A goal for marketers is gathering leads that salespeople can convert into customers. How do you know when a lead is ready to be passed off to sales? The answer depends on what stage the lead is in the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel is a system used by marketers to track the stages of a lead in their decision and buying process. The funnel is segmented into three main stages: Top, Middle, and Bottom.
Top of the Funnel (TO-fu)
The TO-fu category is associated with an individual who has a marketing problem and is seeking a solution. At this point, the visitor is not thinking about buying any products or services, just seeking help with a general marketing-related problem.
The visitor becomes aware of your company through your blog posts by organic search or social media networks. Creating quality content provides your company with the opportunity of increasing traffic to your website.
Since the visitor is in the early stages of looking for a solution to a problem, quality offers need to be available or the visitor will find what they are looking for somewhere else.
Some examples of TO-fu offers are:
Ebooks: Downloadable books that offer insight into the problem that a visitor has identified. Ebooks tend to be easy and quick to read and help the visitor find a solution to their identified problem.
Whitepapers: Whitepapers are similar to eBooks in providing industry information to help visitors with a problem. Whitepapers shorter than a typical ebook, generally 2-10 pages in length.
Newsletters: Newsletters provide information about your company, industry studies, blog information, etc. Newsletters are a great TO-fu offer because the visitor can find additional information about your company than is listed on the website.
How-To Guides: Simple steps giving tips and techniques to solve a particular industry related problem.
Sweepstakes: Sweepstakes gain interest of visitors who may not have previously known about a certain product. Enter to win prizes! And who doesn’t like prizes and winning free gifts?
Middle of the Funnel (MO-fu)
MO-fu visitors realize they have a need that must be solved so they research industry specific companies or vendors who can help with their need. TO-fu is used for planting the seed of information in the visitor’s head, but when the visitor is MO-fu, it’s time to show your company’s products or services.
MO-fu visitors are not ready to buy yet, so they need to be nurtured to move them further down the funnel. Your company should provide helpful content to establish your expertise and continue building trust with the lead.
Some examples of MO-fu offers are:
Webinars: A short presentation or lecture transmitted over the Web. Webinars help leads establish a personal connection with the business, helping solve their problems.
Podcasts: Digital episodic series of audio or video files to subscribe to and download. Podcasts continue to establish a personal connection while providing valuable information about the products or service of a business.
Case Studies: A story of how your customer overcame a problem by using your business as their solution.
Reviews and Testimonials: Many individuals seeking a solution appreciate reading about what previous customers have had to say about a product.
Bottom of the Funnel (BO-fu)
BO-fu is exciting for any marketer because the lead has identified their problem and is on to the solution. BO-fu leads have done their research but need reassurance that your business is the best option to solve their problem. The lead has now become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), and can now be passed off to the sales team to convert into a customer.
Some examples of BO-fu offers are:
Free Trial: Provides access to all or certain features of your product so your lead can test the functionality of that product.
Assessments: Evaluate the lead’s current situation and rate current performance.
Meetings or Consultations: Meet with leads and discuss, in depth, their situation and ways your business can help.
Demo: A promotion where a product is demonstrated to the potential customer.
Make sure you provide quality content to become a trusted advisor and make the lead feel comfortable moving forward in the buying process. Do not try to rush the sales funnel by attempting to close a TO-fu lead into a customer. Nurture the leads to make sure they’re moving through the sales funnel and feel comfortable in doing so.