Your business will remain stagnant if it is unable to consistently convert leads into customers, creating strong conversion funnels will give you the chance to achieve this. All businesses need to consider customer retention and reducing churn, attracting new customers is also essential for stability and revenue growth year on year.
Understanding the user journey within your marketing funnel is the smartest way to grow your business in 2019, as every pound invested can be attributed to an outcome. If you want to use this method more effectively to see an increased ROI then it’s important to separate the different stages of the marketing funnel for your buyer journey. By understanding this you can select the most relevant marketing tool for the job, serving your customers at the same time as meeting your business growth goals consistently.
In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of identifying your strategy at each of the marketing funnel stages.
A healthy marketing funnel
You will hear the phrase funnel over and over again in sales and marketing! At Xune Solutions we operate with a more fluid approach that aims to turn the notion of sales funnels on their head. We believe that digital marketing is not just a means to an end, serving the transactional funnel of years gone by but that a marketing funnel can enhance the relationship between brand and customer so rather than just helping solve a problem once, we can help businesses to position themselves as the ‘go to’ option for a customer over their lifetime.
When we talk about a healthy funnel we encourage businesses to meet visitors where they are in their journey and continue to serve and nurture them; to help them decide to become customers and to continue that relationship after the sale has happened so our brands are front of mind should a customer ever need our help in the future.
Identify your marketing approach
The approach you need to take with your marketing is not simply a straight line from A to B, where A is your plan and B is your success. The rapidly changing nature of marketing and particularly digital marketing means that our marketing efforts should be regularly analysed, reported on and optimised for success and positive return on investment.
It’s not a one size fits all approach, not all companies need to lean heavily into social media if higher gains can be made by having strong content generation. It all depends on your industry vertical, your product (or service) and most importantly, your customer. If your ideal customer is information hungry, if your purchase is a considered one and the sales cycle is months rather than hours, you’ll need to approach your marketing efforts differently. This also means understanding where a customer is on their journey and using different marketing tools to meet them at different stages.
Do market research and create your ideal buyer persona
Although many businesses make the same claim – ‘anyone can buy, enjoy and benefit from this product’ – that sentiment doesn’t work for marketing. If we expect a person to see our product and think ‘I need this’, the description, presentation and information on that product should be written with them in mind. This doesn’t mean businesses have to limit themselves to selling to one kind of person, quite the opposite, we can be more successful selling to audiences if we tailor our marketing to meet them. This gives us infinitely more marketing options as we seek to speak directly to those most likely to buy and be satisfied with our products.
Identifying your ideal buyer persona, takes time research and data (if you have it) – can you spot trends that link your current customers together? How do you create marketing that resonates more strongly with that group? Having a semi-fictional profile to work with allows you to generate a strong brand identity in your market that speaks to your potential customers and increases their trust in your brand because you have taken the time to understand their needs and desires.
Determine the Stages of Your Marketing Funnel
Once you’re clear on your business goals and your buyer persona’s needs, it becomes much more straightforward to jump into the first stage of marketing to increase volume in your funnel.
Remember your ideal buyer persona is at the centre of this planning, so that your marketing approach can meet their needs and encourage them to engage with your brand over your competitors.
The ‘Top’: Awareness stage
Do people even know you exist?
The top of the funnel is about driving awareness of your brand from a business perspective but from a customer perspective it’s about becoming aware of an existing problem and a need to solve it. At this stage, as businesses, we should be considering what kind of questions and challenges our potential customers might be facing and addressing our marketing efforts to deal with answering those.
Your mission at this stage is to help your ideal buyer persona to put a name to their problem, find answers to their questions and build rapport and trust between your visitor and your brand.
Great marketing at this stage could look like any of these options being implemented consistently:
- SEO keywords that are relevant to the awareness stage for the ideal personas journey
- Social media posts that resonate with certain challenges and problems your potential customers are facing (that you solve!)
- Videos – to share information and build credibility
- Give resources, expertise and knowledge without expecting anything in return
Marketing strategies focused on bringing in more quality traffic to your website can take time to filter through so you begin to see those results in your sales and revenue. At this stage the most important thing is understanding what your potential customers are looking for when they go online and then being the company best placed to answer their questions and meet their needs.
A special note for search engine optimisation (SEO) at this stage, often we have spoken with clients who tell us their ‘SEO is sorted’ and when we scratch the surface we find they rank for their own brand name, their specific product and other highly specific keywords. This type of optimisation is fantastic for customers/searchers who already know who you are and what you do. At the top of the funnel, the awareness stage, businesses are required to make considerable effort to create resources that are broader on topic or challenge rather than for people that have already identified their solution.
