What is an Inbound Marketing Funnel? And how do you build an effective one? Learn more below and get more visitors, leads and customers.
What is an Inbound Marketing Funnel?
Imagine that a potential customer visits your site. What action would you want them to take? Ideally, the answer would be that you want them to become a lead so that you could get in touch and sell to them.
The process by which this is achieved is called an Inbound Marketing Funnel. Such a funnel allows you to get discovered by prospective customers, who then fill out a form to convert to a lead, and are then nurtured into sales ready contacts that you can sell to.
An Inbound Marketing Funnel is often built using a Marketing Automation software. Such a system can customize and automate personalized communication with your leads, and give you information about what they are interested in.
When they show signals of buying intent, you tag them as Marketing Qualified and send them to the relevant sales rep in your CRM system along with any helpful information to the sales rep.
In short, an Inbound Marketing Funnel is a software-supported buying journey that allows your potential customers to discover you, become leads, and be nurtured into customers.
How an Inbound Marketing Funnel works
An Inbound Marketing Funnel needs to achieve the following:
- Attract new visitors. This is called the top of the funnel.
- Convert those visitors into leads. This is called the middle of the funnel.
- Convert those leads into sales. This is called the bottom of the funnel.
Below, we will explain how to build each of those parts of your funnel.
Top of your funnel: Attract visitors
The purpose of the top of your funnel is to attract new visitors. Be careful to attract relevant visitors, otherwise there is no point. Meaning, the people visiting your site need to be potential customers.
How do you achieve this?
You write content about situations your potential customers find themselves in. Then you make this content visible on the channels they might be in.
A good methodology that works wonders for our customers is:
- Write regular blog articles about situations relevant to your customers (their problems, challenges, and solutions they want to achieve)
- Publish these blog posts on social media
- Publish ads and sponsored content that link to your content
The more content you produce, the more visitors you will get. Blog twice a week if you can. But anything is better than nothing, and even once a month will work wonders in comparison.
Middle of your funnel: Convert visitors to leads
If you don't convert your visitors, all the work will result in nothing. To convert, offer value to your visitors in return for their contact details. This is classic Inbound strategy.
What should you offer?
A good idea is to consider this: What situations your customers might find yourself in when they need your products or services? What insights can you offer them in these situations?
Such insights should not be about your products, but rather about the customers' situation, their challenges, and potential ways to solve those challenges. The solutions should not yet involve your products, but offer knowledge that helps your customers understand the situation they're in better.
Package this content in the form of of a guide, a video, a tool, a free software, or any other way you can think of that will be valuable for your potential customers. Then offer it on a landing page behind a form.
Link to this page from your blog posts about the same topic to drive visitors to this page.
The better your offers, the more visitors will convert to leads, and the more of those leads will build trust with you and your understanding of their problems, which can later be turned into sales.
Bottom of your funnel: Convert leads to customers
Next, you need to sell to your leads. How do you do this?
In a complex B2B buying process, the typical prospect is not yet ready to buy just because they downloaded and read a guide. Rather, they will need to understand their problem better (which hopefully your guide helped them do), learn more about various potential solutions, and decide on a way forward. To help them make this decision, you need to continue educating them.
To do this, track their behavior and send more relevant content. Send emails with educational nurturing content based on their interests, for example case studies of other customers in the same situation. Reach them on social media. And show relevant ads to remind them of how you can help them.
When they show buying signals, reach out with sales offers or offers to book a meeting with a sales rep or a consultant.
By following this methodology, you can stay more relevant, nurture many contacts, and your sales reps can talk to the prospective buyers who are interested in talking to them.
The complete Inbound Marketing Funnel schema
To build the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, we have used the following components:
- Social media posts and ads
- Landing pages with form
- Nurturing sequences and ads
- Sales notification
The complete Inbound Marketing Funnel can be illustrated with the following schema:
The entire funnel in the schema above should be about a single topic, and preferably about a specific situation that your prospective customers find themselves in when they need your products or services.
The left side is the top of the funnel. The further left, the more customer centric it should be - meaning, about the customers' situation and challenges. This is how you capture their interest.
The right side is the bottom of the funnel. The further right, the more you can talk about how they can solve their problems using your products. This way, you naturally guide your customers through their buying journey towards the products and solutions you offer.
How Inbound Marketing Funnels fit into your overall sales process
Each Inbound Marketing Funnel drives leads who find themselves in a specific situation or have a specific challenge you solve. The more such funnels you build, the more ways leads can find you and the more leads you get.
