The internet opened a whole new alternative to traditional marketing. Today businesses must have a digital presence and use digital marketing, which feeds into their digital sales funnel.
The term sales funnel comes from the simple comparison to the kitchen tool. People or leads according to digital marketers, almost always drop off the more they interact with a website or online property. Thus, a more narrow pool of people continues from one stage to another of the marketing and sales process. This resembles a physical funnel that starts wide at the top and narrows toward the bottom.
Digital marketing is good for consumers and marketers. Buyers can research, review, and compare products in the marketplace without leaving the comforts of their homes. Customers no longer depend on the fleeting information provided in TV, radio ads, or billboards. They seek for answers digitally. In fact, the entire first half of the sales funnel up to purchase phase can all happen on the internet with just a click.
Every stage of the digital sales funnel plays a unique role in converting leads into customers. Let’s see how.
These stages have been elaborated from a digital marketing point of view. We’ve also included the sales funnel graphic from our blog last week. (What Is the Classic Sales Funnel?)
The uppermost stage of the funnel draws potential customers through marketing campaigns. There are hundreds of options available to create an awareness of your product online. These options can include social media promotions, AdWords, YouTube marketing, influencer marketing, emails, webinars, and on and on.
Today, the customer journey encompasses many experiences, such as:
Often, marketers try to gloss over this complexity by focusing on a particular channel (e.g. let’s rank better on this keyword in organic search or tweet three more times per day). Sometimes these activities produce isolated results like higher open rates or lower cost per click. But just as frequently, the results are difficult to decode.
The job of online marketers is to:
The very concept of a funnel, however, can be misleading.
The reality is that while visitors go through a certain series of steps to check out on a website, just looking at the website activity misses a much larger and richer picture.
How can you go a step further in creating awareness? If your potential buyer has a problem, make sure you are there to help.
For example, if a person is looking for used car information and you are a used car retailer, write a few blogs about common issues your customers may face.
According to Hubspot, 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson
during the awareness stage of their buying process, when they’re first learning about the product.
Take advantage of buyers at this early stage. It’s much easier to convince them at the beginning of their customer journey than it is to convince them further into the digital sales funnel. Remember, at this stage, you must just help. Do not try to sell.
For potential customers to easily find your help, you need to optimize your digital messages for search engines. Make sure your blogs, webinars, infographics, and ads are SEO friendly. Don’t just use keywords, use long tail keywords.
50% of search queries are four words or longer.
Create unique content. Google loves fresh content. If you would like to learn more about SEO ideas and strategies, check out these helpful articles: 5 Steps for Creating Awesome SEO, 2 Week SEO with Google Analytics Expert, and Top 3 SEO Metrics to Track in 2018.
Once leads are generated, they become interested in your brand when they move into the second stage. They want to learn more about how your company operates and how it relates to them. This only happens if you have provided sufficient and impressive help first, during the awareness stage.
60% buyers want to connnect with sales during the consideration stage after they’ve researched the options and come up with a short list.
Similar to stage one, consideration also takes place over social media platforms through content like blogs, whitepapers, landing pages, and ads. Re-marketing is a subtle version of the traditional bombarding marketing technique. Repeating your ads can push consumers to consider your products.
At this stage, continue to help with valuable information and free services. The first two stages are for generating and nurturing leads. This is super important because,
According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of people considered as “leads” never buy from a company, and it’s often due to lack of education and lead nurture.
So at this stage, educate your leads. Help them become familiar with the benefits of a relationship with your company. Provide options for them to learn more about your products and benefits.
At this stage, prospective customers are thinking about whether or not to buy from you. Hence, marketing and sales need to work in tandem during this phase of the sales funnel.
There is not a single industry or product without competition. With tons of data available within seconds for people to compare their options, customers rarely buy without evaluating the pros and cons of a product, service or brand.
According to Adweek,
81% of shoppers conduct online research before they make a purchase. On average, a consumer will visit 3 stores before making their purchase.
Again, make sure you develop exclusive, genuine content for your products. Present your digital messages in an SEO friendly way. This approach will also make it easier to grab prospective consumers later in the sales process. Now, the potential customer is considering you as a reliable source because you have helped him through his journey and not just harassed him to buy.
Considered as the last stage of a few funnel models, this is where your lead completely transforms into a customer. They make a purchase. Many businesses include other customer actions to be a purchase. For instance, a medical office could count a new patient appointment as a purchase.
Congratulations! Your prospect has made the decision to buy from you.
This is the stage for sales to take care of the purchase transactions.
20% buyers want to talk during the decision stage, once they’re decided which product to buy.
A positive buying experience is great for business. New customers will be satisfied with their decision. Plus, they may refer others who often travel swiftly down the digital sales funnel.
Though an old concept, the sales funnel is still very applicable in today’s digital marketing world. In this era of internet, digital marketers must blend marketing efforts with SEO standards and sales funnel principles for optimum results.
Lead nurturing cannot be ignored. Too much selling too quickly is risky. Educating the buyer and building a sense of trust is standard practice for smart marketers.
Marketers seem to talk a lot about the top half of the funnel. But unfortunately, they can fail at the bottom half of the funnel. The majority of revenue for a business should actually be coming from either referrals or up-selling of your existing clients.
Many marketers tend to focus a bit more on customer acquisition rather than on customer retention. New customers always take longer and are more costly. If you don’t know how much it costs to secure a new customer, you’ll want to read, The Basics of CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost.
The bottom half of the funnel talks about stages vital for customer retention. And we will discuss the bottom half of the digital sales funnel in a blog later this week. Bet you can’t wait.
If you like this blog, chances are you’ll also like the ultimate email marketing ebook. Click here to download.