Tag Archives: sales funnel

Use content to generate leads in the sales cycle

After understanding consumer behavior in different phases of the sales cycle, smart businesses hopped onto the content marketing bandwagon to create valuable information to connect consumers to the answers and solutions they need — when they need it.

Marketing teams around the world have realized that to make the best impact, different types of content should be used for different stages of the sales cycle.

An important stage of the sales cycle is lead generation. In this first stage, your primary goal is to attract the attention of prospects and get them interested in your product or service.

In this early phase, prospects are researching their problems and possible solutions for them. For this audience, your goal is to increase brand awareness, appeal to their main pain points and provide them with more information to bring them closer to finding a possible solution based on what you offer. Be a good Samaritan.

Here are some helpful tips to follow when creating content to increase lead generation:

Recognize the content’s importance

Great content creates excitement and awareness among prospects and will build a compelling business case to potential customers.

The type of content you create is one of the most important steps — it should be helpful, informative, relevant, and easy to consume. It should focus on what your target audience needs to solve its problems, not the detailed features of your specific product or service.

Target your content to the right people

Regardless of what your business sells, it is important to identify the right audience and then tailor your content to their wants and needs. Your content should be authentic and offer the same message in a variety of ways to appeal to every prospect.

Choose the right content

Create content that will help build awareness about what you’re selling. In the lead generation stage, you want people to learn about what your business can offer and why it might be a good choice for them.

Blogs and white papers can help address problems and solutions. Using ads from search engine platforms that lead prospects to download your content pieces allows you to leverage marketing automation tools to send informative and helpful emails about your business or product to your lead prospects.

While mastering all stages of the sales cycle is important, it all starts with the attraction stage. It’s simple — if you want to gain business, you first need to attract it! Therefore, create a content strategy.

People want to learn about a business or product to see if it’s beneficial to their needs before they commit to the (sometimes long) sales cycle that we commonly see in business to business sales. Make sure you’re using content marketing efforts to your advantage and enjoy the results.

Need help with your marketing efforts? GREENCREST is your team! Contact us to learn more about content marketing and how GREENCREST can help with your lead generation.

4 strategies to improve bottom line, generate leads

Image of two young businessmen discussing project at meeting

Most business owners know that the best time to sell a business or attract potential buyers or investors is when that business is healthy. And one mark of a healthy business is a strong bottom line.

It pays, therefore, for business owners to pay attention to how well they are attracting sales leads and making sure that customers can find you where they searching for solutions — online.

To break through to your audience, here are four sure-fire strategies to generate leads and cement brand loyalty for years to come.

Make it easy for people to find you

The first rule of online lead generation is to make sure customers can find your website. Make sure you have an optimized website.

You can optimize your website by identifying the keywords and search terms customers use to find services like yours. Then, once you know the most popular search terms, make sure you use them prominently throughout your website.

You can also pay to make sure your page shows up first in search results by bidding or paying on keyword phrases relevant to your target market and search engine. In addition, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer ads that will target a specific audience.

Listen and offer good advice

Social media can be a tremendous source of leads. But in order to succeed, you must educate and not try to sell. People are tired of the constant barrage of marketing messages.

Instead, customers are looking for useful, educational information that will help them do something better. Listen in to the conversations on social media.

After you have a good feel for the dialogue, chime in with your own unique insight. Better yet, start a blog and post at least twice a week.

Do everything you can to capture email addresses

Just attracting people to your website is OK, but convincing a Web visitor to give you their email address allows you to continue the conversation.

The best way to do this goes back to point number two, and that is you should offer visitors to your website something of value. Free infographics, white papers and e-books are some of the many types of content people want, and they will generate online leads.

Maximize your hard work

You’ve created good content and you have a list of email addresses. But to maximize your efforts, you must stay in touch with those leads to avoid letting them get cold.

If they liked your white paper, send your eBook next. Follow up a few weeks after that with another piece of content.

Meanwhile watch your website to see if they return. If so, it’s time to turn this valuable lead over to your sales team.

Four bonus tips

  1. Update your company profile in online directories.
  2. Make sure your website is mobile ready.
  3. If your business is local, make sure you register with local directories.
  4. Don’t forget, customer reviews are a powerful tool for adding credibility. Look into services like Yelp or Google My Business.

From Smart Business. 

Growing revenue by nurturing leads

image of a businessmen stretching out their hands towards each other, the future handshake

Generating leads — for most companies — is a relatively straightforward process of attracting website visits, trade show contacts, buying lists, outbound email campaigns or telemarketing, among other things.

The problem is that most of these leads (73 percent, according to MarketingSherpa) are not yet ready to buy — or to even talk to a salesperson. But it’s a mistake to ignore those leads. Studies report that 80 percent of leads not ready to buy today will go on to buy from you or a competitor within the next 24 months.

This is where lead nurturing fits in.

Lead nurturing defined

Lead nurturing is the process of creating a relevant and consistent dialogue with potential customers through regularly scheduled, customized communications.