Because such leads have gone through an educational journey about their challenges, they will be highly relevant for your salespeople. And your reps will be able to talk to them about topics that they find relevant and interesting, rather than having to start from scratch.
By building more and more funnels over time, you can find customers in a variety of situations that you serve, and make your overall sales process, predictable, proactive and effective.
Step by step: How to build your own Inbound Marketing Funnel
- 1: find
- 2: extend
- 3: increase
- 4: sell
- 5: optimize
Find the topic of interest
Start by focusing on the left side. This gives you opportunity to test many different ideas and see what seems to be the most interesting ones for your visitors - which topics seem to drive the most interest.
To do this, simply write many different articles about many different topics.
Soon, you will discover that the 80-20 rule applies here too: One out of ten articles or pieces of content will most likely be disproportionally successful. This is your golden nugget. Now you can move to step 2 - Extend.
Extend your marketing funnel
Based on the topic of the popular article in step 1, investigate which situations those customers who find that post interesting likely find themselves in, and what challenges they have. Consider which challenges the article addresses. Then, brainstorm within your company which insights you have about those challenges that you can offer your customers.
Consider this: "What core insights would be interesting to customers reading that article?"
Create an insight-based offer (a written guide, a video guide, a free tool) that helps your customers in that situation solve their challenges, or helps them understand their challenges and potential solutions better. Don't speak about your own products or services - think about your customers and what they would like to know in that situation.
Focus on offering value and building trust, not on selling.
Put your offer on a landing page behind a guide. Link from the relevant articles to this page. Start measuring. When more than 3% of the visitors reading your blog post go to this landing page and convert, you're ready to move to step 3: Increase.
Increase your Inbound Marketing Funnel
Now that you have a great landing page with an interesting offer, it's time to drive even more visitors to it.
To do this, produce more articles about the same topic or situation that customers who would want ot read this guide would find themselves in.
When you get many visitors and over 1.5% of those turn into leads, you're ready to move to step 4: Sell.
Add sales nurturing to your Inbound Marketing Funnel
Now that you're getting both visitors and leads, what do you do with these leads aside from sending them the content they requested?
Ensure that you don't miss out on any sales opportunities or lose their interest. Create follow up nurturing sequences based on the same situation or topic so that you can guide them towards a purchase. Offer insights based on how your products or services can help them in the situation they find themselves in. Explain how you've helped other customers. And link to other situations or topics, so that they get the opportunity to opt in to other funnels and thereby show you that they're interested in learning more about other challenges, too.
Make sure to turn on remarketing ads on Facebook and/or LinkedIn that show them potential solutions to the situation they've opted in to.
Determine which pages on your site and in your emails indicate buying intent. When they demonstrate buying intent, notify your sales people and get in touch. This way, you don't bother them with unnecessary calls, but there is a clear way for you to detect which ones are worth contacting so that you don't miss any sales opportunities.
Now that you know that the people you're about to contact are potentially hot clients, it's worth putting some extra effort into research. Look at what marketing material they've consumed. Compare that with what type of company they are, and use public sources to determine what other tools or services they might use or what they might be interested in. Build a personalized pitch, and have a clear reason for contacting them. A good way to start is: "A while ago you downloaded our guide about [the topic]. I couldn't help but notice that you have [mention something you found in your research]. Are you interested in a phone call to discuss your needs in more detail and see if we can help you?"
Optimize your Inbound Marketing Funnel
Now you have a fully automated funnel that brings in sales opportunities for you. You now have two options:
Option 1: Create more funnels to cover more situations and topics
Option 2: Optimize your current funnel
We'd suggest that you should optimize your current funnel before moving on to the next because you can quite easily get much more value out of a funnel by optimizing it.
Here are some ways to optimize your funnel:
- From all the social media posts you've posted related to this funnel, which one has been the most popular? Create some variations of it sponsor them using social media advertising and pick the highest converting one to get a low cost way to drive even more leads.
- Which of the blog posts you published get many views on google search but few clicks? Try editing their titles and meta descriptions as they appear in search results to drive more visits to your existing content.
- Which of the emails you send get the lowest click rates? Re-write the emails entirely or replace the links to get more clicks and thereby more middle of the funnel conversions.
Who are we? We help you build Inbound Marketing Funnels.
We offer the CRM and Marketing Automation platform SharpSpring, along with free unlimited help to build funnels just like the above. We take care of the system setup and guide you through your journey, while you write the content.
Read more about SharpSpring below and contact us to learn more.
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