Every business needs to grow sales. One way that can happen is to increase the number of customers for your product or service. And that’s where the marketing or sales funnel comes in.

You’ll need to implement a marketing strategy that takes prospects through a process that ultimately leads to them buying what you’re selling. It starts with creating brand awareness within your target audience.

First, you’ve got to get a potential customer’s attention. Then, from the interest stage, lead them step-by-step through the sales funnel stages towards becoming regular customers.

Let’s take a look at the inbound marketing funnel in more detail.

Table of contents

What is a Marketing Funnel or Sales Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a set of actions you want your prospects to take before they become customers. Marketers refer to this process as the customer journey.

It’s called a funnel because not everyone who begins the process will end up as customer. Many will drop out during each stage of the funnel.

marketing funnelThe number of potential customers will thin out because only interested prospects will go through the different steps before purchasing.

As you can see, one way to increase sales is to expand the top of the funnel. The more prospects you lead through the process, the better.

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Why is a Marketing Funnel Important?

In a perfect world, you would put up your product or service for sale, and potential customers who come across your brand, will research it and make a purchase.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens, which is the reason businesses invest heavily in marketing and sales.

The reality is that people don’t buy a product or service the first time they come across it. The only exception is when they already know and trust your brand and you have managed to build that customer loyalty and retention.

Marketers understand that people need to go through a process from the time they learn about your company to the point they buy and become customers.

You need to interact with your future customers to build credibility and gain their trust during the consideration stage.

That’s why it’s essential to have a marketing funnel.

Case studies show that companies that use a marketing funnel see a higher conversion rate.

The Five Marketing Funnel Stages and the Inbound Effect

From the top of the funnel to the end, the four stages you’ll take your prospects through are:

  • awareness (inbound marketing funnel);
  • engagement;
  • conversion;
  • loyalty; and
  • advocacy

You should apply growth marketing to these areas to identify and improve the results of your efforts.  If you need extra help during this process, look into hiring a qualified growth marketing agency in the United States, or in your area for some guidance.

Awareness

The starting point in the inbound marketing funnel is where your audience discovers your business. In a typical marketing funnel, the amount of effort placed on awareness would be the same as any other level of the funnel.  However, with the inbound marketing funnel, awareness becomes your main focus.

The inbound marketing funnel allows businesses to appear to potential customers at the ideal time and place.

Instead of being a random advertisement to someone outside of your target market, the inbound marketing funnel strategy helps businesses to stop wasting time and only target potential investors.awareness

There are many methods of gaining visibility in the market.

Ads

Advertising is an obvious way to get attention, but it’s expensive. Marketers now realise that paid Google ads are no longer as effective as before because of the changing trend.

More and more businesses are looking to social media marketing tools on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

SEO

Most marketers use search engine optimisation (SEO), which is getting organic leads through search traffic. Whenever people Google a product or service, you’ll want your website to appear in the top results.

SEO is free and can be useful in lead generation, but it takes a lot of effort to rank high on SERP because Google’s algorithms are continually evolving. If you don’t achieve visibility on the first page, it’s unlikely anyone will find your company.

Social Media

Studies show that the average person spends more than two hours a day on social media. This statistic is why most marketing and sales teams are focusing more attention on this new marketing channel.

social mediaInstagram and Facebook are excellent platforms to connect with people and drive traffic to your website.

Be sure to post daily. Work with a calendar so you can schedule your posts in advance.

You can also always reach out to a social media agency to help you with your strategy.

Influencer Marketing

Partner with influencers to reach their loyal followers. These individuals are trustworthy sources, and they know how to curate content that’ll get your message across more effectively than if you do it yourself.

Guest Blog

While businesses need to have a blog and build followers, you should take it a step further and write a blog post for every site that accepts your proposal.

It’s a win-win situation as you’ll gain access to a new audience, and your host will get fresh user-generated content.

Give Away Something for Free

freeEveryone loves a freebie. It could be in the form of a free trial to your subscription program or a complimentary product sample. What better way to get people to know your company than to let them try out your offering without obligation?

