Any beginning businessman engaged in the sales should be familiar with terminology and marketing theory. One of the key concepts that all entrepreneurs need to master for a successful business is the sales funnel.
The sales funnel is one of the main business tools for any entrepreneur. If you are in business or just planning to start a business, you need to consider many factors. Thanks to the properly built sales funnel, your business works more efficiently.
The term can be called conceptual in marketing. The sales funnel is the way that the average consumer of a product or service takes from attracting his attention to the offer until the moment of purchase.
Entrepreneurs and businessmen know that a sales funnel can help to multiply their profits. It does not matter whether it is built online or offline trading in the store — the model works in any case.
In the current situation, when the supply often exceeds demand and it is increasingly difficult to attract customers directly, the applying and competent sales funnel analysis will allow influencing the potential consumers in a more subtle and unobtrusive manner, adjusting to his needs.
This concept is successfully combined with another well-known concept, called AIDA:
Since then, the sales funnel has become one of the core principles of marketing. This means that the sale itself is preceded by 4 stages of the customer’s readiness:
- first, you attract his attention (for example, with advertising tools)
- then, you generate an interest (with the advertising appeal)
- then the potential buyer has a desire to use the offer
- finally, the client acts (calls the company, goes to the store or visits the website).
This is already a “heated” potential buyer, it remains to develop his interest and close the deal.
The seller’s or advertising goal is to make sure that the initial attention is transformed into a real interest.
How to build a working sales funnel when the customer makes a purchase?
This is the art of marketing. The number of possible consumers of your services and products is affected by many factors:
- ways to promote the goods (advertising, the reliability of information, visual demonstration);
- the ability to find the right audience;
- price and marketing policy (discounts, shares, additional benefits).
In short, the consumer should understand why to purchase goods from you is more profitable and better. The AIDA model reveals the main sales stages and shows how they consistently complement each other.
Despite this, some managers consider the sales funnel too narrowly — only as a reporting term, forgetting or not knowing that first of all sales funnel is a functional tool with great capabilities.
And now let’s go to the specific stages of how to build the sales funnel. Consider the 7 main stages, without which any business activity will be at best chaotic, at worst — unprofitable.
This is the preparatory stage, where you work on your product and service as much as possible, and create your unique sales proposal. In your sales proposal, you should clearly state what exactly you are offering, what benefits the buyer will receive and how you differ from competitors.
The banal proposals like “We have the best price, high quality and short terms” are no longer working. Your client wants specifics.
- if you find this product cheaper, we will make you a great discount;
- who bought by 12 o’clock will get 20% discount.
- we will deliver you the goods directly to the office within an hour after the order;
- if you did not receive the goods in time, we will compensate for any minute of delay.
- dissatisfied with the quality — get a gift;
- noticed the dirt in the car — we will provide a month of the free car wash.
When your offer (product or service) is ready and worked, you can proceed to direct actions and build a sales funnel stage-by-stage.
Cold contact is a term that indicates the potential range of potential customers.
This concept is often attributed specifically to network marketing, but it is quite correct to apply it to sales in general. The profit depends, ultimately, on the number of cold contacts: the wider the range of potential buyers, the greater the chance of a deal.
Getting contacts is also a science, as well as competent work with a proposal. If you attract customers through direct human contact (direct sales), to get the “cold” customers, you should pay attention to the following points:
- the seller’s communication style
- literacy of speech
- gestures and facial expressions
- ways of contact
The methods of real communication can also be used online: if you are able to establish relationships in real life, then it will be even easier for you on the Internet.
A real smile, of course, will not be replaced by emoticons, but the general negotiating style or building a presentation on the site should always remain benevolent and easy.
The next logical stage of building a sales funnel is forming the interest in the offer.
This is a necessary stage in the process of increasing the conversion. Involving users in the conversion funnel in Internet sales is a new area of marketing that has been sufficiently studied. On the internet, the new information and digital technologies appear to increase profits for companies engaged in electronic business.
Ability to work with objections is another tool that has been successfully applied to any sales industry. The seller determines what objections he can hear from the customer and prepare answers to them in advance.
In fact, he must neutralize all his fears and doubts, persuading a person to buy a product or service. It is better to do it gently and unobtrusively, although in some cases aggressive methods will be productive.
In modern marketing, persuasion is based on indirect methods. Having made a purchase, the buyer believes that it was purely his conscious choice, in fact — the purchase was the result of a complex psycho-emotional process, which was led by the seller.
