conquer your sales funnel

Last month, we wrote about the 5 Dos and Don’ts for Lead Generation in 2021. Today, we want to take a deeper dive into your sales funnel to explore detailed tactics that will help you master your funnel in the new year. We’ll be reviewing the four main steps that turn strangers into leads and then into sales:

  1. Understand the process.
  2. Generate new leads.
  3. Qualify your leads.
  4. Nurture your prospects.

Step One: Know Your Funnel

First, let’s look at the lead generation process that website visitors follow to become paying customers.

Quick Definitions:

Visitor: Your website visitors arrive on your website from a variety of sources. These include organic search, social media, paid marketing channels like Google Ads, referrals from other websites, or directly by typing in your URL.

Lead: When a person takes a desired action on your website and provides his or her information without making a purchase, you have a new lead (also known as a prospect).

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Simply put, an MQL is a lead that is qualified, or has sales potential, based on the individual’s response to marketing efforts. This can include something as simple as providing an accurate email address, or something more involved like multiple website visits, downloading materials, or using a free trial.

Sales Prospect or Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Going one step further, an SQL is a lead that has been qualified as being ready to take the next step and become a customer. Sales Qualified Leads have been vetted by both marketing and sales and have demonstrated sufficient interest in further conversation.

Sales Opportunity: This is the big moment – the conversation that is designed to turn your prospect into a customer.

Active Account: Success! Your hard work paid off, and your lead has an active account with your business.

In the following chart, you can see what drives your visitors to continue down the funnel to become customers:

Step Two: Lead Generation

Lead generation can be expensive, so it’s important to understand where your organization can expect to find high-quality leads. The following chart illustrates where the best – and worst – leads are found. Keep in mind, even if a marketing tactic is associated with lower quality leads, it may still offer an affordable way to reach your target audience. The ROI may be worthwhile if the cost is low enough. As always, it takes a lot of testing to evolve a successful marketing strategy.

Metrics for Success

When you’re in the process of testing and measuring marketing efforts, it’s important to understand the benchmarks and metrics that will help you determine whether or not a campaign is working.

The average lead-to-opportunity conversion rate across industries is 13%, and the average time to conversion is 84 days. In the tech industry, the average lead costs $60 (and that cost is increasing quickly), while the average cost per lead for non-profits is $43.

Step Three: Qualification

Only 3% of new leads are ready to buy the moment they become a lead.

That means 97% will require more effort on the part of your marketing and sales teams to qualify and then nurture the lead until conversion. Many factors will influence exactly what this process looks like and whether or not you can expect your lead to become an active account.

Factors that Influence Lead Qualification

  1. Number of people involved in decision making: The more people weigh in on a purchase decision, the less likely a lead will convert. While there’s an 81% chance with a single decision-maker, there’s only a 35% chance with a group of six.
  2. Complexity of the sale: Direct sales have a short sales cycle and few influencers, while complex sales have a long sales cycle and many influencers.
  3. Response time: The chart below illustrates how dramatically success decreases just five minutes after a lead submits a form on your website.

4. Persistence: Sales teams that make multiple calls have much higher success rates. They also have a better chance of making contact on a Wednesday or Thursday as compared to any other weekday.

Sales teams who initiate one phone call have a 35% chance of making contact, but sales teams that call at least six times have a 90% or better chance.

Step Four: Nurturing Your Leads

Once your marketing and sales team has determined that a lead is qualified, it’s time to treat that lead with care until it turns into an active account. Don’t despair if the process takes longer than you anticipated; sometimes we’re surprised by how long the sales cycle can be for even a simple purchase. If the lead has met your qualifications, the right amount and type of nurturing actions can lead to that final conversion. Here are some common conversion rates to help you benchmark your efforts:

Main Methods for Lead Nurturing

  1. Social media
  2. Email
  3. Remarketing
  4. Sales representatives

Drilling Down on Email Lead Nurturing

Email is going to be the most cost-effective method of nurturing your leads, so it warrants more explanation. Email list segmentation and individualized messaging are the two most effective ways to personalize your messages, but there are numerous other useful options as well.

Good hooks to use in your emails include comparison guides, challenges to the status quo, data or surveys, and use cases. When you communicate, let your leads know how your product can solve their problems and make their work easier.

