Have you ever stopped and marveled at how far we’ve come as humans?
Maybe it was on your way to work downtown and you gazed up at those enormous skyscrapers towering overhead.
Or maybe you looked down at your phone. This thing in your pocket that connects you to a practically endless source of information.
And you were just struck with complete awe that humans, these weird animals, were able to create all these.
The thing is, we weren’t always like this. Because not too long ago (in the grand scheme of things), we were chasing our food across the landscape and foraging for berries.
It was when we started harvesting our own crops that we truly began to quickly evolve. It was when we stopped chasing our food and started growing it that we moved closer to becoming the society we are today.
And like the human species, if you want to grow your business, you’ve got to start growing your leads rather than chasing them down.
Think about it. Would you rather spend hours out of your hectic week making awful cold calls and sending out annoying email blasts? Or create a system that brings in and nurtures those leads automatically?
The second one… obviously.
And a sales funnel is the best way to do that.
But it’ll only start working when you send through traffic—the fuel for any funnel.
Think of traffic as the seeds in your field and your sales funnel as the water and soil.
So the question is, where do you get that traffic to send through your sales funnel?
That’s exactly the question this guide answers.
I’ll be covering the 3 main traffic source types and breaking them down into 11 individual sources that you can tap to keep your pipeline packed and your business growing.
The 5 Main Reasons For Building A Sales Funnel
Before we launch into how you’re fueling your funnel, let’s make sure we’re on the same page for why you should be using a funnel in the first place.
- It lets you build trust with your prospects, an essential ingredient for turning them into customers.
- It answers all of your target audience’s questions before getting on the phone with your sales team, pre-qualifying your leads to buy.
- It lets you continue to sell and upsell to past clients, giving you a lifelong patron rather than just a one-off customer.
- It weeds out leads that aren’t a fit for your product or service, saving you the hassle of wasting time on a low-quality lead.
- A well-made sales funnel lets you accomplish all of this… automatically. And just think of the mountain of time that can save you.
Email Addresses & Lead Magnets: The Key To Any Well-Made Funnel
So, sales funnels are great when they’re built correctly—that much is clear.
How do you actually get people into your sales funnel though?
Sure, they can come hop around your website, browse your products, and maybe give you a call someday.
But if you want to feed those leads with targeted content that’s designed to push them one step closer to buying, you’ve got to do more than that. You’ve got to take control.
And that’s where lead magnets and email capturing comes in.
Gathering the email addresses of your prospects is the key to building a sales funnel that’ll turn browsers into leads into customers—if you follow the best practices that is.
And the best way of capturing a prospect’s email is with a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is usually the first or second step of your sales funnel. It offers a valuable yet easily consumable piece of content to your leads. And for free!
The only catch is it’s usually handed over in exchange for their email address.
And if the content is valuable, people won’t mind doing so.
Lead magnets have the dual purpose of capturing that sweet, sweet email address and positioning you as a trustworthy authority on a subject.
They can come in a variety of forms too, including…
- Case studies
- Swipe files
- Resource lists
- Free trials
There are many lead magnet examples proven to convert that can inspire you to build yours.
So in order to get the benefits of a sales funnel, you’ve got to capture your prospects’ email addresses. And in order to do that, you need to make a killer lead magnet.
But even with the best, most irresistible lead magnet in the world, it doesn’t mean anything if people aren’t seeing it and you aren’t collecting their email addresses.
And THAT is why you need to fuel your sales funnel with the right traffic sources. Because if you don’t, all that work you put into your sales funnel won’t mean a damn thing.
The question is, what kinds of main traffic sources are there?
Main Source #1: Paid Search
Paid search is usually what comes to mind when businesses consider online advertising.
These types of ads are the ones that pop up first above organic search results. They’re usually marked with a small “Ad” or “Sponsored” label to separate them from organic results.
Paid search also goes by the term PPC or pay-per-click. Why? Because you’re only charged when people click your ads. Makes sense, right?
If you’ve used a search engine before (and who hasn’t?), then you’ve probably seen them.
