Originally published Nov. 14, 2016, updated Nov. 2, 2018
In digital marketing, your task is to find customers and lead them all the way through the sales funnel.
Luckily, there are plenty of the tools on the market to help you along the way.
In this article, I’ll go over a few of my favorites.
A sales funnel is a step-by-step process involving some combination of advertising, blogging, social media outreach, email campaigns, conversion rate optimization (CRO), search engine optimization (SEO), retargeting, copywriting, SMS marketing, split-testing, and/or a variety of other possible strategies.
Complicated? You bet.
But again, we have tools to guide us.
Even better: many of those tools are designed for specific points in each stage the sales funnel.
Here are the solutions that you should be using at every stage of the sales cycle.
Stage 1: Awareness
After determining goals and building personas, it’s time to start marketing.
Before you can sell anything, you need to make people aware of your product or service. The good news is that there are plenty of tools to help you get the word out about your brand.
SEMRush – No digital marketing effort is complete without SEO. That’s why SEMRush is so valuable. It offers competitive intelligence, keyword research, backlink analysis, anchor text reports, and traffic analytics.
Ahrefs – Another great tool for SEO is Ahrefs. It’s very similar to SEMRush but offers just a bit more in-depth reporting and a few additional services. In addition to keyword and domain analytics, Ahrefs also includes a content explorer that lets you quickly discover the most popular content online. Then, you can produce similar content that will attract customers to your site.
Buffer – Social media marketing is an important way to help people discover your brand. Buffer saves you some time by enabling you to post updates to multiple social media channels all at once. Also, you can submit a number of updates at the same time and schedule them to post throughout the day so that you don’t annoy your followers with an abundance updates that appear in rapid succession.
Hootsuite – Hootsuite is an alternative to Buffer. It offers a few more bells and whistles, but doesn’t let you play for free (permanently, anyway). If you’re planning on using social media marketing as an integral part of your online efforts and you need the absolute best service possible, you should probably fork over the cash for Hootsuite.
LeadCrunch – “Imagine if you could reach the right person at the right company with the right message at the right time to find a new customer?” That’s the opening question in the marketing video at the LeadCrunch website. The company uses a sophisticated algorithm to help you find people in your target market. As of this writing, though, it’s meant for companies in the B2B space.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator – If you’re in the B2B space, then hopefully you’re actively marketing your brand on LinkedIn. With the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can take marketing on that social media site to the next level by finding lead recommendations that are tailor-fit to your business.
Datanyze – If you’re running a high-tech business in the B2B space, then Datanyze might just be what you’re looking for. The company maintains a list of businesses that use exactly the type of technology that you’re selling. With Datanyze, you can get a list of those companies and begin your cold-calling efforts.
Growbots – If you’re looking for a high-quality outbound sales solution, you should absolutely evaluate Growbots. According to one online testimony, using Growbots is as simple as setting up a customer profile, creating a must-read email with a clickbait headline, and then launching your campaign. It’s a bit pricey, though. The service starts at $500/month billed annually.
Pitchbox – Pitchbox is a great all around outbound email platform. We use it often for influencer marketing and link building, but it can be used for all kinds of purposes.
BreakthroughEmail – This awesome tool helps you target high quality leads to help you pick the customers. BreakthroughEmail also takes the hassle and stress out of sending cold emails to those customers.
Sales Funnel Stage 2: Interest
Once people have learned about your brand, then they’re likely to take an interest in it.
At this point, you’ve hooked the fish, but you haven’t yet reeled it in – which makes it one of the most important of stages in the sales funnel.
Here are some tools that you can use to prevent the big one from getting away.
Unbounce – Once you get prospects to your website, the last thing you want is for them to bounce away from it, hence the name Unbounce. The company helps you produce landing pages that will keep visitors on your site and, eventually, transform them into paying customers.
CrazyEgg – Ever wonder how people use your site? If so, then you should visit CrazyEgg to view heatmaps that show where people are clicking on your various pages. Armed with that information, you can optimize your site for maximum conversions.
Visual Website Optimizer – As a smart marketer, you already know that it’s important to test different versions of your website design to see which one works best. That’s why Visual Website Optimizer is so valuable. It uses heatmaps to show you which design elements on your site are getting the most attention. VWO also enables you to receive feedback from visitors so that you can see exactly which parts of your site need improvement and which parts are working well.
Optimizely – How would you like to use the same tool to optimize your site that was used by Disney and The New York Times? You can do that with Optimizely. The tool allows you to “experiment broadly across the entire customer experience, on any channel, any device, and any application.”
FullStory – If you’d like to know exactly what each of your visitors are doing once they visit your site, then FullStory is for you. The service literally records how people navigate around your website and provides video that you can watch later.
HelloBar – Looking to transform visitors in contacts? Then maybe you should use the services of HelloBar. It’s a simple sticky bar that enables website visitors to enter their email address so that you can contact them later. There’s a branded free version of the tool as well as an unbranded paid version.
Intercom Acquire – Ever visit a website and notice a happy face in the lower, right-hand corner next to a message like: “I’m Sadie! Can I help you with anything?” That’s a marketing chat system run by a company like Intercom. When people hit your landing page, you can use Intercom’s Acquire service to answer any questions that might not be answered on your web page.
Leadformly – When someone lands on your site, you want to capture their contact information. For that, you need a state-of-the-art contact form. Fortunately, Leadformly is here to offer you pre-optimized form templates that include more than 50 best practices used to boost conversion rates.
