We all are aware of a funnel; anything put as an input narrows down through its whole length and gradually gives us the desired output is a funnel.
Sales funnel is one of the core and most essential digital marketing concepts.
A brief on what is a sales funnel in digital marketing
Before understanding what a sales funnel is in digital marketing, let’s quickly decipher a sales funnel first.
Sales funnel, also known as revenue funnel, refers to the multi-step process that potential customers go through, from the first contact with a business until they complete a purchase and become loyal customers. It is the journey a customer goes through from being completely unknown of the business to being its promoter. The length of the funnel depends on every individual business’s particular funnel strategy.
What is a sales funnel model?
Sales funnel works on the AIDA model, which consists of the following phases:
1. Awareness phase
This phase is where a business catches the consumer’s attention. It could be through various channels such as ads, social media posts, or Google searches. Consumers are now aware that the business exists.
2. Interest phase
The lead shows interest in the business by conducting product research, comparisons and thinking over various options. The business tries to develop consumers’ interest to further take them forward towards a decision.
3. Decision phase
This is when the consumer is ready to make a purchase. This is the best time for the business to make a luring offer – like a discount code, free shipping, or any other offer – that is so irresistible the consumer cannot help but purchase it.
4. Action phase
This is the final phase, where the consumer has finally decided to make a purchase and become a part of the business’s ecosystem. However, the digital marketing funnel doesn’t end here. Customer retention should be a priority of every marketer’s agenda. Customers should be made to feel valued by inviting them to give feedback and honoring their problems or issues if any. This approach is highly effective in building brand awareness and reinforces customer loyalty.
This phase is followed by advocacy in which the customer becomes loyal to us and starts to promote the business by referring to other potential customers in his social vicinities such as his family, friends and other knowns. In this process, the business becomes a brand with time.
Why is a sales funnel so crucial in digital marketing?
Landing upon a marketing strategy
The marketing sales funnel gives you a strategy for entering the market and presenting your business to the masses. You could portray your business to the customers in the online market and provide value strategically.
Acquiring customers is the most daunting task for any business, especially newbies. Sales funnel targets the right potential customers with detailed targeting and reach them at a very attractive cost.
Developing a list of future prospective customers
Once a prospect enters your funnel, it sends you all his details, journey stage, and interests. In this way, you could develop a list of these prospects and pitch them any time in the future. Also, you can upsell and cross-sell them in the future. This makes a colossal Lifetime customer value (LTCV).
Boost in sales
With the proper targeting, remarketing, and list of interested customers, the sales funnel can drastically boost sales.
It helps in developing a business into a brand. This is very crucial for any business’s long term success.
How do you build a sales funnel for free?
Digital marketers must try to capture as many leads as possible and then nurture prospective clients through a purchasing decision journey while narrowing down these prospects in each stage of the funnel.
You shall offer your clients in the same way as you would do to your best friend.
Following are a few tools that play an essential role in all this process:
• Blogs with good content
• Online reviews
• Search engine optimization (SEO)
• Display ads
• Paid ads
The prospecting strategy varies from client to client depending upon the stage the client is standing on in the buying cycle.
Strategies for an effective sales funnel
Here are the tactics effective at each of the five stages of the buying cycle of the sales funnel:
In the lead stage, something caused the prospects to realize the need for the product. They became slightly interested at this point, which progressed to spending time researching more about it.
Here the most crucial requirement is that you should attract your ideal client. This is the very first step to being successful. For instance, on Instagram, businesses post pictures of their products. If you don’t have a following, your traffic will be lower, your exposure will be lower, and you will attract only a few people, and therefore, only a few people will know, like and trust you. The solution is to create awareness about your business through online campaigns.
In this stage, since the audience is cold, you could attract them through a lead magnet, such as an e-book, video series, audio series, e-mail course, free training, free consultation, free audit or any other free offer. These would attract them to your ecosystem and eventually collect their contact information.
This is the time for the business to build trust, recognition and branding. This is the time to use relevant content to push your audience further into the funnel. It aims at creating content around the topics that differentiate your offering from your competitors.
