If you’re marketing anything, then the one thing you want to set up is a Sales Funnel. The Sales Funnel has been used for years, and will not go away any time soon. But are you using a sales funnel? If not, then you are missing out on a lot! In this post I will explain what a sales funnel is and how it benefits online marketers.
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” ~ Mary Kay Ash
Back in 2011 I went through an actual physical offline Sales Funnel. Although I had started a blog a year prior, I still was “iffy” on what a sales funnel was.
I was interested in buying rental properties. I received something in a mail. It was a post card flier with the dates and times of “free” training on how to get involved with rentals. I thought I would tell my dad and so we decided to call and made reservations to attend.
The training went for about 3 or 4 hours and there were probably around 150 people there. At the end of the training they did an upsale for additional training, but we had to pay for it. This particular training went for 2 days. So me and my dad signed up for it.
We went to this training out in Riverside, California which consisted of about 100 people and they gave us some really good information. We both were taking a lot of notes and getting questions answered. But the training didn’t stop there!
They did another upsale for a major training that was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and of course we put up more money. This was a major decision since I had to go into one of my savings, but I wanted to go. So we both went to the training which lasted 3 days at the Hard Rock Hotel.
This big event had over 300 people and it was sponsored by a company which had a real estate program to where we can start buying real estate properties throughout the country through them. Well I was pretty tapped out as far as funds and my dad didn’t want to go any further with this program, but we eventually bought rental property on our own the following year as a start.
But this is how a sales funnel works! And in this case it’s a process where value of training is traded for money until you get to the main program.
The Sales Funnel, The Definition, And The Visual
When I got back home, I had that Aha moment of course. I’ve seen physically, with my own two eyes of what a sales funnel is and how a sales funnel work.
This real estate state program took us through a series of steps, which took about 3 months, all the way up to the major program of buying homes.
These series of steps is seen in online marketing.
Here’s a definition of a Sales Funnel which I found on pipedrive.com:
A Sales Funnel is a visual representation of the steps required to sell your products or services. A sales funnel should reveal how many prospects you have in each stage of your sales cycle, and also detail your conversion rates for each stage.
Now what steps does your customers go through the sales funnel? Here’s 7 steps that they go through that I got from udemy.com :
- Awareness: You make customers aware the you exist
- Education: Teach customers why they need your product
- Evaluation: Customer need to make figure out if product/service will benefit
- Engagement: Prospects got all information, now they need a nudge
- Commitment: Someone has committed to buying your product
- Purchase: You just made a sale
- LoyalFan/Repeat Customer: Trust is built and they become loyal/repeat customers
This is one way of looking at a sales funnel. Let’s look at another interpretation of a sales funnel from a visual view. I got this infograph from visual.ly
As you can see the process of what the customers go through is quite similar. There is not one way to set up a sales funnel, but one thing is for sure and that is you want to make people aware of you and you want people who are repeat customers and advocates.
So how does this work in our online world? Well I give you a skeletal summary of how it works starting with a blog as a way to make your target audience aware.
Associating The Blog With The Sales Funnel
When it comes to marketing anything, whether it be a business, products or service, you first have to start with self!
How many times have you presented information about a business, products or services to the “T” to your audience, but yet the majority of them buy from someone else? Or maybe they just don’t get into the sales funnel
This is definitely a disappointing moment for a lot of us!
But how can you turn this around?
Well according to the Sales Funnel, you want people to be aware of you first of all, but you probably got that down pat!
But here’s what a lot of people miss. You want your target audience to be able to relate to you.
Awareness + Transparency = Strong Affinity
When your audience starts to have a strong affinity towards you then you’re building rapport/relationship with them. And with that said, you must reciprocate this back to them. In this case, through replying to comments, thanking them whenever they share your posts, reading their blog posts, commenting, sharing, etc…
Once your audience develop an affinity with you, then it would be a great time to educate your audience. This is where you can make the transition from blog to sales funnel.
You pique interested by educating your audience enough for them to get into your sales funnel via your optin boxes or capture page. This is where you can use a CTA (Call To Action) for them to opt in or sign up.
