Every business relies on a steady stream of leads to grow.
You need an optimized lead generation funnel that attracts relevant leads.
But lead generation isn’t a walk in the park. With 61% of marketers saying lead generation is the number one challenge, knowing how to build a lead generation funnel has never been more critical.
It’s not just about attracting visitors; it’s about converting them into loyal customers. A well-structured lead generation funnel serves as a roadmap that guides potential leads from initial awareness to final conversion.
This guide will provide valuable insights and practical tips to help you build a funnel that aligns with your business goals and resonates with your target audience. Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to creating a lead-generation funnel that delivers results and drives growth.
What Is a Lead Generation Funnel?
A lead generation process is the steps a visitor takes from landing on one of your marketing channels until they become a lead (by giving you their details). Here’s what it looks like in a nutshell for an inbound lead generation process:
🔺 A visitor finds your business via one of your inbound marketing channels (blog, website, social media, email, etc.).
🔺 The visitor is interested in your messaging and clicks on your call to action (CTA).
🔺 Your visitor is directed to your landing page, where they give you their contact details in exchange for an offer.
What are the different types of lead generation?
Lead generation comes in many forms and each caters differently to market needs and preferences. Let’s explore the types and how they contribute to attracting potential customers:
🎯 Inbound marketing: Creating and sharing content designed to appeal to your target audience. This can include blog posts, social media content, e-books, and SEO strategies.
🎯 Outbound lead generation: Traditional methods that include cold calling, direct mail, and email marketing. These are more direct approaches to reaching out to potential leads.
🎯 Digital advertising: Utilizing online platforms like Google Ads and social media ads (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to target specific demographics.
🎯 Content marketing: Creating valuable content that attracts and engages an audience, often leading to lead generation.
What Is a Lead Generation Sales Funnel?
Understanding what lead generation is, is just the first step. Next, you need an effective process to attract, engage, and convert potential customers. This is where a lead generation funnel comes into play.
A lead generation funnel is a strategic process designed to guide your target audience through a series of steps, from their first interaction with your brand to the point where they become a customer.
Although individual approaches to encourage purchasing can vary, your customers will typically progress through three stages in your lead generation funnel.
This journey is crucial to transform casual visitors into loyal customers, and understanding it is key to optimizing your marketing and sales strategies.
We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
Stages of the Lead Generation Funnel
Understanding a lead funnel is essential as it depicts the customer’s journey from initial awareness to final purchase.
This funnel is typically divided into three main sections: the top, middle, and bottom. Each section represents a distinct phase in the sales pipeline that requires specific strategies and content.
Top of the funnel: Awareness and interest
The first stage in your funnel is the awareness stage or Top of the Funnel (TOFU). This is where a potential customer first learns about your brand.
Your goal is to capture the attention of your target audience and make them aware of your products or services.
Strategies include creating a lead magnet, SEO, social media posts and campaigns, and paid advertising to capture attention. The focus here is on educational content that sparks interest.
Once you have their attention, it’s time to engage them. This stage is about nurturing the initial interest and it comprises providing valuable content like detailed blog posts, guides, how-to videos, and newsletters, all of which can be effective.
The objective is to keep your audience engaged and eager to learn more about what you offer.
Middle of the funnel: Consideration and intent
Visitors at the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) stage of your funnel are exploring the options available to solve their problems.
Therefore, your main priority here is to prove to your visitors that your solution is a good fit for them and can solve their problems. This is where more in-depth, persuasive content is key.
Use case studies, product demos, customer testimonials, and detailed product information to help leads evaluate your offerings against their requirements.
Potential customers at this stage show a clear intention to buy. They might engage in actions like adding products to a shopping cart or requesting a quote.
Targeted marketing efforts such as personalized email campaigns, retargeting ads, and direct sales outreach are crucial to move leads further down the funnel.
Bottom of the funnel: Evaluation and purchase
By the time your visitors reach the bottom of your lead generation funnel (BOFU), they’re ready to transact with your brand. They are no longer visitors but qualified leads. Your main priority at this stage is to sell. You can use case studies, product demos, and pricing comparisons to convince them to buy from you.
The aim is to provide all the necessary information and reassurance to facilitate a positive decision.
The final stage is where you convert leads into customers. The focus is on providing a seamless and positive purchasing experience.