Lead nurturing is typically focused on converting leads that are already in your database, with a goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy — next month, next quarter or next year.

How it works

Envision your sales process as an upside down funnel. Leads enter at the wide end of the funnel. Once leads are in the funnel, you need to nurture them with helpful, relevant information that moves potential buyers through each stage of consideration at a natural pace until they’re ready to be passed on to sales.

It starts with building a number of different customer tracks to address various products of interest, pain points and common objections during each stage of the sales cycle. Leads are placed on a track based on what you know about them.

Here is an example of three tracks based on key customer questions:

  • Early stage — education: Do I have a problem? Does it impact my business? How are others solving it?
  • Middle stage — solution: Will this solve my problem? Is this the best way to improve my business?
  • Late stage – selection: Can I justify this expense? Is this vendor a trusted partner?

A common mistake marketers make is to think of lead nurturing as email communication. Instead, think of it as a workflow or series of communications in which every step has a clear and concise objective, whether it is moving someone to the next stage, or driving another desirable action.

The end result

Nurturing has the power to significantly speed up your sales cycle, with plenty of research to back up this assertion:

  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (DemandGen Report, 2014)
  • Companies that excel in lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead. (Forrester Research, 2014)
  • Successful lead nurturing breeds educated, gratified customers who channel their satisfaction into their purchase sizes, making 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Kapost, 2014)

A planned lead nurturing process actively builds new relationships with prospective customers and keeps a company top of mind.

With a nurturing program in place, prospects are no longer getting barraged with generic sales emails — instead they are receiving targeted communications based on their inquiries, interests and more. Perhaps that is why the sales results are dramatically better.

From Smart Business

Nurture: The Fourth Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the fifth in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

Congratulations! You have successfully completed the first three steps of turning prospects into lifetime customers: Attract, Engage, and Convert. Now, you are ready for the Nurture phase. And, yes, you’re almost to the point of sale! However, not all leads will become customers. Depending on where they are in the sales cycle, some leads may quickly convert into a customer soon after they discover your product or service. Others may take some nurturing before committing to a purchase. Once a relationship is developed, you are more likely to realize your end goal: business loyalty.

Marketing Funnel

 

Content marketing

Content marketing is at the core of nurturing consumer relationships online. It’s the process of consistently creating and curating valuable and relevant content for your customers or leads—without selling to them. It can include engaging photos, videos, articles, podcasts, ebooks, reports and white papers. It’s anything that can help, inform or entertain your target audience. Consider it as another service you provide. Without helpful or entertaining content, it may be difficult to create effective and engaging emails. And no one would respond to or share your posts on social media. Online conversation is created around content.

Email Marketing

Email is the easiest, most intimate way to communicate with your leads online—a targeted message with interesting or helpful content is sent straight to their inbox. You know who they are, and you have their contact information. Give your email list special treatment by sending exclusive reports, limited-time offers, prizes and other value-added content. Create a two-way conversation by periodically emailing special surveys. And then later share the survey results with your list!

Social media

Social media is another great medium to nurture relationships and converse with your leads online. However, a “like” or a friendly response to a comment is not enough. Instead, offer helpful advice, tips or assistance in your response as an added service.

For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and a customer tweets, “Can’t wait for my birthday dinner tonight at @ABCRestaurant!” you may be tempted to respond with, “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Looking forward to celebrating with you soon!”

Instead, help the customer with your response, even if she didn’t ask for it. A beneficial response to the example could possibly be, “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Check out our specials on party appetizers and sangria pitchers! www.linktocontent.com/specials” or “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Here’s a sneak peek at what may happen tonight: www.linktocontent.com/birthday-song-video>”

Display Remarketing

It’s important to further develop a relationship with website visitors after they leave your website. This is possible through display remarketing. Display remarketing is an online advertising campaign that allows you to reconnect with past website visitors by showing them relevant online ads as they use other websites or mobile apps. It also helps reach leads and customers who are more likely to purchase your products or services.

Blog

Maintaining an ongoing, relevant blog that your target audience finds interesting will keep them coming back for more, and it will help develop your relationship with blog readers. Similar to social media, it’s most effective to respond to comments with more helpful information and insight to keep the conversation going. Including an RSS feed so that blog posts can be delivered straight to subscribers’ inboxes makes it convenient for your target audience to stay informed. If you develop a regular blog audience, you will be top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

Customer Service

It’s hard to talk about nurturing relationships with customers and leads without talking about customer service. Consider every consumer touchpoint as an opportunity to provide an exceptional experience. Whether it’s helping people through social media, email, instant messaging, text messaging, over the phone or in person, every interaction with your business has the ability to enhance or deteriorate your relationship. Diligently create a consistent brand experience that’s worth talking about.

If a customer leaves a negative comment or complaint online, kindly thank them for their feedback and say that you will work with them offline to resolve the issue. Stay true to your word and follow up with the customer. If they have a positive experience, they may choose to remove or update their previous comment or review. No matter the outcome, always remain positive and helpful.

