Have you done everything necessary to improve your lead conversion rate, but didn’t get the results you desired?
You’ve probably followed some kind of strategy, but might be missing a few steps.
If this is you, stick around – we’re about to walk you through a few simple steps, explaining – What a lead funnel is, why it’s important, and key tips on how to maximize it.
What is a Lead Funnel?
A lead funnel is the pathway and series of steps that a lead has to cross before purchasing something.
These steps start from when the client is just an ordinary lead, to becoming an interesting prospect, to a hot converting opportunity, to finally converting them into customers.
It is best comprehended as a marketing structure that is split into the various stages that make up the funnel.
Constructing a lead funnel is absolutely essential for any business aiming to smash its ROI targets.
As leads progress through your funnel, your outreach methods will get more and more personalized (sometimes involving a product demo or a phone call) until the transaction takes place.
Here are two example funnels – one that is effective and one that is not effective.
Example 1: A Not-so-Effective Marketing Funnel
Harvey Tait owns a software company with sales teams consisting of ten people and one product.
He’s not a very savvy marketer. He often hands his team lists of leads that he purchased online, and has them “dial for money.”
His team frequently gets frustrated at the quality of leads they receive. This is because they’re usually calling on people who:
A) aren’t interested in his services and/or,
B) are not a good fit for them,
the company closes less than 1% of the prospects they initially reach out to.
Example 2: An Effective Marketing Funnel
Mary Madison has a similar-sized company, but instead of taking Harvey’s traditional outbound marketing approach, she’s created a marketing funnel that helps her team of three generate more conversions with less effort.
Mary started by building a series of attention-grabbing content marketing pieces that are tied to landing pages on her website.
Potential customers can engage with her content (blog posts, infographics, videos) and learn about her company and its services, without cold sales calls.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages.
These requests are forwarded to her team, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo.
These are obviously simplified examples, but most companies will fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.
Why is a lead funnel important?
Creating a lead funnel will help you organize your marketing efforts so that lead generation nurturing and sales processes work in balance.
To build an effective lead funnel, you need to deeply analyze your audience, define the best communication channels for each stage, and cut loose any methods that are not working for your brand.
With a well-thought lead generation funnel, you can gather leads and convert them into paying customers with ease.
The 5 stages of the lead generation funnel
There are different kinds of funnel structures, which roughly offer between three to five stages.
Some entrepreneurs focus only on the marketing-to-sales process, whereas others include a phase for post-sale communications. We will go through the five-stage process.
All funnels are wider at the top and then narrow-in, as you near the decision-making phase.
Plan your funnel by reviewing the basic guidelines for the top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU) stages.
During the awareness stage, various people come into contact with your brand.
They may not know anything about your products, services, or company. Visitors may not even realize they have a problem to solve.
It’s your job to help them and start a conversation.
For instance, someone struggling to get a good night’s sleep may search for phrases such as, “Why can’t I fall asleep?,” or, “How can I get better sleep?”
If you are a mattress company, you know that people don’t automatically blame poor sleep on their mattresses (Not yet, anyhow).
Mattress companies prospect for sales using search engine optimized (SEO) blogs and social media campaigns that grab attention and pull people into their funnel.
Video and social media campaigns can also be valuable in raising awareness about your offering.
2. Interest or consideration
Once people are aware of their problem or your brand, it’s time to nurture them.
Turn your visitors into contacts by offering something in return for their email addresses.
A mattress company may offer a sleep quiz when consumers submit their email addresses to get the results.
After that, the brand sends a series of emails with useful tips for better sleep.
People who open the emails may receive a special offer, also called a tripwire, where a company offers the recipient something of value at a low cost.
It’s worth noting that people tend to get stuck in the consideration phase. This is because people tend to find receiving too many emails (before they’re ready to buy) a turnoff. They’ll unsubscribe.
Even if not, still, people are busy, so if you don’t stay at the top of their minds, they’ll move on to something else.
Make decisions about your content and nurturing strategy by looking carefully at each contact’s behavior using a CRM or marketing automation tool.
Doing so helps you decide when their actions meet your definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
Once people are aware of their problem and the possible solutions, they start actively looking for answers.
At this point, they’re reviewing prices, features, and similar solutions side by side.
Use your lead scoring tools to place a value on each type of interaction, helping you reach out at the right time.
The best timing depends on your typical conversion cycle and requires a mix of self-service tools and sales outreach.
During the action stage, your leads (who are now qualified leads) have their credit card in hand.
You’ve moved them into your CRM software, and they are ready to buy (conversions).
Depending on your offering, your sales team may reach out via email or a phone call, or people may simply add items to their online cart.
Remember, your work doesn’t end there. People can still change their minds.
Your lead generation process should lay out specific steps for helping folks through the final stages of the customer journey.
In the case of the mattress business, at this point, the consumer knows they need a mattress to sleep better.
They’re comparing three top brands or companies – all with similar solutions.
Your sales team may reach out and offer to chat online or let them know of any upcoming promotions. Your buyer needs a little push to decide (Nudge).
5. Inspire customers to return
Some companies obviously have a huge marketing budget for their conversion funnels that can turn potential clients into buyers.
If your business is on a tight budget, you can create an effective generation funnel using free digital marketing tools.
Retaining buyers is essential to increasing your returns. Make the buyer feel special and if possible, offer them discounts or rewards for their loyalty.
