Sales Funnel Post It Notes

What is a Sales Funnel and How Do You Create One?

Ok, so your website looks great, it’s packed full of engaging content, and following your big launch, people are flooding to your site like seagulls to a portion of chips. That’s great, yeah? Well, not quite. Unless some of your web traffic is converting, all you have is a busy website. As the old saying goes, it’s sales, not stats that help grow a business.

So the big question is how to increase your chances of converting visitors. And it’s worth considering this puzzle as companies who spend time nurturing and growing relationships with their customers see 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. (1)

In this article, we’ll uncover one of the best solutions for converting visitors – the sales funnel. Along the way, you’ll discover what it is, how it works, and, most importantly, how it can best be utilised to boost your web conversions. 

Contents

sales funnel with post-it notes

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is the journey a visitor to your website takes to becoming a customer. It details the steps or pathway they take through your site en route to converting. A conversion doesn’t necessarily mean a sale, of course, it can also mean persuading them to complete a form, sign up to a newsletter, make a booking, download an article, or simply contact you.

The reason it’s called a funnel is that it represents the narrowing down of your total visitors, who may have arrived to your site by a variety of means, to a final endpoint. We’ll come on to this in more detail shortly, but a typical sales funnel contains the following stages:

  • Awareness: this is where you catch a prospect’s attention and encourage them to visit your site and enter the sales funnel
  • Interest: once they’re in the funnel, the next stage is to keep them interested in you with engaging content, info and help
  • Decision: at this stage of the sales funnel the prospect is ready to convert so this is where you make them an offer they can’t refuse
  • Action: this is where the prospect does the thing you want them to do in order to convert from browser to buyer or looker to booker
  • Retention: the final stage is tending to the customer relationship to keep them engaged and encourage them to become repeat customers 

As you can see, the sales funnel helps streamline and automate the sales process, by cutting out the labour-intensive work it can often take to turn warm prospects into hot leads. It does so by using website features including FAQs, product information, case studies, and testimonials. (We’ll delve deeper into this later, too).

sales funnel stages

The customer journey

Having a clear understanding of your sales funnel gives you the power to optimise it for maximum return, as you can identify and tweak elements of the end-to-end customer journey that are under-performing. So, let’s take a closer look at the different stages of the sales funnel.

Awareness

This first stage of the process is where you encourage people to visit your site (and enter your sales funnel). To do this you need to make them aware that you exist, and show them that you’re the solution they need. As such, this stage is all about being attention-grabbing. The goal is to get them to engage but if you catch their attention at the right moment it could even lead to a direct sale or conversion.

The methods of getting people to your site fall into two main categories:

  • Paid: As the name suggests, the paid route is via paid-for services such as social media advertising and paid search advertising (e.g. Google Ads). 
  • Organic: by contrast, organic covers the unpaid methods such as organic searches, search engine optimisation (SEO), and content marketing, such as blogs, infographics, and videos. 

However you get people to your site, the next step is taking the relationship to the next level. Which brings us on to…

Interest

This is effectively the second date. The visitor has connected to your brand, it’s now about deepening that relationship. Visitors do this by researching your company, your services, rival brands, and considering their options. So this is the perfect opportunity for you to wow them by highlighting your expertise and support.

Now is not the time to come on too strong. The hard sale could send them running. Instead, help them in their quest by being there to help, which will also establish your expertise. Essentially, you’re leading them towards making an informed…

Decision

Having done their due diligence and researched both your brand and your competitors, the visitor is ready to make a choice. That’s why this step of the sales funnel is about taking a lead from the Godfather and making them an offer they can’t refuse. Whether it’s a money-saving discount code or free postage & packaging, put forward the perfect reason for them to take the next step and take…

Action

As the visitor reaches the end of the sales funnel, they’re ready to act on their interest (based on their informed decision) and become a customer. It’s easy to think that, having successfully reached the end of the sales funnel, it’s high-fives-all-round time, and you can rest easy, but oh no. Now you’ve got a new customer, the next consideration is…

Retention

Keeping your new customer happy can have two benefits. First, they’re more likely to become a regular customer (and make repeat purchases) and secondly, it increases the likelihood of them becoming an organic brand ambassador and referring you to their friends. Studies show that 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust opinions they read online (2), so don’t underestimate this stage of the process.

