The sales funnel is a multi-step process through which we attract our stakeholders, engage them and then get them to take the final action, i.e. conversion.
And indeed, if you try to visualise it, a funnel has a wide part that gradually narrows. Imagine that as many interested people as possible can enter the upper part of the funnel and that as it narrows, the funnel selects those who will really get into the lower, narrower… and potentially more profitable part for the company!
Considering that, the picture becomes clearer, but we need to put it into context to really understand what a Sales Funnel is. If you want to learn more about the discipline that deals specifically with attracting new customers and generating leads, I recommend the Inbound Marketing Manager Course.
Watch my video and continue reading to get a clearer idea of what is meant by Sales Funnel.
Together then, we will try to:
- analyse a sales process;
- create a commercial funnel strategy;
- find new customers;
- build an effective sales funnel.
What is the Sales Funnel
By sales funnel, we mean the model that represents the journey of our typical customer. Making sales funnels during a marketing strategy is crucial for all companies that want to increase sales and grow!
A sales funnel is used to do lead generation, i.e. to acquire user contacts (email, phone number). Thanks to this process, all users who visit the company website, the Facebook page, interact with the main social media, and fill in simple contact forms, are not lost, but they enter the so-called ‘upper part of the funnel’, thus becoming potential customers.
Users who have landed on corporate channels are slowly ‘fed’ with content that is increasingly aimed at their engagement, interaction, up to the real purchase action, which takes place at the ‘bottom of the funnel’.
It goes without saying, that it is crucial for a company to use a tool such as the funnel to generate channelled traffic and to skim off simple visitors from those who will be enthusiastic about the company’s products and services and willing to take the final action of purchasing.
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How a funnel works: the 4 stages
From the moment a potential customer recognises to have a need, until he or she gets to know your brand and decides to buy from you, will go through a number of stages, better known by the acronym AIDA. For this reason, it is best to map out the customer journey that will allow you to understand which steps in your funnel need to be changed and/or improved in order to bring more and more customers to the final stage of purchase.
I will now explain in more detail the different stages of this process:
In this phase, it is crucial to intercept prospects (potential customers) in the places they visit online: social networks, search engines, online magazines, blogs.
It is essential to contextualise it, i.e. to invest the budget in communicating to the people who, due to their interests, needs and motivations, are most likely to be part and go through our conversion funnel (sales funnel).
To simplify, let’s make an example: if you sell motorbike accessories, it is unproductive and expensive to track down people who have never shown any interest online for products such as helmets, jackets, gloves, etc.
For those potential customers that are on the top of the funnel you should create content that captures their interests, satisfies their needs, and increases their curiosity.
This is the phase where you make use of the so-called lead magnets, valuable contents that engage the users and convince them to leave you his contact details:
- Mini guides.
Learn the best techniques for creating and presenting your content!
In this phase you must encourage the interaction. The customer is convinced that he wants to make the purchase, but is considering whether to buy from you or your competitors.
For this reason, it is important that the potential buyer has all the necessary information about you to make the decision to invest more time and resources (budget included) in the relationship with you. To do this, you must be able to actively involve him and remind him that you are there. Useful tools for doing this could be:
- Telephone calls;
- Skype Calls;
- Training Webinars;
- Free counselling sessions;
- Products’ Demo;
- Free trials of our products.
After gaining the interest first and then the trust of our interlocutor, you should close with an action:
- selling proposition;
- promotion on a particular product;
- expiring discount;
- commercial deadline.
The goal is to incite an immediate decision on his side.
It is important to create a strong sense of urgency towards a decision and underline the scarcity of other opportunities comparable to the one you are offering at that moment.
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How to to create a Sales Funnel in 5 Steps
Before we delve into how to create a Sales Funnel, we need to understand:
- the structure,
- what it made of,
- its purpose,
- the stages of the marketing funnel,
- how to succeed in selling your products/services.
Like everything related to marketing, especially when you are leading the web marketing of your company, you must have clear ideas on a few key points.
In fact, these same elements will enable you to create a Funnel in order to make your perfect sale. Let us look at them together:
Identify your buyer persona
It is essential to get to know your potential customers, especially:
- their genre;
- how old they are;
- their interests;
- their fears and but mostly their needs.
If you understand their problems and necessities, therefore you turn them into a desire that directs them to you and your product or service as the answer to what they seek.
Grab attention with your offer
The offer represents what you can actually give to your customers. Obviously, if the model we want to use is the funnel, we cannot think only of one type of offer. Rather, we must imagine building one step after another, making sure the potential customer is trusting you, until the price will no longer be an issue for him but will count only the quality of your offer.
