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The Marketing Funnel Explained for Business Growth

Dave Orecchio
by Dave Orecchio on Jan 16, 2020 8:45:00 AM

Growth is certainly important for long-term business survival. This is why so many businesses spend a considerable amount of time strengthening their marketing efforts. However, many business owners struggle with producing high-growth results. This not only leaves business owners feeling discouraged but businesses often take a hit financially as a result.

One factor that contributes to businesses missing the mark on their goals is that they lack an effective digital marketing funnel. Consumer behavior has changed over time. Today, 96% of Americans use the internet to research solutions and make their purchasing decisions.That's why it is so important to visualize and implement a marketing funnel online, using your website as the vehicle for it.

This means that businesses that don't have a solid digital marketing funnel in place will miss out on a significant opportunity to gain new leads for their business. An active online marketing funnel is essentially the key to turning prospects into buyers, thus leading to sustainable business growth. 

What Does a Marketing Funnel Mean?

digital marketing funnelA marketing funnel serves many functions. One of the first things that a marketing funnel does for businesses is to help increase visibility and gain a competitive advantage by bringing awareness. This funnel allows business owners to know what they need to do to influence customers at different stages of the funnel, as well as, highlights the customer's relationship with the business. Ultimately, a marketing funnel serves to move prospects away from the awareness stage and into the buyer stage.

Here are 3 stages of the "buyer's journey" that your prospect will go through as they research their needs and look for solutions. 

  1. Awareness: This is the stage where your prospect understands that they have a problem and there are solutions to help eradicate this. For instance, the prospect knows that they need new shoes to prepare for the new season. They also know that there are businesses that can provide them with the shoes they need.
  2. Consideration:  This is the stage where the prospect shows interest in a particular product or service. Using the same example, the prospect will then begin to research and compile a list of businesses that offer the kind of shoes they are looking for. They may be aware of your business but they are considering all of their options first because they aren't yet convinced that you are their top choice. This is the perfect opportunity for businesses to focus on sealing the deal. 
  3. Decision: Prospects in this stage have compiled a list of businesses that can meet their needs and are now focused on scaling down their list to make a final decision and reach out to those prospective companies for a discussion.

How a Marketing Funnel Works

Simply put, a marketing funnel is where everyone begins. How these individuals move down the funnel depends on their interests in what content you have to offer to satisfy their thirst for more information.

digital marketing funnel graphic

At the top of the funnel is typically where businesses capture a more diverse audience. Businesses that are interested in diversifying are generally those aiming to increase their brand's visibility.

From a online funnel point of view, the type of content you publish at the top of the funnel will dictate who you are focusing on selling to and which problems and solutions might resonate with them.

As you nurture prospects down the funnel, you are narrowing it to those people that are the ideal prospect. This leaves you with only the most interested individuals who you can easily convert to customers. With an effective marketing funnel, you will be able to narrow your funnel as prospects move down their buyer's journey. The leads that come out of the marketing funnel are therefore more qualified leading to higher sales efficiency and a greater ROI from your marketing investment.

Targeting and narrowing prospects is accomplished through a targeted content strategy. With a content and marketing automation, businesses can nurture their prospects down the digital marketing funnel until they are ready to engage with your sales team.

Those prospects at the decision stage of the buyer's journey are the ones where there need is now. This ensures your sales team is communicating with educated prospects who are mostly past the research phase and have an immediate need. 

With that said, there are a few steps needed to create a successful marketing funnel.

What Does a Marketing Funnel Entail?

1) Raise Awareness - The first thing that businesses need to do is raise awareness of their products and services. Businesses can raise awareness by publishing relevant content consistently and then optimizing it for search. If your target audience doesn't know about you or find you online, there is no way to move them through your funnel. 

2) Conversion optimization - Optimization is key for your content because you want people to be able to find your business. Optimizing content means paying attention to things such as keywords, developing content for each stage of the buyer's journey and email nurturing to the next marketing funnel stage. Businesses should focus on 1-2 long-tail keywords that match the intended audience and ensuring to include 1-2 keywords in specific parts of the post. Additionally, be sure that the conversion offer is contextually aligned with the article it is placed within. For leads that convert on your offer, email nurturing is quite effective to draw them to the next funnel stage.  

3) Mobile optimization - Additionally, businesses should focus on things like ensuring content is mobile-friendly and optimize content meta descriptions because most content is read on mobile devices and the meta description is the text that appears in search right under the title of the page so you want that text to draw the reader in. 

4) Differentiated solution - The next thing that businesses need to do is describe their products or services in a differentiated way. Additionally, businesses should find ways to assert that they can solve the problems that their content describes. Consider that website visitors have many options, so if you describe your approach to addressing their needs generically, they won't be as motivated to engage with your business. Being specific, targeted and differentiated is the best approach for success. 

