There are a few variations of how marketing funnels are defined, but at the end of the day they all seek to accomplish the same thing: Turn leads into customers. There are many variables that can influence how effectively an organization’s marketing funnel converts prospects into paying patrons of your business. The quality of the leads themselves as well as the diligence used to nurture them through the process heavily influences the conversion rates an organization might expect. In this post, we are going to break down the five primary ingredients of the marketing funnel that are essential for a business to embrace to create a winning recipe for success.
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This initial phase of the marketing funnel is also known as the top of the funnel. The objective here is to spread the good word about your business or service far and wide so that consumers will discover your offerings. Traditional print, TV and newspaper ads used to dominate the types of activities business would use to drive awareness. Today, companies produce all manner of digital content in the form of blog posts, web content and social media posts. Utilizing SEO techniques help insure that your digital content ranks higher in search engine results and will result in more people finding you when searching the World Wide Web. A diverse campaign aimed at your targeted demographic should yield a healthy volume of quality leads into your marketing funnel.
Now that you have caught the eye of potential customers, the next phase of the marketing funnel should be designed to inspire and encourage interested leads to learn more about your business. This can take the form of current customer success stories that prospects can relate to, email marketing campaigns, detailed product and service offering listings, as well as retargeting campaigns for abandoned online shopping carts and web browsing sessions. Your prospects’ interest should rise as they conduct online research and read product reviews and client testimonials while investigating your website. If done properly, many of your leads are now educated and interested enough to be considered true prospects.
All the steps in a marketing funnel are crucial and contribute to turning a cold lead into a profit-generating customer, but the action phase is where your prospect will take definitive steps to engage with your organization. Your prospects take action by responding to your offers. This can take the form of signing up for a newsletter or free trial, downloading a free resource, making a purchase of some kind, and more. No matter where your leads may be in the marketing funnel, always make it simple and easy for them to jump forward in the process and buy what you are selling (landing pages are key here!).
It takes a business significant time, effort and resources to create a new customer that chooses to spend their hard-earned dollars with you in a competitive marketplace. Once they have decided to spend their money with your company, however, the job is not yet done. Now you need to make sure you keep this hard-earned customer and enjoy the benefits of their repeat business. Customer retention strategies such as points programs and other frequent buyer programs can provide your customer base with special deals and discounts that reward them for being long-term supporters. Encourage them to follow you on social media and communicate with them in advance of the general public about special events, sales and new products and services. Treat them like an insider and a part of your inner circle to keep them coming back again and again.
Turning loyal customers into vocal and proactive advocates for your business should be the ultimate goal of your marketing funnel. Not only will they sing your praises to their friends and family and people in their circle of influence, but they will also communicate with complete strangers about their positive experiences and feelings about your organization. Referral programs are excellent ways to reward and encourage loyal customers to take their support of your business to the next level. A strong testimonial from an existing customer will result in new leads and prospects to your business that will convert at much higher rates than cold leads that you are having to nurture through the entire marketing funnel. Do a great job with the first four phases of this process and you will find the natural outcome will be a growing crowd of supporters providing you with the most effective marketing efforts that money cannot buy.
Businesses need to be very thoughtful and strategic about creating a marketing funnel and engaging in the proper activities to give their organization the best opportunities to attract quality leads that they are able to nurture and convert into lifetime customers. The general framework of this marketing funnel should provide a strong beginning point for defining your course of action to get your enterprise cooking up some hot leads!