The first step to growing your revenue is to make people aware of your brand and turn them into leads likely to become long-term customers.
Yet, about 61% of businesses struggle to acquire leads.
If you’re trying to scale your business, having a proper lead generation funnel will help your business grow exponentially.
Imagine doubling the number of leads you bring in every month.
Learning how to properly attract and engage new visitors will bring in more leads to your business.
That’s why we’re here to show you how to build an effective lead generation funnel so that you can help your sales team close more leads and ultimately obtain your business goals.
What is a lead generation funnel?
A lead generation funnel is a strategic system for generating more leads and potential customers.
It’s a process where you funnel your audience through different stages until they decide to purchase your product or service.
Key lead funnel stages
Lead generation funnels are used to map a prospect’s online journey.
Every effective lead generation funnel can be broken down into three key stages: top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
During each phase, it’s essential to identify action leads that prospects must take to advance to the next step toward lead qualification. The three key stages include:
- Top-of-Funnel: The discovery phase where businesses create awareness through online activities such as organic content marketing, social media, or paid advertisements. However, brand awareness can also be done through manual activities like cold outreach. The objective is to get your leads aware and comfortable with your brand.
- Middle-of-Funnel: The interest and desire phase where leads become interested in your value offering through exposure to your unique selling proposition or content and begin to express interest and desire by engaging with your online brand.
- Bottom-of-Funnel: The action and qualification phase where prospects move from general engagement to taking a particular action, such as giving their contact information in exchange for something valuable like a lead magnet. This stage means the lead will be qualified for further nurturing.
Breaking the lead generation funnel into multiple phases is beneficial for several reasons.
First, it helps you map your prospect’s journey and determine the touchpoints and desired actions you want each lead to go through as they move down the funnel.
Secondly, having a lead generation funnel allows you to track the number of leads in the pipeline and even personalize their experience once they’ve entered your funnel.
5 steps to build a lead generation funnel
- Map out a lead capturing journey.
- Create valuable content that leads are looking for.
- Drive traffic.
- Create a lead magnet
- Build a lead gen landing page or conversion form
A lead generation funnel maps a prospect’s journey from awareness to conversion. Awareness is established by creating and distributing content through search engine optimization, paid strategies, and social media.
Once trust and interest are built, prospects are given a valuable lead magnet in exchange for their contact information.
From there, marketers qualify and pass the lead to the sales team to conduct ongoing nurturing activities until the lead becomes a customer.
Here are the steps to build your own lead generation funnel:
1. Map out a lead capturing journey
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey, particularly a view of all the touchpoints, experiences, and interactions that customers have with your brand up until purchase and beyond.
Your customer journey map doesn’t have to be perfect. By understanding their thought processes, pain points, and desired solutions, you can create a visual representation to lay the groundwork for your lead generation funnel.
Before mapping the lead journey, it’s crucial to build a buyer persona first.
Build a Buyer Persona
Creating a customer journey map should always include defining your buyer persona, which profiles your ideal customer based on extensive external and internal research.
The buyer persona consists of your target audience’s demographic data like age, gender, job title, etc.
It should include behavioral and psychographic details such as customer goals, lifestyle, interests, challenges, etc. Your business can have multiple personas depending on how many audience segments you are planning to target.
Here’s a template you can follow to build your buyer persona template:
However, you’ll need to build separate customer journey maps for each of the different personas you create. Developing your customer avatar by using actual data rather than false assumptions is essential.
While online research can be invaluable to your search, using actual customer feedback will provide a more accurate persona. If you’re entering a new market, consider joining forums, online social groups, looking at search data, and other research strategies.
Map the lead generation funnel touchpoints
Your customer lead journey is the defined steps, touchpoints, and actions that a prospect takes to become a qualified lead who will eventually purchase.
These steps become the stages of your lead generation funnel and outline the points of contact between a potential lead and your brand.
To map your lead generation funnel, you should perform the following steps:
- Figure out the desired lead action for each stage: What action do you want your prospects to take, and what lead information are you going to collect? In most cases, the prospect will have to fill out a lead form where they submit specific information. Generally, the higher value of the lead magnet, the easier it is to ask for more information from contacts.
- Define your free offer: What do you plan on offering your prospect in return for their contact information. There is a wide range of lead magnet options such as a free template, free trial, a webinar, a consultation call, a cheat sheet, etc. The type of lead magnet will dictate how you will promote your offer moving forward once the lead is captured.
