The modern sales funnel takes people from knowing next to nothing about your offer and your business all the way through to the off-boarding process.
Previously, the funnel might have only taken people from inquiry to purchase (or cold call to purchase) but as online business owners, we can track the process more fully and adapt to improve the whole experience.
With the expansion of word of mouth through the digital landscape, we now know that the way you deliver your product or service is key in how often your business is shared. But, while referrals and word of mouth are the ultimate in marketing, most businesses require some other form of marketing to reach their revenue goals.
When you start to create marketing for the sole objective of making sales, it's important to understand where the gaps are so your efforts are channeled to the correct areas.
When you are focusing on growing your brand, whether that’s because you are currently booked out, or are starting the business as a side hustle, your marketing will be based around gaining awareness at the top half of the funnel. More often you will be doing a bit of both to simultaneously grow the awareness of your business, and to convert engaged people to a sale.
In your marketing, you need to define some ways that people will discover you, some ways you can provide value for free, and some ways people can stay connected with your business before they purchase, especially if it is a premium offer.
You’ll need to capture people in a high reach platform and provide value, then push them to a natural next step like a blog post, which refers them to a resource they can only get by signing up to your email marketing where you can consistently show up for them without an ever-changing algorithm. You can change up what they see and how they can interact with your brand at each tier of the process, to suit your target audience and the platforms they prefer, but there almost always needs to be natural progression to invite them deeper into your brand.
This is why a viral piece of content may not always equal sales, at least right away. It takes time to forge a connection and build trust, as you provide proof of quality and value. Oftentimes the best way to do that is through longer form content. The short snappy content is just how you first get their attention. It is certainly possible to receive sales while only offering social media content, but it is likely that this will take longer as those mini experiences take longer to stack up to something more meaningful.
Over time, through consistent connection, some people will take the opportunity to purchase your offer. Marketing is the art of forming a connection with the person, and showing them the value and benefits of your offer so your sales techniques are more successful.
You’ll know your marketing is working when the quantity of people taking that next step increases, or at least the percentage of people.
When you look at your analytics platforms, you’ll notice areas where your numbers aren’t meeting your expectations or goals. These are your opportunities for improvement. You may like to work your way back from a sale to spot the biggest hurdles, however a focus group of three isn’t big enough to truly know one way or the other.
Volume is your best ally in those circumstances. This volume will make the hurdles in your experience more obvious, so you may find that the first step is to just widen your reach, and then see how that impacts the top levels of your sales funnel.
You might like to make a list of every possible interaction people are currently having with your brand across all platforms. You can then give each interaction a rating out of 5, or simply tick the ones you know could be improved.
The tactics through which you deliver a message may differ to match the platform, but the message you want to get across will be defined by your higher level strategy.
There are plenty of ways to use content to break down the hurdles and bridge gaps for people. You might choose documenting the process and showing the behind the scenes, educating via how tos and breaking down concepts, being funny or relatable, providing commentary on industry news or things you see out in the world, and by explaining the features and benefits of your offer.
Making it relevant to your target audience and positioning your business as the best place is the difference between making great content, and making content that impacts your revenue. Before you start with the marketing, there are always a few extra things to rule out, so you don’t trip yourself up. You can then decide what marketing tactics you will try based on your target audience, your business model and what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past.
Let’s go through some common opportunities you might see in an online business, so you can identify your next steps.
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In your marketing, you need to define some ways that people will discover you, some ways you can provide value for free, and some ways people can stay connected with your business before they purchase.
Once you’ve made a list of everything you need to try, it’s important to make only one change at a time. This will save you time, and reduce your overwhelm, but most of all it allows you to review your analytics, and define what is working and what is not.
Some changes will need time to breathe and test out, while new content styles will take a few attempts to fully define whether they’re working or not. Starting a new series on TikTok could take 10-20 posts before you see much traction. It’s important to define how much time, or how many attempts you will give each change before you decide whether it is working or not. Doing this before you make the change allows it to be a less emotional decision, while also setting a deadline so you can reasonably set your expectations.
If some tasks on your list are unlikely to affect each other’s analytics, you might like to action those at the same time, but making too many changes to your social media plan will impact your ability to define what led to an increase, or a decrease, and multiple items could even end up canceling each other out too.
You might like to balance making changes that are likely to have a long term payoff with those that are likely to have a shorter term payoff to help with different stages in your marketing plan. You can do this by either choosing something that affects your reach while also making improvements to your proposal process. Alternatively, you could work on your TikTok content, while also making tweaks to your website for SEO.
Making incremental changes consistently will have a compounding effect, building momentum in your marketing.
By continually making improvements, and curating your marketing around what your target audience wants from you, you’ll increase your chances of the right people finding you, forming a connection with you and choosing to purchase your offer. Start by identifying one way you can improve and grow from there.
When you create helpful or relatable content for people who are at different stages in your sales funnel, your marketing can have a more direct impact on your sales, and improve the health of your business.