The Cybersecurity Marketing Funnel - The Palo Alto Example
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Consumers’ buying habits have largely been influenced by the advent of the online shopping cart. As a result, regardless of the product type and whether it is sold online or offline, marketing and sales teams have also adapted their marketing methodologies to better suit the preference of the modern consumer as a means to engage prospects more meaningfully. Palo Alto Network's cybersecurity marketing funnel provides a great example of how funnel oriented marketing can ensure higher engagement with your campaigns and marketing content from the people you intend to reach. But what makes content offers the new elixir of marketing success? Hubspot, trailblazers in the realm of inbound marketing, argues that valuable content is, “...the beginning of a relationship between you and your lead. If you keep providing them with relevant, informative content, they’ll come back to you for more.”
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how the folks at Palo Alto Networks have created Pay Per Click ads (PPC) on Google Search that go beyond pushing products to customers, to instead offer them relevant, informative and engaging marketing material, while simultaneously guiding them along the sales funnel and convert them into leads.
Top of Funnel (TOFU)
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As you’re probably aware, the top of the sales funnel primarily consists of leads with some awareness of a product or solution, but haven’t quite placed their finger on what exactly they’re looking for. In short, they’re very much still in the browsing stage. For example, an executive wanting to learn more about cybersecurity (due to a work-related event or need) may start browsing online with a search term as simple as “cybersecurity” into the Google search bar. From this input, Google infers that the searcher may have some awareness about cybersecurity and wants to learn more about solutions or how to go about choosing the right one.
Based on this, Palo Alto’s PPC ad shown above, is a perfect response to this search query since it steers away from salesy content and instead, offers the user a free piece of informative content in the form of an eBook which serves to educate the reader on cybersecurity. This may seem like a sales opportunity missed, but read on to understand the thinking behind choosing to educate the user, instead of pushing the sale at this seminal stage.
This image represents the landing page the user will visit once s/he clicks on the PPC ad. It is accompanied by informative copy outlining the content of the eBook. Click here to view the full landing page.
Middle of Funnel (MOFU)
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Continuing onto the middle of the sales funnel. Thanks to the clever placement of the initial PPC ad and its accompanying content, our lead now feels more educated and wants to learn more about how to select the right product for his/her company. So, s/he enters “how to choose a cybersecurity solution” in the search bar.
Again, Palo Alto’s understanding and clever implementation of the sales funnel comes through as we see in the ad copy above. Not only does the ad answer the user’s exact question, but the content on offer also gives Palo Alto the opportunity to subtly educate prospects on the functions, features and benefits of their own products and offer comparisons to competitors’ solutions. Now, as our user travels down the sales funnel, awareness around the Palo Alto brand is growing steadily thanks to relevant and useful engagement with it and the informational value derived from this engagement.
Again, Palo Alto’s placement of a content offering in exchange for the buyer’s details is a smart strategic move to engage, educate and guide the user down the sales funnel. Viewable landing page can be found here.
Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)
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OK, so our lead has successfully navigated to the bottom of the sales funnel. Keep in mind that at this stage, our user feels confident in the solution needed, thanks in large part to the information absorbed through online searches. S/he’s now identified the required product - a firewall - and is ready to make a buying decision; but not quite yet. Our user needs to know more about the functions, features and benefit of different firewall products on the market and returns to the trusty Google search bar and enters, “firewall products”.
The PPC ad above again, speaks to the user’s need for more definitive information, except, in this case, the ads are designed to help him/her understand Palo Alto’s standing as a trusted provider of cutting-edge firewall and other cybersecurity products. In addition, the user’s awareness around Palo Alto as a brand is, at this stage, exponentially amplified thanks to the brand accompanying him/her through the buyer’s journey with informative marketing content. When decision time comes, the likelihood for our user to choose Palo Alto as his/her solutions provider has increased significantly due to the prospect education process which addressed that need with relevant content offerings.
The PPC ad links to yet another relevant piece of content that, at this stage, will surely bring him much closer to a buying decision - and more importantly - have Palo Alto top of mind in terms of deciding on a particular brand. Viewable landing page can be seen here.
From Leads to Customers
It’s important to note that potential buyers enter the sales funnel at virtually any stage, so I’m not only referring to leads that require nurturing from the top of the funnel exclusively. For example, a CIO with thorough knowledge on firewall products may head straight to the buying decision stage, making the placement of relevant content so important to ensuring that your PPC campaigns captures the persona with the right message.
Smaller companies can also benefit greatly from generating relevant content and using the tried and tested funnelling system. If you’d like to learn more about creating engaging content that helps your brand stand out through all the marketing noise, check out Marketing Envy’s previous blog on 5 tips for creating irresistible content offers. You can also download a free copy of our eBook entitled, 25 Greatest Lead Generation Tips for Cybersecurity Companies.