- Outline the touchpoints: Outline all the necessary touchpoints to take the prospect from brand awareness to interest in your free lead magnet. These touchpoints become the stages of your lead generation funnel and will map out the lead journey from awareness to conversion, which ends in qualification.
- Qualify your leads: Lastly, determine how you plan to qualify inbound leads when captured so they have a higher chance of sales conversion. This means developing a lead scoring framework where every prospect is automatically assigned a score based on the information submitted and their online engagement with your brand.
Let’s say you are looking to capture prospects’ emails for your nurturing campaigns using content upgrades in your existing blog posts. Here’s an example of the lead customer journey:
- Organic or paid SEM traffic to high-value blog posts.
- Visitors land on blog posts and are curious to learn more about solving a particular problem.
- You offer a free content upgrade to address their needs.
- You require them to submit contact info through a lead capture form.
- Visitors are directors to a thank you page.
- Leads are directed to your automated and segmented email drip sequence.
Once you’ve defined these touchpoints, you can use marketing automation and CRM software to track and manage leads as they move down the funnel.
You can use visual tools to help you visually see how prospects will move through each stage of the lead funnel.
This is an example of what your lead journey map might look like:
2. Create valuable content that people are looking for
Lead generation through content marketing should be driven by keyword research. That’s because keywords are words, phrases, and questions that your leads are searching for in search engines.
Behind every search query, someone had a specific intent when they searched for it. Researching keywords is more than just an SEO strategy, but is a market research activity that allows you to deliver to your audience what they’re looking for. You can separate keywords into three groups that belong to the stages of the lead generation funnel:
- Top of the Funnel: High to mid-traffic informational keywords
- Middle of the Funnel: Long-tail informational keywords
- Bottom of the Funnel: Mid to low-traffic (i.e., long-tail)
Remember that where your visitors land and convert in your lead generation funnel is important. For example, let’s say you offer three lead magnets:
- Lead magnet A – infographic
- Lead magnet B – webinar
- Lead magnet C – free consultation call
Not every lead is made equal. Leads that enter through the bottom of the funnel require less nurturing and are more sales-ready compared to leads that enter through the top of the funnel.
For example, Airtable uses a mixture of top of the funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel content to attract different types of prospects.
Notice how the blog post titled “how to design more efficient workflows” uses more general keywords that drive brand awareness of the software.
“Watch highlights from an (unofficial) Airtable user conference” is an example of a middle-of-funnel content because it gives prospective buyers an insight into what it’s like to be a customer. When buyers are doing their research for solutions, seeing happy customers and results is a great way to move them down the funnel.
Lastly, Airtable uses various blog posts to describe how to use its features, such as “what’s new in Airtable April 2022.”
People at the bottom of the funnel are already ready to be converted. However, they are likely comparing different brands or may have final questions about the brand or product.
In this case, users may want to learn more about the features before they are converted into free trial users. These people want to know what makes Airtable stand out from its competitors.
3. Drive traffic
Once you’ve produced valuable content that your audience is searching for, it’s time to drive traffic and promote your content to drive brand awareness and ultimately capture leads.
Paid advertisements to drive traffic
Paid advertising is a method you can use to drive traffic to your content. There are so many paid ad channels, such as search engine marketing or PPC ads, social media marketing, and guest posting to other publications.
Search engines use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising means advertisers bid on keywords to earn placement at the top of the search engine results pages.
Paid ads don’t always have to link to a product directly. In this example, Semrush is an SEO tool that directs ads to a “how-to” blog post. If done correctly, you can capture many leads quickly to help expand the number of prospects in your funnel.
Guest blogging to drive traffic
Guest blogging has become a vital aspect of any digital marketing strategy. This is especially true for new startups and lesser-known brands.
When your business doesn’t drive much traffic, you are relatively unknown and need an active platform to help promote your content.
Guest blogs put your business in front of a large audience that matches your desired buyer persona. This strategy has proven its effectiveness for businesses in all kinds of industries. Blog owners hope to increase traffic to their website, which will result in new leads.
4. Create a lead magnet
Lead magnets are resources given away for free to collect contact information from the company’s target market.
Contact information usually includes name, email address, phone number, company size, website, and job title.
Examples of lead magnets include cheatsheets, free trials, ebooks, infographics, video courses, case studies, or consultations.