Marketing automation platforms offer a convenient way to nurture your leads on a consistent basis and respond to any actions they take on your website after becoming a qualified lead. There are so many marketing automation platforms to choose from, but some of the most popular include Marketo, ParDot, HubSpot, and Eloqua. All of these programs will allow you to track your leads, send out regular emails, and provide a customized experience to your leads when they visit your website, all things that should eventually turn your leads into active accounts.

Setting up marketing automation is an involved process, but once you have things in place, it’s easy to add additional email templates and other customizations to test out new strategies or messaging.

Are you ready to conquer your sales funnel in 2021 by implementing the best practices we’ve described above? Send us a message, and we’ll help you get started.

Five Dos and Don'ts for Inbound Lead Generation in 2021

Believe it or not, we’re starting to plan for 2021 already, and 61% of marketers say lead generation is a top concern for the year ahead. Clients wonder how to get more inbound leads, how to make sure those leads are high quality, and how much they should pay for good inbound leads. The following dos and don’ts of inbound lead generation can help your organization drive more quality inbound leads while also monitoring and limiting expenses.

Thanks, for the chart!

DO Make Sure You Have a Clear Call to Action

Your website, social profiles, and marketing materials should be designed to produce relevant leads for your business. In order to do that, you need to make sure that you feature a clear and compelling call to action. What do you want your audience to do? Some compelling CTAs include:

  • Sign Up for a Free Trial
  • Subscribe to Receive Our Welcome Offer
  • Schedule a Demonstration
Button examples from

There are thousands of possible CTAs, so it’s important to keep your audience in mind when creating a compelling offer. Are you selling a product or service that customers can test out online for free? Giving customers a chance to try it out for a week or month may be enough to get them hooked. If your service requires a deeper understanding, a product demonstration might be the way to go. For physical products, allowing people to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for a welcome discount can bring in new leads and new sales.

DON’T Spend More Than Your Leads are Worth

When you are paying money to generate inbound leads, it’s important to make sure that your leads are generating more revenue than you’re spending to get them. Over time, your Return on Investment (or ROI) should be significantly higher than your marketing expenses. Here’s a helpful article about measuring and improving ROI for marketing campaigns.

Keep in mind that positive ROI takes time. Your marketing campaigns might not be an overnight success; depending on your typical sales cycle, it can take time to see a positive return. However, you should get a sense of what each inbound lead is costing you to know if you’re paying too much. For example, if your product sells for $50 and each lead costs an average of $25, you are going to have a very hard time making a real profit when you factor in manufacturing expenses, employee salaries, shipping, and other costs. Ask the following questions to determine your target cost per lead:

  • How much do your products or services cost to deliver?
  • What is your profit per sale?
  • What percentage of your leads become paying customers?

For example, it costs $50 to produce your thingamajig. You sell each one for $100, leaving you a profit of $50 per item. On average, one out of every ten of your leads becomes a customer. That means your leads need to cost less than $5 for you to make a comfortable profit.

DO Use Multiple Tactics to Generate Inbound Leads

There are many different ways to generate inbound leads in 2021, and it’s important to experiment to find out which ones perform best for your organization. Consider the following options:

  • SEO: Optimize your website so that potential customers find you in their searches. The leads you receive as a result of a well-optimized website should be highly relevant and ready to learn more or even make a purchase.
  • Social Media: Build awareness about your brand using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. You might not see immediate sales from your efforts, but social media offers an affordable way to stay front-of-mind with your prospects.
  • Google Ads: Reach your target audience when they’re searching for products or services like yours. If you have a compelling offer, Google Ads offers a great way to generate new inbound leads.
  • Content Marketing: Create content that answers your audience’s questions or shares useful tips. Great shareable content can take the form of blogs, videos, or infographics, so try to create posts across multiple media formats.
  • Display Ads: Placing ads on relevant videos or websites is a good way to reach your target audience when they might not be thinking about products or services like yours. Display ads usually have lower levels of engagement than Google or Facebook Ads, but they also tend to be much more affordable.

DON’T Neglect Your Website

Remember, most of your inbound lead prospects will come through your website before initiating any sort of contact with your sales team. Statistics say only 4% of those web visitors are ready to buy, but that’s okay – converting a visitor into a lead (by collecting his or her email address) will give you the opportunity to follow up and win their business. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your website makes it easy – and compelling – for your visitors to express interest.

