If you’re reading this post, you’re probably searching for ideas to easily generate more leads for your business. In today’s marketing landscape, there are so many ways to “market your business” that it can be downright overwhelming. You’re busy running your business and don’t have time to waste on marketing tactics that don’t work. You want to market your business with confidence that your effort will yield profitable results.
Rather than spitballing ideas and experimenting with trends, we recommend that every business start with a reliable lead-generating sales funnel to guide your efforts so you don’t waste time. A well-structured lead generation funnel will give you a framework to work within to communicate with prospects and nurture relationships that lead virtual strangers to become loyal customers and, eventually, raving fans.
It sounds great on paper, but is it really that easy? Well, it can be, but you have a bit of work to do on the frontend before the funnel will work the way you want it to. There are proven ways to structure a lead-generation funnel that leverage automation tools and stellar content to communicate with your prospect on auto-pilot while you spend time connecting with qualified leads that your funnel is delivering straight to your CRM. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Know Your Ideal Customer
Before you create a lead funnel you must know who you’re trying to attract. If you have not invested the time in developing customer personas, now is the time to flesh out your ideal client or buyer. This information will not only help you decide what type of content to create, it will help you think through where your prospects spend their time online which can inform your advertising spend and the types of lead offers you create (more on that in a minute).
If you’re new to creating customer personas, there are many templates online that can guide you. We will go more into depth on this topic in a future blog post. But for now, the important thing is to think through who your ideal customer is and what, when, where, and how they will engage with your brand. Here are some additional questions to get you started:
- General demographic info, e.g. age, gender, education, location
- What do they do for a living? Job title/career path?
- Where do they spend their free time (and money)?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
Step 2: Create Spaces to Gather an Online Audience
Next, you must create opportunities for your prospects to regularly engage with your content online. Assuming you already have a top quality website in place, make sure that you have established a strong social media presence in places like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or LinkedIn and make sure that messaging, tone, visual branding, and overall quality of your online presence is consistent with your brand.
You don’t necessarily need to have a presence on every social media channel to be successful—let your customer personas inform which social channels make the most sense for your business. And while it’s possible to attract leads to your funnel without a social media presence, you limit your reach if the only sources of traffic are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Step 3: Make a Plan for Email Marketing
A key component of the lead-generation sales funnel is building an email list so you can regularly communicate with these leads. In order for your funnel to function properly you need a plan for how you will do this. In marketing we call this lead-nurturing and this is largely done via email marketing. We will talk about what kind of content and contact frequency later in this post. For the sake of preparation, the important thing to know is that you need a system for collecting emails and, ideally, automating emails you plan to send in the future.
There are a number of email automation tools you can use or you can hire a designer to customize a solution to fit your specific needs. We have helped many clients automate their processes and create workflows that integrate seamlessly with other internal processes and marketing considerations. If you need help selecting an email marketing tool, customer relationship management software, or if you need a custom solution, please reach out to us and let us know how we can help!
Step 4: Develop a Lead Magnet and Lead Page
The lynchpin of the lead funnel is the lead magnet. Also known as a lead generation offer, opt-in gift, or free download, the idea of a lead magnet is to draw prospects into your sales funnel by offering them a free content download that is meaningful, useful, and solves a problem they are trying to fix. For example, your lead magnet may be a pdf checklist to help them see what they’re missing (and how your product can help), it could be an ebook or white paper, a case study, or even a webinar or online course. Referencing your buyer personas, make sure that you’re creating a free offer that solves your customers’ problem (as it relates to your product or service).
The lead magnet should be available to download directly from an internal page on your website designed specifically for this free offer. This specific page is called a lead page and is necessary to ensure that you move prospects into the sales funnel. Do not create and advertise a lead offer that lands on your homepage. Your website’s homepage serves an entirely different purpose and shouldn’t be competing with whichever lead offer you may be running at any given time.
After the prospect gives you their email address in exchange for the free download, make sure that your lead page sends them to a thank you page including information about what happens next. Ideally, this triggers an automated process and the new lead will immediately receive a pre-written email from you in their inbox.
