For businesses operating mostly within the digital realm, the concept of a marketing funnel has been justifiably obsessed over for quite some time. The proper way to take the passive interest of an individual and amplify that over time through a series of actions, so that they inevitably become a paying customer has (understandably) consumed the minds of marketers and has thus fueled an industry of digital gurus and snake oil solutions.
From our video ad ideas post.
The problem is that although broad stroke guidelines on how to construct the optimal marketing funnel are helpful, every business’s subtle nuances play a factor in the efficiency of what is applied from theory. At the end of the day, it’s rare to have the perfect system to convert customers and anything that can help improve this will have a massive impact on your bottom line. And as it goes, the bottom of your funnel is the key to your bottom line. So in this post, I will outline my top strategies for increasing the conversion rate in the bottom of your marketing funnel. We’ll cover:
The bump in the road that most internet companies face when converting individuals within their pipeline into paying customers often stems from the lower-middle part of their marketing funnel. This is where you have gotten folks to take some higher value actions, like starting a free trial or participating in a demo or webinar for your product.
Getting these individuals to convert to a sale or subscription should be easy but, frustratingly enough, for most businesses it is not. This in turn has an inflationary effect on the top of your marketing funnel and in essence can render all of your hard work driving leads fruitless. Putting subtle nuances of trial flows and business operations aside, there are some ways in which you can help push users over the goal line.
Given the impact that bottom-of-funnel success has on not just your bottom line metrics but also your top-of-funnel efforts, finding ways to increase conversions in this stage of the customer’s journey is crucial.
A great deal of time and resources is often dedicated to “filling the top of the funnel.” Both newer businesses and those who have been around for quite some time know the value of having a flow of new leads entering the system, as well as how cutting off this flow off would be detrimental. They also know what they have to do in order to fill the top of the funnel but oftentimes, the process of getting those leads to trickle down to sales or paid subscriptions is inefficient or non-existent.
Although building and refining a lead nurture strategy over time is recommended, there are ways in which you can assist and expedite this process through a variation of mediums. Using paid media to achieve this may seem counterintuitive at first. After all, many times you pay to acquire the lead in the first place, why would you want to pay more for the possibility to make them a customer? Well to a certain degree this assertion is correct, however, if you have a sizable amount of leads that are as close as can be to converting to a customer (particularly if you include all marketing channels) the investment into retargeting to this refined audience may prove to be fairly profitable.
Whether it’s through paid search, paid social, or display advertising, paid media affords many opportunities to imrove the bottom half of your funnel.
From a paid media perspective, the best way to influence the bottom of your funnel would be to leverage remarketing audiences using either lists or URLs in paid social and paid search. Assuming you have the proper pixels in place (or analytics connected to your Google account) You would first want to determine whether you would want to use URL-based retargeting, a list, or perhaps both.
If you have promotions that redirect users to a “thank-you” page after submitting a form, using this page’s URL is typically the easiest way to build these audiences. You also have the ability to include several URLs, so if there are groups of leads who have submitted forms across your site but you consider them to be in the same lead category, then you can include them in the one audience, or, given their size, break them out. In Facebook, you have the ability to build audiences based on actions they have taken within the platform itself. What that means is, if you have previously run a Facebook Lead Ads campaign and collected a sizable number of form submissions from those, you can create a retargeting audience of those users fairly easily:
Alternatively, if you only have the email or other contact information from these individuals, you have the ability to simply upload and map them within the paid platforms via a CSV. It’s easiest do this with Facebook and LinkedIn, as Google has certain requirements your account will have to meet. With that being said, once these audiences are generated in-platform, you will have the freedom to directly market to them. Paid social is fairly straightforward with this. When creating a new ad set you simply select the audience you have created (once it has populated) from the custom audiences section.
Paid search is a little different because if the audience is large enough, you can market directly to those individuals via display ads. Another strategy however, would be to include these audiences within search campaigns in the “Observation” setting. From there, you’ll be able to add bid adjustments to the specific audiences. So for example, if you wanted to include the audience of low-funnel individuals within observation you could increase the bid to those users in order to guarantee your offer shows at the top. Another strategy would be to set the audience to “Targeting” over “Observation” to only target those users when they are searching for those terms. For the second strategy, I suggest breaking out those ad groups into their own “low funnel” campaign.
