What is an Inbound Marketing Funnel?
By Anton Chow
How can B2B businesses convert strangers into high quality leads, and eventually customers? That’s where the inbound marketing funnel comes in. Through this methodology, you can build a process for nurturing and converting leads at every stage of the customer journey.
But first, what is an inbound marketing funnel? Let’s break it down into two parts.
- “Inbound”, which refers to driving prospective leads to your business. Your customers are coming to you.
- As for “marketing funnel”, this half refers to exactly how you’re going to do that. You’ll be using content marketing to help customers progress through the funnel-shaped customer lifecycle journey.
The inbound marketing funnel is divided into 3 sections: awareness, consideration and evaluation. We’ll talk about how you can strategically deliver content throughout the funnel to consistently add value to the customer lifecycle journey.
And there we have it, the inbound marketing funnel - the foundation of every B2B marketing strategy.
How can you get strangers into your funnel in the first place? At the “Awareness” stage, your main goal is to attract and connect people to your business. In short, you want to streamline the customer discovery process of your product or service.
The Awareness stage is the largest part of the funnel as it’s the most broad in reach. This stage will take a bit more heavy lifting than the others. We’ll explore how SEO, content, and ads can be used in the awareness stage.
Potential leads will be researching solutions to fulfill their needs. Through an up-to-date SEO strategy, you can be at the top of SERP rankings when you target relevant keywords that your audience is searching.
Take relevant keywords a step further by writing high-quality blog content. Through blog content, you can provide useful information and insights to their problems. This is also an opportunity to educate visitors about the solutions you provide through your product or service. For example, Splunk’s blog writes about using data to make social change - a topic interesting to their audience.
With content production, your website will be getting visits. Make sure to strategically tweak your landing page, so that it presents the right content to the target demographic. Check out our blog post on content mapping for your existing content inventory.
Lastly, you can use search and social ads. When your target demographic searches for target keywords, use search ads (Google ads) to bring awareness to your business. As for social media ads on platforms like Facebook, they can be a powerful way to direct visitors to your offers.
By applying these tactics, strangers can have a better way of finding and learning about your business.
Once you’ve attracted people’s attention in the awareness stage, it’s time to let them know exactly how you can help. The next section of the inbound marketing funnel is called the “Consideration” stage. In this stage, the goal is to further educate your leads as they evaluate your product or service.
You’ll still be using content marketing, but with a focus on in-depth content like guides, webinars, and personalized emails. Instead of raising awareness, your goal is to now nurture interest and frame your product or service as a solution.
This is a critical stage in positioning your product messaging based on your customers’ needs.
At this stage, customers will be researching more about your product or service. This is an opportunity to use content as an answer to any questions or concerns your leads may have. Explore guides and webinars as mediums to educate prospects on product features.
For example, SaaS company DocuSign provides downloadable PDFs on how to use specific features of its software. User guides are a great type of content for the Consideration stage.
Take advantage of personalizing your email marketing to deliver engaging, audience-specific content (think customized emails for birthday incentives or surveys). That way, you can simultaneously target new and existing customer segments.
You can advertise to past customers, such as website visitors and email subscribers, through remarketing ads. Remarketing ads are advertisements specifically aimed at converting past website visitors and those that have engaged with your ads, but did not purchase.
Now that you have your leads interested, it’s time to convert their careful consideration into a confident purchase. In the “Decision” stage, your content will now center on marketing your product or service as the best solution for their use case.
Support your sales team by making the buying process easier through case studies, educational content, and product comparisons.
Build case studies to show how your solutions apply to real world scenarios. Incorporate reviews and testimonials into your case studies and landing pages to help solidify the customer purchasing decision.
Offer educational content like training courses and ebooks for leads to familiarize themselves with your product or service. Take this as an opportunity to give them first-hand experience on product/service features for a better onboarding experience.
Your potential customers will also be researching competitor options. Look into comparison charts to highlight your product features over your competitors’. Below is a chart of Freshbook’s features in comparison to its accounting software competitors.
To further support sales, make sure to update your landing page with relevant calls to action. Make it easy for mature leads to access a free trial or schedule a consultation.
Through an inbound marketing funnel, you can help buyers become aware of your business, learn about your solutions, and choose your product. But building an inbound marketing funnel is not a one-time process. You can’t simply set and forget it.
For your awareness, consideration, and decision strategies to work in tandem, you have to treat the funnel as a constant work in process. Regularly audit and make sure your inbound marketing funnel is up to date. Track conversion rates, analyze trends, and adjust your tactics accordingly.
In a face-paced, digital world, a well-built inbound marketing funnel will help you better interact with your buyers and stand out from a sea of competitors.
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