At its simplest, a marketing funnel describes your customer’s journey with you. That experience includes everything from the initial stages of researching and discovering your brand to learning more about your products and services to, finally, making a purchase.
The biggest advantage of framing a customer journey as a marketing funnel is your ability to map a potential customer’s disposition and inclination at a point in time and then respond accordingly. For buyers that are just beginning to research options, you send out more information. For those who are ready to buy, you start sending out offers and even upsell opportunities. It sounds simple enough, yet studies have found that 80% of marketing leads never end up purchasing anything at all.
Before addressing that huge conversion gap, let’s take a step back and look at several misconceptions about the marketing funnel that cause it to fail.
Misconception: Customer Journeys are Linear
It certainly doesn’t help that marketing funnels—by their very nature—look linear, from top to bottom. The truth is that customer journeys are what they want it to be—which are often as far from linear as possible. For one, some enter at different stages—they might have already done their research, know everything about your product, and are ready to buy. Others might pivot on which of your products they want, and go back to the top of the funnel.
If you assume all your leads follow the same path one step at a time from beginning to end, you’re missing out on key opportunities to provide them what they need. And if you provide them with something they never asked for or don’t need, you risk driving them away. It doesn’t help that we’re programmed to think in a linear fashion. It’s our way of making sense of the world, and it’s a hard habit to break.
Misconception: Customer Journeys End
Perhaps the terminology itself is problematic. After all, the term “journey” implies a destination and an end. Even with the image of marketing funnel stages, there’s this idea that—at the very bottom—leads “funnel out” to become paying customers. But it’s a huge mistake to think and act like the point-of-sale is where your work stops. In fact, your customers still require your input to keep them buying for years to come.
If you think of your funnel and journey as terminating when they sign a contract, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a long, fruitful, and lasting relationship with your customer. Which also will help you in terms of the testimonials they can give your company. That’s no small thing, either, as 72% of consumers say that positive, personal testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a particular business.
Misconception: One Size Fits All
Never over-simplify your definitions of the stages of the customer’s journey. You need to be somewhat granular in your approach to the stages so you don’t lose sight of the specific needs, questions, or even barriers your customers face along their journey. When you over-simplify, you end up considering the journey from your point of view rather than the customer’s. You also make the mistake of assuming all your potential customers should be treated the same.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Some customers enter the top of the funnel curious but knowing little about what you have to offer. Others have already done a lot of homework and simply want to know your pricing options. To send both customers basic informational content is great for the former, but completely misses the mark for the latter. A one-size-fits-all approach might be simpler, but a granular, personalized one is more likely to strike the right chords in your potential customers.
The Solution is to Rely on the Data
Every customer touchpoint generates a lot of data. Some are basic—where they came into contact with you, which bits of content they first read, and the like—but what should matter most to you in relation to the buyer funnel/customer journey is data pertaining to intent. Intent data comprise the reasons that drove them to you to begin with, as well as the degree to which they want to take action.
Everyone Has Intent When They Reach You
Whether they’re looking for your business directly, searching for more information on products, services, and solutions like yours, or are already looking to buy, there’s an underlying reason behind that impulse. Often, it’s a specific problem they need to solve. That provides you with powerful information to guide specific responses to their queries.
Create Content That Meets Them Where They’re At
For instance, if you get a lot of inquiries via your website about the specific application of your products and services—as you would expect at the top of the funnel/start of the journey—you can create content to address specific use cases. Whether that’s written content like an ebook or white paper, or something more visual like video or infographic depends on what the data says they prefer. The more specific you can get, the better you can satisfy their needs.
Deliver It to Them Effectively
Content syndication is the most efficient way to deliver your customers the information they’re looking for—especially if you work with a proven provider of this service. With syndication, you can target the audience segment that you created a specific piece of content in the first place. Syndication also yields key data to guide you toward your next steps. The depth to which they consume your content, the extent of further engagement with you that results, such as them sharing it with their own network—all this data helps you better gauge intent.
Develop a Lead Scoring System
When you prioritize everybody, you prioritize no one at all. That’s where lead scoring comes in. It’s simply assigning a numerical value to the sales-readiness of a lead or prospect to aid prioritization in your integrated marketing campaigns. You could do this yourself by assigning point values to criteria like engagement, consumptions, and others—but many companies that offer quality content syndication services already include this in their offering. Often, you even just end up with a separated leads list to work with.
Parlay Your Findings Into an Adaptive Nurturing Campaign
By this point, you should have some solid leads, prospects who have the greatest intent to purchase. Next, you should develop an adaptive nurturing campaign to move them closer to a sale. It’s adaptive because it still depends on what needs remain to be fulfilled to get a lead to make a purchase. At this stage, it’s important to take a personalized approach, either through more content, a call, or whatever is required of you.
Craft an Aftersales Plan
Increasing customer retention rates by a mere 5% increases your profit margins by 25% to 95%. It’s clear that the customer journey doesn’t end with a sale—in fact, it doesn’t really end at all. This is particularly true if you have a well thought-out aftersales/retention strategy. Of course, this means more content, more contact, and potentially better rewards for loyalty.
Having a marketing/sales funnel to work with certainly helps in charting the course of your potential customers’ journeys. But without data guiding your movement through each step and stage, you will find it very difficult to leverage what a funnel has to offer. The best way to have measurable, actionable data is to work with a provider that has a strong database to start with, an effective means to syndicate your content, and data you can utilize to further your nurturing efforts.
With PureSyndication, you start with a 131 -million strong database of verified, global B2B contacts from every industry. We can place your best content in front of the people who want to read it most, and provide you with data that helps you plan your next steps. Talk to us, tell us your needs, and we’ll find the best ways to help you.
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