A good marketing funnel can take a relatively unknown startup to a full-blown powerhouse in their respective industry. Previously, this would have taken a lot of connections, years and years of ingenuity, and an unbelievable amount of patients.
Building a company still takes all of those elements, but it certainly doesn’t take as long, thanks to well-executed marketing funnels.
A marketing funnel starts wide to catch the customer at the top and narrows as they come closer to the desired action.
Simply setting up a marketing funnel with a few steps isn’t enough. There have to be quite of few touchpoints so that you can better understand the user’s journey, where they and/or other people are getting caught, and how you can fix it so that they have a smooth experience.
Dealing with all of this manually is an absolute pain. Keeping track of where the lead is in the funnel, getting the timing of messaging down, and keeping customers happy is nearly impossible.
That’s where marketing automation comes into play, which we’re discussing today. First, let’s start with the three basic steps in any marketing funnel and the different strategies you can implement.
Marketing funnel automation – Awareness
In the first step of the marketing funnel, you have the awareness stage. This stage is designed to rope people into seeing your brand. It brings awareness to your solution.
As companies test and experiment, they will inevitably find new and better strategies to bring awareness to their brand. That being said, some strategies have become common practice, each with its own forms of automation. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The idea behind a blog isn’t just because they want to share thoughts but because they’re looking for keywords that correlate with their industry. You won’t find articles on how to properly wash your dog on a blog belonging to a company that develops websites. It would bring in the wrong audience.
Further reading: Aligning Your Content Marketing Efforts with the Customer Journey
Everyone loves a good newsletter, right? If you’re interested in a solution, or at least the topics that revolve around it, a newsletter is a great resource for all kinds of information. Businesses figured that out a long time ago, and it’s now common practice in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel.
Further reading: 11 Best Practices for Building Newsletters that People Actually Read
If you’re unfamiliar with what a lead magnet is, just picture it as an elaborate blog post. Sometimes this could be an ebook based on a topic that you believe your audience might have a lot of interest in; other times, it could be a webinar where you discuss issues and solutions live.
The goal is the same with whatever kind of lead magnet you decide to create. You want to provide insight and information that users simply will not be able to find anywhere else. To gain access to this information, the user will have to sign up and provide their lead data.
Social media has come a long way in recent years, and it’s only getting better. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are great for targeted ads, but they’re also great for engaging with leads at all stages of the funnel.
We’ve put it in the awareness stage because, more often than not, prospects will have their first interaction with your brand through social media. It provides a great platform for discovering and finding out more about a brand online.
Marketing funnel automation – Consideration
Now that the leads are aware of your brand, they have to consider what’s best for them. In the consideration stage, leads will weigh their options, dig deeper into the finer details, and make more inquiries about your brand and what you can do for them.
For this stage, information is key. Where to distribute that information depends on your audience and your goals. Here are a few common methods that you can take into consideration.
When you’re browsing online for something to buy, a good review from someone else who bought the same thing could be exactly what you need to pull the trigger. For something like a SaaS or eCommerce store, it’s exactly the same deal.
Creating ads, sending emails, and allocating space on your home page based on these testimonials is common practice, and it does a great deal for those who are looking for a solution.
Product-focused ebook or webinar
We mentioned lead magnets just above for the awareness stage, but they also work well in the consideration stage, too. The difference here is that these resources will be more product-focused.
What does this mean? Well, instead of hitting a broad audience and aiming for a large target, get more specific. Talk about problems in your industry and how your product specifically solves those issues. Does your tool make use of lead data? Talk about how third-party cookies are no longer relevant and how your platform gets around that. Or perhaps you could talk about the security measures you go through to make sure nobody has a data leak. It’s all about filling the gap in the niche that you occupy.
Landing pages are a great way to utilize SEO in the consideration stage. With a product education approach, you can easily turn a keyword that fits well for your industry and company and highlight your tool as a solution.
Landing pages focus completely on conversion. They are a lot more simple than a blog post, but they are also a lot more specific than a home page. They aim to provide the reader with exactly the information they need and give them a quick way to take action.