Now that we’ve walked you through each phase of the Marketing Funnel, we hope you leave with key takeaways that will help you optimize your website and inbound marketing efforts. If you keep each phase and the respective strategies in mind while developing a marketing plan, you can more effectively guide your target audience through the Funnel and ultimately turn your prospects into lifetime customers.

This is the last article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series. If you have questions about any phase, goal or tactic discussed, please contact GREENCREST, and a marketing expert can assist you.

 

Convert: The Third Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the fourth in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

During the Engage phase of the Marketing Funnel, you maintained your prospects’ attention and enticed them to interact with your brand online. Once you have engaged a prospect, he or she is more likely to convert into a warm lead—but only if you ask them to and show them how.

Marketing Funnel

 

Website

It’s important to set your website up for success and turn it into a lead-generating machine. One easy way to do this is to incorporate calls-to-action on every web page. A call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to website users to perform a desired behavior. Examples include “Contact Us Today,” “Request a Quote,” “Schedule an Appointment,” or “Watch the Demo.” On a website, CTAs should always link to a web page where users can perform the behavior you asked them to do. This might be a form where they submit their information, question and/or request. It might be an exclusive download. Whatever it may be, users should get something of value in exchange for their contact information.

If you send marketing emails or e-newsletters, it’s beneficial to prominently display a sign up form on your website. This is often a small field where website visitors simply submit their name and email address and are automatically added to your email distribution list. Instead of labeling the submit button “Submit,” it may be more effective to use a creative CTA such as “Gain Instant Access!”

Whenever website visitors send you their information, it’s a good idea to create a page that confirms their information has been received. Use this webpage to keep track of online conversions.

Blog

Similar to a website, it’s important to incorporate CTAs throughout your blog and blog posts. On a blog, it’s imperative to make it easy for people to subscribe and receive your emails. You may also want to direct your readers to other similar articles, white papers or e-books you have published.

Customer Service

Last but not least, your leads need to experience exceptional customer service. There is no point in collecting information from your website visitors if you’re not going to respond or deliver what you promised. Have a system in place so that the proper contact at your company receives a website inquiry and responds in a timely manner. Ensure that automatic responses and downloads are functioning properly. And don’t forget to follow up! Lastly, if a person signs up to receive emails from your company, make it easy to unsubscribe if he or she no longer wants to receive emails from you. Not doing so will violate anti-spam laws and potentially create a very frustrating customer experience.

In the last article of the “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will show you how to turn leads into customers, and how to turn current customers into lifetime customers. It all comes down to fostering relationships during the Nurture phase.

 

Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers: Attract, Engage, Convert and Nurture

(This BrandPro article is the first in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

If you’re in marketing or business, you might have heard of the popular AIDA Formula. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It’s the process that we marketers often use to create a customer and build customer relationships. Now it’s more common to see what we call the Marketing Funnel, or Sales Funnel. The Marketing Funnel takes a new twist on the old AIDA Formula. It presents a visual diagram that helps us understand how to turn a prospect into a lead, a lead into a customer, and a customer into a lifetime, repeat customer. When using the Marketing Funnel, our main goal is to develop lifetime customers—because it’s much easier to sell to existing customers than constantly trying to attract and sell to new ones.

The Marketing Funnel

The Marketing Funnel isn’t “one size fits all.” There are many versions of it out there because it needs to be adopted and customized to best fit your business’s needs and sales process. For the next few weeks, this BrandPro Blog series will focus on each part of the following Marketing Funnel, as it pertains to digital marketing.

Marketing Funnel

A Quick Overview

Each phase of the Marketing Funnel has its own unique goal and includes various tactics that can be used to achieve its goal. Here’s a brief introduction to each phase, in which we will go into more depth in the weeks to come.

Attract

During the Attract phase, your main goal is to draw attention to your business, products and/or services. If done well, you will reach the broadest set of targeted, potential customers. In this phase, you will most likely increase brand awareness.

Engage

Once you have attracted the attention of your target customers, you want to begin to engage with them as a brand. In this phase, target customers become prospects. They are not only aware of you, but they’re interested in you. Your goal is to engage with them and instill a desire to do business with you—a desire to buy your products or services.

Convert

As you filter out your prospects, your next step is to convert them into leads. During this phase, prospects act on their need, want or desire for your product or services and ask for more information. At this point, depending on where the lead is in the sales cycle, he or she may quickly decide to purchase and become a customer, or it may take a little nurturing before the lead decides to do business with you.

Nurture

There are two parts to the Nurture phase. On one end, you are nurturing your leads and continuing to build your relationship with them in order to turn them into customers. On the other hand, you need to nurture your current customers and instill a loyalty so that they will become lifetime, repeat customers. Remember, the main goal of utilizing the Marketing Funnel is to get targeted prospects to this end of the Funnel and become lifetime customers. The Nurture phase is critical because it’s much more efficient to sell to current customers who will potentially spend more with you on an annual basis than it is to constantly acquire new customers.

In the next article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will dive deep into the Attract phase of the Marketing Funnel and give you actionable tactics that will help attract attention to your business, product or service.

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