Online Marketing Blog

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Building a marketing funnel for your local business:

Building a marketing funnel for your local business:

How to spend your time and money on qualified leads

With marketing, you pay to capture consumer attention. The cost of any strategy can be, and usually is, quantified by impressions and/or conversions.

Example 1: in a TV ad, you pay to air a commercial X number of times, on these programs, for this span of time. The cost the TV folks charge is based on airtime, which is priced by viewership. Basically, the more people who view your ad, the more you pay.

That’s why Sunday Night Football or the Superbowl is such expensive airtime. But you’re paying for impression-based advertising. Example 2: in PPC ads, you pay for click-throughs, not impressions. For the sake of this article, we will refer to anything that requires voluntary action on the user’s part as a conversion ---not skipping a YouTube ad and clicking on a PPC ad, for instance, demonstrate a level of interest. You’ve engaged them.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a marketing strategy, like cost, reach, receptivity, lead qualification. Over all, the point of assessing such factors is to determine cost-effectiveness. Marketing can be understood as an investment you make to increase leads and sales, which leads to more money. That means your marketing strategies need to bring in more than they cost.

The greater the return-on-investment is, the more profitable your company will be (useful metrics to track for this are cost-per-sale and cost-per-lead)

Sell to people who are the most likely to buy

All marketing “works” to some degree, or it wouldn’t exist. But choosing the most cost effective strategy requires looking at several important factors. The factor we want to explore here is “qualification”, which is basically “what criteria does your audience meet that tells you they are likely to buy?” For example, you know that most TV viewers are human, so that’s a good start. You also know that people under the age of ten are not interested in accounting software. If you’re selling bras, your ideal audience is either an adult female, or a male with a female partner. So the question is, how targeted is your marketing? How targeted can it be?

Let’s take a look at the most common marketing mediums, and explore how much each of them allows you to qualify your lead. Then, we’ll draw some conclusions about which mediums are most cost-effective, based on lead qualification. This won’t settle the matter, by any stretch --- but it will give you one more thing to weigh when choosing the mediums that make up your funnel. We’ll cover:

Print ads (Newspaper or magazine


Branded Apparel


YouTube ads

Popup/Display Ads (Google AdSense, Facebook)



Email marketing



Print ads (Newspaper or magazine)

Print ads are similar to radio and TV, but are more affordable and less annoying to the consumer. Just like choosing a specific radio/TV program, you can choose specific magazines to target consumers based on their interests. You can choose local publications, like your town or county newspaper, which allows you to target only people in your service area. If its a locally based rag, so much the better.

Print may be a better bang for your buck than broadcast, but reading is one of those things not everybody does --- especially small time local papers. The absolute best in print ads are a local magazine covering a specific interest.


Billboards can really only target geographically. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t useful, but it does mean you’re paying for a space that gets X amount of passersby each day. The more specific your product is, the more you’re paying for impressions on unqualified leads with a billboard.

Branded Apparel

Branded apparel can be a highly cost effective strategy for the right brands. Sellers can mark up their apparel and make money on it, or they can offer it to employees and consumers as a way to strengthen relationships. Every unit produced is a one time cost that provides impressions for the life of the garment.

Even better, it can stimulate conversations about your brand. These talks can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations, and word-of-mouth is your most important marketing campaign. The best version of this is when such recommendations come from a trusted source, like a co-worker, family member, or somebody who shares the same hobby.

While not all impressions that you get with branded apparel are necessarily qualified, the cost is relatively low. Branded apparel can be a good bang-for-your-buck investment, especially as it reinforces your WOM.


TV and radio commercials work so similarly that we’ve grouped them together here. With TV, you’re paying for impressions. Basically, you’re paying to air an ad on a program of your choice, a given number of times, over a certain time period.

Choosing the program allows you to qualify your audience to some degree. You’ll either find a program well suited to your product/service, or you won’t. Program selection can help you target age range, gender and interest, but not to a highly specific degree.

You also end up paying for a wide broadcast range, which may or may not suit your purposes. Ultimately, you’re paying to reach a large audience of mildly interested viewers. And you’re paying to make an impression, rather than a conversion.

Broadcast commercials are among the least targeted. We also feel they are on the “annoying” end of the ad spectrum, since they are an interruption to the feature that the consumer is there for.

YouTube ads

There are multiple types of ads you can run on YouTube. Here, we’re going to talk about those video commercials that run prior or during your selected video. The rest fall under the category of popup/display ads, which are covered below.

YouTube is the new TV, especially for younger generations. The ads are roughly the same length, and equally annoying. You can get a pretty good idea of the cost by just looking at who is advertising here. You see the same products as on cable news and commercial sports --- things like cellphones, cars, pharmaceuticals, and insurance. Another trend you’ll notice is that these ads are typically not geographically targeted.