You will further keep on contacting them through different online channels and continuously understanding your prospects’ needs.
3. Qualify Prospect
At this stage, you verify whether or not the prospects need your product, whether they are interested in making a purchase, they see value in your offer, and they have a sufficient budget for a purchase. This process can be lengthy and complex.
This stage involves a lot of nurturing. Nurturing is being in touch with them, providing them content regularly and being present at every possible digital place in the market. The point is to gain their trust by creating authority for your business in the marketplace. They should get habitual of your valuable content or quality products so that they get assured that they would get enough value by becoming your paid clients.
Now you should reinforce the benefits of the services you offer by promoting your content. Use paid ads and free platforms to announce events, opportunities and tours, and obtain newsletter subscribers. Address any objections and barriers. Keep your content relevant.
In this stage, a tripwire could be offered. Tripwire is a no-brainer offer that is priced irresistibly low for the sole purpose of converting prospects to clients.
Now the prospects have built trust in your business and your content. They have started engaging with your business, have been habitual of your content, consider your content valuable and are ready to spend on any offer that you make.
In this stage, the core product is offered to the prospects to explain the product with complete details.
Finally, a few prospects purchase your product and become loyal clients. It is your responsibility to fulfill all the promises done with the clients. Value their feedback, improve accordingly and keep giving value for long-lasting relationships.
As soon as you succeed in closing a sale with a client, it is time to upsell and cross-sell. Upselling means offering a comparable higher-end product compared to the product the client purchased. Cross-selling means offering products complementary or related to the purchased product.
Those prospects who do not purchase your product you can down-sell to them. Downsell means to offer a lower-priced product than that of the previous offer.
In this way, you have created a relationship with your clients. The development of a relationship removes the price barrier.
Your clients will promote your business to their knowns due to complete satisfaction from your work.
Now it is time to collect testimonials and use them as proofs of your good service. This shall convert into a sales multiplier for your business as you could easily attract more clients into your funnel with them.
Here, it is essential to understand that non-buyers are equally vital for the business as the buyers as there is always a very high chance that you can sell to them in the future. In this way, you could build a list of prospective clients that can be used for future promotions.
After reading this article, it should be pretty clear to you what a marketing funnel is. This system pretty much works like Google maps: This is where you are, this is where you want to go, and you learn the route that you need to take to skip all the traffic, avoid all competitors and get there the fastest.
7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
With SEO changing faster than the wind, what should your primary focus be for the coming years? It may seem daunting for a small business without an army of specialist staff to take direction. Still, by making a few changes to your digital marketing strategies, you can make a difference to your online position.
The seven digital marketing strategies for small businesses
Take a look at our seven focus areas that you should be considering when marketing your website online.
1. Knowledge Graph: Build your online entity.
You may have noticed that Google search now returns a selection of results from different sources for your query, including images, websites, maps and videos etc. This is part of Google’s new semantic search offering customers more choice for their query so that they do not need to leave Google and search elsewhere.
If you are not already using the data highlighter tool in Google Search Central, now may be a good time? Do you run events, have book reviews or articles, etc.? Mark up a page telling Google all about the event and improve its visibility in Google’s knowledge graph. Google provides a rich snippet of this markup data in search results.
It is easy to do with no coding experience necessary.
- Log on to Google Search Central.
- Click on ‘Search Appearance’, and you will see the data highlighter tool.
- Add the page URL you want to mark up and then highlight the words on the page to match each category Google asks for.
- When finished, publish your changes.
You can use Google’s structured data to optimize website pages and build authorship. By marking up content, you can help Google understand your content, build up author credibility and work towards becoming an online entity.
2. Keyword themes: Focus on a keyword group.
You may be optimizing your blogs and website copy with a focus keyword – but is your work focusing on a core set of keywords and phrases?
Google is currently focusing on better understanding content across the web. Quality content is becoming increasingly important. By quality, we mean over 1500 characters for a web page that is full of exciting information in your niche area for your readers. If you are an authority in your subject area, that should be easy.
