In this article we discuss everything there is to know about lead generation funnels. You’ll get familiar with terms like ‘TOFU, MOFU & BOFU’, while learning how to attract, engage and delight prospects with a fully functional lead gen funnel.
An Introduction to Lead Generation Funnels
When you own a business and you’re selling a product or service, obviously, you want people to buy from you.
But; How do you make your business stand out in the market when there are others offering similar products? Why would they choose you? Do you have a strategy for capturing the interest of potential customers? Do you just hope for the best that people will find you?
This is where lead generation comes in. It’s an essential part of the marketing process, turning a potential customer into an actual sale.
Table of contents:
What Does Lead Generation Mean?
Lead generation is the process of capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline.
Essentially, it allows companies to nurture the particular interests of a customer until that person is ready to buy. For example, your company is selling and installing new boilers. A potential customer called Liz is interested in buying a new boiler.
She may have seen your website and she’s considering your company among other options. If she has clicked on your website or social media post, she is now a lead.
What Is A Lead Generation Funnel?
So, to look after this customer, you will need a lead generation funnel.
This is a systematic approach to generating leads, otherwise known as potential customers. You can imagine it as literally a funnel.
All the leads go into the top. Then, you guide them through the stages of the funnel.
Ultimately, your target audience will come to the end of the funnel when they are ready to buy.
Infographic – The Lead Generation Funnel
What Are The Different Stages Of A Lead Generation Funnel?
With this in mind, you need to know the different stages of the lead generation funnel in order to guide leads through it.
You may hear these words cropping up when people discuss lead generation funnels:
In simple terms, these short hand abbreviations refer to the different broader stages of a lead generation funnel:
- Top Of The Funnel
- Middle Of The Funnel
- Bottom Of The Funnel
Stage 1: Awareness (TOFU)
Creating awareness is the first stage of the process. Getting people to notice your brand in the first place is the key to success.
You need to grab their attention in order to get them into the funnel. Creating awareness will depend on how well you carry out your inbound marketing such as search engine optimisation, paid advertising and content marketing.
Additionally, you should be aware of how your customers operate and what their personas are. Who is your target audience? What do they like? What are they looking for in particular?
Stage 2 : Data
Next, once your customers are aware of your brand, this is now the time to start thinking about bringing in their data.
Collecting data is going to be a vital step to engage them further down the funnel. The data you collect is solely down to your business.
However, most companies opt for a contact number or email address. There are many ways you can do this, from sign up forms to landing pages or simple requests.
Essentially, anything that entices your audience to give away details.
Another option is for you to give away free information or to run a competition, in exchange for contact details. Once you have this data, you need to load it onto a database.
Stage 3: Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) (MOFU)
Now you can start building leads. The data you are gathering will help you to decide which avenue the leads have come through. Either sales or marketing.
Marketing leads are a direct product of any social media, content marketing or paid advertising you do.
Usually, they tend to be more qualified leads, as they have expressed a direct interest in your business.
A sales lead may have come through a landing page or sign up form. Being able to speak to customers on the phone is a great way to get them further engaged with your brand.
Next, you need to decide where they lie within the lead generation process.
For example, some potential leads may not be ready yet to go any further through the funnel. They are not qualified leads. Others are keen to go further. By focusing on your qualified leads, you are more likely to generate profits from them.
Stage 4: Targets and Prospects (BOFU)
After engaging with your potential customers, you can now decide where they rank on a lead generation scale. Not every person you contact will be a prospective new customer.
For example, let’s go back to your potential customer Liz.
Liz is looking for a new boiler and saw your website through a google search. She clicked on it and looked through the products. She then called the number to talk further to an engineer.
However, it turns out that Liz is looking specifically for an oil system boiler as she lives in a remote farmhouse which isn’t linked to the mains gas supply.
Your company specialises in gas combi boilers. Therefore, she’s not a useful lead. It’s highly unlikely that Liz will not buy a product from your company. Hence, although she was an initial lead, it’s probably a waste of your valuable time to continue engaging with her. She won’t bring you any profit.
Ideally, you want to target people who have downloaded content or expressed further interest after being engaged. You may also come across leads who are paying for services with your competitors and are interested in moving across to you.
Stage 5: Recycled
Not all of your potential customers are going to be ready to buy from you straight away, although this does happen occasionally. They might just be looking for more information or perhaps they are tied to a contract they can’t get out of yet. However, they are still valuable as potential customers and need further engagement.
