When online advertising first appeared, it took on many forms. Online ads, websites, emails, and eventually social media. But it lacked a cohesive strategy for turning leads into sales. But the best marketers realized that by using these tools together they could create the ultimate conversion tool – the sales funnel.
A sales funnel uses numerous tools to move the potential customer down a predetermined path, from basic awareness all the way to a closed deal. Every time they interact with one of your marketing tools, they should then be guided to the next step. Each step becomes more and more personalized until the final sale takes place. This path is called the sales funnel, because each step will have fewer people, but those you keep will be more dedicated to your business.
There are many funnel models online, usually with between 3-7 layers. Here at RocketGov we use a three-layer funnel designed to move your government contracting officers from proposal to contract.
This will start with your capability statement and your website or landing page. It lets them know about your company, your product or service, and how you can help the government agency.
Takes the next step and actually provides valuable information to the agent for free. This can be a whitepaper, ebook, or special guide. The free information triggers the email drip campaign. The first few emails are also value based, helping the agency determine the best choice.
The final emails should start to push the idea that you are the best for the contract. This should correspond with your proposal interviews and discussions. With the information and value given, it should be easy for them to make the right choice.
In our outline there were actually four steps the agency was asked to follow.
The parts of the sales funnel:
We will skip the capability statement, since that’s what the rest of this website is all about – helping you make a great capability statement that gives information, but also brings them along to the next step.
Unless you have scared them off with a dull capability statement, most government agents will take the time to find your website when considering your proposal. However, most websites are not designed to provide your government procurement officers the information they need or want. That’s why we advocate for a clear call to action on your capability statement that the agents visit a special landing page. This is especially important if your company does many things, but only are seeking a contract for a specific type of job.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is a page within your website designed exclusively for one thing. In this case, your landing page would be created to give government contracting agents the information they need to select your company. According to Hubspot, 48% of marketers create a completely new landing page for each marketing campaign.
Here are some benefits to creating a striking landing page:
So what do you need on your landing page? First, remember that the only people visiting this particular page are government contracting officers. So everything should be tailored to helping them learn about your company and how you can help them. Here are a few things you should include:
Here’s a great outline of a landing page from Unbounce.
There is tons of other information on how to create a great landing page out there if you do not already have one. The best place to get a landing page is through Unbounce. They have tons of pre-designed templates to get you up and running in minutes. Best of all, if you go through RocketGov you can get 20% off your first three months.
Though if you really want to up your game, you go with ClickFunnels. They go far beyond landing pages and offer full sales funnels. Their templates give you and landing page, email campaigns, pop-ups, thank you pages, and everything you need to create a complete sales funnel to boost your capability statement from a boring page, to a full-fledged marketing machine. RocketGov users can get a 14-day free trial by signing up here.
With all the noise and information swirling everyone these days, it is not enough to simply provide information about you and your product. Your marketing has to do more – it must provide value to your contracting officer. By providing value, you keep them engaged. The more engaged they are, the more receptive they are to your message. And you message is clear: they should award you the contract.
So how do you provide value? This doesn’t mean a bribe or anything of financial value. What we mean is providing valuable information. You must capture their attention with information that improves their jobs or their lives. Here’s the kicker – in order for them to access this value they must provide you with nothing more than an email address.
For them they get a great report, or white paper, or roadmap, or ebook, or whatever you have that you can give them to help solve their problem. You get their email, which will be connected with an email marketing campaign. It’s a win-win!
At RocketGov, our favorite value item following a capability statement is a FREE report on the 5 questions every procurement officer should ask about [your product or service]. For example, if your business was document shredding, then you could create a report called, “The 5 Security Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring a Document Destruction Service.” And let’s say you’re unique in that your company also does environmentally friendly disposal. So one of your questions will be about the environmental impact of disposal. That way, you will have the upper hand if the contracting officers ask that question.
Now they have read your capability statement, visited your landing page, received your free report, and read more about your company. But tomorrow they have moved on. Or have they?
This is where the drip email marketing steps in. Drip emails are a series of automated emails that go out based on when your contracting officer signed up. This way, you are staying in contact with them long after they have put down your capability statement and left your website. Drip email campaigns can increase your sales opportunities by 20%. This is especially true if the emails don’t seem automated, because they are tailored to the reader.
The secret to a great email sequence is the narrative. People love a great story. Think about soap operas. It’s not just the drama that keeps people engaged, it’s the cliff-hangar at the end of each episode. What if you could use the same techniques to keep your contracting agents engaged?
If you're not using an email platform then you're not even trying. The two best are Mailchimp (not paid link), which RocketGov uses, and AWeber (paid link - see affiliate disclosure). Both give you tools to quickly create great-looking emails, as well as setting up automated email drip campaigns. Both have tiered pricing depending on how big your email list, but Mailchimp has a pretty healthy free tier as well.
Here's a template for a great email campaign:
Email one thanks them for downloading the valuable report your created. It's more business-like than the others, because it completes a transaction. However, it should then very briefly (just 2-3 sentences) introduce yourself and begin the story of how you are the best person to help them out. All you are doing is setting the stage.
A great win is always preceded by a loss. The second email shares a sob story – a story of failure doing what everyone else does. How did you face a difficult situation, and how did you come out of it better? Best of all would be if the contracting agent has a similar problem.
Here’s the catch, don’t share the solution yet. Tell them how you’re successful now, but not how you got there. For that, they need to stay tuned for the next email.
Every story needs an "ah-ha" moment. It’s time for the epiphany. This email talks about how you made the transition from distress, to success. “My epiphany was that I needed…”
Now tell the story of how you succeeded with the lesson learned, and how that has made you the best in the business. Just make sure your epiphany ties directly into what you are selling.
By now the contracting officer knows that you have a great product, but will it work for them? Start listing all the benefits of your product (benefits to the customer, not features). Include a link for them to contact you directly to discuss your product.
Also list the benefits within the benefits. What benefit does that feature give the customer? For example, do you have a grant reporting manager? If so, that's not the benefit - the benefit is them knowing their reporting is done correctly every time, which saves them headache later on.
This is the last email in the sequence. Here you can include a sense of urgency (like the contract period is closing) and even a mid-funnel offer like another value item. Feel free to ask for the contract.
Of course, this isn’t the last email, just the last of this sequence. You can keep it up with future email chains and value points. Even if you don’t get this contract, they’ll know you in the future.