Ensure a straightforward transaction process, clear communication, and excellent customer service. A good purchasing experience can lead to repeat business and referrals.
How to Build an Effective Lead Generation Funnel
A well-constructed lead generation funnel is essential to guide potential customers through their buying journey.
Building an effective funnel involves several key steps designed to generate leads and turn them into loyal customers.
Step 1: Identify your target audience
Start by defining who your ideal customers are. Use market research, customer data, and buyer personas to understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors.
Finding the right target audience is essential as it will help you:
✔️ Empathize with your customer.
✔️ Identify their needs—current and future.
✔️ Understand how they make their purchase decisions.
Defining your buyer persona will help you create content that’s relevant to them. Most importantly, it will give you insight into building the most effective lead-generation funnel for your particular target audience. The result is that the quality of leads you generate, converts into more qualified leads.
Step 2: Create a customer journey map
A customer journey map is a visual representation that outlines the path a customer takes from their first interaction with a brand or product through various stages until a purchase is made.
It’s used to understand and address customer needs and experiences at each stage of the sales process. Mapping out the exact steps and touchpoints involved in leading people along this journey is crucial in any lead generation strategy, as it helps you:
➡️ Effectively nurture leads.
➡️ Measure lead quality and conversions.
➡️ Uncover new lead generation channels.
➡️ Discover and eliminate friction points in your lead generation funnel.
Research by the Aberdeen Group revealed that managing your customer journey can decrease your sales cycle time by 18X. Mapping your customer journey, therefore, is a crucial step toward creating an optimized lead generation funnel.
Step 3: Create content that converts
Once you’ve defined your buyer persona and mapped your customer journey, your next step is to drive brand awareness. You can use several methods, but we will focus on the most effective ones.
Content marketing is one of the most effective methods of driving brand awareness. This lead generation strategy involves creating personalized content that your target audience will find useful, relevant, and valuable.
This kind of content will help you attract, nurture, and convert your leads. Types of content you can use include, among others:
✔️ Blog posts
✔️ Social media posts
✔️ Case studies
Use social media to drive awareness
Social media boasts close to 4 billion active monthly users, which makes it one of the most effective channels to drive brand awareness.
A few tips to help you use social media to drive brand awareness are:
🔥 Choose the right platforms. Find out which platforms are frequented by your target audience and focus on those.
🔥 Optimize your profiles. This will allow people to identify and connect to your brand easily.
Use trending hashtags. Hashtags help users find relevant posts quickly. Leverage those that are trending to gain some exposure.
🔥 Engage. Engage with your followers and with other brands and join trending conversations.
🔥 Play tag. Tag influencers, customers, partners, and other relevant people to extend your reach.
🔥 Use the newsjacking technique. This involves creating posts around current and trending news.
🔥 Host live events. People love live events because of their interactive nature. Capitalize on this and host a few of them.
With a good social media manager, automation tools, and social listening tools, you’ll be able to run effective social media campaigns that will feed your funnel.
Step 4: Drive traffic to your sales funnel
Now that the more foundational parts of your lead generation funnel are in place, it’s time to drive traffic to it.
Inbound and outbound methods are two main ways to drive traffic to your sales funnel. Let’s look at how to use them to ensure a steady stream of leads in your sales funnel.
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound lead generation involves creating digital assets that attract visitors to your website. The trick here is to ensure your content is specifically tailored to your target audience.
📢 Organic search
Organic search refers to people searching for and finding your product online. This kind of traffic is called organic traffic because you don’t pay for it.
To drive organic traffic to your sales funnel, sales and marketing teams must create easily discoverable content on search engines. You must leverage search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to do this. The most important include:
- Using keywords in your content
- Incorporating search/user intent in your content
- Building backlinks to your blog posts
- Creating a positive user experience (UX) on your website
Applying these principles is key to ensuring many visitors at the TOFU stage of your funnel.
📢 Use paid advertising (PPC) to attract potential customers
Another way of driving leads to your sales funnel is by paying to advertise your content to your target audience.
You can promote your content on search engines (Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc.), social media (Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc.), or other websites. Doing so gives you greater reach, allowing more traffic to be driven to your lead funnels.
📢 Social media for lead generation
As we mentioned above, social media has become a powerful platform that both B2B and B2C brands use to generate leads.
