In a recent post we discussed a product we really love, GetResponse, and how you can use it for creating landing pages, email automation and lead funnels. This became a very post on our blog and we decided that we should probably elaborate on the key area of the post, by which I of course mean, sales funnels.
What is hope marketing and why should you replace it with a sales funnel?
Hope marketing essentials means “hoping” for the best when it comes to marketing a business; it means copying other companies’ marketing tactics and hoping they will also work for you. Essentially, imagine just hoping your customer’s refer you to other businesses or that by mentioning your business to people online you will get customers. This used to work and it still does in small numbers, or completely just by accident. However to build a strong consistent business, you need a consistent sales strategy. This is where sales funnels come in.
What is a sales funnel?
If you’re wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will re-emerge out from the other end.
In marketing automation, Ryan Deiss, co-founder of Digital Marketer, often describes the sales funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers. It’s multi-stepped because lots must occur between the time that a prospect is aware enough to enter your funnel, to the time when they take action and successfully complete a purchase.
You’ve probably heard about this concept from somewhere, likely heading the phrase click funnel which is solely a term popularised by the service clickfunnels.com. This single core concept can take a business from virtually non-existent and unknown to multi-million-dollar marketing machine with mass saturation, seemingly overnight
How does a sales funnel work?
A sales funnel works in various stages where they engage the potential customer by bringing them through a series of steps into sales. Unlike a real funnel, these stages work to re-engage the potential customer over and over again until they leave the funnel either in terms of a sale (which technically means they will be re-engaged again) or by forcing themselves out, for example unsubscribing. Sales funnels aren’t only digital, they happen even in brick and mortar businesses, however for the purposes of this post. Let’s keep in terms of a digital sales funnel.
Stages of a Sales Funnel
The following are the key 5 stages of your sales funnel, you might see them with different names and so on, however these are essentially how it works.
Stage 1: Exposure
It’s obvious that you cannot build a sales pipeline….wait….funnel, without first having customers aware of your brand and thus, stage one is getting your brand in front of the customer. This is done digitally using the following methods generally.
- SEO (search engine marketing) to get found in organic search
- Content marketing – to create content worthy of sharing
- Building a community – Getting social with your content and building an audience. Another option is helping others out and getting traction back through groups etc.
Add in a little traditional digital advertising through banners and PPC and you’ve got the beginnings of a great funnel.
Obviously, analyzing your success across these tasks is important for your ultimate success and KPIs (key performance indicators) act as metrics to monitor your programs.
To optimise all of the above, definitely check out Semrush, an amazing piece of SaaS software that we use.
Stage 2: Discovery
Once prospects find your site, the trick is to keep them there and keep them coming back. Recommendation agents are particularly good at helping visitors discover suitable products. Amazon is probably the granddaddy at this with their simple recommendation agent that recommends other books viewed by folks who bought the book you’re viewing. Netflix has a more sophisticated recommendation agent that finds movies based on your rating of movies you’ve already watched.
If your website is on Site123 this will be easy to set up. If you need some advice or a free consultation on how to implement this on your website, check out FixMyWordpress and I’m sure they will be happy to help, tell them NZT48 sent ya.
Enticing visitors to sign up for you email newsletter provides additional opportunities to reach them once they’ve left your site. There are many tools to do this, such as AutopilotHQ, Mailchimp and of course our favourite, GetResponse.
Stage 3: Consideration
Salesforce.com estimates that consumers are 75% of the way to making their decision to buy your brand BEFORE they ever visit your website, store or see a sales rep. Thus, it’s critical to address all their issues on your website and use influence strategies effectively throughout the site. This will help ensure that by the time contact is made or a sale is initiated, this customer is fully committed. Makes sense? Right?
Stage 4: Conversion
Make the sale. Take as many clicks out of the selling process as possible and only ask for information critical for completing the transaction. Remember, this is a close. And, once someone is ready to buy — consummate the deal. You can get more information if you’d like AFTER they’ve closed.
And, like any good salesperson, don’t leave without getting referrals. Ask that they share their purchase with their social networks to gain tacit endorsements among their social graph. For instance, Groupon offers to refund your purchase if you get 3 friends to buy it. That’s a great incentive to share.
Stage 5: Customer Relationship
Relationships rely on each party getting value. If your customer isn’t getting value, then it isn’t a relationship they want. You obviously want to retain existing customers since it’s 5x more expensive to replace a customer who leaves your digital marketing funnel. Again, provide value and customers will likely stay. Annoy them with constant irrelevant emails and spam their newsfeeds and they’ll leave.
A concept you may hear of: The leaky funnel
If a sales opportunity does not move down the funnel, the sale will not happen and the opportunity should be removed, hence the “leaky” funnel. A leaky funnel is not necessarily bad; as a salesperson, you want to focus on opportunities that are likely to yield results. It is the nature of sales to have to remove an opportunity from your funnel. It does not mean that you will not sell to that account (a positive action by the customer can put them back into the funnel), but for the time being, you should center your attention on opportunities that remain in the funnel.