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Sales funnel is a way of visualizing the stages that prospects go through before they convert. Although in my humble opinion using the word funnel does not seem correct. A funnel serves the purpose of collecting some material (say oil for example) and focuses it through a narrow opening or orifice. Sales funnel however is quite different in its portrayal. It’s called a funnel because the inverted shape represents how prospects drop off along the way to converting.
The most common representation of a sale funnel utilises 4 stages (the number of stages can, however, be differentiated in different formats). These 4 stages are:
Let’s begin with the very top of the funnel. The Awareness stage is regarded as top of the funnel (TOFU). So moving with the assumption that at this point, the customer (prospect) has realized they have a problem or requirement, and they are searching the web looking for a solution. They may go on to make a purchase; they’re just not quite sure what they want to buy, or when, yet. Think of it like the online version of window shopping. Customers are merely browsing to see what can garner their attention. If you wish to capture these potential customers (and of course why wouldn’t you?), you need to provide content that’s adjusted to the type of search queries that are asked at this early stage.
Most market strategists prefer to use the trusted keyword research tool Keyword Planner by Google. Google’s Keyword Planner is very useful no doubt about it, but it’s also very commercial in its approach. Optimizing your site for customers at the awareness stage entail sun covering longer-tailed phrases that lack the search volume needed to appear in Keyword Planner.
In addition to tools built specifically to assist with keyword research, sites that are built around users asking and answering questions can provide invaluable TOFU inspiration, too: think of sites like Quora, Reddit, and even Yahoo Answers. The stages of Interest and Decision can be regarded as the middle of the funnel (MOFU). Customers who move past the awareness stage and into the middle of the funnel (MOFU) are now thinking about making a purchase; they just haven’t decided exactly what they’re going to buy, or who they’re going to buy it from. If the “top of the funnel” is equivalent to windows hopping, then the “middle of the funnel” is equivalent to walking inside the store knowing you want to buy a sharp pair of trousers – they just don’t know what kind of trousers, or where they shall be buying the trousers from. Customers at this stage can be considered very valuable. They’re keen to purchase a product or service that you offer. All you need to do is find a way to make sure to get yourself in front of them.
Adding quality content to your own website is an effective way to do that, although the keywords you target will differ, as might the format you use to present the content. Customers in the middle of the funnel are researching their options. They want to buy a pair of trousers, but first, they want to see what different styles of trousers are available in the market, and how their prices and value compare. This could be done by writing a blog post that targets relevant search terms or optimizing existing landing pages to capture a wider variety of phrases. At these buying stages of the funnel here, you might bring in the use of a mixture of long-tail keyword tools and Keyword Planner to help pinpoint the right words and phrases to include. Just keep in mind to pay attention to the keyword usage on the page and in also in your metadata.
Also instead of waiting for customers to come to you, you go where your customers already are. A great method to achieve this is by writing guest articles for established websites and publications. This is an incredible way to build your profile and publicise your brand in front of your target audience. But the trick while doing so is to target the right audience without being self-promotional. You want to educate and inform, to give people all the information they need to make their own decision. Keywords like everywhere are important here, as well – even more so if the publications you’re contributing to having the domain authority to rank more easily for key terms than your own site. By now your website/online business has surmounted all the difficult hurdles, the last stage of Action shall be comparatively easier. This stage can be regarded as the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), you have visitors that are quite seriously considering making a purchase from you –they just need a little persuading in order to help make a leap and bring them over the edge.
Continuing with the shopping-for- trousers analogy, the BOFU is equivalent to a fitting-room assistant in the store telling you how great the trousers look on you. At this stage, keyword tools will become somewhat less integral. Prospects at the bottom of the funnel are aware of your existence and may have visited even your website/online store multiple times. Your task is to do that last little bit of convincing that shall persuade them to make the purchase. At this point, your on-site search becomes a goldmine of data. What questions are visitors to your site trying to get answered? If you’ve already answered these questions, make the answers easier to find. Create new content for questions which haven’t yet been answered.
At the BOFU, you’re likely to be up against a few rival brands providing the same product and services. If you want to ensure visitors wind up choosing you, you need first analyze your competitors’ BOFU content and then go above and beyond with your unique content. If they engage customers with text you can enable images, if they engage customers with pictures you can include videos and so on and so forth.
Remember BOFU is where the competition really gets tough, but lucky for you, it is also the simplest achieve – you just have to create unique content that’s better than every other brand you are competing with. At the end of the day, the most important aspect while creating a specific plan for your SEO to help your sales funnel is to align with your customers. You should understand how they decide, how they buy or shop (their purchasing habit), what is important to them (their needs or wants) and write your offer that would capture your audience’s attention or craft a message that connects with them.
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