[Updated for 2021]
The concept of funnel marketing is simple.
Businesses have traditionally always looked for ways to cast their sales nets as wide as possible. In doing so, they identify a large group of logical but unqualified leads.
A sales funnel picks up from there. It’s meant to filter the pool by first qualifying the leads, prospecting them, building their interest, before finally getting them to take action.
It’s a process or an automated system that reads through the thought process of potential customers or clients as it gradually guides them on their journey to become customers.
Typically, every company will have its own way of qualifying leads. What never changes is the nature of the sales funnel and the end goal.
Everything has to start with identifying a broad base of potential customers that you’ll be cost-effectively qualifying in the different stages of the funnel until you end up with customers (read: sales).
You win when your sales funnel is able to convert the majority of your target audience entering it into delighted customers. You will then have a high business growth rate.
What’s A Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is better defined as a series of stages ranging from articles, emails, webinars, landing pages, video content and so on, that your site’s visitors go through before they finally become your customers.
As suggested by the name, at each stage of the funnel, the number of leads going through drops.
The number of people who make it to subsequent stages falls. If you were to come up with a graphical representation of the entire process; odds are it will take the semblance of a funnel.
Here’s how new visitors move through the funnel;
- They’re first introduced to your business, products, or services
- They’re educated on the various aspects of the product and its selling points
- They’re offered tons of value
- Their interest grows, and trust is established
- They’re pitched to with different strategic marketing messages in the hopes that they’ll take action. The pitching occurs at every step of their way in the sales journey.
A sales funnel can also be looked at as a flow plan of the traffic that you attract to your site. Unless they are your existing customers, people don’t just land on your website and immediately pay for your services.
Some of these people know nothing about your business or products, and it makes sense that you’ll want to educate them first as you gradually reel them in.
5 Sales Stages Of A Digital Marketing Funnel
The funnelling can be divided broadly into five stages. They include:
1. Awareness Stage
When customers land on your website for the first time, they’re completely green about the nature of your business or products. It’s then that you take the opportunity to educate them about your existing solution and what it can do for them.
Some of them even learn that they have problems that need to be solved, and whose solution you’re offering.
The visitor may have stumbled across your ad or came across your post on Google, social media or any other traffic source.
2. Interest Stage
At this, point some of your leads would have realised that they have a need that you can satisfy or that they could use your products or services.
After you attract visitors to your website, the next thing you want to do is increase their interest in your products and services. Ideally, they make up their minds and decide to go through with a purchase.
The important thing here is to offer your visitors something irresistible. This can include anything – engaging content to super-attractive visuals.
3. Decision Stage
This is where the prospect makes a mental note to take advantage of your offer. They’ve made the decision to go through with a purchase or take whatever action you want them to.
Their attention has shifted to the options that you have. They’re making price comparisons, evaluating the different packages and weighing on which offer suits them best.
4. Action Stage
At this stage of the funnel, the prospect is on the verge of finalising a deal they started.
They have clicked the purchase button or are signing a contract. They’ll enter payment details, as you work on delivering the product or the services they ordered.
Your interaction with prospects doesn’t just end with the completion of a purchase. There’s another stage that works towards inspiring customer loyalty so you can convert them into returning clients.
5. Retention Stage
At this stage, you’re operating with customers who’ve once purchased with you. Your focus has now shifted from trying to make them take action to trying to make them happy and satisfied so they can return for more purchases.
So, your plan should involve offering them all the necessary support with regards to the product that they brought from you earlier. You want to keep them engaged by sharing different types of supporting content, including special offers, emails, product usage guides, follow-ups/survey outreach and technical assistance.
Capturing leads at every stage of the marketing funnel
Another important principle of this sales funnel is we’re not talking about a linear process here.
What you really want is the strongest possible lead-to-sale conversion at each stage of the sales funnel. That means creating compelling copy (or other forms of marketing) to move people from one stage to the next.
The stages of the marketing funnel are similar to the states of mind of your customers. At each stage, you want to capture leads and motivate them to move to the next stage by offering messages that are relevant to their current mindset.
You do this by assigning user actions to each stage of your marketing funnel. An awareness user will probably return to your site multiple times while a consideration user will most likely make a purchase after fewer visits.
This process of customized interaction helps you create an engineered sense of engagement that draws your customers into the purchase decision. Once they’re in the purchase decision, you can then use other tactics (like price) to close the deal.
Engage Professional Services For Web Design
Top web designers will incorporate branding and sales funnels into your website.
Branding is key to creating a good impression in your customer’s eyes.
Experts who provide services for web design understand graphic presentation, customer psychology as well as the sales process. Hence, they are the ones who are most well equipped build your funnel.
