Over the last few weeks, we have discussed many important points of how the internet has changed consumer behaviour, and how the traditional sales funnel is no longer applicable in the modern digital age.
In summary, the internet has made it possible for the modern consumer to be able to do a wealth of information gathering throughout the consumer journey through information sources freely and readily available online, including business websites and peer reviews on social media. This has led to the virtual death of the traditional, linear sales funnel requiring a much broader, information-based, and personal marketing strategy to reach future consumers.
The technological advancement has put the control of the process into the hands of the consumer. Modern consumers can now seek answers to their questions in the moment the question occurs – in the moment they wish to go, do, or buy. These moments are rich with intent and they create unique journey shapes to fit the individual undertaking them. Intent, then, is redefining the marketing funnel. [Funnelling sales in the new digital era]
How then, do you in practise market to intent?
Inbound marketing is emerging as the de facto strategy to market to consumers in the environment they now inhabit – the internet. Traditional marketing where generic messages were pushed out en masse to a passive, mass audience is being replaced by inbound marketing which focusses on attracting interested consumers by providing personalised, relevant and helpful content which provides an educational value to the potential consumer, engaging them wherever they may find themselves along the consumer journey.
Inbound marketing, thus, can be defined as the strategy of using high-value content designed to address needs and pain-points of the ideal consumer to your brand or product that speaks to the intent of the potential consumer to draw him or her to your website.
This definition circles us back to the question, What is content marketing? Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach that creates and distributes valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain your market audience with an endgame of driving a profitable customer action.
The power of inbound marketing lies in its unplanned perfect timing, reaching potential consumers when, where and how they prefer as they are searching for a solution to their problem – their pain-point. An inbound marketing strategy creates a new funnel that nurtures potential consumers by guiding them along the journey towards a mutually satisfying sales action.
This funnel captures the attention of a potential consumer early in the journey, ideally when they are just starting. Consider that 80% of online search traffic are queries for information about a topic – including quests for information by consumers on how to make a particular problem go away. A business that provides educational information about both that problem and its solution, improves their chances of gaining the trust of that potential consumer through engagement which eventually will lead to gaining their transaction.
There are three stages along the journey through the inbound sales funnel:
This first stage can be portrayed as the widest part of the new sales funnel. It creates visibility and attracts the attention of potential consumers by answering questions, establishing trust, and beginning to create value to the consumer.
Here, potential consumers winnowed down by providing product or service information, and answering more specific, brand-related questions. The conversion process starts here because, by continuing this journey through the funnel the potential consumer is offering a behavioural cue that they are researching your business, product, or service. Thus, they are “considering” your business.
The final stage is where the marketing process flows into the sales process. This is when the potential consumer has asked for contact with a knowledgeable sales representative, changing the potential consumer into a warm lead.
Providing targeted, personalised content for each stage of the potential consumer’s journey through the funnel based on his or her personal interests, needs and choices, enables the business to regain control of the often chaotic digital-era sales funnel and to differentiate their product or service from the competition. This step-stage approach puts the potential consumers’ needs in context, making your outreach communication with them much more effective.