You have to bring the lead to make a purchase without thinking about the price. It is the concept of ‘the end justifies the means’. People will no longer pay attention to the price of your products and services because if you have communicated the appropriate message to the right people, they will assume that your product or service is always the best in terms of quality price.
Now, it is time to get to know the mechanism behind a conversion funnel, which allows its function and effectiveness.
Create your landing page
This is the moment when you have to create real sales strategies to connect the potential customer with your market.
The connection funnel can include all the tools you use to bring traffic to your website, from your Facebook page to your sales platforms, and must be managed in the best possible way to make sure it works perfectly.
At this stage, the customers are entering the funnel because they are attracted or intrigued by something as blog articles, eye-catching Facebook posts, effective landing pages or information activities, that’s why is important to anticipate your content and social media strategy.
It’s important to remember, however, that these are users who are already interested in your product or service (do not waste time with off-target customers). At this point there should be no barrier to entry, anyone who is interested or has some affinity, should be able to approach the product, service or your message.
Create a need, try to get leads and collect useful information that will help you focus only on the real prospects.
The content created will be used in the next step. As we have seen before, valuable content in this case can be:
- Free E-Books,
- Downloadable guides,
- Short videos content and more.
Set up an email workflow
Here we are in the Middle of the Sales Funnel, the moment when acquired leads become actual prospects, i.e. our future buyers.
At this point the product offer is no longer enough. It’s the time to nurture your lead with higher quality content, products or services that actually meet their needs and for which they are willing to pay more. That is why it is necessary to propose:
- real case histories,
- longer products’ videos such as webinars,
- products or services’ packages,
- exclusive deals and much more!
Close the sale and maintain contact
What is the ultimate goal of a sales funnel? The word is quite explanatory: selling your product/service! Here we are at the Bottom of the Funnel, the moment when you can actually say if you have acquired new customers or not.
Please note though: don’t assume that these are necessarily the same customers from the top of the sales funnel! In fact, the concept of the funnel in digital marketing is precisely this: skim down to reach the people who will buy and more likely become loyal to you and your product.
The after-sales step is not really part of the purchasing funnel, but it cannot and must not be forgotten. In fact, it’s very important to track results and analyse data.
If you think that the customer who has bought once, will buy forever, nothing could be more wrong!
Buying customers must be continually nurtured, driven to take the action of purchasing again. He must be taken care of in such a way that he is so satisfied and will start a buzz through an online and offline word-of-mouth.
Now it is time to learn about the various types of Sales Funnel.
Types of Sales Funnel
Only when you acknowledge what types of sales funnels exist, you can get sense of which one to choose and it will better adapt to your target market.
The Sales Funnel is a model for e-commerce by definition. The one that is most commonly used and precisely the type we have explained above. What does sales mean? It implies a transaction, so the aim in this case is to get to the end with only those who really intend to buy our product or service.
The conversion funnel is a concept born with and for the web. Thanks to all the online tools and platforms that allow us to monitor the results of our advertising campaigns and check how our activities are performing, we can distinguish those who have placed orders and completed purchases from those who stopped following us long before.
The Acquisition Funnel is easily linked to the concept of Inbound Marketing. If you are interested in more details, I recommend you our Inbound Marketing and Lead generation Course. For now, in order for you to understand this sales funnel model, have in mind that Inbound means using a series of digital strategies that integrated together allow you to have your brand, and therefore your company, found on the web.
This type of funnel is, on average, complex, because to be created it requires a lot of knowledge of the digital world. To simplify I will divided it into 3 parts:
- Top: it consists of attracting people to your platforms, making them aware of your content, your mission.
- Middle: in this area of the funnel, an attempt is made to make a ‘conversion’, which is different, however, from the actual purchase. Conversion consists in making customers leave their sensitive data (name, surname, email, telephone, date of birth…) that will allow the marketer to contact the potential and future customer again and stay in contact with him.
- Bottom: the goal becomes lead nurturing feeding them with email marketing systems, contents from social media that require their interaction.
In short, in this type of Funnel the purchase is not the primary objective, but is hidden behind and not too explicit.
In the communication sales funnel it is essential to understand and study copywriting to sell online and generate more leads, do you know why? It refers to the world of communication, so it is necessary to bring people once again to interact with your content, communicate with your brand online, get closer to your reality by using all available means (Blog, Social, Email, Chatbot…) to break down the distances and put an end to the insecurity and mistrust that online still generates in many.
Well, surely you have realised that the Marketing Funnel is nothing more than a large container of different sales funnel strategies. But now, let me ask you a question: you don’t think you have to create your Digital Marketing Funnel by hand, do you?
