Paid advertising: When used properly, paid advertising can be a great way to attract new visitors to your site. You can reach the massive audiences that use Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms every day. Plus, with the advanced targeting and segmentation options provided by their advertising platforms, you can make sure that you reach exactly who you want to reach.    

For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of  the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).
Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.
If you’re running an accounting business, at this stage your customers would be evaluating different potential service providers. They might need resources like pricing guides (so they know what ballpark rates are), how to evaluate the landscape of accounting services (i.e. whether to hire a solo accountant, an agency, etc.), or how to choose an accountant.

For example, if you are a florist, a repeat customer might stop at your shop every few months to purchase the same thing–a flower bouquet for his wife. Or if you’re make socks, a repeat customer might purchase more socks from you when the old socks are worn out. On the other hand, if you’re an author selling a book, you probably aren’t going to get someone purchasing the exact same book from you a second time (unless it’s a gift or they lose their first copy). However, they may very well purchase your second novel as soon as you publish it.

As “State of Sales” finds, salespeople believe a combination of human skills and data-driven insights is needed to convert prospects into customers. In fact, the ability to listen is seen by 78% of those surveyed as an important attribute needed for landing deals. But sales reps also have to demonstrate industry knowledge (74%), trustworthiness (74%), and knowledge of prospects’ business needs (73%).
This lead capture software ranges from simple to complex. You can have a landing page that captures the data, or you can sign up for a system that tracks your user's accounts once they sign in. You can see what products they looked at, what pages they read and, judging from their account activity, you can see how likely they are to become customers.
Here’s an example: To create your prospect experience in the Awareness stage, think about and articulate what you will do or say to your prospects when you first meet them. Then think about how your interaction will make them feel. Consider your prospect and their needs as you’re doing this. Then, document your actions and your prospect’s experience for this stage. Repeat this throughout the entire sales funnel.
For instance, if you’re selling marketing automation software to a startup, showcase a startup that 10X-ed their leads.  If you’re selling the enterprise version of that marketing software, share a case study from another enterprise company.  The enterprise case study is too aspirational for the startup, and the startup case study doesn’t work in front of a huge global marketing team.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages. These requests are routed directly to her salespeople, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo. Molly’s company closes more sales than Norman’s, with fewer salespeople and no time spent on cold calling.
First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.

Next, you need to educate your prospects. In other words, you need to teach people why they need your product/service and how it works. In this stage, you can start promoting sales, but getting too aggressive can be a bit of a turn off. Instead, think about how to become a friend to a potential customers. For example, if you’re a car salesman speaking to someone looking at vehicles on your lot, you might have a common connection in the fact that you both have kids, so you can direct the prospect to vehicles that have a high safety rating or are great for growing families, as you’re talking about your own experiences dealing with a snarky teen or potty-training a toddler.
As you can probably imagine, this sort of thing is particularly frustrating if you’re selling an expensive product or service, but you can even see it happen with something as simple as deciding where to go for lunch. For example, if you’re hungry and in a hurry, you might pick the closest restaurant. But, if a friend asks where you’re going and says, “Oh, that’s where I got food poisoning last week”, there’s a good chance you’ll end up going somewhere else.

Molly might conclude that anybody who fills out her online demonstration request form is an MQL.  Another company might set the bar to MQL qualification at something involving a combination of viewing specific pages, interacting with certain forms, and opening a certain number of email messages. For that kind of analysis, we recommend marketing automation software.
Here’s an example: To create your prospect experience in the Awareness stage, think about and articulate what you will do or say to your prospects when you first meet them. Then think about how your interaction will make them feel. Consider your prospect and their needs as you’re doing this. Then, document your actions and your prospect’s experience for this stage. Repeat this throughout the entire sales funnel.

Below, I’ll introduce you to the modern online marketing funnel model—the framework that should drive your entire digital marketing strategy. I’ve broken down each stage of the new buyer’s journey and provided marketing strategies and tactics that work best at each phase. You’ll also find real-world examples and expert advice on the “how” of making this work for your business. The goal is for you to walk away with a clear understanding of how the (modern) online buyer’s journey works and how best to market to your target audience at each stage. 
Once you have each asset labeled with a stage in the buyer’s journey, start adding platforms and strategies for which that asset would be good a good fit. For example, blogs and infographics work great on social media, while case studies should be left to email marketing and PPC ads. From there, you can create your actual content distribution calendar:
CRM software has features like event scheduling, case management, and task management that help you plan and execute activities that coincide with the stages of your sales funnel. This software makes it easier to implement your sales funnel by showcasing upcoming and overdue activities, which keeps you focused on the activities that matter throughout the entire sales process.
Now, you don’t need a massive advertising budget or a product that targets a basic human need to use this approach. Whether its a paid search ad that addresses the main reason behind someone’s search or a paid social ad that connects your target audience’s need to what you sell, good Stage 2 marketing helps people connect the dots between their pain and your solution.
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As a software engineer myself, I can tell you that building funnels from an application standpoint takes massive amounts of work. There's a great deal of coding and integration that's required here. From email systems to landing page implementations to credit card processing APIs, and everything in between, so many platforms need to "talk," that it takes the bar too high for the average marketer. 
Today’s online consumer is much better educated than the consumers of yesteryear. While they enjoy learning about new products and services from brands, they hate being sold to. They digital buyer’s journey has many different touchpoints, and different people follow different patterns. That’s why you need to invest in more than one middle of the funnel marketing strategy.

