How to create a profitable internet marketing strategy
As we have already discussed, a lead is an individual who in one way or another has indicated some sort of interest in your product or service. That interest must be converted into intention and eventually into buying decision.
If you know your target audience, you can efficiently guide your leads through a so-called sales funnel, which basically it’s nothing else, but a journey, a path that starts with the first entry point (for example, your website where a prospect arrives as a result of an organic search) and ultimately should end with a purchase decision.
I just used the term “entry point” … An entry point basically it’s an avenue that leads your potential prospects to your business. The most common and most efficient vehicles that can lead your potential prospects to you and of course to the top of your conversion funnel are:
Your website; these are the prospects who have found you as a results of an organic search. An efficiently SEO-optimized website will always be one of the most powerful core components of your lead-generation efforts.
Content marketing; any piece of “additional” content you create or use in your overall marketing efforts; blog posts, articles, ebooks, reviews, forum discussions, press releases, etc.
Email marketing; marketing is about building connections and email is still one of the most efficient communication channels. A powerful, well-crafted email campaign is an excellent way to acquire new, well-targeted prospects.
Social media; these are the prospects who have chosen to like or follow your social profiles. It’s a real high-avenue because nowadays the social proof seems to carry greater weight than ever before.
Word of mouth.
So let's see ...
What is a conversion funnel and how it works?
Let’s start with a sad fact: when people come to your website usually they are not ready for an immediate purchase. According to Aberdeen Group …
Prospects receive an average of 10 marketing touches from the time they enter the top of the funnel until they're a closed-won customer.
More than that, paths to sale can be quite windy and this is why conversion funnels are extremely important for your marketing. But, what is a marketing funnel?
A sales funnel basically it’s a breakdown of the full journey that prospects take before they become paying customers.
The concept itself is always the same, but the practical applications will always vary between companies and different business models, therefore they will take various amounts of time depending on your product, revenue model, market type, etc. Your business can – in fact should – have more than one funnels in place, especially if you are using multiple marketing channels in your marketing mix. Which is also recommended …
OK. Let’s take a closer look at the whole “sales funnels for beginners” topic … Basically, every sales funnel can be divided into three main sections:
1. The top of the funnel (or TOFU)
This is the consideration phase. Your prospects just arrived to your website, landing page, etc. This is the point where they are gathering information, researching and evaluating options and learning about your business. At this stage most users are not ready to do business with you.
This is like a first date … it might be promising, but most likely you will go to bed alone.
2. The middle of the funnel (or MOFU)
This is the evaluation phase. A certain proportion of your initial prospects will make their way to this stage to evaluate your business and to decide whether they want to do business with you. They are still far away from a final commitment or buying decision, but they are interested in learning more about you and your brand.
This is the second date and if you are charming enough, you might even get a kiss …
Also, this is the point where you’ll have to separate people who are aware of your business, but are basically uninterested from those who are real potential customers. You should already have their contact information and that gives you the opportunity to launch and to sustain a two-way conversation (email autoresponder sequence, instant messaging, phone calls, etc) in order to qualify them further by figuring out their level of buying interest.
3. The bottom of the funnel (or BOFU)
This is the point where the remaining leads actually want to become your paying customers. In this stage you can finally direct them to the actual sales offer, online store, transaction page etc.
This is the decisive date where you have real chances to reach even the bed …
Obviously, even in this stage you are going to lose some people, because not all your previously qualified leads will become actual buyers. That’s just fine … Potential customers can change their mind at the very last minute for many different reasons. This is how sales funnels work. What is really important: you need to measure, to track and to optimize your conversions consistently.
Some final thoughts
Before you are going to actually design the customer journey you should find the answer to 6 key questions:
What are the most frequent initial questions the prospects are asking?
What is the typical decision-making process for buying (in a given target segment)?
About how much time does each stage take?
How long does the overall process last?
What are the most common reasons why sales don’t happen?
What kind of follow-up questions are they asking?
Believe me, the answers will help you a lot in designing a successful conversion funnel.
Also, never forget the post-conversion phase! Which is often overlooked by many marketers and business owners and that’s a huge mistake, because repeat purchases can – and should – be a significant revenue source for any business.
If you don’t want to leave that money on the table, don’t ever leave your happy customers hanging! If you want to start an online marketing business and you want to generate free leads with a well-balanced internet marketing strategy, you’ll have to find the best ways to welcome your existing customers back! So, don’t forget: email marketing, loyalty programs, customer communities, social media, special second-purchase bonuses, etc are great avenues to re-engage your past and current customers. If you can do it, you can forget dating … you’ll be accountable for polygamy.