You can do this through certain types of marketing including social media or email, or a sales call to check in on them.
This is where you will see the benefit of a strong database, the one you started building back in stage 2. If you are able to track conversations, emails and marketing, you can be more selective over who to contact.
Obviously, you want to focus on the potential customers who are more likely to buy from you, leading to profit for your business.
Stage 6 : Opportunity
After following all of these points, you will be in a position where customers will give you an opportunity to work with them. This is where your sales technique comes into play.
It’s up to you to make your customers feel valued. With the knowledge you now have, you can link them to the right products and services. Hence, they feel they are being well looked after.
Stage 7: Customers
Finally, at this stage, the leads you have engaged with are now paying customers. However, your work is not over.
Ultimately, you need to make sure that the service they receive is first class. Essentially, this will encourage them to come back as returning customers.
Retaining customers like these will help you to build a stable revenue stream for your business.
What Is A Lead
In a sales context, a lead refers to contact with a potential customer, also known as a ‘prospect’. Depending on your company, the definition of the term ‘lead’ may vary.
For some companies, a ‘lead’ could be a contact who you know already as a prospective customer.
For example, you have met the ‘lead’ before or have an ongoing contact with them.
Whereas other companies consider a ‘lead’ to be any sales contact.
The intention remains the same. You want the lead to become a future paying client. This is where the lead generation process begins.
You can learn more about lead generation in our Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation.
How To Create A Lead Generation Funnel
Now you know what a lead is and the different stages of a lead generation funnel. But how do you go about creating one?
There are different routes you can take. Generally speaking, this is a good start.
- First, a visitor becomes aware of your brand or business by finding you on google search. Or your website, blog, or social media page. So, you need to start off by having these platforms in place.
- Next, the visitor will click on your CTA (call to action button). This may be an image, a button or a message. Keep it simple with clear and straightforward language. For example, shop now or contact me. By clicking on the CTA, your visitor is taking the next step in the process. Hence the action will take them to your website, or shop or email.
- Then, that action will take your visitor to a landing page. This is a web page specifically designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer. The offer must have enough value to a visitor for them to provide you with their details. For example, you could offer an ebook, a course, a template or even a free gift or competition.
- In summary, a visitor clicks a CTA that takes them to a landing page, where they fill out a form to get an offer. At that point, they become a lead.
These are necessary if you plan on gathering personal information from anyone who lands on your website and enter their details into your form.
Essentially, everyone has the right to know, who has access to their information.
- Why you are collecting the information in the first place?
- How is the data stored and handled?
As well as which third parties, if any, your business shares personal information with. Furthermore, visitors need to know what rights they have to opt out of data sharing and collection.
4 Reasons Why You Should Start Building Leads
There are many reasons why you should start building leads for your business, but here are our top 4.
1. Helps A Business To Make Sales and Expand
A business with a good lead generation strategy will be able to build up sales by targeting the right customers who are going to buy. Hence, you can expand the business by building up revenue.
Overall, your strategy should include search engine optimisation and a list of keywords.
This will put your website higher up the list when people are searching online. Ultimately, when your website pops up in the search engine, a potential customer will hopefully click on the link. Then you have a new lead.
2. Raises Awareness Of Your Brand
By generating potential leads you can raise awareness of your brand and reach more people. Lead generation can drive traffic to your website where you can convert leads into customers.
Thanks to search engines like google, the process of connecting people to businesses is much easier.
After all, it allows you to target a customer base who is actively searching for your product. Social media is also an excellent way to build up your brand. For example, you can set up a Facebook or Instagram page for free.
Most Facebook users aren’t looking to buy from you, but you can still build up leads by offering interesting content or information.
Thus, you are raising awareness of your brand. Even having links to your website or other social media platforms on there can generate leads.
If a visitor to your Facebook page clicks on the link to your website, you could class them as a lead. Then, you must nurture the lead and convert it into a sale with a strong follow up process.
3. Enables Sales and Marketing Departments to Build Productive Relationships
If you are a business with separate teams, part of your lead generation strategy could be aligning the sales and marketing teams so they work together to create sales. By nurturing your leads, you can build up good relationships with potential customers. With an effective strategy, this will hopefully lead to more qualified leads.
4. Lead Generation is A Modern And Targeted Method of Marketing
The way we interact with each other has changed over time, as has the way we use technology. Hence keeping people engaged is getting harder.
Generally speaking, people are less responsive to outbound methods such as cold calling.