In fact, below I will give you more information on the various tools that you will certainly know and use every day and which also give you the possibility of building a sales funnel model to begin with.
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Useful resources and Sales Funnel examples
How much does it cost to create a funnel? I will show you how to create a sales funnel for free. Surely you are familiar with and have used on several occasions the softwares I will discuss in this paragraph.
In order of popularity, I will present to you how they can be useful for creating an attractive and efficient funnel for selling your products/services.
Build your Funnel in PowerPoint
To create a sales funnel template, you can use the SmartArt graphic elements in Microsoft Powerpoint or download a template and customise it as you wish. Generally, the preset templates are used, which can then be modified and enriched with relevant colours and wording. To insert it into your slides, just follow these simple steps:
- On the top menu click ‘Insert’ and go to the SmartArt function precisely under ‘insertions’;
- Then select ‘Relationship’ in the left-hand box and click on ‘Funnel’ graphic;
- Press OK and customise the funnel, changing colours, font, structure, style;
- You can animating the funnel by clicking on ‘Animations’ and customising it level by level.
In very few steps and in a short time you can reproduce a funnel in an effective and visually appealing way. At the same time you will be able to clarify your ideas on how to set up your sales process. But Powerpoint is not the only tool that provides this functionality.
Build your Funnel in Excel
Excel as you may know, is a less intuitive programme, but at the same time one with great potential. Here again we see how you can create a sales funnel:
- First, you have to organise the data by taking advantage of Excel’s main feature, the tab structure creating two columns: one for the process step and the other with a value (e.g. quantity, a numerical value);
- Once the data is configured, you must select it and move the cursor to the top bar of the menu;
- Now click on ‘Insert’ select ‘insert waterfall or funnel graph’ and then ‘funnel’.
Et voila! Again, you have created a perfect funnel, customised and automatic. What do I mean by automatic? All you have to do is change the values you have entered in our table to have a real time update of your funnel at a graphic level.
True, with Excel there will not be many animations and even the colours will not be so customisable, but certainly in terms of practicality and operability, Excel is unrivalled!
Last but not least, let us see how a Funnel can be created within Google Analytics.
Goal Funnel in Google Analytics
Considering the implementation of the sales funnel within Google Analytics, it is crucial to understand whether people land on your home page, move to the online catalogue, enter a product page, add the product to the shopping cart, and finally place the order by arriving at your ‘thank you page’.
Creating a funnel with Analytics means being able to follow your customer’s ‘journey’ and understand if there are problems blocking them from making the final purchase, and then think about optimising and improving your e-commerce site.
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Let us now see the steps that enable us to bring this goal purchase funnel to life:
- Log into your account, click on the administration function (admin), move to the last column and click on ‘goal’.
Then create the new goal, give it a name and select the type ‘destination’.
- Once this is done, enter the destination URL, i.e. the URL of the page where you want your user to land. For example the ‘Thank you page’, if your goal is to sell a product or service.
- Select a value to be assigned to the conversion chosen as a parameter.
- Once this is done, it is necessary to activate the ‘Funnel’ function and add the various steps.
- Each step must have a name and a destination URL. At this stage, remember to decide whether or not to make the ‘required’ function active. If you want the analysis tool to bring into the funnel only those customers who really followed that path and did not take different routes, then activate it. This way you will really have an idea of which users land on the homepage and follow the whole process correctly.
- Where can you find the funnel and its data? For reports you have to go in the main menu on the left, click on the “Goal” section and from the drop-down menu choose “Funnel visualisation”.
There you go! You have created your own customised sales funnel directly linked to your site!
To conclude then, what can be said about the funnel model and in detail about the Sales Funnel Strategy?
It is a tool through which you can channel and guide visitors to your site, e-commerce, blog, until you get to real customers, who will generate a conversion.
The element that distinguishes traditional marketing from web marketing, and thus pull tools from push tools, is precisely this: whereas before, users were bombarded with advertisements, banners, and requests to sign up in a random manner, to such an extent that the user hated and therefore distrusted every offer, now the customer is tracked down in a moment of need, and the goal is to walk him or her all along the various steps and processes.
If he is genuinely interested, he will become a loyal buyer and brand lover. If, on the other hand, he is not really interested, does not yet feel that strong need that drives him to take action or is not convinced, he will remain at the top of the funnel.
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Bolognese di origini, laureata in Comunicazione e con un un Master in Marketing and Communication ed esperienza professionale nel digital marketing a Barcellona dove ho vissuto per sei anni. La mia curiosità mi guida ad apprendere cose nuove: aspirante SEO specialist, appassionata di basket, viaggi e comunicazione.