A Guide to Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel
With more people browsing the internet for information, solutions, or products that they need, the concept of inbound marketing has been more relevant than ever. Nowadays, people respond poorly to aggressive marketing strategies. They prefer learning more about a product or service first before contacting the seller, which is why it’s better to utilize an effective inbound marketing sales funnel early on.
So what does an inbound marketing sales funnel do for a business? Inbound marketing is a promotional strategy that focuses on attracting customers to trust a brand or buy the product. It uses a sales funnel to figure out the right marketing message that the content should have. The inbound marketing funnel considers that not all people online are searching for the same products or services.
Should You Use Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel for Your Business?
No one likes receiving calls from a telemarketer, seeing pop-up ads, or receiving spam mail from a product they don’t need. People don’t respond to the “outbound” marketing approach as well as they used to, which makes it hard for businesses to gain leads.
Modern consumers prefer reading useful information about a product to help them create smart buying decisions. This is what the inbound approach focuses on – instead of pitching directly to the customer, different strategies attract interested customers to the product that a company sells. Aside from bringing more leads to the brand, inbound marketing also costs around 62% cheaper than outbound marketing.
The sales funnel is one of the most essential components of inbound marketing that business owners should know about. It traces the path that the customer takes when buying the product, allowing business owners to put out the right content at every stage to secure the sale. The sales funnel lets owners generate more leads, secure more sales, and focus on more important aspects of running a business.
Sales Funnel vs. Flywheel
The sales funnel and flywheel are both extremely helpful when it comes to inbound marketing. The main difference between them is that the sales funnel is a linear process, whereas the flywheel is a circular model that also tracks how customers support the growth of a company. The flywheel model was introduced by HubSpot to show the steady growth of the business and customer satisfaction.
Since the sales funnel is focused on attracting more leads that enter the sales process, it sometimes fails to consider the focus of the customer after the purchase is done. The flywheel aims to maintain the focus on the customer throughout the process by relating to and communicating with them at all times.
However, the biggest downside to using the flywheel model compared to the sales funnel is that it tends to oversimplify the process of generating more leads from the list of website visitors. Both models are extremely helpful for inbound marketing, so it’s up to the business’ needs and resources to pick the best model between the two and stick to it.
4 Stages of Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel
The inbound marketing sales funnel serves as the visualization of a strategy that converts potential clients into leads, customers, and promoters. Here are the four stages that make up the sales funnel:
1. Attracting Customers (Top of the Funnel/ToFu)
The very foundation of inbound marketing is attracting interested parties to visit the website and check its contents. Instead of getting in the way of customers annoyingly using pop-up ads or spam mails, the sales funnel provides helpful information for the problems that the potential customer seeks.
Visitors who get into the website enter a learning mode while browsing, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “learners.” They find these contents through search keywords, which is why inbound marketing focuses on creating informative and high-quality content that includes specific keywords. At this stage, the learners aren’t ready to make a purchase yet so it’s important to avoid sounding like a salesman when offering information.
Here are some of the strategies that are used in attracting customers at the top of the funnel:
Blogs and informative articles are a great way to gain direct and social media traffic, just make sure to write relevant content that readers want to know more about. The more blog posts created for the target audience, the more a business becomes a trusted authority in that field. The content should also include keywords to help the page rank high on SEO.
Avoid putting out a couple of dozens of listicles every now and then. Write articles that are both interesting and rich in content to make more readers attracted to the brand and the product. With more relevant content published, the brand receives better promotions on social media platforms. They also become the go-to source of information for related problems or topics.
Another key component of attracting more customers to a site is to have impeccable Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This important component is about making the website highly visible in different search engines, like Google. When the search engine decides that the website is likable, there’s a huge chance that it suggests the site to more consumers.
Link building is an offshoot of SEO, but it’s just as important. While backlinks help improve the website rank, businesses should also utilize link-building strategies to drive direct traffic to their website.
- Social Publishing
Social media platforms have excellent advertising capabilities. Putting an ad on a social media site allows businesses to control who sees the ad and what content are visible to them. It even allows brands to peek at what kind of content a specific group of people “likes.”
