As a seasoned digital marketer, I’m sure you’ve built many marketing funnels in your day.
But I’m sure you’ll agree: your time would be better spent if you could automate the process, right?
After all, according to Pardot’s report, State of Demand Generation, “76% of the world’s largest SaaS companies are using marketing automation.”
Marketing funnel automation is simply a workflow you set up to sync leads through a series of planned marketing events.
Sounds easy enough right?
And it is.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the key elements of marketing funnel automation. Plus, I’ll show you what you’ll need to do to build one.
Intrigued? Let’s take it from the top then.
[BONUS: Want to see how a typical marketing funnel looks like? Download our FREE lead nurturing funnel sample. Get it here >>]
What’s an automated marketing funnel?
Automating your marketing funnel means you’re pre-deciding on how to interact with leads through the different stages of nurturing.
That means you consider the needs of your target audience from the moment they’re aware a solution to their problem exists, and optimize your communications to match that.
Here’s an example:
John heads marketing at a SaaS company. He creates a marketing funnel that produces leads and assists the sales efforts of his team. But rather than just putting content like ebooks on landing pages, he automates the nurturing process. Potential buyers that interact with blogs, ebooks and webinars will now get a series of automated emails. This way, John is showcasing their SaaS product without having to be physically involved in the process.
Now let’s look at how you can automate different stages of your marketing funnel.
Nurturing leads that need to recognize their pain points. (Awareness Stage)
Usually leads at the beginning of their buying journey aren’t aware they need a solution.
They might have stumbled upon your site when looking for more information about a problem they’re experiencing. Or perhaps saw one of your ads organically.
So before anything else, you need to recognize customer pain points. But why?
You want to suggest a solution to leads before they go looking elsewhere.
At the “awareness” stage of the nurturing process, you may create targeted ads. These ads will focus on educating your target audience. For instance, this could be redirecting them to a new blog post or a “how to” video.
As a result, you move those leads into your funnel for further nurturing.
Nurturing leads that are searching for information. (Interest Stage)
If a lead becomes aware of the problem they have, what’s next?
The natural progression is for them to search for more information on their topic of interest.
Consider what types of content to send in your marketing funnel. Now that your lead is in the “interest” stage, they need higher commitment content like ebooks or whitepapers.
Here is where your team can do some keyword research.
“In reality, popular search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the “long tail” of search.” (Source)
Let’s assume a home electronics company discovers the long-tail keyword “best speakers for a home theater”. The next move is to publish a series of articles on speakers.
This content is sent to qualified “interest” leads. Whether they have been redirected via home theater ads or searched the long-tail keyword.
The idea is to nurture leads with content that comes from your company. Leave the impression of area expertise by setting up automated email workflows.
Nurturing leads that are evaluating options to their current solution. (Evaluation Stage)
If all goes well, at this stage your lead will be interested in purchasing a solution.
But before that happens, they’ll want to evaluate their options.
Depending on whether it’s a big purchase, the evaluation process could take anything from a day to a lengthy period of time.
When deciding between alternatives, pushing your ROI and value proposition is key. This is where your automated marketing funnel comes in.
Upon qualifying a lead for the evaluation stage, trigger “how to select the best solution for X” resources, pricing guides or even propose a free-trial or consultation call. A consultation call can become the first human touch point of your automated marketing funnel.
“95% of buyers chose a vendor that provided them with content to navigate each stage of the buying process.” (Source)
Nurturing leads at this stage is crucial because the value comes from assisting the decision-making process of a potential customer.
According to Forrester research, “6.8 decision-makers participate in an average enterprise purchase”.
So if Joanna, the HR rep, wants to buy but can’t convince her manager to give her budget…no conversion!
Nurturing leads that are looking to purchase a solution. (Commitment Stage)
At the “commitment” stage, it’s your job to help leads feel confident in their buying decision.
What better way to do that than in the form of past successes?
“If your prospect is considering a major purchase, it’s highly likely that they’re evaluating other solutions. A case study that demonstrates your differentiation is an effective way to show how your solution is more effective than the competition’s.” (Source)
As part of your automated marketing funnel, a lead that has already been on a free trial can trigger a case study email.
This will help solidify their commitment to the purchase.
It’s important to note, these case studies need to showcase a solution to similar challenges your lead is having.
Better yet, forward along customer testimonials.
“Customer testimonials are a fundamental part of effective value-based selling. They can carry a lot of weight with your leads. Don’t waste them. Leverage them at the right time to help you move an opportunity forward and eventually close the deal.” (Source)
While leads might be less inclined to trust an automated email, adding a human element strengthens customer relationships.
Automating post-purchase marketing funnels. (Sale)
Thought the automated marketing funnel stops at the point of sales? Not yet.
Consider adding an automated email with “get started” resources after each sale.
A study from the Wharton School of Business found that referred customers had a 16% higher lifetime value than other customers.
This makes customer advocacy a key to the success of lead generation and conversion. Your future self will take you later.
Marketing funnel automation is a great tool to have for growing companies.
This is because you’re still able to nurture quality leads from your audience without heavy time commitments.
It’s one surefire way to accelerate the ROI of your marketing funnels. So go forth and automate!
PS. Do not forget the free template we shared above. Use it as your guide, happy funneling!