How do you persuade visitors to proceed from content designed to build awareness, next to your evaluation pieces (like case studies), and finally to become leads? Use marketing funnel strategies. There’s more than one way to do this, so let’s take a look at four concepts and tactics using marketing funnels to convert visitors to prospects, then prospects into leads you can close.1. First Funnel Concept – Understand the process so you can use it to your advantage: I really like the funnel strategy proposed in the infographic from First 10 and Smart Insights (at right) because of the “Buyer Stages” it lists, and the short, pithy sequence of Plan, Reach, Act, Convert, Engage, that it proposes. I also heartily agree with the statement,“relevant content earns permission to sell.” Have a stare at this funnel, then compare it to our own funnel next.
2. Second Funnel Concept – The Webdirexion overview of Required Marketing Skills: Quick — based on what you know so far, is a Marketing “Funnel” part of your Inbound Marketing tool-chest, or does it belong under Content Marketing? Answer: It depends on where you begin the persuasion process, but usually involves tactics and skills from both disciplines. Huh?
Ok — let me make it clearer. If you begin tracking in a social venue, like Google+, and design a campaign to pull contacts through to a lead form on your site, then you are starting with inbound tactics and ending with content marketing tactics on your site. But sometimes you remain primarily concerned with visitor behavior at your site, and track that process in Analytics (as we’ll see in the next example), so that keeps your tactics primarily focused on Content Marketing. Take a look at our Webdirexion formula below and note the overlaps:
There are two main differences between our Marketing Funnel strategy and that from the first example. We focus primarily on converting visitors into leads (B2B) or persuading them to buy a product (B2C eCommerce), and then we continue the cycle using tests to improve results, while the first funnel encourages you to foster “advocacy” after engagement. Which methods should you emphasize? The answer depends on your overall Marketing Communication strategy, and goes to which tactics will compel your target “personas” to act while proving out for ROI in your campaign budget.
3. How the New Google Analytics Visualizes Funnels: The new Google Analytics upgrade offers some very useful site visitor path visualizations — you can see the funnels visitors move through on their way to becoming your prospects, or not (“drop-offs”). Analytics still provides the older sort of funnel visualization, where you set a desired goal path and track it. But this new tool allows you to watch the organic pathways people cut through your site.
The grounds crew at the college I attended used to watch for steady dirt pathways that students cut walking across lawn areas on their way to classes, and instead of posting a “do not walk here” sign, they smartly went with the flow and simply paved a new walk over the dirt path. Now you can go with your visitor flow too and learn from the organic pathways your site visitors create:
So, using the new Google Analytics visualization we can first filter for the type of visitor we want to study — here it’s visitors from social venues — then follow them through as they cut their own funnel path through our site to where they either drop-off or engage further with us. This allows us to test our messaging at key engagement points to improve results.
4. A New “Survey Funnel” Content Marketing Tactic: We were pleased to find a survey plugin that that not only helps us visitor behavior questions beyond what you might glean from Analytics, but also then funnels visitors to relevant content based on their answers. It’s a one-two punch, where you first learn what your visitors are thinking, then serve them up suggestions that address their questions. And, it may be deployed at the precise engagement points uncovered using the Analytics visualization from the previous strategy point.
We’re testing this now at our site — review the method by clicking “Get Marketing Solutions” at left. First we learn what is on the minds of visitors, then suggest three links to content that addresses their concerns, for the first four answers. And when a visitor clicks on “other”, then we present a form where they can engage directly with us. This is a flexible tool we will be using over the next few months using different tactics at our own sites and for clients, so watch here for an update on what we learn.
Above we mentioned the “old-school” method of forcing visitors into funnels you create — analytics still offers the ability to set and track these rigid pathways. But since the modern generation is all about freedom of choice and that’s what most people prefer anyway, we are now testing methods on the theory that fluidly addressing concerns with options, instead of forced pathways, will result in a lift in our results. Time will tell the answer, and what’s great is how the technology affords instant results reporting.