Speaking of product, creating some content around demonstrating the capabilities of your product specifically is a great idea for the consideration stage. Remember, leads are looking for a solution. Creating videos, FAQ sections, and even offering live demos are all great ways to help leads see the power of your tool.
Marketing funnel automation – Conversion
Every step of the marketing funnel leads to the narrow gap at the bottom that is the final action. Every touchpoint, piece of content, and carefully crafted ad is all about getting the lead to choose you.
Of course, there are several steps you can put into the mix. Тhese strategies evolve and change all the time, and depending on your company and goals; you might have a considerable amount more to add to the steps above.
It’s all led to this point. Now we get them to convert! We’ve baited the hook and provided the leads with information. It’s time to make it easy to make purchases.
Often, it takes a simple gesture to push the lead towards conversion. If they’re on the fence about buying your product, give them a free trial. Most companies offer either a 7 or 14-day free trial to help alleviate some of the worries or concerns that the lead might have. Giving them unlimited access to your product for a short period of time will allow them to explore all they want, get a feel for what they could have, and give them plenty of time to decide whether or not it’s right for them.
Companies that use free trials in their strategy see that, on average, 66% of those trials turn to conversions.
Pricing pages are precious marketing resources that are unique to your brand. They provide the lead with everything they need to understand your brand, the packages you provide, and the prices for each tier.
A pricing page should be more than a spreadsheet with a list of numbers and dollar signs. It should be a detailed rundown of everything that each package has to offer. Place each package next to each other so that the lead can see and understand the value of each tier. If all else fails, add a free trial CTA at the bottom so that they can test everything out for themselves.
How to automate your marketing funnel
Now that you better understand what the sales funnel looks like at each step, it’s time to talk about how we can automate some of these tasks. Remember, not every lead that enters the top of the funnel will make it to the bottom.
The idea behind an automated marketing funnel is to keep things running smoothly. If a lead bails midway through the funnel, that’s okay! With the right marketing funnel automation in place, a new lead will fall in place in the previous one’s absence.
With some of the examples we used above in mind, let’s talk about how you can automate it to make your own marketing funnel run as smoothly as possible. Here’s how you can create your own automated marketing funnel.
Step 1. Do some market research
If you want to automate your funnel successfully, you must first understand your audience. Maybe you’ve already done that, or perhaps you haven’t. Either way, you have to jump in headfirst and know what you’re diving into.
Ask around. Talk to current customers, top performers in sales, customer support teams, and key stakeholders to understand what the customer wants. You’ll need to know this to understand what pushes your customers to interact with your brand. If you don’t have their contact details, you can use a people search tool, gather their details, and get in touch with them.
With this information, you can develop what’s called buyer personas. These personas will help you understand the buyer segments your marketing will be based on. These segments could be demographic locations, common pain points, questions that the buyers have throughout their journey, and other specific needs that pop up along the way.
Once that’s done, don’t stop. It’s not enough to understand your audience. You have to understand your competitor’s audience, too. Conduct analysis on other brands playing on the same field. Look at their product, pricing, and how they position themselves in the market.
Identifying a brand’s voice and looking at what they claim makes them different will help you understand your position in the market much better. Once you find out what makes you unique, use that to your advantage in your funnel.
Step 2. Decide on automation tools
As much as we’d all love for our funnels to just work like a clock without needing all kinds of tools, that’s not the nature of the digital age.
Marketing automation tools are the key to an efficient and smooth marketing funnel. Without such tools, you won’t get very far.
So, what kind of tools are we talking about here? Well, everyone needs something different. Some common and incredibly useful examples are as follows:
- Email automation (Encharge)
- Customer relationship management software (CRM)
- Content automation (WordPress/Contentful)
- SEO software (SEMrush/MOZ/Ahrefs)
- Social media management (Hootsuite)
- Sales automation
- Event management
- +Much, much more
The need for automation is never-ending. Therefore, your options are sometimes seemingly endless. The best advice anyone can give you here is to take advantage of free trials and find the best tools for you and your team.
Step 3. Create a killer content strategy
It’s all about content in the marketing funnel. Otherwise, how are you supposed to convenience them to choose you over the next business? You have to build a strong connection with your audience, and the best way to do that is through content.
