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The sales or marketing funnel is an inbound marketing concept… And whether you are trying to solve a problem or shopping for a product to buy, the “top of the funnel” is often the very beginning of intention…
The four phases of solving a problem are:
The four phases are the same for solving a problem or shopping online.
In online shopping, it starts at the top of a marketing funnel.
The process of becoming a customer in e-commerce is referred to as the “buyer journey.
The Top of the Funnel in E-Commerce
Any problem solving process can be mapped using the funnel. But if a person isn’t aware there’s a problem, there’s no chance of solving it.
In e-commerce, the four steps above are sometimes drawn in using a diagram of a “sales funnel”.
In e-commerce the funnel is simplified using only three phases.
Awareness, evaluation and action.
Just like problem solving, the top of the funnel is the “awareness” stage… If a person is not aware they have a problem of the buyer’s journey down the “sales funnel”.
Best practices in designing a sales funnel involve creating a low friction progression for buyers through each phase of the funnel.
Top of the Funnel – Awareness Stage:
In the awareness stage, a buyer is clicking on everything. They’re visiting all sorts of sites because they’re not exactly sure what they want or will buy.
When Googling, they may even venture past page 1 of the SERPs…!
If you were selling homeowner’s insurance, to make yourself visible to prospects in the awareness phase, you might write a series of blog posts and optimize them around the process of buying a house.
And you might create a series of YouTube videos on the subject and embed them in your blog posts.
You could syndicate these posts on LinkedIn and Medium. And share them on social media.
Middle of the Funnel – Evaluation Stage:
Your prospect may have included your website in a shortlist of sites that he or she visits repeatedly.
You’ve made it to the evaluation stage of your prospect’s buyer journey!
At this stage, it’s helpful to provide a helpful free product, or service or something of value to your prospect.
This is referred to as a “Lead Magnet” because in exchange for the free offer, the customer provides an email address or other contact information to you.
The key to a lead magnet is to make it extremely valuable. Not so valuable that your customers have everything they need… Just valuable enough so they feel good about you and your company.
In the insurance industry, some examples lead magnets are:
- Checklists: (10 exclusions you want to avoid in your GL policy)
- Whitepaper: (Example: The basics of buying representations and warranties)
- Self-published book: (Example: Longer, more detailed softcopy version of the whitepaper)
- Video course: (Example: The one sign your business is exposed to a cyber attack)
- Case study: (Example: How we saved company X 40% on their insurance)
- How to guide: (Example: How to find the best car insurance)
The purpose of the lead magnet is to move a customer from a “suspect” to a “prospect”.
Bottom of the Funnel – Conversion Stage:
In the conversion stage, the prospect becomes a customer.
To get to the conversion stage, you must use the information your buyer has provided in exchange for the lead magnet to present a buying opportunity.
Perhaps it’s a phone call or an email. Maybe it’s just a landing page with your product.
Either way, you have successfully guided a buyer in his or her journey from being a suspect to a prospect to a customer.
The next challenge is the evolution from customer to loyal customer…
One where the lifetime value (LTV) grows as your customer moves beyond the initial sale to a series of purchases throughout their lives.