Introduction to Sales Funnels
One of the core concepts in the digital marketing industry is the sales funnel. While odd sounding at first, this single core concept can take a business from virtually non-existent and unknown to multi-million-dollar marketing machine with mass saturation, seemingly overnight. In fact, there are skilled practitioners who have built a career around implementing this single concept in business.
If you’re not sure of the definition of a sales funnel, just think of a real funnel. At the top, you can pour in some kind of liquid, which then filters down through the narrower part to come out in a concentrated stream. The same thing happens in sales. At the top end, visitors come into the funnel, just like the liquid. The only difference is that unlike the liquid, not all the visitors will emerge at the other end of the funnel, because you’ll naturally lose some.
Concerning marketing automation, co-founder of Digital Marketer Ryan Deiss portrays a sales funnel as a multi-stage and multi-modal device that converts prospective browsers into real buyers. It has multiple stages because a lot needs to happen between a visitor’s initial entry into the funnel and their taking action to purchase.
There are warmup email sequences that comprise such elements as value-packed stories, tutorial guides, and even webinar invitations, as well as actual product suggestions. These sequences can last days or even weeks. The majority of prospects are not going to purchase from your site on the initial visit, primarily if they haven’t heard of you before. It takes time to nurture them and warm them up. Due to this, the funnel must be a multi-modal process, as there must be a sufficient number of trust-building events that need to occur in sequential order.
The written above is all based on consumer psychology. The world’s most successful marketers are aware of the psychological processes that need to happen for prospects to get their cash out and evolve into buyers, or better still, loyal repeat buyers. Russell Brunson is an excellent example of such a marketer. He is the founder of ClickFunnels, a SaaS company that enables other marketers to build automated funnels with ease quickly.
In order to build a sales funnel from the ground up, you would need a whole load of time and top programming knowledge.
Brunson made a quick assessment of the gap in the market and designed his SaaS to integrate with all the other popular marketing platforms. Due to the excellent integrations of ClickFunnels, pretty much anyone can launch a robust sales funnel in a matter of hours. No complicated WordPress setup and trying different things.
Get to grips with sales funnels
For a better understanding of the sales funnel concept and how it’s relevant to your business, we can have a look at this image a little bit below. On the left, we see the prospects hanging around without any sale so far – put we want to pull them into our funnel. This happens in multiple ways – paid ads, social media, blogging, and everything else. How traffic comes to your site will affect your funnel’s success.
Step 1: Awareness
The most crucial stage in the sales funnel is the point at which your visitors arrive. This can happen when you provide some kind of attractive offer, such as an exciting email newsletter, downloadable ebook, or a quiz. These are usually something free to encourage the visitor.
The overall objective of your funnel is to solve a problem for the customer. Once you have established a problem and devise some enticing content to attract your visitors, you can then show them a product or service, which is a solution to the problem they have. At this stage, the magic can happen, and you can cash in, but getting there will first take a lot of work, and you will have to build their awareness too.
Once the visitor has entered the funnel, it means they are interested. However, you still don’t know that much about the visitor, as getting them to be aware of you is not easy. Their method of arrival, for example, through organic traffic or paid ads, can influence their view of the funnel, and opt-in rates can be variable due to this uncertainty.
For example, if a visitor discovers you organically through a search engine like Google, you might have more perceived authority. Visitors are more likely to come to your funnel as your position in the results must mean that you are relevant to what they are looking for. This is the advantage of organic reach and proper SEO.
No matter the method of entry into the funnel, your job as the marketer is to get visitors moving through the right stages that will transform them from prospects to buyers. Once you have them aware of you, you have to increase their interest. With more attention, you can strengthen the relationship. You may have tempted them in with an enticing free offer, also known as a lead magnet, and now you have their email address, but moving them correctly through the funnel is a challenge in itself.
The fact is: People aren’t stupid. They’re not going to decide to buy something unless they perceive a high amount of value in it. For this reason your funnel has to build up the required value using any number of methods. It’s essential to create a relationship with the prospect by being honest, relatable, and open within your sequence of emails.