If you or your employees are writing articles, think about other words that naturally link to your keyword. For example, if your focus keyword is ‘Gap Year’, your page should probably contain other words such as travel, adventure, volunteering, work, abroad, experience etc. When Google reads your site, its algorithm knows what other words tend to appear alongside your focus keyword in your title.
Take a look at the top websites for your focus keyword and get ideas from there. Download the Chrome browser extension called SEO Quake. Then go to the page with the search terms you want to rank for, click the SEO Quake button and select ‘Page info’. You will find a list of the keyword densities on this page. After analyzing this page, you can work out other words that generally are used around your focus keyword and make sure you have them included in your content.
3. Brand build: Don’t link build.
To grow a website online, you need lots of links. However, Google does not want you to build links nowadays! Are you confused? There has been a significant overhaul in SEO, and Google has cracked down on web admins spamming websites to gain page rank. You still need links to rank, but they should be organic natural links. You should never buy links or use a generator to create your loads. If Google thinks you are spamming your site, they will impose a penalty, and they can take down your website. This process could potentially take months to rectify.
To gain links:
- Treat online relationships as you would offline.
- Outreach and make contacts and ask if they want to link with you online.
- Keep any links relevant to your business.
For example, if you are a cycling tour operator, a natural link may be to link with your local store that sells cycles or cycling clothes. Google understands the nature of websites you link to and who links back.
The best online marketing is to build up your brand. In the future, Google may understand a brand mention, and links may become redundant. In the meantime, spend time working on outreach and designing great content to share that will naturally develop people linking to you.
If you build links out to other companies, try not to focus on a keyword in your link. Instead, focus on the page URL you are linking to or the title of the page or article. This should help you steer clear of penalties.
If you are writing content, it makes sense to use someone that is an expert in the industry or if outsourcing, choose agents that market to your industry as their niche. Many outsourced companies write blogs re-hashed from sources elsewhere; we call this ‘scraped content’. It makes sense that if your copy is light on the word count, knowledge and optimized with just your main keyword, rather than a collective keyword group, this may look spammy to Google.
4. Narrowcasting: Engage with a smaller audience.
Content marketing continues to be a crucial tactic in search engine optimization. We will see a more significant focus on ‘narrowcasting’ in the coming years. Companies will identify a smaller audience and engage with them through offline and online conversations, choosing narrower, specialist keywords.
You can achieve narrowcasting with keyword analysis. To do this, you must search for narrow keywords that may only get, say, 50 hits per month. Placing your narrow keywords into a tool such as Wordstream will group keywords together, giving you a keyword campaign to focus on.
5. Local marketing: Optimize for local results.
A small business needs to market its website locally. If you have not yet opened a Google Business Page, it is time to do so. Google allows you to display your business information in the search pages below. There have been a few recent changes in this area. For those trying to grow your Google Plus page, including the reviews, you will notice that these features are no longer supported. Customers will now instead interact with your business in the knowledge box located on the search page.
This change may present a problem to those who have spent time building reviews on the Google plus page, as chances are, those particular links may now not work anymore.
6. Mobile apps: Upgrade your online technology.
Google rolled out its algorithm affecting mobile searches in April 2015. Websites that are not user-friendly on mobile will see a drop in rank when customers search online using a mobile search. If you are unsure whether your site is mobile-friendly, take the Google Mobile-Friendly test. This is one of the most essential digital marketing strategies you should consider for your site.
Consider investing in a mobile app. Statistics show that the conversion rate offers twice the engagement if using an app compared to mobile. People engage with apps more than browsing the mobile web. If you think about it, it makes sense. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, news, utilities and gaming dominate the home screen on phones. People tend to flick between apps rather than browse the web. If a customer downloads your app, your brand also benefits from the exposure of constant brand reinforcement each time the phone is open.
If your business has not got the budget to build an app, consider integrating your business with apps already available. The takeaway here is that you do not have to develop your apps; instead, look at ways to update your communication and customer service channels that engage with the new modern customer.