Step 5: Build Your Funnel and Start Generating Leads
Now that you have each competent in place, you are ready to begin targeted marketing that draws leads into your funnel. Whether you start with a more general approach to attract leads at a high level, or if you create campaign-specific funnels that target a specific persona within your target audience, the basics of a lead funnel are the same:
- Create meaningful content to drive traffic to your lead page with a free download
- Promote the content using paid advertising and SEO tactics
- Prospects supply their email address in exchange for the free download
- Prospects become leads as you initiate targeted communications using email marketing
- Win more customers
You can attract leads into your funnel through advertising or SEO. To use advertising to attract leads, set up ad campaigns on social media that drives people to your lead page where they can download your offer. To increase the efficacy of your reach, create keyword rich, optimized content to draw organic traffic to your funnel. Whether you’re creating content for paid advertising or organic search, here are some things to keep in mind as you communicate with your prospects through each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Communicating to the Top of the Funnel
Think of the lead funnel as an inverted pyramid. The top of the funnel is where your prospects are spending their time online. This is the blue ocean where you are fishing for leads. These people have not followed you yet, so attract them with general content that solves their problems or answers their questions, including blog posts and videos. We have written at length about how to engage customers online, and we would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss it further, but for the sake of the lead funnel, know that the top of the funnel is where you’re trying to attract customers who don’t know you yet by providing content that answers their questions or solves their problems.
Communications to the Middle of the Funnel
The middle of the funnel is the place where prospects are no longer strangers to your brand and are paying attention to your content. They’ve followed you on social media or subscribed to your YouTube channel and are liking and commenting on what you post. Remember that these prospects are not yet sales-ready so continue to provide helpful content that can answer their questions or solve their problems. But this time create content that gets a bit more specific than the top of the funnel content. Prospects in the middle of the funnel are comparing and weighing options. They’re reading online reviews and making lists. Create content that speaks to where they are in the buying process.
Communicating to Bottom of the Funnel
The bottom of the lead generation funnel is where the lead becomes a customer. They’ve read all of your content, they’ve weighed the options, and they’re probably ready to do business with you. This is the time to send the sales letter, set up a call, or ask for their business. You’ve led them this far through the process, as long as your content and your customer service remain consistent with their expectations, you should see leads become customers.
Remember that the entire idea of a lead generation funnel is transformation. You are moving prospects who start off as strangers through a funnel of awareness and buy-in until they become paying customers and eventually raving fans. The tools to help you accomplish this include:
- Thorough customer personas to help you tailor your offers and messaging
- Social media channels to engage new audiences with helpful content
- Email marketing tools/automation to help you communicate with new leads
- Lead magnets or a free downloadable offer used to attract leads to your funnel
- Leadpages which are specifically designed landing pages on your website where prospects can enter their name and email address to download the free offer
- Meaningful and useful blog posts and videos related to the lead magnet that can be promoted using PPC or SEO keyword strategies that help new prospects find your content
A Note About Generation Leads vs. Buying Leads
Generating leads organically is infinitely better than buying leads. For one, the leads you generate organically will be primed and ready to hear more from you because they’ve already opted in to receive content from you. If the content they received in exchange for their email address was meaningful and useful to them, they will be more likely to respond to further calls to action. When you buy leads, the cold-calls you make are to people who don’t know you. They did not opt-in to receive information from you, so they’re less likely to respond positively because your cold-calling will feel like an intrusion. You also run the risk of being flagged as spam which will open up new problems that will hinder your marketing efforts down the line.
Lead Generation Funnels Work, We Can Help You Get Started
We hope this guide will help you have a better understanding of lead generation funnels and how you can attract more prospects and generate more leads. There are many moving pieces involved in this process and each campaign should fit into an overarching digital marketing strategy. We would love to help you start using lead generation funnels and targeted marketing campaigns. When you’re ready, let’s set up a time to meet so you can get your questions answered and start winning more business!
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