What is a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a marketing strategy in which you are constantly bringing prospective customers to your business, engaging with them and then finally converting them into paying customers. This marketing strategy requires you to focus on each component individually. That means, you have a strategy in place to:
- Bring prospective customers to your business
- Engage with them
- Convert them into paying customers
Let’s look at these components one-by-one and understand what they mean. We would also discuss how to build the marketing funnel by looking at the marketing strategies available for the three components. Note that all the three components has both free and paid techniques available.
Bringing prospective customers to your business
Bring High Quality visitors to your website: To get customers, you need to reach the people interested in your products or services. You need to help them discover you and visit your website. There are some proven free methods to get new visitors to your site:
- Create content on your website: People browse the internet for information. If your content is unique and informative, people would find you on search engines.
- Get backlinks from other websites: If you engage or communicate with other websites, there are chances that you can mention your website (with a link) on the other website while you are conversing.
- Discuss on online forums: Is there a forum related to your product/service? If it exists, then you can take part in discussions. Answer queries on the forums, and leave a link to your website in your signature. The people who find your answers interesting would also like to see your website and browse through your products page.If you can’t find a forum, then think whether you can create one on your website. You can always find discussion groups on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
- Create something for free for the community: Can you create a free version of your app or a free plugin for WordPress sites. These free products helps you to reach many people in a short time.
- Presence on Social Media sites: Create your Facebook page, Twitter profile and a Linkedin company page. Build a fan base for your company page and start sharing likeable posts and content on these platforms.Facebook and Linkedin Groups: When online forums related to your products or services do not exist, you may find Facebook and Linkedin groups. These groups are great places to get high quality visitors to your site. Don’t spam these groups, rather listen to what other people have to say and take part in the conversation. Leave a link to your site as your signature.
- Advertise: Advertise your business on Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter and Linkedin Ads. Advertisement helps to amplify the effect of your other top of the funnel marketing activities. If done correctly, it can be a source of high quality new visits to your site, which you could not have reached otherwise.Each kind of advertising platform brings a unique audience to your site and hence, you need to allocate some budget across all the platforms.
- Affiliate Marketing: Search for bloggers and influencers in your industry and ask them whether they would like to register for an affiliate program with you. Affiliates can be a great source of high quality visits to your website, but they would most likely be expensive.You can always search for bloggers who have just started writing about your industry, and who have something unique to say. Chances are that you could strike good deal with these newcomers.
- Guest Blogs: Guest blogging is especially useful when you have just started content marketing for your business, but you don’t have enough visitors to your website. In this case, you can write for other websites. You and your articles would gain visibility on these sites. If people like your articles, they will search for you and find your website. Read this article written by Joel K on how guest blogging can help your business.
But, is the visitor going to buy your product in the first visit. I guess not. That’s why it is necessary to build touch points with the prospective customers. You need to follow-up with the visitor once she lives your website. It would help to reach her with exciting offers or discounts in the future.
Establish Touch points with your prospects: There are several ways to establish touch points with the visitor. You can:
- Collect their email ids: You may ask the visitor to sign up with their email ids. But they will do so only if you offer something in return. You may offer them free trial, downloads, video, whitepapers, upcoming webinars etc.
- Drop cookies to retarget: You may retarget these visitors using Google AdWords, Facebook ads and other advertising services. Remember to put Google’s and Facebook’s retargeting pixels on your website to be able to use retargeting feature.
- Have them follow you on Twitter, Facebook or Google+: The social networking sites give you another method to reach your prospects. If the visitors follow you on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, they would get updates whenever you post a new information. Give your website visitors a reason to like your page. Offer them something in return.
Engage your prospective customers
Once you have established touch points with some of your website visitors, you would need to start communicating and engaging with them. A well formulated communication and engagement strategy helps to build relationship and establishes your brand with the prospective customers. You move above in the consideration set of the customers from “a just another website they visited” to “a website that they trust”.
Here are some of the customer engagement best practices:
- Send regular newsletters and emails: Your prospective customers would appreciate if you send them relevant and useful information. Emails are the best channels to do this. It is also the best way to send personalized information based on their browsing history on your website. It builds trust and establishes your brand with the customer. She is more likely to pay for your services once you have built this trust.
- Updates on Social Media: Social media have evolved as one of the best customer engagement mediums. Emails or most other mediums are unidirectional i.e you send information and customers listen. But, this is not the best way people communicate. Social media has helped businesses to listen to their customers. With simple comments, hastags, customers can either send their appreciation or vent their angers. The best part is that your prospective customers can see the comments of existing customers and can build a favorable or unfavorable mindset towards you.Interact with your fans on social media and publish regular updates about your products. You should also ask your fans to write their views in the comments section and respond to any queries that they might have.
