Your marketing and sales funnels represent the process that your prospects complete to make a buying decision. In this situation, the terms marketing and sales don’t necessarily indicate that the marketing and sales departments are solely responsible for each funnel. The two departments need to work together to move a prospect through the funnels, sometimes called a customer funnel.

The goal is to start a trickle-down effect that leads your prospects through the funnels to arrive at the point where they become customers. This assumes that you have already defined your marketing process steps, including understanding the market and your customers’ needs and wants.

What is a Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel begins with the prospect’s journey to making a buy decision. The funnel is divided into four stages:

    1. Awareness: This is the point where a prospect is starting to investigate solutions to their problem. You need to raise the prospect’s awareness of your product or service as a way to solve their problem. You can start educating them about how you can help, and why your solution is better than your competitors.
    2. Consideration: Once the prospect is aware of your offering, they will start to consider your business as a potential solution. In this stage, you want to establish your business as an expert and market leader.
    3. Action: If you’ve done a good job of moving the prospect through the awareness and consideration stages, the prospect will take some action that illustrates their interest.
    4. Lead: After the prospect has taken that overt action, you can consider them a lead.

It’s important to tailor your approach for leads in the four stages described above. This full-funnel marketing approach will help you lead the prospect through the funnel.

What is a Sales Funnel?

The sales funnel picks up where the marketing funnel ends, with an identified lead. There are five stages in a sales funnel:

    1. Lead: Prospects enter the sales funnel as a lead.
    2. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A lead isn’t typically ready to buy, therefore the marketing department needs to qualify each lead based on the criteria they’ve already established. Some marketing departments turn over MQLs to the sales department, while others may continue to nurture the lead until it is further qualified.
    3. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): An SQL has taken some action that indicates they’re ready to talk to a salesperson, and the lead enters the sales pipeline.
    4. Opportunity: When a salesperson confirms that the SQL is moving into the final decision stages of their buying journey, the salesperson actively works with the prospect to get specific information about their requirements.
    5. Sale: If the salesperson is successful at demonstrating that your product or service is the best solution to the prospect’s problem, it results in a sale.

How to Optimize Your Marketing Funnel

You need to use a process that will move your prospects effectively through the marketing funnel. These eight steps will guide you to a successful conclusion, turning prospects into leads.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Start by identifying the types of industries and businesses that can use your product or service to solve their problems. Your goal is to create a profile for all the people involved in the sales process and develop audience segments that you can target.

For example, identify people who would be champions or decision-makers. Determine what motivates them, identify the job titles they hold, the departments they work in, the problems they need to solve, and their pain points.

2. Select Relevant Channels

Identify the channels you can use to target your audience as they move through the advertising funnel. You want to provide the right message and content at the right time, depending on their needs.

In the awareness stage, use marketing channels that allow you to engage with your target audience when they are not aware of your company and your services and/or products. Channels might include display advertising/programmatic, paid social, native advertising paid search or SEO.

In the consideration stage, use marketing channels that allow your audience to engage, research, and compare. Consider channels such as social media, display advertising, content, and email.

In the action stage, use marketing channels that allow you to directly target prospects who are ready to become a lead. Consider paid search and SEO, retargeting, and email as your main methods.

3. Develop the Right Messages

Develop messages that are tailored to your different audience segments, fit the channels you’ve chosen, and speak to the stage you’re targeting. For example, in the consideration stage, you could provide an overview on your website that describes how you compare to your competitors.

4. Prepare Campaign Assets

The assets you need for your digital marketing campaigns may already exist, or you may need to create them. Consider the following examples:

    • Web pages and landing pages
    • Ebooks, white papers, infographics, blog posts, email templates
    • Ad formats and variations for each channel

5. Set Your Target Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Determine which KPIs will be most helpful to you will determine the success of your campaigns. Those KPIs may include cost per sale, cost per lead, lead to sale conversion, among others.

6. Select and Implement Software Solutions

There are solutions for every budget when it comes to marketing. Identify the minimum systems you need to carry out your plans. Those systems may include:

    • Email
    • Social media
    • Marketing automation
    • CRM
    • Analytics
    • Tag Manager

7. Initiate Campaigns

Get started with your campaigns and start collecting data.

8. Analyze Campaign Data

Optimizing your marketing funnel is a process. You’ll need to analyze your results to identify what works and what doesn’t. Over time, focus on improving the following factors, which includes shifting your budget to achieve better results:

    • Audience selection/segmentation
    • Channel performance
    • Messaging
    • Assets
    • Campaign Tactics
    • KPIs

How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel

Your sales and marketing departments need to be aligned to optimize your sales funnel. The two departments need to agree on the definitions of a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). They also need to define the point in the sales funnel when a lead will be turned over to the sales department. Once you achieve that, you can work on improving your MQL to SQL conversion rate.

Once a lead becomes an MQL, you should have enough information to enter them into a customer relationship manager (CRM). That is a critical step to ensure that you can track as much information about the MQL as possible. Depending on your systems, you may be able to track their online activities and develop a lead score.

Once the lead is turned over to sales, the salesperson can use the CRM to keep detailed notes as they work closely with the prospect to turn them into a customer.

The last thing you need to do is set up and use a feedback loop. This will ensure that your organization is working together seamlessly, and it’s addressed in the last installment of our maximizing sales series, so stay tuned!

At Symphonic Digital, we help our clients with data-driven digital marketing solutions that help them maximize their sales. To get more sales for your business, call us at 888-964-3498 or send an email for more information.