7. Multi-Channel Strategy: Streamline your business.
Our last trend has already worked well for companies like John Lewis. This strategy interacts with customers via a combination of direct and indirect marketing methods. Customers now have more control over the buying process with so much information available to them at hand. Successful brands are those who have integrated their functions. Customers now expect consistent experiences across all channels, whether they order a product online, visit the store or make a query using their mobile. Because your customer will interact with you in different ways, it is also essential to build up a central picture of their buying habits, understand how they behave at other points of the buying process, and their value to your business.
If your customer can currently interact with you differently, determine whether they receive the same experience in whichever way they choose to communicate. Also, consider whether the technology in place can deal with each channel whilst providing central data of the user experience.
These are the seven areas your digital marketing strategies must focus on for growing your small business.
How to Generate Endless Blog Post Ideas for Your Site
You know how important it is to have tens of blog post ideas so you can consistently bring more traffic to your website, but your creativity is at a critical level, and you need new topics to keep your momentum going.
So, you sit there thinking of new strategies to produce original topics, but you feel like everything had already been written on the web.
I’ve been writing web content since 2011, which is one of the challenges that I needed to figure out. After all, part of the job is to keep my employers and clients’ content interesting, helpful, and original.
I would constantly look for new ways to come up with blog topics that will bring value and new insights to my target readers.
And here’s what I learned – you just need a list of effective strategies to fall back on whenever you run out of blog ideas.
In this post, I’m sharing three of the top research strategies that I’ve picked up in generating blog post ideas.
Let’s dive in!
1. Use a blog idea generator.
The easiest and fastest way to come up with new blog post ideas without using much brain power is to use a blog idea generator.
If you’ve been writing on the web for some time now, you’ve probably come across one. But, just if you haven’t given it a try, HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator is my favourite.
For this example, I want to see suggestions around the topic of content marketing, and my nouns are ‘content marketing’, ‘writing’, and ‘secrets’.
You’ll notice that not all generated ideas are usable. Some of them are nonsense, which you can expect if you’re using automated tools like such, but with a little bit of creativity, you can turn the suggestions into really good ones.
With a little bit of editing, I was able to come up with the following headlines:
- How to Solve Weak Website Traffic With Content Marketing
- 5 Apps Everyone in the Writing Industry Should Be Using
- 15 Best Blogs to Follow About Content Marketing
- 14 Common Misconceptions About Content Marketing
- 10 Signs You Should Invest in Content Marketing
Other blog topic generators that I also recommend:
- Portent’s Content Idea Generator
- Build Your Own Blog’s Idea Generator
- Inbound Now Blog Title Idea Generator
- Content Row’s Link Bait Title Generator
2. Break down a published book.
Books are a great source of killer blog post ideas if you know where and how to look. I mean, there are millions of published books out there. It’s overwhelming.
But, if you follow my simple guideline, you’ll be amazed that there are many interesting topics out there waiting to be noticed and written.
Step 1: Niche down.
Trust me when I say that many good topics are hidden in niche Kindle books.
And for the purpose of this guide, let’s say I want to create a month’s worth of blog ideas around the topic of content marketing.
Now, ‘content marketing is a broad topic by itself. The exact term yields over 1,000 results in Kindle Store. So, what I did is I chose a smaller topic that will still fall under it. In my case, I want to create minor content for blogging newbies, so I went with ‘blogging for beginners.
Step 2: Search on Kindle Store.
In March 2018, there are over six million titles available in the U.S. alone. It’s crazy how fast Kindle publishing had grown since it launched in 2007!
Fortunately, we already picked a niche and a key phrase that will hopefully give us better results. True enough, ‘blogging for beginners’ generated a small number of results – 751 books.
Step 3: Create a list and keep it short.
The next step is to vet the results and create a shortlist.
You want to be as efficient as possible in sifting through these books. Five high-quality niche books are ideal to start with. To do this, look for authors you are familiar with or focus on books that have 4-5 stars rating, and choose the most relevant titles.
