Once upon a time it was all about direct sales. In other words, if a form of marketing wasn't bringing immediate results, it was immediately sent to the scrap pile.

Now, it would be fair to say that things are changing. This is partly due to technology; after all, it is now much easier to track exactly which marketing source a customer came from, as well as how many steps they had completed to reach that before then.

All of these developments have resulted in a real change in how companies approach business. Some will go as far as purchasing intent data (find out what intent data is over here), while others might try and claim the customers directly themselves.

The remainder of this article will now take a look at three stages of the sales funnel, and show how you can adapt your website accordingly to take advantage.

The top of the funnel

Also known as the awareness stage, this is the very tip of the iceberg. Customers will start to try and solve a problem, and just want that top-level information to educate them so they can perhaps progress on their journey.

What does this mean from your perspective? Unfortunately, these customers aren't ready to buy yet - they just need educating. A lot of companies are starting to realize that if they can be the ones educating them about a particular subject, they can also be the ones to obtain the sale later down the line. There is of course no guarantee that this will happen, but if a person finds your content useful it will at least increase the chances.

The solution? Try and publish blog posts, e-books, whitepapers and anything else that can grab their attention at this stage.

The middle of the funnel

This is where customers start to evaluate options. They appreciate the problem in question (hopefully through your initial content at the top of the funnel) and they will start to look for relevant solutions.

These people still haven't reached the buying stage, but they are getting closer. It means that your content needs to be a little more commercial and talk about the various features that you have which can help them to resolve a problem, or show that you are a good fit.

Out of the three stages we will look at, this is the longest. You are slowly starting to build a relationship with the end customer, with the hope they will move onto the third and final stage of the funnel.

The bottom of the funnel

As you might have already gathered, that final stage is the purchase stage. They might not necessarily buy from you - but they are ready to buy from someone.

While this was historically regarded as the most important stage by businesses, it doesn't require a lot of action on your behalf. Instead, customers in this segment need a little nudge to direct them towards your product. It might even just be a case of strategically placing your call-to-action in a prominent position; the work in the other funnels should hopefully have set you up for that final purchase action.

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