An article in defense of the sales funnel, or how to play a game of Street Fighter – WAU
[Nota: apesar das referências, esse texto ainda pode ser entendido por quem não joga video game, então não se preocupe] If you follow the world of content marketing, you may have come across some text criticizing the sales funnel, an increasingly common occurrence. Almost entirely these criticisms are based on the […]
[Nota: apesar das referências, esse texto ainda pode ser entendido por quem não joga video game, então não se preocupe]
If you follow the world of content marketing, you may have come across some text criticizing the sales funnel, an increasingly common occurrence. Almost entirely these criticisms are based on the fact that today leads no longer follow a linear path in the sales process, being exposed to the company’s content at various times and in several stages until the moment of purchase. In other words, with marketing taking over an increasing part of the funnel, the salesperson can no longer “push” leads to the next stage.
The public today dictates the pace and the way forward, so it is impossible to talk about funnels. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Well, I disagree and to prove my point I will compare the sales funnel to a fight in Street Fighter 4 (Ryu x Ken is an extremely disputed classic among Websites Are Us partners, hence the inspiration).
Imagine a lead in your sales funnel: he’ll access your blog, download an ebook with top funnel content, then watch a funnel medium webinar. If the funnel were linear, the next logical step would be for it to go to the bottom of the funnel, but that is not what usually happens. Probably he will spend some time without interacting with the company, then read the blog again, download another funnel top ebook and only then really contact a seller.
This is clearly not a linear path, just as in a Street Fighter match you don’t start the fight with the weak kick, move on to the strong punch and end with Hadouken. The big difference is that once the lead has been exposed to your funnel bottom material, the chance of converting it into a customer increases considerably, as he is already informed about your product. Likewise, knowing how to drop a Hadouken or Shoryuken will also considerably increase your chances of winning a match.
Many people forget that the funnel metaphor is a model based on observation and not an instruction manual to be followed step by step. As much as leads consume content from various stages of the purchase process, there will naturally be far fewer people ready to do business with you than visiting your blog. This happens naturally and this lead distribution almost always resembles (guess what?) A funnel. That is why, when a low lead, for example, a product demonstration, it can already be considered funnel bottom, as it does not lose this knowledge and interaction when returning to consume top funnel content.
And how does it affect your content marketing strategy?
If you’ve seen my video on creating content for the sales funnel, you know that the recommended thing is that every time the audience contacts some piece of content from you, it’s taken to the next stage of the funnel. This is done through calls-to-action, banners and, if the person has already registered in their email base, nutrition flows and newsletters.
We usually start our content marketing strategies in a simple way, that is, a funnel top article will have a CTA for a funnel medium ebook which, in turn, will have a flow of nutrition leading to the bottom of the funnel, for example. example. Note that in this case the “next step” is determined by the content consumed and will always be the same on the page. This is the basic model and serves as a great start, but when we take into account that consumption is not completely linear, we have to change the train of thought a little.
Setting up a strategy taking into account that the path to be followed is not 100% linear is something much more advanced – and complicated – but worthwhile. Basically, the hook for the next step will no longer be the content itself, but what we know about the lead. For that, some marketing automation system is needed.
Well, let me exemplify it for simplicity: imagine that you have a funnel top ebook that is associated with a flow of nutrition that will naturally lead to a funnel medium material, such as a white paper with customer cases. Everyone who downloads this ebook will enter this stream, regardless of previous interactions with their materials.
If we take into account the non-linearity of the funnel, the rules are a little more complicated. We have to configure the marketing automation software to identify which material is the bottom of the funnel that this lead has already downloaded and, from there, determine which flow it will enter. In the same example above, if the lead has already downloaded some funnel medium material, the nutrition flow (even if it originated from a funnel top ebook) can lead directly to a funnel bottom material or an offer purchase.
This is an example of how we can create more advanced and more efficient rules. Other possibilities (which depend a lot on your marketing automation platform):
- More advanced platforms have Dynamic CTAs, which are banners that change according to rules within the software. That is, you can make a CTA that will always be the same for the same lead, regardless of the page he is visiting.
- All marketing automation platforms have custom lists and dynamic. It is relatively simple to create a list with everyone who has consumed more advanced content and to segment their nutrition flows according to their presence on that list or not.
- In a simpler way, you can create lists according to the funnel stage of each downloaded material and, at the fire your newsletters, make a different version for each list. This type of segmentation can be done even in mailing software such as Mailchimp
Know your opponent – and customize your marketing
Just as in a Street Fighter match you will have a much better chance of winning if you know your opponent. In content marketing (and any marketing, in fact), the more customized the message, the greater your chances of attracting leads and converting them into customers. And the best way to customize your marketing well is to know your audience.
If you can build a well-structured system, knowing your audience and knowing how to deliver all the “scams” available, it will be much easier to achieve victory, that is, closing the deal. After all, I don’t know how much you like fighting games, but in the same way that I get excited every time we close a sale here at Websites Are Us, I also feel immense pleasure in being able to finish a game with a blow like the one below (which , like all obviously we know, it’s called Metsu Shoryuken):
So, I would like to know: do you agree with me or not that the sales funnel is still a model that remains extremely useful for any sales and marketing professional?
And if you have any other questions just ask in the comments!