In 2021, a great website is optimized for mobile (since more than 50% of the web’s traffic comes from mobile devices). It should also be easy to navigate, so visitors can find the information they want quickly. Your call to action should be impossible to miss. The average web visitor will spend no more than 15 seconds on your website, so you need to make a good impression, and you need to do it fast. User experience is everything, so don’t be afraid to put some time and money into your websites UX design and work with a professional to get it right.

Do Offer Users Different Ways to Engage

People are individuals with unique interests and communication preferences. Even though you may have your target audience profile zeroed in, it’s likely that there will be some variation among those individuals. For example, some may prefer to watch videos to learn more about a product, while others may prefer to read articles. Some may not have the time to go through a personal demonstration but might sign up for a webinar so they can listen while they work. Among your audience, you will have some who want to speak on the phone or send an email, but 67% will prefer self-service options like an online knowledge base to find the answers to their questions. The more options you offer, the more likely you are to receive new leads and win over their business.

Are you ready to step up your inbound lead generation for 2021? Send us a message and we’ll set up a call to review your marketing goals!

Percentage of leads that convert to opportunities

Percentage of leads that convert to opportunities

Research from Salesforce on lead to opportunity conversion rates

In putting together lead conversion research for one of our clients recently, we ran into some interesting performance data. According to Salesforce, only 13% of captured leads ever progress to become a sales opportunity.

With lead nurturing being a fairly common practice, this means that the typical nurturing campaign is leaving significant opportunity on the table. In our opinion, much of this lost engagement is due to a lack of timeliness in email marketing. So today, we’re going to discuss how to rapidly respond to your lead’s behavior on your website.

What You’ll Need to Monitor Lead Behavior on Your Website

First thing’s first – you’re going to need to invest in marketing software that will give you the ability to capture leads and identify those leads when they return to your site. Because this software works by adding a cookie to your visitors’ browsers, you’ll also need to update your privacy policy and make sure that you have appropriate GDPR compliance policies in place.

A few of the tools we see most often are below, but these are by no means the only options available:


ActiveCampaign is an affordable marketing automation and lead nurturing solution.


Pardot integrates well with Salesforce, but comes at a price


HubSpot is one of the most commonly used marketing automation tools for mid-sized businesses.





How to Trigger Your Website Nurturing Campaign

Once you’ve got your tool in place, you’ll need to add its tracking code to your site and connect your CRM to your lead capture form. Then it’s time to decide which of your visitors’ actions you’ll want to use to trigger a nurturing activity.

Our recommendation is to focus on visits to pages that are closest to a purchase or sales qualification. These triggers might include:

An example of Google's Page Value stats

An example of Google’s Page Value stats

  • Pricing pages: sending a discount offer to a known lead who returns to the pricing page
  • Shopping cart pages: sending a special offer to anyone who abandons their shopping cart
  • Product comparison pages: emailing with a personal introduction to a sales rep who can offer a demo
  • Views of qualifying content: B2B organizations without e-commerce may want to trigger a sales outreach based on a visit to a particular service page

If you’re not sure which pages to focus on, try using Google’s Page Value data as your guide in Google Analytics. This calculation is available once you have e-commerce tracking added in Analytics, and attempts to show you which pages drive the most profitable traffic.

Building Your Nurturing Automation

An example of a nurturing automation flow

An example of a nurturing automation flowchart

Once you’ve identified your triggers, the next step is to set up your email flow and automation criteria to ensure that your leads are receiving consistently relevant calls to action. This is more easily said than done, as a visitor’s current place in their purchase journey is not always knowable via data.

The best nurturing advice here is to keep each visitor on a single automation sequence, and make sure that you’re trimming those sequences such that it’s not possible to receive repetitive communications or irrelevant offers. We recommend flow-charting out your process to make sure you’ll avoid these scenarios, and testing thoroughly to double-check your logic.

You’ll also want to create “exits” for your automation to accommodate scenarios where your lead has either moved further toward purchase or disqualified themselves from further nurturing. Doing so will

Monitoring Performance

Finally, it’s time to monitor your nurturing program’s performance. We typically use the following metrics to evaluate a lead nurturing campaign:

  • Email performance (deliveries, opens and clicks compared to email marketing benchmarks)
  • Percentage of leads engaged
  • Percentage of leads qualified
  • Revenue generated

A common scenario is needing to adjust your email volume or frequency based on performance.


We hope this tutorial has gotten you thinking about the opportunities to nurture your website visitors. If you’d like to discuss potential lead nurturing projects, please contact Young Marketing Consulting.