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This video lesson covers the basics of digital and online marketing.
This video lesson covers the basics of how to boost your business’s marketing reach using social media.
A sales pipeline is a kind of visual representation of the various stages needed to convert potential customers into a client. The status indicates their (potential customers’) respective position in the pipeline thereby enabling an individual salesperson or a company to forecast the amount of sales that can take place in a given time period. A sales pipeline ascertains whether or not the process of sales is following the right steps. A well designed sales pipeline often determines long-term success of a firm starting from proper lead generation to maintaining a loyal customer base.
A sales pipeline essentially also diagrammatically describes the process of selling. It encompasses all the necessary steps which are needed to be taken in order to complete a sales process and also ensure long term customer loyalty. It vividly describes the entire journey taken by a salesperson starting from the process of acquiring the information about the potential customer, making the initial contact, qualifying the prospect as a lead and then further qualifying the lead as a prospective customer and then finally closing the deal and providing the customer a post-sale service. This entire process is represented by a sales pipeline.
Stages of a Sales Pipeline
There are seven broad stages which need to be followed for implementing a sales pipeline. If you are an individual salesperson or a company, you can follow these seven steps to ensure long term sustainability of your selling process.
The following are the seven essential stages of a sales pipeline:
The first step of a sales pipeline is lead generation. Following a mix of marketing strategies like email marketing campaigns, organizing events and sharing web content, the company can generate considerable amount of leads for their product or service.
The first step of the sales pipeline is very essential as the company needs to accumulate as many leads as possible to ensure the success of the following stages.
Lead nurturing is the second stage of a sales pipeline. A company can qualify the leads, generated in the first round, even further by means of marketing automation tools. This helps them to obtain the list of quality leads.
Lead nurturing is a very effective and efficient technique as it not only ensures more accuracy in the entire selling process but at the same time it also makes sure that the company does not waste money after pursuing the wrong leads.
Marketing Qualified Lead
The leads which are more likely to become a customer are filtered out by the process of lead nurturing. With the help of marketing analysis the Market Qualified Leads are being filtered.
Ideally these leads are the ones which are perceived to be more important than the others. The marketing department of the company needs to consider these leads as the base of any further marketing process.
Sales Accepted Leads
The Market Qualified Leads are further filtered by means of matching the key targeting criteria in order to obtain the Sales Accepted Leads. Initially after filtering the information on the basis of parameters like demographics and occupation, in this stage the leads are further classified based on various socio-economic and psychographic segmentations.
The Sales Accepted Leads have verified propensity or intent of making the final purchase. This is in fact is the last stage of lead filtration, done from the strategic marketing perspective, till it is given to the sales rep, who on their part, further classifies the data according to their knowledge and understanding.
Sales Qualified Leads
The sales representatives then further analyses the leads and then delegates them to a dedicated account manager. Sales Qualified Leads are quantifiable sales opportunities. The leads have specific and clarified needs that they have mentioned. There is also a specific timeline and budget associated with this list.
These are the list of leads that have already made viable purchase decision. These are the list of people who are almost ready to make the final purchase of the product or the service. This is the step where the lead gets transformed into a prospective customer.
Closing the Deal
The deal is closed when finally the lead or the account which is being targeted, completes the purchase within the specific time period. Closing a deal, also essentially indicates the conversion of a lead into revenue for the firm.
The salesperson or the company must ensure timely delivery and implementation of the product or the service at the desired location of the purchaser. This is the step where the prospective customer gets transformed into an actual client for the company.
According to the fundamentals of the concept of sales pipeline, the revenue generated from the sales should be attributed in order to make the sales campaigns better and stronger. The target of the new campaign should involve more lead generation and conversions.
Providing Post-Sales Service
The steps of a sales pipeline does not end after closing the sales deal. Post-sales service is also critical in ensuring long-term loyalty of the customers. Continuing the engagement with the client often results in more sales in the form of referrals and repeat purchases.
This is a very critical aspect of the concept of sales pipeline. Post-sale services do not guarantee instant profit for the firm but in the long run it helps the firm to make more profits.
Loyal customers are more likely to contribute to the revenue of the firm by making additional purchases or referring the services or the product to other potential customers. So, old clients can also be a good source of quality lead generation for the firm.
