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Understand Your Digital Sales Funnel and Attract More Business

Posted by Jonnie Jensen, under , on March 26, 2015, No Comments
Understand Your Digital Sales Funnel and Attract More Business

If you are wondering why your content and social media is not achieving any results then maybe it is because you have not considered the journey you need to take your prospects on. You need to know how the digital sales funnel works and you need to plan how you will take people through it. In this introductory blog post I want to explain the role of the digital sales funnel. In follow up posts I will detail how you can make each element work for your business.

Introducing TOFU, MOFU and BOFU

If this is the first time you have heard of the phrase ‘sales funnel’ then picture in your mind a funnel. At the top of the funnel it is open and wide. In digital marketing you will use social media, content marketing and possibly paid advertising to pour in as many opportunities as you can attract to your website or blog. This is sometimes called TOFU marketing tactics.

At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) is a hole, smaller than the top but if your website, content, email marketing and your sales people are working effectively in the middle of the funnel (MOFU) then as many people as possible will come out of the bottom as a paying customer.

Now to think about how you could make this work better for you imagine you are a shop. Every person that comes in through your front door is a potential customer or a lead – the top of your funnel. If your shop is set up well and you are good at selling – middle of funnel – then some of those visitors may try something on, buy it from you to become a customer – the bottom of your funnel. As well you know though, not everyone who goes into a shop buys something. The customer journey i.e. the shop is not 100% effective at converting its leads into customers.

In digital marketing there is one major difference to this traditional scenario, and that is you can measure and monitor people all the way through the process. Depending on the tools you have available, you can literally see when people are on your website, what content they are looking at, how they are responding to your emails, when they are close to buying and when they might be ready to buy again.

Creating buyer personas and customer journeys

When you are aware of the sales funnel in digital marketing you can focus on each step of the journey and work to make it as effective as possible. You need to focus on your customers to define exactly who they are, how they use your services and what they need to succeed. These are you buyer personas and will help you plan out the content to move people through your funnel. I hope you can start to see how content creation is not just random bits of information you create and publish ad hoc.

What is a digital sales funnel?

There are so many ways of illustrating a digital sales funnel. Search for the term on Google images and you will see many variations. I love this from http://stevepatrizi.com/. The reason I love it is because it is simple and shows how digital marketing has swung so much more of the responsibility of generating the final sale over to marketing. If marketing can get the sales lead as ‘hot’ as possible and then hand it over the sales to convert quickly and a high value then your business will flourish.

How to move people through your sales funnel

Now we know what the sales funnel is let’s think about how we can make it work. The tools available to you are your full arsenal of digital marketing and social media tactics. In the early days of the internet it was just the content on your website, banner advertising and placement in effective web directories. Then along came search engines looking for keywords on your website and links to you from other websites. Email databases began to be created or available to rent which meant you could pull people back to your website. Even newspaper and TV adverts and billboards started to feature web addresses all pulling people into the top of your funnel.

Then blogs and social networks arrived and a whole new layer of traffic became available. Chris Brogan, a well-known social media commentator, summed the role and function of social networks in sales funnels when he described the relationship between your website and social networks as Passports, Outposts and Homebase.

I like to use this graphic to focus in on the Outpost and Homebase element

chris brogan homebase

You use your social media activities to be present in the communities that your target audience and customers are already active in.

You produce content which goes on to your blog which is more interesting than the ‘brochureware’ on your normal website pages which just sell your services. Blogs are commonly about everyday problems and solutions which are full of the exact kind of things people search for on Google. This is why blogs are so powerful. They give you content to share and talk about on social media, and it gives Google more reasons to send people to your website.

Converting Your Traffic into Customers

As a digital marketer it is your job to move people along the sales funnel as effectively and efficiently as possible. You need to appreciate that the more people you get to the bottom, the more success your business will have. It is vital therefore that you don’t lose people along the way. This is called your conversion rate i.e. how many people you convert.

It is not always easy to convert people. They could chose a competitor, they could find your website too confusing or they could simply get distracted and forget to come back. You will need to use various tactics to ensure your conversion rate is as high as possible.

Generating leads – if you don’t get people’s contact details how are you going to be able to remarket to them? Using landing pages and data capture forms is vital. Commonly people will give you their contact details in exchange for some content which is of value to them, like an eBook or informative webinar.

Nurturing leads – if you don’t warm your leads up they are unlikely to convert. Stay in communication with personalised emails and make sure you have multiple forms of content to help them make a decision. Using a marketing automation system will help you efficiently do this. At Live And Social we are Act-On Agency Partner and can help you set this up.