The sales funnel was created, the customer successfully made a purchase. Closing the transaction is the final stage of conversion in the funnel.
The success of the seller and the marketing system as a whole is determined by the number of closed deals. This is the main indicator of effectiveness.
In the sales funnel model, the number of contracts (purchases) is the lowest and the most indicative value.
The higher the ratio of the number of purchases to the number of offers, the more productive the work of the seller, site, and the store.
You can analyze the results at any stage of the funnel.
A number of participants in the chain: offers — cold contacts — interested people — contacting customers — buyers will, of course, decrease as the movement, but as the result, you should get the overall conversion rate.
There are many ways to increase the conversion, that is, to make real buyers of interested buyers. The following purchase options affect the conversion in one of the following ways:
- offers free delivery of goods;
- add a selected product from the catalog to the shopping cart;
- communication with an online consultant;
- personalization (clarification of the client’s personal data and contacting him directly);
- providing support via chat or a call when making a deal.
As for conversion in Internet marketing, it is worth noting that increasing the number of site visitors does not always mean an increase in conversion. The cost of attracting visitors can exceed the final profit from sales on the site.
Another option is to increase only the target audience. For example, if you sell expensive cars, then young people under 25 are unlikely to be interested in such a product, so your audience is a wealthy male over 30. If the methods of attraction are ineffective, you should think about their optimization.
Perhaps advertising does not work too productively. It’s also worthwhile to take care of writing good advertising texts.
One of the oldest methods of increasing the conversion is called A/B testing. This is a comparison of two (or more) options to find out which way exactly leads to the maximum incomes.
- You created an information product to increase profits in the store.
- You made a selling page and started advertising it on the Internet.
You run A/B testing for different selling headings of your site, everything else is left unchanged.
- Heading 1. How to increase the profit of your store twice — read below.
- Heading 2. Would you like to receive up to 100% more profit in your store?
When the number of visitors reaches 100-150, you can make the first conclusions about their effectiveness by the number of goods sold.
As you can see, any little things can influence the proposal transformation into a specific purchase — up to Order goods button the position on the page. The importance of text and graphics content is really vital: it is clear to everyone.
Many marketers believe that content marketing is a part of the B2C sphere, where it’s possible to advertise the benefits of a product for the mass consumer. But it is not so! B2B sales are the communication with the same people. They simply take a decision to buy a little differently. Let’s review the 4 basic B2B sales funnel stages.
The first step is a clear understanding of whom you want to reach. Types of business and the position of people who make decisions. What are their values, what do they want to get rid of, and what to buy? There are external and internal factors.
For example, the desire to shorten the delivery time is external, and the desire to increase the profits is an internal factor. This is worth considering.
At the stage of attraction, the most important is to know what difficulties the potential customers face and what values they share. Think about what might be interesting to them. This will help create a detailed content plan.
Potential customers still do not know anything about your business or product, so, decide on the keywords and topics. Interests, tasks, and areas of responsibility. For example, what can a commercial director of a transportation company or an accountant of a machine-building plant look for? What information and for what purpose?
An important point: do not sell your services at the stage of attraction. You can even say nothing about the product. Just useful content for your target audience in any format: an article in a blog, a post in social networks, video, infographic, presentation. At the same time, do not forget about your own benefit: there must be a subscription widget for your updates nearby.
This helps you make contact and get an opportunity to unobtrusively talk about your product in the following materials.
Here you show that the user has a problem to solve and that your company’s solution is the best. The ideal way to show it is the cases.
Why the cases are good: they show work with the product from A to Z. A potential client can safely try on the described processes on his business. The task is to attract the interest, make the client think “will this product suit me, how can it help me?”
Here the most valuable asset is an email. Pay attention to the mailing. What your subscribers receive: what information, in what tone, how letters are framed. Surely you saw mailings that you wanted to “burn and throw away” in the first few seconds. And for sure there are mailing lists that you read with pleasure, waiting for each issue.
Look at the mailing from the subscriber’s point of view — would you buy your product, how convincing is the content?
At this stage, as soon as visitors turn into subscribers, they give a signal “we are interested in your business or in what you are doing.
Every business is interested in keeping customers. Sell for a long time, sell a lot, increase the average check and increase loyalty.
What to give: the success stories of other customers, market experts’ opinions about your product, again the cases and again the selective content in your field of activity. With the highest level of information noise, the customer should be interested in your product or service.
