Sales funnels are simply procedures or processes employed by online marketers and business owners to convert prospects (attention) to customers.
When we mention sales funnel, there is the need to always think of it as an online marketing term or an affiliate marketing term, but in reality, it is a common procedure used by practical business owners and enterprises to compete for attention, and utilizing such attention as an advantage for increasing sales.
However, in relation to affiliate marketing, creating a solid sales funnel depends on your understanding of how Inbound marketing works and how to integrate it when promoting affiliated products or services.
Understanding inbound marketing should gear towards how it works in relation to content marketing, because content marketing for affiliates remains the most important piece of the puzzle while trying to generate revenue from promotional campaigns.
Understanding the Inbound Marketing Strategy in Relation to Content Marketing
Inbound marketing in a broad spectrum is increasing brand awareness by providing authentic content through, blogs, vlogs, or social media platforms, in order for people or prospects to organically recognize your brand and services. Inbound marketing reduces the cost of advertising, with the use of content marketing.
Carving out an effective sales-funnel that runs on autopilot through this marketing concept remains the future for entrepreneurs in affiliate marketing.
Inbound marketing in relation to content marketing structures a sales funnel with the; TOFU (Top of the Funnel), MOFU (Middle of the Funnel), and BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel), this is the most common funnel structure for deriving results and income.
*The TOFU stage is the attraction of prospects through content creation, e.g., YouTube Videos, blog posts, webinars, etc.
*The MOFU stage engages the prospects, telling them more about a product, brand, or service, through a landing page or capture page.
*The BOFU stage is where prospects are expected to convert to customers or leads. Here you are expected to have Email subscribers, blog audiences, social media follows, etc..
Most affiliate marketers and online advocates are used to the idea that a sales funnel following this procedure is better suited for an inbound strategy, but it is not entirely the case, especially for the beginning stages of affiliate marketing. Sometimes such procedure can be employed as an outbound marketing strategy, before a gradual transition, occurs.
For the sake of those not familiar with outbound marketing, it is simply structuring a sales funnel through paid advertising and striking conversations with your target audiences to solicit attention.
Online marketers avoid the outbound approach because it normally requires a big budget for ad spend, but this is more of a long term achievement.
At the beginning stages, most online experts employ the outbound strategy in their sales funnel before transitioning into the inbound strategy (I.e., before they started relying more on content creation), the question is how and why?
Transiting a Sales Funnel from Outbound Marketing to Inbound Marketing (autopilot)
As a startup affiliate marketer or online entrepreneur, there is zero attention to your brand or product, and even if contents are created at this stage, little or no attention is derived (nobody notices), so the best option to gather attention is using an outbound strategy, I.e., advertising and striking conversations through; PPC advertising, paying for Solo ads, SEM, requesting for backlinks, etc. It, therefore, becomes the required TOFU method for attracting prospects.
After attention is derived from your advertisements and conversations, then your landing pages or webpage further engages your prospect to give them details about your services or products with the aim of turning prospects to leads and conversions. This is the MOFU point.
The transition creeps in at the BOFU stage, when leads and conversions are finally achieved (meaning you now have some attention to your product or service) gradually setting your sales-funnel into autopilot, and giving you a good amount of attention to sustain, without having to run any further advertisements, or without having to strike too many promotional conversations in the future.
See more step-by-step process of this transition at the beginning stages of affiliate marketing:
The transition is quite smooth, and it sets a fine line between the beginning stages and a breakthrough of the advance stage in online sales because the advance stages of a sales funnel are auto-piloted (Inbound Marketing), whereby you sustain leads and customers just through email updates and content creation, without having to spend time & money on promotion.
The Importance of this Transition to Beginners in Affiliate Marketing
This transition is important at the beginning stages of establishing an online career in marketing. It has proven to work among online experts, and it is through such transition that they generate a decent amount of income from their sales funnel without having to advertise.
The key point is the smooth evolution of a sales funnel from needing attention by campaigning for it, to where attention finds it without promotional campaigns but through content creation only.
As a startup, it is still possible, to begin with, an inbound marketing strategy in structuring your TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU, I.e., your TOFU stage strictly grow audiences and attract audiences through SEO and social media influence, but it takes time, and even more time if little or no advertisement (outbound) is performed.
In previous articles, I have always mentioned that for contents to rank for SERPs on Google is highly competitive, and sometimes affiliate marketers don’t want to go through the 6months to a year wait of growing customers organically, so they prefer running ads and paying for automation tools to ensure their funnels stay active in generating income ten (10) times faster.
In summary, a sales funnel remains a pattern that can easily align with an effective strategy. In most cases, if a sales funnel does not get the deserved attention needed it becomes weak and non- effective, because attention is what every marketer needs to convert.
It is important to note that a sales funnel’s transition from an outbound strategy to an inbound strategy should not occur frequently. The transition is meant to last for a long period of time ( getting attention and sustaining it without losing it).
If it does happen frequently (meaning you keep losing attention after advertising to get it) it means the product or service you are affiliated with is not in demand or your marketing content is poor (or you are not just providing enticing content that could sustain conversions).
Also, a sales funnel stuck on the outbound marketing stage would always require money and promotional effort to attract prospects which is not a healthy business practice.