Funnels are popular in sales and marketing because they help you visualize the process they describe. You’re likely already familiar with the concept of a sales funnel, but what about an inbound marketing funnel?
Developing an effective inbound marketing funnel can help your sales team meet potential customers where they’re at. We have put together some helpful tips and strategies to help you do so.
What Is an Inbound Marketing Funnel?
An inbound marketing funnel is a way of visualizing your inbound marketing process. It might sound complicated, but it’s just a way of picturing a concept.
Inbound marketing involves attracting customers to you rather than seeking them out. Search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation are the primary ways of drawing potential customers in.
The inbound marketing funnel doesn’t impress everyone. HubSpot objected to the fact that customers are an afterthought in it. They created the marketing flywheel to make up for this lapse. It’s a similar principle, but as a visualization, it’s more complex.
The 4 Stages of Inbound Marketing Funnel
There are four stages in the typical inbound marketing funnel. Breaking a complex topic into pieces makes it feel more manageable, so we’re going to cover each of them.
As far as marketing tactics go, inbound marketing is an effective way to attract qualified leads. It might not be easy, but it is doable. The following four steps are the primary goals to keep in mind when running an inbound marketing campaign.
The first part of an inbound marketing funnel is attracting visitors. This is where SEO comes into play.
A well-optimized website will appear higher in Google and other search engines’ rankings. When that happens, searchers are more likely to visit your site.
Think about your own web browsing habits. How often do you find yourself clicking onto the second page of Google? Not often. You’re far more likely to click on one of the top three results.
Creating valuable content is the second part of attracting visitors. No one wants to hear you talk about how great your company is. That’s what advertisements are for, and there’s a reason people are willing to pay to get rid of them.
When you create a practical how-to guide or blog post, you can attract visitors. Inbound content marketing is a must. Do keyword research to see what your ideal customers are looking for.
You want them to trust you and to see you as an authority within your industry. That means offering value, not attempting to sell to them.
If you’re not an inbound marketing specialist, that might feel weird. Traditional sales tell us to sell, sell and sell some more. It’s a hard habit to break.
The second step in an inbound marketing funnel is to convert the visitors into inbound leads. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Many visitors stick around long enough to read a line or two, then leave the page.
You want them to stay a lot longer than that. There are very few messages you can condense into a sentence that will lead to an immediate conversion.
Inbound marketing isn’t nearly as passive as might appear at first.
While educational or exciting content will keep visitors on your page, you need to urge them to do something. You need a call-to-action (CTA).
Rather than trusting that leads will reach out if they want to, drive them to do so. That might mean adding a link and encouragement to get in touch at the bottom of a blog post. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that’s what we do.
You can also encourage visitors to sign up for your mailing list. Once you have someone’s email, you can begin outbound marketing efforts too.
Once you have leads, the next step is to close the deal with them. That might not happen the first time a lead makes contact or even the tenth.
You need it to happen eventually, though. All the leads in the world won’t matter if none of them make a purchase.
To close leads, get specific about what your services can do for them. White papers, product demonstrations, webinars and case studies can all help you here.
You should delight your customers every time they interact with your company. It might be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. This goes back to the Kano model popularized by Six Sigma.
According to the Kano model, there are three categories of customer needs:
- Dissatisfiers, which are the basics of a service. When they’re not met, customers experience dissatisfaction.
- Satisfiers, which are the general expectations that go along with a service. You tell your customers what you’re going to provide, and then you provide it. They go home satisfied.
- Delighters, which are features that exceed a customer’s expectations. You provide an unexpected positive, and you delight your customer.
Consistently delighting your customers can build your reputation. Soon, potential clients will recognize you as a company that goes above and beyond. That’s good news for the number of inbound sales you can expect to make.
Inbound Marketing Funnel
Your potential buyers are all at different stages within the buying process. They have different needs even before they arrive at your website. You need to take that into account both before and after they come into contact with your company.
An inbound marketing funnel lets you separate your visitors into categories, which is helpful. Less helpful is how the industry has chosen to refer to these categories.
Marketing jargon is, on occasion, pretty ridiculous. This is one of those times but sticks with us. The following terms might seem like nonsense, but they’re still important.
Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
Saying “top of the funnel” is a bit of a mouthful, so we usually shorten it to ToFu. Most of the visitors your website receives will fall into the ToFu category. That means they’re still learning about your company. They haven’t decided that you’re offering the solution they need.