The specialists divide sales funnel and sales pipeline. In general, they are quite similar but however, there are some differences.
First of all, let’s see what is the sales pipeline. it is a specific set of marketing activities that a company representative should perform to get a new customer from the lead. The sales pipeline let the sellers control every step in the deal and understand what else he or she has to do to achieve the sales goals.
What are the differences between sales funnel and pipeline?
the sales funnel is concentrated more on statistics about the sales pipeline relates more to the process.
This sales funnel is the preliminary stage to the sales pipeline. Entering the funnel, the customer goes to the pipeline.
The sales funnel divides businesses into groups and categories, analyses the contract details and set up the actions for the next stage. The sales pipeline operates with a sales plan, process, milestones and specific actions.
A sales pipeline report generates the data relevant at the specific moment, while sales funnel report provides the prognosis based on tendencies and the number of leads.
The sales pipeline report will demonstrate the seller’s actions during the sales process. At the same time, the sales funnel report will demonstrate the conversion rate at any stage of the sales process.
Many specialists believe that the content marketing is located at the top of the funnel. But this is a nonsense: content marketing works at every stage. As the content is words, pictures, and videos that a person encounters on the site (and beyond), you can create different content for different stages of the funnel. Let’s review the stages of content marketing sales funnel.
Goals: indirect attraction of clients, an increase of brand recognition
Tactics: educational and viral content
At the first stage of the funnel, you tell your potential customers (and the market in general) about yourself. If you offer a niche product, new to the market, then first you need to tell people what problems your product will solve. Perhaps, before they did not realize that such problems exist at all.
At this stage, content marketing is needed to create an information background and generate interest in your company. Be curious, intriguing, interested — the clients must remember you. And in time — to trust. Confidence in content is the first step that leads to trust in the company.
The top part of the funnel is inbound-marketing: useful and interesting content. Your task at this stage is to become necessary and to be useful. Do not put pressure on people, do not overdo with direct advertising, talk not only about yourself. You need to understand what the audience wants to know, and then — be able to bring it to the audience. If you do, get grateful to loyal readers. You become the authority for people.
What content works in the dating phase:
- blog posts
- manuals and reference books
- big content: games, long reads, tools, parallax-scrolling
Example: Theo Chocolate
In Seattle, there is a producer of chocolate named Theo. They sell chocolate of all forms and kinds, but they are known not for this, but for excursions that are conducted in their own factory. They talk about the origin of chocolate, how cocoa beans are grown, and how bitter black grains turn into fragrant chocolate bars.
Visitors leave the factory with the feeling that they are well educated in the chocolate production. And from that moment they know: Theo does not just good in their product, but also generously share all the secrets. The company not only sells chocolate — but also fosters respect for it.
This strategy raises brand loyalty. And many Seattle residents remember exactly about Theo when they choose chocolate.
Goals: direct customer acquisition
Tactics: solving existing problems
At the first stage, you will be recognized and trusted. On the second — get acquainted with your product and find out why you are useful and what problems customers are able to solve. So it’s time for content that will allow a person to evaluate you and the product.
At this stage, you may communicate with potential customers directly and tell how you can help. Be careful: it’s not time yet for direct advertising — people do not trust you enough. They need content that will allow you to evaluate your benefits.
What people are looking for at this stage:
- reviews and practical guides for your product
- demo video
- description of the product with detailed technical characteristics
Show how you (your product or service) already solve the customer’s problems.
The main thing is not to forget that the content in the middle of the sales funnel, as a rule, is not focused directly on what you sell. Your product is just a way to achieve something more — whether it’s improving the delivery position or a baking sheet of crisp fresh biscuits with chocolate chips.
Goal: Make a purchase
Tactics: a product description of the products and the unique value of the offer
The visitors are finally ready to become buyers. It’s time for the final effort.
This is the narrowest part of the funnel. A few get here, but those who have reached are already interested in your offer. Now convince them that you are the best. Impress them. Resolve the last doubt. Show that your product is what they need.
- description of a simple, understandable, trustworthy transaction process.
This is straightforward content. Give clear and honest descriptions of the product, which will show how it is useful for the buyer. Be straight and honest. Prepare charts and tables comparing your products and competitors’ products. And remember: the content in the narrowest part of the funnel is content marketing for sales.
