What is the key to revenue growth in 2021? An optimized marketing funnel.
The best way to “line ’em up” for sales to knock out of the park, is to build a high-converting, optimized marketing funnel that nurtures prospects into qualified leads that are ready and waiting to be sold to.
But in order for us to build this marketing funnel, we really need to understand what it is, how it works, and what must be done to make sure it is ultimately successful at its intended purpose: converting someone who doesn’t know your business, into someone who knows, trusts, and is a paying patron of your business.
In this ultimate guide, we’re doing just that. Read on to learn more about the basics of marketing funnels and how to implement your own kick-butt version for your business.
What is a Marketing Funnel?
A marketing funnel is a visual representation marketers use to break down the customer journey from the point where they initially learn of your business (we call this the awareness stage) to the point where they end up a paying customer (we call this the purchase stage. In between is the consideration stage, where they are weighing your company along with other potential purchases.
Imagine the shape as a tornado: at the top, the opening is more expansive, representing the majority of captured attention, and it trickles down as prospects leave the funnel. The narrow bottom portion is those prospects most likely to purchase.
Slowly nurturing prospective customers through the marketing funnel with targeted marketing campaigns and marketing tactics helps to educate, build brand awareness and authority, and it also weeds out the prospects that are not a good fit for your product or service. narrowing down these candidates in each funnel stage through marketing campaigns and marketing tactics.
Below is an example of a marketing funnel. While a lot of funnel representations don’t include post-purchase, they should. We call this the retention stage where we consistently follow-up with the customer to ensure they’re still happy and see where we can improve the relationship, cross-sell or upsell.
Why are marketing funnels important to a business?
Lead generation is only good if the leads coming in are qualified to buy. For example, let’s say your company sells a $25,000 per month enterprise SaaS tool, and your marketing team hands you a lead that is a small business owner with 5 employees and annual revenue of $100,000. I’d say that the marketing funnel needs some work because it’s not bringing in qualified leads.
A good marketing funnel acts as the gatekeeper for your sales team so they can put all their energy into winning the deals that are most likely to close instead of wasting their time on unqualified leads or qualified leads that are not ready to buy.
Furthermore, any digital marketing efforts should be tied directly to a winning marketing funnel. You should never produce something just because. Every piece of content and every effort your marketing team executes should all link back up to a master plan- a roadmap that guides the right prospects through the buyer’s journey and culminates in a conversion.
The Benefits of Optimized Marketing Funnels
Helps Guide Business Strategy
Your entire marketing strategy should revolve around the marketing funnel and optimizing every step a customer takes to ensure they end up at the right place at the end. The sale is the ‘X’ that marks the spot! for your business.
Furthermore, as you go, assuming you’re measuring your marketing metrics and reviewing them routinely, you’ll be able to improve the funnel by adjusting tactics on aspects that aren’t working and fix any weaknesses you find. This will ultimately go a long way toward proving ROI for marketing efforts, and we all know it’s critical that marketing drive revenue.
Since the focus of a marketing funnel is to educate and weed out the misfits, you can be confident that only the most promising leads will reach the end of the funnel. This ensures that your sales reps aren’t ‘throwing spaghetti at the wall’ and can be laser-focused on highly qualified, paying customers.
Guides the Customer Journey
Since a marketing funnel is comprised of different stages, you can hone in on each phase and improve it over time so that it can better guide the customer through the journey and increase the likelihood of conversion. Analyzing customer needs and behaviors at each stage of the funnel will help you to enhance the customer journey and improve your marketing efforts.
What are the 3 Stages of the Marketing Funnel?
Top of the Funnel (TOF) – Awareness Stage
This part of the marketing stage is where your target audience will interact with your business for the first time and start gaining awareness of your offering. This typically starts because they have a problem to solve and come into contact with your business while researching solutions.
New customers might not know a lot about your product or service yet, so introductory content that educates them about their problem and subtly points to your solution as the answer will help to build brand awareness that eventually ends in a sale. Popular TOF marketing channels include podcasts, infographics, and social media like LinkedIn.
Middle of Funnel (MOF) – Consideration Stage
The next stage is the middle of the funnel. At this stage, target customers have begun to engage with your content and are officially considering your business as their potential choice to solve their problem.
At this point, potential customers may follow you on social media, subscribe to an email list, or register to attend a webinar. They may be looking for pricing or details about your offering to help them determine if it’s truly the right offering.
Bottom of Funnel (BOF) – Decision Stage
The bottom of the funnel is the last place prospective customers go before they convert. You’ve gotten their attention, built trust, and fostered a relationship with them. At this point, they are ready to make a decision.
At this point, it’s critical that sales have a good understanding of the customer’s needs, answers to their objections, and are ready to help them over the finish line.
If the conversion rate is poor at this stage, it may be an indication that either SDRs are not prepared properly to convert customers, or the funnel needs optimization to improve the quality of leads that end up at the bottom of the funnel. Ultimately, the quality of your funnel will not only impact your conversions, but will also impact your long-term customer retention rate.
What kinds of content are best for each stage of the marketing funnel?
TOF Awareness Content
This stage is all about information gathering and awareness. However you can communicate your brand to prospective audiences, this is the stage to do so. Examples include:
- SEO blog posts and step-by-step guides
- Product landing pages
- Social media posts
MOF Evaluation Content
At this point, the customer has become intrigued and is ready to go deeper on introductory topics. Resources include:
- Testimonials or Social Proof
- Templates or Checklists
- Email marketing campaigns
BOF Purchase Content
At this point, your customer is ready to either pull the trigger on a purchase of move along. They will have long since become a subscriber and a website visitor and will now need the final push to help them make their decision. Content that can help them do this include:
- Case studies
- Data Sheets
Marketing Funnel Optimization Checklist
Think of the buyer’s journey through the funnel-like a treasure map: there has to be an indication of where to go next, or your lead will get lost or bounce off the page.
- All types of content should be SEO optimized to bring people in and widen your prospective target audience.
- Every piece of content should have a clear CTA: something to read, a landing page, or a form to fill out.
- Every piece of content marketing should be optimized for mobile.
- Have a landing page ready to convert your readers.
- Make sure all your links and forms work! You’d be surprised how often this is the issue.
- Make sure your site is optimized from a technical SEO perspective (i.e. page load speeds, functional links and URLs, search functionality, etc).
- Know which metrics to track. If you don’t measure, how can you improve?
Next Steps for Creating Your Marketing Funnel
The importance of effective digital marketing can not be understated. It’s essential to have a solid web presence and an effective marketing funnel that helps generate demand, build awareness, and ultimately increase conversions and revenue.
Interrupt Media is a full-stack B2B marketing agency. We help our clients build effective marketing funnels, track funnel performance, optimize content, increase efficiency through marketing automation, and solve customer pain points through sales enablement.
If you need help building a successful marketing program, let’s schedule a time to chat about how Interrupt Media can support your unique business goals.