The cost model is a little different than TV. The advertiser only pays if a user doesn’t skip the video, or actually clicks through. So the seller only pays out for conversions AKA qualified leads. Another plus for the seller is that YouTube can display ads to users based on data gathered from any Google product.

Popup/Display Ads (Google AdSense, Facebook)

These are the ads that follow you around from website to website, cluttering up digital spaces and interrupting your user experience. AdSense targets users by interests or recent browsing based on data gathered through Google products. That means what you’ve watched on YouTube (like product reviews), the websites you’ve visited, and even the conversations you’ve had when you’re phone is in your pocket, listening in.

Facebook ads work similarly, but they have a lot more info about user’s interests because their users tell them in their profile. Facebook Ad Manager lets you target users to an absurdly specific degree. You can choose criteria like age, gender, and “has a family member who is male and between the ages of --- and ---."

All in all, these leads can be highly qualified, especially with Facebook. The cost model involves paying for conversions, although the cost of impressions is certainly factored in. If your product is specific, display ads can offer a cost-effective campaign because you don’t have to pay for unqualified leads.


These are those Google search results that appear above the organic results. They have a little yellow “ad” indicator attached. Pay-per-click is one of the most targeted and cost-effective marketing campaigns when done strategically. The advertiser chooses specific search phrases that they want to bid for. Those who agree to pay more per click will appear above their competitors.

The upside is that 1) you can target highly qualified leads by choosing the right search queries to bid on, 2) you only actually pay for conversions AKA click-throughs, and 3) you get free impressions for the deal every time somebody enters your search query.


Your website can be viewed as both a marketing and sales tool. Users who land there have already gone through some sort of conversion. That means they’re highly qualified, but it doesn't mean the sale is finalized.

To use PPC and display ads, you need a website. Really, you need one anyways. But a well done website is way more than just a convenience you owe your customers --- it should be a profitable investment. There are many ways a website can increase both leads and conversions. Ultimately, its one of the three main channels where you can close sales.

Being towards/at the end of your sales funnel, your website is a campaign that speaks only to qualified leads. The money you invest into it is not going toward impressions on uninterested buyers, so its a cost effective marketing strategy.

Email marketing

Email letters are something you send only to leads that have been converted. In this case, the conversion is signing up to be on your email list. A strong advantage of email marketing is that you can manage your sign-up lists and target them with highly specific content.

One way this is useful is in talking to the most qualified customers of all --- those who have already purchased from you before, and trust you, and will need your help again. Email is one of the strongest relationship building tools. And while we’re on the subject, relationship building is your strongest weapon for building your WOM marketing.


Blogging is also a powerful tool for advancing your relationships. You can position yourself as a trusted expert by sharing knowledge that you already have. You can educate your customer base in ways that help them get more value out of your products. You can create demand for your product. You can answer FAQ’s to advance the conversations you’re having with customers.

The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you get out of blogging is just as valuable. Populating your website with the words that qualified leads are searching for will make your website more visible on search engines. The more content you produce, the better --- as long as you’re not cluttering your site up with useless content just to get your word counts up.

Blogging is cost-effective because the cost is one-time and upfront. One blog entry can stay online indefinitely. For the length of its existence, its contributing to SEO and automating a conversation with qualified leads. Even better, you can make these leads become more qualified by educating your customers on the value they can get out of their product.

word of Mouth

This may not seem like a “marketing strategy”, but that attitude will limit the growth of your own business. Word of mouth needs to be treated like its own marketing medium for you to maximize the rest of your marketing.

The good news is that the basis for WOM are just basic good business practices and relationship building. When you go through all the work (and expense) of guiding your leads down your sales funnel to final sale, you’ve laid the groundwork for WOM. The same things that make a customer come back to you are the same things that will make them talk about you. And no billboard, commercial or online message is going to hit the mark the way that a recommendation from a trusted contact will.

Case in point, the leads you get through WOM will be highly qualified, and there’s no tangible cost to WOM. This makes it the most important, most powerful and most cost-effective marketing medium.

Best mediums by “qualification”, ranked

1. Word-of-Mouth

2. Email marketing

3. Website

4. Blogging

5. Pay-Per-Click

6. Popup/Display Ads (Google AdSense, Facebook)

7. Branded Apparel

8.Print ads (Newspaper or magazine)

9. YouTube ads

10. Billboards

11. TV/Radio

Note that this is not an authoritative or exhaustive list. Your best strategies will depend on your specific value proposition, and there are factors besides “qualification” to consider. The above list is meant to help you understand qualification as a concept in choosing your marketing strategies.

To further discuss your marketing strategies with a local small business marketer, you can call Todd at(360) 294 8310 or click here to fill out a contact form.