This is the third post in a three part series in which I explain and provide examples of top, middle and bottom of the funnel offers. The first post, on top of the funnel offers, is available here, and the second post, on middle of the funnel offers, is available here.
The Sales Funnel
The idea of the sales funnel is central to the concept of inbound marketing. It represents how a salesperson can use content to narrow a vast pool of unqualified leads into a smaller pool of much more valuable, highly qualified leads.
At the top of the funnel is everyone who is a potential customer. So, if are an insurance firm selling homeowners insurance in New York, then every homeowner in New York is a potential customer. But the reality is that most companies use more than just simple demographics to define their ideal customer. In this case, our insurance firm might not be interested in working with owners of homes valued at less than $150,000 or people who have a history of frequent claims. Or, maybe they are particularly interested in homeowners with waterfront property.
Using this as our example, the goal of top of the funnel marketing is to make homeowners realize that they need insurance and a good example of the top of the funnel offer might be an ebook on Tips for Buying Homeowners Insurance.
Once our insurance firm has convinced those homeowners that they need insurance, the goal of middle of the funnel marketing is to convince them that they need to buy insurance from that specific firm. This can be accomplished through case studies or a webinar, amongst other options.
To summarize, top of the funnel marketing should help a prospect answer the question "What do I need?", whereas middle of the funnel marketing should answer the question "Why do I need it from you?". Having answere these questions, we then come to bottom of the funnel marketing, which is aimed at converting leads into customers by answering the question "why should I buy now?"
Bottom of the Funnel Offers
"Why should I buy now?"
Answering this question requires a deeper level of engagement with you, your product, or service than a lead has ever had before. To be effective, a good bottom of the funnel offer must not only make the benefits to the customer clear, it must also create a sense of urgency. In many cases, this can be accomplished by demonstrating the cost of not acting.
What kinds of offers demonstrate value but also communicate the cost of not acting? Here are a few examples:
Free Trial or Demo
When I began searching for my first home, it didn't take me long to zero in on a cozy, one bedroom co-op in the heart of Washington, DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood. At the time, everyone told me not to imagine myself living in the place, not to get emotionally attached. But what did I do? I pictured the oriental rug I got from my parents in the living room, my much-loved wicker bureau in the bedroom, and the soothing shade of green that I would paint the bathroom. Bad idea. I was hooked and had to have the place.
This same sense of attachment can develop when a prospective customer takes a free trial. There is nothing like using a product or service, kicking the proverbial tires, and experiencing for yourself how it makes your life better to convince you why you have to buy now.
Audits or Assessments
What you don't know might not kill you, but it can make you miserable. Often times it's easier to make a sale by focusing on the cost of not acting. A great way to to make this point is through an audit or assessment. Are you an IT firm that sells cybersecurity services? Offer to conduct a free assesment of your prospective client's IT security system. Are there gaps? What is the risk of not addressing them? If a breach occurs, what will the cost to the organization be? Make this clear and you will be one step closer to making a sale.
Meeting or Consultation
People buy from people, so there is no better way to establish the kind of relationship required to close a sale than to make face-to-face contact. I'm not talking about a sales pitch - I'm talking about offering your prospects the opportunity to meet with you and get free, no obligation advice. This kind of offer works particularly well in a service-based business. Imagine a financial consulting firm. A great bottom of the funnel offer would be a consultation in which one of the firm's experts meets with prospective clients, reviews their business goals and challenges, and then offers them a roadmap. There is no obligation to hire the firm as a result of this consultation, but odds are, the client won't have the expertise or time to implement the road map on their own. Having a sense of the plan of action and what the next steps will be makes the client much more likely to move forward. If they like the plan and they form a strong personal connection with whoever they meet with, you're in!
Coupon or Limited Time Offer
If you have a list of warm leads and need an offer that will entice them to make a purchase, consider sending an email with a coupon good for a limited time only. The deadline will help create a sense of urgency and help you close sales.
What happens when a lead converts on your top, middle and bottom of the funnel offers? The best inbound marketing campaigns use the information gathered in conversion forms to determine whether that lead matches the definition of an ideal customer. This can be done manually, or it can be done through a lead scoring process. When you do identify a lead that meets your criteria or exceeds your lead scoring threshhold, then they become a Marketing Qualified Lead, or MQL. An MQL is essentially any lead that marketing determines is worth handing off to the sales team.
Here's where the connection between marketing and sales is critical. Marketing's job is to generate qualified leads. Sales is responsible for closing those leads. A service level agreement (SLA) is a great tool that can help ensure this handoff is managed smoothly. An sales/marketing SLA should answer the following questions:
- How soon after sales receives an MQL should they make contact?
- What form should that contact take (phone/email, etc.)?
- How many touch points should the sales team establish with the lead and in what period of time should these contacts be made?
- After how many unsuccessful attempts at contact may sales abandon the lead?
Having this kind of agreement in place not only sets expectations and establishes a benchmark against which sales can be evaluated, it will increase your lead to customer conversion rates. In the end, that's what it's all about, right?
Have you experimented with any successful bottom of the funnel offers? Share them with us in the comments below! We're always looking for new ideas to test out.