For this reason, you’ll want a good content strategist and copywriter on your team. They’ll be in charge of creating powerful content like:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Pricing page
- Features page
- Social media copy
- Video ads
Content is a very broad subject that can cover a lot of micro departments. The key is to be creative, stand out, and keep pushing the barriers for what is considered the standard. After all, you’ll never know what works at grabbing someone’s attention until you try it. That’s how marketing trends get started in the first place.
If your content strategy is successful, the lead will organically find their way to your website and click around to see what you’re all about. At the top end of the funnel, this is the main goal. You don’t want to throw conversion in their face. Right now, the goal is to meet their needs with powerful content. If they choose to convert based on that, that’s just a bonus.
Step 4. Make some enticing lead magnets
The point of a marketing funnel is to bring leads to conversion. Without first attracting leads, the marketing funnel is useless.
How do you do that? As we mentioned above, content is a good way to do that, but what if it’s not good enough? In comes lead magnets.
Lead magnets aim for a higher-level lead that is marketing qualified right from the start. They provide content that is far more niche than a standard blog post but offers a lot more in terms of detail.
Some good examples of lead magnets are webinars and ebooks. Typically speaking, this is gated content that requires lead data such as email and name to unlock. When the lead signs up to download your PDF ebook or join the webinar, you have a good understanding of their intent and needs.
Step 5. Build your campaigns
Now that you have all your resources, it’s time to build campaigns around them. Since you’ve already developed a nice content strategy, you have some nice cornerstone pieces of backing up your campaign through ads, email copy, and more.
Bring everything you’ve created up until this point together to make one final CTA. This CTA needs to be compelling, so you’ll have to understand your audience by anticipating their needs and behaviors.
However, keep in mind that your final CTA doesn’t necessarily need to be a purchase. Depending on your campaign, the final CTA could be downloading that ebook we mentioned, scheduling a demo call, or signing up for a free trial. See how all of this plays into each other?
If you have a time-based marketing funnel, you can set up a drip campaign that’s triggered by one of those behaviors. Ultimately, this will lead to the same final CTA.
For those behavior-based triggers with branching logic, it can get more complicated. You can create user journeys based on their behaviors, but you will need to create a CTA at the end of each branch. One of two things will happen at this point.
- If the lead doesn’t engage with any messaging or interaction efforts, you can consider them “Cold”. After that, you can add them to a segmented list that receives fewer messages, reducing your need for effort and resources.
- If the lead interacts early on in their journey and continues to engage with CTAs, you can send them on the fast track to the final CTA, ideally leading to a quick conversion.
This will create a web of possible outcomes. Drawn out, it could look something like this.
Read next: How to Create a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy
Step 6. Launch
Now that everything is planned out and ready to go, it’s time to set the wheels in motion. Publish your content, set landing pages live, and start the flow through the marketing funnel.
Keep in mind that not every campaign is going to hit the moon on your first shot. Some might not ever break orbit. But, that’s the importance of preparation, testing, and adjusting.
Since you want your marketing funnel to be automated, it’s good to focus on inbound marketing efforts more than anything. Although outbound marketing is still essential, it requires a great deal more manual work. This defeats the purpose of automation in the first place.
Conclusions and takeaway
Automation in any business is unavoidable if you want to succeed. As hard-working as you want to be, as determined as your team seems to be, or as much as you don’t mind the manual work, without marketing funnel automation, you will fall behind.
That’s not to discourage you, but rather, the opposite. There are so many amazing tools out there that anyone with any budget can utilize. Automation isn’t meant to drain your bank account but instead give you a break from time-consuming and repetitive tasks so that you can put the details where it matters. The ultimate goal of automation is to increase ROI and put less stress on the company.
Take a look at Encharge, for example. Any given business could have hundreds or thousands (maybe even more) of emails to manage. Encharge is designed to take the manual work of checking and sending emails into a more manageable and far more comprehensible workflow. Instead of tracking user journeys manually, you have a built-in flow builder that lets you know exactly where they are in the funnel and when to send that next email.
Set up drip campaigns based on behavior triggers, set up user profiles, utilize lead scoring, and much more. Try it for free today, and get your automated marketing funnel running smoothly.