A conversion funnel is at the core of virtually every sales-focused marketing strategy. But without a strong foundation, a conversion funnel is ultimately useless. Your sales leads ARE that foundation. That’s why, when it comes to optimizing your conversion funnel, your leads are where you should start.  

As you doubtless already know, a conversion funnel is an essential part of any successful sales strategy. It’s a way of visualizing the journey your customers take throughout their relationship with your brand from start to finish. Without that visualization, you cannot adequately attract and convert new leads – you wouldn’t be able to understand their interactions with your business, nor would you be able to discern at which point in the sales journey you should reach out.

By combining a sales funnel with proper monitoring and analytics techniques, you form a complete picture of how customers discover your brand, what inspires them to proceed further down the funnel, and what drives them away. Armed with that understanding, you can take great strides towards optimizing your marketing and sales tactics. And that, in turn, means more quality leads and prospects.

We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, though.

Before you can use your sales funnel to optimize your tactics, you’ll first need to optimize your funnel. There are plenty of ways you can go about this, but the first – and most important – involves lead nurturing. See, a common misconception about sales funnels is that they’re about your brand or its products.

They’re not.

What they’re actually about – what their actual focus needs to be – is your customers. For a given sales funnel to be effective and successful, it needs to be designed with the ideal customer in mind. You need to understand everything about who they are, what they’re interested in, and how they typically purchase products and services.

The information that contributes to this understanding includes, but is not limited to…

  • Basic demographic information. This includes age, gender, nationality, marital status, parental status, and so on.
  • Income bracket. Like it or not, your brand appeals to customers of a certain income level. For example, someone who does shift work at McDonald’s is less likely to purchase a luxury car than a financial advisor.
  • Career/industry. Tangentially related to income bracket. Certain brands and products are geared towards particular industries and verticals. This is probably a bit more important if you’re a B2B brand, though it’s still worth considering if you market products chiefly to consumers.
  • Interests and hobbies. Targeting your audience’s hobbies and interests can help you capture leads which you might otherwise not consider based on the previous factors. If someone is interested in video games, for instance, they’re likelier to also be interested in collectible figurines or computer hardware.
  • Prior purchases. If you’ve access to this information, a list of a lead’s prior purchases can be a good indication of whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your business.
  • Communication styles. How does your audience communicate with one another, and what platforms do they use to do so? Pay attention to this – it will not only inform the tone and style of your communication but also where you can reach your ideal leads.
  • Values and beliefs. What is important to your target audience? While most people value integrity and authenticity, there are certain actions and ideas that resonate more with certain people than with others. Someone with an interest in herbal remedies, for example, is probably also an environmental advocate.

For each sales funnel, start by creating a few buyer profiles. These will help you determine not only how you can reach each of your prospects, but also what content you should create, how often you should communicate with them, and what products and services they’re likely to be interested in purchasing. More importantly, they’ll help you understand what you can offer prospects to inspire them to become leads.

With your buyer profiles in hand, you can then set out to create a lead nurturing campaign that targets each individual phase of the conversion funnel. How you achieve this is entirely up to you, and should be informed based on your research. Possible tactics could include.

  • Awareness: Lead generation through access to exclusive products, services, or information (webinars, white papers, discounts, etc.). This should be augmented by content and social marketing strategies that promote engagement and provide value either through entertainment or education. Focus on offering value, with only light calls to action.
  • Consideration: Similar to awareness, though content at this phase of the journey should be created with the knowledge that customers are both aware of and interested in your products. As such, any calls to action here can be a little less subtle. You can also offer product guidelines, case studies, samples, and demos to your audience.
  • Conversion: At this point, your prospects are on the way to becoming leads. The key word here is engagement. Email automation to prevent shopping cart abandonment, free trials, consultation sessions, and other tactics are key to show that you value a lead’s business – and that they’re more than just another number to you.
  • Loyalty: Very few leads will become loyal to your brand – many will likely purchase a product or service, enjoy it, and then depart. To capture leads with the potential to become loyal, repeat customers, make sure they feel appreciated for their purchases and give them the opportunity to sign up for an email newsletter which will make them aware of upcoming deals, sales, and other events.
  • Advocacy: Even fewer leads will become advocates, but regular interaction with brand advocates is highly recommended. Offer them exclusive discounts and deals, inform them about upcoming products and services, and treat them as the valued customer they indeed are. Pay attention to online reviews and social posts pertaining to your organization, as these could provide a good indication of who your advocates are.

A well-optimized conversion funnel is at the core of any successful marketing strategy, and a solid understanding of how to nurture leads is at the core of every good conversion funnel. By understanding who your audience is and how to reach them, you can create funnels to reach customers at every stage of their journey. And by doing that, you can forge long-lasting relationships to generate more, better leads.