In an ideal scenario, every successful sale is a carefully choreographed process that begins and ends with a customer taking steps that were anticipated by proactive marketing and sales personnel.
Every client goes through a journey that begins when they become aware of the product and continues beyond the purchase. Along the way, many clients drift off the path for one reason or another. What starts as a journey of many ends with only those who commit to making the purchase and staying loyal to the company. This is typically illustrated as a funnel – broad at the top, and tapering off to fewer clients at the bottom.
The goal of marketing is to maximize the number of clients at the end of the journey as much as possible. This involves constant tweaking of the entire apparatus that attracts customers. Inevitably, this means that repetitive tasks that can be handled by software should be taken off the shoulders of marketing team members so that they can focus on optimizing the entire process.
This is where marketing automation comes in.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketers know the general steps that clients take before committing to a purchase. From the first time a client becomes aware of a product, a well-oiled marketing machine has pre-planned steps in place to usher the client to the final purchase. However, it is unrealistic to expect timely and accurate human intervention for every interaction at every touchpoint with clients, leads, and prospects.
Marketing automation takes care of those aspects of the process that are repetitive or can be handed off to computers. Marketers first take the time to devise a strategy, identify the touchpoint through which clients will interact with the company, and have well-planned responses and actions in place which will not need manual intervention. They then implement automation on the aspects that can be automated and focus their efforts on the aspects that can’t. Chatbots and other forms of automated responses will provide the client with the feedback and information they need when they need it. Automation could also take care of tasks that are more strategy-related, like A/B testing.
What is an Automated Sales Funnel?
An automated sales funnel is simply a regular sales funnel that has some aspects set up to run autonomously in response to certain pre-defined triggers.
The funnel starts with capturing leads. This stage will have steps in place to get the product in front of as many eyes as possible. Once people are exposed to the product, they then decide whether or not to take further action. Step by step, what started as a lead turns into a prospect, and eventually, all going well, makes a purchase decision and the sale is closed.
The marketers job does not end there. The client becomes a repeat client, and ends up telling others about it and thus becomes a brand advocate.
Over the course of this journey, there are countless processes that are involved as the prospect studies the product and makes comparisons before deciding whether or not to commit. Some processes cannot wait, otherwise the prospect is lost. Information must be delivered on demand, and sometimes proactively. The information must be relevant to the client to keep them invested in the process.
Such a process would be a good candidate for automation. Instead of waiting for a brochure to be emailed by a salesperson, an automated process could provide it to the client and trigger some follow-up actions after the client has taken action.
Automated processes like these can be implemented at various stages of the sales funnel to make the entire process more effective.
Stages of the Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is generally divided into three sections: the top, middle, and bottom.
Top Of The Funnel
At the top, the funnel has the stages in which a lead comes across the product. This could be in the course of some research to solve a problem they may have, or they might simply stumble across the product and become interested in it.
This section, therefore, comprises the awareness and interest stages. These may be shown differently on different funnels. Interest could be consideration, discovery, or attraction for example. But they essentially refer to the same idea. From the marketer’s perspective, this is generally referred to as a lead generation.
Middle Of The Funnel
The middle of the funnel has the client considering their options and doing their due diligence, if you will, before they come to a decision. At this stage, the client familiarizes themselves with the product. They look for additional information about it, perhaps investigating use cases to see if it will fulfill their requirements. They read reviews and opinions on it and make comparisons with other similar products.
For prospects at this stage, it is crucial that they have all the product information they need to help them make their choice.
This section is sometimes referred to as the lead nurturing stage and comprises the evaluation and intent stages.
Bottom Of The Funnel
As the prospect draws closer to making the decision to purchase, they may want to test the product, depending on what it is. They might require more specific information, usually pertaining to their particular use case to find out if the product is indeed a good fit for their needs. At this stage, they are looking to kill any lingering doubts and need to be convinced that the product will deliver.
If all goes well, the client makes the purchase and provided they are satisfied, they go on to become brand evangelists. They tell others about their positive experience with the product, and they become repeat customers. These are the purchase and loyalty stages.
How To Implement Marketing Automation At Each Funnel Stage
The specifics of how the funnel is structured will depend on the industry, the product, and your specific company’s marketing strategy. Many elements will occur in the same channels with only the specific content varying for different stages. Emails can, for example, offer general information, or more targeted campaigns for those prospects who are looking for additional information before making a choice. Newsletters help to keep clients loyal, keeping the product top of mind, or might be used to spread awareness and generate leads at the opposite end of the funnel.
Whatever your needs, marketing automation software like 366 Degrees could provide an all-round, ready-made solution to help you set up the automation of your sales funnel and improve your conversion rates.
At the end of the day, the choice of strategy hinges on the nature of the business you are in. Whatever the case, you want to be able to offload repetitive tasks to automation software so that you can focus on closing deals, analyzing performance, and making tweaks for improvement.