Ways in which you can maintain – and increase – customer engagement levels include thanking them for their custom, asking for feedback, offering customer support, and by reaching out with emails with special offers. In fact, let’s take a closer look at sales funnel content in more detail. 

sales funnel research on laptop

Types of content for stages of the customer journey

Whether you’re shepherding your visitors from awareness to interest, or decision to action, content is king. It helps keep them: 

  • Engaged
  • Informed
  • Continuing their journey through the sales funnel. 

Blog posts

Blogging is a fantastic way of generating awareness of and interest in your brand. Unlike an email or social media post, the longer word count affords you space to provide your target audience with valuable content they can connect with.

When people are unfamiliar with your brand. The last thing they want is to be sold to. So it’s important to give at this stage without any expectation in return. Building trust and awareness.

Plus, you can optimise the blog articles with keywords and phrases so that they appear in organic searches. Making blog posts or articles perfect ‘top of funnel’ content.

Lead magnets

Whenever you offer potential customers something of interest in exchange for their contact details (such as their email address) it’s called a lead magnet. Designed to pique interest in your company, lead magnets such as user guides, eBooks, downloadable PDFs, or videos give visitors a broader understanding of the solutions you offer and how you can benefit them. 

Lead magnets, also referred to as gated content is usually designed to attract only those visitors that are likely to also have an interest in your product or service.

All websites built by Code23 are optimised for conversion. Using our signature web development system we include lead capture functionality on all our sites.

sales funnel research on mobile device

Whitepapers

Another popular way of grabbing attention, whilst also building trust and credibility, is through white papers. These in-depth articles help establish you as a thought leader in your sector as you detail how you’re the solution to problems specific to your target audience. One survey revealed that 60% of people found whitepapers to be a valuable way of generating new leads. (3) 

FAQs

A comprehensive FAQ page on your website is a fantastic way of pre-empting potential customer questions and providing easy-to-find answers in one place. For many, it’s the first point of contact with a website as visitors seek answers to specific queries. As such, it improves the user experience, aids navigation, and builds trust in your brand. They’re also an effective SEO tool as you can pack them full of keywords relevant to your target audience.

Another benefit of including FAQ content on your website is to reduce time spent on fruitless enquires. And helping to improve filter out those people that wouldn’t want to buy from you. They’re also an effective SEO tool as you can pack them full of keywords relevant to your target audience.

Case studies & testimonials

People are 71% more likely to become customers based on social media referrals. (4) One eCommerce company even found that adding customer testimonials below their ‘add-to-cart’ button saw a 58% increase in sales. (5) So there’s no denying the persuasive nature of customer recommendations. As well as case studies and testimonials, you can also include social media screenshots, videos, press mentions, award news, reviews, and influencer content.

sales funnel ROI

Sales funnel support

If you’d like an expert eye to review your sales funnel, or create one for you, we’d be happy to help so please get in touch. And if you’re curious how an effective sales funnel, as part of good web design, can increase return on investment, click here.

References

(1) https://www.demandgenreport.com/industry-topics/demanding-views/2336-the-10-commandments-for-lead-nurturing-success 

(2) https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2012/consumer-trust-in-online-social-and-mobile-advertising-grows/ 

(3) https://marketingland.com/white-papers-are-top-b2b-content-marketing-lead-gen-tactic-study-57499

(4) https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30239/71-More-Likely-to-Purchase-Based-on-Social-Media-Referrals-Infographic.aspx#sm.00001r7hm2mnoecwuqoef8tg2pbta  

(5) https://www.autogrow.co/sales-conversion-pack/  

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