Having a well-thought Sales Funnel is a necessity.

A Sales Funnel is a marketing system that guides a potential customer or lead through a systematic sales process involving a number of steps with an end-goal of converting that lead into a customer.

Sales funnels are not just reserved for big businesses and mega-corporations – they’re an essential part of any marketing strategy for any business of any size and will not only ensure your leads are gradually and carefully converted into customers, it will also keep them (and even the people they know) coming back for more.

When you consider that around 97% of traffic to your website never makes a purchase, it’s clear there is a huge opportunity to strengthen your sales cycle in an effort to win sales from the majority of your visitors

Is your Sales Funnel outdated?

Sales funnels have been around for a very long time and you likely have one in place to some degree. However, since the introduction of the web and email – the game has changed. Long gone are the days of the two-step sales funnel where awareness alone (i.e taking out an ad in the local paper) could produce a loyal customer.

Fast forward to today, your leads now have access to Google. Seeing an advertisement isn’t enough of a reason to commit to a purchase. Customers want to see:

  • Well designed websites that are easy to navigate
  • Reviews from other customers
  • Active social media accounts
  • Awards, endorsements, guarantees
  • Useful information
  • Special offers
  • All of our questions answered without having to ask
  • Email communication that assists our purchase

So it is up to us as business owners and marketers to build trust with our leads by answering all the questions they may have, offering them loads of value upfront and giving them a WOW experience they’ll never forget – do all of these things and your customers will not only want to do business when you again in future, they’ll also spread the word about their experience landing you even more customers by word of mouth.
So, with all of this in mind here’s our 4 step process to building your very own sales funnel that converts:

Step One: Attract Leads

This is the very top of any sales funnel – the widest point where the most people will exist – 100% of your site traffic. This step involves defining which methods of inbound marketing are going to bring leads to your website. If you’re unfamiliar with what inbound marketing is, read our post about it. In a nutshell – inbound marketing is the art of being found by people who are interested in your product or service – that way every lead that enters your sales funnel has already been qualified in some way, giving you the highest possible chance of converting them into customers.
Here’s some methods of inbound marketing we recommend:

  1. SEO (search engine optimisation)
  2. Content Marketing/Blogging
  3. Highly targeted Advertising campaigns (AdWords, Facebook, Display Advertising)

Step Two: Earn Prospects

Pushing a lead further down the funnel involves converting them into a prospect. A prospect is a lead that has shown interest in your product or service by contacting you, signing up to your newsletter, creating an account with you, getting part of the way through your checkout process – so on. Basically, they have interacted with your website enough for you to be able to contact them back. The most effective way to convert a lead to a prospect is by offering something high value in return for an email address.

Here’s some examples of email subscription magnets that offer great value:

Step Three: Reaching out to Prospects

Email is the backbone of any online sales funnel – it’s your primary mode of communication with your prospects. When a customer signs up to your email list they’re giving you permission to contact them – so make it count by choosing effective messaging that drives them closer to the tip of the funnel.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a manual process. Email Automation programs such as Drip allow you to send personalised emails to exactly the right person at exactly the right time. Here’s some examples of email automation you can use to warm up your leads even more:

Opt-in follow up

If a lead signed up to your email newsletter, you’ll want to send them a confirmation of this and include the value you promised in your opt-in form such as a discount code, free eBook, a free course or even just a friendly welcome email.

Customer Success Stories & Credibility

So you’ve already offered something high in value for opting in, but your prospect hasn’t made any further movement down the sales funnel. It could be that they still don’t have complete trust in your brand. Target these prospects with a series of customer success stories, case studies, press snippets or perhaps a video incorporating these things. Be concise in your email, but always offer more information by clicking onto your website.

Low-Cost Buy In

So you’ve offered some value for free and you’ve built trust, but you’re still not getting sales from some prospects. Target these prospects with a series of offers aimed at getting them over the line. People who buy from you once are 6 times more likely to buy from you again, so give them an offer they can’t refuse. Typically, this is in the form of a low-cost buy in; something affordable but with high value. Perhaps it’s a free trial, a special discount offer, a free gift with purchase etc.

Cart Abandonment Recovery

A customer adds some products to their shopping cart but fails to checkout. Send them a follow up email reminding them of the items in their cart. You may even want to sweeten the deal to get them over the line by offering a time sensitive discount. These guys are ALMOST over the line – don’t delay in getting them back in the funnel.

New Product and Sales Notifications

Notify your prospects and customers when new products are added to your store, when you have sales or specials or when you have exciting news. You can drill down further by only sending notifications for products similar to those a customer has already purchased, or that a prospect has already viewed. These remind your prospects what great value your site has and may catch them at a time they are more ‘ready’ to make a purchase.

Repeat Purchase Reminders

So you’ve converted a bunch of customers – don’t forget about them! Your customers are your most valuable prospect. Remind them periodically to make another purchase. For example, a dentist may choose to send 6-monthly check-up reminders to patients, a e-store may email products related to a customers last purchase to them, a consultant may send an email to upsell their clients to another product offering. The possibilities are endless.

Gather Reviews, Feedback and Testimonials

Reinforce your credibility with new prospects by gathering credibility from existing customers. Remind customers to leave reviews an feedback, or politely ask if they’d like to be involved in a case study or leave a testimonial you can share.

Offer Incentives for Spreading the Word

You want your customers to tell their friends, family and colleagues all about their great experience with you, so remind them by offering an incentive for doing so. E.g ‘Share with friends and earn a $50 credit’ or ‘Give a friend 10% off and earn 10% off your next purchase’ and so on.

Remember, you only want to send communications that your prospects WANT to receive. The goal is to offer value to the prospect – not sales jargon. They will make their own decision on whether or not to buy from you – your job is to prove you’re worth it.

Step Four: Retargeting

Lead nurturing by email isn’t the only method you can use to get more out of site traffic. You can also use retargeting systems such as AdRoll to display ads for your business on popular websites to people who have already visited your website, signed up to your database or made a purchase. Tailor your messaging depending on where they are in the sales funnel.

The big win with this method is that you do not need to have the lead’s email address to use it. Magical little things called cookies allow you to track even anonymous site visitors and target them with ads for your business.
web surfer flowchart

Image from InternetMarketingInc

72% of millennial shoppers are favourable to retargeting – and some sites boast 50-60% higher conversion rates on retargeting ads – so it’s an important one to include in your sales funnel for each leads, prospects and customers.

You’re Done!

If you managed to get all the way through each step – then you’ve now got a well-thought out sales funnel that converts. But sales funnels are not simply ‘set and forget’ mechanisms. They require constant iteration (thats the fancy word for trial and error). Analyse each step of your sales funnel and work out at which points people are failing to move forward then revise that step by A/B testing different messaging, layouts, images and offers.

You should be continually improving your sales process and increasing your site’s conversion rate. Track these important metrics and you’re well on your way to boosting your business growth!

Working on your sales funnel? We can review and assist in executing marketing automation – tell us what you’re trying to achieve. 

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