- Retargeted ads: Most of your first time visitors won’t sign up for your newsletters or follow you on social media, however, you can bring them back to your website with retargeted ads. If you have created really awesome content, or have come up with a great product feature, then reach out to your website visitors with retargeted ads on Facebook and Google AdWords. You would need to put Google’s remarketing tag and Facebook retargeting pixel on your website for this purpose. These advertising features come at no extra cost. Personally, I believe Facebook is the best among retargeting networks because case studies have shown higher engagement with Facebook newsfeed ads and the cost per click is comparatively low for these ads. Retargeting helps you to amplify the results from other marketing channels as well. You spend a lot of time and money on search ads, SEO, content creation, display ads; However, only less than 10% convert on their first visit. It makes complete sense to re-market to the other 90% people to boost the conversion rates. Retargeting has evolved as a great strategy to widen the marketing funnel. It helps to engage even the visitors who did not convert into leads in their first visits.
- Host a Webinar: Webinars are a great tool to engage your customers. People love the idea of getting information on a particular field from experts in live video format. It’s also a medium to get feedback from your customers, understand their needs, and address their concerns.Should you only conduct webinars to educate people about your products or services? Absolutely not. You should conduct webinars to educate prospective customers about the industry you are working in, and what are the best practices related to that. It’s just like creating content for your website. Should you be only writing about your products? No. You write on diverse topics related to your industry. You can follow the same strategy for choosing the subject of your webinars.
- Exclusive access to new content: The people who have trusted you with their contacts (email ids, phone no. etc) should get exclusive content. There are two reasons for this, first, they are more likely to buy as they are ahead in the conversion cycle, second, it gives a reason for other users to sign up, and exclusive content makes the registered users feel like they are special, and hence strengthens your relationship with them.
- Celebrate Milestones: Whenever you achieve new milestones like 10,000 registered users, 1000 customers or 15000 Facebook Fans, celebrate it with your customers. It makes them feel as if they were a part of your journey. It takes your relationship with the customer to a whole new level.
- Solicit Feedback: Did you just introduce a new product feature or worked on a new whitepaper? Take initial feedback from focus groups in your registered users list or from existing customers. Listen to what they have to say. May be you missed an important update that you should have included in the product. May be your whitepaper has a lot of content but it is not interesting to read. This helps to build the initial buzz while removing any risks.
Convert engaged prospects into paying customers
If you have worked hard on engaging your prospects, converting them into paying customers would not be difficult. As you have already built a relationship with the prospect, you are in her consideration set. If she is using your trial product or constantly engaging with your updates, that means she is following you up closely.
She may not be buying your product because of any of these two reasons:
- Your free products are sufficient for her current needs.
- The price is higher than her willingness to pay.
Here are a few strategies that you can employ to convert your engaged prospects to paying customers:
- Focus on the most engaged prospects: The prospects who visit your website the most, click on most of your newsletters and engage with your social posts, are the ones that have a high probability to convert. Try to send them special deals, offer them an easy upgrade to one of your paid services. Show them the value they would get with an upgrade. Call them personally and figure out if they have any concerns regarding payments.
- Behavioral targeting and Marketing automation: When a prospect browses through your website, she leaves manycluesbehindherregarding her needs. Does she visit a particular product page again and again? Is her free trial ending in next 3 days? Did she just open one of your promotional emails, but did not take any action? Now, you can send customized offers especially to her, using behavioral targeting andgoalsettinginMailchimp. There are several marketing automation tools available in the market which triggers emails and notifications based on such events.For example, let’s assume you have an e-commerce site and you are seeing a high shopping cart abandonment rate on the payment page. In this case, you may like to setupanautorespondertofollow up with the user whether she was looking for a particular payment method that is not present on your website.
- Exclusive Discounts: Offer exclusive discounts to your most loyal customers. If a customer has been using your Gold plan for quite some time, you might consider to offer her a discount to upgrade to the platinum plan. You may also offer “limited period access to premium features”. LinkedIn offers 1 month free access to premium membership to some of its users time to time. Think it over. May be you can come up with an innovative offer which your users can’t refuse.
- Sales Calls: Wait a second! Don’t we all hate cold calls? Yes, but not if it comes from somebody familiar. If you have already engaged a prospect, you can call and ask her whether she would like to buy one of your products. It would be best if you schedule the time of call by contacting the prospect through email. Nobody likes to get disturbed, but they can certainly talk, if you ask them nicely.
Marketing funnel strategy could be a great source of customers for your company. Tell us how you have implemented the funnel strategy in your business.