How Does the Inbound Marketing Funnel Work? (Steps to Success)

Inbound Marketing

Understand the Marketing Funnel to Get New Customers

The successful modern marketing funnel goes beyond the sale to achieve loyalty and advocacy.

The New Marketing Funnel: From Strangers to Brand Advocates

Early visualizations of the marketing funnel ended with getting a sale. For some brands, that’s enough, but the most successful brands take it a step further. It’s a huge win every time you turn a stranger into a client, but it’s far better to turn them into a brand advocate.

To create brand loyalty, it isn’t good enough to just make a stranger into a customer. Take it a step further— turn customers into evangelists for your brand by creating strong relationships between your brand and individuals. This assures you of repeat business and spreads awareness to others.

Creating a base of loyal crusaders gives your brand social proof that pulls others into your marketing funnel. Try to make someone love your brand enough that they talk about it at the water cooler or on social media.

People who have a great relationship with your brand will say positive things about you. Over time, their friends start to trust you too. This helps solve one of the biggest problems with your marketing funnel…

People at the Top of Your Marketing Funnel Don’t Care About You

They have no reason to care about your brand. They might have heard something about you, and they may know your name, but there’s no trust established. Unless you can grab their attention and offer them value, you may blend into the pack of other brands trying to win new customers.

You need to understand these strangers in order to approach them successfully. If you take the time to understand your target market, it’s much easier to turn awareness into interest.

1 – Attract

Create Buyer Personas and Talk to Strangers

Creating a well-researched buyer persona helps you understand your target. These strangers still have no history with your brand, but now you know what makes them tick. This clear understanding of your demographic’s desires allows you to build productive relationships quickly

Think about the type of people that regularly become your customers, then target your efforts at that type of person. Clear and detailed personas lead to focused efforts with a high likelihood of success.

How to Find Your Target Demographic

The first step toward creating sales and brand loyalty is turning the stranger into a visitor. Do whatever you can to get your message somewhere they will see it. This is the "Attract" phase of inbound marketing.

Determine where your key personas hang out online, and what kind of information they’re looking for. Provide answers to their questions, and make your answers easy to find. This is where content marketing comes into play for your brand.

How to Make Strangers Pay Attention

More than half of marketers list blog content as a top priority for inbound marketing, and it’s no surprise when you consider the results. HubSpot research shows that blogging efforts offer marketers a tremendous return on investment:

  • Blogging 16 or more times per month generates more than three times as much traffic as blogging less than four times per month.
  • The increased traffic from regular blog posts leads to a significant spike in leads– four times the leads for B2C brands with 11+ posts a month compared to companies that only blog four or five times monthly.

2 – Convert

How to Convert Visitors into Leads

Not all blogs are created equal, and low-quality blogs can’t move from the “Attract” phase to the “Convert” phase. If your posts don’t add value for readers, people won’t spend much time on your site. The few readers you attract won’t look at the rest of your content, and they definitely won’t share your links.

The first time a visitor comes to your blog, they critically evaluate the content you provide for them. According to the 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Readers want you to answer multiple questions for them to prove your trustworthiness.

How to Write Effective Blog Posts

To make blog posts that work, do keyword research with your personas in mind. This will tell you what to write about, and how to write about it. Don’t forget to give your post a clear, accurate title. According to HubSpot, titles between six and 13 words in length get the most traffic.

Good blog posts will convince your readers that you’re an expert who can solve their problems. If you have enough content that adds value to their lives, readers may reach out to you immediately. Have a form on your website that allows them to reach out and give you their contact information.

If your happy readers aren’t ready to give you their contact information, they may connect with you on a different channel. Have links from your blog to your social media. Interested parties will follow you to make sure they don’t miss anything.

Strategic interactions to keep your target audience members moving along the path toward brand loyalty.

3 – Close

Make the Sale

You’ve done well to gather leads, and now it’s your big moment. If your marketing efforts are sending the right leads down the funnel, it should be easier than normal to convert leads into customers. If you’re having a hard time closing sales, don’t give up! There are still a few courses of action open to you.

Nurture Your Leads to Create Profitable Relationships

Maybe your lead really is interested, but isn’t quite ready to become a customer yet. It could be an issue of timing, or the lead might not be entirely sure about your brand yet. In either case, communicating with your lead can solve the problem.

Interact with them on social media to build trust and familiarity. Occasionally send useful information or promotions to your email list to demonstrate value until they’re ready to buy.

Revisit the Persona

You created your personas based on types of people you know to make good customers. Are the leads in line with that? If so, re-work your sales pitch to make sure you’re pitching the same benefits that got your leads this far down the funnel. If the leads aren’t who you wanted them to be, change your content marketing approach until you’re connecting to the right people.

4 – Delight

Deliver an Excellent Product

Customers generally aren’t shy about telling you how they really feel about your product or service. If you deliver what they want, you’ll hear about it. If you don’t deliver what they want, they’re going to become a problem. Avoid negative buzz by making sure customers know exactly what they can expect.

If you have many unhappy customers, either your product is bad or your funnel isn’t accurate and honest. You need to get back to basics. If you have a few unhappy customers, try engaging them until they’re happy. Respond to negative reviews and try to resolve the issue.

Foster an Ongoing Relationship

Have a separate mailing list for those who are already customers. They need different content than someone who has never purchased anything from you before. A pre-existing customer is a completely different persona than a first-time lead, and should be treated accordingly.

Follow up with your customers. Keep talking to them on social media, or send them an email to ask for feedback. This follow-through after the sale increases the likelihood of referrals and recommendations.

Don’t be too shy to ask for reviews in a follow-up email—it shows you want feedback that can make you even better. Include the link to your Yelp, Google, or other review location to make it easy on customers and increase responses.

Your fans will help you attract attention from more strangers. These strangers will flow down your marketing pipeline, and you should start to notice that sales are becoming almost automatic.

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