A sales funnel is a process companies use to turn leads into customers. It is essential because it can be used to measure the success of marketing campaigns and can be used to help companies identify what content they should create.
The sales funnel starts with acquiring new leads and ends with a sale. Marketing campaigns are designed to increase the number of leads, while sales funnel stages are designed to convert those leads into customers.
As per Ruler Analytics, most businesses agree that for most industries 3.1% – 5% is a reasonable funnel conversion rate. But to reach the higher ends of this rate, you must follow some practices that are tried and tested.
Great ads but no return? Read on to find out how you can strategize better spending, conversions and ROI. (Related article: 10 Sales Funnel Best Practices to Boost Your Return on Ad Spend)
What is the Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a widely used tool that helps you determine and map the purchase process alongside the consumer journey. Measuring the interest level of your audience and gauging how to bring them to a point where they are ready to cash in is all that can make or break your business.
The funnel is wide at the top where all levels of interest are present and narrows down to a point where you can find purchase potential, converted customers and possibilities for building brand loyalty.
The most widely used model for the sales funnel is the AIDA. It consists of:
Let's get started.
Basically, it is the top-of-funnel-things. Here are some best practices for the sales funnel's first level.
Do your Homework
Spending all the money in the world won’t make much difference unless you’re spending it on the right person. Therefore, businesses build buyer personas which are representative characters of ideal customers. They show their needs, specific interests and pain points.
The best personas are carved out of thorough consumer research based on actual customers and people who have been engaging with your content. Diving deeper, it is best to study your competitors and see who their valued prospects are and how you can add value in your offering to attract them.
Insights are everything. If your funnel doesn’t begin at the right place, it will probably never convert.
Position Yourself as the Expert
8.5 billion searches are made on google every day. Which means that people are curious, asking questions and finding solutions left, right and center.
If you provide educational content that shows up in their searches, increases their knowledge and helps them make a more informed decision, you will have already created a place for yourself in their mind as the expert. They will be more likely to trust you and come to you for future solutions.
A study by the Conductor found that educational content is likely to increase your chances for sale by 131%. But simply posting information will not help. Think about what your customers ask themselves every day. What sort of answers are they looking for and how can you be the one best at giving them.
Include Video Content that Makes a Personal Connection (and Positions)
Video has the lowest cost per impression on nearly all social media platforms, and has the ability to make a strong personal connection. Get in front of the camera and create content that displays expertise and syndicate it at the top of the funnel.
Use Blogs and Social Networks
Markinblog says that 55% of companies say that articles and blog posts are the most effective way to move prospects through the sales funnel. Using blogging is a fundamental step in internet marketing. You can write about any topic linked with your product or industry. You can go as far as including loosely related topics.
You should be creative with your content but never stray so far that you can’t get back to your product. Writing blog articles on your website will allow your site to be found in search engines. This way, when prospective customers search for solutions, they can go to your website instead of your competitors.
Customers today depend on various social networks to find recommendations, referrals, and reviews. They expect a business to be available for inquiries on Facebook and Twitter and to find relevant tutorials and how-to's on YouTube. They also want behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business on TikTok and Instagram.
You can take advantage of this current dependency on social networks by having an active and dynamic presence on these networks. The context of your business needs to correlate with how you present it on social media. Social media can also indirectly influence your search engine rankings.
Now it’s time to see who’s interested in your offer. Here are some best practices for the sales funnel's second level.
Offer a Lead Magnet or Low Ticket Item
The best way I’ve found to see who is interested is to find users that actually express it in a quantifiable way by giving up either (a). Contact details or (b). Making a purchase. People who express this interest can be taken further through the sales funnel.
You can do this with a free lead magnet such as a cheat sheet or framework type of PDF document or paid offer for some type of low cost digital product.
Personally, I like the low cost digital product has someone who makes a payment has a much higher level of intent. It also filters out the ‘funnel-hackers’ that may distort your conversion event. I elaborate more on this, in this YouTube video.
How can you make people want you? Here are some best practices for the sales funnel's third level.
Utilize Social Proof
Nothing creates more desire than people knowing the masses use your product. This is why it is important to inject social proof into the funnel.
Start capturing video testimonials from customers. There are a number of software that can automate the process such as Boast.io. Although not free it will pay for itself 10x in capturing testimonials from your customers.
Another method of capturing the social proof is simply screenshotting reviews and comments on social media. Then wrap all of these social proof elements into your nurturing sequence!
Show your Results
What does your product/service do for people?
Create a case study and show the results. PDF is effective then create a simple screen share video explaining it.
Build Trust Through Reviews
Trust plays a significant role in a successful sales funnel. At the end of the day, building any kind of relationship is based on trust, and it is crucial that you can work faith and social assurance into your sales funnel.
Luckily, gathering reviews of your business and products is simpler than ever. You can then display them on your product or service pages and third-party platforms. This establishes trust, particularly when delivered alongside many reviews. After all, seeing a 4.8/5 rating from 10,719 reviews gives your prospects nothing but faith in your product.
Equally as powerful are awards, testimonials, and customer stories. Keep in mind that this is a trust-building attempt to showcase that you stand out against your competition.
Ask yourself how you can display the strength of your offer. Also, consider whether you can get testimonials from your clients alongside more detailed case studies and personal stories. These can go a long way to building trust with future customers.
When a prospect is in the decision phase, they consider your offer in great detail while comparing it to competitors. At this stage, you should consider the content you can create to support the sales funnel and showcase that the customer needs what you offer but needs it from you. While simultaneously creating social proof, think of ways you can build trust and confidence better through your content.
For example, you can do things such as:
Be the Tried and Tested
While consumers can easily search up options to buy from and find multiple vendors for their needs, they will be uncertain of which offer is the best possible one. You can solidify your chances by building brand credibility and coming off as a tried and tested method.
With reviews, testimonials and awards, you can capture and build on trust. This applies not to just your personal product pages, social media profiles etc. but also on third party platforms. How well you are reviewed on Google, Redditt, influencer reviews can build the consumer’s confidence and help them invest in you.
This is especially helpful for high value purchases for which people are most likely to check who else has bought from you and how well it has fared. Manage not your just product but the whole community that interacts with it.
Basically, it is the bottom-of-funnel-things. Here are some best practices for the sales funnel's last level.
Utilize Ads with a Strong Call-to-Action
As a lead has progressed through your sales funnel, it’s time to start motivating them to take action. Ads that are delivered to this segment of the funnel should always include a strong call to action.
When creating the ads, think about what you want the user to do, and why they should do it. Include those elements in the ads, specifically telling them what to do.
For example, in my home service businesses, our bottom of funnel ads specifically say, "Click the Get Quote button to submit your free estimate request and discuss your ____ project with our team members!"
Implement Personal Outreach
Digital is great, but sometimes you really need the personal touch. That’s why I recommend personal outreach at the bottom of the funnel. Pick up the phone and call your leads, or at least send them an email.
Improve your Landing Pages and Calls-to-Action
A landing page is a section on your website to address one distinct matter. Its entire purpose can be capturing your lead’s contact information or making a sale. It should only have a single call to action.
A specific landing page with a call to action is more relevant to a visitor’s needs than your homepage and is more likely to convert them to buyers. This might sound straightforward, but using solid calls to action (CTAs) is an excellent way to boost your sales funnel, yet it is vastly overlooked for complex and less effective tactics.
After all, if you could take a prospect straight to the final stage of your funnel, you wouldn't want to lose this progress by not giving them a clear idea of what you need them to do next. Using a precise and straight-to-the-point CTA encourages the prospect to take the action you set for them.
How will these sales funnel best practices change your business? Let me know in the comments below!