How to use SEO at each stage of the sales and marketing funnel

To be successful in sales and marketing, you need to identify and target your audience, create content that resonates with them, and use the proper techniques to reach them. SEO can help you do all those things, regardless of where you are in the sales and marketing funnel. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use search engine optimisation at each stage of the funnel to get the most out of your marketing and sales.

What are sales and marketing funnels?

A sales and marketing funnel visualises your target audience’s journey towards a conversion or sale. It involves two key components: generating awareness and interest among potential buyers and then nurturing those leads until they are ready to make a purchase.

Businesses can better allocate resources and target their efforts by understanding the steps involved in a typical sales or marketing process. Additionally, sales and marketing funnels can help businesses identify bottlenecks and other areas for improvement

It is possible to separate sales and marketing into two separate funnels – one focused on generating leads and the other focused on converting leads to sales. However, I personally prefer to view sales and marketing together in a single funnel.

Stages of sales and marketing funnels

There are many versions of the sales and marketing funnel, often with differing stages. I included four stages in a previous article I wrote, Marketing funnels explained. Since then, I have further refined my view of funnels and now only have three pre-sale stages:

  • Awareness – your audience is aware of their problem
  • Consideration – your audience is aware of the solutions
  • Decision – your audience is actively choosing between suppliers

I have decided upon these stages as, for me, adding any more steps unnecessarily complicates the funnel.

How does SEO impact each stage of the funnel

Now let’s take a look at how SEO is important at each stage of the funnel.

Awareness

The awareness stage is probably where you most associate SEO with having an impact. At this stage of the funnel, your audience is actively searching for information about the problems they are facing. SEO is vital for building brand awareness, as one of the first steps people will take when trying to find a solution to a problem is to use a search engine, such as Google or Bing.

To make the most of SEO during the awareness stage, focus on ranking for FAQs and informational topics related to the products or services that you offer.

For example, an accounting firm may want to appear in search results for upcoming regulatory changes that would affect its target audience. While people searching for these topics might not be in-market yet for the accounting firm’s service, they will be building their brand awareness with their audience.

Consideration

Your audience moves into the consideration phase once they become aware of the solutions to their problems. They are actively searching for more information on these solutions at this stage.

At this stage, the target for SEO is keywords that directly relate to your product or service. Using our previous example of the accounting firm, keywords to target would be ‘accountant’ or ‘accounting’ related search terms. You may find it easier to target highly specific, long-tail keywords rather than the high search volume phrases all of your competitors are fighting over. These should be easier to rank for and often deliver higher conversion rates.

The keywords for this stage are often highly competitive and expensive if also bidding on paid search. These are the searches that often directly result in sales or leads.

Decision

Decision is the final stage in the sales and marketing funnel. This phase is when your audience has narrowed down the solutions to a few known brands.

Your audience is seeking information about each solution provider to determine the best fit for their problem. The keywords at this stage are branded – your audience is looking to find out more about your brand and your offering.

Prospects will be searching for reviews, case studies, testimonials, and social proof – essentially, anything that substantiates your offering is the best for their particular needs.

Of course, you likely rank for your own brand; however, you also need to be looking at other search results that mention you. For example, are there many negative customer reviews on Google or sites like Trustpilot? What about negative tweets that appear in SERPs? Maybe there are negative articles from critics who documented an in-depth review of your product or service. All of these types of search results can significantly impact a prospect becoming a customer.

Wrapping up

You can use SEO at all stages of the sales and marketing funnel to great effect. It can help build awareness of your product or service, make it easier for customers to find you, and put your products and services up for consideration. Ultimately, it can also help influence prospects’ decisions about whether or not to buy from you. If you’re looking for help putting together a sales and marketing funnel for your business, our experts are more than happy to assist. Let us know how we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the author

Daniel Lee

I am a digital marketing strategist with more than eleven years' experience. I have worked in digital marketing agencies, as well as client-side. My clients include small businesses all the way up to organisations with revenue in the billions. I provide marketing consultancy both in the UK and the US. I hold a Master of Science degree in International Marketing, and I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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