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How to Create an Inbound Marketing Funnel that Works

Building an inbound marketing funnel that actually works is more than setting up a few touchpoints and hoping for the best. It’s about understanding the how’s and why’s of your business and using it to create compelling content and experiences to attract your ideal customer.

To better understand how to create an inbound marketing funnel, we must first understand what inbound marketing is. So, what is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a business methodology that involves creating valuable content and experiences that attracts your customers. Essentially, you are bringing the customer to you rather than going out to find the customer.

As you can imagine, attracting the right customer means knowing who the right customer is, what they want, and how to reel them in. That’s what creating an inbound marketing funnel is all about.

What is an inbound marketing funnel?

Everyone’s inbound marketing funnel looks a little different than the last. However, some fundamentals should be considered when constructing yours. 

Like a traditional sales funnel, the inbound marketing funnel is broken down into different stages. Each stage requires progression, and as the lead progresses, they make their way towards the ultimate goal: conversion.

However, the inbound marketing funnel breaks down each stage and gives insight to us marketers so that we know exactly what our messages should be saying and when they should be sent.

Customer Lifecycle Marketing Funnel diagram

In truth, an inbound marketing funnel works much like a traditional sales funnel. As you can see from the image above, you still have the basic principles and can even break it down further into three distinct sections: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

А central premise of this funnel and what sets it apart from a generic funnel is that it operates with the basic understanding that not all visitors are the same, and they aren’t all looking for the same thing.

Points of focus in an inbound marketing funnel 

With the definition of inbound marketing in mind, we have to remember that this particular funnel isn’t about grabbing hold of the lead and pulling them through. Instead, it’s about understanding what stage they’re at and giving them the resources they need to decide what is best for them.

Your focus should never be on dragging the customer through the funnel. Instead, your focus should be on the customers themselves, giving them a personalized experience so that they naturally want to pick you. 

To accomplish that, here are the two points that you should focus on in your own inbound marketing funnel:

Bring value at every step

Inbound marketing is all about showcasing the value of your business to the customers and giving them the power to choose. This is the core value of inbound marketing. Anything that strays from this definition is not considered inbound.

What does this mean? It means that you need to provide value. Inbound marketing has to be deliberate and tailored to specific industries.

Bringing value means thinking outside of the standard sales funnel and putting the customer first. This could even mean that you will need to set up multiple inbound marketing funnels depending on the leads, industry, and value that you want to bring.

Content assets at each stage of the inbound funnel

All-in-all, creating valuable lead magnets does two things. The first is that it attracts niche customers based on what they need. You make an eBook that details how to invest in the blockchain; the odds are that you will find leads interested in crypto wallets.

The second thing that valuable content does is it paints your brand as an authority on the subject, solidifying your image as a good solution. If you create a highly detailed article about cloud storage, talking in-depth about how it works, people will assume that you know your stuff and be that much more likely to convert.

Automate everything possible

Automation is a key component in inbound marketing. Why? Because you can’t just sit there and wait for the fish to bite. Automation provides a simple and easy way to set your hook and move on to finding new ways to catch fish.

What does automation look like in an inbound marketing funnel? Email campaigns for newly acquired leads, advertising campaigns on Google, Bing, and social media platforms, CRMs to help you manage said leads, etc. 

Аutomation in an inbound marketing funnel isn’t that much different than a normal funnel. It’s all about nurturing and providing the right messaging at the right time. Inbound marketing automation makes that process easier, faster, and more efficient. 

Inbound marketing could require you to create multiple funnels so leads have multiple paths towards conversion. Conversion funnels are never linear. Typically, multiple funnels are built based on buyer personas. Depending on your business, you might cater to multiple industries. 

Creating an inbound marketing funnel based on each industry might be far more effective in lead generation than having a single funnel. It all depends on what you do and your target audience(s). 

Automation helps bring these funnels, processes, and paths into one coherent strategy. 

Further reading: How to Create a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy

The primary stages of an inbound marketing funnel

We’ve seen the diagram above, breaking the inbound marketing funnel into four steps — Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. The reality is that that funnel is generic, still. Sure, it provides you with a good overview of what your funnel should look like, but it is not tailor-made to your customers. Only you can create something of that caliber.

But, if you notice in that diagram the words ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu. No, these aren’t Asian delicacies! Instead, they represent the top, middle, and bottom of the inbound marketing funnel. 

TOFU, MOFU and BOFU diagram

No matter who you are, what you do, and who your target audience is, everyone will have a beginning, middle, and end to their funnel. That’s why it’s best to break down an example funnel into these three basic stages.

Depending on where your lead is in the funnel, certain processes work best to nurture them. The farther along they are in the funnel, the more likely they are to convert, meaning those at the bottom of the funnel should require extra special attention. Let’s break it down a bit further, starting from the top.

Top of the funnel marketing (ToFu)

At the top of the funnel, your leads will fit into a few generic categories and will therefore require specific marketing strategies in order to progress past the first initial stages. Here’s what you should know about leads at the top of the funnel:

  • These leads are just now becoming aware of your brand, both in general and as a potential solution.
  • They will require a high level of education on what you offer.
  • In this stage, you will have the highest volume of leads.
  • They will also be considered the least-quality leads.

What does this mean from a marketing standpoint? It means you have to focus on collecting leads and email subscribers. This is the first major milestone in any funnel, and it is the first step of many. 

The most common practices for lead generation here are SEO articles and other highly specific content like videos and ads. A well-targeted ad on social media can mean the difference between a new conversion and lowering your ROAS.

For this, you’ll need some tools. Landing page builders, SEO optimization tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console, or lead form pop-up builders like Hellobar are all great options. 