Partnerships

Partnering with another brand helps both businesses reach new customers. The idea is that people who trust a company will likely be willing to get to know the other one because of its association.

Use Multimedia

Research shows that the number of people who prefer watching videos on their smartphones instead of reading text is growing. You should have a process that allows you to repurpose content that you can use across different platforms.

If you need assistance with this strategy you can always reach out to one of our media planning agencies.

Engagement

Now that you’ve attracted a following that knows your company, it’s time to interact with them. This trust-building stage is where you’ll need to provide value to your potential customers so that they’ll move further down the marketing funnel.

Use content marketing to position your business as knowledgeable and trustworthy, and show consumers the value of your product.

One way to interact with your potential customers is to encourage them to follow you on Instagram or Facebook so that you can share information regularly. User-generated content is perfect for engaging your followers.

It’s best to encourage them to post comments so you can respond and build your credibility.

Reach out to happy clients to share their experiences and testimonies. You can also post videos of clients using your product or service.

People are more likely to believe what someone like them says about your company than a corporate ad. Also, seeing another customer using your product or service helps them see themselves in that position and influences them to buy.

Create a landing page before users get to your website to try to get everyone on your mailing list.

Email marketing is an effective way to communicate with people. You can automate your messages to share information and engage with your subscribers regularly.

The key to successful content creation is to know your market to deliver information in a manner that appeals to them on both a logical and emotional level. The idea is to provide value to your target consumer, so you’ve got to maintain a balance between beneficial information and promotional messages.

Conversion

In a marketing funnel, the conversion stage is critical in the buying process because consumers make their first purchase and become customers.

Now that you’ve created an awareness of your business and your product’s value, it’s time for them to make a purchsing decision.

Now is the part where you take your marketing message up a notch and tell your followers why they should buy your merchandise and not from a competitor. Ensure that you focus on the benefits and not the features.

Here are some methods you can use to get consumers to buy:

  • Offer a free trial to let them try your product without risk;
  • Host a webinar to demonstrate your product and explain the benefits;
  • Include a series of emails in your automated system that focuses on a different product advantage every time;
  • At the end of the series, offer your subscribers a discount or introductory offer.

However, this is not the final stage of the marketing funnel. A successful marketing strategy doesn’t end here.

You’ll want to encourage your customer to make repeat purchases and become loyal clients because it costs less to retain a customer than to gain a new one.

Loyalty

Customer retention is vital to a business because an existing client’s ROI is much higher than for a new customer. People who are happy with their purchase are very likely to buy again.

At this stage of the marketing funnel, you need to have a system to develop loyal customers, or they’ll forget about your product, and you’ll lose sales. What’s more, all the costs and effort in the earlier funnel stages would go to waste.

You can create loyalty by educating your customer about the product they’ve bought. Teach them more tips on how to use the item productively and introduce complementary products. You can offer first-time buyers a special discount on their next purchase.

Send your purchasers a poll asking them how they feel about the product they bought and what other items interest them. Make sure you let them know that their feedback is essential.loyalty; inbound marketing funnel

You can also invite them to join an elite club where they’ll enjoy exclusive discounts not available to others.

Advocacy

If you’ve implemented the earlier steps in the marketing funnel effectively, you’ll end up with fans. People who love your product will be happy to talk about it, which makes them valuable assets.

Word-of-mouth marketing (or buzz marketing) is the best and cheapest form of advertising. Referral marketing is effective marketing because people trust a friend who recommends a product more than a corporate promotional message.

How do you turn customers into fans?

  • Reach out to selected consumers to refer you to their friends. People love to help out, so if you ask, most will be happy to do so.
  • Inform them about your affiliate or loyalty program, which rewards people for their referrals.
  • Ask satisfied buyers for a testimonial of your product and reward them. The more you show people that you value their opinion, the more willing they’ll be to share their reviews with their circle.

The Bottom Line About Marketing Funnels

A successful marketing funnel should essentially introduce your brand to your target market and ultimately convert interested consumers into lifetime clients.

However, no funnel is perfect at the start, so you’ll have to track each phase’s success and make the necessary modifications as you go along. Learn from your experience and the input you get from your followers.