Closing leads – as the image showed in a traditional sales process you can’t get away from the sales team needing to close the deal. Being able to inform sales when a lead is ready to purchase is another feature of marketing automation as leads can be scored as they visit the website, click content and consume content. If you have options to purchase from your site then again, timely personalised emails with appropriate offers and calls to action are vital to close the deal when the time is right. Digital marketing gives you the power to test these elements so you make them as powerful as possible.

Making the most of each stage of the digital sales funnel

First off you need to realise that the fewer people you put in the top however the fewer people you will get to the bottom. Here is a rundown on the different tactics and ways you can approach each section of your funnel.

Funnel Stage

Explanation

Actions to Take

Awareness Anything you can do to draw people to your website, blog or social channels. Organic search, social media, content, community activity, press, other peoples blogs, back links, email, direct mail,

Ads: PPC, banners, social advertising, press ads, affiliate partners.

Interest Early visits to the website, looking for answers to problems, topical opinion and info about the company. Create blog content or social media conversations that answer everyday problems that you customers might have.
Consideration Visitor begins to be interested in your business helping them or being able to solve their problem. Create content that has a datacapture behind it. An ebook or webinar, that swaps their contact info for your helpful content.
Intent Calls to action are vital. You need to tell people to ‘click to buy’ or ‘request a phone call’ or ‘upload your project requirements. Think about contact forms, live webchat tools and inserting prominent calls to action around your site. Feed leads into a marketing automation tool to nurture them via email marketing
Evaluation Providing confidence and assurances to someone considering your services. Reviews, customer testimonials and case studies can all be a timely aids in helping close the sale.
Purchase Not just an excellent and simple purchase experience but think about how you can data capture and upsell to your customers. Use A/B tests to work out what leads to a successful sale. Be sure to monitor how many people you lose during the payment process. If you are not selling online, make sure you check to see how many of your leads the sales team are closing.

Making the Most of Your Customers

It would be a mistake to presume that your job is done once a prospect reaches the bottom of the funnel and becomes a customer. As the digital marketer it is your job to ensure that you delight that customer so that they buy again and tell others about your business. This is often called Retention and Advocacy, and in truth will send a whole load more traffic back to the top of the funnel.

Retention Do all you can to make sure you keep a customer happy and loyal. An email address is like a valued friendship. Think about looking after and respecting that friend. Add value, don’t pester them, help them do well, occasionally tell them about great opportunities. Getting people into a social media community is the same. You want people to enjoy and value being connected to you.
Advocacy Do all you can to help people share about their experience with your business Having people advertise and promote your business after they have bought from you is a powerful way to fill your funnel. Encourage social sharing, give them ‘friend get friend’ offers, provide social sharing buttons and most of all make it easy. Don’t forget to ask people to leave you reviews on your social channels also.

Understanding the digital sales funnel is a vital element in any content marketing and social media strategy. The company that has not thought this through is just spinning its wheels, hoping for the best and likely wasting a lot of time and money.

It has been the evolution for many marketers to understand this process and I trust this blog post has helped you get a better understanding of it for your business. If you would like to know more about how to make it work for your business then I’d love to work on that strategy with you. Shout me up in the comments or tweet me @jonniejensen.  

10 High Risk Reasons Why You Can’t Ignore Social Media Any Longer

Posted by Ollie Whitfield, under , on March 24, 2015, No Comments
10 high risk reasons you cant ignore social media any longer

Have your competitors got a thriving social media presence that generates leads for them to capitalise on? Do they share content that helps and entertains or inspires their audience? If they are, we hope you do too! Getting left behind in the marketplace where your audience spend their time could be fatal for your business. It’s time to break the mould and get social, market yourself online and get involved in the conversation your prospects are having online.

You simply can’t ignore social media any more. Why? Getting left behind in the marketplace where your audience spend their time could be fatal for your business. Getting ahead is every aspect of business is very important, so

1- Get in where your audience spends their time

Did you know that 86% of people skip TV commercials? (via Webquity) In case you haven’t noticed, the consumer doesn’t pay attention any more. If nobody is listening, then you are marketing to nobody! It’s now about being where the consumer wants to be, where they want you to be as a brand. If your brand’s ideal buyer persona uses social media, you really are missing a big part of where they can consume your brand and it’s messages/products or services.

2- Anybody can use social media

Thinking more about your audience, 89% of 18-29 year-olds are active on social media, as are 43% of adults 65 and older (via Jeff Bullas). If your target audience are within or close to this demographic, think about the exposure and relationships your brand could open itself up to by using social media as a marketing tool. If you are in recruitment, have you heard of social recruiting? Why do people post and interact with connections on LinkedIn? There are 2 new users that join LinkedIn every second (via Expanded Ramblings). Think about the size of the audience you could be tapping into there.Furthermore, 60 percent of 50 to 60 year olds are active on social media (via Jeff Bullas). This just goes to show how social media is a part of a huge amount of people’s lives.

