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Gathering leads is important in marketing, and what you do with those leads is even more crucial. For example, The Harvard Business Review looked at the link between lead generation and follow-up time. Companies who followed up within one hour were 60 times more likely to achieve a sale than those who waited 24 hours. But how do you know which leads are ready for a call? One tried-and-true method is the sales funnel.
The sales funnel is a tool that marketers use at various points in their career to assess where a consumer is in the buying journey. There are many versions of the funnel, but ultimately, it includes the following points:
These points reflect the times when a customer discovers your brand, researches it, decides which product they want, and buys. There are leads at every stage of the funnel, and each can be nurtured in a unique way.
Throughout this article, you'll learn more about the sales funnel and what customers need at every stage.
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Think about this portion of the funnel as a kind of, “Hi, nice to meet you.” It’s the earliest part of a consumer’s sale journey when they’ve stumbled upon your brand and want to know more. The best way to engage leads at this stage is by building your brand and showing consumers who you are. You can do this through the following:
Social Media Marketing
Social media has become a force to be reckoned with in the marketing industry. According to the Social Selling 2017 Trends Report, the ROI for companies using social media is 56% versus 26% for those using alternative marketing methods. The same report quoted a conversion rate of 46% for businesses using social media versus 31% for those that are not.
If you’re not already on social media, this is the time to sign up for Facebook or Twitter and reap the benefits. Social media was made for sharing, and sharing your brand is what consumers need at this stage.
Search Engine Optimization
Where your website appears in search engine results shows how noticeable it is to new customers. HubSpot reports that most internet users don’t even look past the first page. If it’s not in the budget to interview an SEO management company, there are ways to begin on your own.
Creating a schedule for content publishing so that Google recognizes your website activity is a good place to start. To really flourish, make posts that are 1,000 words or more, engaging to your audience, and relevant to your brand.
Paid advertising is helpful at the awareness stage of the funnel because not all consumers will find your site on their own. Sponsored advertising on Google and YouTube will get the attention of internet users and introduce them to your brand.
Some marketers lump YouTube in with all social media, but it’s proven to be a powerful force on its own. YouTube is considered the most prominent video streaming website with a self-proclaimed 1-billion plus subscribers. Developing a YouTube presence helps with SEO, brand awareness, and best of all, it’s free to use.
Once interest is piqued, leads carry on to the research portion of the funnel. Here, people search for more information on your brand, products, and services. They’ll do things like visit your website, watch YouTube reviews, and read your blog.
Businesses should take advantage of customer interest while people want to learn more about you. Not everything they find online will point them in the direction of lead conversion. You can nurture leads at this stage by using these methods:
Content is important at every stage, but targeted content is made with your audience in mind. For example, if your company sells acne facewash, then your target audience will be teens. Your content should reflect popular themes for teens and be published in locations frequented by this age group. An Instagram contest would be perfect in this case.
Mobile devices are used for everything from tracking cardio to ordering groceries. The mobile marketing world has grown so much, in fact, that many companies have their own mobile app available for download. Creating an app for iOS and Android isn’t rocket science, but if you require help, many SEO and marketing firms offer app creation services.
According to Google, 60% of consumers want to speak to a sales rep most during the consideration or research stage of the sales funnel. A frequently-asked-questions page will provide offline support when live help isn't available.
Consumers love putting a face to a brand, and live videos are perfect for this. They also open the door to communication during a time when customers have the most questions. Live videos allow potential customers to interact through comments, likes, and sharing.
An online seminar provides information about your brand in a non-committal way. It also shines a light on you as an authority in your niche. Companies that host webinars appear prominent in the industry.
Leads at the decision-making stage of the funnel have the desire to buy but aren’t 100% convinced. This is when you bring in a “closer”; some sort of incentive or additional information that pushes a customer to buy. Some examples include:
Mobile phone apps, video streaming services, and even makeup companies offer free trials to new customers. It shows consumers that you’re confident in your product. It’s also a non-threatening way to have consumers try your products for themselves.
One approach to free trials is a subscription period followed by an auto-renewal unless customers cancel. This feature is useful because not all consumers use their trial before it expires, and an autorenewal notification reminds them of this.
Another non-committal offer is a free consultation. Whether online or in person, this is an excellent way to connect with your leads and pitch in person. Consultations are especially helpful for physical services, such as hairdressing, plastic surgery, or cosmetic dentistry. Sometimes all a consumer needs are the opinions of somebody in the know before they buy.
Some leads hang around long after the first two stages of the sales funnel but never seem ready to buy. That is when you offer an exclusive promotion. Coupons, contests, and other limited offers make leads feel special. A coupon only your Facebook followers receive is a prime example of an exclusive offer.
Depending on your career choice, the offer of a free eBook could garner interest in a product or service. Customers love getting something when they buy, especially if it’s easy to obtain like downloadable content.
Finally, you’ve manoeuvred your lead through the sales funnel, and he or she is at the finish line. Once they buy, however, what do you do to bring them back? Nurturing at this point is all about reminding your customer why they bought in the first place. Try these tactics to renew customer interest:
As with the exclusive offers above, current customers need an incentive to come back. If a customer is sent a coupon following a purchase, he or she has a reason to visit your site again. Popular methods for coupon distribution include email and mobile app.
Ratings and reviews are a great source of content during the research stage. They also lend a sense of purpose at the purchase stage. Sending a customer a virtual comment card is a fun way to remind them of the experience they had. It freshens your brand in their mind, offers a chance for interaction and makes them feel like their thoughts matter.
A weekly or monthly newsletter will keep your brand fresh in the minds of past customers without seeming forceful. Adobe compiled data from 400 workers in prominent careers to determine the importance of e-mail marketing. They found that 58% preferred businesses to contact them via email versus alternative communications. The same study suggested that consumers preferred less frequent emails from their favourite brands.
From AIR MILES® to coffee cards, reward systems make customers feel like they’re getting something back with every purchase. Building brand loyalty becomes easier when customers feel appreciated. In fact, 69% of consumers are more likely to choose one business over another if they offer a reward system.
Bringing Home Those Leads
Nurturing leads is more important than you may realize. Of the consumers who visit your website, only 4% are ready to buy. That leaves 96% of your leads waiting to be convinced that your brand is superior. The best way to convert them is by creating a strategic plan based on where each lead is in the sales journey.
You don’t need to know where every customer is in the funnel to be successful. You just need to have the right content available at each stage. If your brand is ready for new customers, informed customers, and current customers, you’ll see conversions begin to happen naturally.