Do you know why 90% of startups fail?
They put their heads down and design, create and launch a great product, but fail to interact with the public and customers.
Then they add more features and improve the product, but don’t get customers, and their business fails.
The marketing funnel relates to the journey of your prospective customers within your website from the initial stages of identifying the problem through to their conversion into paying customers.
5 Main Stages of a Marketing Funnel Optimization
There are 5 stages of marketing funnel optimization.
This is the stage where you attract prospects through various channels such as websites, social media, brick and mortar stores and other marketing channels.
This stage is where interactions between businesses and customers counts. How many of the people who visit the various channels take action or sign up depends entirely on the quality of those interactions.
If they are positive and prospective customers walk away happy, they can be expected to take action.
Once customers have taken action to initiate a relationship with businesses, the next stage is to keep them coming back for more.
The longer the positive interaction with customers, the more likely the prospects will move through to the next stage.
In this stage of the funnel, customers are happy with the company, the product and their relationship with the business, so they commit to buy and engage in monetization behavior.
Once customers have bought a product, and if they are happy with the product and their relationship with the business, it’s highly likely that they will recommend the product or business to others.
These referrals are the best type of publicity for a business, and they are the ultimate objective of funnel optimization.
Each of these stages is described in detail below.
One important point to note here is that the cost of acquiring a customer should be less than the lifetime value of the customer. This may be hard to estimate, especially when using SaaS products, but it’s essential to pay attention to costs.
Needless to say, free is generally better than paid.
It is important to identify channels of acquisition and define which are high-volume, low-conversion and low-cost. But measuring channels of acquisitions such as collected emails shouldn’t be a priority.
Measured items should have a direct connection with revenue.
Customer Acquisition: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for driving traffic to website and acquisitions. It is important to make sure that Google finds your content.
Pay attention to the loading time for your website; people have dwindling attention spans, so the webpage needs to load quickly.
If you want to attain a high SEO ranking and get into the top ten on the query list, ensure that you don’t duplicate content.
Conduct keyword research and target your content to use keyword phrases for long-tail searches (3-4 words). Though it may seem unlikely, long-tail keywords are more efficient at driving the right kind of traffic to your site, and they also represent more search volume.
Content is the best weapon for attracting customers to your website.
If the content is informative and interesting, it will keep visitors on your page longer and perhaps drive them to explore the other pages and features on the site. Content is the key to good SEO, which demands, good, relevant content that reads naturally and is unique.
It is important to have a concise and interesting meta description that attracts the attention of searchers. Meta descriptions are important for search engine results pages, and still matter.
The meta description should convey the essence of your website and its content and be action-oriented.
To get a high page rank for your website, it’s important to provide links that point to other authority sites from your website, as well as to have other well-ranked or authority sites point to your website.
Search engines give more credibility to sites that have links pointing to and from them than sites that have no links. So get links from high-quality authority sites for a better page rank.
Customer Acquisition: Content Marketing
This is another tool for improving your SEO. Content marketing is all about creating and distributing relevant, valuable and interesting content in order to attract and retain a certain target audience.
Content marketing is very important for credibility, creating links, SEO, and attracting and retaining visitors. This means creating evergreen content that’s going to be relevant forever. Content marketing can be done by:
- Using lists to create interesting content that people, or more specifically your target audience, would like to read. These could be contents like “nine ways to…,” “ultimate list to …,.”
- Using numbers in the headings of your articles and posts to boost their opening rate.
- Using emails and newsletters with interesting and relevant information to drive traffic to your website. This strategy is for the audience that you know are already true fans of your product and don’t mind getting all that news and views you have to share.
- Using Twitter lists to create interest groups of target audiences to whom you can tweet interesting information and news about your business.
- Using longer posts and content; Google prefers content that is between 300 and 3000 words in length. So create blogs, posts and other content on social media that are the optimal length.
- Leaving guest posts and comments on other blogs.
- A picture is worth a thousand words, and same is true of infographics. Using infographics to convey your message is a good strategy.
Customer Acquisition: Public Relations
This plays a very important role in acquisition of customers. For good PR strategy, you need to respect journalists and cultivate their friendship if you want them to write about you and your business.
Find writers to create professional content for you so you get to tell your stories in an interesting manner that engages the audience. You may start with small blogs and build up your audience. Do not write overly long descriptions of your product or service.
Make your pitch brief, give a good story rather than product features, and follow up immediately.
Customer Acquisition: Paid Advertising
Google Adwords and Bing Ads have a number of features that tell you all you need to know.
Analytic tools display whether the visitors were generated by search engines, social media, organic searches, paid searches, direct visits or web referrals.
This gives you a clear picture of which channel to focus on. You also need to pay attention to conversions and not just click-throughs.
- You need to determine whether the product or service you are offering is being searched on Google or not. It is futile trying to create an ad for a product people are not looking for on Google. Start with broad matches and then narrow down your search to see if the product is in demand and find the best keywords for your product.
- Create ads that are relevant to your business. Google wants relevant ads that don’t not mislead the audience. A good way to optimize AdWords campaigns for your business is to use negative keywords. These are words or phrases that won’t not display your ad if a query is generated using the negative keywords.
- Campaigns allow you to organize different categories of products that you may be offering together. It is essential to structure your campaigns so that you get the maximum benefit.
- Since the keywords you choose for your ads are used to display the ads following a search query, it’s important to match keywords on your ads and landing pages so that they’re relevant to each other for a better search result. Good keywords display your ads to only those people who are most interested and save you money.
- It is important to monitor your AdWords account daily to see the direction it‘s taking. Some initial tweaks will be required to get the maximum benefit from your ads.
- Create and run variations of your ads and campaigns. This will help to stave off boredom and sustain interest.
