Marketers tend to focus on the top and bottom of the funnel.

We closely monitor advertising response rates. And we’re constantly tweaking our sales pages and closing scripts—trying to increase conversions.

Those efforts are important, but a strong middle of the funnel can also do wonders to improve the overall profitability of your sales funnel.

Cultivation: The Goal of the Middle of the Funnel

The goal in the middle of the funnel is to cultivate prospects who are aware of you and your product or service, but who aren’t quite ready to make a purchase with you.

Normally the tools we use in the middle of the funnel are some form of “content marketing.”

Blog posts, social media channels, webinars—these are all regular tools used by marketers in the middle of the funnel.

Each is designed to increase your audience’s trust in your ability to help them solve their problems.

5 Blunders in the Middle of the Funnel

Here are five of the most common problems that lead to poor performance in this stage of the sales funnel:

Blunder #1: Not Enough “Touches”

The middle of the funnel is where people are deciding whether you are someone they should trust and listen to.

Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, claims that nurturing programs don’t impact sales conversion rates until a minimum of five touches.

A “touch” does not have to be a one-on-one interaction. A 5-email autoresponder can have the same effect.

But many marketers don’t create enough touch points to build the trust needed to help prospects feel comfortable enough to make a purchase.

If you’re aggressively building an email list, but you don’t have an autoresponder or a regular publishing schedule in place, you’re letting prospects fall out of your funnel.

Blunder #2: Letting People Forget Who You Are

Have you ever received an email from a marketer and you have no idea who this person is?

Sometimes it’s spam. But just as often, it’s a marketer who let his or her list go dormant.

You probably signed up for the list months ago, there was no autoresponder in place, and the marketer hasn’t sent anything to subscribers since you signed up.

To stay top-of-mind with your audience, try to send or post something at least every week or so.

If you go too long, they’ll forget who you are and why they signed up in the first place.

Blunder #3: Focusing on Yourself Instead of Focusing on the Audience

Here’s a perfect example of what not to do in the middle of the funnel:

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This email doesn’t contain a single piece value for me.

I don’t care that they have a new website. I care about my life and my problems.

Instead of doing this, focus on helping people solve problems. If you can help people solve problems with your free content, they’ll be much more likely to purchase products and services from you when they have bigger problems they need to solve.

Blunder #4: No “Next Step”

People move through the middle of your sales funnel at their own pace.

You never know what piece of content will convince people to move into the “actively considering a purchase” stage.

But this I do know: too many marketers forget to include a call to action in their content.

You don’t have to be pushy. At the end of your cultivation materials, just include an invitation to take the next step.”

You could say: “If you’d like to learn more, we should talk. Here’s how to get in touch.”

Blunder #5: Not Testing Results

It’s easy to set up an autoresponder or a content plan, then just put your head down and execute.

Whatever you’re doing to cultivate prospects in the middle of the funnel, don’t forget to test different variations over time.

The math of sales funnels means a small improvement in one area can have a large impact on the overall results of your efforts.

Conclusion

Remember that people in the middle of the funnel are interested, but not quite sure about you yet.

If your middle-of-the-funnel efforts aren’t working well, people might hang out in this area of indecision for months—or even years.

Your job is to get them to move forward. Stay focused on that and you’ll do just fine.

You can learn more about the Top of the Funnel here.