Traffic. Leads. Sales.
Get traffic on your website. Build leads and contacts. Convert leads into sales.
We’re tempted to hashtag this simple three-string chain of events “business goals”. Like #relationshipgoals (oh, hello there George and Amal Clooney). But for business. Actually, we’re more than tempted: #businessgoals. There. We did it. How to reach those goals though? Not nearly as simple as sticking a hashtag in front of it and calling it a day.
While it isn’t easy, there is a way to convert eyes on your website to money in the bank. It’s called a sales funnel.
If you have a website, and own a business, chances are you already have a sales funnel of some sort. Even if you don’t know it. The trick is to make your sales funnel a conscious effort. It needs to be:
- something which you know you have;
- something which is tailored specifically to your business and your market audience; and
- something which you constantly monitor, tweak and optimize to make it really work for you.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back to the part where you probably already have a sales funnel but don’t even know it.
Read on to discover exactly what a sales funnel is, why you should have one, how to create an effective one in six easy steps (with effective being the key word), do’s and don’ts of effective sales funnels (there’s that word effective again), and how to make sure yours continues to be one that funnels money into the bank rather than out of your pocket.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The concept of a sales funnel is a deceptively simple one. Picture a funnel – the kind you use in the kitchen or a science lab. Wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, you use it for guiding liquid or powder into a small opening. Your sales funnel looks just like that – except, of course, it’s metaphorical rather than physical, with the liquid being your customers, and the small opening being your business bank account.
Quite simply, a sales funnel is the path, or series of steps, website visitors tread from first landing on your website to actually purchasing your product or service.
It goes without saying that the more people you can lead down this path to its end, the better for your business. And you certainly don’t want them to take the path less travelled by. You want to give them an easy path, making you the obvious choice for their final purchase.
But this is where things start to get tricky. You need to build your sales funnel so that you’re not the blind leading the blind. Without a solid plan, or knowledge, of what you’re doing, both you and your customers are just going to hit the sides of the funnel, get frustrated, and end up abandoning the route laid out for them and choosing another path entirely… A.k.a. someone else’s business, someone else’s bank account.
Don’t panic though: done correctly, your funnel will allow for smooth sliding, guiding your website visitors along the path to purchase. And we’re here to help you do it correctly.
We can start by breaking the sales funnel down from top to bottom:
1. Top of the Sales Funnel
The top of the sales funnel is the point where potential customers first become aware of you. It’s the first step along the path, the place where visitors land on your website, the place where you create awareness for your business or brand, and any associated products or services. Sticking with the relationship goals theme, this is not the place to go in for a hug, or even a friendly pat on the back. This is not where you go in for the hard sell. Here, you just introduce yourself, show them how nice you are, encourage them to get to know you more.
2. Middle of the Sales Funnel
Once your visitor knows who you are, now is the time to go in for a handshake, perhaps a lingering glance. With awareness high, your sales funnel needs to work to capture their interest, enticing them to move further along the path to purchase. This is where your sales funnel offers genuinely interesting and useful information about your product or service, inspiring in viewers a strong purchasing pull, without ever actually ‘selling’ to them.
At this point, you can turn your visitors into leads, with leads being just one step shy of turning customer. Not only are they learning more information about you, here you can learn a bit more about them. Ask for an email address, enticing them with free courses or trials, coupon codes, discounts for signup. An email address is a key ingredient to a successful sales funnel – down the line you will want to use it for retargeting as well as follow up contact to encourage return visits.
Ultimately, the goal here is to get your visitors to take that final step along the path to the final stage: purchase.
3. Bottom of the Sales Funnel
Here is where the final purchasing decisions are made. Will they or won’t they? Will they click that final ‘Buy Now’ button or won’t they? With fingers hovering over ‘Buy Now’, your sales funnel must work to fuel that final click – be it by retargeting, remarketing or incentives to make the final move.
Finally, an effective sales funnel can inspire return visits by following up with a well-timed and well-targeted emails – be it a special offer, a notification of a new release of a product similar to one they purchased, an offer for tech support, or a simple thank you.
Why Do I need a Sales Funnel for My Business?
Awareness. Interest. Decision. Action. Four little words and four big reasons why you need a sales funnel:
Do you want people to know about you? Of course you do. If they don’t know you exist, how can they buy anything from you? The goal here is simply awareness: hello, this is us, we’re here, and we sell what you are looking for. (This falls into the top of the funnel.)
Now that they know you exist, do you want people to show further interest in your brand, product or service? Of course you do. If they aren’t interested, they won’t do any further research on you, and won’t include you in their comparison shopping spree. You won’t even be an option. The goal here is to show your visitors what makes you interesting, and worthy, without ever actually selling to them. (This falls into the middle of the funnel.)
Now that your visitors have done their research and are ready to buy, do you want to be included in their decision-making process? Of course you do. Now’s the time to pull out your best offer – an added incentive to buy. An irresistible discount code or bonus product that makes you a shoe-in for the final click. (This falls right before the bottom of the funnel.)