Here’s what they look like on Google…
And here’s what they look like on Bing…
Paid search ads are great because they allow advertisers to target specific keywords that their ideal audience might be looking for.
For instance, you can create a Google Adwords campaign around “dog grooming.” And when someone searches for that term, the ad for your business will pop up in their search results before the organic results.
Now, how often your ads show up will vary depending on your ad spend. The higher you go, the more people will see it.
But be careful… it can be hard to zero in on exactly what your target audience is searching for. And if you end up choosing keywords that don’t align with what you’re offering, the audience you attract won’t be interested in what you’re selling.
Pros & Cons of Paid Search
Where does paid search shine and where does it involve more pain than it’s worth?
- Target the right audience. One of the best things about paid search is just how direct doing this kind of advertising is. Often it’s as simple as just choosing the keywords that relate to your business and voilá! Your ads will pop up for some of the people who search for those terms. And since a searcher is actually looking for your service or product if you choose the right keywords, they’ll be motivated to buy too.
- Easily trackable ROI. Search engines want you to know how valuable it is to put ads on them. So they make tracking clicks, impressions, and return on investment especially easy for advertisers. Many have their own dashboards. And that also makes A/B split testing a heck of a lot easier for marketers too.
- Generates traffic quickly. Unlike organic search, paid search brings in traffic especially quickly. As soon as your ad goes live, it’s likely that you’re going to see a nice bump in website visits. That makes it a great option for a business that wants to start seeing results quickly.
- Requires a budget. For most, this goes without saying. Do you want results? You’re going to have to pay for them. Duh. But once your budget runs out, your ads come down entirely too. And that can be a problem for businesses that want to create a steady flow of traffic. That goes double for when keywords have a high cost-per-click (CPC).
- Possible to misinterpret the searcher’s intent. Though simplicity is certainly a major draw for paid search, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an art to doing it right. It is possible for marketers to misinterpret the intent behind searching for a particular keyword. And if your ad is getting in front of people who don’t care about what you’re offering, it can wreak havoc on your budget with little to show for it.
- Users are less likely to click than with organic. Unfortunately, organic search will almost always bring in more clicks than paid search. According to Hubspot, about 7 out of 10 searchers will click on organic links while just 3 out of 10 will click on paid search links. As a result, businesses tend to incorporate both paid and organic search into their marketing budget.
Main Source #2: Organic Search
While paid search puts you in front of viewers for a price, organic search appeals to customers based on how you rank according to a search engine’s algorithm.
Unlike paid search, you don’t get to choose the keywords that bring up your business. Instead, the search engine evaluates your rank and visibility based on…
- Domain authority
- Inbound links to the page
- And a variety of other factors
Most search engines keep the specifics of their algorithms quiet so that websites aren’t able to “cheat” the algorithm to earn a higher rank than they deserve.
But for the most part, the name of the game is value and variety. The more valuable information you’re able to offer your audience and the wider the variety of the content you offer, the more likely you’ll be able to climb the ranks of search engines.
And that means that your ideal audience will be able to find your business and become another satisfied customer.
Using search engine optimization (SEO) principles also makes your business more visible for search engines. So be sure to always follow the best practices for an SEO friendly website.
Pros & Cons Of Organic Search
So, what are the upsides and downsides of using organic search to fuel your funnel?
Let’s take a look.
- Once systems are in place, organic search can be highly cost effective. The most obvious benefit of organic search is the fact that you aren’t paying for the clicks that get visitors on your page. They’re clicking because a search engine decided that you’re relevant to what a user is looking for, not because you paid for it. That being said, you’re still “paying” to rank in some sense because the content you create takes time and energy to create. Having the right tools can help you cut down on costs even more.
- May bring in more qualified leads. The content marketing model is all about lead nurturing. And when done correctly, content marketing can give your audience tons of value and promote your business as a valuable service. It makes sense, then, that people who have been nurtured by your content will come to you ready to buy.
