In our previous post, we discussed the importance of building a sales funnel for your business and ditching the old “hope” marketing strategy that too many companies still rely on.
The key is to bring every potential customer from Stage 1 (Explore, aka Discovery) all the way through to Stage 4 (Conversion) and hopefully Stage 5 (Customer relationship or Retention) where you can make this customer a long term, repeat customer.
In today’s post, we want to go into more detail and give you a full overview of Stage 1 of the sales funnel which, as we’ve already mentioned, is the explore stage and is sometimes known as the discovery stage. In the examples below we’re going to focus on online businesses however to give you a more obvious example of this stage it would be billboards or television ads for traditional businesses as the main goal is to gain awareness of your brand among a potential customer and move them into the consideration stage which we’ll explain tomorrow.
What’s involved in Stage 1?
This is where you might consider things such as teaching potential customers about the particular problem that your business solves. You may be solving a problem the customer knows they have. But sometimes with very new products, the customer hasn’t realized the problem yet. So, in those cases, you’ll need to start with that.
You might also create the kind of content which talks about best practices in your industry or common mistakes to avoid. The idea is to deliver something that will be of value to your ideal client so that it sparks their interest to continue through the funnel.
- Blog posts
- Guest blog posts
- Social media posts
- Digital magazines
- Microsite content
- Email newsletters
In terms of blog posts an example is the one you are reading. We use our blog posts, videos and podcasts to discuss best practices for entrepreneurs because our key customers are entrepreneurs. We know 95% of the people reading this won’t be customers but this kind of content adds credibility to your brand and also allows you to show your expertise before a lead even engages with you. Makes sense?
The key reason for doing all of the above is to move leads into your Stage 2 however the indirect gain of doing the above is that it will also generate more traffic organically to your website or landing pages and this is important because metrics count. Typically 1-3% of people who land on your pages will convert depending on how well you’ve setup stage 2. However if you only have 1 person a day landing on your website, how can you convert yourself? Make sense?….kidding…kind of.
Something to keep in mind going forward
This isn’t just for this stage however it’s important to keep in mind for this stage for what should be an obvious reason:
“Does all of your content have a clear purpose geared at a certain level of your funnel?”
At the same time, your prospects needs are different depending on which stage of the funnel they are at. David Skok wrote a piece in For Entrepreneurs explaining the buying cycle with a retail store as an example:
“Imagine that you wandered into a clothing store while walking around the neighborhood. You didn’t have a particular idea of anything you wanted to buy. Then you are approached by a hungry salesperson who is convinced they can get you to buy something. Finally, you are annoyed by too much attention, and feel that they are ruining the peaceful browsing experience that you hoped to have.
Where to begin?
Realistically you need the following three things to get your stage 1 ready and prepare for our Stage 2-5 tutorials.
- Email Marketing & Landing Page Tool
- Social Media, SEO & Content Tools
We’ll get into automation of all of the above and your entire funnel for that matter as we move through the next stages however for the sake of simplicity and to get your started straight away, You can check out the following free trials for the above to begin putting your content together.
Another Explanation (From Copper.com)
At the very top of the funnel is the awareness stage. The main purpose of this phase is to improve the visibility of your brand and start collecting leads. While you want to be sure you’re targeting the right group of people, it’s also okay to cast a wide net at this stage.
During the awareness stage, you want to bring attention to your brand but you don’t need to push any particular product or service. Instead, you should focus on sharing ideas, solutions, or advice.
Here are a few ways you can build awareness about your brand:
- Sponsored social media posts
- Guest posting or guest podcasting
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Independent research
- In-person events
Content at this stage in the sales funnel should be informative, but also fun and interesting. It needs to stand out in an already crowded space. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Here’s an example:
EXAMPLE OF A PROMOTED SOCIAL MEDIA POST THAT CAN BUILD BRAND AWARENESS
Refer back to your buyer persona to identify areas where your target audience is hanging out. Get to know what social media platforms they use frequently and target those areas. Run advertisements on non-traditional platforms they might use, such as dating apps or video games if it fits within your brand persona.
The key here is to create content that will attract your target audience’s attention where they’re already spending their time––even if it’s not the “best practice” platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. If your target audience isn’t active in those areas, don’t waste your time or money.
Determine a specific process or action that would push the lead to the next phase of the sales funnel, such as signing up for your newsletter or registering for a webinar. Have a clear conversion in mind, such as social media follows or email newsletter signups, and measure how many people you’re attracting compared to how many people are converting.
If your conversion rate is low, you’ll want to revisit the content you’re creating. Look for better posting opportunities or content that may be more appealing to your audience.