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According to the State of Marketing report by Salesforce, 67% of marketing leaders use a marketing automation platform. In another report published by Marketo and Ascend2 shares, “91% of the most successful marketers say sales automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing programs. These numbers shows just how important sales and marketing automation is. One of the best ways to achieve automation is to build a marketing funnel.
How does a marketing funnel work?
Marketing funnels enable businesses to construct and measure an automated sales and marketing process which runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – it is literally the automation of the entire sales journey can be optimised using analytics.
All marketing funnels are unique depending on the brand or the type of business. However, no matter what industry a brand is in, marketing funnels are all based on the same principles.
The three stages of a sales funnel
1. Awareness – Here, a prospective customer first becomes aware of a brand’s products or services. For online businesses, a robust digital presence must be in place. Some of the most common tactics to drive awareness are:
- Consideration – During the consideration phase, brands should ideally prepare a plethora of content that demonstrates their expertise, product superiority, use cases and answers all of their technical queries to ensure that they are fully informed. Going beyond the basics of consideration, brands should also seek to create an emotional connection (empathise) with design, content and interactive elements that engage and delight website visitors.
- Content marketing – Offer prospective customers advice, information and guidance about a product or service.
- Social media – Harness the potential of social media by sharing content that demonstrates the brands credibility and expertise whilst taking advantage of the platform’s reach.
- Organic search (SEO) – Produce expert content that is primed to deliver maximum value to prospective customers and is optimised to display on search engines when they search.
- Paid ads – Generate exposure through pay-per-click (PPC) and banners. Reward inbound website visitors with exclusive content and promotions so they enter the funnel.
2. Consideration – During the consideration phase, brands should ideally prepare a plethora of content that demonstrates their expertise, product superiority, use cases and answers all of their technical queries to ensure that they are fully informed. Going beyond the basics of consideration, brands should also seek to create an emotional connection (empathise) with design, content and interactive elements that engage and delight website visitors.
3. Conversion – Once a potential customer has decided to purchase a brand’s products or services, the top priority should be to provide a slick and seamless sales journey. Removing obstacles along the way – anything that may give a lead some difficulty in buying the product should be removed.
Common marketing funnel terms to be familiar with
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of people who visited a website but left without engaging any further (they enter the funnel and leave without any further engagement).
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) – The % of people who clicked through an ad to see a website.
- Content upgrade – Additional piece of content that is offered to audiences who are reading a piece of content. For example, a brand can offer a ‘complete guide to building marketing funnels‘ to a website visitor that is reading an article about marketing funnels. The content upgrade is offered in exchange for the e-mail address and the content is emailed to them.
- Conversion rate – Term referring to a step within the funnel to convert leads to actual customers.
- Core offer – The main offer that is being promoted to visitors that have entered the sales funnel.
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – Average amount of spend that a brand has to make to acquire a new customer over a specific time period.
- Landing Page – A landing page is the page that website visitors ‘land’ on when they click through. The landing page usually offers website visitors an enticing offer or an incentive such as an e-book. The landing page is the entry point for the funnel.
- Lead – A potential customer
- Lifetime Value (LTV) – The total revenue that a brand generates from a customer during the entire time of their relationship with the brand.
- One-Time Offer – A product that is offered to potential customers within the sales funnel which is presented as an offer that is not available for purchase anywhere else.
- Open Rate – % of people who open an email out of all those who received the email from a specific campaign.
- Opt-In – The act of giving permission (opting in) to receive further communications from a brand. This is usually done in exchange for receiving a free e-book or other piece of value.
- Opt-In Rate – The % of people who arrived on a landing page and completed an opt-in process. The higher the opt-in rate, the better!
- Order bump – A product that can be purchased as an add-on to the main product (this is also known as a cross-sell). Order bumps typically appear as a checkbox within the order form during the checkout process.
- Order form – A page in the sales funnel where customers enter their payment information to complete their purchase.
- Scarcity – A marketing tactic which states that there are a limited number of products available to inspire customers to purchase immediately.
- Urgency – A marketing tactic which uses a sense of time to encourage the customer to buy immediately rather than wait.
- Value Ladder – A set of products that deliver increasing value to the prospective customer. The value ladder usually represents a sales journey with with the introductory (entry level) product or service being sold initially, followed by the more comprehensive / complementary service being sold next. An example is a web design company selling a website audit and then selling a website redesign and then finally selling an ongoing marketing retainer. It is used most commonly as a tactic to increase revenue in B2B businesses to maximise client revenue.
Creating an effective marketing funnel is just like creating good content
One of the best ways to create a sales funnel is to follow the stages of content creation with the acronym – AIDA.
- Attention – Define and articulate a problem that resonates strongly with the desired audience. Customers who are experiencing certain pain points but have not recognized the specific issue yet will focus their attention on what a brand has to offer.
- Interest – Interest and information both stand for I. This is the stage where customers who are actively seeking a solution will get interested and acquire more information from a brand. As customers move through the sales funnel from recognising their problems, their interests will be sparked.
- Desire – Customers who move beyond attention and interest will now have the desire to find a solution. Here, it is the job of the brand to position itself as the best value, highest quality and most comprehensive solution available to their prospective customer.
- Action – Once customers decide to take action, brands should make it easy for them to say yes to the solutions offered.
To create an effective sales and marketing funnel, it requires research and developing a strong understanding of what prospective customers need. Operating the funnel requires a mechanical mindset where brands are focused on getting more leads to enter the funnel, nudging the customers the right way down through it, and eventually turning them into loyal customers and brand advocates.
Analysing funnel performance data via analytics will show the different areas of a marketing funnel where brands may be losing customers which they can adapt to optimise the funnel’s performance.