A profitable business needs customers willing to purchase your product or service. The first step is to generate what the marketing world calls “leads.” One of the most effective ways to find prospective customers for any business is an optimized sales funnel.
In this article, we will give a quick overview of what this means, how to use a sales funnel effectively, and taking a qualified lead through to the finish line.
A sales funnel is also known as a marketing funnel. It refers to the path that a prospective customer takes through a website, eventually resulting in a purchase if crafted well. The funnel analogy puts most potential customers at the top-end of the sales process, but only a fraction end up paying for the product or service that’s available.
As a prospective customer enters each phase, there is a greater willingness to purchase the product or service. Businesses use this concept to guide their sales and marketing efforts at every stage, with more chance of closing the deal as potential customers continue onto the final section of the funnel.
Your sales funnel demonstrates the path your business prospects take toward paying for what you’re offering. By understanding the funnel, you can quickly identify the points at which prospects drop out of the sales process (termed “failing to convert”).
A business cannot optimize the sales funnel unless they understand each step. Why do you need an optimized sales funnel to secure customers? The benefits include:
A sales funnel is an excellent tool for connecting with the audience you need to make sales, and it’s important to explore how the marketing mechanism works within the primary sales funnel stages.
There are four primary stages within a sales funnel—awareness, interest, decision, and action. You should approach each stage differently to send the right message to a prospective customer at the right time. If not, most prospects will drop out in the middle of the funnel and never convert to a real sale.
The top of the funnel captures a potential customer’s attention. It might be through a social media post, a blog post, a Google search, or any other medium. The prospect becomes aware of a business’s existence and notices its unique offering.
Once the potential customer enters the stage of interest, they begin evaluating whether your product or service will fulfill their needs. They research and do comparison shopping to ensure they are making a good choice. At this point, your business should provide valuable content to demonstrate your expertise and help them make an informed decision.
Avoid selling products or services at the interest stage, or they may not continue to the next part of the funnel.
At the decision stage, your prospect might be ready to buy or begin placing an order. They are paying more attention to what you have to offer, including options and pricing. The decision stage is the business’ time to shine, so make your best offer.
Decision clinchers might be a free trial, free shipping, a bonus product, or anything else that’s enticing enough that your lead won’t think twice about grabbing it.
The bottom of the funnel is where your prospect gives you their business. They purchase a product or service and become part of your business ecosystem. A sale confirms that the funnel was effective enough at each stage to bring the prospective customer through the final goal posts, but how do you create a more effective sales funnel overall?
The initial glimpse of your online offering is the landing page, and it is where prospects will interact with your business with the first click. It might be a redirect from a search engine result, an ad, ebook downloads, or webinar signups. The landing page should spell out what your business is all about, including unique selling propositions.
A well-designed landing page moves prospects through the funnel more successfully. You can create landing pages at any stage of the sales funnel and raise your conversion rate by personalizing these pages. It could be your only opportunity to win people over, so make sure there is a form for potential customers to enter information so that you can capture email addresses for future communication.
Once a prospect arrives at your landing page, the time for action ticks by quickly. A “lead magnet” gives them something attractive in exchange for their email address or other information. It represents an extremely effective way to offer something of value right on a landing page.
A lead magnet is any offer you can promote to your prospects in exchange for their email address, like ebooks, free trials, training videos, case studies, discount codes, and samples. It takes a lot of time and effort to move a prospect from the top of the funnel to the bottom. You need to consistently provide attention-grabbing and engaging content in the form of informative blog posts, how-to videos, and research reports.
Interest in your business grows with each stage. Once you have a prospect’s email address, why not create an email nurture series? It will share informative content about your product or service and encourage further interaction with your brand.
As the decision stage approaches, offer something irresistible to push them into finalizing a purchase—for example, a special discount or extended free trial.
At the bottom of the funnel, the prospect clicks to confirm a purchase or lets you know they aren’t interested. Maintain the communication in either case, retaining new customers and trying to win back the prospects that didn’t make a purchase.
If your sales and marketing teams can optimize the four stages of the sales funnel, your business will have a landing page and lead magnets to close more deals and win over qualified leads. That’s all you need for a profitable venture.
Jesse Heredia is the CEO and founder of Ravecode Solutions which focuses on digital marketing and SEO. He has a technical background having earned a BS degree in computer science and worked in IT for over 10 years. Discovering a passion for search engine optimization and web design, he started helping small businesses grow and found himself making a difference in other people’s lives. This led to pursuing digital marketing as a full-time career.
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