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We have previously discussed generating leads through content marketing, SEO, a strong social media presence and other internet-based methods. However, as a small business owner, you may be left wondering how to make these leads into customers, a term known in the marketing world as CONVERSION.

The process of converting a lead to a customer may seem overwhelming, however, by focusing on a sales funnel, the process becomes clear and easy to understand. So what is a small business lead generation funnel, and how will it work for your brand? Read on to learn more!

Small Business Lead Generation Funnel

If you were ever an inquisitive child, you probably remember creating soda bottle tornadoes using a funnel-like effect.

In this (less exciting) scenario our sales funnel starts with website visitors and ends with repeat customers, looking something like the below:

Why the funnel? Because your sales process, regardless of industry, will start with a large pool of potential customers (website visitors), but will decrease in number through the steps pictured above. Below we will explore the difference phases of this process.

Visitors

In this phase of the lead generation funnel your small business is focusing on attracting visitors to your website. This process involves many of the initial phases of lead generation methods we have discussed previously, such as focusing on local SEO, starting a company blog and promoting your business on popular social media channels.

At this phase of the marketing funnel, you are not trying to convince prospects to buy your product, instead, you are focusing on drawing in individuals who would not otherwise know about your business, and making them a part of your dialogue on industry topics. This is also the phase where you can (subtly) show your prospects that they have a problem, and how your brand can fit into the solution.

Leads

Now that you have your visitors properly directed to your website it is time to focus on converting these leads into customers through content and clear conversion paths.

When it comes to content marketing to convert leads, a blog is always a great place to start. Regularly creating interesting and educational material is a great way to keep website visitors returning to your page and also an excellent way to establish your brand as an authority in your field.

Other content marketing methods can include free e-books, infographics, videos and more. Anything that adds value, and shows a potential customer that your business can help them solve a problem is perfect for this phase of the small business sales funnel.

As for conversion, remember CTAs? CTAs are anything that prompts your customers to take action. These can easily be incorporated into the above content marketing methods, such as asking your customer to fill out a contact form to download a free e-book or convincing a lead to click on an infographic.

Customers

In this phase of the lead generation funnel, quality leads and a defined sales process lead to customers.

This is where you (or your sales team, if you have one) need to focus on weeding out the most promising leads and making them customers. By focusing on quality leads that are a good fit for your company’s services and interested in your brand’s offerings your business will ensure that you are not wasting resources, and instead, only focusing on those leads that may really convert to customers.

Return Customers

The end of your small business lead generation funnel can actually become the beginning. Once you have narrowed your prospects, converting leads to customers, it is time to focus on keeping these customers, or having them return to your business, depending on your business model. How can you ensure you converted leads stick with your brand through thick and thin? Think: content.

This is where thorough customer support and documentation of FAQs comes in, as well as email follow up to ensure the customer is completely satisfied with your product or service. Sending out email alerts with special offers for existing customers of “insider” how-to lists are also useful methods to employ here.

Now that you know the four phases of our small business sales and marketing funnel, it is time to go out and create a process tailored to your company. By clearly defining each phase of your brand’s sales cycle you will be able to carefully craft and fine tune content aimed at individuals in each phase of the process. Do you already have a sales funnel in place? Please let us know what has worked and hasn’t worked for your business in the comments below!

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