Visitor-to-lead conversion rate: This metric will tell you what percentage of your website visitors end up becoming leads. You can use this as an indicator of how attractive your offer to become a lead (we’ll talk about the type of content you should use in this stage in a second) is to your visitors. As you might expect, you should aim for a high conversion rate. If you use tools to capture leads with popups forms, this metric will be tracked and provided to you. However, if you use other tactics to collect leads you might need to use Google Analytics goals to keep track of this metric.  

You’ve given the prospect all of the information they need to make a decision by this point; they simply need to make it. Lots of people get stuck in this part of the sales funnel, so it is your job to nudge them closer and closer to making a sale without being too pushy. A great option would be to throw in a bonus for free to to offer a limited-time discount.

Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly. 
While your sales funnel “ends” when someone makes a purchase, there’s another level outside of the sales funnel. Actually, there are two levels, working simultaneously: loyal fan and repeat customer. First, someone can become a loyal fan. They may or may not make a purchase again (for example, someone who purchases a home from your may not make a purchase again for a long time), but they tell others about your company and encourage them to make a purchase. This is extremely important to finding more leads for the “awareness” part of your sales funnel. Word of mouth is powerful.
The Discovery stage is where your prospect’s interest is piqued. They are curious about your company and products and want to learn more. In this stage, you are sharing valuable educational content related to your prospect’s problem or need. This stage occurs while you are qualifying your prospect, conducting initial meetings, and defining their needs.
Once the prospective customer is made aware of the product, it’s the duty of a marketer to nurture the lead by arousing his interest in buying the product and make him consider it over other products. This involves marketer to tap several other channels, improve its public relation strategies, and include affiliates and partners who promote the product.
Now, this basic sales funnel offers a simplistic view of the consumer journey and the stages buyers go through before making a purchase. So you can use this as a basic template for your marketing strategy. For example, you create brand/product awareness campaigns to build an audience, target this audience with ads to generate interest and deliver content to build emotional desire before hitting them with the big CTA.
But, once you have enough experience to be eligible (and are likely itching for a promotion), they start marketing to you. It might be email marketing or an email list-based retargeting campaign, but these graduate programs do their level best to get back on your radar. It’s a long-term play, but it’s one that works incredibly well because the schools know exactly when their students are “ready to buy” again.
“Time is money for a rep,” said Tony Rodoni, Salesforce EVP, Commercial Sales, and Market Readiness. “You need to know the most important thing to do right now, and what to do next. If you’re not clear on which opportunities are accurate, you’re relying on your memory to know which ones need work. As you take on a bigger book of business, with more opportunities, quarter after quarter, relying on your own memory means mistakes and wasted time.”
However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.
A sales funnel reflects the prospect’s journey or path that takes them from awareness to becoming a customer. It encompasses actions you take to create this journey or experience. The sales pipeline, on the other hand, is the specific stages that a deal or opportunity moves through in your sales process from the salesperson’s perspective. See our article on the eight sales pipeline stages every sales team should have.
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.
You can also segment in other ways. For example, maybe you segment into order size: people who order more than $50, people who order $30 – $50, and people who order less than $50. If you offer a coupon for 10% off an order of $50 or more, the people who order that much anyway just get some free money, and the people who typically order less than $30 probably won’t take advantage. But the people who order between $30 and $50…for them, this is a goldilocks coupon (i.e. it is just right). It encourages them to spend just a little bit more on their next order.

Use website links that have embedded web analytic codes. You can do this through your website provider or with a free Google Analytics account. Make sure each strategy uses a different link, so you can track your most successful lead gathering strategies. Most web analytics programs will automatically mark down leads that come from major search engines.[3]
Just like an actual funnel, Marketing funnels represent a buyer’s journey from awareness to the actual purchase of the product. The concept marketing funnel revolves around is that marketers spread a vast lattice to catch hold of as many leads as possible and then gradually foster prospective customers through suitable schemes, even though the numbers lessen with every passing stage.
The marketing funnel depicts the steps of a hypothetical buyer through his decision-making process. The funnel is widest at the top and then gradually grows more narrow. The earliest models depicted a customer entering the funnel as a novice and then sliding down the funnel and through the steps of awareness, interest, desire and action, meaning a purchase.
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