Focus on SEO to attract ToFu visitors. When they start researching a problem, you want your website to appear at the top of the results page.
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
We abbreviate the middle of the funnel as MoFu. People who fall into the MoFu category are actively shopping. They’ve decided that a product or service like yours is something that could improve their lives.
They are weighing their options. When you encounter someone in the MoFu category, it’s your job to convince them that you’re the best choice.
These are the people whose contact information you want to collect and add to your email mailing list. That way, you can keep your company’s services fresh in their mind. The next time you send out an email about a sale, they might decide to make a purchase.
Don’t push MoFu visitors. You don’t want to irritate them or drive them away. Instead, be there for them when they need you.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
We shorten the “bottom of the funnel” to BoFu. Few of the visitors your site receives fall into this category. BoFu visitors are those who are ready to make a purchase.
It’s not a done deal yet, though.
If your website is complicated or confusing to navigate, you’re probably going to lose these customers. The digital part of the digital marketing funnel includes making your website easy to use.
If one of your competitors does a better job convincing them of the value of their service, you’ll lose them.
Many BoFu visitors began at the top of the funnel. To lose them after you’ve put in so much work is a waste of your team’s talents.
Tips and Strategies
Inbound marketing companies across the Internet offer tips and strategies for building an effective inbound funnel. If you had the time, you could put together a comprehensive database for you and your team to reference.
We believe in efficiency, though. Your time is valuable, and so is ours. Don’t wade through more information than you’ll ever use. Instead, check out these quick, easy-to-apply tips for better inbound marketing methodology.
For customers at the top of your inbound sales funnel, focus on appearing in their search results. You should also do your best to create blog content and other digital media that they will find useful.
That means emphasizing SEO in your plans and actions. Right now, video SEO is popular.
There’s less competition for space on the first search engine results page when it comes to videos. Customers also like them. A visitor to your website is more likely to watch a video than they are to read something.
We recommend including a transcript for your video content. First, it’s a great way to add more keywords to a page without incurring penalties for keyword stuffing. It also allows potential customers who can’t listen with the volume on for whatever reason to appreciate your content.
Every stage of an inbound marketing funnel is unique. When a customer arrives at the middle of the funnel, or MoFu category, your digital marketing campaign will change.
You will still produce blog content. It’s a staple of inbound content marketing. However, this content should focus on how your product or service can solve a specific problem. That’s what potential customers in the MoFu category are looking for, so that’s what you need to offer.
Case studies are another helpful addition to your inbound marketing plan. They show specific instances in which your product or service can be useful. For someone weighing their options, a compelling case study might be what it takes to persuade them.
Another helpful tool for MoFu marketing is online calculators. While they’re not relevant for every business, they’re a useful way to illustrate value.
Calculators are particularly convenient when you want to show how much money a customer could save over time. They’re also fun to play around with, which will keep visitors on your page longer.
Continuing down to the bottom of the funnel, let’s consider tips and strategies for BoFu marketing. People at this stage already know they want what you’re selling or something similar.
You can overcome that last remaining hesitancy to purchase with a few different tools.
The first is offering a demo of your product or service. Doing so in person adds a personal touch to the activity. However, a webinar lets you demonstrate the product to a much larger audience.
Webinars have the added benefit of occurring remotely. While businesses have begun to reopen, the pandemic is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Some people will still be more comfortable attending a remote display.
You can also offer a sample of your product. People love free samples. They’re the best part of grocery shopping. That delight at getting something for free translates into business, too.
When you offer a free sample, you’re showing your soon-to-be customers the value of your product. You’re also demonstrating that you value their business.
You might not have a physical product to sample. In that case, free trials and consultations operate in the same manner. They’re also useful if you’re selling something as a renewable service rather than a lump-sum purchase.
A 30-day free trial of a software program often turns into a subscription. Once someone adjusts to the convenience your product or service offers, they won’t want to cancel.
That’s a lot to take in. Processes that require visualizations to understand always are. We hope you find these tips and strategies as useful and interesting as we have.
If you’re excited to get started, what are you waiting for? If you could use a little more support while developing your sales strategy, contact us today.
At Selling Revolution, we’re here to help your business thrive. Let us know how we can help you. We look forward to hearing from you!