Do you want your visitors to turn into customers and make that final click? Do you want them to hit the ‘Buy Now’ button? Of course you do. The goal here is to give them one final reason to go ahead and make the click – retargeting or a reminder email of what’s in their shopping cart can work wonders at this point. (This falls into the bottom of the funnel.)
Once they’ve made that final click, you’re going to want them to start the whole process over again, so make sure that their final action isn’t yours. Slot them right back into the funnel with follow up emails and offers; again with the relationship analogy, a good sales funnel keeps the conversation open and going. Don’t fall prey to complacency – the kiss of death to any relationship, no matter how beautiful the beginning.
How to Create a Sales Funnel for Your Business
By now you no doubt are keen to dip your toe in the figurative dating pool and create your own sales funnel. For any business, with a website, offering a product or a service, it’s honestly a no-brainer. Follow the six steps below to set yourself up for sales funnel success and achieve #businessgoals.
6 Simple Steps to Building Your First Online Sales Funnel
Step 1: Get to know your target audience
To lead your potential customers down the path to purchase, you need to first know, and understand, who they are. You can figure this out by finding answers to questions like:
- What do they want to buy?
- What are they looking for?
Where do they look?
- Which online channels or platforms do they use?
- What questions are they asking?
- What problems do they need solving?
- What annoys them about online shopping?
Pro tip: Whatever it is you’re selling, you yourself are probably interested in buying it. Answer the above questions yourself to create a baseline of your target audience.
Step 2: Capture their attention to drive traffic to your website
Come a little closer, said the spider to the fly… The only way your sales funnel works is if you actually have people in it. This means getting your brand out there, in front of people, luring them in to discover who you are and what you’re offering.
Start with organic content posting across multiple platforms and channels. Social media and blogging are great tools here. Offer up unique, interesting, real content that is useful to readers and which will intrigue and inspire them to look a little closer, to click onto your website. Sprinkle in the odd CTA, a can’t-miss offer, an incentive to jump on site.
If you have the budget, run a few ads in the places where your target audience is looking – PPC campaigns and LinkedIn ads might be just the ticket. Or spend a bit of money on SEO and landing page optimization.
Do whatever it takes to get people onto your site. They can’t go through the funnel if they never even find the funnel.
Step 3: Create an awesome landing page
First impressions count. And in the land of the Internet, people often do judge a website by its ‘cover’. There are so many millions of pages to land on, after all. If your cover – or landing page – offers a poor experience, they’ll hit that ‘back’ arrow faster than you can say “back”.
- Make your landing page pretty to look at.
- Make it easy to navigate.
- Make it interesting.
- Make it useful.
- Make your message clear.
- Make it easy for visitors to offer up their email addresses. A good landing page is your very first interaction with potential customers and thus your first port of call to capture those all-important email addresses. Make sure it encourages visitors to sign up to a newsletter, subscribe to the website, download some useful ebook, download a coupon code, or some other mechanism to capture their contact information. This will also lead them onto the next step of the sales funnel.
- Use this page as your hard sell! At this point in the funnel, a hard sell will lose your potential customers and
Step 4: Keep them interested
You’ve got their attention. You’ve (hopefully) captured their contact information. Now you need to keep ‘em keen. (The old adage of treat ‘em mean does not apply here!)
This is where you give them all the useful, relevant information you can to answer all their questions, meet all their needs, and keep them keen to move onto the next step of your sales funnel. Some key tools to use here include:
- Quality blog content (for more on blogging and how it can help your business, click here)
- Links to your social media channels
- Video, video, video
- Relevant email newsletters offering up useful information, sure-fire incentives, or must-click offers.
Step 5: Convert leads into customers
Even if you have their email addresses and their interest, you’re not guaranteed to make the sale. To turn your leads, or visitors, into paying customers, you need to convert them. And quickly. The longer it takes for them to click ‘Buy’, the less likely they will. To ensure this conversion, there are a few tricks you can use, all of which involve making your website, and purchasing process easy, easy, easy.
- Fewer form fields.
- Fewer steps to complete purchase.
- So few, in fact, as to aim for one-click options for sign-up, sign-in, and, ultimately, once all their info is captured post-first-purchase, one-click purchase.
Step 6: Keep in touch
Once your customers have converted, made that purchase, committed to and invested in your relationship, don’t lose interest. Keep in touch. Keep up the communication.
- Thank them for their purchases.
- Offer member loyalty points and discount codes.
- Above all, send them useful, interesting information about your brand, your work, your services and offerings, that isn’t always about selling. ABS – always be selling – is a fail-safe way to make enemies and lose customers.
The Circle of Sales (Funnels)
Now that your sales funnel is in place, you need to make sure you constantly check in on its performance and tweak to improve at every stage of the path. Find where potential customers are falling off and why. Learn from your mistakes. Work at it constantly to make it more user friendly and, ultimately business friendly, for a win-win sales situation: your customers get what they are looking for, your business gets money in the bank. Your funnel – and business – is only as effective as your last sale.
If you still want to learn more about how to implement a sales funnel for your business, call us toll-free at 1-877-563-0459.