Customer Acquisition: Facebook Ads
You get a custom audience targeting feature when you use Facebook Ads to promote your business. It is a great tool for marketing but has limited use.
How effective Facebook ads can be depends on the product you are trying to sell. It is a great B2C tool but sometimes fails as a B2B channel.
Facebook ads are not an ideal platform for conversion, but are great for branding. Facebook provides an excellent opportunity to build up your brand by constant interactions with your target audience.
Once awareness has been created and you have acquired some prospects, the next stage is to induce prospective customers to take action.
Landing Page Optimization
The first stage of activation is through the landing page. Don’t confuse the home page with the landing page. Though a home page can be a landing page, it’s better if the message of the ad that directs traffic matches the page to which visitors are directed when they click on the ad.
Choose your message and headlines with care so that they attract relevant visitors to your landing page. You need to test properly to create the most effective message and headlines.
Audiovisual media is excellent for attracting the attention of possible customers. It is always a good idea to include videos relevant to the product that are linked to your ads and landing page.
Images are a powerful method of conveying your message. Include images of people looking at your calls to action to create a positive association for your prospective clients. Another way to create a positive association with your product is by using photographs of people using the product on your landing page. Other elements on the landing page could include explanatory videos and placing call-to-action buttons near the top of the page so they are noticeable and easily accessible.
The landing page needs to have a message that calls for action; it could be anything, like signing up for a newsletter or connecting on Facebook. Do not write about product features on the landing page, just point to the benefits to the prospect of being associated with the company or the product. Use testimonials, reviews from happy customers, statements and references as social proof of the goodness of your product.
For high-priced products, there may be a chance for a second conversion point. This could be exploited by asking for the email of prospective customers. Explain that the email is only to keep customers informed about the product. This can then lead to making a second conversion.
Another thing that could lead to conversion is optimizing the process of signing up. The sign-up form should be simple and have few pricing options. It would also be beneficial to offer social sign-up through your website. If the activation rate is low, try to find out why people aren’t completing the sign-up process.
Another way to activate prospects is to aim for email conversion. Create a mailing list based on the sign-ups you have. Send emails to the prospects with clickable links that send them to your landing page.
Test combinations of mailing lists, mail and newsletter content and landing pages.
The aim of a landing page is to help prospects identify themselves so you can then turn them into leads and convert them to monetizing behavior.
Keep the first interactions with your prospects simple. Give them the information they need. Take them through an onboarding process. Walk them through the product. You can use videos, images and demos to acquaint your prospects with your product.
Once conversion is complete and prospects have become paying customers, the next need is to retain customers. Based on your own feedback regarding customers, categorize them into different segments for follow-up action.
You need to motivate your customers by upselling and cross selling, creating offers and deals and other incentives to induce them to buy again from you.
If customers haven’t made purchases in a while, send reminder emails so your business remains within their mind. When they are ready to purchase again, they will think of you.
Use emails to create a relationship. Create guides and send tips and other information relevant to the purchases they made. Get in touch by email and thank anyone who follows, connects with, or endorses you.
Create a personal relationship with customers by sending personal emails from the CEO. Put triggers for action into the emails. That could include discount coupons, offers of free gifts, or cash incentives for continuing the relationship.
Create processes and incentives that make it easy for users to persuade or pressure their friends to sign up and log in to your website.
The last stage of the funnel is referrals. This relies heavily on the use of social interactions and social media.
- Encourage your customers to share their experiences with others in their groups or on social media. Give customers access to your social media so they can post on your behalf. Facilitate posting new content on social media by your customers.
- Make the process easy and painless to encourage them to let you create posts on their behalf. Post reminders for friends to join up.
- Give something to your customers for referring your business to others. You could also provide incentives, discounts and freebies during the onboarding process.
- Create a content and ask customers to share it with their friends. This is a good way to get referrals from customers.
Dealing With Your First 1000 Users
Marketing is an exercise in trial and error. You need to try and try again before you find the perfect balance that will benefit your business. So the sooner you try and the more you fail, the faster you will discover things that work.
For the first 1000 users, keep the focus on learning about your customers, ways to fulfill their expectations, and what they like and don’t like. Your strategy here is all about hustle and learning, and you’ll generally tweak your strategies to keep your customers happy. This is a costly exercise, as it’s non-scalable, but it’s essential.
A big launch for a product is imprudent if it’s not great or requires improvements. Jumping the gun on product launch could eventually hurt your business.
One of the easiest ways to announce yourself is to create a landing page and drive traffic to it. Here the focus needs to be on the core position statements that include headlines, benefits, calls to action, etc.
You need to ensure that you have relevant headlines for your targeted visitors. The landing page should have activation forms, headlines, images and benefits statements to keep visitors engaged and interested enough to create leads.
It’s very important to concentrate on the onboarding process. Pay attention to activities that make the process easy for end users.
Keep an eye on your retention rate. Check it regularly, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, to take stock of your active users.
If you’re using the SaaS model, then develop trial, free and paid user models. The churn rate of SaaS business is indicative of its well-being. The lower the churn rate, the better for the business. The acceptable rate of churn for SaaS-based business is between 5% and 7% per annum. Anything above that should start alarm bells ringing and the marketing department scurrying to increase retention.
Get set up and go a step further by exploring metrics like data mapping. There are many useful tools that allow you to do this. We will be exploring and discussing some of them in future posts.
Increasing your conversion rate can be done in two ways. One is to increase the number of visits to the website, which can be done via paid advertising and SEO. The second is to optimize websites and landing pages.
Funnel optimization is experimenting with available options over a period of time to improve, optimize and repair the metrics that are important for your business and profitability.
Optimization is important because it improves business results, creates new customers, creates awareness of your business and helps your bottom line.