To nurture prospects successfully, you must meet their needs at every stage of the buying process. It’s also vital to keep track of your website visitors and know at which touchpoint you’re losing them. It’s about time you build an effective sales funnel.
Converting prospects into paying customers takes time. Amid fierce competition and infinite choices, not everyone who encounters your brand for the first time is ready to buy from you right away.
A Gleanster Research study found that only 25 percent of qualified leads become immediate buyers, while a whopping 50 percent don’t. The remaining 25 percent slip through the cracks and don’t convert at all, representing wasted opportunities.
A sales funnel is a powerful means to scale your business — if done right. A clear sales funnel template provides accurate targeting, measurable impact, improved conversion rate and increased revenue. And because you’re reading this, you’re on the right track to creating one for your team.
In this post, we’ll clarify the definition of — and show you how to develop — a digital marketing sales funnel that converts more. Watch out for these key points as we move along:
What Is a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel is a marketing concept that outlines the path taken by prospects from awareness to purchase. It’s also sometimes called the revenue funnel or conversion funnel. When visualized, it looks something like this:
Marketers use this model to understand how qualified leads interact with their brand. They rely on it to track, measure and refine their leads.
The top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU) and bottom of the funnel (BOFU) correspond to sales funnel stages. We’ll deal with these acronyms later. For now, consider the trajectory of the people entering the funnel, from the wide top to the narrow bottom. Their number is reduced as they pass through each stage, and only a small percentage will end up as paying customers.
Your goal is to increase and optimize your conversion rate and have more consumers exiting your funnel, avoiding leakage at all costs. It may sound scary, intimidating and complicated, especially if you recall that half of your prospects are not in a rush to purchase anything from you. But a strong sales funnel will help you focus on nurturing your potential and existing relationships for more profitable results. And a good deal of it is done through email marketing.
Email marketing is a necessary component for any business’ sales funnel because it helps to encourage warm leads to convert,” said Chad Bittle, Thrive’s email marketing manager.
Once a lead/prospective customer/potential client has provided their information (whether it be via a past sale, a ‘newsletter sign-up form’, or in exchange for a document or free download), they’ve already expressed interest in your product or service. To continue to generate more conversions from warm leads, a business can use email marketing to its advantage to target individuals in any stage of the sales funnel. This applies to companies in ALL industries, regardless of their online product or service offering.”
Make sure to read the section “How to Build a Sales Funnel” below for a more insightful discussion about email marketing.
The Difference Between a Marketing Funnel and Sales Funnel
Before we continue, let’s clarify a couple of things about the marketing and sales funnel.
Although sometimes mistaken for the other, the two funnels are by no means the same. A marketing funnel moves people into the awareness and interest stage. When the leads fit your business’s buyer personas and start considering your product or service, they are then funneled into the sales process to attempt conversion.
This dynamic makes it ideal for the marketing and sales teams to join forces, aligning their efforts more efficiently with the customer’s journey. Yet, it is still essential to differentiate between the marketing and sales funnel.
Sales Funnel Stages: How It Works
You may have heard about AIDA — Awareness, Interest, Decision and Action — which maps out the customer’s journey from ignorance to purchase, as proposed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. But it was another author, William W. Townsend, who associated the funnel model with AIDA decades later. The sales funnel stages we know now have been around for more than a century!
Today, they remain adaptable and apply even to the digital marketing sales funnel. Here’s how:
Sometimes referred to as “attention”, this stage occurs at the top of the funnel (remember your TOFU) in which site visitors become aware of your business for the first time. They probably found you via a Google search, a backlink or a Facebook ad — all viable ways to attract strangers’ attention.
At this point, these strangers — or prospects — are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. You may consider them low value. But from a consumer standpoint, you exist to help them rather than sell to them.
Now that you have the potential customers’ attention, you can pique their interest in your product or service. They are still in the research phase (and nestled in MOFU), so take this chance to educate them about your offering and organization. Build curiosity and trust through product demos and descriptions.
Again, a well-crafted email marketing campaign can work wonders during this phase and the next ones.
When prospects reach this phase, they’re already considering your product or service. But they may also be keeping their options open. Some factors that can sway them are pricing, product/service fit and value for money.
Thus, you should persuade them to choose you through content marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, reviews and testimonials and remarketing campaigns. This is also the time to offer a limited-time discount or a free consultation.
You finally get to the end of your sales funnel template, or the BOFU stage, where pushing the sale is merited. Still, you should ramp up your website’s landing pages, calls-to-action (CTA) or any point-of-sale tactic to ensure conversion. If yours is an eCommerce site, make it easy for prospects to add products to their cart or pay for items at checkout. Keep all transactions seamless and distraction-free.
According to eConsultancy, 83 percent of online shoppers need support to complete a purchase. It could be as simple as a live chat or a transparent pricing scheme. One of the companies with the best sales funnel examples for this and across all stages is Spotify Premium, which offers a 30-day free trial to first-time users.
