The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
Closing: You’ve become a lead magnet, what comes next? Now, you need to seal the deal by triggering marketing messages that inspire users to take action. At this point of your marketing strategy, you need to transform leads into customers (and existing customers into repeat buyers). You should use techniques like lead scoring, lead nurturing, mapping the buying process, and classic sales tactics.
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.
Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.

Google's core algorithms and its propensity to shroud its data in layers of obscurity is not something new. However, it is critical to any understanding of marketing on the internet simply because this visibility is at the heart of everything else that you do. Forget about social media and other forms of marketing for the time being. Search engine optimization (SEO) offers up the proverbial key to near-limitless amounts of traffic on the web.


Hello Sunil.. thank you for your feedback, it’s great to hear that you are finding this article useful. Re your question: yes, it makes sense to follow-up as often as you need to to reach the decision-maker. At the early stage of cold calling / emailing / SMS you may have to follow-up 6-12 times with a combination of cold calls and cold emails before you get to kick-started with your prospective customer. Obviously if they unsubscribe or say no then you have to respect this. At later stages, non-response would indicate that your prospective customer no longer sees (or has doubts) about the potential value of the solution you are selling. After following-up 2 times at a later stage, I would make it easy for your prospect to voice their concerns by communicating something like: “I’m struggling to reach you, perhaps we could hop on a call for 5 minutes as I’d like to understand your current thoughts rather than assume you are no longer interested in progressing.”

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.

One of the core concepts in the digital marketing industry is the sales funnel. While odd sounding at first, this single core concept can take a business from virtually non-existent and unknown to multi-million-dollar marketing machine with mass saturation, seemingly overnight. In fact, there are skilled practitioners who have built a career around implementing this single concept in business.  
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.
What you’ll learn is that abuse reports are the norm rather than the exception—it’s normal to have 1 for every few thousand emails that you send. Some consumers are sensitive to email marketing (due to years and years of abuse), and others aren’t always familiar with the opt-out process. It’s a genuine mistake — people sometimes confuse “abuse reports” with opt-out forms.
Many voucher code web sites use a click-to-reveal format, which requires the web site user to click to reveal the voucher code. The action of clicking places the cookie on the website visitor's computer. In the United Kingdom, the IAB Affiliate Council under chair Matt Bailey announced regulations[46] that stated that "Affiliates must not use a mechanism whereby users are encouraged to click to interact with content where it is unclear or confusing what the outcome will be."
Uses tracking codes in social media, email, and webpages to track the behavior of anyone interested in a product or service to gain a measure of intent. It can record which social media group or thread they followed, which link was clicked on in an email or which search term was used to access a website. Multiple link analysis can then track buyer behavior - following links and multiple threads related to product A but not B will show an interest only in A. This allows more accurately targeted response and the development of a nurturing program specifically targeted towards their interest and vertical market. This allows businesses to more efficiently and effectively reach target consumers who show, through their internet history behavior, that they will be interested in the company's products.[4] Due to its interactive nature this has been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
A good amount of marketing on the internet can be done for free, but sometimes it's worth spending some money on effective and professional looking options. For example, although you can get free web hosting, it's not recommended. Ideally, you should pay for web hosting to make sure that your website doesn't experience downtime, as well as a professional domain name. Fortunately, you can buy both for less than $100 a year.
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.
How much of your marketing strategy should be done online and which internet marketing elements you use depends on the nature of your business, your budget, your time, and your goals. Many small business owners do it all themselves in the beginning, but as their businesses grow, they begin to pay for services or outsource work to a virtual assistant that can help them with online marketing.
In this scenario, you’re asking people to take little steps, instead of going right from “mailing list sign up” to “spend $1000”. Downloading a free ebook isn’t a big step. Once you’ve done that, sure, why not share? Hey, if the info was valuable in the free book, the info in a $19 book is probably great! Oh, there’s a $197 program? Yes, I would love to join, because I already got more than that much value from your lower-cost items. Spend $1000? Sure!
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
The seller, whether a solo entrepreneur or large enterprise, is a vendor, merchant, product creator, or retailer with a product to market. The product can be a physical object, like household goods, or a service, like makeup tutorials. Also known as the brand, the seller does not need to be actively involved in the marketing, but they may also be the advertiser and profit from the revenue sharing associated with affiliate marketing.
There are ten essential types of marketing that can be done online. Some of these can be broken down into organic marketing and others can be categorized as paid marketing. Organic, of course, is the allure of marketing professionals from around the planet. It's free and its unencumbered traffic that simply keeps coming. Paid marketing, on the other hand, is still a very attractive proposition as long as the marketing pays for itself by having the right type of offer that converts.
Spread out promote of your own links over the course of the day, rather than lumping it all together. Remember, your customers might be in different time zones or active at different times based on their work and family obligations. Share the same link at different times and track your engagement to see if links shared get the most clicks in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Likewise, test whether you get better engagement on weekdays or weekends. There are lots of experts happy to share their opinions on what works better, but until you actually test, you can’t know. Every audience is different.
However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (PPC – Pay Per Click), e-mail marketing, content marketing, and (in some sense) display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.[citation needed]
Case management tools are especially helpful at the end of the sales funnel when the prospect becomes a customer and you want to handle and track support issues. Effectively managing support issues leads to increased customer loyalty and improves your chances of getting repeat business and referrals. Having case management in your CRM enables you to build customer loyalty because support issues will be top of mind until they are resolved.
Disclaimer: Reviews on FitSmallBusiness.com are the product of independent research by our writers, researchers, and editorial team. User reviews and comments are contributions from independent users not affiliated with FitSmallBusiness.com's editorial team. Banks, issuers, credit card companies, and other product & service providers are not responsible for any content posted on FitSmallBusiness.com. As such, they do not endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews. Like Ask a Question
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?
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.

Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.[41]


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]
A good amount of marketing on the internet can be done for free, but sometimes it's worth spending some money on effective and professional looking options. For example, although you can get free web hosting, it's not recommended. Ideally, you should pay for web hosting to make sure that your website doesn't experience downtime, as well as a professional domain name. Fortunately, you can buy both for less than $100 a year.
Now, most affiliate programs have strict terms and conditions on how to generate leads. There are also certain banned methods, such as installing adware or spyware that redirect all search queries for a product to an affiliate's page. Some affiliate marketing programs go as far as to lay out how a product or service is to be discussed in the content before an affiliate link can be validated.
Marketing automation software is typically priced one of two ways: by the number of contacts in your database or by the number of emails you send each month. For example, the Growth Pardot plan costs $1,250 per month for email marketing, prospect tracking, lead nurturing and scoring, reporting, forms and landing pages, and standard Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM). This plan can be upgraded to two higher tiers, each of which offers additional features, plug-ins, and add-ons. However, all three Pardot plans give you capacity for 10,000 contacts.
The first step of any sales funnel is to make a potential customer aware that you exist. You can go about doing this in several ways, such as social media marketing, email marketing, cold calling, attending events, advertising, and word of mouth. How you make people aware of your company really depends on the product or service you’re selling. For example, if you design apps, mobile marketing will probably be extremely effective, but if you sell lawn mowers, this may not be the best option; traditional radio advertising may work better.

Affiliate marketing currently lacks industry standards for training and certification. There are some training courses and seminars that result in certifications; however, the acceptance of such certifications is mostly due to the reputation of the individual or company issuing the certification. Affiliate marketing is not commonly taught in universities, and only a few college instructors work with Internet marketers to introduce the subject to students majoring in marketing.[41]
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.
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]
×