Web visitors tend to decide whether to stay on your web site within 6 seconds of landing on it. Having a poor web site, results in a high bounce rate.
You can’t sell to the customer who isn’t there any longer.
Conversely, a well thought out web design results in a good first impression, easy navigation, relevant information, a comfortable flow and a good customer experience.
Website developers will also be able to install software and codes that will allow you to track the behaviour of visitors. This will allow you to reengage with them in your your follow up retargeting campaigns.
1. Create Awareness:
Social Media Campaigns
Being active on social media will help you enlarge your pipeline and expand your reach exponentially.
Social sites pack over 3.5 billion users. They’re your mining fields if you plan to generate sales.
Taking advantage of these sites will help you generate more leads, and that’s because you’ll be targeting a wealth of new leads.
Conducting niche specific social media campaigns, requires more than just simply making a post on your personal Facebook page. It requires time, effort and skill. It is best left to professional social media services.
Start Writing E-Books And Whitepapers
Writing eBooks and whitepapers is an effective lead generation strategy when you’re targeting B2B customers or targeting more professional and technical customers.
You have an opportunity to offer technical expertise and actionable advice that will be help gain trust, increase thought leadership, and establish credibility among your potential customers.
Build A Newsletter
With newsletters, you have first to figure a way to make your site visitors submit their contact information to you. You can then enter them into your email list and start sending them regular email content that keeps your business on the top of their minds.
Gradually, reel them into taking positive action and preventing them from dropping out of your sales pipeline.
2. Consideration/Interest: Make yourself the most compelling option
In this stage of your marketing funnel, you’ll start to generate awareness among your current customers and prospects. You’ll also bring new leads (already in the consideration stage) into your sales cycle.
Your marketing goal now is to turn awareness into purchase intent.
Target higher-intent keywords
You’re going to target higher-intent keywords for stage two of the marketing funnel. These are words and phrases like “best tennis courses,” or “food blenders for newbies,” which show a clear intent to buy – either now or in the near future.
Segment your remarketing campaigns
It’s vital to segment your campaigns for remarketing. You have to target specific user interests, based on what you know about them: the ad they clicked, the landing page they visited, their actions on your website, etc.
Instead of blasting your message to every single person who visits your website, you should create campaigns that are highly targeted, based on the actions (or inactions) they take on your website. These will be much more effective than “one-size-fits-all” messages.
Use Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to track and analyse user behaviour. They will help you gain valuable insights that will help you decide the best and most relevant message to send to each of your past visitors.
Use the actions that people take on your website as a guide to what lists they should be assigned to. You can use this tactic (of using web page actions to segment your list) at any stage in your marketing funnel.
Use SEO Marketing
Your sales funnel has multiple stages. Your leads need not necessarily enter your funnel from the top.
Some prospects would find later stages of your funnel more relevant to them. For example, a prospect might already know about your brand and is currently doing comparisons with your competitors. This prospect should go directly into the Decision stage of your funnel.
SEO marketing is ideal for this. It meets customers where they are along their buying journey. It shortens the route to a sale. You spend less time educating and more time selling. This lowers your overall marketing costs.
3. Decision/Conversion: Turn leads into profitable actions
Your aim here is to get your leads to take the next action, minimise their anxiety about buying from you, make it easy for them to take the action you want them to.
Your aim here is to get your leads to take the next action, make it easy for them to take the action you want them to.
Everything you have done so far has been leading up to the point where your users take some kind of profitable action.
Normally this would be a purchase but there are dozens of other actions you might be targeting like: email sign-ups, downloading of content, creation of an account, trying out a free trial, upgrading to a paid plan, etc.
Create search campaigns for people looking to purchase
At this point in the sales funnel, you have identified your most lucrative leads. These are the hot leads who are ready to buy right now. You are going to create a variety of organic and paid search campaigns which will target those hot leads with offers they can’t resist.
Your organic SEO strategy should create content specifically for the search engines. It could be a guide to getting the most out of your 14-day free trial. A comparison review of your product vs. your competitors.
Likewise, you can create Google Ads campaigns to target keywords that signal immediate purchase intent like “buy,” “free delivery,” “in my area,” “best price” and anything else that suggest a user is ready to commit.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
CRO is a strategy that can really boost your profits. However, you need to do it right. Otherwise, it might burn a hole in your budget. Most importantly, you must make sure your tests and optimisations have big enough an impact to justify the cost of doing them.
Many business owners and marketers get hung up on the details of improving their conversion rate without ever considering the financial implications of what they are doing.
