Lead Generation and Sales Funnels
Without an effective lead generation funnel, it’s near-impossible to generate high-quality sales leads and convert them into sales. It’s an essential component of your digital marketing strategy, and your main opportunity to find and reach your ideal customers.
Your lead generation funnel should help drive potential customers from attention to action. So, if executed correctly, lead generation is a process that can bring extraordinary results in a short amount of time.
‘Sales funnel’, ‘Lead funnel’, ‘Conversion funnel’, ‘Marketing funnel’… usually these all refer to the same thing, more or less. For many marketeers, there’s arguably still a difference between these terms. But, ultimately, it all comes down to a similar concept: a funnel. A funnel is based on the framework that consumers move through various stages before purchasing a product or service.
Having a clear understanding of the process and stages behind a lead generation funnel is crucial for the optimization of campaigns, and it ensures that leads progress from the top-end of the funnel to the bottom, as paying customers.
It’s also important to note that a lead generation funnel is applicable for both online and offline businesses. And your funnel can be spread across multiple channels, so you can best target the audience you’re looking for on each relevant platform.
What is a Lead Generation Funnel?
Think of the concept of a lead generation funnel as, quite literally, a kitchen funnel. If you were to consider the size of your initial audience, and then compare that to the size of customers who have reached the point of sale, the volume looks pretty similar to the shape of a funnel.
The first stage, the widest part of the funnel at the top, is where you want to qualify and engage with as many people as possible who belong to your ideal audience. While many people may see your ad, not all of them will take action by clicking further, so the next stage already has some of that initial targeted audience who have already dropped off.
Those visitors, in turn, may or may not take further action after arriving on your landing page, for example. Some may drop off at this point and return to what they were doing, while others will download the freebie on your opt-in form. Those who signed up will be automatically registered in your database and receive an automated email sequence that you had set up in your email autoresponder.
Of course, some subscribers will drop off by unsubscribing to your communications – but others will ultimately go on to purchase your offering. The sales funnel narrows as visitors move through it. This is partially because you’ll have more prospects at the top of the funnel than buyers at the bottom, but also because your messaging needs to become increasingly targeted.
When it comes to the initial audience that you reach, the widest part of the funnel, you want to ensure that you aren’t reaching absolutely everyone. Reason being, it’s a waste of resources to acquire bad traffic. You simply don’t need it.
Targeted traffic are visitors who would likely be interested in purchasing your offer. Those are the people you want to reach with targeted messaging, and it’s more than possible to do so.
Example of a Lead Generation Funnel
Let’s use an example to illustrate a basic funnel concept. You run a local bakery that offers an engagement party package.
Right at the top of your marketing funnel, you want to focus on sending targeted traffic to your landing page. There are various ways of doing so, but let’s say you use paid ads and run a social media ad campaign to reach your ideal audience.
After visitors have clicked on your ad, you want them to become prospects. You can offer them a free download for a guide on the biggest mistakes to make when selecting icing for a party cake, and how to avoid them. In exchange for their email, you’ll send this to their inbox free of charge. Some of that initial audience drops off at this point as they do not feel compelled to take further action.
Those who did take action, they will immediately receive the download along with a well-crafted welcome email. It will be the first of many in an automated email sequence that sends two emails a week with various tips on planning on a party. Each email relates back to this customer avatar, their pain points, and their needs.
You’ve now successfully pushed them further down your funnel to the middle. Yes, some will unsubscribe at this point or start ignoring your emails. It’s not personal, so keep going!
While reading your weekly emails and gaining valuable tips on party planning, your subscribers begin to trust your brand and recognize you as an authority on the subject matter.
Some might realize that creating memorable and delicious pastries is not as simple as they imagined it to be, and they begin to see why they should rather entrust the experts to get the job done to the best possible standard for their planned celebration.
And this is precisely where your offer upsell comes in. To push those prospects into paying customers, you have to push them all the way to the bottom of your funnel, Present your offer in your email sequence, with some dazzling copy, and drive them from your email back to a sales landing page.
This is really your time to shine. Do your research, optimize your landing page and A/B test everything. Your customers must have the impression that your pastries and cakes will elevate their celebrations and everything will be handled with care so they can rest assured and have one less task on their plate.
Prospects can either purchase your package directly off of your landing page, or whichever other closing method you prefer.
It’s worth mentioning that you must not forget to retarget those who did not go through with a purchase, abandoned cart, and dropped off. They can be revived! In fact, at every stage of your marketing funnel, there should be a strong strategy in place to catch all of those who drop off at each stage.
If something is broken, you’ll need to grasp the full picture to anticipate a bottleneck or a crack where you’re losing prospects.