Marketers use lead magnets to generate leads and increase the long-term sustainability of their company. Lead magnets work in practically every industry.
Ecommerce brands might use practical how-to tutorials, guides, or free sample products as lead magnets. SaaS companies can use free trials as lead magnets. Agencies, coaches, and freelancers typically use free consultations and eBooks. No matter the type of business, lead magnets can help you generate leads.
Also, the lead magnets should match where visitors are in the buying cycle. That’s where keywords are valuable since specific keywords will determine what people are looking for.
A person looking for software to solve a problem is closer to the bottom of the funnel than someone who only discovers that they may have a problem.
These lead magnets can display in many ways on your website, including in-content, as a pop-up, widget, slide-in, or post footer. However, if you’re running ads, these lead magnets will appear as a standalone on a landing page.
How to create an irresistible lead magnet
Here are the qualities that make a lead magnet irresistible to your traffic visitors:
- Solves a real problem – Your lead magnet must solve a real problem that your target audience has; otherwise, it won’t be effective.
- Promises one quick win – It must promise and deliver a quick win for your buyer persona, meaning it should help them achieve something specific.
- Quick to digest – Avoid lengthy lead magnets. They should be easy to consume. PDF checklists, infographics, and case studies work well. Prospects should gain the information they need in a few minutes quickly.
- Demonstrates your expertise – your lead magnet should show your expertise or unique value proposition. This helps build trust in your leads, leading to them becoming customers down the road.
- High value – your lead magnet must have high perceived value and actual value.
- Super specific – Avoid creating a lead magnet about a general topic. The clearer you are about the benefits of the lead magnet, the higher chance it will convert to leads.
- Instantly accessible – It must be delivered immediately because people love instant gratification.
Nailing these elements will help you significantly improve lead conversion rates in your business. Keep in mind that your lead magnets should tie into the solution you provide.
For example, this particular lead magnet provides a meal plan which follows all of the elements above. It’s easy to consume, specific, and promises a quick win. Not to mention, it ties with their product, a nutrition coaching program, meaning leads who have downloaded this meal plan are qualified for their solution.
5. Build a landing page or conversion form
A lead capture page is a website landing page that usually includes an optimized opt-in form. This opt-in form lets you collect the emails of your traffic visitors in exchange for your free offer.
Once visitors have subscribed to your email list, you can nurture your leads down the sales funnel and turn prospects into customers.
For your landing page to be successful, it needs to offer visitors something valuable that makes them want to give them their contact information.
Also, you’ll need to get the right balance between the number of contact details you’re asking for and the offer you’re promoting. Avoid asking for too many contact details since it could scare visitors away and significantly lower your lead conversion rates.
Elements to include in your lead capture page
When building a lead capture landing page, here are the following elements to include:
- Headline: Use an attention-grabbing headline to encourage you to continue reading your landing page. Use your unique selling point in the headline so they see the value in staying on your page.
- Copy: Your landing page copy should explain your offer, including the benefits they’re getting. The copy should describe the problem using the same words they use and present the lead magnet as the solution.
- Images: Use eye-catching and custom graphics for your free offer. If you’re offering a free trial, consider showing them a sneak peek of what it’s the software.
- Lead capture form: Your lead form should only have form fields for the information you absolutely need from prospects. Asking for too many details will scare visitors away.
- Testimonials: Using positive customer reviews on the landing page helps visitors see the value of the lead magnet.
- Call to Action button (CTA): The CTA button color should always contrast with your landing page. You should also customize the button copy to ensure it’s actionable. For example, a copy that says “Send me my eBook” is more persuasive than “Download eBook.”
For example, Leadpages checks off practically every box for a good offer and landing page.
The headline is short and quickly tells the reader the benefit of using their software. The subheading elaborates on visitors’ benefits if they opt in, such as a drag-and-drop builder tool with over 200+ templates.
What really makes this landing page effective is its video, which provides a glimpse of the tool and the social proof at the bottom.
Pair your lead generation funnel with Encharge
Building brand awareness and generating interest in your company is the first to acquire customers.
When you’re strategic about how your brand discovers you and the following steps they’ll take, you can convert them into leads, meaning they are your potential customers.
Once you’ve built your lead generation funnel, you can use a marketing automation system to nurture your marketing qualified leads into sales-ready leads systematically.
Leverage Encharge to help power your marketing automation and build nurturing sequences that effectively convert leads into customers!