Master the Acquisition Funnel in 3 Thoroughly Explained Steps

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Master the Acquisition Funnel in 3 Thoroughly Explained Steps

Xenia Volynchuk
Master the Acquisition Funnel in 3 Thoroughly Explained Steps

Most likely you have heard of the acquisition funnel before, but can you boast that all your leads make it to the end of your funnel and convert?

Well, apparently, it is easy to lose track of people’s needs (which are, by the way, different at every stage of the funnel) or push too hard, which results in lost opportunities.

No one wants that, right?

We have organized a Catch–Convince–Convert meetup, with gurus Simon Penson, Kate Toon and Arnout Hellemans to lead you through these three stages, help you make sure you are doing it right and not losing your potential clients on their way down the funnel.

Watch the video and read on for valuable takeaways, tools and actionable tips for businesses of all sizes.

3 Steps to master acquisition funnel

1. Catch

This is actually where people get into your funnel.

Catching is about making the first contact with your potential clients and turning those complete strangers into acquaintances.

Your touch at this stage should be very light and your content and marketing channels should reflect that.

Usually, at this stage people deal with your blog and website pages via search engines, paid advertising, and third-party referrals.

Simon Penson, MD and founder of Zazzle Media

  • Get over links

Links are so 2010.

Don’t get it wrong, they are still really important and very critical to online organic success, but it’s time to shift your focus to the actual content.

It is content, not the links, that helps you catch the audience of value for your business.

  • Avoid using only technical SEO

Although technical SEO does its job well and gives you some results, it is only a part of your toolkit.

What’s more, although technical SEO brings visitors to your website, it doesn’t take them on a journey down your funnel, which is sad, as this is what your goal ultimately is.

  • Integrate, Integrate, Integrate

Today the only way to move forward is to use a variety of tools and techniques simultaneously.

Content and technical tools should not be used in isolation, so integrate to succeed!

  • Adopt a ‘Brand as Publisher’ strategy

Brand as publisher’ is a content-centered strategy based on all of the above principles.

Here are some quick steps that will help you implement this strategy:

  1. Redefine your approach. Imagine you are the publisher of the largest magazine in your industry — what content would you pick for your publication? Pretending to be a publisher also results in a completely different attitude: content is now your business instead of just a thing that you have to produce.

  2. Forget about occasional publishing and flashy content ideas. This strategy is about consistently delivering the content. Only this will allow you to attract targeted audiences and build long-term value.

  3. Build your strategy around three new types of content (listed from more to less frequently used):

  • Hygiene — valuable content that helps people solve their problems. It drives traffic from non-brand search and ‘pulls’ the audience into content.

  • Hub — regularly published content that demonstrates the benefits of your brand. This type of content is meant to raise awareness and increase engagement. Usually hub content is ‘pushed’ to relevant target audience.

  • Hero — as follows from the name, this content is used for large scale ‘go big’ moments and is designed to generate mass awareness and communicate high authority. Similar to hub content, this content is also ‘pushed’ to its target audience.

Based on the ‘Brand as Publisher’ strategy, your steps to success should look like this:

Brand as Publisher: 5 Steps to Success

2. Convince

This is the next stage of the funnel, where people decide to move forward with your business and to take the next step.

Your goal at this stage is to convince your audience not to buy your product, but that you can help.

Obviously, when people are looking at a product or service they are in fact looking for a solution to their problem.

Follow the advice below to show your expertise and persuade your new acquaintances that you can resolve their issue.

Kate Toon, award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant

Basically, each of your clients goes through the following stages of the buying cycle: Awareness (of a problem they have), Research (on possible solutions to their problems), Comparison (of various solutions available), Purchase (yay!) and Retention (ideally).

Note that different content is needed at every stage of the buying cycle.

If you offer your leads the wrong content, you will fail to convince them!

Start by learning people’s BDFs (beliefs, desires and fears).

This is quite similar to the creation of buyer personas as mentioned earlier in this post, but takes it to the next level.

BDFs are really personal things, so addressing them with your content will resonate in people’s hearts.

Continue on with one or more of the following techniques:

  1. Tell rapport-building stories. Although storytelling has become a bit of a cliché in marketing, it is still really valid. Your stories should be TRUTH, which stands for Topical, Relevant, Unusual, Troubleshooting, Human.

  2. Provide answers. Your audience will love you!

  3. Share your knowledge. It is you who is the expert at the end of the day. Many people are afraid that once they reveal too much, no one will be interested in paying for their service. But the truth is that the more you give away, the more you get back.  

