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The inbound marketing sales funnel is an important component of inbound marketing. For example, a funnel can provide a path for your website visitors to evolve from a prospect to a lead to a customer.

The days of purely traditional advertising are over. Advertising alone only generates exposure. The inbound marketing funnel is the next piece of the marketing puzzle. The funnel engages and guides your prospective customers to take action.

Inbound Marketing Funnel

With the inbound marketing funnel, you can guide prospective customers through the path of finding your company, learning more, converting into a lead, and buying your products or services. Funnels can also help you develop, shape, track, and improve on the prospective customer journey itself, also known as the buyer’s journey.

Sales or purchase funnels have been well-established as strategic marketing and sales components over the last hundred years. They’re an effective way to map out and hone your marketing strategy, especially for websites and other online content assets, due to data tracking and testing capabilities.

The inbound marketing sales funnel and the underlying content used to create the funnel are powered by your buyer persona research and user data. This data informs you on what messages to use, when, and where in your funnel.

3 Sections Make Up the Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel

The following 3 sections make up the funnel and incorporate the buyer’s journey:

  • ToFu: Top of the Funnel – Visitors in “learning mode”
  • MoFu: Middle of the Funnel – Visitors in “shopping mode”
  • BoFu: Bottom of the Funnel – Visitors in “buying mode”

An effective inbound marketing sales funnel attracts and guides your prospective customers through a well-aligned buyer’s journey that utilizes high-quality content relevant to solving their problem.

One awesome benefit of using inbound marketing funnels is the ability to optimize and test changes in a modular fashion. This is a great benefit if you’re short on time or resources for strategic content development.

You can split test one section of the funnel at a time. For example, if you notice visitors are converting well through the top and middle of the funnel content but dropping off on the bottom content, you can hone in on updating the bottom of the funnel as a priority. This incremental approach is great for small businesses with tight marketing budgets who are looking to move the needle towards better ROI.

Top of The Funnel (ToFu) – Awareness

Your potential customers are in learning mode.

During the top of the funnel stage of the inbound marketing sales funnel, your potential customer is experiencing a problem or symptoms to a problem. He or she is trying to find the best solution possible for his or her problem, symptoms, or situation.

Your potential customer is looking for content that either educates, entertains or both (edutainment) in regards to solving his or her problem. These visitors are in the browse and research stage of their journey, looking for various solutions to their problems and engaging with the initial content that’s available and presented to them.

The majority of your website visitors fall into this category. These potential customers will land on your top of the funnel content, whether it’s through social media, search results, or paid ads, for instance. Top of the funnel visitors are primarily in the “learning” stage of their buyer’s journey. They’re looking for trustworthy, quality information before they’re ready to purchase a product or service.

Keep in mind, there is the possibility that a potential customer decides to make a quick decision and opt-in, call, or buy from you regardless of where they land in your funnel. This is why relevant, quality content that presents action options to guide your potential customers towards a solution is key across the entire funnel.

When it comes to your top of the funnel content, its best not too come off as too salesy. Providing helpful, relevant information about the problem in question will support guiding more top of the funnel potential customers into the middle of your funnel, where more details and options to solve their problem are presented.

Leads Can Be Generated Top of Funnel

At the top of the funnel, your website visitors and potential customers may become leads and reach out to you. Such as by opting into your email list, filling out a form, or giving your company a call. This quick top level lead generation can happen if your top of funnel content is super well aligned and high quality to what your potential customer is seeking.

Effective top of the funnel content tends to provide quality answers to the prospective customer’s problem and directs him or her towards one or multiple solution options. At this point, the prospect is guided into the more committed middle of the funnel where more details are requested or shopping takes place.

Website pages or blog posts are a great way to provide top of the funnel landing page content. SEO and SEM are powerful marketing methods for driving potential customers to the top of your inbound marketing sales funnel. SEO and SEM keyword query data and user analytics are added bonuses. This data can provide insight into your funnel performance over time, as well as funnel strengths and weaknesses to capitalize on for better results.

