Building a successful sales funnel is the primary goal of your business. A well-mapped journey for your customers to make it through before they are ready to purchase from you, this process can be mapped by a sales funnel.
Successful or not, what matters most is that each checkpoint in this process has content and interactions which will help move people along to the next stage until they reach their final destination: purchasing from you.
This article will discuss everything about building an effective and efficient sales funnel.
- What is a Sales Funnel?
- Why are sales funnels important?
- The 4 Stages of Sales Funnel
- Example of an effective sales funnel
- How to build a sales funnel for business
- How to create content for each sales funnel stage
- Need for optimizing your sales funnel
- How to optimize your sales funnel effectively
- How do you measure the success of a sales funnel?
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a standard that maps out the journey of any customer who purchases anything. The model uses a funnel as an analogy because many potential customers are at the top end, but only a fraction makes it down to buying something.
There are multiple steps in your sales process- the top, middle, and bottom- depending on what kind of company you are selling stuff to.
The four stages in the sales funnel are Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action. Passing through each stage signifies a more profound commitment to buying something. Most online or conventional businesses use this model to guide their B2C marketing efforts in these Sales Funnel stages.
Why are sales funnels important?
Every customer has a different journey, and through the sales funnel, you understand what they are thinking and doing at each stage. With these insights, you’ll know where to invest your marketing budget for maximum return on investment.
You’ll create messages that resonate with people in their particular stage of the buying process – turning more prospects into paying customers.
If you don’t understand how a sales funnel works, optimizing one won’t be possible. Below we will explain what a sales funnel looks like by presenting its parts and functionality.
The 4 Stages of Sales Funnel
Prospects who hear about your products or services and want to purchase them will be in different stages of your sales funnel. One option might enter at the first stage while another may go as far as four, but in the end, they constantly evaluate their interest level on whether to make a purchase or not.
Prospects are more likely to conduct competitive research when considering an offer. The available range is from 1 to 4. Each stage has its set criteria that must be satisfied for sale.
This stage is when people first become aware of what you offer or how you can help them.
They hear about it for the very first time through a variety of different sources, like an advertisement on TV, hearing someone talking about your product at work, seeing your business storefront in their city, and more.
One example of the awareness stage might be when someone learns that there’s something new called “a website.” This person may have seen one pop up in Google search results, or maybe they saw it advertised somewhere before.
When a consumer reaches the interest stage in the sales funnel, they’re doing research and comparing their options. This is your chance to swoop in with content that will help them without trying to sell them anything.
You’ll turn off prospects and chase them away if you try selling right away. Here, the aim is to establish yourself as an expert while helping consumers make informed decisions about what product or service they need and how best to get it from you.
The decision phase of the sales funnel is when someone has decided to buy something. They might be considering two or three options, so this is your chance to make a reasonable offer for them. It could be free shipping if you have it, a discount code/gift card that they’ll want immediately, etc.; whatever will tempt them into buying from you instead of going with a competitor.
The customer acts at the bottom of the sales funnel when they purchase your product and become part of your ecosystem. However, that doesn’t mean your work is done.
The marketer’s job is to create more customers from one purchase, so they want to do their best to invite that customer back by thanking them and giving them feedback on how to improve themselves- that extra mile helps those customers feel appreciated.
Example of an effective sales funnel
You run a business that sells home and office nameplates. You know your target audience hangs out on Facebook, and they are between the ages of 25 to 65 years old.
You run a successful Facebook ad that drives traffic to your landing page and asks people to sign up for your email list to receive the lead magnet by giving their contact information.
Now you have transitioned from prospects into leads. They are now moving through this funnel of yours.
Over a couple of weeks, you send out content to educate your subscribers about different types of nameplates, how to design inspirations that are used in them, and ideas on where customers can hang them.
You are selling nameplates like crazy. At the end of the email blitz, you offer a 10% discount off each customer’s first order with their newfound love for the new and unique nameplates. Everyone wants what you’re offering.
You’re asking customers to come back for more. Next, you add those exact customers to a new email list. You begin the process again but with different topics like advising on caring for these old nameplates or suggesting gift items that will give people something back while helping preserve this style.
There you have it:
- Awareness: You made a Facebook ad to lead customers to your landing page.
- Interest: You deliver something valuable in exchange for lead capture (email addresses).
- Desire: Your content educates your audience and prepares them for a purchase.
- Action: You offer a coupon your leads can’t fight, then start marketing to them again to boost retention.
How to build a sales funnel for business
To have a sales funnel, you need prospects. Once you have those prospects, tracking their behavior and engagement is essential for identifying where they are in the funnel.
Follow these easy steps to build a sales funnel for your business:
1. Know your audience and collect data
The soundest way to know your audience is by talking to them. The more data you gather about the needs and wants of your target market, the more effective your sales funnel will become.
One vital thing to remember is that you are not marketing yourself or your own business. If anything, we are selling a product that fits well with our customer’s preferences.
That may include adjusting certain aspects for better effectiveness and broader appeal (that also means making adjustments according to insights gained from conversations).
The queries you should be asking your customers are:
- What are their current challenges?
- What do they fear or have frustrations with?
- How can you assist them in reaching their goals and aspirations?
You can create and generate content for each sales funnel stage based on this data. You may also use content marketing tools to provide valuable information at every level so that prospects might reach out to you for help.
2. Capture your audience’s attention
Your sales funnel only works if you have people interested and willing to buy your product in the first place. This means putting content before them – it’s all they see.
First, take the organic route by posting diverse content across different platforms.
Organic traffic includes SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media traffic (not paid for), and referral traffic from other websites linking to yours. You can also branch out with various content forms such as infographics, videos on social media, or just plain old text posts.