When fifteen years ago we first added books and CDs to the cart, it seemed like a revolution. Now everything is different: the fewer steps separate a person from the moment of payment — the higher is the conversion. If you give the opportunity to make a purchase in one click — you simplify and optimize the process. And here you do not need much content.
Goals: repeat sales, keeping the customers
Tactics: help and support
It is not enough just to sell — it is important to keep the client. At this stage, your task is to return a person, turn a one-time buyer into a permanent one.
What will help you?
- customer support and reference documentation;
- special offers;
- secrets and life hacks;
- involvement via e-mail;
- the positive experience of using a product or service.
Examples: Tumblr and Boden
See how the Tumblr platform keeps customers. The simplicity of registration, extremely understandable interfaces that lead the user step-by-step and teach him how to use the service on the go.
Another good example of how to maintain contact with the client is the letters of the British clothing manufacturer Boden. Even automatic dispatch notifications are filled with care and help to strengthen customer loyalty.
Each stage of the funnel requires a special approach to the content. What works in the first stage, when you are only being introduced, will not work in the third stage — at the stage of purchase.
This is easier to understand with the example of social networks. Each requires its own approach. And everywhere you need to take into account the characteristics of the audience and communication. The same story with content marketing: it is important to take into account the specifics of each stage.
The main thing is always to clearly understand who your audience is, what it needs and what problems you can solve.
Marketing automation is rather a young trend. Few marketers are aware of this concept, and even fewer people can introduce this technology into a running business. When the human labor became more expensive, technologies replace people. In the beginning, it was in engineering, now on the Internet.
Automation of routine processes with the special software, which analyzes the actions of your customers and makes personal offers based on the received data. The main idea of marketing automation is to exclude the routine human work and replace them with robots so that people can focus on high-intellectual work.
It is important to understand that marketing automation is not just a chaotic email distribution, calls, SMS or chat-bots. This is an integrated approach. Most people confuse automatic mailings (welcome-series) and conducting transactions in CRM with marketing automation.
If you make a mailing, and your managers call from the CRM system — it’s not marketing automation. This is a simple automation of individual business processes.
Who needs marketing automation?
- all who have customers
- anyone who wants to automate business processes
- to all who are tired of paying huge salaries
- all who are tired of kicking employees
- to all who are tired of a routine
In which niches is it possible to use marketing automation? The answer is very simple — in all. No matter what you do: selling yachts or selling dog food — there are different tools for different needs. Naturally, there is a core around which all processes are built. If you are skeptical about new technologies, open your mind and absorb the new information. It is very important.
There are several stages of marketing automation
- Content creation and promotion
- Advertising campaign (technologies that provide incoming traffic)
- Lead conversion (tools for obtaining contact data, communication channels)
- Interaction with the leads (email, SMS, calls, push, chat-bots)
- Lead management (CRM, qualification of leads, tools for the movement of the lead in different stages of the sales funnel)
- Billing (receipt of payments)
- Analytics of advertising campaigns (all tools that can calculate some metrics and give indicators)
For different stages of marketing automation, there are many tools. Very often, entrepreneurs are looking for one software that will solve all the questions. Just want to say that such software does not exist. Each software has its advantages, and it is necessary to learn how to connect them, for data exchange.
Your goal: to make them come back.
Surely not many people know about you where you live. But there are people who want to buy what you sell. They just have no idea that your business exists. They can not buy from you, because they do not know about your existence.
The most common tactic for attracting new customers:
Write about what to do with your product or industry. Google will add your site after publication in the search engines. Thus, when potential customers search for your product or service, they will be able to go to your site, not to competitors’ sites.
Today, people use their social networks to find interesting content. They expect that business should be available around the clock on Facebook or Twitter. They are looking for instructions and articles in the “How to make” format on YouTube. They want you to talk about the behind-the-scenes life of your business on Instagram. Social communication creates trust and helps increase the number of transitions to the website.
Satisfy the curiosity of your customers by creating valuable content. This will also increase your ranking in the search engines.
Tip: Do cross-promotion on social networks and blog! Add a pop-up window to the site that invites blog readers to your Facebook page and YouTube.
Contextual advertising is text ads that are displayed to users on search engine queries. You pay only when someone clicks on your ad.
Use contextual advertising to drive traffic to the landing page, where the data of interested visitors will be collected.
Do not ignore the “old-fashioned” PR when you are trying to attract the customer’s attention. Prints, TV commercials, live broadcasts, direct mailing, and advertising can be very effective. This is especially true when combined with Internet marketing.
