Over the years, lead generation funnels have gone from simplistic funnels focusing purely on certain stages to in-depth funnels that take a deeper look at the customer journey. Traditional funnels typically have the largest volume of leads at the top, with these leads being largely unqualified. The middle of the funnel traditionally takes lead through the process, with more leads falling away until the bottom of the funnel is reached. Leads go through the evaluation stage as they reach the decision making and purchase stage at the bottom of the funnel. At this stage, leads that have remained are typically considered warm leads that have a high chance of converting into customers.

Although this approach can work to a point, the way that leads are nurtured has changed the customer journey in many ways. The decision-making process is no longer as simple as going from evaluation to decision in a few steps. As the digital marketing landscape continues to adapt and change, an outdated lead generation funnel can end up losing potentially valuable leads, costing you in the long run. To help you find a better, more effective way to nurture leads, we take a closer look at the evolution of lead generation funnels.

Traditional Lead Funnels Are No Longer Effective

Why are traditional lead generation funnels not working as well as they should? Aside from the constantly changing customer journey, customers themselves have also adapted. The average person receives a large volume of marketing messages every single day, via email, mobile, social media, and various other channels. On top of this, customers are relying on word of mouth and peer reviews far more than ever before. Purchasing decisions are no longer as simple as doing an online search, arriving on a website, and deciding to complete the transaction. Instead, customers are doing their own research before making final decisions.

Customers may start at the traditional top of funnel evaluation stage. They may also enter the funnel already in the decision-making stage, however. Some may leave the funnel in the final stage, just before reaching the purchase stage. Using a simplistic funnel that focuses only on the top, middle and bottom means that you do not account for the fluidity of the lead nurturing process. It also means that you miss the leaks that often happen at every stage of the purchasing process.

The Evolution of Lead Generation Funnels

To effectively nurture leads at every stage of the lead generation funnel, it is important to take a deeper look at your current funnels to see how they can be adapted. That means aiming for a far more personalised multi-channel lead funnel that can adapt to the changing behaviours and needs of your customers. Personalisation remains one of the most effective strategies for lead nurturing, working especially well in email marketing campaigns. Using marketing automation tools and other strategies will help make the nurturing process more targeted.

Rather than treating leads as numbers that move through your funnel, the first, and most important step is to start seeing each lead as a real-life person. Every connection made with a potential lead, through social media, email or any other channel, offers a chance to not only gain insight into leads but also deliver a far more personalised experience. As you gain more insight into each lead, you are then able to deliver even more personalisation, creating an even deeper connection. Some of the ways that you can improve your lead funnels to provide more of a personal experience for leads include the following:

Embrace social media

If you are not already using social media as part of your nurturing strategy, now is a good time to start looking at this channel. Social media offers a powerful platform for all stages of the nurturing process. To get the most from this channel, it is important to have deep insight into your audience. Your target audience may not use the platforms that you are focusing on and not all social media users have the same intent.

For example, you may find that some users use Facebook to find information on products and services they are interested in purchasing. Other users may use it more for reference and may not ever intend to make a purchase. Some users may be on Twitter for updates from your industry, while others want to interact directly. Some may watch product demonstrations on YouTube with the intention of buying a similar product. Others are more interested in non-promotional videos you share and are not yet ready to enter the evaluation stage.

This is where it pays to research your customers and which channels they use. The more insight you have on your target audience, the more easily it will be to plan campaigns designed to nurture prospective leads via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn.

Use audio and voice technology

There is no doubt that voice search is on the rise. Thanks to voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa, voice and audio technology has become widespread all over the globe. A large number of web searches are done using voice search. That means having a website that is able to embrace the rise of voice search.

In addition to preparing your website for audio technology, you will also need to take a deeper look at your SEO strategies to stay ahead of the voice search shift. Using keywords that are naturally spoken rather than written, such as ‘sports equipment near me’ or ‘find seafood restaurant’ will help customers find your website more easily. Including questions such as ‘where can I find’, ‘how do I get to’, ‘how much is’, and ‘when is’ can also help you take advantage of voice technology.

Use content marketing and storytelling

Content marketing plays a vital role in lead nurturing at every stage. Rather than taking a one size fits all approach with an outdated lead funnel and obviously sales-focused lead pages and magnets, use content to draw customers in at every stage of their journey. Storytelling can help work hand in hand with location-based services as well as voice technology. Speaking directly to the customer and presenting their challenges along with solutions will help you forge a deeper connection.

Ideally, to take leads through the cycle, you need to be able to close the gap between your customers and your company. To do this, you need to meet them where they are by being approachable and natural. Use testimonials, focus on common industry problems, tell stories, and add an authentic voice to your content.

Consider artificial intelligence

Another tool that can be incredibly effective for lead generation is artificial intelligence or AI. Chatbots and other AI tools continue to rise as more businesses embrace these tools. Aside from providing customers with a streamlined experience from the moment they arrive on your website, these tools can also help to simplify the nurturing process.

Used properly, they can also help with lead scoring, too. By eliminating cold leads and leads that do not show signs of genuine interest, you will be able to focus on leads that have made contact through your chat tools, asked questions, searched for products or conducted other interactions. You can use this information alongside clicks to key pages such as contact, services, downloads, case studies or testimonials to provide a bigger picture of prospective leads.

Improve Your Lead Generation Strategy

If you are ready to take your lead nurturing efforts to the next level, start by taking a good, hard look at your current lead funnel. Updating your funnel will help you fine-tune your lead generation efforts to see better results, and ultimately, a better chance of a conversion.

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