If you ask me, that seems like a more efficient, better use of your time. I recommend you create short (read: under 30 seconds) videos about your company, as well as how-tos and videos that answer consumer questions. Promote them on YouTube as well as social media sites, and don’t forget to put them on correlating landing pages and blogs on your site.
At Disruptive Advertising, the marketing funnel is a key part of how we approach every client’s marketing. Getting into specifics about which tactics work best under which conditions in which stages is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like help setting up your own marketing funnel, let me know here or in the comments. Or, for additional content, check out this blog post.

Depending on your business and industry, you could have 1,000 prospects at the top of your funnel. However, towards the end of your funnel, you may have 25 qualified leads. While these 25 prospects are more likely to convert than the ones at the top of the sales funnel, at the very end, there may only be five customers who make a purchase and only two that go on to become repeat customers.
Trials / demos: Trials and demos are a great idea if you can easily take a portion of your finished product and provide it for free. Doing this will allow your leads to experience your product with very little commitment on their part. The downside of using trials or demos, is that since they are not stand-alone content, they can be perceived as incomplete offerings.  
Your sales funnel is composed of the means you use to drive prospects and potential clients to your company and close the sale. Online, you may have a blog that you write to each day. Once you get prospects to your blog, you lure them with an offer so as to receive their e-mail addresses. Then you send out periodic email messages to find those prospects interested in a product that you would like them to buy.
Understanding the process and stages behind a lead generation funnel is critical for marketers to successfully move names and contacts gathered through their marketing efforts and turning them into customers. The following attempts to give you valuable insights in understanding the lead generation process as well as overviews on tips and best practices to make this lead generation funnel work for your brand and your business.
Capturing leads is the first step to the sales process. Some sales funnel software have the capability to capture leads who visit your website, submit a form, email your company, etc. So it’s easier for sales reps to start working with leads instead of wasting time on data entry. It can also segment leads based on predefined criteria and assign them to the right sales reps.
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.
Webinars: Webinars are really powerful marketing tools. Like mini courses, webinars allow you to showcase your knowledge on a topic to your audience, with the difference that this is done as a live event—which allows your leads to have direct contact with you. As you might expect, webinars are considerably more time consuming than other tactics, but you can expect higher engagement and conversion rates from those who attend your live session.   
Entry sources – Monitoring the sources from which people are entering your funnel can be useful data to track, as it gives you ideas for expanding the reach of your marketing campaigns. If, for example, you see that a large number of your prospects are coming from a single guest blog post you did, you can upgrade and expand on it, add a free consultation opportunity on that blog post, and/or find similar guest author positions.
Dayna Rothman is the senior content marketing manager at Marketo, a leader in the marketing automation space. Dayna leads content creation and strategy at Marketo and is the managing editor for the Marketo blog, which receives more than 400,000 unique visitors per year. Dayna has also been featured as one of the top 25 content marketers to watch according to Kapost, and one of the top 50 content marketing influencers according to Onalytica.
Your sales funnel is healthy if you have enough prospects going through it. If you’re moving enough prospects through the funnel with the experiences and interactions you create, and if you are able to profitably convert enough prospects into paying customers, your sales funnel is healthy. See our article on Sales Metrics—17 Reports That Improve Your Sales Pipeline Performance to help measure your funnel’s health.
The modern conversion funnel can have many entrance points, meaning people can enter at any stage of their life-cycle, they can leave and enter again. This is why an effective online marketing strategy requires an omnichannel approach which combines various traffic sources, campaigns and re-engagement paths, and makes them work as one in order to finalize the purchase and even lead to loyal customers or brand advocates.
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.
A lead funnel, much like a sales funnel, is the pathway and the series of steps that a lead has to cross, right from being just another lead, to an interested prospect, to a hot opportunity to finally becoming a paying customer. This funnel is best comprehended as a visual representation which is split into the various stages that make up the funnel.
How to get started: Gather a list of contacts from the groups mentioned above and email them to share the content you’ve created. Important: If your list is large and you plan on emailing them in bulk, you must give them an option to unsubscribe or stop receiving emails from you. An “unsubscribe” button is auto-generated on most email service providers.   
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For example, when a customer finds you organically through a Google search for example, that means you have some element of authority. When you have authority, prospects are more likely to enter into your funnel because they know that if they found you relevantly, that whatever it is that you're providing must be of a great value. That's just the nature of SEO and organic search. 
Hello Mark, I absolutely loved this article. It’s very thorough. I wanted to ask in Step 3 that is “Defining the Criteria for Each Stage” in each sub-step if the customer is not responding to sales call we are sending them back to the previous sub-step. In between each sub-step, can we put one more stage where we are approaching the customer one more time through Email or SMS where in we give them a last chance to move forward and if they don’t reply to it, then we put them back in the previous sub-step?
Capturing leads is the first step to the sales process. Some sales funnel software have the capability to capture leads who visit your website, submit a form, email your company, etc. So it’s easier for sales reps to start working with leads instead of wasting time on data entry. It can also segment leads based on predefined criteria and assign them to the right sales reps.