When used well, social media has the potential to help you go viral. But that can only happen if you create posts that resonate with your target audience.
📢 Leverage email marketing
Another essential part of your marketing strategy is to set up an email marketing system to nurture your leads over time.
Create a series of automated email sequences to provide valuable content, build trust, and gently push leads toward making a purchase.
Outbound Lead Generation
The second way to drive traffic down your sales lead funnel involves outbound lead generation tactics. Some of the most common ones include:
📢 Cold email outreach
Cold email outreach sends emails to people/companies you’ve never interacted with. Believe it or not, data shows that 37% of lead generation happens via email.
Because your recipients don’t know who you are, it’s always best to follow cold emailing best practices. Doing so will increase the chances of your email being opened by your recipients. A few cold email best practices to follow include:
👍🏼 Research your target audience.
👍🏼 Craft hard-to-ignore subject lines.
👍🏼 Personalize your cold emails.
👍🏼 Keep your email content short and to the point.
Cold emailing, done right, can yield phenomenal results. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your sales funnel and generate leads. Here are some cold email templates to help you get started!
📢Social media outreach
Besides posting and promoting social media content, you can generate leads by contacting your prospects directly.
This process involves sending them direct messages (DMs) on their favorite social media platforms.
Here are some pro tips on getting social media outreach right:
➡️ Initiate the relationship publicly: This means interacting and engaging with your prospects’ posts so they become familiar with you. Referencing one such post is a great way to get them interested in your message.
➡️ Give before asking: Don’t make the mistake of demanding something from your prospect in the initial message. Instead, offer them something of value first.
➡️ Personalization is crucial: Another mistake many make when sending DMs is to send generic, cookie-cutter messages. The most relied upon personalization-attempt simply involves swapping out the names, but you’ll greatly benefit from taking personalization to the next level by adding personalized images to your direct messages. Here’s an example of how that works:
Don’t leave social media out of the equation in your outbound lead generation strategy. It’s one of the most underrated yet effective lead-generation tools.
Want some more outbound lead generation strategies? Check out our comprehensive guide here.
Step 5: Build a database
You’re likely generating a substantial number of leads at this point in your lead generation funnel. Let’s quickly review how this happens:
1️⃣ You create an irresistible offer or lead magnet for your target audience.
2️⃣ You promote this lead magnet through both organic and paid channels.
3️⃣ Your target audience signs up and provides their email addresses.
4️⃣ But the key question is: what should you do with these collected email addresses?
Enter the role of a robust customer relationship manager (CRM) system. A CRM doesn’t just store your contacts; it enhances your lead management by:
- Segmenting your list for targeted communication.
- Scoring leads and prioritizing follow-ups.
- Centralizing the management of your sales pipeline.
- Streamlining the sales process for optimized efficiency.
Also, a CRM plays a pivotal role in boosting your chances of converting leads into customers. Its effectiveness lies in creating exceptional customer experiences.
When you automate the lead nurturing process with a CRM, it ensures your marketing and sales teams can deliver timely, personalized content to each lead. This facilitates a smooth journey through each stage of your sales funnel and significantly enhances conversion rates.
🚀 You can also use Hyperise for data enrichment to pull prospect data from your CRM and provide a more personalized experience to your prospects.
Step 6: Conversion rate optimization
Even if your lead generation funnel is performing well, there’s room for improvement through conversion rate optimization (CRO). CRO is the systematic process of increasing the number of leads that convert into customers.
Here are some CRO tips:
📈 Leverage data: Analyze your funnel and use data to identify drop-off points. Tools like Hyperise can help you gather prospect data and personalize your website for anonymous users.
📈 Identify and resolve obstacles: Discover why people leave your funnel and find ways to enhance the user experience (UX) at those points.
📈 Segment effectively: Create personalized customer journeys for different segments, and regularly review your segmentation strategy based on demographics and psychographics.
📈 Always test: Continuously test elements of your funnel, from design to copy, to improve conversion rates.
CRO is an ongoing process that involves understanding your audience and refining your funnel for a better user experience. With each iteration, your conversion rates are likely to improve.
Five Tips to Optimize Your Lead Generation Funnels
1: Qualify your leads
Lead qualification is a method for evaluating and categorizing leads to identify those most likely to become customers.
