The term Sales Funnel probably sounds familiar, because it’s a common phrase tossed around when it comes to online marketing techniques, but what does it mean? How does it work? More importantly, how do you know how to put all the pieces together?
Understanding a Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is the technique used to lure in new customers and turn a mildly interested party into a lifelong customer. This is a constant process, rather than the creation of a solid structure, and there are lots of moving parts to this funnel. Not every customer will be on the same journey when it comes to buying your product or investing in your services, so keep in mind that there will be loads of analytics going into each step, which we’ll cover.
But before to start, if you want to learn more on how to tracking your customers interactions like a pro, have a look at this article.
The sales funnel starts with broad interest, or Awareness. This is when potential customers learn you exist.
The next step in the funnel is Interest. This is when potential customers start considering the benefits of your products or services.
From here, the funnel narrows even further into Decision time, or the step in which a customer is ready to pull the trigger. Then comes Action, when the purchase is made and the money arrives in your pocket.
There are several very important things to keep in mind before considering the setup of a sales funnel. First, there’s no one way to sell. Every customer has different wants and needs, so like every marketing technique, it’s critical to do research before making plans.
Read also: Key Principles of Value-Based Selling
Know the niche, know the buying personas, and learn how your products and services will improve their lives or solve their problems. Take time to integrate with your target market by reading existing content and forums, and getting a feel for what they see already.
Next, think of how your content will be different. A sales funnel is only as good as the content that is served to potential customers at any stage.
From web content to email messages to video scripts to social media posts, make sure your content is relatable, relevant, and attracts the right kind of attention.
Your product may be superior, but your marketing efforts are useless if they aren’t memorable.
Lastly, always keep up to date with your site analytics and performance data. This will show you where to put emphasis, and potentially lead to some A/B testing options down the road.
For the purpose of a sales funnel, knowing where visitors click and how much time they spend on each page will help you know where to direct traffic to gain the largest following.
The Four Stages of a Sales Funnel in Detail
The first step of a sales funnel is Awareness, and this means getting your name, your website, your social media, your product out into the open.
Post tons of solid content about your products or the affiliate products you are promoting. Run ads on sites like Google, Bing, Facebook and LinkedIn. Search Engine Optimization is key here, because you want people to find you when they search Google, YouTube, and more.
Keep blog content constantly refreshed and topical. People who are looking for something start with research, and the more they see your information appear, the more likely they will be to trust it.
Social Media is another key step in building awareness, and ads are not the only way to get noticed.
This is a great place to factor in some affiliate marketing, too. Join groups and forums, and keep attention focused on your social media sites with relevant links.
Don’t just settle for one social media account, either. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest: all of these are great places to network with potential clients, and all of these sites can be linked to in email blasts.
The next stage of our sales funnel is Interest. Sometimes this goes hand in hand with Awareness, and other times it’s a very separate stage.
This stage starts when potential customers have a specific situation in mind and are actively looking for a product or solution that can fit in that situation. At the same time, the majority of those in this stage will not be ready to make a purchase just yet.
This is a great opportunity to turn them into email subscribers!
When these potential customers receive your emails, rich with interesting content, links to new blog posts, special offers or coupon codes, and strong call-to-actions, they’ll gain a sense of trust.
You are the expert, and you can help them make an intelligent decision, specifically with your products or services.
Now that you’ve gained the lead’s trust, it’s time for them to make the Decision. At this point, they may have narrowed down their choices, or perhaps they’re just waiting for the right time or special offer to wander by. This is where your analytics can help you.
Find out more about who is clicking where, and when. Create a short and helpful free webinar, include educational videos in blog posts, or link to informational posts on YouTube.
This is where you assert your expertise and knowledge, and create your best possible offer, whether it be a discount code, a bonus offer, or something simple, like free shipping. Make it irresistible! If you want to learn how to use keyword analysis to understand your customers, have a look at this article.
And then comes Action. The lead becomes a customer, pulling the trigger, making the purchase, and cementing your partnership. Don’t let this be a one-time thing.
As long as your niche allows for repeat sales, encourage them! Follow up with customers (learn how) and send them through the funnel repeatedly. Create new sales funnels for customers who might need additional products or services, offer upsells, downgrades or customized offers.
Keep the pipeline open, and always keep awareness alive. Offer them special repeat-customer offers and conduct surveys to remain memorable as an authority in your niche.
In the Action Stage your customers have already decided to buy your product or service. This is the stage where you can further funnel them into a sales process and leverage your sales by proposing complementar offers, bundles, and special promotions.
How Does It All Work Together?
Let’s consider an example sales funnel, to paint a picture of how all the pieces fall together.
To tackle the first step of building Awareness, consider your website. You’ll want to create a site that’s ready to rock before attracting attention. Then blast away.
Let’s say you create a Facebook ad that links directly to a squeeze page, where you offer a free item, like a PDF report or a video.
Next, you need to build Interest. Let the squeeze page of your website be very clear, informative, and of most importance, request an email address before closing. This makes that visitor a lead (more about this concept here).
Send the lead targeted emails. Analytic tools and constant tracking will allow you to see who signs up when, so target new leads with blog posts that really explain what you and your site do, and how.
After a few targeted emails, consider a special offer for a paid item or an affiliate product, which will help that lead make a Decision.
By then, a lead will know you are an expert and they will trust your site, product, and direction. Additional video links will only solidify this opinion, and that’s what leads to Action. Consider to create a YouTube channel, so you’ll have written content in your blog, as well as videos.
A sales funnel is not something you can create and let spin on its own, but it is a very useful method for turning visitors into leads, and leads into customers.
Once you’ve completed a few successful sales funnels, you can even employ A/B testing to determine what is working and how. It’s a lifelong process that leads to prosperity!
You can build a Sales Funnel very easily, there are many options you can choose. If you are on WordPress, you can build the process yourself using some plugins like Instapage or WP Profit Builder, and link your autoresponder optin forms to collect the leads and follow up.
If you want to use an all in one solution, I suggest you to have a look at ClickFunnels. In this article you can read the ClickFunnels review. This is a cloud hosted, “software as service” platform, that offers all the tools you need at a monthly price.
The first option (WordPress) takes longer time to get implemented, because you need to build everything up from scratch. The main advantage is in terms of costs. ClickFunnels is a turnkey solution offering everything you need to build a successful sales funnel, but it has a cost that may not fit to your pockets if you are just starting up your business.