Middle of the Funnel (MoFU) – Consideration

Your potential customers are in shopping mode.

In the middle of the funnel stage, your potential customers are more committed to solving their problems. As a result, they begin shopping around, comparing options, or request specific information from you to their problem. Potential customers may become a lead during this stage, reach out to you by form or phone, or even jump right to purchasing a product or service. However, in the middle of the funnel, potential customers may not yet be ready to buy. They may have to go through your bottom of the funnel content to be persuaded towards making a final purchase decision.

For example, the potential customer may have opted into downloading your free guide about how to best solve their solution, after comparing with other options but are still not yet ready to buy any of your paid offerings. This is where email lead nurturing or phone calls come into play, to help you lead potential customers who are in “shopping mode” into your bottom of the funnel, decision-making content.

The middle of the funnel is where you give your potential customers everything they need to make a smart, educated decision. Then, your bottom of the funnel content and offering will present a “no-brainer” purchase decision in their minds.

During the bottom of the funnel stage of the inbound marketing sales funnel is where you help your potential customer make the right solution decision by presenting the best solution to their problem, with a focus on converting them. This is done through decision-level content that reinforces the value of your product or service. Whether the end of your funnel is a purchase, or to sign up for a scheduled webinar, this is ultimately up to you and your goal with the funnel.

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) – Decision

Your potential customers are in buying mode.

In the bottom of the funnel, your potential customers are often close to making a final decision to buy from your company or reach out to your sales team. This is where reinforcing content like testimonials, samples, and case studies can help drive conversions.

Your potential customers will want to feel good about making this bottom of the funnel decision to solve their problem. While the fewest number of potential customers will hit your bottom of the funnel, this content is arguably the most important content that makes or breaks your funnel’s ability to produce a return on investment (ROI).

The key is to strongly align your middle of the funnel content with your bottom of the funnel content through copy optimization, split testing, and other inbound strategies. Just like any other medium of writing that requires more than one draft, these continuous efforts will increase your probability of acquiring a lead or making a sale.

While this may depend on a variety of company factors, producing a few quality bottom of the funnel offers and content pieces rather than more of lesser quality can help you focus down and spend your content development resources more wisely, ultimately driving better inbound revenue results.

Honing Your Inbound Marketing Funnels

Hopefully, this information helped you gain a better understanding of the buyer’s journey and the type of content strategy involved during the three stages of an inbound marketing sales funnel. Mapping out inbound funnels, with incremental content updates, data tracking, and analysis tied to each of the three funnel stages will do wonders for the results of your inbound marketing and sales campaigns as you and your company advance into 2018.

Related to Inbound Funnels:

What is HubSpot Inbound Marketing?

HubSpot inbound marketing is an effective form of customer-centric, data-driven inbound marketing, fueled by HubSpot’s software and inbound methodology. The HubSpot inbound marketing’s objective is to draw more potential customers to your website who become customers and promoters of your business.

Why is this type of marketing effective? People are tuning out traditional outbound marketing tactics that tend to disrupt their experience. HubSpot’s inbound marketing methods and software help keep your marketing and sales teams focused on providing a positive experience online. An experience that your potential customers want and enjoy.

Want to set up your marketing and sales teams for success?

Contact us about setting up HubSpot.

What Are Examples of Inbound Marketing?

Example inbound marketing activities include:

  • Writing company blog posts optimized for potential customers and search engines.
  • Sharing content and engaging on social media platforms.
  • Email communication and content campaigns to nurture and build relationships.
  • Providing value with free resources like a newsletter, e-book, or pdf guide.
  • Sharing helpful information within relevant forums and other online communities.
  • Honing your inbound marketing sales funnel for optimal lead generation.

Start Optimizing Your Inbound Sales Funnel

Need help optimizing your funnels? Contact us at HONE Marketing today for a free assessment. We can help you develop a digital customer acquisition strategy with inbound marketing plans tailored to your business goals.