This process aims to increase sales efficiency by focusing on the most promising leads. It involves assessing leads based on criteria like interest, budget, decision-making power, and purchase timeline.
Key aspects of lead qualification include:
➡️ Research: Collect data about leads through forms, website interactions, and email responses.
➡️ Scoring: Assign scores to leads based on their characteristics and behaviours, with higher scores indicating more qualified leads.
➡️ Criteria definition: Tailor specific criteria to determine whether a lead aligns with your industry and sales process. This often involves that the lead should match the ideal customer profile, interest level, budget, authority, and purchase timeline.
➡️ Nurturing: Engage leads not yet ready to buy through nurturing campaigns to maintain their interest until they are prepared to purchase.
➡️ Sales handoff: Transfer a sales-qualified lead to your sales team for further action.
Lead qualification enables sales reps to concentrate on leads with higher conversion potential, thereby enhancing conversion rates and revenue.
2: Customization is key
In addition to personalized images in your outreach, personalizing your website content can also significantly enhance user engagement.
For example, observe how the Hyperise website dynamically personalizes its content and imagery for visitors from Apple:
Hyperise easily identifies the visitor’s company (Apple) and sector, and then adds this information to the content to personalize that user’s experience.
When a user visits your website, personalization makes them more likely to have a memorable first impression and take action. The best part is that this takes little time and requires zero coding knowledge.
3: Leverage anonymous visitor tracking
Follow up with leads while they’re hot by identifying anonymous visitors, even if they didn’t subscribe or complete a form, or haven’t provided their information in another way.
With Hyperise, you can discover new leads among website visitors and pull prospect data from your CRM. Doing so will enable you to follow up with those prospects shortly after their visit to answer their questions or schedule a demo.
4: Align sales and marketing efforts
Align messaging and goals across sales and marketing teams to provide leads with a cohesive experience.
Facilitate regular communication between sales and marketing to ensure leads are nurtured and scored accurately, and to improve the handoff process.
5: Continued learning and adaptation
Keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and customer behavior to adapt your strategies effectively.
Establish feedback loops to learn from successes and failures, and continuously improve your funnel strategy by fine-tuning it accordingly.
The lead generation funnel is more than a marketing tool; it’s a strategic blueprint for business growth.
By understanding and implementing the various facets of this funnel, you position your business not just to survive but to thrive in the competitive marketplace.
Embrace these strategies, refine them to fit your unique context, and watch as your business reaches new heights of success.
Want to double your sales? Try Hyperise
Ready to elevate your lead generation game? Discover Hyperise and transform your funnel with personalized imagery. Start your free trial today and see the growth in real time!
Is lead generation easy?
With 61% of marketing and sales professionals saying that lead generation is their biggest challenge, lead generation is certainly not easy. However, with an optimized funnel and by following lead generation best practices, you’ll soon master the art and science of it.
What are the best lead-generation tools?
Creating an effective lead-generation funnel is only possible with the proper tools. These tools range from personalization tools like Hyperise and outreach automation tools like SalesHub to CRMs like Hubspot, and everything in between.
For a more detailed look at the lead generation tools you should look into, check out our best lead generation software guide here.
How do you make a lead funnel on Facebook?
With over 2.9 billion active users in 2023, Facebook is one of the best places to get leads from.
Here’s how you can create a lead funnel on Facebook:
Step 1: Define your target audience
Defining your target audience is essential to help create personalized content.
Step 2: Set your objectives
You must align your campaign objectives with your funnel. This means you’ll have to set goals for each of the three stages of your lead generation funnel (TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU).
Step 3: Create content for each stage of your funnel
Create high-quality segmented content that matches your buyer personas and each stage of your funnel. This can be Facebook posts or content on your website that you promote on Facebook.
Step 4: Expand your reach with Facebook Ads
Note the type of content that’s getting the most engagement and promote it to increase your reach.
Step 5: Leverage Facebook’s look-alike audience feature
Leverage Facebook’s look-alike audience feature to find more people who fit your buyer persona’s attributes. Promoting your content to look-alike audiences expands your reach and increases your conversions.
Step 6: Remarket
Remarket your content to those who’ve engaged with it. This helps warm up a cold audience and boosts brand awareness. Remarketing also helps increase your campaign’s conversion rates.