LeadForensics – Even if you incorporate a sophisticated lead capture form using Leadformly, there will always be leads that slip through the cracks. LeadForensics lives up to its name by capturing the IP address of your anonymous visitors and uses that address to determine important information about the visitor, such as: contact information, demographics, and financial data.
Hot Jar – I was recently turned on to this by a college. It is a really cool CRO tool that allows for heat mapping, recording an visitor journey tracking.
Sumo– This is a great tool for email capture, CRO and visitor analysis.
Instapage – Instapage allows you to create landing pages at lightening fast speeds with their large library of customizable templates. This tool also allows you to create fast loading AMP landing pages which reduces bounce rates and increases conversions. The platform also provides post click optimization for campaigns.
Sales Funnel Stage 3: Evaluation
At this stage of the sales funnel, people are taking a very keen interest in your product or service. You’ve almost closed the sale, but you’re not quite there yet.
Let’s look at some tools to help you reach that goal when customers are in this stage.
Animoto – A great way to convince reluctant prospects that you’ve got a great product or service is with the magic of video. Animoto enables you to make high-quality videos in a snap. Then, you can use the video as a marketing tool to help you lead people further down the funnel.
Jing – If you’re running a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business, you might want to show people how to use your service with software that records your screen. Jing lets you share short videos of your online activity.
Wyzowl – Another tool that helps you put a tutorial in video format is Wyzowl. Whether you’d like to create animated explainer videos, mobile app demo videos, or web app demo videos, Wyzowl has a solution that you can use.
InsideSales.com – How would you like to get “from prospect to close” faster? You can do that with InsideSales.com. The tool uses something called neuralytics (“a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine that drives revenue growth”) to help you seal the deal faster with customers. The solution also offers sales communications, gamification, and lead scoring.
Freshdesk – It’s often the case that during the free trial phase of the sales cycle, people will have questions about your product or service. That’s why you need a help desk solution like Freshdesk. It’s a great service that helps you deliver outstanding customer service to people who are on the brink of making a purchase.
FunnelCRM – Never let a customer get away again. FunnelCRM provides everything you need from capturing customer information to the follow up and management of that customer information.
Sellsy – Sellsy is all-in-one software that helps you prospect effectively and track your customers through all the sales funnel stages.
Sales Funnel Stage 4: Engagement
At this point, you’ve made contact with your prospect. You’re ever so close to making the sale, but still not quite there. Here are some tools to help you build a positive relationship with prospective customers.
AWeber – It’s often the case that you’ll let people try your service for free for a limited time. Of course, as a good marketer, you’ll ask for their email in exchange for the free trial membership. Once you’ve got that email, you’ll need an autoresponder like AWeber to keep in contact with all your prospects. AWeber makes it easy to email contacts en masse and also tracks analytics about individual email campaigns. If AWeber doesn’t suit your fancy, have a look at competing tools such as MailChimp and GetResponse.
GoToWebinar – You’ve got a list of prospects, now how do you prove to them that you’re knowledgeable in your field? One way to do that is with a webinar. GoToWebinar is a valuable tool to help you cultivate an improved relationship with people who were once on the receiving end of a cold call. The tool makes it a snap to set up and host your own webinar that will ultimately boost your brand.
Salesforce – It’s arguably the case that the “go to” tool for managing people who are stuck somewhere in the middle of the sales funnel is Salesforce. Of course, once you’ve said “Salesforce,” you haven’t said everything because the company offers a suite of marketing tools. At this stage, though, you’re mainly interested in the Salesforce CRM tool so that you can keep track of your prospects.
Insightly – If you’re running a startup that doesn’t have a whole lot of seed money, you might need a more affordable alternative to Salesforce. For that, consider Insightly. It’s an excellent CRM solution that helps you seal the deal with your contacts.
Zoho – Another company that offers a suite of tools for engagement purposes is Zoho. It’s a comprehensive solution that includes CRM, customer surveys, email marketing, online meetings, and even business process optimization.
Heyo – One of the best ways to engage with your prospects is by running a contest. Heyo lets you do that without much effort. The good news about running a contest is that it not only keeps you engaged with existing prospects, but also helps cultivate new leads. So this tool could work at multiple points in the sales funnel.
Sales Funnel Stage 5: Commitment/Purchase
And now we’re at the point where money changes hands. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Here are some tools that will make it easier to put cash in your bank account.
Flagship Merchant Services – If you’re going to conduct transactions online, you’ll need the assistance of a credit card processor. Flagship Merchant Services is considered by many to be one of the best in the business. It’s used by some big names, including Subway, Avon, and Verizon.
PayPal – You want to make it as easy as possible for people to pay you, right? That’s why you should enlist the aid of PayPal. Set up a business account and enable your customers to pay with money out of their own PayPal accounts. It’s one of the easiest ways to generate income online.
WooCommerce – How would you like to integrate a robust shopping cart solution with a platform that makes content marketing really easy? With WooCommerce, you get the best of both worlds: an e-commerce solution that sits right on top of WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system.
Avactis – Another shopping cart solution that will integrate with your existing website is Avactis. Keep in mind, though, that you will need to support PHP on your site for this solution to work. If you don’t support PHP, talk to your development team about adding PHP support or look for another solution.
Stripe – Stripe is a complete payment platform for online businesses. In addition to making sure payments are completed quickly and securely, Stripe’s platform is geared towards building and scaling your business.
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