  4. Create ‘comfort’ content. This type of content is meant to reassure people, provide support and build trust.

  5. Build a community. Create a company of like-minded people who will share your values and your content. This tactic has been proven to generate very high engagement.

  6. Find content buddies. People who are interested in the same things as you, who wish you to succeed and respect you. Then you can exchange content for mutual benefit.

  7. Embrace user-generated content. Customer/product reviews, testimonials, blog comments, videos, competitions, surveys etc.

  8. Be real. This can be harder for larger brands and easier for smaller brands.

  9. Don’t give up. Content is not an instrument that provides immediate results, so be patient and carry on!

Some handy copywriting tactics to help you create great content

  • Direct language

  • Metaphors

  • Statistics and facts

  • Specificity

  • Emotion

  • Wit and humor

  • Humans first, keyword optimization second

3. Convert

This is the final stage of the funnel, where people take the action you have wanted them to take from the beginning.

Your goal for this very important stage is to make sure the conversion process is as smooth and painless as possible.

That means, no two-page-long forms, annoying and unnecessary questions, slow loading websites or multiple conflicting CTAs.

Continue reading to learn what should be done to perfect the conversion process.

Arnout Hellemans, Senior Online Strategist, specializing in CRO

  • Focus on the right metric (and this is not your conversion rate)

A lot of people focus on clicks or their click-through rate, traffic, or conversions or their conversion rate.

But in the end there is only one important metric and that's how do you make money.

So, it's all about generating margin.

Concentrate on that.

Really start thinking about how you make money on your website.

We don’t encourage you to fully abandon clicks, your click-through rate, traffic, conversions and your conversion rate though, as these are still important metrics to keep an eye on.

  • The need for speed

Converting  a user is not only about telling them a story but also about having a good, fast website.

Use tools like Gtmetrix, Google PageSpeed Insights or WebPagetest to make sure your website is optimized.

Do competitor research to understand how your competitors’ websites perform and where you are compared to them.

It is important to fix your website first before you start doing any A/B tests. With Google’s adopting mobile-first indexing, it becomes even more important to think about mobile usability and mobile page loading speed.

  • One Call to Action (CTA)

Every page should have a goal.

Imagine that you put a lot of work into creating a beautiful, compelling piece of content that attracts people to your website, but you didn’t include a proper call to action.

What you will see is a really high bounce rate in Google Analytics, which means most visitors don’t explore your site further than this article and don’t go further down the funnel or even drop off.

So on every page there should be only one clear call to action.

Tips:

  • Make the call to action stand out. This tip may seem too obvious, but there are still pages that exists which one needs to search far and wide before a CTA can be found.

  • Create content and visuals that support the CTA. Tell people what to do. Make it easy for them. Your content and visuals should support that. They should eliminate any fear a visitor may have of doing what you want them to do. So, for instance, get them to do small things. If they interacted with one page, they are more likely to interact with other pages. So get them to click something!

Explaining to people what they can expect from clicking a button or subscribing to your newsletter is not only a nice touch, it gives them a reason to do what you want them to.

A few good examples here are hints for creating a valid password (e.g. six character minimum, must include at least one number and both capital and lower-case letters) or a Facebook signup page explaining what you will get upon joining their service.

  • Optimize your forms

Here are some principles to follow:

  • ‘Keep it simple’ has been a marketing mantra for the last couple of years, and it is applicable to forms as well. Why ask for an enormous amount of information when there is no need for it? So, when creating a form, think twice about the details that you really need at this stage.

  • If you deal with e-commerce, make sure to communicate your payment methods. Nothing is more irritating than trying to checkout and not being able to pay.

  • Communicate delivery times and options clearly. Not only you are showing your clients you care, but you are also saving yourself from unnecessary questions.

  • Use inline validation. It is much better to show error messages, if any, while users are working on a form, line by line, rather than showing one error message after the whole form is filled in. The latter makes people really annoyed and is a sign of poor UX etiquette. Another good reason for implementing inline validation is that it gives you an opportunity to analyze user errors — you can send them to Google Analytics events tracking, see which fields cause the most problems and polish your forms to perfection!

  • Give your form context. Make sure your users are aware of what is going to happen next. Again, this will eliminate any fear that may be holding your users back from taking the action you need them to take.

Arnout’s Conversion Toolset: Google Analytics, Hotjar, SEMrush.

What do you think about our 3 steps to master acquisition funnel? Share your comments bellow.

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Online Marketing Specialist at SEMrush.
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