Intuitively speaking, it makes sense to try and minimize the time spent on each stage, so that you shorten the length of your average sales cycle. That said, remind your sales reps to exercise discretion when doing this—they shouldn’t rush their leads into the next stage of the process if their lead isn’t ready to move on. Remember: no one likes a sales rep who’s too pushy or aggressive, and moving your lead along too quickly can ultimately backfire on you.
Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.
But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
Offer a free mini course: If you are in the business of monetizing your knowledge and expertise, a mini course is an excellent way to provide additional value to your visitors while also building your own image as an expert. Mini courses might take more work to create, but they also have the benefit of being perceived as more valuable than ebooks and PDFs.
Sales funnel conversion rate – If you’re going to choose only a few metrics to focus on, make sure this is one of them. This metric tracks the number of prospects that enter your funnel at any point and how many convert into customers. As you make changes to your marketing strategy in the future, seeing this number improve will let you know you’re on the right track.
Another important principle of this sales funnel is that we’re not talking about a linear process here. You don’t want to limit your marketing strategy to generate leads at the top of the funnel and then guiding them all to the end. There are thousands or even millions of people out there already who may know your brand but simply aren’t interested in it yet.
PPC campaigns: Most online paid advertising platforms will allow you to link a landing page. You can create an informative and concise landing page with a relevant CTA. This will encourage your audience to submit the form. All platforms such as LinkedIn, AdWords, Facebook etc give you this option. In fact, Facebook has designed a whole ad format called Lead Ads that deals primarily with lead capture.
You can do this all by caring. Reach out and ask for reviews. Engage with them on social media. Offer them an insider-only discount. Give them something for free on their birthday. Give them advice for free. There are literally hundreds of customer retention tactics out there—find the ones that best suit your products and business. One simple—and cost-effective—way to care is with personalization.
PR/Press: This tactic consists of getting media coverage for your content, brand, or business. Media outlets and publications have built large audiences over a long time—that’s what their entire business model is about—so if you can tap into that, it can mean a significant boost of traffic to your site. PR is all about having an interesting angle that is newsworthy and presenting it in the right way to journalists and reporters.
This gives you a platform to manage and organise your leads at every stage of your marketing funnel. You can also use ActiveCampaign to track user behaviour, place users on segmented lists and target them with highly relevant email campaigns. And where ActiveCampaign really shines is its email and marketing automation, which means you can automate entire marketing strategies, turning awareness into consideration and guiding leads through every stage of the consumer journey.
Visitor-to-lead conversion rate: This metric will tell you what percentage of your website visitors end up becoming leads. You can use this as an indicator of how attractive your offer to become a lead (we’ll talk about the type of content you should use in this stage in a second) is to your visitors. As you might expect, you should aim for a high conversion rate. If you use tools to capture leads with popups forms, this metric will be tracked and provided to you. However, if you use other tactics to collect leads you might need to use Google Analytics goals to keep track of this metric.
But, given the volume of leads that fill your funnel, sales teams have a hard time converting leads into customers because they cannot discern the hot from the cold. This results in unqualified hot leads in the top of the funnel that either drop out due to slow response times, or remain stuck in the middle of the funnel, eventually becoming cold leads. For a business, this means missing out on golden ($) opportunities. And, that’s just one leak. There are more ways you lose leads in the sales funnel.
Beyond terms and process, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs such as account-based marketing (ABM) and lead nurturing. In 2018, Salesforce Research found high-performing marketing organizations to be 1.5x more likely to use ABM methods, and 1.9x more likely to use lead nurturing than underperforming marketing organizations. They are “shared programs” since both marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing handles the technology and setup while sales pick the targets and help create the content. Sharing in the creation of the programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall effectiveness.
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.
Sales funnel is an illustration of the stages that a prospect goes through before becoming a customer. It resembles an inverted pyramid—it starts with a lot of your potential customers at the top. And, as your sales reps start engaging with them, only your most qualified prospects move to the next stage, and ultimately towards the close. So, at the bottom of the sales funnel are your most committed customers.
Depending on your analytics setup, you can track specific user actions and create segmented remarketing lists with messages designed for each audience. For example, if you’re using Event Measurement in Google Analytics (linked with your Google Ads account) then you can place users on remarketing lists based on the page elements they click, as well as the URLs they visit.
CRM software has features like event scheduling, case management, and task management that help you plan and execute activities that coincide with the stages of your sales funnel. This software makes it easier to implement your sales funnel by showcasing upcoming and overdue activities, which keeps you focused on the activities that matter throughout the entire sales process.
There’s even a convention that meets to address the “flipped” funnel. In 2015, Terminus put together their first #flipmyfunnel conference. Their goal was to raise awareness around the new funnel and generate solutions for how to adapt to it. In the spirit of best practices for the new funnel, the conference was a lead generation and customer acquisition event in and of itself.
Organic search: By writing relevant articles that rank for keywords to your business, you can attract traffic to your website. SEO is still very relevant and it is one of the cheapest methods in which you can ensure that you get unlimited traffic. But, you need to figure out the right keyword for your business and try to rank in the 1-5 position. It doesn’t end there though. After the visitor enters your page, you need to have a relevant CTA. This could be a related e-book they could download or a webinar they could attend. Look how WordStream uses an exit intent pop-up to capture leads.
Today’s online consumer is much better educated than the consumers of yesteryear. While they enjoy learning about new products and services from brands, they hate being sold to. They digital buyer’s journey has many different touchpoints, and different people follow different patterns. That’s why you need to invest in more than one middle of the funnel marketing strategy.
For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).