There are a variety of promotional strategies that can be used to engage and convert the bottom of your funnel. If your product is fairly “sticky” or beneficial enough to the end user, these strategies shouldn’t negatively affect churn numbers long-term.
If the users you are targeting are aware of your core product and it’s value, you could leverage the ability to offer promo codes or discounts to these individuals. The reduction in cost to the user may hurt your margins in the short term, but if they turn into happy customers, you can play the long game from a revenue perspective. The duration and amount for the promo code or discount is entirely up to you and the system you have in place for your product. Structurally, it is impossible for some businesses to apply these discounts as it would require additional engineering work internally to accomplish. If that is the case, then there are some other ways to approach this audience.
Building off of the promo code concept, you could use ads on paid media to target these users with upsell opportunities. Now the knee-jerk assumption is that a user already has to be paying in order to upsell them in the first place. That isn’t entirely true if they are using a free version of your product either on trial or continuously. Special offers for added features or tiers may prove to be effective, particularly if they are unaware that such benefits or capabilities exist beyond their current tier.
This strategy is independent from paid media but can substantially improve mid-funnel progress as you scale operations. Not every business is in a position to hire additional sales associates but having extra help in vetting leads from an operations perspective almost always improves the bottom line. Complex lead nurturing, scoring, and deployment can be difficult and tedious to construct. Having an extra pair of hands to contact and cleanse incoming leads is a great way to bypass this headache, to a degree.
There are a variety of tools on the market to help web apps and technologically-driven businesses engage and convert existing users and customers. If you are a company that enables free trial users on your platform or perhaps a freemium version of your product, there is an opportunity to directly communicate to these individuals without reverting to email marketing or paid advertising. Many proponents of the “product-led” growth strategy would recommend using your current customer or user base as the foundation for scale. A great new tool on market that can help achieve this Ucentric.
By integrating Ucentric’s widget into your product, you can create and publish notifications that are delivered directly to users. This tool can be used to broadcast general announcements, notifications, updates, or marketing promotions. The editor allows you to include hyperlinks, promo codes, images, videos, and essentially anything else you would need to send your users the most relevant information possible.
Ucentric is fantastic from a product engagement perspective but truly thrives as a marketing tool. The key to using this powerful instrument lies in it’s advanced segmentation feature. You are able to create segments of users similar to how you would within a paid marketing platform with remarketing audiences. Using AND/OR logic, you can build these target segments within Ucentric and create tiered promotions that are reflective of your business organization.
For example, if you have a large number of users who are on free trials, not only can you keep them engaged with timely notifications, you can also create time-restrictive promotions, discounts, or any other conversion incentive you wish. This perspective allows product-led companies to market within their own platforms, increasing MRR, ARR, and overall customer satisfaction.
Ucentric differs from tools like Drift because it provides more personalization and versatility on a per-user basis than a conversational widget. The platform also allows product managers, marketers, and engineers the ability to send what they call “nudges”. Nudges are essentially push notifications that appear within a user’s interface (think Google chrome extension push notifications). The ability to get in front of any group of users within your product where they’re already engaging and serving them a timely promotion that is specific to them beats out any ad platform where you would be paying a premium for those clicks.
As far as low-funnel marketing is concerned, in-product engagement reigns supreme. With that being said, the use case doesn’t stop at free trial prospects. The application can be used to supplement existing customer engagement and perhaps encourage upsell opportunities on features current customers would otherwise be unaware of. The process to create effective in-product notifications and offers follows the same guidelines as running a paid advertising campaign. The segmentation (targeting), messaging, and creative elements are all at play. However, with a tool like this, you are no longer at the mercy of what Google or Facebook would allow you to publish.
Whether it’s leveraging paid media or in-product tools, there are many ways to begin creatively thinking about how to supplement your marketing funnel to improve performance on the lower end. These tools and strategies may make the difference between a lead going cold and someone who not only becomes a customer but stays a customer. If you’re currently investing in the top of your marketing funnel, take into consideration those who have made their way through but just need a little nudge over the goal line.
Brett McHale is the founder of Empiric Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to scaling startups through paid search and social.
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