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Revenue driven marketing

Choosing your marketing tactics based on the gaps in your sales funnel

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. 

Building a marketing foundation

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.

Identifying the opportunities for improvement

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.

Identifying the right marketing solution

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. 

Opportunity #1: Low website traffic

  1. Review your analytics platform to find out where you are currently getting your traffic from, then decide which areas you could put more effort into to expand and which could be new opportunities.
  2. Review your search engine optimisation (SEO). The most common issues are not entering a meta title and meta description on all pages, and having images that are way too large for the space they're in which slows down the website. Outside of the technical, making the website experience great enough to make people stick around on your website for a while also helps you show up higher, as well as using the phrases your target audience are most likely to use when searching. 
  3. Create Pinterest content to direct traffic to all your blog posts, email marketing benefits, freebies and resources, and set up Tailwind to schedule and loop pins over the next 12 months. Product businesses can also create content for every product they sell.
  4. Create social content that is essentially a teaser trailer for your offering and website content.
  5. Balance viral content and following trends, with original content to position yourself as the expert in your field to better incentivise people to go to your website to learn more.

Opportunity #2: High traffic, but low conversion

  1. Review who may be being directed to this content, is it past customers who no longer need to purchase from you, or tailored to those who are not yet ready to purchase?
  2. Are you missing a call to action on these pages, or have too many?
  3. Add a different way for people to keep you in front of them, like a wishlist feature, or occasionally refer people to your social media.
  4. Focus on creating new content that keeps people coming back, to serve them great value and increase the chances they will take the next step.
  5. You may simply need to gain more traffic to increase the conversions, so you can still gain the quantity you seek, with a lower percentage taking that next step.
  6. Create content to answer the most commonly asked questions. This will reduce your time sent in answering, but also present the information to those who may otherwise choose not to bother asking. 

Opportunity #3: Low social media likes and comments

  1. Are you simply not posting enough for people to see your content regularly?
  2. Are you taking full advantage of discoverability avenues, like hashtags, trends and keywords?
  3. Are you posting the content that people enjoy? Try shaking things up.
  4. Are you focusing on the modern platforms where people spend time online, or are you focusing too heavily on a place your target audience spends less time?

Opportunity #4: Low email subscription

  1. You might not have your opt-in form in enough places on your website to give people the option to sign up, review whether it’s in the right places.
  2. People may not be interested in the incentive you’re providing in return for signing up. Either try some new opt in freebies, or reword what they receive by being on your list.
  3. Add a small note at the bottom of your emails to allow those who have been forwarded the email to easily sign up, as well as occasionally mentioning who may benefit from being forwarded an email. For example, when it comes time to promote Father’s Day gifts, remind people to forward the email to their siblings.

Opportunity #5: Low email marketing open rate

  1. Include information on your opt in success page that shows people how to whitelist your email for their email app
  2. Set up domain verification - owning your branded domain and proving your ownership within your email marketing software lessens the likelihood of your content being marked as spam
  3. If you are still hearing regularly from people that your emails go into the junk folder, reach out to your email marketing software provider to ask if there is anything that can be done to improve your domain reputation
  4. Try new email subject lines, either by trying something new each time you send an email or by A/B testing those subject lines within your software.
  5. Set up a sequence within your software where people who haven’t opened your emails within a set period of time are sent an email that gives them a prompt to stay subscribed, then unsubscribe those who don’t click that option. This keeps your list to those who are still engaged and keeps the annual cost of your software down. Depending on your target audience this could be as small as a few months, or allowing people to go 14 months without opening an email to allow for maternity leave and extended disengagement. 
  6. Make sure your content is interesting enough that people would want to open it on a regular basis. Consistency is key, but so is a natural evolution to keep with the times and allowing people to grow with you.
  7. Ask  your existing subscribers to reply and tell you what they’d like to know, learn or see in our emails.

Opportunity #6: Low referrals

  1. Do you simply need to ask friends, family and past clients for referrals?
  2. Is your process enjoyable so people want to refer their friends and family to you? Is there something you could improve?
  3. Could you seek out referral partners, where you refer people to them, and they refer people to you?
  4. Could you collaborate with people on projects, where they bring you in to do a part of a project they don’t offer, or don’t enjoy and would prefer to outsource?
  5. Are you regularly putting yourself in situations to meet people who may be a referral partner for you?
  6. Could you guest blog, be a guest on podcasts, or provide someone with value for their audience, in the hopes that some of their audience decide to follow you, or buy from you?
  7. Could you provide someone with a free product or service, or payment in exchange for a mention, review or testimonial?

Opportunity #7: High views of a form page, with low submissions of the form

  1. The form might not be submitting, either at all or on some devices or browsers, so start testing before you make other changes.
  2. The form might be too long, so you might consider shortening it by prioritising which questions you need answered, or creating a multi-step process so you first gain their information and they can complete other questions later. 
  3. The form questions might not relate to the person who was directed to the form causing confusion, so you may need to implement a step before they view the form, or change the content
  4. You might need to incentivise people to complete the form, where they will receive more of a reward for doing so
  5. Create more content that then refers people toward the form, to provide more value to them before requesting they submit the form.

Opportunity #8: High product page and cart views, not resulting in sales

  1. Make sure your checkout is functioning across all devices and browsers.
  2. Check your shipping isn’t overpriced.
  3. Add a wishlist feature if you don’t already have one, to allow people to loop back easily when the time is right.
  4. Set up an abandoned cart email for those already logged in, but give them a decent amount of time between leaving the site and sending the email so they are more likely to truly need it. 
  5. Allow people to get reminders when out of stock items become available.
  6. Make sure your content emphasises the perks you have, like free returns or free shipping over a certain value and add notes about this to your cart page.

Opportunity #9: Proposals not resulting in a good rate of sales

  1. If you aren’t showing pricing on your website, is the content on your website leading people to believe your pricing might be lower, causing the wrong people to request proposals?
  2. Are you asking people for their budget and aligning your proposal to match?
  3. If it isn’t a case of affordability, it may be that people aren’t seeing an alignment of value to them from the investment. Injecting the benefits into your proposal helps to show this value right next to the investment price.
  4. Consider whether people are looking for a smaller part of your offer, and don’t want the other parts you’re including. You may decide to sell this as a separate smaller offer, or that those people are not a good fit.  
  5. Create content that specifically raises the value of your offer, including features but also benefits, as well as testimonials and case studies.
  6. Without creating false FOMO, be clear on how much availability you have in case this client decides to delay. 
  7. Centre your portfolio around the projects you want, creating faux client projects and case studies to fill gaps. Just be clear which is a real client and which was a faux client so people understand why there isn’t a real business or testimonials attached to some projects. 

Creating your execution plan

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.

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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.

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