Therefore, lead generation over several platforms including a website and social media can make marketing easier and more effective.
The aim here is to qualify your leads, which means you are wasting less time on people who are not likely to buy your product.
Hence, a good lead generation strategy helps you to streamline the process and target people who are already showing an interest in your product or service.
What Are The Best Lead Generation Tools
Now we are going to look at some of the best lead generation tools you can use. Each element will help you to put leads into the top of your funnel and nurture them through. Ultimately, with the aim of converting leads into a sale.
Firstly, your business needs a website. This is your online shop window. You want it to look clear and attractive, offering great content and with added elements to keep your visitor’s attention.
Traffic, or ‘leads’ to your website might come from your social media or email marketing strategies, from blogs, or even word of mouth.
Once you know where your leads are coming from, you want to make sure that the pages they are landing on are nurturing their interest.
Perhaps you added a CTA (call to action) to your Facebook page. When people click on it, it guides them to your website.
By adding CTAs, you can keep your visitor’s attention for longer. When they land on your homepage, add another CTA by offering something.
Such as a newsletter, an update or other content. It could be ‘Subscribe Here’ ‘Shop Now’ ‘Visit Blog’ or ‘Watch Video’.
Building up your content strategy will also help to boost your website higher in google rankings.
Email is a great tool to build up your leads. By putting sign-up forms on your website, you are encouraging leads to give you their email details.
Here you need to create an irresistible offer to encourage your target audience to sign up.
Incidentally, you can also use social media for this, as you can promote the offer in return for an email address
Remember the top of the lead generation funnel? You are collecting leads via email to put at the top of the funnel.
People who do give you their email details in exchange for something from you, are more likely to be interested in your product or service.
Therefore you are already starting to identify your target audience.
Generally speaking, the potential customers who just click on your website but don’t subscribe or download, or stay for long, are less likely to convert into a sale.
When potential customers do subscribe, you can immediately send them a welcome email. With a welcome email you are thanking the person for subscribing and also setting up an expectation for future emails.
Then, you might send a roundup of your best blog posts or an article, or newsletter written specifically for your email list.
Another tip is to use personalisation with your emails. This helps the reader to feel more engaged with your business.
You are treating them as you would nurture a customer in a real shop.
Additionally, email marketing is really useful for retaining leads at the end of the funnel, who have converted into sales already.
After all that effort, you certainly don’t want to lost their custom. Therefore, you can offer discounts, offer, or other incentives to valuable customers to maintain their interests.
Search Engine Optimisation is one of the best ways to generate leads.
To start with, you need to collect a list of keywords for your business. Make sure these keywords are all over your website, emails and social media.
Although, in an authentic way. The higher your keywords feature on the search engine results pages (SERPs) the more likely that potential customers will discover your business.
Here are some more top tips for making the most of SEO.
Firstly, you need to be mobile friendly. As you build your landing pages, don’t forget to optimise them for laptop, iPad, and mobile phone.
You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you.
Secondly you can optimise the meta descriptions. A meta description is an HTML element that describes and summarises the content of your page for the benefit of users and search engines.
They can affect your clickthrough rate. To write a good meta description, make sure you include all the necessary keywords.
Thirdly, you can build up your links. This is a good way to boost your domain authority. Link building is an SEO term for the process of getting other websites to link to a page on your own website in order to earn a higher spot on the SERPs. Notably, search engines value quality over quantity, so it’s more important to gather a few trustworthy links than lots of inferior ones.
Essentially, if you develop and provide good quality content, then the rest of your strategy should be fairly straightforward.
To start with, think about your product or service. What value can you offer customers in terms of content? Then, think about where you want to promote it and whom you want to share to.
If your customer start at the top of the lead generation funnel, the aim of your content marketing is to pique their interest and guide them through to a sale.
Content types come in many different forms. Find out what works for your business and your target audience.
For example, a case study looks at a situation in depth and provides the necessary solution.
By providing a case study to download as part of your content strategy, you are showing that you are a reliable figure in your industry.
You know your product or service well. Another example of longer content form is an ebook. An ebook discusses key topics in detail.
This could take a while to produce but ultimately, contains lots of wonderful quality content.
Infographics are helpful visually. They present complex pieces of information into something more visually appealing.
Perhaps your blog or case study contains detailed concepts and data. By making use of graphics, charts and images, you are making it easier for your reader to digest.
Blog content is a good way of developing the page authority you need to rank your website on google. Organic visitors who come from Google often want to find solutions to a problem.