Once you have each asset labeled with a stage in the buyer’s journey, start adding platforms and strategies for which that asset would be good a good fit. For example, blogs and infographics work great on social media, while case studies should be left to email marketing and PPC ads. From there, you can create your actual content distribution calendar:
In today’s marketing landscape, people can experience a brand in many ways other than purchase and usage of a product. These include live events, content marketing, social media, and word-of-mouth. Consider all the members of the Nike+ running community who don’t own Nike products or the half million fans of Tesla’s Facebook page who don’t own a Tesla. Or consider companies where employees use their own devices or download their own software until IT purchases the enterprise version for the entire company. In today’s digital age, advocates aren’t necessarily customers. Marketers who think that advocacy comes after purchase are missing the new world of social influence.
For instance, if you’re selling marketing automation software to a startup, showcase a startup that 10X-ed their leads.  If you’re selling the enterprise version of that marketing software, share a case study from another enterprise company.  The enterprise case study is too aspirational for the startup, and the startup case study doesn’t work in front of a huge global marketing team.
Awareness and Friend: This stage covers all leads who might know you’re your company is but that are not known in their database. The company understands that a lead might be visiting their website or downloading an ebook, but has not formally identified himself. These leads are curious about your organization; they are often brought in through inbound marketing efforts such as social media and content.
It all goes back to lead nurturing. Moving people down each level requires the same process: education, evaluation, engagement, commitment, purchase (or “action” – sometimes they aren’t actually making a purchase, but rather taking an action like sending out a tweet). In some cases, that process happens within a single email. Other times, it takes days, weeks, or even months. To make matters even more complicated, every customer is different. While some people might make the decision to buy your $19 within a few hours of downloading and sharing your ebook, other customers might be in “deciding” mode for 6 months.
Caroline Donahue, CMO at Intuit, oversees numerous web-based products for which “the product and the marketing become one thing.”  The funnel changes because “with cross-sell and up-sell, you move from awareness to action instantaneously.” Instead of a Customer Decision Journey, her approach might best be described as a User Experience Journey into which opportunities for transactions are thoughtfully embedded.

Launches: If you already have an audience, then you should definitely consider going big to introduce your product to the public—that’s what launching is about. A launch can help you gain the initial traction your business needs to grow, but there is more to launching than just pushing your product live. Great launch strategies involve slowly warming up the communication with your audience and then sending them the right content that convinces them to purchase.  
As noted, the pizza shop funnel example above is really simple; there aren’t many steps. Sometimes this is okay (for example, in our pizza funnel, adding more steps may or may not hinder down the sales process). However, for better results, it is often beneficial to add more levels to your sales funnel. This is especially true if you’re selling high-ticket items.
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.
Launches: If you already have an audience, then you should definitely consider going big to introduce your product to the public—that’s what launching is about. A launch can help you gain the initial traction your business needs to grow, but there is more to launching than just pushing your product live. Great launch strategies involve slowly warming up the communication with your audience and then sending them the right content that convinces them to purchase.  
After you have a good idea who your best leads are, the next step to defining your lead generation process is to define your sales funnel — knowing where a prospect is in his buying journey so that you can align it directly to your marketing and sales processes. Mapping your lead generation efforts to your funnel is extremely important as it dictates your campaigns, messaging, and expected metrics.

Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.
As people progress through your funnel, their intent to buy steadily increases. You always lose people with each new commitment you ask for (we refer to these actions “conversions”), but the more people you can get to convert at each step in your funnel, the more sales you will ultimately produce. In marketing, we call this process “widening the funnel.”
Of course, if you're going the paid ad route, you could also use Facebook and Google re-targeting to keep that awareness and interest level high. For example, if you've ever noticed after leaving a particular website, that you begin to see their ad everywhere, there's a particular reason for that. Especially if they've already entered your sales funnel, this is a very powerful way to get them to act.
Depending on what you’re selling and who you’re marketing to, you might answer that question in a number of different ways. For example, if customer service is a big deal to your potential customers, you may want to focus your marketing on how great your customer service is. You might want to include testimonials about your customer service, awards your customer service department has won, statistics about response times…you get the idea.
Or, are you a leader, an adventurer or an evangelist? How you position yourself is entirely up to you, but your message must be consistent throughout your entire "pitch" and it needs to be steeped in the truth. Your backstory, and just how you convey that through parables, character flaws and polarity, has much to do with just how well you can "hook" in your prospects to create a mass movement.
One of the most critical weaknesses of the Customer Decision Journey is the connection between purchase and advocacy. Almost every marketer we spoke to described how social media has disconnected advocacy from purchase. “You no longer have to be a customer to be an advocate. The new social currency is sharing what’s cool in the moment,” says Joel Lunenfeld, VP of Global Brand Marketing at Twitter.
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Paid advertising: When used properly, paid advertising can be a great way to attract new visitors to your site. You can reach the massive audiences that use Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms every day. Plus, with the advanced targeting and segmentation options provided by their advertising platforms, you can make sure that you reach exactly who you want to reach.    
This lead capture software ranges from simple to complex. You can have a landing page that captures the data, or you can sign up for a system that tracks your user's accounts once they sign in. You can see what products they looked at, what pages they read and, judging from their account activity, you can see how likely they are to become customers.
Direct email: Direct email works great if you have a list of people interested in your business. For example, people who attended one of your in-person workshops, a list of current customers, or a group/community you are a part of or manage. Important: Notice how we specify that these should be people you previously had contact with. We don’t recommend that you purchase email lists to do direct emailing as that can have a number of negative consequences for you and your business.  

A lead funnel, much like a sales funnel, is the pathway and the series of steps that a lead has to cross, right from being just another lead, to an interested prospect, to a hot opportunity to finally becoming a paying customer. This funnel is best comprehended as a visual representation which is split into the various stages that make up the funnel.


This early model has been modified by marketing consultants and academics to cater to the modern customer and is now referred to in marketing as the "purchase funnel" or "buying funnel". Many different business-to-consumer purchase models exist in marketing today, but it is generally accepted that the modern business-to-business purchase funnel has more stages,[3] considers repurchase intent, and takes into account new technologies and changes in consumer purchase behavior.[4] [5] As a model, the buying funnel has been validated in a variety of domains, including searching,[6] keyword advertising,[7] and lead generation,[8] but also modified to include previously unconsidered steps and metrics such as outbound sales, Internet impressions,[9] and Sales Funnel Stages.[10]
Of course, if you're going the paid ad route, you could also use Facebook and Google re-targeting to keep that awareness and interest level high. For example, if you've ever noticed after leaving a particular website, that you begin to see their ad everywhere, there's a particular reason for that. Especially if they've already entered your sales funnel, this is a very powerful way to get them to act.
In marketing automation, Ryan Deiss, co-founder of Digital Marketer, often describes the sales funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers. It's multi-stepped because lots must occur between the time that a prospect is aware enough to enter your funnel, to the time when they take action and successfully complete a purchase. 
It all goes back to lead nurturing. Moving people down each level requires the same process: education, evaluation, engagement, commitment, purchase (or “action” – sometimes they aren’t actually making a purchase, but rather taking an action like sending out a tweet). In some cases, that process happens within a single email. Other times, it takes days, weeks, or even months. To make matters even more complicated, every customer is different. While some people might make the decision to buy your $19 within a few hours of downloading and sharing your ebook, other customers might be in “deciding” mode for 6 months.
The cell phone theory comes from Duke University research on the human attention span. Basically,  we subliminally take in what’s around us even when we’re distracted with something else. Later, those subliminal surroundings appear to already be familiar. What this means is that people can remember your company simply by subliminally taking in the message from a display ad while they’re doing something else.
But if you still use separate tools to email and call your leads, then visibility into their different touchpoints at different stages in the funnel can be difficult to figure out. Use a sales funnel software with built-in email and phone instead. You can create email templates in your funnel software to quickly reach out to leads. Even better, you can automate sending out the first welcome email to new leads using workflows.
No matter what kind of purchase we’re making or how much we intend to spend, all of us follow a relatively similar path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This buying process, or stages, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than 100 years later — it’s still the foundation of understanding buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
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