Your sales funnel through an inbound marketing lens [infographic]
Implementing an inbound marketing strategy means seeing your sales funnel in an entirely new light. This infographic from Verge Pipe Media illustrates what an inbound marketing sales funnel looks like – and which marketing activities drive each stage.
First things first: generate web traffic.
The very top of your inbound marketing sales funnel is filled with anonymous web visitors. Inbound marketing strategies generate web traffic through the strategic creation and distribution of digital content. This is why a good content marketing strategy is one of the most important parts of any inbound marketing strategy.
Part of using content to generate web traffic is ensuring that every single piece of digital content – whether a blog post or static web page – is optimised for search. Importantly, this doesn’t mean falling back on traditional search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics. SEO has earned itself an awful reputation because many SEO practitioners utilise sneaky, underhanded tactics in the quest for organic rankings. Google has become wise to these shady tactics, however.
A good inbound marketing strategy optimises digital content for search by including carefully selected keywords sparingly. Repeatedly stuffing the same keyword into a piece of content won’t help you in the long run; Google has created algorithms that actively look for and penalise unnatural-sounding content.
While Google hates underhanded SEO tactics, it loves frequently updated, current websites. This is why blogging is so important for keeping the top of your sales funnel full. The more often you blog, the more often Google revisits your site. If you’re constantly publishing new, well crafted, strategic blog posts, Google will reward you with high organic rankings. Organic rankings make you really easy to find when potential customers are looking for you.
The second stage of the sales funnel converts anonymous web visitors into known leads.
An inbound marketing strategy doesn’t only use content to generate web traffic; it also uses it to convert that traffic into known leads. The way inbound marketing gets web visitors to happily hand over their contact details is by offering them free premium content in exchange. We’re talking about things like eBooks, guides and webinars; beefy, high quality content that adds real value to the consumer’s life.
To coax as many leads as possible down the sales funnel, you need to ensure that every single piece of content you create is accompanied by a relevant call to action. These calls to action should prompt anonymous visitors to convert into leads by (for example) downloading a conversion asset. You should also have calls to action that prompt known leads to convert into customers.
Lead nurturing programmes guide leads down the final stages of the sales funnel.
In the third phase of the sales funnel, leads are entered into tailored lead nurturing programmes. Lead nurturing programmes are designed to guide leads through the various stages of the buyer journey by means of a predetermined series of email communications. Designing a good lead nurturing thread requires a thorough understanding of the decision making process leads are likely to go through before purchasing your product. By pre-empting the questions leads are likely to ask, a lead nurturing programme is able to provide the right information and content at the right time.
Marketing automation software is the key to pulling off successful lead nurturing programmes, as it allows you to track each lead’s reaction to your emails and content. For instance, by monitoring a lead’s online behaviour, you’d be able to tell if they’re interested in a different product and need to be switched to a different lead nurturing programme. Importantly, marketing automation software allows you to spot which leads are red hot and ready to buy.
Finally, always analyse your marketing and sales data.
Once a lead has exited the bottom of the sales funnel as a customer, it’s important to analyse the process from start to finish. Tracking the marketing and sales process from inception to completion with marketing automation software allows you to collect invaluable data regarding sources of traffic, conversion rates, lead nurturing programme performance and much more. Armed with this kind of data, you’re able to constantly adjust and improve your inbound marketing strategy.
Inbound Marketing Funnel infographic
Author: Graeme Wilson
Image credit: Sequel Group
Image credit [infographic]: Verge Pipe Media