What is a “Sale Funnel”?
The sales funnel is a term used to represent the customer’s journey. It is the process a potential customer goes through on their way to a sale.
Just like its name indicates, a sales funnel is the widest at the top and narrowest at its bottom. Each stage of the funnel pushes your most qualified prospects into the next stage and drops those that are not a fit for your offer.
While each organization has its own way of managing the sales process along with the customer touchpoints towards closing. For the purpose of this post, the sales funnel will be structured into three distinct stages. The top, middle, and bottom.
We will be looking at how we apply digital content across all three of these stages and answering these questions along the way. What is your customer thinking during each stage of the sales funnel? How your copy should be structured to meet your customer? How can you nurture your lead through the sales funnel with content marketing?
Top of the Funnel
The first stage of the sales funnel is often known as the “awareness” or “discovery” level. Early in their journey, your potential customers are going through a specific problem and are researching and learning about it. This is where you and your inbound content come in. The potential customer may not be able to accurately name the problem itself but they recognize some symptoms. As they begin to make sense of the problem they are looking for a trusted source of information. Therefore your content should be easy to consume for prospects at the top of your funnel.
While your audience is clearly defined, the copy should be general and should avoid using technical terms. Assume this person knows very little about the topic and the potential solution to their problem. Our main goal during the first stage is just to engage potential customers. We will also start to capture some data and now consider them as leads.
The topic of our targeted content will act as a pull technique. Engaging potential customers who may have an interest in a product or service that you offer. In the following example, we are targeting business owners and leaders.
The advertisements promote a topic. If interested a prospect will then follow a link to a web page or blog post. With this interaction, we collect tracking data through meta tags and UTM paramaters. We also learn something about this person’s interests.
Middle of the funnel
The next stage of the funnel is known as the “interest” stage. At this point, your prospects have already shown interest in your content. This is where you start qualifying your leads. Lead qualification is the process of deciding if a lead fits your customer profile. To effectively qualify and score your leads, you need to create a persona. A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help deliver content that will be both relevant and useful.
In this middle stage, the lead might not be looking for specific companies and products. Instead, they are looking for the types of solutions available to them.
For example, they have yet to decide if they will buy a software solution that they can adopt for in-house support teams or if they want to outsource support altogether.
The content in the middle of the funnel is no longer generic. Also, notice that the call to respond is now offering something more valuable, a potential or partial solution– in this example, an E-book.
By continuing to offer something of value, you can propose trades for more substantial information. Requesting an email address to access a download is an excellent way to gain more data from your lead which you can leverage, further target, and push your prospect through the sales pipeline.
Bottom of the funnel
Finally, the bottom of your funnel is when your leads now know enough about a problem to make a decision on the best type of solution for them. They are ready to select a specific brand and complete the purchase.
At this stage, you want to encapsulate everything into a checklist or a comparison chart, include things like pricing and features. Anything that will help your leaders make a decision that suits their exact needs.
Frequently asked questions pages, videos about features, live demos, and free trials; will all reinforce their confidence in your offer.
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