Are you using a sales funnel?
After all, you put in the effort, time, and money into marketing your product or service.
Only instead of seeing sales roll in, all you hear is crickets.
Having any old sales funnel (or worse, no sales funnel at all), won’t give you the results you want.
Here’s how you can use a sales funnel to boost sales, make you more money, and validate your digital marketing efforts.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is the decision-making journey a customer goes through towards a potential purchase.
There are four main stages to a sales funnel. Marketers can use these sales funnel stages to determine how to best appeal to the customer journey at each point in the sales process.
In addition, there are three common sales funnel terms to know:
- Top of the sales funnel (TOFU)
- Middle of the sales funnel (MOFU)
- Bottom of the sales funnel (BOFU)
How Does a Sales Funnel Work? What Marketers Get Wrong
Knowing the sales funnel definition is one thing. Using it to your advantage is a different, more complicated story.
Here’s what many marketers get wrong about the sales funnel process:
They try to sell at the beginning of the funnel.
Even though less than 4% of people buy a product at first glance.
Instead of trying to sell immediately and appear pushy, use a well-developed sales funnel to draw in your customer at just the right time.
How Important is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is important because it can make or break your conversion rate. If used incorrectly, you could waste thousands of dollars trying to convert the wrong customer at the wrong time.
The sales funnel is the difference between a customer either buying or never visiting your website again.
Sales funnels describe a customer’s buying journey — your job is to make this journey a no-brainer for the customer to click “purchase”.
Let’s Talk About the Sales Funnel Stages
These sales funnel stages guide your marketing strategy so you know what’s most effective at the best opportune time.
Let’s look at each one and what your role is in each stage.
Stage 1: Awareness
This sales funnel stage is when a potential customer learns that your company exists. This could be from an Instagram ad or a friend mentioning your business in conversation.
This stage is considered part of the top funnel (TOFU).
Your goal at the awareness stage is to introduce your company in a non-obtrusive way.
Your potential buyers might only just realize they have a problem. They might not have looked into solving it yet, so you simply just want to be on their radar.
Stage 2: Interest
The interest stage is when a customer does more research to solve their problem. They’re probably not ready to buy but are weighing their options between you and your competitors.
This stage is part of the middle funnel (MOFU).
Your goal at this stage is to build trust to create a relationship between your company and the customer.
You provide your expertise and value to warm up your lead so they continue to see you as a trustworthy authority during their research.
Stage 3: Decision
The decision stage of the sales funnel is when the customer wants to buy but is deciding the best way to go about solving their problem.
This stage is at the bottom of the sales funnel (BOFU).
Your goal is to help them realize that your company is the superior solution to fix their pain point.
The customer wants to know that your product or service fits exactly with their needs. They want assurance that they won’t feel buyer’s remorse afterward.
Stage 4: Action
This final stage determines the success of your sales funnel. Did your potential customer buy your product or service or did they leave the funnel at any point before this step?
This stage is at the bottom of the sales funnel (BOFU).
Your goal at this stage is to both convert your client and set them up for success with your product — so they become loyal (repeat) customers.
Use Your Content to Up Your Sales Funnel Game
Don’t waste hours of your time creating content that doesn’t connect with your audience.
Here are some common content marketing strategies and when to best use them in your marketing funnel.
Blogging is a great tool to use at the top of your sales funnel, specifically the awareness and interest stages.
These beginning stages are crucial for generating leads. No audience or traffic means no buyers.
Blogging is an effective strategy to do just that. In fact, companies with blogs create 67% more leads every month than those without.
Blogging maximizes your sales funnel by:
- Generating traffic to your website through search engines
- Building trust with your target audience
- Creating awareness of your brand as an authority
Lead magnets during the interest stage of the sales funnel are effective when used concurrently with blogging.
This is because 95% of website visitors won’t return to your site again.
Don’t let your blogging traffic exit out of your website and never return.
Retain them with a lead magnet.
Instead of someone reading your blog post then bouncing, offer them a free checklist, template, or additional tips.
The reader gets the opportunity for more value and in exchange, you get their email address.
Unlike blogging and lead magnets, a webinar is more frequently used at the bottom of sales funnels, specifically in the decision and action stages.