5) Build Trust - If you can't show your prospect why they should be interested in your product or service, they have no reason to research your solution further. It's not enough to show prospects that you have a viable solution but you have to convince them that you are the top choice over competitors. Consider including content that provides peer reviews of your solution and client testimonials to build trust and amplify your points of differentiation. 

6) Nurture to a close - The last stage of your marketing funnel involves giving prospects the final nudge into the sales process. Provide them a final compelling reason to engage with your sales team. This is done by creating offers that have a high perceived value so the prospect completes your website form to request a call or schedule a meeting. Remember, your competitors are working overtime to take every sales opportunity from you. This increases the importance of nurturing your prospects by talking to them with specifics and addressing their pain points. Email and other educational offers is a good way to deliver value and nurture to a live conversation with sales.

As prospects move down your marketing funnel, you will begin to weed out your audience and generate qualified leads that you can then move into your sales funnel.

The Importance of a Marketing Funnel

The way in which consumer behaviors are changing in terms of their purchasing decisions makes it nearly impossible for businesses to experience growth without a marketing funnel online. Business leaders and consumers are on the web every day looking for solutions to their problems, and your digital funnel is the key to placing your business right in front of them.

An effective marketing funnel cultivates trust between the customer and business. It is very unlikely that a prospect will be motivated to buy from you after seeing your business for the first time. There is no trust and you haven't given them a reason to want or feel like they need your product or service.

You have to convince customers that they are making a good investment when choosing your business. This can ultimately be done through an inbound marketing funnel. With that said, it is through this marketing funnel that prospects will get to know your business.

As you move customers from the awareness stage all the way to the buying stage, you should be able to cultivate repeat buyers and evangelists.

How Does a Marketing Funnel Connect with a Sales funnel?

how a marketing funnel connects to a sales funnelMany businesses get confused about the difference between marketing and sales funnel. These two funnels are alike in a lot of ways. However, a marketing funnel increases your business's visibility by introducing it to a diverse audience. In the end, the marketing funnel works to identify those who are interested in your product or service. Once this has been initiated, the sales funnel process can begin.

Essentially, the bottom of the marketing funnel marks the beginning of the sales funnel. Without nurturing prospects, it will be significantly difficult to convince prospects to engage with your sales team. You want to garner qualified leads because, without this, a lot of your sales time and money will be wasted. 

Marketing and sales funnels work hand in hand to seamlessly drive prospects from the awareness stage to turning them into loyal customers. 

How a Marketing Funnel Help Businesses Grow 

Any business that is looking for high growth needs to implement an effective marketing funnel. Every business wants more sales, and an digital marketing funnel will help you reach that goal a lot faster.

how a marketing funnel helps companies grow

For one, a marketing funnel will increase sales through personalized nurturing of leads. Offering content and messaging that is tailored to your audience's interests and actions make it easier to move them along your funnel. This personalization gives you an opportunity to learn more about your audience and ensures that your products or services are suitable for them, as well as, addressing any pain points they may have.

Another benefit of a digital marketing funnel is that businesses can gain more insights into their target audience's behavior, making it easier to close deals. However, in order for that to happen, the company must have the right analytics and automation tools in place to gain that visibility. The more you know about your customers' interests, where they spend their time, and what type of buyer they are, you will see an increase in how many prospects you can convert into customers. 

With that said, marketing funnels don't just work to nurture people through the sales process but it also brings awareness to your brand, which is extremely important to develop and maintain a competitive advantage. The internet is home to so many businesses trying to connect with customers. For this reason, businesses need to focus on increasing their visibility and cultivating trust among their audience. This helps create brand value that not only leads to a sustainable business but much higher business growth. 

Growing your business doesn't have to be a difficult process. Mastering your marketing funnel to attract and understand your prospects better will result in more leads that you can seamlessly convert to customers.

If you need help improving your marketing funnel or want to know more about how we can help you reach your goals and objectives, please contact us today. If you would like to learn more about digital funnels, please check out our page that answers the question; What is an inbound marketing sales funnel? It is also a downloadable eBook for reading offline. 

what is an inbound marketing sales funnel

Tags: B2B Marketing B2B Agency Buyers Journey Marketing Automation B2C Marketing Hubspot Agency

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Dave Orecchio
Written by Dave Orecchio
Dave Orecchio is one of the earliest adopters of Inbound Marketing. As one of Hubspot’s first customers and CEO of a Boston-based startup, he experienced the benefits of this effective digital marketing methodology. Dave now provides Inbound (marketing & Sales) services to businesses to help them grow and realize the positive results that an integrated program can provide. Dave is a high-tech marketing and sales expert with more than 25 years of business experience.
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