First, a common language needs to be set up to ensure marketing knows when a lead should be moved from marketing’s control, and placed in the sales funnel. There are two terms, "marketing-qualified lead" (MQL) and "sales-qualified lead" (SQL) or “sales-accepted-lead,” which all sales funnels must embrace to keep both teams aligned. When marketing has a lead ready to talk to sales, the lead should be marked as an MQL, meaning marketing has gotten it to the point where they believe sales should take over. If sales agree the lead is sales-ready, they accept the lead and move it from MQL to SQL (or SAL), and the handoff is complete. If not, the lead goes back to marketing.
Of course, regardless of how they enter into your funnel, your goal as a marketer is to move them through the multiple stages that will take them from prospect to buyer. And once they're aware of you, you need to build their interest. To do this, you need to establish a relationship with the customer. You might have enticed them with a great offer (lead magnet) to grab their email address, but actually moving them through the funnel is a far greater challenge. 

Your Brand Persona and Target Audience. When you eventually start creating content, you have to know who you’re talking to and tailor your brand voice to appeal to them uniquely. If you aren’t targeting the right audience (those people who will lean in to hear what you’re saying), you won’t find success. And, if you can’t find a way to stand out, you’ll blend into the hordes of other brands competing for attention in your industry.
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 consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates".[34] Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Hello Mark, I absolutely loved this article. It’s very thorough. I wanted to ask in Step 3 that is “Defining the Criteria for Each Stage” in each sub-step if the customer is not responding to sales call we are sending them back to the previous sub-step. In between each sub-step, can we put one more stage where we are approaching the customer one more time through Email or SMS where in we give them a last chance to move forward and if they don’t reply to it, then we put them back in the previous sub-step?
Developing and monetizing microsites can also garner a serious amount of sales. These sites are advertised within a partner site or on the sponsored listings of a search engine. They are distinct and separate from the organization’s main site. By offering more focused, relevant content to a specific audience, microsites lead to increased conversions due to their simple and straightforward call to action.

Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.


The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
Instead of relying on outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and aggressively pushing audiences into become leads, inbound marketing is the practice of attracting users through quality content that pulls people toward your company and product naturally. By closely aligning your content and marketing materials with your customers’ interest, your brand is in a position to attract, delight, and engage customers over time.

You’ll want to use email, blogging, and social media tactics to increase brand awareness, cultivate a strong online community, and retain customer loyalty. Consider sending personalized emails to past customers to impress or inspire them -- for instance, you might send discounts based off what they’ve previously purchased, wish them a happy birthday, or remind them of upcoming events.
After you’ve mapped out your prospect’s experience, make sure they align with your team’s pipeline stages. You can do this on paper or in CRM software like Salesforce Essentials. Sales pipeline stages are stages in your sales process, while your sales funnel stages are the stages in your customer journey. Refer to our article on how to create an effective sales plan for more information about pipeline stages and how they relate to your sales strategy.
Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
Disney initially stated they wouldn’t exceed one million in donations, but ended up donating two million after the campaign blew up. #ShareYourEars campaign garnered 420 million social media impressions, and increased Make-A-Wish’s social media reach by 330%. The campaign is a powerful example of using an internet marketing strategy for a good cause. #ShareYourEars raised brand awareness, cultivated a connected online community, and positively affected Disney’s brand image.
Make sure you consider intent when writing posts. In other words, write posts for people who intend to buy whatever you’re selling. If you’re a hair salon, you might get a ton of social shares if you write about DIY hair color on your blog, but if they’re interested in DIY color, they probably aren’t interested in coming into your salon and paying for service.
Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005.[19] MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.[20]
There are many ways to determine which efforts are producing results and which ones aren't. For example, you can study your website's analytics through your web host or by using Google Analytics. Most social media sites provide analytics as well, or you can use tools such as Hootsuite to get social media analytics. Your email service should also provide you with information on the open rates and engagement rates for your emails.
Bad Marketing Automation. Bad marketing automation loses sight of your customers and prospects. Often, it involves sending non-targeted spammy messages. Bad marketing automation fails to utilize all the customer data it has collected to create meaningful relationships and therefore, loses out on many potential conversions. All the most advanced marketing technology can’t help a cold, disruptive, marketing strategy.

By utilizing SEM, it provides you with a great avenue for getting the word out quickly and effectively. If you have the budget, then marketing on search engines for competitive keywords might be the right fit for you. But be prepared to pony up. Keywords can range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50 and more. The quality score for any term is reflective of what you can expect to pay for bidding on that keyword. The lower the competition, the lower the quality score and the lower the price.


Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.
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