Sales Funnel & Inbound Marketing as Strategy

Posted by Andy Evanko

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June 30, 2014

Now that you are beginning to understand the type of systems and content to place on your website, it is time to explain the processes of guiding your prospective customers down the sales funnel.  Certain types and styles of content posts are meant to attract, others are meant to covert and, even others are created to give the prospect a final push and close the sale.  The process is to slowly influence a potential customer of yours with content posts as they proceed to move down the funnel. This is not an exact science.  When a potential buyer is already moving through the funnel, one untimely content post can cause them to climb back up and you can lose out on the opportunity to bring them “IN”. You must bring the customer “IN” and through the sales funnel to be successful at inbound marketing. The purpose is to guide your potential customers through the buyer’s process with your content.

sales_blog Inbound marketing as a process is not just about drawing traffic to your website.  It is also about managing the experience of the visitor to the website when they arrive.  So the goal is not only to put keyword specific content on the website to help you get found, but to also provide content that is interesting or engaging to the visitor and guiding them through the buying process throughout the sales cycle.  Inbound marketing protocol is to segment content for visitors that are at the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel.

Top of the funnel

are people early in the buying process, who are seeking information.  For this type of visitor we provide high level but engaging content to help them satisfy their need to become aware of your product.  Some examples include “7 Things to consider when choosing a plumber” or “5 Ideas for lowering your health care cost”, etc.  This type of content is provided for free, meaning it is delivered without requiring the visitor to leave their e-mail in exchange to view the content.  Videos are also powerful tools for engaging prospects at this phase of the buying cycle, and search engines give high points for video content.

Middle of the funnel

is the visitor who is searching for a solution, and wants to either get deeper into the subject matter to help facilitate their analysis or interest in your product/service or help them better understand the technical attributes of the product/service or the types of offerings you have, and in some cases to identify qualified vendors to consider in their purchase decision.

At this phase you are trying to demonstrate your firm’s competency in the product or service, by building your brand’s credibility in the eye of the consumer.  This is typically done with white papers, case studies, reports, eBooks, videos, etc.  For the visitor to get a copy of this premium content they should be required to provide their e-mail.  This process turns a visitor into a lead, because you now know who they are and that they are interested in a particular product or service, and you know how to communicate with them. 

With this prospect knowledge you can also begin to nurture the relationship with the prospect.  This nurturing can happen two ways.  First, once you know what product they are interested in, you can send follow-up e-mails pointing them to other articles, white papers, etc. that they may be interested in.  Second, you can track their return to the website and point them to content you think might be of interest.  Content at this stage starts to get very explicit about how they can experience your brand should they purchase from you and could include Buying Guides or Success Kits as two examples.

Bottom of the funnel

is when the consumer is feeling the pain and is ready to buy.  At this stage the goal is give an incentive to engage with you and make the sale happen.  A typical bottom of the funnel process is to introduce a compelling call-to-action (CTA) button.  CTA examples include Request a Quote, Click Here for a Free Audit, Schedule an Appointment, Buy Now & Save 15%, etc. 

The key in the sales funnel is all about segmentation.  It is important to track what potential customers have interacted with the content on your website. This is knowledge about what stage in the sales funnel they currently reside in.  Segmenting the correct content to potential customers in the attract, convert, and close stages of the sales cycle. Every interested prospect should receive different content depending on the sales stage. 


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