The internet has changed the way brands market their products. It's also switched the order of the traditional sales progression. In the past, people didn't research pricing and reviews of a product until they had decided to buy. In the digital age, research occurs before the decision to purchase is made, because the information is widely available on the internet.
Buyers are no longer convinced by marketing teams to talk to a salesperson. Prospects can research, review, and compare to find out what they want. The entire inbound marketing sales funnel
occurs online, through social media, blogs, how-to videos, and review sites. This process is often pictured as a funnel that is broad at the top with potential customers and narrows as buyers are identified. The inbound marketing sales funnel
At the wide open top of the funnel, marketers attempt to broadly spread their message and create brand awareness in as many potential customers as possible. In the new model of digital marketing, successful marketers publish useful content like blog posts, guides, and tools
. The goal at this stage is to inform and educate, not convert. Increase your reach
As the funnel narrows, marketers solve problems and share examples on social media, promote the solution on related websites, or offering a chance to subscribe to high-quality, useful content. Ideally, the content is optimizing for keywords, making it easy for search engines to discover. Converting an interested party to a subscriber further narrows the funnel and moves the prospect closer to a sale. Educate about solutions
The funnel narrows again when going from an industry solution to selecting a specific one. Help your prospect consider different solutions. Don’t tell them outright why you have the right solution. Instead, provide useful tools that lead them to that conclusion like a guide, an infographic, or a chart that compares features. Mention your brand
After providing useful content, marketers can gather information and qualify a prospect as a consumer. If they fit your target demographic, nudge them forward by asking for limited identifying information on a website, i.e. access to content in exchange for an email address
. Once you have this, you can start mentioning your brand specifically. Closing the sale
Once a consumer decides to purchase, marketers can provide case studies, price comparisons, and feature differentiation. Successful marketing teams must be present throughout the entire process; provide information to solve problems, suggest solutions, and offer guidance in the decision process, to convert researchers into buyers. Span the whole funnel
Modern marketers know that their role includes recognizable branding and message throughout the early stages of the inbound marketing sales funnel. Helping customers understand their need for a product and providing tools to solve challenges in the decision process is the next step.
Marketing teams should seek small steps forward through the funnel, constantly leading toward brand education and a purchase decision. In the digital landscape, the funnel needs to become longer, wider, and more customer-focused. To succeed, marketers should be part of each stage of the inbound marketing sales funnel.