Building an Online Sales Funnel

by amcfarland81 September 25, 2017

Building an Online Sales Funnel

Once you have defined who your target audience is and in what markets you will be pursuing, the next step is to determine how to build your sales funnel to increase the conversion rates of visitors to your website.  It is very important to have a sales funnel intact so that you are making sure that you are creating content and sales material for each stage of the funnel.  By directing your marketing efforts to people within each stage of the funnel, you are catering to their exact needs in the sales process, whether it be more information about the product, or a link to Buy Now.

What is a Sales Funnel?

The most basic definition of a sales funnel is the process that a customer goes through from the point at which they gain awareness of the product, until they purchase.   It is easy to think of this process of a funnel, since a large number of people will initially hear of a product or service, but as they go through the process, only a percentage of the people will go on to the next step.  For example, if I am interested in buying a protein supplement for my new diet, I may search “protein” online.  The first result I come to is a link to a protein supplement, I click this link which brings me to the product page.  After reading the product description in detail, I determine that I do not want this flavor, so I exit out of this website and go on to the next one.   A large number of people may initially view your product, but less will convert into sales.  The exact shape of your funnel depends on your business and conversion rates.

Basic Sales Funnel Strategy

The main concept behind building an effective sales funnel, is to capture as many people’s interest as possible at the top of the funnel, while increasing your conversion rates during each step of the process.  It may be useful to cut down on the total number of steps needed to reach the end of the funnel, as you are likely to lose buyers at each additional step.  The process of building, testing, and analyzing the results from your sales funnel will help you increase your revenue over time.

How to Build a Sales Funnel for your Company

The concept of a sales funnel is not unique to online businesses, brick and mortar companies use their salespeople, billboards, and newspaper and in-store promotions to move their customers through the funnel.  However, in this article, we will focus on digital sales funnels and how we can use the internet to greatly boost our leads and conversions.

The sales funnel is a process, and each step in the process should be designed to move the potential customer further along.

Target Each Stage with Different Materials

Each sales funnel stage is unique and offers opportunities to engage with customers in different ways.  You will target each stage with unique offerings specific to the point of the sales funnel that they are in.  For example, it would be a waste to target a potential customer with a campaign designed to promote awareness if they are already on your email list.  This customer is already aware of your brand, the next step should push them to make a purchase.  I’ll go through each stage of the sales funnel and explain the ways you can increase conversions and capitalize on each stage.

Top of the Funnel

This stage is all about gaining awareness from your customers.  Anything that you can do to put your company and product out in front of people in a positive way will benefit you at this stage.  Engaging content and thought leadership will help you get your ideas and products out there.  Social media is a big part of the top of the funnel, as you can reach a lot of people if the content is shared many times.  Content at this stage should not be too in depth, and should provide insight into what your company does and what you are about.  This stage begins with driving as much traffic to your website as possible, and ends with the goal of creating a potential buyer who wants to learn more about your product/services.

One effective strategy to make this conversion is to create a landing page for your content. This landing page is a way to start the sales process, and gather information about your customer, likely contact information, so you can take the process to the next step.  This landing page can encourage the customer to sign up for an email list, or subscribe to website updates.  It could even be as simple as getting them to follow you on social media.

Middle of the Funnel

Once you have convinced a customer to follow or subscribe to your content, they have moved to the next stage of the funnel.  They have displayed buying behavior and are engaged with your content. Your goal at the middle of the funnel is to educate your customers on why you are the best choice for them.  Content such as third party reviews, calculating return on investment, or in depth product guides are useful at this step.  You may want to offer the customers a way to purchase or to start the purchasing process, such as signing up for a free trial or sample. The goal is to make the person into a likely customer.

Bottom of the Funnel

When you have reached the bottom of the sales funnel, the customer is very close to a full conversion.  The process at this stage will depend on your exact business and what is involved with the purchasing process, but you should focus on streamlining the process as much as possible so it is easy for the customer to complete.  This will come through research and trial but usually fewer steps are easier.  Additionally, when a customer is about to give you their money, it is important that a customer is trusting you and that their information is secure.  This will give the customers confidence to complete the process.

Funnel Metrics

Analyzing your sales funnel is an extremely important aspect of your strategy, and only after you have measured your data can you begin to make educated changes to your sales process.  By measuring conversions at each part of the sales funnel, you can get an idea of where your customers are getting stuck, and at what parts they are no longer interested.  For example, customers leaving products in their shopping cart may signal a problem with your checkout process, while a website with high conversion rates but not enough interested buyers may signal a problem with website traffic.

You can use Google Analytics to place tags on your pages so you can track users as they go through your sales funnel and see where they are stopping.  There are many other tools you can use to A/B test your pages to see what is working and what is not.  Conversion rate optimization is incredibly important to your sales funnel because of the simple math where if you can double the conversion rate at any point in your funnel, you will double your overall revenue.  Additionally, if you double your conversion rate at three different points in your funnel, you will see revenue multiply by eight!

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Putting it All Together

A sales funnel is always a work in progress, always improving but never perfected.  By producing content for each stage in the sales funnel, you are optimizing the way that you connect with customers in the way that they are ready for.  Remember

Page Traffic x Conversion Rate x Sales Price = Revenue

An increase in either page traffic or conversion rate will increase your revenue, and this is what your sales funnel is all about.  With patience and guidance, you can create a sales funnel that multiplies your revenue significantly online.  Check out our other blog posts for more in depth articles and how you can optimize your digital marketing campaign to significantly increase revenue and exposure.

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