3- People are lazy

In the UK alone, people spend 13 minutes per hour on social media networks (via Jeff Bullas).  So if you take this figure as roughly a quarter of an hour, that equates as roughly a quarter of a day, not literally in every person’s life but figuratively. Can you turn away the change to mingle and market amongst a medium which people in the UK spend that amount of time on?

With that being said, your customers and potential buyers don’t want to have to pick up the phone first. They want you to do the leg work, so by using social media you can enter their social circles and give them direct means of communication. They can click on a link to your website with one click of a mouse or smartphone screen, effortless. You can’t get much more efficient in terms of getting users on to your website to check out your products and services than a one click action!

4- It’s easy to get discovered

There are a variety of ways to get found on social media to gain exposure and potential customers. You can use Google Local listings to place your business on the map, that’s a metaphor as well as what Google Local listings actually does! By using other social networks you can search for users in certain locations and communicate with them. You can use hashtags to get people talking about the same topics as you to engage with your posts. 80% of marketers say social media has increased website traffic for their business (via Convince and Convert)

5- Growth 

It might not be overtly obvious, but social media can help your business grow and expand. How? Well it doesn’t happen overnight. You need content, contacts who love your content, conversation around that content and conversion in selling your products and services to those contacts. Once your activity on social media generates website traffic, you can begin to see how those users travel around your site and what they do/buy.  What’s more, 53% of people recommend companies and products on Twitter (via Yahoo Small Business). So once your product/service is bought, it could well be shared for other new customers to see!

If I totally confused you with the “Content, Contacts and Conversation” principle, check out this video with our Founder Jonnie Jensen, he explains our core principles very nicely:

6- Achieving business goals

Whether your business aim is to be bought out or acquire investment to grow further, social media can help you achieve that goal. The idea isn’t to have a glossy looking social media presence just to look nice, as marketers we look for return on that investment, both in terms of money and time spent. We want to see return and revenue generated through social media use. Social media is a way to get your business into the conversations and negotiations you want to be in.

7- Improved customer support and interaction

Customer support on social media is an interesting idea. Rather than sending a letter or email and waiting for a response until a few days later is seemingly old fashioned. How much easier is it to tweet the support handle or brand twitter channel or even get in touch via another social media channel? Even if not for customer support, you can take feedback from customers via social media. As an example, a restaurant could use a Twitter account to engage with local customers and share offers and other information with them. A customer who buys their product or service can tweet them and let them know how good or bad the service was. Their followers will see this interaction, both raising awareness of the restaurant and increasing their visibility on Twitter. If the feedback is good, brilliant. If it is critical, the brand can respond and offer a discount for the next time or a free product, this will demonstrate how they care about their reputation and customers. Does your business show that it really cares about it’s customers and how their experience is with your brand?

8- Going viral

We’ve all heard the phrase “gone viral”. You may have heard it in relation to Gangnam Style by PSY or “Charlie but my finger”, a popular YouTube clip, but it can also apply to your brand. Imagine your company logo and staff in a video or piece of content that went viral and raised brand awareness hugely, gained new customers and leads for business. Viral content is shared on social media where it often explodes and is rapidly shared and made visible to a lot of people. So you are going to find it quite difficult to go viral without truly using social media!

9- Being overtaken

Would you be more encouraged to start using social media in your marketing efforts if your competitors all used it? More and more businesses are stepping up their social media efforts, 92% of marketers agreed that social media is important for their business, up from 86% in 2013 in fact (via HubSpot). So if, for example 92% of your competitors used social media to effectively score leads and generate business and profit, you would be taking far less business than you could be. Your competitors could generate more revenue and profits than you, increase their staff and expand as a business, potentially achieving your own business goals!

10- Evolution and adaptation

Newspapers and magazines are struggling now compared to 10 years ago. Why? It’s a widely held belief that the rising use of technology and social media has contributed to this. Print media is being left behind somewhat, so to ultimately not be left behind and get where the business is you need to adapt and evolve. This is the same in every business ad industry. Ever heard the phrase “evolve or die”? Well it comes from how Darwin’s theory says that animals and organisms needed to evolve and adapt  to survive. So if there is any sense in that, you should think about evolving your marketing methods and areas of operation.

If you feel like you can’t ignore social media anymore, get in touch with us. If your on Twitter tweet us at @LiveandSocial so we can help you!  Failing that you can reach us by emailing alive@liveandsocial.com or calling 08452871181 from the UK.