If you have an internet connection and you’ve been looking to grow your business or learning how to market your idea or product, perhaps you’ve heard the term “sales funnel.”

The term may seem a bit difficult to understand, so let’s think of it in terms that are easy to understand in the real world, before trying to understand it better online.

What is a sales funnel?

Here’s the quickest and fastest example I can think of…

Say you’re walking down the street and you see a bakery with a large window that displays its delicious treats. Because you’re always up for tasting new desserts you walk into the store to take a closer look.

After walking into the store, you notice samples of the deserts in the window and you take one to try it out. You think it’s the most delicious treat you’ve ever had and wonder how much it costs. You see that the price is a great deal so you purchase some more and leave.

Online sales funnels are the same.

But if you try to search “what is a sales funnel” on Google, approximately over 46 million results will show up on the web page results – from articles and images down to videos and news.

A sales funnel or marketing funnel is a process which describes the streamlined flow of people wanting what you have and buying it from you.

The point of sales funnels is to help generate, capture and convert prospects into loyal customers and brand advocates.

Basically, it simplifies the process of selling your products or services.

A perfect example of a sales funnel are those that you find in most websites and blogs.

When you browse through websites, you will find content with quick prompts or a clever call to action (CTA’s), hovering somewhere on the page or sometimes hidden at the end of the article, asking you to subscribe or do a specific action. It might ask you to sign up or fill out a form with your name and email or contact details. Once you hit the subscribe button, it will then send you an email confirming that you took interest in what you found in the page and you will receive frequent blog updates from that page. You are now identified as a potential customer or simply a “prospect.”

The goal of every business owner is to sell their product or service. And the goal of every business owner that understands they need to be a marketer, is to make you buy what they are offering and turn you into a customer or brand advocate. A sales funnel just makes it a lot easier for them to do it.

How funnels can help you grow your business?

If you have a product or a service, you need a sales funnel.

Funnels help build trust with existing and potential customers plus it increases sales. Not only does it help in growing your customers, but also it helps you track why you are losing them.

It answers questions like:

  • Why did they not complete the sign-up or the fill out form?
  • Are they even reading the content or looking at your products?
  • What makes them leave the website?
  • How long do they stay on the page?
  • Are people interested in what you are selling or  offering?

Sales funnels give a complete idea about the buying experience of every website browser on the page – how they click and scroll through the website.

How sales funnels work?

From creating a landing page down to building and deepening the connection with prospects or customers, sales funnels help structure your goals for your project campaigns. It is also used by other marketers to meet or exceed their campaigns objectives and targets.

Regardless of the volume of the audience and industry niche, an effective sales funnel has three designed stages (or as far I see it):

Top of the Funnel (ToFu): Getting People Interested

The first step to making a successful campaign always starts with planning, identifying the goals and the problem, and most importantly, qualifying the prospects. Find out who is your audience, understand their behavior, what are the things that they are interested in, the social media channels they frequently use or visit, and even the things that they find annoying when they shop online.

Target your customer with personalized offers (think deserts in a bakery window) based on their web search history, where and when do they go online, what they click or if they have made any online purchases.

This is the initial sales and funnel marketing stage characterized by growing awareness of a solution or product. Awareness plays a major role in the funnel to help ensure that the customer understands the product, features, benefits and more.

At this point, everyone is a prospect and a potential buyer or customer, here the audience is wide just like a real life funnel. The opportunity and chances are high.

Not everyone has the same buying experience, so make sure to provide buyers with something that makes their buying process convenient and their experience worthwhile.

Make them want to come back again to your website or at least make them stay at your page longer.

It really pays a lot to invest in establishing trust or connection with customers if you really want to succeed in this first stage.

Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Educating People About Your Product/Service

From the time customers land on the page, serve them with adequate and necessary information so that they have a positive experience.

Besides successful return of investment (ROI) and conversion rates, customer experience is still a top priority for most businesses.

Take note that at this stage, some of the prospects are ready to make a decision whether he/she will purchase a product or service from you. So when they land on your website or page, make sure to greet them immediately with content that is engaging, relevant and useful.

Make it simple and easy. Smart and highly engaging content can help you standout in a crowded marketplace and can make your prospects forget you have competitors.

Think of how you can get traffic to your landing page (or the figurative bakery shop), stir up their interests, nurture them and convert them as loyal customers.

The most common traffic methods are pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, press releases, blogs, videos, collaborations, social media (especially Facebook) and web search results.

Moreover, give expert advice, support questions on social media, educate your customers about something, ask for their reviews and send helpful campaigns. That is how you deepen a strong connection and eventually build trust.

Another thing to consider is to know when is the best time to email or contact your prospects for best results.

Should you call your prospects, email them or both? Either way, the secret to a successful marketing campaign is to make sure that you aren’t sending something just for the sake of doing it.

Always offer or deliver something of real value every time you email or contact your list. The higher the value of every email you write, the more prospects you can turn into loyal customers, and eventually your open rates will increase.

Once you have enough traffic to your page and the attention of your audience, you can turn to making better offers.

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu): Making Offers And Getting Sales

The final stage, or the action and decision stage is extremely important in your sales funnel.

You want the potential buyers to take certain actions. Maybe they need to sign up, fill out a form, or to purchase a product or a service before leaving your website.

This is also the point where you track those who are interested in your product or service and those who are not.

Give them something for free, say, a free trial of a product or a service, in exchange of their contact details (name, email and phone) so that you can follow up with them.

Finally, a strong call to action (CTA) and consistent follow up makes a successful and positive campaign. In writing CTAs, give prospects a reason why they should take the desired action (e.g., Get Instant Access).

The objective of the sales funnel is to make someone buy your product or service. Once you’ve converted a prospect into a customer, it doesn’t end there.

You nurture them and motivate them to consume what they bought from you in hopes that they become loyal or repeat customers.

Also, while in the conversion stage, don’t forget to track the important data – the sources of your best and most successful potential buyers, the time you spent connecting with them and how long it took you to close the deal.

It might take time to build trust and solid connection with strangers, but it’s a lot easier and less difficult if you do it right.

And by right, I mean creating a smart and “effective” sales funnel strategy. Effective is the operational word here.

It all boils down to creating something that prospects would want or need. Create a smart checklist and once you’re gone through each stage, flip the funnel backwards if possible and find out whether you missed or skipped something.

Sales funnel overview

Just a quick recap.

Sales funnels involve establishing objectives and designing a framework or plan that is measurable, achievable and totally effective.

They are similar to an offline funnel, but it can take a while to understand how to implement it.

We learned the essential stages or fundamentals of a sales funnel.

First, get the attention of a prospect so that they will be interested to learn more.

The next step is choosing to get the prospects to sample or try your service or products.

Finally, make an offer and make it easy for them to purchase.

Now that you have learned what a sales funnel is and how it works (yes it definitely works), it is time to find out what you can do to create your own.

Are you ready to create your own sales funnel?

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