The Inbound Marketing Sales Funnel: Peaking Too Soon?
Any athlete or fan of sports understands the idea of ‘peaking’. This occurs when a team or individual athlete reaches the height of its potential in particular season. There are teams that peak right at the end of the season (we typically call them champions), those that peak too early (sorry A's fans, too soon?), and those that never do. Peaking at the right time can be the difference between hoisting a trophy at the end of the season or watching the game from your couch.
THE 2004 BOSTON RED SOX - “REVERSE THE CURSE”
(NY Yankees and St. Louis Cardinal fans can skip this section!)
In 2004, the Red Sox were 0 - 3 in the AL Championship Series and one more loss would send them home. Most Yankees fans (and, truthfully, Red Sox fans as well) assumed that it would be yet another ‘close but no cigar’ situation for the Sox. Then, something magical happened. The Red Sox won game 4 taking the series to 1 - 3, and then they won the next 3 games in a row to win the AL Championship title. They were heading to the World Series!
From there, they won four straight games in the World Series to beat the St. Louis Cardinals and win their first World Series in 86 years, finally breaking the “Curse of the Bambino”.
What happened? The Red Sox peaked at the exact right moment in their season. They went on a 8 - 0 streak to achieve their goal of winning the last game of the season.
There is a certain feeling as a player or fan when you know it’s happening. You can feel the sun, moon and stars all aligning, and everything comes together perfectly. The result? Success!
THE SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES TO INBOUND MARKETING
Just as coaches try to set their team up to peak at the right time, you as an inbound marketer should attempt to create a process where your ‘team’ peaks at the perfect time as well.
In order to peak at the right time, you need to understand the three phases of the funnel - the top, middle and bottom. We here at Adaptive use the HubSpot platform to plan, measure and improve the inbound process for our ourselves and our clients. We often see initial gaps, or worse, those ‘teams’ that peak too early.
The funnel is termed ‘the funnel’ for just this reason. The idea of the sales funnel is central to the concept of inbound marketing. It represents how your organization can use content to target a smaller pool of much more valuable, highly qualified leads. To use the sports analogy, the funnel helps you manage the ‘season’ (process of engagement from initial contact) in order to get your ‘team’ (potential clients) into the perfect position to help them reach ‘the championship’ (become your client).
A first-time visitor to your website is most likely doing preliminary research. A common mistake in setting up an inbound process is to answer questions that aren’t being asked yet (thereby 'peaking' too early). At the beginning of the funnel, most are asking “what do I need?”. The mistake that we typically see happens when marketers focus early in the sales process on questions that should really be dealt with towards the end of the funnel such as "why should I buy now?". In order to effectively move a lead through your sales process to ultimately become a customer, you have to understand the basics of the funnel below and match your content appropriately.
To win in inbound, you need to understand the questions your visitors are asking, where they are in the buying process, and how best to directly answer their questions while providing value. If you peak at the right time, you could find yourself an inbound marketing champ!