As your potential new customers are heading to the Internet and searching for what you offer, they will interact with your company at one of three main stages of the marketing funnel: top, middle, or bottom.What is the marketing funnel? Take everyone: visitors, Twitter followers, and all those who fill out your request-a-quote form, and dump them into a funnel and visualize leads pouring into the top and customers pouring out of the bottom.
Conversion Rate Otimization (CRO) is about moving people through your marketing funnel, turning them from visitors into raving, repeat customers (source: Unbounce).Professional services marketing using the Internet will be fully effective in driving sales only when all three areas of the funnel have an active inbound marketing strategy. What you develop for content offers for web and social content, and how and when you present it, will determine your campaign’s conversion rate. Let's see how
- Top of the funnel content offers target leads in the awareness stage. Leads in the awareness stage are just beginning to realize they have problem, need, or pain point that they need to address. To address those needs, where do they head? 50% to 90% (depending on your niche industry) head to the Internet.
- Bottom of the funnel leads are ready to buy. The question is, whom will they buy from? Bottom of the funnel leads will respond to a contact from, free estimate form, or they simply may pick up the phone. Wouldn’t it be nice if all leads fit into the bottom of the funnel? If you’re one of the many professional services companies who only focus on this part of the funnel, you are letting a great number of leads head elsewhere on the Internet—possibly to your competition. Let’s try to avoid that.
What is The Middle of the Funnel?
The middle of the funnel (MOF) is often the part of the funnel that’s most confusing in professional services marketing. Why? Because there are two ways to get there: Leads can enter the MOF directly or be nurtured to get there.
Leads can enter anywhere in the funnel, but they more easily enter the wider top of the funnel (TOF) where little is required of them. Some will leave the funnel at any point—a process you want to try to avoid.
Moving Leads to the Middle of the Funnel through Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is a popular inbound marketing term used to describe an active process of moving top of the funnel leads to the middle of the funnel.
Lead nurturing can occur in all channels: Social media, premium content offers, or landing pages. One of the hottest means of moving TOF leads to the MOF, is email marketing. When a visitor converts into a lead you should have their name (even if it’s only a first name) and an email address. Using email, you can nurture those leads by offering premium content, discounts, free analyses, etc.—Redirecting them back to your website to produce brand awareness and build confidence in you as a thought leader, someone the lead can trust.
Five Great Middle of the Funnel Offers
You can use these CRO offers to get direct conversions of visitors to leads or use them for lead nurturing through social media or through email marketing.
- Webinars: Because they are typically long enough in duration, webinars are a high value piece of content. Webinars are an opportunity to go into greater detail about a topic. They are also very personal. A live webinar affords a lead to interact with you in a non-threatening, group setting. People listen to other people—hence the popularity of reviews sites and user forums. Webinars attract like-minded customers who find value in interacting with others who are at the same place in their buyer’s journey. The relative vulnerability you as a professional services business risks in doing a live webinar will build a lot of trust in your audience.
- Case Studies: Everyone wants to think they’re the best. But a case study gives you an opportunity to prove it. There is nothing greater than a satisfied customer and the stories they tell. Case studies go beyond testimonials because they offer proof. You get to demonstrate how your product or service has benefited someone or some other business.
- Free Trial or Product Demo: Not all businesses can create this offer, but if you can, you gain the added benefit of being in greater contact with your lead than other offers may afford.
- Assessments: One of the best (and fun) ways to build a relationship with a buyer is to give them something for free. What you are giving away is your professional expertise. A legal firm, an insurance agency, or a financial firm can give free assessments—as can most service-related companies. Remember, your goal here is not to hard sell, but to move a lead to the MOF.
- Industry-Specific Content: B2B companies can develop white papers or e-books to solve specific industry-related pain points. Again, these will be more high-value, downloadable pieces of content than you would use for a top of the funnel offer. In any given campaign, you will want to provide continuity between offers. For example, a legal firm’s TOF offer might be an e-book on, “Wills vs Trust Funds.” The corosponding MOF offer would take the offer to the next level, perhaps, “The Complete Guide on How to Hire a Lawyer to Create a Trust Fund.”
Middle of the funnel offers are only limited by your creativity and your perceived needs of your clientele. Your goals include building brand identity, trust, and confidence in you, as well as you gaining greater insight into which leads are more qualified than others.
Key take-a-ways from this blog post:
- Inbound marketing—sourcing leads through the Internet produces positive ROI and it works.
- The most effective campaigns leverage all three main levels of the funnel.
- Lead nurturing intentionally moved leads down the funnel. Leads also can move down the funnel through organic means.
- The challenge in developing content offers is to know your target persona and create outstanding offers for them.