How to maximize your lead generation funnel
Congratulations, you’ve built your first lead funnel!
But you’re not quite done yet. If you want to score more leads, you need to commit to optimization. Here’s how.
1. Find your lead (loadstone) magnet
A loadstone is a magnetic rock and this is exactly what you need to start lead generation. Something that strongly attracts potential customers.
It needs to be distinct enough to draw attention, intriguing enough to retain interest beyond first impressions and be as solid as a rock.
Don’t take shortcuts with time or funds on your loadstone as it needs to be high quality.
Your loadstone can be a variety of different things so you need to decide what’s most fitting for your product.
It also needs to ensure that it’s simple, as very complicated products tend to be a turn-off to potential clients. Generic information boxes and limited call-to-actions won’t cut it as they’re forgettable. Give something to your potential lead instead. Something free!
For example, you could offer once-off exclusive content or a short yet highly detailed document about your product or service.
You can follow these pieces of writing up with a unique one-time discount. By giving your potential lead something for free your loadstone will drag them down into your sales funnel.
2. Use the right tools
There are plenty of software tools that will generate more leads.
You’ll be able to learn what company they work for, how long they spend on each of your web pages, and get detailed content information for employees at that company.
With this knowledge, you can then adjust your entire strategy appropriately.
If your firm has the budget, look for tools that will help generate quality traffic. Be sure to pair said tools with the five-step process outlined above.
2. Strategize your social media
Your leads are unlikely to succeed if you don’t have a solid social media system to rely on. After you decide what your loadstone product will be, start working on a social media strategy based on it.
This is not only merely simply following a trend, but you’re making an excellent data-driven decision as well.
Leads are generally inexpensive on Facebook and Google. Find out which social networks work best for your product and then move forwards to aligning your sales process with your social media strategy.
You don’t necessarily have to pay for leads or advertisements either. You can run promotions and giveaways for your subscribers that are linked to your loadstone product, or share links to exclusive content to drive up unique hits and viewership on your landing page.
Social media gives you considerable flexibility in generating leads, so exploit it to its full potential.
If you’ve employed a decent social media strategy you should subsequently receive feedback from your prospects.
For every comment, email or submission, etc you receive, you need to direct your potential customer to your product. You achieve this by using a good follow-up system characterized by high-quality writing.
Your main follow-up tool is a humble email and each of your emails must be structured the same way.
First, each email has to offer value to the customer, for example, a financial incentive to buy your product.
Secondly, it must be written in a detailed and authoritative manner.
Finally, always end your emails with a call-to-action, ie, something the user can do like clicking a link or signing up to a webpage as this will push them further towards that desired conversion.
You can adapt this three-tiered structure to any social media content including posts, tweets, and videos.
What matters is that they retain the same structure, tone, and direction throughout.
4. Qualify your leads
Not all leads are created equal. It’s in your best interest to qualify leads and spend your time on the ones that are the most likely to make a purchase.
To qualify a lead, first, look at how they have interacted with your content.
Those that download something that directly relates to your business, i.e. a case study, are probably a higher quality lead than a person who reads your careers page.
You can also qualify leads based on their interactions with your company after they’ve given you their contact info.
Do they regularly open your emails? Are they willing to take surveys? Do they respond to calls?
The answers to these questions will tell you how qualified each lead is.
5. Network and referrals
This is a step often overlooked: cultivating and maintaining a strong network of contacts that can boost your referrals.
You can start in-house by getting your team to actively network, both online and offline, to generate a wider group of supporters. This effectively serves as free marketing for your company.
Why start building a network at this point? Because a strong network of contacts will feed you follow-ups via referrals and positive reviews.
It’s a cyclical process but it’s better to launch the process with follow-ups rather than the other way around.
Don’t be afraid of being upfront about asking for referrals either, you might be surprised by just how much people appreciate being direct.
Again, offer perks as part of the referral process and make them part of your overall system. Both you and your customer stand to benefit.
6. Tracking your traffic
By this point, you will have generated traffic and will be ready to go through the entire process again.
It’s an important system and only has meaning if you can successfully harvest and use the data you collected about your prospects and customers.
This will prepare you for the next cycle.
Sort your incoming traffic by demographic groups including age, location, gender, etc, to get a more detailed view of your clients.
You can use a variety of analytical programs and metrics, the key here is to be as detailed as possible. Once you arrive at your key metric start posting Adwords (you won’t need to spend more than $20-40 per day) and start using search engine optimization to boost traffic and unique visits.
Join this up with your network contacts and consider how you can target prospects with more detailed content.
With each round, you’ll generate improved data and as a result, improve your conversions.
7. Never stop experimenting
Finally, never stop experimenting! There’s always a way to improve, and what worked last year might not work this year.
Your audience is changing and your approach needs to change with them.
So try creating different kinds of material to see what your ideal customers connect with best. Also, adjust your advertising efforts, landing pages, and sales teams’ efforts as needed.
Optimizing your lead generation is well worth the time and effort required to do it well. It allows you to take a long-term view of your business, moving you beyond a linear view of one cycle of success.
Take your time, focus on using data, and always be ready to adapt to changing circumstances.
If you’re still locked down (thanks to the coronavirus), there are many things you can do at this time to improve your business.
Take this time to reflect, acquire knowledge that’ll help you improve how your business operates and how to efficiently do so.
Focusing on maximizing your Lead Funnel will be one of the best strategies for generating more leads and sales in 2021!