There’s always a lot of buzz about SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and of course, Google rankings. Rightly so – each of those plays a role in how effectively your website can serve you from a marketing and sales perspective.
But I think most companies approach the web a little like the fable about the five blind men who were asked to describe the elephant that stood before them.
But if we step back even a little further and take a look from the 30,000 foot level, we can see through all those functionalities, your website is the entry point to your sales funnel.
Whenever I think of a sales funnel, I picture one of those plastic funnels people use when they do an oil change. The top of the funnel is for catching all those people who have no idea you exist or that you sell anything they might need or want. The middle of the funnel is filled with all the ways you either keep them on your site or get them to come back.
The smallest section of the funnel is where you’re hoping they come to trust you through repeated interactions, you continuing to be helpful and demonstrating a consistency in how you talk, behave and perform. Once they’ve willingly squeezed themselves through that tiny little section of the funnel, they’ll be ready to buy. Let’s look at the first stage of the funnel (know) and what you can do to catch the interest of your web visitors and encourage them to get to know you a little.
At the top of the funnel we have people who’ve never heard of you and may have no idea they need or want what you sell. At that moment, your website has to be helpful or relevant enough in some way that they spend a little time on it so they begin to get a sense of you and how you might matter to them. Once you’ve done made that initial connection and you have a way to stay in touch – you can continue to be helpful which will keep the conversation going.
To move someone from the start of the process into this section requires a mix of bravery and generosity on your part.
That’s why you want to load up your website with lots of content that has no barrier to consumption like blog posts, testimonials and FAQs. I find it hard to believe I have to actually say this but I’ve seen time and time again that I do. Assuming you keep producing helpful content and you actually send it out consistently – the prospects will let you stay in their in box.
While we are focusing on your website, it certainly shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox. I totally get it from a business’ point of view and have often felt that frustration myself.
In my thirty years of being in business, I’ve rarely met a buyer who is as anxious to make the sale as the seller.
The other factor to remember is that while we are the ones who build the sales funnel, it’s the prospect that moves through it and they control the pace and direction.
For your website to truly be an effective sales funnel, you need to offer different levels of engagement, so the prospects can move themselves through at their own speed. Believe it or not – one that many companies miss is having contact information on the site. You can also offer the ability to schedule a call, demo or take an assessment that will require you contact them (usually by email) with the results. Remember that most buyers want to be pretty sure they’re going to buy before they speak to a salesperson or company representative. The study identified six behavioral or mental states a buyer experiences when considering a purchase. In each of the six stages, the internet far outweighed all other media used during the purchase consideration process. Reliance on television, without surprise, has practically fallen off the map in terms of being a useful medium during the consideration process. With that finding, one has to call into question the millions of dollars brands spend to "build awareness" when, clearly, every other medium is more heavily relied upon. So, how does a marketer realign their tactics to better align with this new purchase consideration cycle? At this point, the person heading off on that month long vacation to Belize may have come to the realization that there are home safety concerns with which to contend.

