The power of the marketing funnel

Or how you chase potential clients away from you website instead of attracting them.

marketing funnelEvery time you have to decide what to put on your website and what not you’re faced with a dilemma. You have too many services and solutions and in an effort to catch every visitor and potential client you put it all up there. Because what if someone finds you and looks for solution B and you don’t have it on your website? Surely they will go look elsewhere, won’t they? The answer is, no, not if your funnel is working for you to convert visitors to customers.

Every day I come across websites that try to do too much and by doing so chase potential clients away. Just today I assessed another website that had me totally confused. It’s a medium sized company who have been in business for a while and provide services to other businesses. They have many solutions and services and their website is full of bullet point lists of all the things they do.

Looking at your website from an outsiders point of view

That in and of itself is definitely not a bad thing. It’s quite good. But if that’s the only thing your website offers, it’s overwhelming. When I assess a website (as part of an entire inbound marketing assessment) I look at it with an arbitrary visitors view point. I assume I am someone who has a need for what the company offers and am trying to asses if they are a good fit.

The website I looked at today at first glance looked good as far as average B2B websites go, but from an inbound marketing perspective it was a total disaster. The goal with inbound marketing is to convert website visitors into paying customers. In order to do so we need to take the visitor by the hand and show them what to do next, lead them along a path of discovery about our company and services, otherwise also called the marketing funnel.

Now this website listed all their solutions and services as a good website of that kind would do, problem is, it’s nothing more than a digital brochure. In the end I was so confused and overwhelmed by all the stuff they offer, even if I was a buyer right now in need of one of their products I wouldn’t know where to start. And thus most likely I’d go look elsewhere to find my need met.

The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and how that solves the funnel problem

If there is no online marketing funnel established on a website, your visitors will feel much like the Beatles on their yellow submarine journey when they were lost in the sea of holes. If you don’t know that scene or the movie do yourself a favour and watch this amazing piece of artwork.

Sea of Holes yellow submarine

The sea of holes is just that, an endless sea of holes. One of them is the correct one, but finding that one is a real problem and so the 4 Beatles pop in and out of holes in order to find the one they need to enter to get on with their journey.

And then Ringo finds the answer. He has a hole in his pocket. Off they go use that one and they end up at their journey’s next destination.

Ringo hole in pocket yellow submarine

Using this analogy, imagine your typical B2B website with all your services offered, a veritable sea of offers/holes. It’s hard for outsiders, specially if they don’t know your company at all yet, to figure out what they’re supposed to do next. On the other hand imagine your website being a Ringo with a hole in his pocket saying, here come through this, I show you the land behind, it’s where you’re destined to go.

How much easier is it to follow him through the one hole vs. trying to find the right one in the sea of holes? I rest my case. 

The purpose of most B2B websites is to generate leads

Typically in a B2B environment a website serves one purpose only, that is to generate leads. In most cases the actual sales cycle is fairly long. Seldom are sales made with just one interaction. Usually it’s a matter of meetings and finding out needs and providing solutions to needs over a period of time, days, weeks, months sometimes even years. The part of the website in this whole game is in the beginning to just get the new visitor who doesn’t know you yet onto the path with you. You want to have a single point of focus – the hole in the pocket – that you know will lead them to the next step. The next step being an email contact in your database from where you can continue to nurture this new relationship.

Establishing a clear path on a website as a marketing funnel is not easy

It really does sound a lot easier than it is. Bringing a website funnel down to one singular offer is very hard, particularly if you’re used to doing needs analysis meetings and the likes in your sales process. But it is worth the effort.

The best and easiest way is to start with a so-called tofu offer. On my own website I have one simple offer, a free downloadable e-book on Social Media. Yes, many people as a result associate me with all things social and nothing else, but, and it’s a big but, the people who look for what I really offer (a fully integrated inbound marketing service including much more than just social media) will come to me to ask their questions because of that book.

Once they realise that I have the answers they stick with me. It happens every single day. The “hole in my pocket” is my ebook. And that leads to engagement and in the process of engaging with the people who downloaded my ebook we get to know each other and find more synergies and that leads to the bigger projects my inbound marketing agency is handling.

Because you cannot leave social out of inbound marketing this ebook is such a good entry into my world and all the things we offer, the right people download it. They all need what we offer on the whole but got attracted to it via social media! Finding the right offer is not easy and it takes some trial and error and a lot of internal searching and questioning. But it is worth the effort.

So what is your hole in your pocket? Have you thought about it yet? What entry into your world can you give the arbitrary visitor out there and lead them along the journey of turning into a paying customer?

Who’d have thought, the new online lead generation is actually a hole in your pocket! (Tweet this)

 

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