Designing Offers to Fill Your Sales Funnel
The Two Parts of a Lead Generation Offer
Many business owners and executives get hung up on the various ways they can structure a content offer. For instance, some will have heated discussions about whether ebooks are better than downloadable apps or other tools. I would argue that any of these has merits, but the deciding factor shouldn’t be the one that’s the cheapest or easiest to produce. Instead, you should look for the perfect balance between what your target market wants and the level of commitment you require in return.
Think about it this way: the more perceived value your offer has, the more your prospect will give up in turn to get it. They’ll share a lot more data with you for an accurate estimate or revenue projection, for instance, than they would to receive a one-page tip sheet. However, this calculus doesn’t move in a straight line. There is usually an upper limit to the trust a first-time visitor will put in your business if they haven’t dealt with you before. So, no matter how valuable you think your offer is, know that some people will never give you more than an email or phone number until you have a stronger relationship with them.
I’m going to address that exact process in just a moment, but I want to stick with the point of balance and value. A huge mistake a lot of marketers make, and one that kills their lead generation efforts, is to be too self-serving with their offers. No one is going to give you any of their contact information just to download a copy of your marketing brochure. And, even if you somehow trick them into doing so, they aren’t going to follow up or be responsive to your sales team when you contact them.
The moral here is to always put your customers first when designing offers. Think about what it is they want and try to give it to them in a format that is concise and convenient. If you make that your first priority, you’ll have an easier time pulling them farther into your sales funnel, especially if there are multiple steps to follow.
Putting Offers Into a Conversion Chain
You probably realize from experience, both as a marketer and consumer, that sharing your email address with a company in exchange for a piece of information doesn’t exactly make you a “hot prospect.” If you attempt to follow up with every person who downloads something from your website and close them for an appointment or commitment, you’re likely to be disappointed in your conversion rates.
Most people won’t follow that small step with a much bigger one right away. However, if you wait too long to contact them, the opportunity will disappear. So how do you handle this catch-22? The answer is typically to put multiple offers into a conversion chain.
Here is how it works: just as you put a call to action at the end of your blog article or social post inviting the viewer to check out a more detailed report, you can end the report with another call to action that is a little stronger. To stay with the example I’ve already provided, the PDF report might finish with a link to an online video that explains a problem in more depth and provides a quick demo of the products or services you offer as a solution.
There are a few details here that make this kind of progression work. The most obvious is that your prospect doesn’t feel a lot of pressure to take this step since they are still guiding the interaction. They don’t have to meet with you face-to-face or even speak to a member of your company on the phone; they only have to click through to another piece of content when they feel ready.
At the same time, you could certainly gate the video behind a registration that requires a couple of pieces of subsequent information, like a name, phone number, and a business or occupation. You’ve gotten more information now, and the prospect has seen that you aren’t going to abuse their trust by sending dozens of irrelevant messages.
Perhaps most importantly, you have given your prospect a chance to show they are interested enough in what you sell to take the next step. That means that rather than chasing down website visitors from their emails, you can now contact them by phone after they have chosen to view your promotional materials. Or you can invite them to get in touch with you through a contact form at the end of the video itself.
Either way, you are getting sales opportunities that are better qualified than they would have been if you were simply collecting contacts through your website. And you can use a series of automated responders to keep in touch with visitors who check out your blog and download an ebook, for example, without clicking through to the video. Eventually they’ll take the next step or unsubscribe from your email list, and you haven’t wasted any of your valuable time.
The more complex or expensive your products or services are, the more steps you are likely to need in your conversion chain. Remember, too, that prospects don’t always have to move directly through your sales funnel.
Going back to the sample funnel as outlined, you might set up your automated messages to offer another short PDF to someone who gives you their email but doesn’t take the next step. That could be a good way to keep them interested without pushing too hard. The whole point is to let buyers move from one step to the next at their own pace. You’re just making it convenient for them to figure out what you have to offer (in terms of products, services, or even expertise) and then get in touch with you when it’s time to discuss specifics.
Refining Your Sales Funnel
Most marketers will start building a sales funnel with a few pieces of content, one or two offers, and some sort of contact option interested prospects can use. That’s all you really need, of course, but you may still grow and refine your approach over time.
That’s partly because your content profile will get bigger and bigger, and you’ll always want your offers to match the types of articles or social updates you’re putting online. As an example, if we developed a series of blog posts around lead generation, a digital copy of this book might be the perfect offer to follow up with. Conversely, we might develop something different for readers who came to our website looking for information on search engine optimization for small businesses.
The other factor that will shape your sales funnel is viewer interest. Over time, you’ll get the chance to study your web analytics to see which topics are striking a chord with your target market, along with the offers that are generating the biggest response. Armed with that data you can continue to add new elements, or even replace your offers and calls to action with alternatives that are more compelling.
The point is that you should never give up or decide you’re satisfied. No matter how your sales funnel is performing now, it can always get better with the right amount of observation and creativity.
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