So, to start with, you could conduct keyword research on a topic that’s relevant to your industry, then create a group of blog posts around the topic. Now, you have built up some good fresh content.
Finally, video marketing is extremely beneficial. Over 65% of consumers would rather watch a video than read about it. Therefore, it’s worth putting video marketing into your overall content strategy if you can.
How To Grow Your Lead Generation Funnel
Now you know what a lead generation funnel is and how to create one. Next, you might like to know more about how to grow it.
To give you more context as to the importance of a lead generation funnel, here are 4 fast facts that may help.
4 Fast Facts About Lead Generation
1. Only 4% of website visitors are ready to buy.
Even if your excellent marketing strategy drives plenty of leads to your website, only a small percentage are ready to buy immediately. Therefore, you need to engage the visitors to your website, so that when they are ready to buy, they choose you and not a competitor. Hence, this is where your lead generation funnel becomes important.
Notably, a large number of business owners will focus on getting customers to buy now, and may not understand the importance of data or subscribers. Ultimately, having data is one of the best commodities you can have on your customers. It gives you the opportunity to engage them further through the lead generation funnel.
2. Marketers who follow up on leads within 5 minutes are 9x more likely to convert them into sales
Timing is always of the essence. The leads who you contact today may not be immediately ready to purchase. However, if you’re among the first to speak to them or offer your services and build a rapport, you will be in the forefront of their minds. This is also an opportunity to make a great first impression.
3. 90% of customers say videos help them when making buying decisions
Video marketing is increasingly important. It can be in the form of more about your business, your products or even guides on how to use what you are selling. With this in mind, it does have an element over the conventional blog. This is because it allows you to get across the information in a more engaging format.
The key with video marketing is to make sure it is tailored to the audience you are trying to attract. Don’t just take a video of anything! As with all your content, you need to think through how it will add value to your customer.
4. Marketers who prioritise blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see a positive ROI
Fresh content is always important. How you produce your content is going to be vital to the success of your business.
For example, blogging is one of the most commonly used forms of content marketing.
However, it’s worth making sure you build a strategy for it and target the specific keywords you want to rank for.
This will then make it easier for your audience to find out via serches. Remember, you want to provide quality content. So make sure your blog is relevant to the business and adds value to the customer.
Inbound v Outbound Lead Generation
An inbound marketing campaign attracts and engages visitors to your page converting them into leads.
By providing valuable content, you can capture and nurture your visitors through the funnel and influence them into making a purchase.
With outbound lead generation, you make the first move. It’s your job to send out targeted messages with the aim of catching potential interest.
Outbound lead generation is a more proactive approach and you sell to the lead, judging if they are ready or not to buy.
Whereas inbound lead generation, the customer is in full control of all their own activities. This allows the customer to discover your company by themselves.
Generally speaking, inbound marketing delivers better results. However, by taking advantage of both approaches, if done well, you can grow your business.
How to Convert Leads to Profit
Now you have the leads and you are nurturing them through the lead generation funnel, how do you convert them into sales?
All the digital channels may provide several chances for a conversion, but in the end, capitalising on them still depends on you.
If you want your business to grow, knowing how to grab and nurture customer interest is essential. Moreover, you must convert them into sales.
There are many different methods to use when it comes to generating leads and you can choose any of them. However, it is vital that they tie in together.
Perhaps you’re still confused at this point. But help is at hand.
The team at Lead Genera can provide you with a solid plan that helps to bring everything together to promote your business and generate more leads.
Our top tips include;
- Handling incoming leads as soon as possible. New leads are a commodity. When people are showing interest in your business, you need a strategy to respond to them as soon as you can.
- Qualify your leads. As we have seen, only a small percentage of leads are ready to buy immediately. Work out what stage of the funnel your leads are at. Have they spent time on your website, downloaded content or read your blog? Do they subscribe to your email newsletter or share your social media posts? People who have expressed an interest in your company by taking an action on one of your marketing platforms are more likely to convert to sales. Therefore, you need to concentrate on them in particular.
- Write quality content and offer solutions. A potential customer has shown an interest in your business. Now they are looking for solutions to an issue. Here’s where you can offer a chat form with a simple CTA such as ‘How Can We Help?’ By analysing what people are looking for, you can start to produce fresh content with solutions that will help. This will then put your business at the forefront of people’s minds. So when they are ready to buy, they will consider your product. Additionally, you have the benefit of already being in touch with them because you have made a good first impression by responding promptly to the initial lead.
Why Are Lead Generation Funnels Important?
By spending time on an effective lead generation funnel and strategy, your business will benefit in many ways. Here are a few of those benefits to lead generation.
Lead Generation Funnels Generate Awareness
Firstly, a good lead generation strategy will attract people to your business. You may be using an inbound and outbound strategy across several platforms, or you may choose just a few. For example, perhaps your business holds an event where you are able to showcase your products. A potential customer shows an interest in your product or service. Then, a member of the sales team follows it up. Now you have an outbound lead to nurture. Even if the customer is not ready to buy, they are now aware of your business.
Meanwhile, you could also arrange a digital event such as a webinar. Perhaps you have important information to share with people about something that is happening in your particular industry. Maybe you have written a white paper about it or a case study. Now is a good time to share the information. By promoting your webinar across social media and your website, you may get new leads, Also, you will generate awareness of your business, especially as an expert in the field.
Lead Generation Funnels Help To Increase Sales and Profit Ratio
The more leads you attract to your business, the more likely they will convert into sales. If you think about the top of the funnel again as being wider, lots of leads will drop into the top level. Then, the funnel will narrow, until the leads are converted into sales. Not all leads will get to this stage. However, with plenty going in at the top, you are bound to convert some of these into sales. Hence, you are increasing the sales and profit ratio, and growing your company.
Lead Generation Funnels Build Relationships With Your Target Customers
Using an effective lead generation strategy means you have a good idea of who will buy your product or service in the first place. For example, if you sell high quality musical instruments, such as acoustic grand pianos, then you know that this will appeal to a specific group of people. Therefore your entire marketing strategy will have this group in mind.
With this in mind, you may reach people who are new to music, so you can’t discount anyone. However, by understanding the persona of your ideal customer and qualifying each lead, you can engage them with content that they are actually interested in. This will ensure that you are not wasting your valuable time on people who are never going to buy a piano. Hopefully, this will then encourage the qualified leads further down the funnel and ultimately to a sale.
A Lead Generation Funnel Can Help To Build Important Data
With clever use of landing pages and sign-up forms, you can build up a worthwhile list of data on your customers. By handing over their details, a person has gone from being an unknown entity to showing an interest in your company. Which means they are now a potential lead. You should store this information accurately and in accordance with privacy law. It will come in handy further into the lead generation funnel. Especially when you are aiming to provide these leads with quality content which may encourage them onto the next stage.
Lead Generation Funnels Are Cheaper Than Traditional Advertising
To start with, lead generation is free! You can build your own social media pages and even your own website. It’s up to you to put the work in behind creating a fantastic lead generation strategy, but essentially, you can do it for free. With traditional advertising, you are paying up front to feature your business in a magazine, newspaper, billboard or broadcast. But who are you reaching and how can you target your ideal customer?
With this in mind, although you can start lead generation yourself, if you want to grow your business, you may wish to consider calling in the experts. Especially if your business depends on a quick response and creating content across many platforms. This is where Lead Genera can help.
Working with Lead Genera
Our work begins when we understand your requirements and get to work identifying the leads and prospects that match your precise needs. Did you know that online, only 2% of visitors leave their contact details without a prompt? We can help shine a light on the other 98% of the leads you’re missing out on.
Depending on the market segment you’re targeting for lead generation, we offer B2B lead generation (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) lead generation. In each case, we apply various strategies to guarantee success. We pride ourselves on generating leads that know who will be contacting them, when they will be contacted and why.
Our services include;
- Branding, design and corporate identity
- CRM platforms and customer relations
- Lead generation services
- Marketing consultancy
- Search engine optimisation
- Social media marketing
- Web development.
You can contact us through our website and talk to us in real time through it too. Or follow us on our social media accounts.
To sum up, lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers to your business so that hopefully they will end up as a sale.
The lead generation funnel is a way of engaging with these customers so that you can encourage them to find out more about your company and choose you from all the options available.
Ideally, by using effective lead generation techniques in your strategy, you will be able to convert leads into sales and help your business to grow.
Remember, if it still seems confusing to you, there are experts whose business it is to make this a lot easier, such as Lead Genera.
Our team can help you to develop a strategy or take lead generation off your hands. Using the expertise from the Lead Genera team can help you to understand this process a lot more. Moreover, you can even measure the progress and development of lead generation techniques by watching your leads and profits grow.