How to Build an Online Lead Generation Funnel
1. Build a High-Convert Landing Page
A landing page is the first impression that prospects have of your brand, and it’s a crucial element to the success of any lead generation strategy. It’s the place where you have the opportunity to capture leads by collecting their contact information, usually an email address.
Naturally, you’ll want to ensure it’s not only a good landing page, but a great one. If a prospect lands on your webpage and it does not meet their expectations, then it’s likely that you’ll lose a lot of potential buyers at the top of the funnel.
In turn, this will also increase your bounce rate. In web traffic data, a bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave a webpage without taking any action before leaving. A high bounce rate will affect your SEO because it’s a sign to search engines, such as Google, that the content is either poor quality or irrelevant to the search query.
When prospective customers are funneled to attractive and well-designed websites, then you are able to reach your target audience and ensure that they have a reason to come back.
So, it’s worth taking the time to create a seamless web experience and continuously tweak your landing page to maximize your conversion rate. Start by crafting an outline of a simple and clear message that grabs attention, showcases the value offer, and persuades leads to take action.
A page and funnel builder, such as GroovePagesⓇ (free) or ClickFunnels ($1,164+ p/y), allows users to build landing pages with pre-made templates that are best optimized for conversions at the top half of your funnel – without any coding or technical knowledge.
By signing up with a free Groove.CM account, you can replace all of your online business tools and for a limited time, GroovePagesⓇ includes free lifetime access:
- Create up to three funnels or websites
- Free page and site hosting
- Premium content blocks starter pack
- Wireframe blocks
- One funnel template
- Three custom domains
Here are some more tips for building a landing page that converts:
Make a Request to Take Action
Your copy and visual media will be designed to attract visitors and decrease bounce rates, but that won’t automatically translate into conversions unless you make a request for visitors to take some type of action. A “call-to-action” (CTA) is a marketing term for any designs and use of phrases that prompt an immediate response from prospects.
A CTA is, ultimately, the primary goal of creating a landing page. Best practice is for a CTA to be: compelling, identifiable, clear and comprehensible, and strategically placed on your website. Most often, CTAs are a brightly colored, large-format button that includes a prompt such as “Register here.”
Provide an Incentive for Taking Action
As mentioned, the CTA is the ultimate goal of your landing page. So, everything on your landing page should be about fulfilling the CTA – and that involves offering something in return. This can be in the form of coupons, free ebooks, exclusive content, or any other common lead magnet. When a prospect feels that their action will be appropriately rewarded, they are more likely to convert.
The incentive itself should also have a specific purpose. In other words, it must be relevant to your lead generation funnel and offering. The aim is to generate further conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
2. Get People to Your Landing Page
Even the best landing page in the world wouldn’t matter much if you couldn’t get anyone to look at it. So, you have to market your marketing page! Traffic generation is a broad topic, as there are many ways to drive prospects to your landing page. The best option for your lead generation funnel will depend on your business and budget.
Generally speaking, you can make use of:
- Paid Ads (Facebook and Google). This is not the cheapest option, but it’s highly regarded as one of the most effective means in terms of ad spend.
- Email Marketing. This is a good option, but it’s only applicable if you have an already established, nurtured email list.
- Social Media. Use your social media accounts by posting regularly and going live to reach your audience.
- Content Marketing. SEO is the best strategy for organic reach, so it’s important to optimize your landing page, or publish blog posts.
3. Collect Email Addresses
The next thing you want to do in your lead generation funnel is collect the email addresses of visitors who click onto your landing page from the respective traffic source. If you’ve followed the advice in Step 1, then you’ve already got a great landing page that makes it as easy as possible for people to volunteer their email address.
Remember that your landing page opt-in form must be mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on any device. Once you’ve captured a lead’s email address, then it’s time to start an automated drip campaign.
4. Set Up a Drip Campaign
A drip campaign is a slow but steady campaign of emails that are sent to prospects that have provided you with their email address and, therefore, opted in to receiving further communications from you. The idea is to establish trust and build a relationship, until the prospect is ready to make a purchase.
Here’s an example of a typical drip campaign:
Email 1: Welcome. Thank the prospect for showing an interest in your product or service, and deliver the lead magnet if applicable.
Email 2: Freebie. Send the prospect another high-quality freebie that contains information relevant to their initial expressed interest.
Email 3: Story. Include a personal story that will help prospects resonate with your brand.
Email 4: Testimonials. Include a customer testimonial about your product or service.
Email 5: Close. Go for the “hard close” with compelling copy that convinces and converts.
Knowing what a lead generation funnel is and getting to know your marketing funnel inside-out will allow you to invest in the right marketing activities and channels, create the most relevant messaging during each stage, and turn more prospects into paying customers.
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