Content to Cash: SEO, Email and the Sales Funnel

SEO – search engine optimization – is the name for the tips, tricks and techniques used by web sites to get themselves listed higher up the search engine results pages (a.k.a. SERPs). Many people, themes and plugins put a great deal of effort into SEO, building on their blogs and content sites to entice online searchers to their sites.

Email list building is the flip side of SEO. Once the visitor arrives at your site, you need to keep them there as long as possible, and ideally capture them as a subscriber to your list. Without the subscriber or other lead capture elements on your site, all your SEO is doing is generating drive-by traffic that’s not working for you.

For internet marketers and businesses, often the goal of content marketing and SEO is to attract visitors into buying a product or service. And to do that, you need to move them through the sales funnel.

There are other ways to label the funnel, based on your perspective and industry, but the general point is the same. Lots of people (relatively speaking) enter the funnel at the top, and you work them through the funnel, losing non-qualified people along the way, until a few remain at the end to take the action you want – buying your product or service, typically.

The Overflowing Funnel

Most companies have a sales team whose job is to move people through the funnel to purchase. For bloggers, though, where products and services may be inexpensive, free, or have no fiscal value at all (e.g. voting for your candidate at the next election), person to person contact might be inappropriate and too costly, especially at the open end of the funnel. If your volumes are high at the top, it may well be impractical to reach out personally to each and every contact. In fact, if your SEO is successful, you should get a lot of traffic to your site – you’re building up a head of steam at the “awareness” level in the funnel above.

Thing is, of course, they’re now aware of you. But you know nothing about them.

Which is where automated email marketing on your site scores. If you think of a visitor arriving at your site, the lowest friction thing they can do is browse your content. Maybe they’ll like the page. But they are significantly more engaged if and when they subscribe to your mailing list. That’s a step up on the commitment scale – up to the next level of the funnel. An expression of “interest” in what you have to say, at least.

Now you can use your list to nudge people toawards the action you want them to take, via explicit calls to action, and via great content to educate and motivate them. The key to success here, content aside, is having the right set of autoresponders to drip market (a polite way of ter for “nagging”) at each step in the funnel, moving them towards that final sale.

Multiple Lists and FeedBlitz Autoresponders

Perhaps a practical example that’s live right now at FeedBlitz can show you how multiple lists and autoresponders can work together.

Our goal with this process is conversion – we want our visitors to sign up for a free 30-day trial of FeedBlitz, the leading FeedBurner alternative. Many of our new customers are professionals looking for more than FeedBurner’s entry level capabilities.

Firstly, once a new visitor arrives at our site, we’re going to try really hard to capture their email address. There are two lists a visitor can join: the main blog’s, or our new Feedburner Migration Guide list. Each has a different icentive, and each targets a different audience.

The main blog’s list is the lowest friction entry point, and as such those who join it are the least qualified in terms of moving towards a sale. These visitors are showing interest in our content, but not yet in our service – and this is absolutely fine! We want to educate these subscribers with our blog’s content. When you join that list you get a free download, as well as a sequence of posts in an autoresponder, covering what we do and highlighting the best of the blog. And, of course, mentioning our new FeedBurner Migration Guide.

Interest Level UP!

The new FeedBurner Migration Guide is the next step into the funnel. The form in the sidebar – and our new popup – targets those who are considering a switch away from FeedBurner. This, incidentally, shows that you can add people from different sources at different places within the sales funnel.

When you download the free e-book, you’re sending a much stronger signal about potentially being ready to start a trial – somwhere at the bottom of the “Interest” level and the top of “desire” in the funnel. When you get the guide, the autoresponder focuses on moving you – pushing you firmly into “Desire” and prepping you to take action – actually try FeedBlitz. Over the course of a week it addresses objections, highlights benefits and urges you to start a trial.

Move Your Goal Posts

When the lead converts and starts a trial, two things happen in our automated email marketing system. Firstly, FeedBlitz stops the FeedBurner Migration Guide autoresponder automatically – no need (and frankly not very bright) to exhort them to start a trial when that’s exactly what they’ve just done.

And then? We move the goal posts. Each new trial starts a new sequence of mailings, designed to enable that trial to be successful. Why? Because our real goal is to make you successful – to get you past the 30 day trial and through the first billing cycle.

So that’s three autoresponders (blog subscription, FeedBurner Migration Guide download, new trial started), all working together on their relevant lists to push visitors from one step to the next. We use incentives and popups to populate the funnel at multiple levels, and we use events and triggers to ensure that the messaging is appropriate for the subscriber, depending on where they are within the funnel.

The point of all this? Well, if you consider what you’re marketing on your site, you can step your visitors through vairous levels of commitment and enagagement and, ultimately, expenditure, by using multiple lists, incentives and autoresponders, all working cooperatively. Think about your funnel, and what you can do to make it work better. And, of course, you can do this easily with FeedBlitz, no coding required.

Knowing your potential customers, and ensuring you’re not bombarding them with content they don’t need or want is key to their trip through the sales funnel. FeedBlitz’s autoresponders can help. So why not kick the tires?

Here are a few quick links to get you started: For more on FeedBlitz for bloggers and to start a free 30 day trial, click here. You can also check out our FeedBurner Migration Guide here.