This is a moment to make a note: marketing strategies that are aimed at the attract stage take longer to see returns and can be harder to justify the resources for when it comes to marketing budget allocation. But make no mistake! Investing here will put you head and shoulders above your competition as well as allowing you to meeting people earlier in their journey and build stronger brand relationships when it comes to purchase time. Companies who get this right see higher order value and stronger lifetime customer value.
The ‘Middle’: Consideration stage
Once you have your customer’s attention and are beginning to build a relationship between them and your brand then your marketing efforts can begin to turn towards consideration. As a customer moves towards a greater understanding of their problem and possible solutions that are right for them. This part of the journey does require your business to have a sound understanding of your customer’s buying cycle, for example, buying a pair of shoes and buying a new car requires different levels of consideration do to the commitment the customer is expected to make.
This is even more essential as the price of goods and services rises. Our clients who operate with subscription models or those who have B2B high value purchases, the buying cycle may continue over months and years. Therefore we recommend they invest heavily at this stage, leaving a customer unsupported for months puts them in the position of going back to Google and find their answers somewhere else.
At the consideration stage your ideal buyer persona may need more help with their research. It may also benefit them to have more resources at their disposal to gain whole team buy-in and keep you front of mind when they are ready to go for the purchase.
Great examples of consideration stage marketing resources are:
- White papers
- Resources that will give them more insight into your brand
- Informative webinars around the latest trends
- Email marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness
The aim is for potential customers to learn more about how you help them solve their problem, increase brand trust and encourage engagement. This is a vital time to understand how these different marketing resources can help your business identify ‘buying signals’. Buying signals are actions that visitors take on our website to suggest they may be looking to take action to solve their problem (make a purchase) rather than just simply researching.
We recommend analysing your current content and web pages to identify where your visitors are spending their time. Create a short list of pages that help customers to move towards the next step of making a decision and then look at these pages to see whether you are giving your customers and opportunity to give you a buying signal. By this, we mean fill out a form, download a resource or otherwise take action on a page to engage with you.
Up until this point in the journey the visitor has been just simply that, by investing structure in to the consideration phase of your marketing strategy you can support those people who are ready to take the next steps and trust you to help them.
The ‘Bottom’: Decision Stage
In traditional sales cycles, this would be the stage that most salespeople care about. As a salesperson, the main priority is getting someone from top to bottom in a short period of time. For some salespeople this might be minutes! However the sales process has now been tipped on its head as buyers take time to consider all the information in front of them. In this digital age, customers are often better informed than salespeople as they have so many resources at their fingertips to make the best purchase decision for them.
Having said all of that, you will still notice some visitors will move through this process quickly, especially if you have invested in getting the previous 2 stages right. When your potential customers are comparing you side by side to your competitors the information needs to be easy to understand and you as a brand need to be clear on what your USPs and benefits are. It’s easy to make your brand the hero of this story and it’s a trap that many brands fall into. In reality it’s the perfect opportunity to put the customer front and centre as the hero of their own journey. If you can do this with you marketing at this stage you will find your conversions are smoother and at a higher rate. The good news here is that by continuing to hold your customers as heroes in the story they will come back to you time and time again.
Marketing messages at the decision stage are focused around reinforcing value, making the prospective customer the hero and continuing to establish a trusting relationship. Some great examples of how you can invest in this stage are:
- Testimonials from past customers
- Benefits and uses to the customer of your product or service
- Case studies of customers/clients that have used your product or service before.
When people are ready to buy, marketing can support them and deliver everything they need to know that buying from you is the right choice. Take a think about all the information your prospective clients want to know before they buy and deliver this information in multiple ways (video, text, infographic) so it’s easy to digest and helps them pick up the phone or click the checkout button when they’re ready.
Measuring success in your marketing funnel
If you aren’t currently able to say whether something in your marketing strategy is bringing you sales and revenue then why are you doing it? Vanity measures are one thing, we all like to see high numbers of visitors, likes, followers and page views but how many of those actually lead to sales? Designing your marketing strategy to support your visitors to understand their problems, how you solve them and why you are the best choice turns visitors into revenue and more importantly, relationships.
If you need help understanding why these metrics are so important or how you could be optimising what you do to increase your sales conversion then please reach out and ask us questions. We can help tailor your strategy for success and we offer training on digital marketing implementation so you can upskill your team to boost your revenue growth goals.