspirational for the startup, and the case study doesn’t work in a global marketing team.
However, the bad news is that two major factors that would hinder purchase at this stage: negative fellow customer feedback and the motivation of the lead to accepting the feedback.
POST BUYING BEHAVIOR – STAGE 5
The process isn’t only done as the buying decision is made. What would happen after the sale would happen? After the new buyers get greeted with an onboarding process, the personal attention with all required resources has to be for successfully using the product, and they’ll confirm that the right choice has been made.
Also after gaining more confidence, they’ll more likely pass on their satisfaction in the form of product endorsements and recommendations.
When new customers get disappointed after purchase, they can also request refunds, put negative reviews and recommend people in their circles to buy from the competitors.
Certain actions can be taken for facilitating better post-buy behavior. For example, you can make FAQ content, make customer support access simple, and solicit buying process feedback.
Other than these steps, a great alternative would be getting a sales funnel manager to follow the journey of the prospect to the converted customer. These also help in finding out and closing sales funnel leaks. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can streamline and automate the process of managing sales funnel like tracking prospects, qualifying leads activity at different stages of the buyer journey.