Step 2: Interest
Your email sequence should win the interest of your visitors. You need to relay stories to them that reveal who you are and how you arrived at this point in life. In Expert Secrets, Brunson’s book, this is called the Attractive Character. Could you be a reluctant hero who accidentally stumbled upon this journey, but you feel that you absolutely must share this value with the world?
Perhaps you’re an adventurer or a leader, maybe even an evangelist. Your chosen positioning is your choice, but the message you bring must stay the same throughout your correspondence, and it must base in truth. Your whole story and how you portray it through stories, and even character flaws, has everything to with how well you can draw in your visitors and create a tribe of followers.
As you would expect, implementing something like this is far from easy. First, you need to come up with the stories, and then you’ll need to decide how to position those stories and at what time intervals. Perhaps your first couple of emails might get sent on the day they sign up, and then once per day after that. How many of them will be stories, and how many will be sales pitches?
Perry Belcher, who is a co-founder of Plattr, says that it’s also crucial to condition your visitors click on the links in your emails. So in your non-sales emails, you should have them click through to an interesting blog post or video. Once there is an established habit of clicking links, they are more likely to click your sales links too.
Step 3: Decision
The decision comes next. To get your prospects to arrive at a decision is not simple. So how to get them to that point? Apart from excellent copy, storytelling, and habit-building for clicks, you need a good number of testimonials and reviews for social proof. This is a very effective way of giving people the confidence to take action.
If you’re using paid ads, then you can also use the retargeting options on Facebook or Google to maintain the awareness and level of interest. Have you ever realized, after going to a particular site, that their ads start following you everywhere? That’s retargeting, and it’s compelling. This can encourage action, even for people that are already inside your funnel.
As an example of this, you could choose retargeting ads that contain customer testimonials or reviews. If you are writing about in the media, you can quote that too. The combination of seeing this in your funnel and on ads makes your prospects continually exposed to your offers through multiple elements.
With all of this technology on your side, it still isn’t easy. You need to show your prospects that this is a great opportunity. The six principles outlined in Robert Cialdini’s excellent book “Influence” will come in very handy:
- Reciprocity: People like to do things in return. If you do a lot for your visitors by providing a lot of value through your free giveaways and email content, then they are more likely to listen to you when it comes to offers.
- Commitment and Consistency: People have a higher likelihood of purchasing when they have committed to something. If you get them to agree to something small like an offer which is free plus shipping or even just to agree with something you have said, it will make them more likely to convert later on.
- Liking: It more or less goes without saying that people have to like you first before they’ll buy from you. Well-crafted stories that they can relate to are the key to achieving this.
- Authority: Are you an authority in your space? Do your products or services carry authority too? Are you backed by any scientific studies or other respected figures? These things will massively increase the potential for sales.
- Social proof: Do you get likes and comments on social media? Do people talk about how amazing your products or services have been for them? How about testimonials and reviews? These are all forms of social proof and are very powerful in encouraging sales.
- Scarcity: This is a powerful tool and one that you should include in your email series. Tell your readers that there is only a limited quantity of product left, or time remaining before the price will increase. Another example would be the number of seats left for a webinar. This drives action like nothing else.
Step 4: Action
At the end of the funnel, you should have the action that you need from your visitors. In most cases, this would be a purchase. The success rate of this action will be directly affected by how well the rest of your funnel has moved them to this point. If 100 visitors come via traffic sources, 10 of them enter the funnel, and two purchases, then your conversion rate is 2%.
The crucial factor here, which is what makes a successful funnel so incredibly scalable, is that if bringing 100 people to your funnel costs you, say, $200, and you get two of them to convert for $300 each, then you’ve got a profit of $400. Armed with this information, you can scale it up very quickly and make a lot of money.
This is the method that successful marketers use to scale businesses to unimaginable levels. They establish their conversion value and all the other numbers and simply scale to the moon. If every dollar gets you three back, then you’d keep spending those dollars, wouldn’t you?
The thing is, arriving at this point is very far from easy. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, grinding, and measuring everything. By using a platform like ClickFunnels, you can reduce the workload, but there’s still a lot to do. You’ll have to write excellent copy, set up your tracking pixels, and create and perfect every email in your sequence. Success doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth it!