Take everything we mentioned about bringing value and apply it heavily to this first section of the inbound marketing funnel. If you place value where it needs to be placed (in your content) and target specific audiences that you know your solution is best for, these leads will go from low-quality to high-quality very quickly. That’s the beauty of inbound marketing.

Middle of the funnel marketing (MoFu)

The middle of the funnel is almost like no man’s land. It is a place where a lot of people lose their leads. This is why this whole funnel section is dedicated to lead nurturing. You have to constantly (but don’t overdo it!) keep your brand on the minds of the leads in the middle of the funnel. Easier said than done, right? Not if it’s done with value in mind. 

Here are some things we know about leads in the middle of the funnel:

  • The buyer/lead understands what they need and what they’re looking for.
  • To make the best choice, they will need a ton of information about their options.
  • There will be significantly fewer leads than at the top of the funnel.
  • Leads in the middle of the funnel are moderately-qualified.

With this information in mind, what’s the best tactic? Well, content is still 100% necessary. Remember, leads in the middle are looking for solutions, and they have a better idea about what exactly they need. Now, it’s up to you to provide content that pinpoints your business as the perfect solution.

There are two big differences between ToFu content and MoFu content. The first is that MoFu content will be more deliberate in promoting your business. That’s not to say that people want every single piece of content to be painted with your brand’s colors, but it should carefully lead them to pull the trigger on one of your CTAs. 

The second and equally as important difference is that MoFu content is usually gated. Think about the last time you signed up for a webinar. It was probably highly specific, right? 

You were most likely already aware of the business hosting it. Now, in order to register and get all the vital information, you have to sign up and give them some data.

Webinars screen

On the other hand, maybe you weren’t aware of the company, but you were in need of some details about an issue you’re having. An ebook would be a great source of information because you already know that you have said issue, and you’re looking for solutions. Again, you have to sign up to download it and give them some of your data.

Gated content is prominent in the middle of the funnel, but it’s not the only strategy. As we mentioned before, lead nurturing is about keeping the lead’s mind on you. Setting up targeted email campaigns that promote offers and valuable content are also great ways to nurture leads. For that, Encharge is the perfect tool. You can quickly put your nurturing emails on autopilot and keep leads thinking about your solution. 

Bottom of the funnel marketing (BoFu)

Leads that reach the bottom of the funnel are ready to make a purchase — from you or from one of your competitors. They have done the research, weighed their options, and are ready to sign the check. This doesn’t necessarily mean a guaranteed sale, but there are a few things we know about the people at the bottom of the funnel:

  • They are ready for the sales team to take over and present an offer to them.
  • They know their options and have something fairly specific in mind.
  • Compared to the top and middle of the funnel, there will be even fewer leads to make it here.
  • Leads that make it to the bottom or end of the funnel are considered the highest quality.

Being the highest quality, most of your time and money should secure them as a conversion. Picture them as low-hanging fruit. All they need is a little nudge to fall into the arms of your sales team. They are ripe for the picking and should always be the focus of the sales team.

At this point, the only thing you have in your arsenal to seal the deal is the right offer. The last consideration a lead will have before making the leap is budget and value. If they can get the same thing for a lower price, why wouldn’t they? 

Or, if your product is filled with options and features that they don’t need, why would they want to spend the extra money? This is the battle that businesses and sales teams worldwide are constantly fighting, and it’s why the inbound marketing funnel or funnels are so essential. 

Encharge is also a great tool for automating your sales processes with CRM integrations. Easily nurture leads into trial users and customers.

B2C vs. B2B inbound marketing funnel

Since we’ve made it this far and gone over a lot of information, it’s essential to detail the differences between a B2C and B2B inbound marketing funnel. Depending on your approach, you can adapt everything said above to your needs, according to the differences we’re about to discuss.

B2C marketing funnel

Typically, the B2C marketing funnel starts with a visit to your website. As soon as the click is made, the lead enters the top of the inbound marketing funnel.

From there, the lead will show some sort of interest in what you sell. This could mean adding items to their cart or visiting the pricing page one or more times.

From there, the bottom of the funnel could be filled with people that have left items in their cart or backed out of a checkout procedure.

For B2C, this process could happen in a matter of minutes. That being said, at each step of the funnel, the lead will need to be followed up with.

B2B marketing funnel

The B2B inbound marketing funnel is almost the exact opposite. Sure, the top of the funnel could be initiated with a website visit, but the lead will very rarely jump to the middle right away. In fact, until the leads fill out some lead forms, they will remain at the top of the funnel.

From there, the leads will need to be nurtured for weeks or months before they enter the bottom of the funnel. Remember that it’s not just a single person you’re dealing with but an entire other business. 

After that period, and being sales qualified, the lead will be handed off to the sales team. This process is most like what we outlined in this article.

As you can see, the two processes are starkly different. B2C is typically a faster-paced process, often never directly involving the sales team. On the other hand, the B2B process can take months to complete and involves the direct involvement of both marketing and sales.

Conclusions and takeaway

A lot goes into creating an inbound marketing funnel that fits your business. There are many factors that you need to take into consideration, and often, a singular funnel is not enough.

The best piece of advice anyone can give you when it comes to creating your own inbound marketing funnel is to be patient, take your time, and above all else, add value into every nook and cranny you can.

That’s why Encharge is the perfect tool for inbound marketing. Not only can you automate the lead nurturing process by setting up email campaigns and behavior emails, but you can also streamline the sales process by integrating it with your CRM. This allows you to keep all your data in one place, giving the ultimate insight to both the sales and marketing teams. 
Having everyone on one page means less friction and more inbound conversions. Try it for free today, and start adding value to your inbound marketing strategy.

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