During these later stages, potential leads are looking to solve a specific pain point. A webinar is a perfect way to address how your product or service fixes the problem.
Webinars are a highly effective marketing strategy — they can turn 20-40% of viewers into qualified leads, with 5% purchasing during the webinar itself.
Video can be used in all stages depending on how you use it. For instance, here are sales funnel examples that involve video:
- Awareness: Youtube or influencer ads
- Interest: Educational tips on a related topic
- Decision: Testimonials from current clients
- Action: Thank you or instructional video
Over 80% of marketers say that video helps with lead generation, traffic, and sales.
Not using video means you’re missing out on an extremely viable content strategy.
Leverage Social Media in Your Sales Funnel Strategy
Social media is a gold mine that can directly increase the size of your funnel. Here’s how to use it to make the biggest impact on your business.
Tailor Content to Your Audience’s Interests
Slim Jim’s Instagram account grew from 5,000 followers to over 1 million in 2 years by posting memes.
This type of content increases brand awareness and fits their audience’s interests.
People don’t follow the Slim Jim account for news on jerky products. They just want a laugh.
Diversify Your Social Media Channels
To capture these potential customers, post on multiple social channels.
Make sure you are using effective social media management tools to help you manage all of your accounts.
Cross-Post Your Other Content
Don’t leave your blog posts and lead magnets alone for others to try and find.
Share them on your social media channels so your audience continues to get as much value from you as possible.
Providing this value nurtures your audience until they trust you enough to buy from you.
How to Build Your Sales Funnel
The million-dollar question you might be asking right now:
How do I create a sales funnel?
Follow this sales funnel template to get your funnel up quickly.
1. Analyze the Behavior of Your Audience
Your sales funnel shouldn’t be designed to attract everyone.
If it is, you’re casting too wide of a net.
Instead, ensure that your sales funnel targets your ideal customer. What is the ideal age, interests, location, or most visited social platforms?
You can research your audience behavior by:
- Reviewing your own audience analytics
- Researching your competitor’s audience
- Using consumer research tools like Google Trends
- Using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) software that can analyze and create accurate customer profiles
2. Grab the Attention of Your Audience
A mentality of “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work in marketing.
You must purposely put your brand in front of your ideal customer.
Use social media and the content methods listed above to continually repurpose your content on multiple platforms.
3. Create a Landing Page
Creating a good landing page is an effective way to nurture potential leads by capturing the reader’s email.
In fact, landing pages convert at 23%, which is the highest converting form. By comparison, popup forms convert at 3%.
Regardless of whether you want the reader to sign up for a free webinar or get an eBook, each landing page should only have one offer and one call to action associated with it.
4. Use an Email Marketing Campaign
Remember: someone giving you their email is sacred.
Show them that they made the right choice.
To do this, make sure you’re signed up with a free email service provider.
Then set up an email marketing campaign.
This campaign can be as simple as a welcome email with your offer, or as complex as an automated email funnel with multiple emails that build up your offer at the end.
5. Keep the Communication Going
If someone doesn’t buy, that doesn’t mean the relationship is over.
They just weren’t ready to buy yet. Nurture this lead with continued value.
If someone does buy, don’t forget about them. Show your appreciation by adding more value, upgrades, and even coupons.
After all, it’s common to see coupons for “new customers only” and rarely coupons for loyal customers.
How to Measure the Success of Your Sales Funnel
What does a good sales funnel look like?
There’s really only one true measure of a successful sales funnel:
Whether or not it’s generating your desired number of sales.
The Best Way to Identify Sales Funnel Weak Spots
What do you do if your sales funnel isn’t giving you the sales you want?
You have to find the leak in the funnel.
To do this, review conversion rates at each stage of the sales funnel.
For example, if your social media ad has an above-average click-through rate, then you know that’s not what’s hindering your sales funnel.
But if that ad leads to a landing page where only 1% of readers are signing up, then you have now located what needs improvement.
Lead Generation and Traffic Strategies
Sales funnel marketing depends on your leads and traffic. Without it, your funnel stalls. Here are ways to get your company in front of those perfect potential customers.
People love user-generated content and authenticity. Influencers help market your product to an audience that already trusts the authority of that influencer.
Offer an affiliate or referral program and people are happy to market your brand and make sales for you. It’s a win-win.
Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing your content and website for SEO means you’re making yourself visible on search engines. If people can’t search, they’ll never find you.
Paying for sponsored posts or social media ads can be highly effective to get your brand out there.
Content is king, and giving away value is what allows customers to find and trust you.
Sometimes, pitching yourself is an effective strategy to get noticed. Reaching out directly to other brands can get your foot in the door.
Great Customer Service
You can offer phone calls without 30 minute hold times, 24/7 chat boxes, or even just fast email responses. Plus, you get direct insight into what customers have questions about.
Strategies for Engagement
Does your content address what your audience cares about?
Below are highly effective content strategies that engage customers.
People love reading real-life stories of others who have successfully solved the problem they’re currently going through.
Give additional content in exchange for an email address. This additional content could be secret tips, an accompanying worksheet, or a related template.
Social Media Live Demos
Showcase your product or service live on social media to create trust and authenticity.
Even the most captivating product won’t go anywhere if the copy is written like a textbook. Make sure each line of copy has a purpose.
People are visual learners. Whether through product images or educational infographics, use images in your social media posts and content.
A lead sometimes just needs a little extra push in order to buy. Use these strategies to nudge that prospect into a customer.
Countdowns and limited-time offers influence customers to buy NOW as opposed to buying in 2 weeks, 8 months, or never.
Create Time-Sensitive Webinars
Similar to providing urgency, this educates while creating scarcity. Create a webinar with an offer only available during the webinar itself.
Give Social Proof
Would you rather buy a product with 100+ reviews or 1 review?
If you can, use testimonials (video and written), reviews, or even influencers to create social proof that your product has already worked for other people.
Offer Free Trials
If you’re selling a high-ticket item, let your customers try it for free. Once they fall in love with your product, they won’t be able to go without it after the free trial ends.
Get On Sales Calls
Customer service can go a long way. If a prospect has questions, personally jump on a call with them. That extra 15 minutes of your time can create a lifelong customer.
Optimize Your Sales Funnel
What you assume will resonate with your audience might not be true in reality.
Continuously improve your sales funnel marketing so you are confident that you’re addressing your customer’s needs and buying habits.
Here are ways you can optimize it.
Not just one ad against another, but A/B test different headlines, your offer, or even the color of your CTA button.
What’s your average click-through rate on emails or your bounce rate on a landing page? Knowing these analytics helps you identify what your target audience is doing in real-time.
People who have a negative experience with your mobile website are 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future.
Maybe your copy is perfect, your CTA is brilliant, and your price is undeniable.
None of that matters if your audience doesn’t like your website. Something as simple as page speed can affect sales — 40% of customers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load.
Sales Funnel Management
As a business owner, it never feels like there are enough hours in a day.
Here’s how automation can solve the three most common issues that can cost you a sale.
Don’t Dismiss Those “No’s”
When a prospect says no, don’t move on.
If you do, you’re missing out on a huge number of sales.
Only 3% of customers in your target audience are actually ready to buy. The other 97% either aren’t ready or are only just beginning their search.
How do you nurture those who aren’t ready to buy?
By using automated email list segmentation, you can gently nurture your lead by addressing their specific concerns based on their “no” reason.
Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up
80% of customers need 5-12 contacts with you before they’re ready to buy.
Here’s how you can use automation to create these follow-ups:
- Vary touchpoints. Does your prospect let calls go straight to voicemail but will respond to a text in seconds? Vary your automated messages over different mediums.
- Be consistent. Make sure your brand stays at the front of their mind with your value-packed content.
- Behavior triggered emails. Create an email funnel based on how someone interacts with your emails.
Don’t Wait Too Long
Increase your sales just by responding faster than your competitors do.
After all, 30-50% of customers buy from the company that responded first.
If someone is interested outside of working hours, send an automated message. This message can include answers to common questions, a scheduler for a phone call, or even a 24/7 chat box option.
Is Your Sales Funnel Setup to Maximize Results?
The importance of a sales funnel can’t be overlooked.
By knowing the sales funnel stages and what content strategy best fits that stage, you can be certain you’re optimizing your sales funnels with confidence.
Before you know it, you’ll stop hearing crickets and will start experiencing sales like never before.