Your goal: to get email addresses or phones of potential customers.
Interest them so that they give you their contact information. Make some gift so that they felt like they owe you.
The best way to do this is to offer a discount or lead magnet that helps solve user problems in exchange for an email address.
A lead magnet is a valuable gift for which people are ready to give their data. Such a strategy leads to loyalty and product sales in the future.
To interest users, use the following methods:
The landing page is a page on your site with content that solves a particular problem. It offers one call to action. Its purpose is to obtain contact information of your potential customer or sale.
Redirect your traffic to the landing page and you’ll see a higher conversion rate than on a regular website.
Suppose you run an auto parts store. One of the services that you offer is a premium car service. You decided to launch contextual advertising and bet on this service.
The landing page for ads should be fully dedicated to one service. For example, noise insulation. There should be pictures of the spare parts that you use. Post photos before and after work. Specify the prices for services. Explain what your services (or parts) are different from others.
The page should have customer feedback. Information about the guarantee you provide. Do not forget about the photos of the masters at work and the car-care center itself.
The call to action of a specific landing page is more relevant than the call on the website homepage.
On every page of your site, ask yourself: “what should the visitor do here?” Should he call? Fill out the contact form? Download the document? Watch the video?
Decide what you expect from the buyer on the page and add a few clear calls-to-action.
Contact forms or comment forms are a simple element, but they are often underestimated. And they miss the opportunity to add subscribers to their list. Think about how users will receive content: by email, phone call or on the confirmation page. Many sales funnels end with a call to action. The visitor simply fills in the form and after that nothing happens.
Your goal: prepare the client for sale.
You have attracted the attention of your potential client. The next step is to introduce him to your product or service. Your client may have questions in the future. Your task is to answer them.
Tell about the benefits of the product for the buyer. You need to help the client understand if it is suitable for your product. And at the same time, you will understand if this client is suitable for you!
You can use the following methods:
Tell customers about your products via email. Send a subscriber a letter, which will answer the most frequently asked questions. It’s worth trying to do this, even if you do not do email marketing.
Drip marketing is a strategy when you send a pre-prepared series of letters to regular or potential customers. If the letters are correct, the customer can go to the purchase bypassing all stages of the sales funnel.
CRM is software that allows companies to track interactions with current and future customers. It is a tool that allows you to determine at what stage of the sales funnel each customer is located. Use your CRM system to identify weaknesses in the sales funnel and the transaction cycle.
Your goal: to make a sale
On average, a person should be reminded 7 times about a company or product. And only then he will make a purchase! Therefore, always remind about yourself and warm up customers at all levels of the sales funnel.
You can convince the client of these strategies:
You must consistently and clearly offer your product. Do not think that customers will look for you. They will not figure out how to purchase your product just because they have visited your site.
Make the site simple. Customers should easily find your products and place your order.
Send them by email your new products or special offers. Send newsletters to holidays. Always remind about the opportunity to purchase your product.
Send information about promotions and special offers.
Set up automatic mailings, offer products to potential customers who have reached the end of the dribble campaign. You can offer free shipping to customers who left the shopping cart without buying. Offer a discount to those who are considering a particular product, but do not buy it.
Monitoring the keywords associated with your brand can help find customers who are willing to make a purchase.
You can configure monitoring using tools like Google Alerts, JagaJam, Open Site Explorer, Babkee, YouScan, Mention.
Your goal: to make repeated sales
It is easier to sell goods to an existing customer than to purchase a new one. You invested a lot of energy and money into attracting the client — do not throw him!
Remember those who have already made a purchase, prepare a new offer for them. What can be done about this:
Offer a discount on the next purchase for recommendations. For example, when you refer a friend — you and a friend get a free bonus.
If you sell goods or services that have a recurring cycle of use, then create a system of automatic reminders. For example, you sell water filters. You can remind buyers who have already made a purchase. When the filter replacement period is suitable, send an email about replenishment.
Encourage the customer to buy more expensive things or accessories. You can do this in the process of making an order. Also, you can send a letter to the customer after the first purchase of additional products.
Most importantly, do not forget to just say thank you! Congratulate the customer by email with an anniversary or birthday. After all, simple words of gratitude can change a lot in your relationships with customers. Offer a gift coupon or a discount!
It is important for any business to get the new customers. And we reviewed the best ways to do that. Which one of them do you like the most?