Sales pipeline follows systematic steps of generating leads and transforming them into customers for the company. Starting from lead generation to providing post-sales services, every step of the pipeline is critical for the success of the selling process. A successful sales pipeline will help the company convert its best customers into consultants who will provide them with further leads.
In some businesses, marketing and sales are two separate departments, and in such companies the sales funnel is separate from the marketing funnel. For optimum sales, the two must work in harmony. In small online businesses, there is no distinction between the two but rather there is one longer funnel. There is no one answer as to what stages each funnel has, and even the terminology differs from writer to writer.
The role of marketing is to research their market, to know who their target market is and to bring as many people into the funnel as possible. They then use a marketing funnel which consists of the stages: awareness, consideration, preference, and action. The marketing funnel tracks the steps that prospective buyers move through before they make a buying decision (1). As prospects move through the marketing funnel, the marketing team captures certain statistics e.g. number of visitors, number of clicks, conversion rate, etc. which they use to take action and to refine their marketing strategies. From what the prospects do, the marketing team knows whether to send more information or to make a follow-up call (1). So here is how the marketing team uses the marketing funnel.
As soon as the people share their contact information they leave the marketing funnel and enter the sales funnel and they become sales prospects (2). In a large organization they are literally handed over. So why is it called a funnel? Naturally, many targeted people will see the information or the ad, less will spend time on it to explore and consider the product, and even less will take action. The numbers narrow down like a funnel.
The people who opt-in will not necessarily purchase straight away. Most will need more persuasion before they buy (3), which is why most online marketers use email newsletters through autoresponders.
For the small online business, there is no separation between the sales funnel and the marketing funnel. The sales and marketing funnel can look like this:
The marketing funnel and the sales funnel are different in a large organisation, but in a small business it is just one funnel, the sales and marketing funnel. In the sales and marketing funnel, it is common for a person to jump from stage 1 to stage 3 and stage 6 in one day if they have been looking for the product already. In fact this is what is taking place these days as people search the internet when they want certain products (1). But for those who only become aware of the product because of the awareness campaign, it takes longer to make the buying decision. That is why they need more persuasion while doing their research on the side or while getting ready to buy the product. All the same, from the beginning when many people see the information about a product to the time they buy, the numbers keep dwindling. It is common for the sales rate to be 1% of the original number who clicked on the ad.
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Mobile internet is a basic necessity these days. Mobile users are extensively accessing web on their devices from every location. Therefore, your site should be interactive enough and content focused to keep the users engaged. These are the few basic considerations you need to have before making a mobile website design.
Designing a separate site for your mobile is an utmost necessity. Whatever your site might be about, the design should be made for a screen resolution which is smaller. This will help you make your site more readable to the user.
A digital news portal should not ideally have the same mobile website design as an online shopping website. Make the design as per the business needs. For instance, in the case of the news portal, the layout and background should be such that the user can easily read the text. On the other hand, the design of a shopping website should contain images of the items to be sold.
It is always a good idea to study past browsing data before designing or redesigning an existing mobile website. It will help you understand how the users browsed through the information provided and accordingly you can make the website more interactive.
Avoid designs which contain lots of pop-ups and distractions in the form of lightboxes. As the attention time of mobile internet users is low and over that if the design offers too many distractions, the user tends to stay for lesser time on the site.
The website needs to be optimized in a manner that it is responsive to the commands to the user. Different screen resolutions backed by technology enabled interfaces makes your website more responsive.
The mobile version of your website should be simpler than the desktop version. But, don’t make it too plain either. User designing features like different drop-shadows or interactive gradients makes it interesting.
A single-column layout is better suited for your mobile website. This makes it easier for the users to scroll down and browse for information.
If you need to put too much data in your mobile site, then a collapsible navigation is always a wise choice. It helps the user to choose and select the required information more effectively.
Since the user is using a smaller screen or interface for navigation, interaction feedbacks are essential. For instance, if someone clicks a link on your mobile website, the color of the link should change to inform the user that his/her function is noted.
Your mobile website ideally should be readable from all sorts of mobile devices. So, don’t use Flash as it would not be displayed on an Apple mobile device. Test your mobile website in different forms of mobiles and check its accessibility.
The use of social media marketing tools have been on the rise over the past few years, especially as social media has become a core component of an organization’s online and digital marketing strategy. Here is a list of features and requirements that the use of social media marketing has surfaced and the various tools that provide these features and functions.