Start with your top choice and vet the author’s legitimacy by doing a quick google search. If the author maintains a website and active social media accounts, there’s a high chance that you’re reading the words of a real person.
A word of caution: not all self-publishers on Kindle are legit. Do your research.
Step 4: Analyze the chapters.
Next, click the thumbnail of your first eBook. Kindle Store allows you to read the first couple of pages to get a feel of the content.
I chose to preview a book called ‘My Blogging Secrets: A guide to becoming a pro-blogger. It’s written by Amber MacNaught, a popular U.K. blogger.
Here are the chapters of the eBook:
Step 5: Draw out blog post ideas.
From the Table of Contents or Chapters, extract feasible ideas and make them your own.
From these chapters, I was able to come up with the following headlines:
- 5 Free Tools to Create Images for Your Blog
- The Only Blogging Guide You’ll Ever Need
- The Main Reason Why You Need to Blog for Your Business
- 8 Ways to Get People to Read Your Blog
- 22 Ideas on How to Monetize Your Blog
I’ve come up with five blog post titles that are good enough for one month if I blog once a week in less than three minutes. But, if you’re an enterprise that posts more than once a week or a daily blog that publishes once a day, you just need to repeat step 3 and 4 a few times more.
Note: Steal ideas but don’t copy. That’s plagiarism, and copyright infringement has serious consequences.
3. Address customer pain points
A pain point is basically a problem. Plain and simple.
Businesses are built to address their customers’ pain points if you think about it. And I’m willing to bet that your products and services were developed because you identified a customer pain point and shaped your offerings to solve it.
For me, the most effective blog posts I’ve read on the internet are the ones that aim to solve customer pain points. If you’ve been running your business for a while, you probably have an idea of what your customers struggle with. If not, here are two ways to help you uncover these.
Tip #1: Ask your existing customers
It’s the easiest way to know where your customers are hurting.
For example, if you offer social media marketing services for book authors, you might ask your existing customers:
- What problems do you face in terms of increasing book sales?
- How do you establish authority online as a subject matter expert?
- What is your biggest challenge when promoting the launch of your book?
Tip #2: What pain points do your competitors focus on?
Customer problems are diverse, and they can evolve over time. One way to check is to look at your competitor website and see which problems they are most focused on. What benefits are they selling? What problems do they promise to solve?
Create a list and use your best judgement to filter out pain points that are not relevant to your business and use these to create useful content.
How to write headlines based on customer pain points
Now that you have a list, you’re ready to craft catchy headlines.
SMM, a company that offers social media marketing services for book authors, found out that their customers are struggling the most on how to drive website traffic to their sales pages. Your key phrase is ‘website traffic’ for this specific pain point, and you can create dozens of headline base on this term alone.
- 5 Social Media Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Book’s Sales Page
- How to Use Facebook Ads to 10x Your Website Traffic
- 5 Website Traffic Boosting Tips Using Pinterest
Transforming pain into content is one of the best blog writing strategies out there because it speaks directly to your customer about a pressing problem that may be costing them precious time and money.
How to Monetize Blog With CPA Marketing
CPA marketing is one of the finest ways to make money online. CPA or Cost Per Action/Acquisition marketing is a part of affiliate marketing based solely on qualifying actions such as registrations or sales.
While in traditional affiliate marketing, you get paid when a lead buys something you are promoting, in CPA marketing, you get paid for any action.
Most CPA offers include actions like:
- Filling out a form
- Email submits
- Getting an estimate or quote
- Signing up for a free trial
You could get paid from as little as $0.27 to up to $70, depending on the offer and action. Some actions involve a single step to get paid. That is, your lead only needs to complete the action on the first page, and then you qualify for the commissions. Some actions involve three-page steps. Your lead will have to complete the three steps for you to get paid.
Most CPA offers are available in countries like the US, UK, France, Australia and Canada. That means that only leads from these countries will make you money. To be successful with CPA marketing, the traffic from these countries is what you will target. But most of them accept affiliates from most countries of the world, including Nigeria.
