Improving Your Sales Funnel A Case Study


Driving Traffic to your Site

In the first post in this series, Customer Acquisition: Maximizing Your Sales Funnel, we covered:

  1. How to identify blockage points.
  2. The most common causes of blockage points.
  3. How to solve blockage points to increase sales conversions.

In this post, we’ll dive into an example about driving traffic to your site. We’ll demonstrate how to think like your customers, identify concerns and motivations and improve your customer’s journey to increase conversions.

One of the most common blockage points for startups is right at the very top of the funnel: i.e. how to get found on the web. If you can’t even start a dialogue with a prospective customer, then you have no opportunity to sell them.

A very common misperception amongst first time entrepreneurs is “If you build it, they will come”.

Given the huge pressures of today’s always-on lifestyle with technology, the scarcest and most valuable commodity is customers’ time and attention.

Getting their attention by simply creating a web site and hoping for viral spread will not work in this environment.

The first step to increasing conversion is figuring out where your blockage points are. Start by writing down customer concerns and motivations. These may look something like:


  • Don’t want to waste time on anything that is not immediately valuable and directly relevant to me.
  • Hate being sold to.
  • If it doesn’t come up in the first page of Google search results, I can’t be bothered to look further.
  • Concern about finding the best product/service for this category.
  • Concern about whether this is the best deal they can find for this product category.


  • I do have a problem to solve, and would love to find a solution to it.
  • If my friends recommend this product then I’ll want to check it out and will be favorably disposed towards it.
  • If I can get something for free and it will help me with my life/work, that is valuable to me.
  • I am really interested in learning about XYZ (Where XYZ may be totally unrelated to your product area).
  • I trust this review site/individual/firm as an expert in this area. I would like to know what they have to say about the topic and which products they rate as the best.
  • I like to go to websites that can educate me about areas I’m interested in.

To get customers to pay attention to you, think about giving them something valuable to earn their attention.

Solution #1: Use a free product (like HubSpot’s WebSite Grader)

A good example of using a free product/service as a motivator to drive traffic to your web site is HubSpot’s WebSite Grader tool. HubSpot sells a SaaS product aimed at providing tools to small and medium size businesses for blogging, SEO, social media, etc. (Full disclosure, Matrix Partners is an investor in HubSpot.)

HubSpot’s two most powerful tools for driving traffic to their web site are a) the HubSpot blog, which is full of valuable educational material on Inbound Marketing, and b) free products, like WebSiteGrader.

WebSiteGrader gives customers a way to find out how well their website will perform in Google searches (SEO) and what can be improved to make it perform better. This leverages the third motivation in our list above: “If I can get something for free and it will help me with my life/work, that is valuable to me”.

Solution #2: Use engineering for marketing

HubSpot’s WebSiteGrader tool is a great example of another idea that is really powerful: using engineering resources for marketing. The power of your engineers is that they can build things that can be used by your customers and provide value to them. These are powerful motivators to overcome friction.

These tools can also be hugely scalable. Compared to the traditional spend that you might put into marketing programs, this can frequently be a far better investment, and be more effective at building the right kind of relationship with your prospective customers.

Solution #3: The power of education as a selling tool

If you are wondering what to offer to your customers to provide value, consider education. Using HubSpot as an example again, their highly trafficked blog is this idea in action.

Get inside your customers’ heads to understand what area they are most interested in learning about and offer educational material in that area. It helps if this is in the same area as your product/service, but it is not essential.

Something interesting happens when someone learns from material that is well put together and intelligent. They develop respect and trust for the person who is educating them and will listen to suggestions from that person, including for products and service.

Solution #4: Using data to drive customers to your website

Many companies collect interesting data as part of their business. Frequently it is possible to use insights gained from that data to create interesting articles or services that can be used to drive traffic to your website.

You might be wondering how you could do something similar, but realize you are held back by not having a data source. Don’t let this hold you back. There are many companies that issue surveys to get collect data, promising people who participated that they will have access to the results. There is a strong desire amongst businesses to learn how they stack up relative to the peers and the best in the industry.

Top of the funnel: Harvesting demand versus creating demand

An important note for readers considering the concerns and motivations of people they want to attract to the top of the funnel: There are actually two different classes of customers you will be dealing with.

  1. Type A: Those who are aware they want a solution where your product fits the bill.
  2. Type B: Those who are not aware of your product category and aren’t aware it could benefit them.

For Type A customers, you need to Harvest Demand. For Type B customers you will need to Create Demand.

For Type A customers, the most likely starting point for an interaction will be a Google Search, since they are likely looking for a product to solve a particular need.

For Type B customers, the problem is much harder, and will likely cost you more effort and money. You will have to reach them in some other way and get them to hear about your product. The very best method is having them hear about you from a trusted source such as a friend, respected blogger, mainstream press, etc. These two audiences require different marketing programs and have different motivations.

In case you missed it, you can read more about how to identify and solve blockage points in your customer acquisition funnel in the first post in this series: Customer Acquisition: Maximizing Your Sales Funnel.

The third post in this series digs into another frequent problem companies encounter in conversion funnels: getting visitors to register and provide their email address or other contact information. Read the post here: Improving Your Sales Funnel: Getting Customers to Register.

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