How to Build a Sales Funnel
Knowing how to create a sales funnel template for your business can clarify the direction for your entire digital marketing strategy, including content and paid ads. It can help you better align marketing efforts with your potential customers’ buying journey.
The following steps don’t just tell you how to create a sales funnel, but they also drive you to build one that converts.
Step 1: Attract Leads With Intent
Work your way from the top of the funnel. Identify the leads you want to attract to design a digital marketing sales funnel that’s highly targeted from the get-go.
Then plan how to capture their attention. Find out as much as you can as to:
• Where are they hanging out?
• What kind of content do they consume?
• What low-tier offers will lead them to the initial awareness and interest stage?
Step 2: Drive Traffic to Landing Pages
Now that you know how to create a sales funnel, the trick is to match your PPC and content strategies to form a unified sales funnel marketing game plan.
Personalize the following areas according to your marketing/sales funnel insights and leverage them as traffic-drivers to your website:
Step 3: Craft Types of Collateral in Exchange for Information
Typically, the information you want from your visitor includes their email address, location, phone number and anything else that tells you if they fit your buyer persona, such as occupation, income, industry, company size and even interests.
Oftentimes, while visiting a website for the first time, you’ll see some sort of ‘pop-up’ or a means to submit your information in exchange for some type of collateral,” Bittle said. “With eCommerce businesses, you’ll often receive a discount code or free shipping. Service industry businesses will often offer either a discount or free download (e-book, whitepaper, etc.).”
To illustrate, Bittle shared the following sales funnel examples.
Esquire Magazine offers content as a way to collect additional contacts,” Bittle added. “The goal for this business is to add more contacts to their distribution list, with the intent of generating more sales/subscriptions. The content they are offering in exchange for signing up to their newsletter list is tailored to their audience.”
Chubbies, a men’s casual apparel company, offers a coupon as an incentive to sign up for their newsletter list,” Bittle said. “This type of pop-up works well for any e-commerce company, and most often you’ll see a value discount, free shipping or a free item offered with the first purchase.”
Both examples above are great ways to obtain more contacts/leads without coming off too pushy, and though their offering is different, their offer is tailored to their respective audiences,” Bittle said. “Once a potential lead or customer has been added to the list, they can continue to receive valuable information, communications, sales, etc. Email marketing can go as far as a business wants to take it!”
Step 4: Create an Email Marketing Campaign
This final step is crucial because as mentioned earlier, you can attract leads at any stage of the funnel. It’s a proven method for arousing interest, influencing choice, driving action and even renewing desire. No wonder email marketing remains the most effective form of digital marketing.
Email marketing is an extensive topic in itself. That’s why we have written a separate blog post discussing how it can help you outperform your competition:
3 Sales Funnel Optimization Tips
You can’t ask “what is a sales funnel?” and ignore sales funnel optimization. When you implement your sales funnel marketing strategy, you get access to data pinpointing where you are leaking leads the most, which assets are not working for prospects at each stage and which channel is generating traffic and leads. What all of this means is that you can tweak your sales funnel marketing and your execution.
1. Provide Social Proof
Building trust can go a long way. After all, this virtue is one of the foundations of human relationships. It only makes sense that business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships follow suit.
So, don’t be shy to share testimonials and reviews on your site. If you won awards in your industry, include those as well. These will boost your credibility once potential customers start pouring into your website.
2. Create Compelling and Supporting Content
Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. In the decision stage, what can help them decide to buy your product or service instead of the competitors? What will make them choose you?
Think about what could build their confidence in you, such as:
• About us/team page
• Shipping and returns policy
• Mission statement
• Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
3. Use Strong CTAs
It may sound obvious, but a CTA has to move the reader to act. It’s a simple, yet often overlooked, factor when optimizing for your sales funnel, conversion rate and content.
Try the following action-oriented statements to make your potential customers click:
• Try for free!
• Join us!
• Book now!
• Request a callback.
• Sign up and reserve your spot today!
You’ve just learned that a sales funnel is a useful concept for tracking the path of your prospects from awareness to purchase. Furthermore, you’ve come across tactical steps that will help you build a sales funnel that doesn’t leak and converts more prospects.
Unlike a real-life funnel, the process of increasing leads who buy from you won’t always be smooth-sailing. But proven methods and data-driven solutions, headlined by email marketing, can maximize your investment.
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency has professional marketers who understand the intricacies of the sales funnel and know the best channels to support it. Our extensive experience in lead nurturing campaigns has led to increased revenue and conversions for our clients.
Take this business that offers novelty, retro toys for example. Through an ongoing email marketing strategy overhaul, continuous testing, refreshed designs based on proven conversion, generating designs and updated brand identity, we have increased the client’s emails delivered, total emails opened and conversions from April through June 2020.
Ready to ramp up your revenue? Fill out this form or give us a call at (866) 908-4748 to schedule your free consultation today.