What is a sales funnel? The sales funnel is the series of steps your lead takes to become a paying customer. When you create sales funnel strategies, your aim is to nurture and guide your client through each stage.
You start with “Awareness”, when your customer recognizes a problem, and finish with post-sale relationship-building strategies.
The more you know about your sales funnels, and your customers, the easier it is to increase your chances of leads, loyal customers, and profits (conversions).
You can also use your view of a sales funnel to determine whether there are any holes in your strategy causing you to lose customers.
Today, we’re going to cover some of the basic things you need to know about sales funnels.
Let’s get started.
What are sales funnels? Sales funnels explained
It takes time for any individual person to become a customer.
People rarely see a product or service and hit the buy button instantly. Instead, they spend time researching their options, getting to know your business, and deciding whether they can trust you. Around 73% of leads aren’t ready to make a purchase when they arrive on your site.
That’s where your sales funnel comes in.
Before you can start sending emails to customers, or generating profits, you need to understand every step your client takes to reach your checkout page. When you can see the sales funnel laid out in front of you, it’s easier to nurture and support your customer through every step.
With a sales funnel in place:
Marketing is much easier: You can see everything which makes an impact on your customer when they’re interacting with your brand. This makes delivering the right advertising experiences a lot simpler.
Sales forecasts are more accurate: You’ll know (on average), how many leads eventually turn into customers, which makes it easier to predict your ongoing revenue.
Better conversion rates: A clear sales funnel means you create more targeted marketing, leading to a higher level of quality leads. Because you’re attracting the right people and connecting with them at the best times, your conversion rates increase.
What are the sales funnel stages?
Sales funnels have various stages to consider.
The traditional sales funnel stages are Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action. Though there’s also another layer below worth noting, too – Retention. Most companies don’t want to convert a customer just once but maintain the client’s loyalty over a longer term.
Let’s examine the sales funnel stages more closely.
Awareness is the point in the sales funnel when your customer first recognizes a problem in their life. They know they need to solve something, so they may turn to Google searching for answers.
At this stage, you can create content which addresses the pain point of your target audience and introduces them to potential solutions. A blog about common sleep issues might be ideal for the awareness stage of a company selling white noise machines.
At this point in the funnel, the customer is aware of their problem and your brand. They’re ready to start doing research and comparing their options. This is the perfect time for you to start demonstrating the benefits of your service or solution.
A comparison post which shows how you differ from your competition could be ideal.
During the decision stage, your customer is ready to buy. They’ve decided on the solution they need, but they may need help making the final transition to “buyer”.
This is the time to make your best offer to your client. You could offer a bonus product, a discount code, or something else to encourage the sale.
At the bottom of the sales funnel, your customer does exactly what you want and (hopefully) buys your product or service. Your aim here should be to make the purchasing process as simple and appealing as possible.
Once your customer makes their purchase, you then need to think about retention. How are you going to transform this client into a long-term advocate for your brand? Singing them up to your email newsletter and offering them discounts from time to time is a great way to get return purchases.
You could also look into things like “VIP” memberships for customers who buy from you frequently. These members could earn points every time they purchase something or refer a new customer to you.
Creating an incredible sales funnel strategy
Designing a strategy to guide your customer through the sales funnel is how companies can ensure they’re getting as many conversions as possible. Your sales funnel should be something you consider in every marketing and sales effort.
For instance, you can tailor your email marketing campaign to send different information at different points in the sales funnel. You could also have a strategy in place for increasing your chances of conversion when a customer starts to lose interest.
For your sales funnel to be successful, you’ll need:
A great landing page
Landing pages are an excellent tool for the sales funnel. They introduce your customer to the offer or unique product you have. They’re also an opportunity to grab your client’s attention just enough to get an email address.
Once you have the address, you can send emails to your audience to gradually nurture them into making a sale.
An attractive offer
What’s your Unique Selling Point? How can you show your audience you’re better for their needs than your competition?
You need something valuable to offer if you want any chance of getting a crucial sale. It’s also helpful to have a lead magnet you can use to convince your customer to sign up for your email newsletter in the first place.
A good knowledge of your audience
The best sales funnels are successful because companies understand what their customers are looking for at every stage of the buyer journey. At first, you may only have a basic insight into your audience from market research and competitor analysis.
However, over time, you should be able to collect more information. Find out what kind of questions your customers ask at different stages in the sale, and which of your marketing materials earn the most attention.
Plenty of content
Content is one of the most valuable tools you have for nurturing your customer through the sales funnel. Content boosts your reach, improving your position on the search engine results pages when customers search for solutions to your problems.
You can also share content through other websites and social media to strengthen your chances of finding new customers.
Tailoring your content to each stage of the sales funnel improves your chances of successful sales. A company selling cars might start with blog posts to help their customers decide when it’s the right time to buy a new vehicle.
When the customer hits the ‘Interest’ stage, the brand can introduce content about finding the right car and showcase some of the options it has available. During the decision stage, you can build squeeze pages and send dedicated offers to customers via email.
A long-term strategy
Despite what some sales funnel illustrations may suggest, the sales funnel doesn’t stop when your customer buys something. Long-term customers and repeat clients are far more valuable than their one-purchase counterparts.
Your sales funnel should include a strategy for delivering excellent service and support to customers after a purchase.
Ask yourself how you’re going to use your email campaigns to nurture the same customer into a purchase over and over again. Think about how you can track the interest levels of your clients with reporting tools, and measure metrics to show which marketing strategies drive the best results.
Mastering online sales funnels
Learning how to create a sales funnel which supports your audience and motivates them towards a purchase is crucial. In today’s competitive landscape, your ability to connect with your customer at every point in their journey means everything.
If you can create marketing strategies to align with your sales funnel, and nurture your customers, you’ll be one step closer to success.
Sales funnels that work are built around an in-depth knowledge of your customer, and a commitment to constant optimization. You should always be tracking the results of your sales funnel strategies, to determine when and how you need to change your campaigns.