The marketing funnel depicts the steps of a hypothetical buyer through his decision-making process. The funnel is widest at the top and then gradually grows more narrow. The earliest models depicted a customer entering the funnel as a novice and then sliding down the funnel and through the steps of awareness, interest, desire and action, meaning a purchase.
A sales funnel illustrates your customer’s journey and works by increasing the level of engagement and trust in each interaction with your prospects. It typically contains six stages, starting with awareness and ending with loyal customers, with each stage more intentional than the last. While not all prospects will reach the end of the funnel, those who do are actively engaged and therefore more serious about buying your product or service.
That was an interesting article. I was looking on your page of scheduled webinars, and what about offering a webinar on segmenting your list? It seems that to use the marketing funnel idea you need to segment subscribers, so you’re not sending new subscribers something that should go to your “Advocates”. I’d love to see a webinar that really goes over how to use the funnel & segmenting together. Thanks.
The Discovery stage is where your prospect’s interest is piqued. They are curious about your company and products and want to learn more. In this stage, you are sharing valuable educational content related to your prospect’s problem or need. This stage occurs while you are qualifying your prospect, conducting initial meetings, and defining their needs.
When a contact or target fits the profile of your lead and has been identified as having a high lead score, then you can qualify this particular lead for further marketing. First and foremost, this lead should have demonstrated considerable interest in your products and services to be deemed worthy of further marketing efforts and direct contact from your sales team, otherwise your campaign will just be flushed down the drain.
Most likely, your customer is now at a point of decision. It’s your job to offer them something so valuable they’re compelled to take action right now. One way to do this is through a webinar that ends with a call-to-action. Let’s say your webinar is about “How to Get in Shape.” At the end of the webinar, you might offer a low introductory price for a membership to your online fitness classes. You might also create sales pages or sales emails. How you do this is up to you. The point is to continue offering amazing content to your customers. And, of course, to close the deal with a sale.
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Now, optimally, you’ll want to add more steps to your sales funnel (more on that later), but let’s say this is your bare-bones funnel. To generate leads and collect customer information, you offer a loyalty program, where people earn points for buying pizzas that they can cash in for discounts on future orders. Then, you email them a special coupon, and a percentage of your leads will open that email. A percentage of those opens will actually buy a pizza.
While your sales funnel “ends” when someone makes a purchase, there’s another level outside of the sales funnel. Actually, there are two levels, working simultaneously: loyal fan and repeat customer. First, someone can become a loyal fan. They may or may not make a purchase again (for example, someone who purchases a home from your may not make a purchase again for a long time), but they tell others about your company and encourage them to make a purchase. This is extremely important to finding more leads for the “awareness” part of your sales funnel. Word of mouth is powerful.
The concept of “creating customers” may at first seem to be an odd one. Don’t you find customers, not make them? Well, yes and no. While it is extremely hard to turn someone into a customer if they have no interest in your product/service or don’t have the money to make the purchase, with a proper sales funnel, can can create fans out of people who never even knew you existed (or at least never realized how much they needed whatever you’re selling). A sales funnel can also turn an “on the fence” customer into a raving fan who refers even more people to you!
Or, in some businesses, there’s only one thing to purchase–you just have to do so often. For example, let’s say you own a dairy farm and sell milk at the farmer’s market every week. Your regular customers buy the same two gallons of milk every week. You can’t move them farther down a sales funnel to buy something more, because that’s all you have–milk.
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The first step of any sales funnel is to make a potential customer aware that you exist. You can go about doing this in several ways, such as social media marketing, email marketing, cold calling, attending events, advertising, and word of mouth. How you make people aware of your company really depends on the product or service you’re selling. For example, if you design apps, mobile marketing will probably be extremely effective, but if you sell lawn mowers, this may not be the best option; traditional radio advertising may work better.
Have someone examine the ratio of visitors to your page, versus how many people enter their contact information to get access to content. A high percentage means you are targeting your demographic well, and should continue to offer similar content. A low percentage means you need to invest more in adding value to the free content or service you are offering.
Pro tip: The most effective sales funnels are illustrated with step-by-step corresponding sales and marketing activities. CRM tools like Salesforce Essentials can help you create visual funnels that align with your pipelines while helping you manage activities needed to convince your prospects to buy from you.Try Salesforce’s features with a free 14-day trial today.
Sales funnel conversion rate – If you’re going to choose only a few metrics to focus on, make sure this is one of them. This metric tracks the number of prospects that enter your funnel at any point and how many convert into customers. As you make changes to your marketing strategy in the future, seeing this number improve will let you know you’re on the right track.
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.
Tradeshows are often most valuable, because you’re reaching people who are there specific to meet you. I recommend check out this article from Inc on great event marketing ideas. No matter how you set up your booth, I recommend running a giveaway to help you collect business cards. Your event staff can only talk to so many people at once. When the tradeshow floor gets really busy, having a box or bowl for people to drop their cards to win a prize is a great option, because in a busy environment, most people won’t wait.
There are a number of different tools on the market today to help you track these and other metrics, though for most businesses Google Analytics represents the most comprehensive, easy-to-implement solution. Since it’s free, use the service’s funnel-tracking tools until you determine that you need something more advanced and then move on to another sales analytics program or a complete marketing automation program.
Google shares a similar view, taking the fusion of product and marketing one step further. Arjan Dijk, the company’s Vice President for Global Small Business Marketing, believes products should be designed to market themselves. For Google, the question is not “how can we market this product?” but “which products deserve marketing?” Marketing isn’t about “pushing people’s thoughts and actions. It’s about amplification, helping what’s already happening grow faster.”
However, the best part about this, and the most powerful route that entrepreneurs take to scale their businesses, is that if you know that sending 100 people to your site costs you $200, for example, but you get two people to convert at $300 each, then you have a $600 return on $200 invested (300 percent). When you know that, that's when the entire game changes and you can infinitely scale your offers.
Now, this basic sales funnel offers a simplistic view of the consumer journey and the stages buyers go through before making a purchase. So you can use this as a basic template for your marketing strategy. For example, you create brand/product awareness campaigns to build an audience, target this audience with ads to generate interest and deliver content to build emotional desire before hitting them with the big CTA.
Exits from stage. The exits from stage metric is very similar to your time in stage metric, but it allows you to see how many potential customers you are completely losing in a particular stage. For example, if your potential clients spend a year on your email list before they buy (but most of them do eventually buy), that’s a time in stage problem. If people spend 5 days on your email list before they buy, but 98% of them unsubscribe within 5 days, that’s an exits from stage problem.
Although I mentioned several times in this list the importance of participating in discussion rather than just dropping your links, that doesn’t mean you should never promote yourself. I like to use the 80/20 rule in this case. At least 80% of the time, you should be using social networks to share other people’s links and participate in conversation. You can share your own stuff about 20% of the time.
For different types of businesses, buyer needs at the problem/need recognition stage – top of the funnel (TOFU) – are different. If you’re running a consulting business, for example, then your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing) or disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting).