My neighborhood is crawling with door-to-door salespeople. They come selling everything from television and internet services to home security systems. They have a knack for ringing the doorbell during the last five minutes of my favorite show. I’ve never bought anything from these people. Even if I needed the products they peddle, these invasive tactics are not the best way to earn my trust or my business.
A lead generation funnel can help you avoid bothering your target audience in a similar fashion as my door-to-door salespeople. And it will likely lead to better results because it meets people where they are. Learn the five stages of the lead generation funnel and how you can use this model to generate warm leads for your organization.
What is a lead gen funnel?
An inbound marketing lead generation funnel helps you move prospects through the customer journey from awareness to consideration to decision. Thanks to digital marketing and marketing automation, you can offer each prospect a personalized journey through the funnel depending on their goals, needs, and pain points. Compared to outbound marketing or purchasing leads, this approach generates a list of people who actually want to hear from you. It creates better results than a traditional sales funnel while saving you time, money, and effort.
A lead generation funnel has five stages:
- Raise awareness
- Capture contact info
- Give the VIP treatment
In digital marketing, the lead generation process starts with raising awareness. People typically learn about your organization from one of these three sources:
- Your content (blog, social media feeds, website, landing pages, product trials)
- Paid advertising (Facebook and LinkedIn ads, pay per click, web retargeting)
- Earned exposure (shares, third-party reviews, referrals, word of mouth)
When outlining your goals, keep in mind that the funnel is always larger at the top. Only a fraction of your leads will convert to members, attendees, and product purchasers. It is important to build a large enough prospect pool to meet your goals. You might need to increase your awareness efforts at the top of the funnel to meet your campaign goals.
Capture contact info
The next step in your lead generation funnel involves turning awareness into leads. For this you’ll need lead magnets and a way to capture contact info, such as lead generation forms or landing pages.
Here’s an example scenario: A Facebook user clicks on your ad with a special offer for a whitepaper. The link takes them to a landing page, where a lead generation form already contains their contact info. All the user needs to do is click the “Submit” button to download the content. At this point, the Facebook user is now a warm lead that you can nurture and convert.
Before you can effectively nurture your leads, you’ll need to score them. Try to determine where they are on the customer journey. How much do they know about your organization? How urgent are their needs? What are their pain points?
Assign a numerical value to your leads based on established criteria. You should seek input from your sales team to help you determine meaningful criteria. For example, a lead score of 1 might be an unknown user who downloaded an information product. A 5 might be someone with urgent needs who filled out a complete contact form. Next, define follow-up processes for each lead score. For example, the 5s might go directly to your sales team, while the 1s go to an automated email drip campaign.
At some point, you will need to make a hard offer to convert your prospects into members, event attendees, and product purchasers. Consider offering a free trial or discount code to entice people to take action.
Timing will depend on your organization and your offer. Joining your organization or purchasing your products and services involve a significant investment of time, money, and effort on the part of your prospect. They need time to get to know you, trust you, and understand your value before making a decision. This process could take months or even years.
Give the VIP treatment
Your job isn’t over when you’ve converted a prospect. To fuel your retention, engagement, and non-dues revenues, you will need to continually satisfy your base over time. Plan to use your marketing automation tools to provide relevant offers and useful content on an ongoing basis to make your members feel valued.
Lead gen tools
The best way to manage your lead generation efforts is with a marketing automation platform or CRM software. These tools help you to provide relevant, timely communications that are personalized to the individual depending on where they are in the customer journey. They also save you time and effort.
Why you need a lead gen funnel
An inbound marketing lead gen funnel puts control in the hands of the customer, who decides what they need from you and when. This is the foundation for a lasting relationship built on trust and value, not on sales tactics, one-off promos, or intrusive doorbell dings.