They may end up getting better user feedback and a better experience for their customers but, if they aren’t making more money from these changes, it’s like shooting at a target without ever aiming the gun.
You must improve your page copy to focus on increasing the incentive and removing the barriers to conversion. Use tools like Hotjar and it’s heatmaps feature to find out what users are getting onto your website.
This will enable you to test and optimise your page copy, so you can find the most compelling message and make sure there are no UX issues that are stopping your conversions.
It’s vital you pay close attention to the big picture first. Get your content, calls to action, sales pages and site architecture in perfect harmony. Only then should you worry about minutia like smaller page layout changes, image enhancements, and so on.
4. Loyalty: Turn customers into repeat buyers
Delight Your Current Customers
Your goal is to build loyalty and nurture your clients to become repeat customers.
It’s 7 times easier to convince a current customer to make a repeat purchase than to get a new one to take action.
Many business owners take existing clients for granted despite their great potential in making a second purchase and doubling as your brand ambassadors.
If you’re skilled enough to delight them, then you have an even better chance of turning them into your brand promoters.
These customers have friends and families that are in dire need of the same solution you offered them. All it takes is a positive word from them, and you have an extra sale.
Many brands make the mistake of thinking they have completed their customer experience the moment they have got their sales message across. However, this is often just the beginning of the customer experience, and your ROI on all the marketing you have done to achieve that sales pitch.
You’ve got a great marketing strategy. It’s working. Now, it’s time to focus on customer retention and making sure each of your customers gives you an enormous amount of money. This will increase your net profit.
Make customer service a priority
Good customer service is the heart of any successful business relationship. It doesn’t matter how good your products are, or how profitable your sales pitch, without good customer service, you can lose your customers very easily.
Poor customer service is at the root of almost every commercial relationship failure.
While chatbots and automated responses can be great in many cases, the most important aspect of good customer service is to provide just in time support. If your support team is not ready to jump in and provide immediate help when necessary, then you are losing customers for life. These interruptions should be both fast and effective!
It’s important to keep an eye on all customer related data, especially when it comes to abandoned shopping carts and customers who have purchased items multiple times. Having all this data makes it easy for your teams to catch up with these customers and win them back over.
This is the type of support your customers will appreciate and remember when they are making future buying decisions. They’ll be able to say “Hey, I know that this brand is sincere and they really seems to care about my success. And he’s willing to go the extra mile to help me.
They know that they made the right choice with you.
Reward your existing customers
Incentivising loyalty increases customer motivation to keep buying and demonstrates the value they get from the relationship. By giving loyal customers additional value in addition to stellar service, you increase motivation to keep buying and you prove that this relationship is a two-way street.
Maximise customer value by getting them to buy your most profitable products as long as possible or in as large quantities as possible. Upselling, cross-selling, and customer relationship marketing campaigns all aim to increase the value of every existing customer.
5. Advocacy: Get new leads from your raving fans
Your happy customers can be a huge part of your lead gen strategy. They are (or should be) an important source for many of your sales leads.
Happy customers are more likely to buy from you again, and they’re also more likely to recommend you to other people – and 83% of buyers say recommendations from their friends/colleagues have the biggest influence on their purchase decisions.
Build a profile of positive reviews
Yes, reviews are an important part of any successful marketing strategy. Whether you’re running a brick and mortar business or selling on digital platforms like Amazon and Etsy, having a positive review profile is vital.
Sellers with more positive customer reviews tend to enjoy a higher conversion rate than those with fewer reviews. Positive reviews also tend to have an upside influence on your conversion rates. So make sure you respond quickly to all reviews, especially the negative ones.
And make sure every review you receive gives you some ammunition to use in your ongoing relationship with that customer. Use the review to keep reminding them how great it is to do business with you.
If you run into a reviewer who has a particularly difficult experience, don’t ignore them. Respond quickly and positively. Give them what they want. You will likely win them over with your customer service even though they had a poor initial product experience.
Yet another area where your existing customers can help you attract new ones is through testimonials, success stories and case studies.
This is especially true for B2C businesses such as ecommerce sites. Put a collection of customer testimonials on your homepage that are relevant to the specific products and services you are selling, and perhaps even specific product or service pages, and watch your conversions skyrocket.
You can use case studies and success stories to generate leads, too. And you should create and optimise these pages for organic search. Use them as part of your awareness campaigns to generate leads.
Increase Business Growth Via A Funnel Marketing Agency
These are some of the secrets you need to run an effective funnel campaign that’s less costly and more profitable.
If you’re stuck or looking for a funnel marketing service agency to outsource the job to, be sure to reach out to Blazing Conversions. Our friendly consultants will find the best way to move your business forward.