As a side note, while getting negative feedback rarely feels good, I want to encourage you to view feedback the way I do: as a priceless opportunity to improve and grow your business. Complaints and criticisms give you important signals that you need to make changes or else risk losing business from frustrated customers. Read this article to learn more: What Should You Do When People Complain About Your Product or Service?
The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
At Disruptive Advertising, the marketing funnel is a key part of how we approach every client’s marketing. Getting into specifics about which tactics work best under which conditions in which stages is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like help setting up your own marketing funnel, let me know here or in the comments. Or, for additional content, check out this blog post.
To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.
No matter what kind of purchase we’re making or how much we intend to spend, all of us follow a relatively similar path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This buying process, or stages, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than 100 years later — it’s still the foundation of understanding buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
Make sure you consider intent when writing posts. In other words, write posts for people who intend to buy whatever you’re selling. If you’re a hair salon, you might get a ton of social shares if you write about DIY hair color on your blog, but if they’re interested in DIY color, they probably aren’t interested in coming into your salon and paying for service.
Paid advertising: When used properly, paid advertising can be a great way to attract new visitors to your site. You can reach the massive audiences that use Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms every day. Plus, with the advanced targeting and segmentation options provided by their advertising platforms, you can make sure that you reach exactly who you want to reach.
In brief, we are inclined to go along with someone’s suggestion if we think that person is a credible expert (authority), if we regard him or her as a trusted friend (liking), if we feel we owe them one (reciprocity), or if doing so will be consistent with our beliefs or prior commitments (consistency). We are also inclined to make choices that we think are popular (consensus [social proof]), and that will net us a scarce commodity (scarcity).
Generating revenue is a multi-step process in which you have to progressively nurture people before they are ready to make a purchase. A shoe salesperson is nurturing you when they ask your size, show you lots of options, help you try a few pairs on, and let you know about a deal. It’s giving you the information and support you need to make a decision about buying.
Trials / demos: Trials and demos are a great idea if you can easily take a portion of your finished product and provide it for free. Doing this will allow your leads to experience your product with very little commitment on their part. The downside of using trials or demos, is that since they are not stand-alone content, they can be perceived as incomplete offerings.
To better understand the concept of a sales funnel and just how you can implement it in your own business, let's look at the following image from Shutterstock. On the left side of the image, you see a magnet. That magnet is attracting customers, which happens a number of ways. From blogging to social media to paid ads and everything in between, how the visitors arrive to your website has some impact on the success of your funnel.
As noted, the pizza shop funnel example above is really simple; there aren’t many steps. Sometimes this is okay (for example, in our pizza funnel, adding more steps may or may not hinder down the sales process). However, for better results, it is often beneficial to add more levels to your sales funnel. This is especially true if you’re selling high-ticket items.
Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly.
Conversion rate: This is a really important metric. While your revenue and number of customers will tell you how much money your funnel is generating, your bottom-of-the-funnel conversion rate is an indicator of how effective are your tactics at converting leads into customers. How you obtain and calculate this conversion rate will depend largely on the tactic you decide to use. For example, if you are doing a product launch with an email sequence, you might want to look at the percentage of subscribers who became customers during the launch. If you want to learn how many people who visit your sales page end up becoming customers, you can use Google Analytics goals to keep track of this metric.
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
Both matter. There’s a very well-known coffee brand that has great company policies, friendly staff, and an overall cool attitude, but I just think the products tastes like dirt. So, I don’t purchase from them anymore. At the same time, there’s another coffee brand I’ve tried, with amazing products at a great price, but they have what I consider to be unethical practices…so I don’t purchase from them either. As a consumer, both the product/service and the company matter to me, and this is true of most people, even those who don’t realize it.
We spend a lot of time researching and writing our articles and strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content. However, our research is meant to aid your own, and we are not acting as licensed professionals. We recommend that you use your own judgement and consult with your own consultant, lawyer, accountant, or other licensed professional for relevant business decisions.
Depending on your business and industry, you could have 1,000 prospects at the top of your funnel. However, towards the end of your funnel, you may have 25 qualified leads. While these 25 prospects are more likely to convert than the ones at the top of the sales funnel, at the very end, there may only be five customers who make a purchase and only two that go on to become repeat customers.
As a software engineer myself, I can tell you that building funnels from an application standpoint takes massive amounts of work. There's a great deal of coding and integration that's required here. From email systems to landing page implementations to credit card processing APIs, and everything in between, so many platforms need to "talk," that it takes the bar too high for the average marketer.
Today’s online consumer is much better educated than the consumers of yesteryear. While they enjoy learning about new products and services from brands, they hate being sold to. They digital buyer’s journey has many different touchpoints, and different people follow different patterns. That’s why you need to invest in more than one middle of the funnel marketing strategy.
Think about that the next time you're building out a sales funnel. This complex and intricate concept in business can literally take you from a complete unknown to a global powerhouse quickly through the art of scaling out a highly-converting offer. Don't try to take shortcuts or implement hacks, and put in the time if you're looking to eventually reap the benefits and results.
The key thing here is that your marketing funnel doesn’t end with the purchase. There is plenty more work to be done at this stage. You can add as many stages into this funnel as you deem necessary to your brand but, again, it’s up to you how complex your marketing funnel should be. You can also expand it with time as your strategy becomes more efficient and new opportunities arise.
However, there are even some who see the funnel as being split vertically, with both sales and marketing owning the full funnel. They argue that the sales people are increasingly becoming thought leaders to drive awareness by doing outbound outreach. In this scenario, both marketing and sales would work to nurture leads and prospects from awareness to purchase.