How to Find Good Offer to Promote
Finding reasonable offers to promote is essential, and there are online tools for this. Good websites to go to to find good offers include oDigger.com and OfferVault.com. These sites list most of the offers available on many CPA networks. It’s like the consolidation of all networks and offers in many categories.
One site I love to visit is offervault.com. The site is much easier to navigate, and they list offers from different categories right on the front page. You can search offers using the search areas on the top part of the home page.
You can sort the offers by average EPC and other metrics that can give you insights into what offers are doing the best. You can sort by offer name, category, payout, type, network, or the last time promotion was updated. You can further search desktop or mobile offers, types of promotions, country, the newest offers, and their featured offers.
Look through the offers and click on one, and that will lead you to the page where you will see the offer, network name, category, type of offer and a link to see the landing page of this offer. The conversion of most offers depend on the landing page, so you have to check out this landing page to see if it’s something that will convert.
First, you need a website before you apply. You just set up a WordPress site and add contents to it. Write a couple of posts on your blog. You can add links to these offers directly. This is to make sure that you have something going on this site.
You will need the site when you are applying. Of course, when you finally get approved, you can change the links on your blog to your affiliate links. That’s the way it’s done.
Top CPA offers
The top CPA offers are offers in the top niches like diet, dating, weight loss and self-help. What I do is look for free offers to promote. Most offers involving just submitting an email or email/zip code and its a one-step process are easy to make money from.
These offers pay the least, but it’s much easier, and the conversion is the highest. Most offers involving three steps or involves sales and filling forms convert less, but they pay more.
How to Join CPA networks
Joining CPA networks is easy if you know the process and what to do. You have to realize that most of these CPA networks are looking for affiliates with experience. They don’t want newbies or someone that does not know what to do.
All you have to do is go to the site and click to sign up as a publisher to join a network. You have to go through 2-4 approval processes for most networks. You will have to add your contact information like address, email and upload your ID. It’s best you add accurate details, or else your application will be denied.
Make sure your email is a custom one, like firstname.lastname@example.org. Create an email that goes with your website URL. This makes you look like a professional. This means that you need to have a website before you apply. CPA networks are different from traditional affiliate sites that will accept you even without a website.
At the end of the registration process, some will even call your phone to confirm if you are real or not. They will ask you questions on what you filled out and your experience with CPA marketing, but most networks don’t.
One crucial step is where you will be asked about your marketing strategy. This step is crucial, and this step is where they lookout for someone with experience or someone new. Make sure you state clearly your marketing strategies how you will promote your offers.
One secret is this, always mention using Facebook ads, Google Adwords and email marketing as your marketing strategies. Those are the marketing methods with the best conversions, and it’s what most advertisers want. Don’t ever mention using Facebook pages or forums or any free promotional methods. Although you can take advantage of that in your marketing, they should not be discussed here.
You can explain a little further how you do some of your promotions and the results you have had so far with the networks you are a part of now. The approvals process takes within 3-4 days for Peerfly, for example. For some, it takes just a day. You can speed up the approval by contacting them directly by phone and discuss with the approval department.
Note that at times you will be rejected. Anybody can be rejected, but you have a chance of contacting their approval team to discuss with them.
How to Promote your Offers
Once you have a site and are accepted, you can promote your offers with promotional methods like Facebook ads and email marketing. You can join forums and add your links to your signature. You can also create a Facebook page but do not directly link offers from your page. Link from your Facebook page to your own website, and then your traffic can click on your offer.
Most CPA networks pay with PayPal and some with Payoneer. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can opt for direct deposit via Payoneer. Top CPA networks that accept Payoneer include adwork media, peerfly, maxbounty, cpalead, ad2ads, and affiliaXe.com.
Some networks pay monthly, while some pay weekly after the first month. A network like maxbounty pays weekly after the first month.
CPA marketing is an easy way to get paid for referrals online, and you should join and start earning too.
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