In our last blog post we talk about the marketing funnel and how valuable a process and concept it can be within a business. Now we are going to look at the difference working with the marking funnel can make to designing your website.
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The Marketing Funnel
The marketing funnel effects more that just your website. You digital lead generation and marketing plan has to be more than just a website these days. Putting a website up and hoping that will do enough to generate new leads is a fantasy and pursuing that idea will leave you sad an without any work to do.
The marketing funnel starts outside your website, moves onto it and then back off of it. Your website needs to become the hub in your marketing strategy that changes opinions and provides information over time, rather than going for a one time sale.
People who have never heard of you
The first stage of the funnel is the broadest and widest and as such has the lowest value. Those who have never heard of you at all, or worse have forgotten you exist. Fortunately – this is a relatively easy problem to fix for the small number of people you want to attract – your website now has to become attractive to them. This takes two actions, 1. provide something; some content or otherwise that they would want to read and 2. make it easy for them to find you when they are looking for content. This can take the form of search engine optimisation so they find you while they are looking for the solution to a particular problem, social media sharing hoping that you get their interest in passing, or paid advertising that drive a predictable amount of traffic with an expected conversion rate.
The planning of content that appeals to your market and audience is a strategic matter, the content has to be planned in great detail about its function within your site and your funnel – what do you want the piece of content to achieve and how is it going to do that? Content can of course be reused in different mediums and formats to get the best band for you buck with it.
Helping you site get found has both strategic and execution efforts involved. Your website will need to have been constructed and designed with search engine optimisation in mind and taken all the technical action that is required for it to be successful, from a social media perspective you need to make the sharing aspects of your site as easy as possible using the Open Graph to provide as much information to the social networks as possible and the buttons for triggering the actions as easy to use as you can. the content obviously needs to be top notch as well, by asking people to share your content you are tastily asking for their endorsement and your content becomes a reflection on them to their network.
Strategically – who do you want to attract to the website? and why? Not all traffic is good. If you run an architecture firm and all your traffic comes from architecture blogs that’s probably a bad thing. That is traffic that is interested in what you do but has no interest in buying from you!
People who have heard of you but don’t know what you do.
The second stage in the marketing funnel is educating about what you do and who you do it for. The thing to consider here is that you have little or no control over how a new person is exposed to your brand and website for the first time and that it often wont be what you expect – go and look in your website analytics now – what is the most common entry page for traffic that didn’t come directly to you (ie, social, search and referral)? This means that every page has to communicate what you do and who you do it for, not just your home page. Only a small subset of the people that you attract to your website are likely to be a good basis for becoming customers that you can really work will with over time, people that you can really help. From your target market and your marketing persona exercises you already know who you want to work with and what problems they have that you can solve. The headlines, content and copywriting on the site should all be geared towards telling people what you do and who you do it for.
By focusing the content and they copy you can quickly whittle down the people in your funnel to just those who have a problem you are interested in solving.
People who know what you do.
We’re starting to get interesting now, people in this part of you funnel know what you do fit your target market – how do we keep them moving through the funnel? There are two major points for people at this stage, the first being that they have a problem to solve and are motivated to solve it – the second being that they know what you do but they don’t really trust you yet to do as you say.
The traditional wisdom here would say that this is the point where you should be directing someone to ‘get in touch’, “say hi” or “contact us” about a new project. But think about what your asking here, your asking for a lot of trust from the prospect – they are aware of you and what you do but they have no idea about the quality of your work or how you are to work with. What about, instead, if we asked something easier of them and helped them out along the way. We need to build a whole lot of trust with someone before they can really feel good about reaching out to us about a large project.
We can help build that trust by having great content on the website, content that attracted them to the site in the first place. We can also provide content that’s not on the website. We know people are trying to solve a problem, can we provide them with information that helps solve that problem? We know what problem they are trying to solve based on what brought them to the site and what content they’ve read – we also know what other problems that user is likely to have from research into their market. What we can do is ask them for an email address, something that takes relatively little trust in exchange for providing more value to them around the problems they have. We can provide extra value to this prospect that teaches them about you, the problem they have, steps to solving for them selves and how we could help them. You can provide ebooks, Whitepapers, reports, step and step guides, videos, audio, email courses or anything you can think of.
The important thing here is that we have now have their contact information, permission to market to them and an idea about what they want and need. This is where we can start to really build trust with the prospect and reinforce our brand in their minds. Few things are better at this than multipart newsletter courses on a topic as we discussed in your email marketing for consultants article.
People who trust you.
You’ve invested a lot at this point – you’ve attracted people to your site, educated them about you and your services, built trust through email marketing and now your waiting for those leads to role in. As part of your email marketing and your ongoing problem solving for your clients through the rest of you content you can plant subtle sales pitches and Calls To action for your products and services. This is commonly called a “foot-in-the-door”. A low cost, fixed scope piece of consulting you can help the client with as a start to any project – this is commonly a review of some part of their business that can be changed and that changing will produce a whole lot of value in their business. You can suggest this review or small consultation to them at any point in your marketing once they believe you will be a good fit and able to do what you say you do.
Existing customers are always easier to sell than new one – buy getting the customer to buy something, anything, it will be much easier in the future to get them to buy a large project form you as long as you keep the level of trust up.
The marketing funnel is real, trackable, iterate-able and involves every point of contact you have with a prospect util they become a client. You can work with it or you can work against it, you can try and short cut it or you can go the long haul. The way people sell and be sold on the internet is changing and its not enough to just have a site anymore.