Next, you need to educate your prospects. In other words, you need to teach people why they need your product/service and how it works. In this stage, you can start promoting sales, but getting too aggressive can be a bit of a turn off. Instead, think about how to become a friend to a potential customers. For example, if you’re a car salesman speaking to someone looking at vehicles on your lot, you might have a common connection in the fact that you both have kids, so you can direct the prospect to vehicles that have a high safety rating or are great for growing families, as you’re talking about your own experiences dealing with a snarky teen or potty-training a toddler.
Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Creating insightful, engaging and unique content should be at the heart of any online marketing strategy. Too often, people simply don't obey this rule. The problem? This takes an extraordinary amount of work. However, anyone that tells you that content isn't important, is not being fully transparent with you. You cannot excel in marketing anything on the internet without having quality content.
This is the standard affiliate marketing structure. In this program, the merchant pays the affiliate a percentage of the sale price of the product after the consumer purchases the product as a result of the affiliate’s marketing strategies. In other words, the affiliate must actually get the investor to invest in the product before they are compensated.
We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed me with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to sell someone a coaching program that costs $1000. A lead comes to your blog, likes a post, and signs up for your mailing list. If your first email is a sales pitch for your coaching program, how many people will buy it? A small percentage, to be sure, especially if your blog posts are directly related to coaching program. However, by adding a few more steps, you can more easily encourage a sale. Your sales funnel might instead look like this:

“Aligning marketing and sales during the sales funnel does more than just align the teams — it creates better business outcomes,” said Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce. His stance is validated by a SiriusDecisions study that found brands with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. The three easiest ways to ensure marketing and sales alignment will succeed is a common language, co-created shared programs, and a policy to abide by a service level agreement.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to sell someone a coaching program that costs $1000. A lead comes to your blog, likes a post, and signs up for your mailing list. If your first email is a sales pitch for your coaching program, how many people will buy it? A small percentage, to be sure, especially if your blog posts are directly related to coaching program. However, by adding a few more steps, you can more easily encourage a sale. Your sales funnel might instead look like this: 

Conversion & Progression Through The Funnel: Once you have visitors on your website, the next step is to convert them. At the very least, you should start collecting their email addresses. Once you start building an organic email list, you can start reaching out to your customers and prospects so that you can re-engage them through your content: ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets.

The Discovery stage is where your prospect’s interest is piqued. They are curious about your company and products and want to learn more. In this stage, you are sharing valuable educational content related to your prospect’s problem or need. This stage occurs while you are qualifying your prospect, conducting initial meetings, and defining their needs.
Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.[citation needed]
Congrats! Someone has committed to buying your product! Some people combine this with the next step, “purchase,” but depending on your industry, this could be a different step entirely. Sometime people make a verbal commitment to buy, but then walk away and never come back to make a purchase. Once someone leaves, there’s a very good change that they’ll never be back. So, if someone says they intend to buy, it is your job to get that money right away. Don’t let them go talk to a spouse. Don’t let them come back next week. Do what you can to make the sale now.

How complicated and how deep your campaigns run is determined by which vendor you choose. For example, HubSpot and Pardot both offer unlimited email and unlimited sequencing options. This means you can create a workflow with multiple branches for each stage of the sequence, and you can create an unlimited number of sequences (not that you would). Conversely, Zoho Campaigns is mostly designed for users who want to follow customary workflows that guide users on basic sequences. As a result, Zoho Campaigns doesn't offer unlimited sequencing or branching. This tool is perfectly suitable for marketers who just want to make an offer after a welcome email or for marketers who want to wish people a happy birthday once a year.
Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. Not just email. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social media, viewing a pricing page, or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges.
I don’t want to make it all about money here, but one thing is true: it’s much easier to sell to someone that has purchased from you before. Keeping your customers engaged with content marketing is an essential piece of growing your company. Nurture those relationships by sending segmented, customer-only content, that will educate and encourage them to continue to come back to your company for thought leadership and expertise.
For example, at the beginning of your funnel, prospect interaction is low and the number of prospects is high. This is the Awareness stage, where you do advertising or another form of low-cost, low-touch, broad outreach. The next stages have fewer people in them and require activities that take more time and attention. This is where you’d send emails, make phone calls, or invite qualified interested prospects to a webinar to learn more about your offerings.
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