The first goal of marketing is to introduce the brand and what it offers to a specific target market. Simple banner ads are relatively cheap, but it’s an excellent way to get the brand name out there. To increase awareness about the business effectively, it’s better to find a social media advertising campaign that leads to plenty of impressions from interested parties.
2. Converting Visitors into Leads (Middle of the Funnel/MoFu)
Driving traffic to the site is a great thing, but the process doesn’t end there. Businesses shouldn’t passively wait for the site visitor to fill out the “Contact Us” form and wait for leads to call them about the product.
Potential customers turn from visitors to leads once the business gets a hold of their contact information and permission to send them messages. Visitors usually grant their contact information when they willingly sign up to get an email course, whitepaper, webinar, or other content.
Here are a few conversion techniques to transform the visitors into leads:
- Landing Pages
Landing pages are made to obtain the visitor’s contact information. The contact details they provide usually depend on the existing relationship with the brand. New and interested visitors willingly provide their names and email addresses for the content they found useful. There are landing page software available online to help businesses come up with one.
- Content Offers
Many websites offer free but gated content to their visitors. This requires them to leave a name and contact details before seeing the entire post. It’s about offering in-depth content that the visitors can’t resist. Once the visitor becomes a lead, it’s easier to encourage them to check out the products or contents through other means.
However, more businesses keep their content ungated and free for everyone to see. This provides a seamless engagement with the customer because some of them immediately close the tab once they see that the content is gated. Offering a pdf file version of the content in exchange for their email address is an alternative way of getting their contact information.
3. Closing Leads (Bottom of the Funnel/BoFu)
Gaining leads is nice, but securing sales is better. When a visitor reaches the bottom stage of the funnel, they’re ready to buy the product. However, some of them are still considering multiple brands to get the product from. Putting out the right offer is extremely effective in persuading them to buy the product from your business.
Many websites already show their BoFu offers like free trials from the first moment that the visitor clicks on their website. While it’s fine to have them on the site, it’s important to remember that most visitors aren’t ready to buy yet. Most of them go through half of the sales funnel first before even considering talking with a salesperson.
Here are a few techniques that businesses utilize to close more leads quickly:
Customer Relationship Management software makes it easy for businesses to manage all relevant customer information data they need to secure sales. It also helps them track which part of the funnel the leads often get stuck in. The CRM software available in the market today is also useful for other business functions, which is why it’s recommended for most businesses.
- Marketing Automation
Marketing automation allows the business to send relevant and personalized offers for each customer based on their profile, needs, and preferences. There are several marketing automation programs available online that have loads of useful functions needed to improve promotions and campaign projects.
- Email Autoresponders
Once the lead trusts the business with their email address and other contact information, it’s time to start sending them automated emails to encourage them to make a purchase. While it’s an easy task, most businesses that aren’t automated yet often forget to follow up their leads through emails.
Having email autoresponders help businesses nurture their leads. The more a lead reads the mail, the more invested they become in the problem and the solution you offer. There are email marketing providers online that make this task a lot easier and more cost-effective than ever. It’s also great to find marketing tools that integrate email autoresponders to the program.
4. Turning Customers into Fans
Converting leads into customers might take a lot of time and effort but turning them into fans of the brand or the product is a lot harder. Fans or brand loyalists tend to recommend a product or service to their friends, family, and even other strangers on the internet. They’re the best endorsers to get because they’re not paid yet they’re a credible source of information for everyone who knows them.
Inbound marketing is useful for gaining and keeping loyal customers. Aside from creating a high-quality product, producing useful content for the customers is one of the easiest ways to keep them loyal. Understand them better by asking them to participate in surveys. Personalizing messages based on their past interactions with the brand also helps woo them to become loyal customers.
Surveys are the direct way to ask what a customer thinks about the brand, their service, or the product. Collecting feedback from the customers also shows the brand’s sincerity about improving their services and offers to other clients.
- Personalized Emails and Landing Pages
Personalized landing pages for each customer show that they’re valued and appreciated by the business. Let them know about the latest offers that they might find interesting. Personalized emails that include details about their past interactions with the business are also helpful in building a good relationship with the customer.
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