If you’ve spent any time working in sales or the advertising industry, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the term “sales funnel” on semi-regular basis. The concept is fairly straightforward: the funnel refers to the customer journey from initial contact or awareness of a brand to becoming a paying customer.
Though the philosophy might be easy to understand, effectively setting up a funnel can be challenging for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. The fact that several different steps are included in the process means thoughtful planning is essential. In this article I’ll go over the different steps in the funnel, but keep in mind you can make adjustments to fit your specific needs if necessary.
1. Think Broad at the Top
The first step in the consumer purchase process is always going to be awareness of a brand. If you’re a medium-sized or large business, there’s a good chance that consumers have heard of your company before, but for the sake of the funnel, let’s assume that you may not always be “top of mind.”
At this stage of the funnel, customers may find you on their own if you have what they’re looking for. Typically, blog posts, social media content, and a good website are all crucial components at this stage.
Aside from the things you’re doing “organically,” paid advertising – especially a “brand awareness” ad on Facebook, might be in order. This type of ad can help you reach huge numbers of potential customers in a cost-efficient way.
2. Start Directing Traffic
Once you’ve captured the attention of your target audience, the next step is to move them along in their journey toward becoming a customer. You can’t expect someone to commit your brand to memory after seeing one social media ad or clicking through to a single blog post on your site. Retargeting advertisements, or even email marketing campaigns if you’re able to capture email addresses, are the perfect way to start building that consumer – brand relationship.
It’s at this stage where marketers may want to be a little more direct in reaching out to consumers, whereas in stage one, the focus is more on making yourself available to people who would already be seeking out your services. Keep in mind that the overall number of potential customers in your funnel will shrink significantly at this stage, but that’s no cause for concern. If you’re able to convert a fraction of the people who entered the funnel at the beginning, you’ll be just fine.
3. Time to Make Your Pitch
Once you’ve captured the attention of your audience, it’s time to keep moving them further on down the funnel. While I wouldn’t recommend the “hard sell” (Buy our product today!), it’s at this stage where you should really be hammering home the value you bring to the table, and explaining, in more detail, how your business can help improve their lives.
Those who have made it to this point in your sales funnel obviously have some reason to consider your company or they would have fallen off after the ‘awareness’ stage. Clearly demonstrate exactly how your business is looking to solve a problem that a potential customer may be experiencing, and be specific and intentional with your messaging.
Don’t be pushy with your ad copy. Your goal should be to get your audience to think, “You know what, they make a good point – I could use this product.” Be conversational and relatable and you won’t come across as just another business trying to sell a product that people don’t really need. Without question there’s an art to this aspect of the funnel. Consider A/B testing with different copy to find out what gets the best response from your audience.
4. Get the Conversion
The number of customers in the funnel gets smaller as you go through each stage, but as long as you still have some sticking around at this point, you’re doing something right. There are a number of different factors that help your audience across the finish line (aka, converting), but some of the most notable are the CTA and your checkout process.
Digital marketers hate to see that potential conversions have added their items to a cart, only to abandon the mission with one step to go. By creating a seamless checkout process, you’ll cut down on the number of potential customers who fall off right before officially becoming a conversion. The best way to know how easy your process is? Try it for yourself! If you get hung up at any point during checkout, you’ll know exactly where adjustments are necessary.
One side note: most checkout processes ask for a user’s email address, but it’s very important that you save them as well. Email addresses are worth their weight in gold when it comes to maintaining contact with current customers, and can be great for finding new customers based on “lookalike” qualities.
5. Keep In Touch!
The work doesn’t stop once someone makes their way through the funnel and becomes a conversion. Business owners know that the only way to scale is by getting customers to return at a high rate, so it’s crucial to follow up even after a purchase.
Whether it’s a once-monthly email that is educational in nature (or even promotional if your business is having a sale) 0r retargeting ads on social media, don’t neglect old customers in your search to find new ones. The job of a digital marketer is never over, and you could say that once someone becomes a “converter,” the work is just beginning!
The sales funnel is one of the most effective tools in marketing if you take the time to strategize prior to launching your campaign and then continue to make optimizations along the way. For marketers, there are few things for satisfying than watching your target audience move through the funnel and eventually come out as paying customers.
If your business needs help setting up a digital sales funnel that drives real results, get in touch today and we’ll work to find a strategy that fits with your specific business goals.