Strong Affinity + Education = Subscribers (Leads)
Ok, now you’re getting subscribers from your target audience. Now they come upon a Sales Page and more Education about your offer.
In this stage, this is where Persuasion and making your products/services/business stand out to your Leads. As they’re being educated, they’re being persuaded as to why your offer will benefit them.
While persuasion and education is going on, the emotions of your Leads are being tapped into. You know what they say, people purchase based on emotional fulfillment. This is where Desire is built.
Persuasion + Desire = Action (Evaluation)
Ok, either they do a time limited trial version or they’ll go ahead purchase. You have got your leads to convince themselves and now they’re putting your offer to the test.
But once they become satisfied with your offers then this leads to
The trust is built, they purchase services/products specifically from you and they become your loyal advocates.
For many this is the goal and being able to turn visitors into Return Customers/Advocates is definitely a great accomplishment! But the most important thing to look at is the process of your visitors going through the sales funnel. You always want to check to see how your visitors/leads are responding to each step so you can make the necessary changes to get better results.
When it comes to your tools, each step has a special role in the sales funnel. Now lets see how Google Analytics and the tools your visitors and subscribers see plays a role in each of these stages
Correlating Online Tools With The Sales Funnel
When it comes to marketing and fine tuning your Sales Funnel you become your own coach. You question yourself as to how, why, when, where, what, and to what extent to make those necessary improvements to your sales funnel.
You want to know:
- What Capture Pages are generating the most leads
- Why your subscribers isn’t clicking on certain sites
- How are you driving traffic
- Where are you getting the most qualified leads
- To what extent should you deliver free value versus promote your offers
When it comes to answering these questions, this is where a tool like Google Analytics comes into importance. You can set up indicators of how each step is performing that’ll let you know if your visitors/leads are going through the Sales Funnel process.
This is very important so that you’re not just a sitting ducking hoping that things will get better. This was my mistake when I first started implementing marketing campaigns. I was more focused in delivering value with my blog and implementing marketing strategies such as Pay Per Click and Solo Ads.
Although I was getting a lot of leads and had a 3% sales conversion rate, I wanted to not only improve my conversation rates but also have loyal customers/advocates as was mentioned in udemy.com which I didn’t focus on. Therefore my results never improved.
So in regards to the online tools and getting better results you want to:
- Figure out what optin boxes are working the best?
- Are a lot of users getting to the sales pages after they opt in?
- Which capture pages are working best with your PPC, Solo Ads, etc…?
- Are your leads/subscribers confirming their email addresses?
- Why did they unsubscribe?
- Why are some opening up your emails while other’s aren’t?
- Who should you direct your attention to?
- Did your leads/subscribers get your broadcast message via email autoresponder?
- Are most of your emails going to their spam folders?
- Is the email list they opted into specific towards their interests?
- How many leads/subscribers purchased your offers per week/month/yr ?
- How many leads/subscribers canceled?
Yes this is the tedious work behind the scenes that I found not too many people talk about. But it is this type of work as to why there are successful online marketers. Unless you’re paying someone to do this, this is something as you the reader may want to incorporate in your weekly activities.
The process as to making sales can be quite involved. Especially whenever your visitors make that decision to opt into your site to investigate your offer much further into detail. You definitely want to make sure that those quality leads are going through the funnel as well as make a email list of people of those who become your loyal fans and advocates.
The sales funnel can be tweaked enough to where the sales process can be automated so that you can focus on other things. And if you’re a blogger, I believe it’s indubitably starts out with a blog and how you come across to your visitors. Once you gain their trust and are persuasive then you will develop a community of fans!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Have you built a Sales Funnel from scratch?
How are your conversion rates? Is there much room for improvement? What changes do you have to make in order to get better results?
Are you using a blog at the beginning of your Sales Funnel?
How are you building trust with your visitors? Have you gained some loyal fans?
How are you benefiting from your current Sales Funnel?
Please share your comments below and share this post with your friends. I look forward to read them!