The sales funnel is a visualization for the process of transforming leads into customers from a marketing perspective. The concept behind the sales funnel is that marketers try to capture as many leads as possible initially and, then, these leads are filtered through various stages of the sales funnel, eventually leading to prospective customers during the final stage.
The sales funnel has five stages, which are:
The uppermost stage of the sales funnel, awareness draws prospects through consumer research and marketing campaigns. This stage establishes trust and credibility through the use of content (infographics, blog posts, etc.), advertising, direct mail, trade shows, search engines, viral campaign, media mentions, and social media. Lead generation takes place at this stage where you collect information and pull your leads into a lead management system to allow for further nurturing down the sales funnel. When your customer is exposed to your product or service, he/she realizes a need that needs a solution.
Once lead generation is done, they move further down the sales funnel to the discovery stage where they learn how their needs can be solved. In this stage, customers aim to learn more about your company, what you offer, and any other information you can provide them. This is the ideal time for you to build a relationship with different people listed in their lead database and position itself as a brand that'll solve their needs. You can nurture leads through targeted content, emails, newsletter, forums, etc.
In this stage, buyers are analyzing the different options available to them and deciding which option they should go for. Traditionally, marketing and sales need to work together to boost the decision-making process and encourage the buyer that your brand is the best for their needs.
For the intent stage, you must have already made a case for your brand, and your prospects must have expressed their interest in purchasing your product or service. They could have done this through a survey, the shopping cart on an e-commerce site, or, even, through a product demo.
The last stage in the sales funnel is where prospect turns into a customer and makes the decision to buy your product or service. A buyer’s positive experience ensures referrals that restart the marketing funnel and creates awareness once more.
Applying The Funnel To Your Website
You need to employ different strategies at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s a look at a few that are effective for each stage:
At the first stage, you need to ensure prospects, at least, know of your brand and, hence, are attracted to your e-commerce website. A great way to do this is through online advertising (Facebook, Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Bing). Content marketing is, also, a targeted way to push prospects towards the awareness stage. Apart from these, social media is a great way to drive traffic towards your blog and website. Other ideas for prospects at the awareness stage include whitepapers, videos, education blog posts, ebooks, analyst reports, and editorial content.
Although online advertising works in these areas too, you need to step it up to make it even more effective. To make an even more efficient offer, you can link to your landing page or a blog post. Email marketing can also be successful and nurtures the lead to help them make an informed decision and position the company as an expert in solving the problem. The content needs to match where the prospect is situated in the funnel. Other ideas for prospects at this stage include product comparisons, live demo, vendor comparisons, case studies, product comparisons, videos, and trial download.
Here’s where a lot of businesses go wrong. Although businesses get the part about a purchase section on their website right, they go wrong trying to recreate the sales funnel. The entire process needs reinforcement to existing customers, so they keep coming back again and again and bring someone else too. Other ideas for prospects at the action stage include expert guides, special offers, how-to guides, survey participation, beta test opportunities, customer profiles and early results access.