- People trust organic leads more. As I pointed out above, 7 out of 10 people skip paid ads and go straight for the organic results. As a result, if you can nail down your organic rankings on Google or other search engines, they’ll often end up attracting even more visitors than paid ads backed by an enormous budget.
- Not as targeted as paid search. The problem with organic search is that your audience is determined by the content on your page. No choosing keywords. No pointing out specific audiences. You are at the mercy of a search engine’s algorithm. And that can make it costly and time consuming to reach the people you’re actually after.
- Can take a long time to become effective. Search engines tend to favor websites that have a wide collection of pages and digital content for visitors to look through. Unfortunately, that means that smaller websites won’t be able to rank as highly as others that are more filled out. Building up your website is one way to combat that, but doing so also takes quite a bit of time and effort on your part too.
- Evolving algorithms can make it tough to stay on top. Since you’re at the mercy of the search engine with organic search, you can be in a lot of trouble when one switches up its algorithm. It can even throw your site pages back through the ranks if you’re not careful. It’s essential, then, to consistently monitor your ranks on search engines and adjust your website accordingly.
Principles Of Effective Organic Search
Organic search can be a powerful way to promote your business. But doing it right takes a bit of work.
Below are some organic search best practices to give you an edge when trying to climb higher in your organic search engine rankings.
- Focus on value, not keyword stuffing. Search algorithms have gotten incredibly smart these days. And while keyword stuffing was an effective way to essentially spam search engines before, companies like Google are now penalizing businesses for it. Instead, focus on offering true value to your target audience. Research their problems and pain points. Give them useful and actionable advice. And when the time is right, position yourself as the obvious solution to their problem.
- Vary up your content types. There’s more to beefing up your search engine ranking than just blogging and service pages. In fact, if you really want to perform well, you need to put out plenty of different types of content. Try to vary up your content schedule with the following content types in addition to your regular blogging:
- Optimize your pages. According to Kissmetrics, 4 out of 10 people will abandon your website if it takes too long to load. And if your website design is clunky, confusing, or outdated, users won’t hesitate to find another business to browse. So be sure your load times are short (2-5 seconds), your website is polished, and your links aren’t dead. Because failing to do so can end up costing you customers.
Main Source #3: Social Media
Now, social media is a bit of a weird one here since it has elements of both paid and organic content.
If you’ve scrolled through a feed for more than 15 seconds you’ve seen them. At first glance, they seem like posts from your friends. A cat video here. Some hashtags there. It’s practically indistinguishable!
But when you look a little closer, you spot that sneaky “Sponsored” note hidden in the upper corner.
Those are the paid versions of social media content.
Then there’s the organic route. Like organic search, using organic social media to bring in leads is all about delivering quality content that your ideal audience will love.
And in doing so, you’re also building trust, helping them better understand their problem, and nudging them towards considering you as their solution.
Pros & Cons Of Paid & Organic Social Media
As with any other method of fueling your funnel, there are upsides of both types of social media and there are downsides.
Let’s take a quick look at both of each type.
Paid Social Media
- POWERFUL targeting capabilities. Many social media apps track how users engage with content and build a user profile based on those interactions. This lets them offer really strong targeting when choosing who you want your ads to go in front of.
- Massive audience. There are 2.82 billion social network users worldwide in 2019 according to Statista. And one of the most alluring aspects of advertising on social media platforms is tapping into this enormous audience.
- Context can hurt conversions. When people are going to Google, they’re looking for something. A product. A business. Whatever. But with social media, users often aren’t searching for businesses. Their intent is to interact with friends and connect with others, not necessarily be sold to. And that means advertising on these platforms may be tough if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Authenticity counts, and that takes work. People on social media love authentic and personable brands. But that kind of presence takes work. And if you want to stay on top of the biggest trends, engaging daily (if not hourly) with these platforms is critical.
Organic Social Media
- Free!(ish). Similar to organic search, organic social media is all about cost-effectiveness. And since posting on Facebook or sending out a tweet is free, the costs of organic social media are low. That being said, there’s still all the time, effort, and talent (yes, posting good content is a skill) involved in a strong social media presence. And that often equates to money.