There are various types of tools that are available in the market. Some of the categories include the following:
The overall goals of social media marketing and monitoring tools is to
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Inbound and outbound marketing are the two popular methods for demand creation.
Inbound marketing refers to using content marketing to position ones business and online site to attract online visitors and traffic and to convert them to leads. Content creation, therefore, is a major component of the inbound marketing process. The time and dollars investment to strengthen ones inbound marketing systems focuses on content creation around blogs and posts on the blog, product descriptions, and creating other useful content meant to attract online visitors through various online channels. Social media is another major source to implement inbound marketing as posting content for the benefit of your online community organically attracts visitors, which then can subscribe as leads on a site. The build up of original and good content around certain topics and industry verticals also contributes to strengthening ones organic SEO position and ranking thereby attracting visitors through search engines.
Popular inbound marketing tactics in the digital and online space use the following methods:
In the above methods, online visitors usually land on the marketers website by looking for information. It is therefore referred to as inbound marketing because online visitors make the move to find the organization and its products and services.
Outbound marketing on the other hand refers to reaching out to targeted audiences in an attempt to capture leads. It refers to crafting content with the intention of using it to attract visitors and leads. The focus here is to reach out to online audiences who are not actively looking for an organization’s products and services. However, an organization reaches out to specific target audiences with specific content with the hopes of creating or highlighting a need for the online user thus trying to entice them to sign-up as a lead.
Examples of outbound marketing include the following:
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One of the hotly debated topics over the past few years have been whether social signals (e.g. social media Likes, shares, and so on) contribute toward a site’s higher ranking in SEO. A few years ago, staff from Google apparently stated that social signals were not used as a ranking factor for web pages. The thought was based on the following:
Due to these and some other concerns, the understanding in the SEO community is that social media signals don’t contribute (or not as much) to a site’s organic search ranking and SEO.
However, during testing, some web pages with many shares across social media have shown improvements in their organic search rankings. But that may be because of the indirect effect of sharing. Links that are shared extensively over social media get a lot of exposure and are much more likely to be picked by someone and included on their website or blog.
The bottom line is that sharing on social media is encouraged and the more social signals you pick up, the better it will be for your brand, inbound traffic, and has the potential to get back-links if some from those who see your link decide to link to your web page from their site.
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Webmasters should be wary of factors that not only can negatively impact a user experience but also a site’s SEO parameters that in turn can impact its position and ranking within organic search and SERPs. The following are some of those factors:
It’s clear that employing these black hat SEO techniques involve a lot of work and effort. Webmasters and marketers are better off investing the same times and effort on creating useful content and building a good online presence that can add to the overall user experience. These techniques, even if they are successful for the short term, eventually get caught with undesirable consequences such as dropping of ranking overnight, getting websites banned or delisted from search engines, and much more.
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Capturing leads is an essential step in the overall marketing and selling process. When marketing online, this step is usually accomplished by directing users to landing pages, which provide various types of promises and offers to entice users to provide their E-mail IDs. When marketing on Facebook, one of the methods that online marketers use is to direct Facebook users away from Facebook to an external landing page.
Facebook, however, has made this process through the availability of Leads Ads, which has made this process simple by letting users stay within Facebook and to sign-up for various offers provided by online marketers. The way this works is that a Facebook users on seeing an Ad, clicks on the Ad and is presented with a form that is pre-populated with the user’s information such as E-mail, name, etc. If the user wants to continue with providing her or her information, they simply click submit and the information is submitted to the marketers.
Using Facebook Leads Ads has many advantages over the traditional landing page method. First, it reduces the number of clicks and typing that the user has to engage in to provide their information to the marketer. Second, the user gets to stay within Facebook and not leave to an external site that he or she may not completely trust. Third, as most social media and Facebook activity is on mobile phones, the user doesn’t have to type in to fill the small form on their mobile devices to provide their information. This is because Facebook fills in the required fields for the Facebook user from the information that is already available to them of the user.
Some of the cons of this approach are that the marketer has to manually download all the E-mails and upload them in their E-mail marketing systems to make them part of the auto follow-up systems. However, some external apps are already providing some of these integrations and one can expect Facebook to fill this gap within a short time.
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