Depending on your business and industry, you could have 1,000 prospects at the top of your funnel. However, towards the end of your funnel, you may have 25 qualified leads. While these 25 prospects are more likely to convert than the ones at the top of the sales funnel, at the very end, there may only be five customers who make a purchase and only two that go on to become repeat customers.
Marketers should tap every opportunity to develop a relationship with the buyer at this stage. This is often done through monitoring reviews of the products, testimonials from previous customers, inbound marketing, having a great graphic interface to draw attention, delivering more information to the customer, etc. This is a crucial stage of the marketing funnel as it is chiefly at this stage that the prospective buyer would want to remain in or leave the funnel.
For example, at the beginning of your funnel, prospect interaction is low and the number of prospects is high. This is the Awareness stage, where you do advertising or another form of low-cost, low-touch, broad outreach. The next stages have fewer people in them and require activities that take more time and attention. This is where you’d send emails, make phone calls, or invite qualified interested prospects to a webinar to learn more about your offerings.
Or, in some businesses, there’s only one thing to purchase–you just have to do so often. For example, let’s say you own a dairy farm and sell milk at the farmer’s market every week. Your regular customers buy the same two gallons of milk every week. You can’t move them farther down a sales funnel to buy something more, because that’s all you have–milk.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
Private communities: This is a great way to establish a closer and continuous channel of communication between yourself/your company and your leads, as well as allowing them to interact with each other. You can create private communities to start conversations, gather feedback, or share updates and news. By starting a community, you are committing to being active and monitoring it regularly for the medium/long term, which can be very time consuming in future—so keep that in mind if you decide to go with this tactic.
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
Let’s say that instead of just sending one email to your entire list, you instead separate them into lists based on the type of pizza they buy most often: Plain Cheese, Pepperoni, Everything, Specialty, or something else. Everyone in the “something else” pile can get the generic discount, but send people on the other lists special emails. For example, if you send a coupon for a one-topping pizza to the people who prefer plain cheese or everything pizzas, you won’t make a huge impact. That isn’t what they normally order. But send it to the pepperoni lovers and watch the orders roll in! Customize the discount you’re offering to make it relevant to what people order.
The repeat customer is even better, since they are actually making another purchase. They may need no help from you to make this purchase, or they make be shuffled back into the sales process again, where you need to educate, allow for evaluation, engage, and push a commitment. Once again, this depends on the specifics of your industry. We’ll go over more information about repeat customers before the end of this article.
How to get started: Look through your most popular blog post, video, podcast episode and turn that content into a lead magnet. If you have several related pieces of content that perform really well, you can consider combining them into an ebook. If you don’t have content yet, think of a simple resource that your audience would value enough to give you their email address: worksheets, cheatsheets, and checklists are all easy to create and perform really well as lead magnets. Then, you can use a free tool like Canva to turn that content into a lead magnet. You can also grab the lead magnets templates included we created for you.
To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.
Several debates have been revolving around the applicability of marketing funnels today, where the fashion of purchasing is no longer linear. Prospective customers might not enter the marketing funnel in the first stage itself – they might join in on different levels of the funnel. This would hold true if they are suggested to buy a particular product from a particular brand and a particular site and hence might step into the funnel towards its ultimate stages. They might also conduct researches elsewhere and derive their conclusions on their own, without any help from the B2C’s intervention. Hence several alternatives to the marketing funnel are coming up, such as McKinsey’s circular model.
An increasingly common practice for marketing, sales, and customer service and experience managers is to “flip the funnel” into a customer experience funnel. This funnel outlines the process of turning customers into advocates, which in turn refuels the top of the marketing funnel by driving awareness and lead generation. Here’s our diagram of the customer experience funnel: