Funnel Cake and Food on a Stick. The keys to healthy lead nurturing.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was still licking my fingers after polishing off a perfectly seasoned, grilled pork chop on a stick when the angelic music started playing. I looked up and, above the throngs of people, the bright flashing lights of the pearly gates read, “Funnel Cake.” Like a moth to a flame, I couldn’t resist. As I approached, my mind and appetite had already forgotten about the appetizer of fried cheese curds and the delectable pork chop that I just shoveled down. As I approached the counter, I read a sign in the window that changed my life forever: Deep Fried German Chocolate Funnel Cake.
Had I died and gone to heaven?
No. It was just the Iowa State Fair.
My state fair culinary journey began with the fried cheese appetizer, followed the main entree of pork chop on a stick, and finished with funnel cake as the ultimate piece de resistance. Your website should function and be organized in the same way.
Seem like a stretch? I really don’t think so. Let me explain…
My culinary experience at the fair really was a journey. And there is a science to how the vendors were stacked, how they lined up in my eyesight. If they would have hit me with the funnel cake stand right when I entered, I would have walked on by because I just wasn’t ready for dessert yet. But they knew my stomach better than I did. As a result, they placed the funnel cake offer at a time and a place that I couldn’t resist it.
Think of your website like it is this State Fair culinary journey. You want to dish up the right content at the right time for your visitor. I didn’t want a funnel cake ambush right when I walked in the door. And your website visitors don’t want to be ambushed either. More than 50% of your website visitors are not ready to make a purchase decision when they first visit your site. So rather than beating them over the head with product details and sales calls, consider nurturing them—like through a funnel. (see what I did there?)
In the world of inbound marketing, we consider this Lead Nurturing.
ToFu, MoFu & BoFu
I know I know, you’re hungry from all this food talk but what the heck is ToFu, MoFu and BoFu? These terms refer to the relationship between an end user’s interaction with your site and their readiness to make a purchase.
ToFu — Top of the Funnel
Think of this like the front gates of the fairgrounds. Here at the top of the funnel, you have a much larger audience but they are much further from a purchase decision. In this stage of your lead nurturing efforts you really have to work at attracting relevant traffic without discouraging conversions—it’s really a dance. Types of content you commonly see in this stage of the funnel would be blog posts, infographics, tip sheets or fun eBooks.
Tip: leverage and capture your lead conversion by placing most of this type of content behind a form on a specific landing page
If I could boil down the goal of your ToFu content in one word, it would be to educate. Give them an answer to a specific question you hear all the time, start to satisfy that pain point they’re looking to address; but don’t get too salesy yet. You’ll have plenty of opportunity for this later.
MoFu — Middle of the Funnel
Okay, so now you know they’re interested. They’ve subscribed to your blog, downloaded that eBook and they’ve progressed to the MoFu stage. Often, this can be the most complicated stage of the lead nurturing funnel—mostly because you have this vast diversity of interested prospects who haven’t fully committed
This is where you need to get creative. It’s important to continue to educate, even in the MoFu stage. Remember, they’re still not ready to buy. The difference between MoFu and ToFu is that you need to start positioning your company or organization as the solution or answer to their question or challenge. Give them a more advanced eBook but consider weaving in case studies, white papers and especially videos into this stage.
Tip: the most important thing in this stage is to build credibility. Tap social networks and client testimonials and develop compelling case studies—but don’t do all the talking. Focus on how you can solve their problem, not on how great you are.
BoFu — Bottom of the Funnel
At this point, your funnel should be looking healthy. (Almost an oxymoron when talking about the State Fair, huh? Come on, they do offer fruit-ka-bobs and the incredible edible egg, right?) You’ve attracted a good number of leads with your content at the top of the funnel. You’ve established trust and credibility with a number of them and they’ve come back to you again and again and have moved into the middle of the funnel. So, now what?
At this point, you need to go in for the sale. They’re aware of their need, they’ve established a solution and now it’s time to make you the one who’s going to provide it. For a lot of industries, this may not even include content at all. Your lead may be ready to speak with a sales consultant or see a live demo—so offer one! Free assessments, trials or demos work great to start a dialog about a potential purchase. It even allows you to further qualify your most interested leads who have made it through this far.
Tip: start a dialogue. It’s always best to get someone talking. Here at the bottom of the funnel, it’s time to initiate correspondence with permission for a phone call, web demo or email.
All of this sounds pretty simple, right? Well, once you get in the weeds and start asking yourself questions about what visitors to your site need to hear, it will undoubtedly lead to another question, and another question and so on… and that’s a good thing.
Most companies never take the time necessary to consider their overall lead nurturing strategy, create the necessary content and evaluate the leads they get along the way. It also may be unrealistic to consider that you have the bandwidth and time to manage this type of process.
This is where I would encourage you to automate as much as possible. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you are considering implementing a lead nurturing campaign, finding an automated platform is a must. This will free up your time to focus on what you do best and keep your sales team flush with qualified leads.
After eating that Fried Chocolate Funnel Cake I felt like I needed to get on the treadmill. But having a healthy sales funnel is something that you will never feel guilty about.