- Showcases your unique personality. When brands aren’t authentic, people notice. And that can really hurt your image. But when they are authentic, people notice that too. And they usually love it. That’s why a lot of businesses use organic social media posts (zero selling) to help show their followers what their brand stands for. It builds loyalty.
- It takes time. As with traditional content marketing, building up a loyal following takes consistency. You’ve got to stick to a posting schedule in order to keep your audience interested. Otherwise they’re bound to just move on to someone else to follow. Added to that, you have to respond to comments, answer questions, come up with a regular content calendar—it can be exhausting.
- It’s all very visible. Negative reviews of or interactions by your company on social media can easily be seen. And that means if you aren’t careful, you could be opening yourself up to embarrassment. That’s why it’s always important to address negative feedback immediately before things get worse.
The 11 Traffic Sources For Fueling Your Sales Funnel
There are plenty of ways to fuel your sales funnel with traffic. Below are the top 11 sources you can start using today to bring in new leads and keep your funnel flowin’.
1. Google: The unquestioned King of Search, Google is by far the most popular paid search platform. Hubspot points out that this platform alone receives an estimated 70,000 queries every single second. Every second! There are a few things you can do on this platform specifically to generate leads on your first try.
2. Bing: Though it’s often thought of as only existing in the shadow of Google, Bing ads actually give a lot of value to marketers. This is especially true thanks to the partnership between Bing, AOL, and Yahoo.
3. Quora: This question and answer website boasts more than 300 million unique monthly users. And you can tap into those users by advertising your product or service on this website. Bonus tip: be sure to create an actual Quora profile for your business and try to be active on the platform to set yourself up as an authority too.
4. Amazon: Ecommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, AI… Amazon does it all. And when you use it to spread awareness of your products or service, you’re getting in front of millions of users. In fact, in 2018, nearly 21 million people viewed an Amazon website in December alone.
5. Adroll: Great for retargeting ads in particular, Adroll places your ads on thousands of other websites for people who have already viewed your content. Retargeting ads can go a long way towards bringing people who have dropped out back into your funnel.
6. Organic Search: Developing well-made, valuable content and optimizing your page with SEO best practices is a great way to rank higher in the search engines without having to pay a dime to Google or Amazon.
7. Facebook: Facebook is the king of social media advertising right now. It’s especially cost-effective compared to other platforms, it has super powerful targeting abilities, and it boasts literally more than a billion active users.
8. LinkedIn: More of a professional environment and feel than the other social media platforms, LinkedIn is great for free organic B2B traffic. Sponsored ads are also available for businesses looking to get in front of the right people.
9. Instagram: A photo and video-sharing platform, Instagram is highly visual which makes it great for businesses with physical products. Plus, it’s owned by Facebook, giving advertisers access to its powerful ad targeting. And when you use it right, it can be highly effective.
10. Pinterest: Another highly visual platform, Pinterest lets you “pin” information or ideas that you’re interested in so you can collect, share, and save them for later.
11. Use An Existing Email List: Last but not least, you can also use an existing email address list to drive traffic into your sales funnel too. Like I said before, email is one of the best ways to get your audience’s attention. But fueling your funnel with an existing list takes some work. That’s why we’re dedicating a full article to this topic coming up soon. So keep an eye out for it!
So there you have it.
There are 3 main types of traffic sources that you can fuel your funnel with:
- Paid Search
- Organic Search
- Social Media
Along with learning a bit more about each of those 3 main types, we also took a quick look at 11 of the top specific traffic sources to help you fuel your funnel:
- Organic Search
- Existing Email List
Each has its own pros and cons as well as its own best practices and ideal users.
However, it’s best to use a mix of all 3 main types to get the most out of your marketing budget.
Because just like evolution, diversification is key to survival here.
What other types of traffic sources does your business use to fuel its sales funnel? Which have you found to be the most effective for you?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keep funnelin’, stay focused,