Akin to the second step in the loop, this third step sees our vacationer understanding there are certain home safety-related steps they must take before they leave town. Here, because our vacationer seeks a solid reason to look for, notice, and keep track of examples, thought-starters, and motivators surrounding the idea of home safety, additional content assets would be helpful. Here the vacationer realizes they will, in fact, be buying certain home safety products before they leave for vacation. It's extremely important to note that these six stages do not always occur in linear order. At Walker Sands, we work with our clients to raise awareness, establish credibility and generate new business. Working in concert with marketing, PR can also play a big role in lead gen for B2B companies. PR at this phase is all about credibility and showcasing the company (and its people) as the smartest ones in the room. Post-close, a strong PR program that continues to create buzz helps reinforce the decision. Andrew is an account director with Walker Sands, where he works with technology companies, primarily startups.
The man who was near the elephant’s leg reached out, touched the elephant and announced that an elephant was like a huge tree trunk. That’s exactly where many companies are when they think about how to leverage their website. For most organizations today — your website is the initial point of entry that could lead to a sale today or five years from today.
They might discover you by clicking on a link in a blog post or after reading about you in the newspaper. If the visitor pokes around the site and then leaves, they might never return and you’ll never know who they were or if you could have served them. To get someone to introduce themselves to you — you have to either give them a compelling reason to keep coming back or better yet, you have to create the opportunity for an information exchange.
Whether it’s in a retail store or online, they’re used to being chased around by over eager salespeople that pester the poor potential buyer until they flee. There is absolutely no reason to collect email addresses if you aren’t going to actually send them something.
Each and every time, before you hit send, ask yourself “is this going to be valuable to my audience?” Time for a re-write if your honest answer is no. Maybe you produced a demo video series or you’re hosting an educational event that you’d like them to register for. Be sure your web presence is the sales workhorse it should be by building a sales funnel around the know • like • trust = sales equation. Sure, there are those customers who come to us in crisis, and we scramble to put out their fire but they’re not the norm. So while one prospect may linger in the getting to know you (remember our know • like • trust = sales model) or growing to like you section for years, another may whip through both of those and be willing to trust you enough for a trial purchase in a matter of a couple visits. As we talked about in the last couple columns, that means free content (text and video if possible) and content that you’ll give them for an email trade.
When they do reach out, they may have some final questions but they’re very close to making a buying decision. Elmo Lewis developed the Purchase Funnel, the now familiar pathway customers travel from consideration to purchase.
Options are compared, deals are sought, prices are compared, and reviews are read all to determine personal associations with the brand.
Put simply, your brand needs to be there when someone comes looking for a solution to the problem or need you serve. By reading a piece of content that addressed home safety -- like a blog post with the five steps one should take before they leave for a month-long vacation. Think things like case studies or testimonials from customers who had the misfortune of having their house broken into but, because they had your nifty electric socket hideaway, didn't lose any of their valuables. Your product being the best choice for their needs -- needs which you've gotten to know over the course of your interactions with them -- leads to a purchase of your product. Rather, they align with the differing and not always logical state of human emotions that come into play during a purchase decision.

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We’re increasingly finding ways to work with our clients’ sales teams, both directly and indirectly, to support customer acquisition and conversion. Most commonly it is centered around a valuable piece of content: an original research report, a webinar or a whitepaper with deep analysis. PR provides those signals in the form of testimonials and case studies in the media, as well as solid coverage that showcases the strength of the business (e.g. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies.
The man who was by the tail, after feeling it, described an elephant like a bullwhip and so on.
They might have a problem and be Googling to find a solution and your site is listed in their search results. You have to offer them something that is valuable enough that they’ll give you their email address in return. The strategies we talked about last week – where there is an exchange of information (their email address for some downloadable tool or content) begins to thin the herd. They didn’t give you their email address so you could hard sell them or immediately try to get an appointment or schedule a sales call. You’re teaching, helping and they are getting a little smarter and a little more comfortable with you each time they hear from you. If I see one consistent mistake, it’s that people shift into these sorts of strategy way too early.
But what kinds of things should you have available for those who are ready to consider a purchase? Which means you need to be ready to respond quickly once they do trigger that next level of readiness. There are four steps in the process that have always been integral to every CMO's approach to marketing: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.
Let's address what you as a CMO must have in place in each of the six stages when potential customers start looking. Organic searches may return vendor websites, but they also display articles with media and analysts talking about these vendors.
PR can create buzz and drive eyeballs to that content, which may be gated behind a contact form. Marketing and sales can use bylined articles, case studies and feature articles in sales kits during the consideration phase: at meetings, at trade shows and conferences, and via emails, webinars and other marketing initiatives.
Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
They may see a Facebook ad or type in your URL off your business card that they picked up at a trade show.
If I asked you to show me a list of people who were on your website in the last six months, could you do it? While it sounds simple – think of how many websites you visit and how few capture your contact information. We hang in there, and we keep being helpful and we work to stay top of mind until they’re ready to move forward. Test your site and all your internal systems to verify that nothing is going to get in the way of you finally connecting with this potential buyer. Over the long-term, PR is also effective in building high-value backlinks from media websites, boosting referral, organic and direct traffic to the website over time.
If you have a brick and mortar presence, be sure you list your street addresses as well, with a link to one of the mapping sites.
Once they trade you their email address for some content, they’ve indicated that they are open to hearing from you.

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