The ideal place for running ads depends entirely on where your target audience hangs out. If you sell B2B products, LinkedIn prospecting/ads are perfect; always be open to A/B testing.
3. Build a landing page
Prospects will most likely get their first introduction to your company from a landing page. If they click on an ad or sign up for a webinar, the result is that they can go to your landing page.
Your landing page should have a section that discusses who you are as a company and what your unique benefits are. You want to make sure people can sign up for your email list so they have the opportunity of hearing from you in the future. If possible, include an offer on this page.
4. Create an Email Drip Campaign
Market to your leads using email by providing amazing content. Do it regularly, but not too often- one or two emails per week should suffice.
Build up to the sale with a drip campaign and provide educational material. What do they want to learn?
Identify obstacles and objections that you need to overcome to convince them to buy your product. At the end of this drip campaign, make an incredible offer to spur them into action!
5. Keep it going
In the Action phase, you can land new customers or hear why prospects aren’t interested in purchasing. Either way, keep the communication going. If a customer has just purchased from you recently, focus on product education and engagement; if they haven’t yet made a purchase- build up to check in with them every few months.
How to create content for each sales funnel stage
One of the marketers’ most prominent mistakes is not aligning their content marketing efforts with the sales funnel. It means prospects don’t progress through the funnel. They don’t go deep enough or look into lucrative avenues like repurposing existing content and increasing reach.
They need a sales strategy for every stage to engage effectively and close more deals.
1. Blogging (Awareness and Interest)
Blogging is an excellent way to generate awareness and interest in your business. It can be your primary source of traffic for your website, and it’s also a perfect way to engage with people on your list by sharing valuable content.
The best way you can bring awareness through blogging is by optimizing the keywords in this content so you can attract target customers from an organic search.
2. Lead Magnets (Interest)
Lead magnets are used to generate interest in your products. They can be a guide or course you offer for free to your audience because they will already be interested in it.
Lead magnets need something within them, such as call-to-actions and links so people can check out the products/services you have available.
3. Webinars (Decision and Actions)
Webinars are a valuable way to reach a decision stage and convince people to take action. They’re primarily focused on convincing someone who has already signed up for them that they should buy your products.
The webinar’s goal is to educate and entice the person into making a purchase, which leads us back to having a call to action at the end of it all. You can convert them from being curious about your product or service to buying something from you.
4. Videos (Awareness and Interest)
Videos are best for the awareness and interest stage, but they can also be helpful at other stages. YouTube is search engine number two by far, so you want to optimize your videos for specific keywords to generate traffic for your website.
You can also use services like Wistia, which lets you embed educational videos on your blog posts or website to educate customers about topics of interest and close sales with explainer video tutorials.
Need for optimizing your sales funnel
How do you sell a product or service without being pushy? You have to be efficient. You can’t force a prospect to make a purchase, and neither can you stop them from going to your competitor.
Without an optimized sales funnel, all you are doing is guessing about their journey and what they want- which means if you think wrong, the sale will go elsewhere. And that would not be good for business.
An email marketing sales funnel with prospects in mind will give positive results regardless of what side it falls on: either successful or unsuccessful.
Take note of how people are engaging with your site during a session. Where do they click? Are they clicking on and focusing their attention where you want it to be? What confuses them or seems unappealing to them?
This is important for those landing pages that might divert people away from conversion success. If the page isn’t optimized for conversions, most people will click out of it in frustration and annoyance.
How to optimize your sales funnel effectively
Optimizing the sales funnel is a great way to boost your business. One of the essential parts you should focus on is how consumers move from one stage to another; this will help them convert at a higher rate.
We talked about Facebook Ads and how you can use them for marketing purposes. Don’t just run one ad, but instead try 10 or 20 that might seem similar but direct them toward different buyer personas and target features like age groups and location so potential customers see them.
You can A/B test your landing pages for conversion optimization. It takes time, but you’ll reach more people and convert prospects more reliably.
The best way to optimize sales is by paying attention to results throughout the funnel – start at the top with content creation. Test the language of your email campaigns to figure out what works for your audience. If one piece of content doesn’t work, try something else.
Your goal is to create a lasting impression on your audience. This way, they won’t have any reason to look elsewhere for what you offer.
So when asking people in the Action stage of their personality type if they want from you, test your headline and body copy- does free shipping work better than a 5% discount? And finally, track customer retention rates: do people come back and buy again or refer friends?
These little things can make a big difference in revenue.
How do you measure the success of a sales funnel?
As your business improves and grows, you might need to adjust your sales funnel strategy. By analyzing customer data, you learn more about what they want.
For example, this is not an effective conversion rate if too many people subscribe to your email list after clicking on a social media ad without making a purchase later.
Remember that one cannot measure success by tracking only one metric like the number of signups for an email list or how high their thresholds were when signing up for it. It would help track conversion rates and retention rates (e.g., how long does someone stay on the website before leaving?).
To get from one stage to another, identify where there are problems by answering these questions:
- Are people paying attention?
- Do they trust your brand enough for them to enter their contact information?
- Have purchases been made via email campaigns or other marketing efforts before this time?
You will know where you need to change your sales funnel accordingly by answering these questions.
Building and optimizing a sales funnel can be daunting, but it’s the only way to survive in this competitive marketplace. Take your time with these actions that are as small as font choice or asking for an order too soon: both will turn people off from buying from you.
You need to take care of these details before creating your sales funnel to reflect what you want and what potential customers might enjoy.
Carefully evaluate why things aren’t working out, then find adjustments accordingly-those changes could mean the difference between success or failure.