Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

August 20, 2019

What is a Conversion Funnel?

6 min read

Written by: Isaac Desranleau  |  Share:

conversion_funnel

Here at New Breed, we perform Growth Acceleration Workshops (GAWs) for our clients. In the GAW reports, one of the key outputs is the identification of three key pieces of content that relate to each of our clients’ personas. 

We work to determine ToFu, MoFu and BoFu offers that are vital to a prospect’s buyer’s journey. Then, we figure out how to connect those pieces of content in a way that guides prospects toward becoming customers.

So how do you do that? The simple answer: with conversion funnels.

An Introduction to Conversion Funnels

At a high level in your company, you have a conversion funnel that all leads are going to travel through. Basically, leads enter your pipeline at the top of the funnel and become customers at the bottom of the funnel when they make a purchase. 

You can break the funnel down into segments and try to make it hyper-targeted, considering each micro-conversion an individual takes on their path to becoming a customer.

Overall, the goal is to nurture your leads along their buyer’s journey, helping them progress in an effective and efficient way.

Your conversion funnel is the pipeline of content you provide leads to guide them through the lifecycle stages.

“You essentially need to consider what people care about and where they are in terms of the buying process,” says Guido Bartolacci, New Breed’s Head of Demand Generation.

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When considering the lifecycle stages, consumers start with the awareness stage.

Guido explains that it involves “people recognizing they have a problem and finding answers for it — this is when they’re searching on google and looking around online to define the problem that they have.”

This is where your conversion funnel must begin.

“With our blog strategy, we’re trying to help people understand their problem and what some potential solutions might look like,” says Guido.

In our blogs, we use calls-to-action (CTAs) that invite prospects to pursue the next logical piece of content. Following the CTAs will help prospects gain information that can help solve their challenges.

According to Guido, leads at this stage might be thinking along the lines of “let me start to work through the solutions that could be most applicable to my problem because there’s a wide set [of potential fixes], and I need to find something that fits me.”

It’s important to give leads enough space to consider their options, while providing them with the content they need to progress.

“In that case, you’re talking about [providing] guides and actually teaching people. You’re talking about the solution that your company offers,” says Guido.

These communications build toward the marketing-to-sales handoff.

“The previous steps are building people up to engage with sales, so they can develop an understanding of what your company actually does and evaluate that against others,” says Guido.

In today’s business environment, you’re typically competing with other companies to close the customer. At this point, you’re trying to build trust and prove to them that you can actually deliver on your promises.

“Case studies, testimonials, proof of the work you’ve done in the past and the results that people have experienced from that is going to be huge,” says Guido.

At the same time, your company is normally the one providing all of those resources. 

“You’re always going to be perceived as somewhat self-serving when talking about your company — people have that doubt in the back of their heads — so a reference can be good here,” Guido says.

He also explains that reviews are extremely important. No matter what, you want to give your customers an experience that will leave them willing to give a review. On top of creating an experience worthy of a positive review, don’t be afraid to ask for that review to be written. Pointing to an external source and saying, “look at what these people said about us” can be crucial in closing a deal.

Overall, you need to figure out what content you need, the order it should be presented in and how long it should take between a prospect entering your funnel and ultimately becoming a customer. 

What content do you need?

When you’re creating a library of content, you should hone in on your buyer personas, determining what their challenges are and the solutions your company provides for them.

Alternatively, if your company has existing content, you need to consider how your prospects are moving through your funnel. 

Are people engaging with things in the way you expect them to? If not, that probably means there’s a gap there.

“If we’re creating a path for them that we think would make sense — this is the journey we expect someone to take — but they’re not engaging with that next step, then there’s something missing. Either it’s not relevant to what we promoted, or we’re promoting it too quickly,” says Guido.

If we want someone to move from offer A to offer B, but they are never downloading offer B. We should add another piece of content in the middle to guide them forward.

It’s like art. Painters who want their work to be interpreted in an exact way don’t paint abstract images. They add in the details needed to communicate their message. With conversion funnels, you are trying to guide your prospect along a specific path, so you shouldn’t be vague about where you want to lead them.

So, once you’ve identified a gap, how do you fill it?

It’s simple. You need to create content. There are a number of ways to ideate these content offers.

It’s helpful to perform keyword research to see what terms people are searching for. Utilizing Google Search Console on your initial landing page could also be worthwhile, so you can see the searches people performed to reach your site. 

You could also consider what types of content competitors are using. If your competitors are talking about issues and providing solutions for consumers in your space, it is wise for you to have content in those areas as well.

Finally, you should ask yourself what people need to understand to see the value in your content. While you intimately understand how one content offer connects to another, your prospects might not see how they relate. You should take a step back and consider what they need to learn to find value.

Overall, this should help you build effective content, but it is not infallible. 

“Marketing is like a science and part of science is building out hypotheses and testing different things,” Guido says.

You should develop hypotheses about how to fill gaps and get more conversions. Use as much data as you can to inform your strategies but don’t expect to find instant success. Optimizing your funnel takes some trial and error.

When Should You Present Your Content?

Answering this question is twofold. You need to make sure your content is presented in a timely fashion and in the proper order.

Individuals consume content differently. Some may take 30 days between engaging with their first and second pieces of content, in which case it might be wise to wait before sending the next offer. On the other hand, other people may consume content really quickly, so it might be best to get the next offer in front of them as quickly as possible.

Overall, you need to give your prospects time to digest the content. The idea is to nurture them — gently pushing them along so they can consume everything at their own pace. 

Understanding when you should present your content also involves putting things in the right order. Guido suggests looking at how other prospects are moving through your funnel. 

“What’s the content they’re consuming before they become an opportunity? What’s the content they’re consuming before this or that happens?” he says. “If you look at anyone who has downloaded a specific piece of content and then look at the next thing they’ve downloaded, there could be a wide range of possibilities. Let’s take a look at that and determine which of those outcomes are the most valuable from our perspective.”

It’s important to know where your prospects are coming from so you can provide value while nurturing them towards becoming a customer. 

Guido suggests focusing your workflows and promotions around consumer pain points. For each lifecycle stage, determine a primary offer and an alternative offer for your personas. These pieces of content you offer should be based on what will best help your company nurture leads down the funnel. 

Ask yourself: what content will move a particular prospect from point A to point B? If they don’t engage with the primary offer right away, don’t give up. Maybe they didn’t notice it initially. 

“If they don’t engage with that, what’s the next offer that we want them to download? Here’s our primary focus and here’s our secondary focus if it doesn’t work,” says Guido.

Keeping this simple approach is best.

Key Takeaway

“People don’t want to be sold to anymore; they want to be able to find information and do research on their own,” says Guido. “If you can make that process easier for them by thinking about a conversion funnel for a given persona and guiding them through it, it’ll increase conversion rates.”

By optimizing your funnel, you can better prepare leads for the sales process. Companies with strong lead nurturing programs generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost, according to Forrester Research.

“If you’re thinking about conversion funnels and educating people appropriately along the way, the chances of you closing leads are higher and the chances of increasing their customer lifetime value are higher,” says Guido.

funnel-gap-assessment

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Lead Generation, Content Development

About The Author

Isaac is an Internal Marketing Apprentice at New Breed. He recently graduated from the University of Vermont and his passion for the inbound philosophy of giving value to customers before extracting it brought him here. In his free time, he's an avid outdoorsman.

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