What is a sales funnel and why is it important?

April 13th, 2017
What is a sales funnel and why is it important?

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One of the most common questions that I am asked by clients is, "What's the most effective marketing technique which will get me leads?" Unfortunately, the question is impossible to answer. It assumes that there is one technique that will turn someone who has never heard of your business into a paying customer. I wish it was that easy!

Even if you spend thousands of dollars to drive qualified traffic to your website, it's unlikely that these visitors will be ready to buy your product or service right away. Rather than looking for the one marketing technique that will get you customers, instead think about how your marketing and sales efforts can work together to put your prospects on the right path. A sales funnel can accomplish just that.

What is a sales funnel?

Simply put, a sales funnel illustrates the ideal journey that your prospects go through on their way to becoming customers. While you may market your products or services to thousands of people, only a small percentage will provide contact information and become leads. Of those leads, only a fraction will become clients.

By now you might have guessed why it's called a sales funnel. You have to funnel prospects down in order to get that amazing new client. To break this down even further, let's separate the funnel into stages.

Attract: Marketing and advertising which bring visitors to your website.
Convert: Offers that inspire visitors to share their contact information.
Close: Efforts which encourage leads to close and become paying customers.
Delight: Quality service that keeps your customers happy and inspires referrals.

The ideal scenario

To illustrate this process, let's assume that you're looking for a music subscription service.

Attract

You head over to Google and search "streaming music." In the search results you see "Spotify: Music for everyone" so you click on the link and get directed to the Spotify homepage.

Convert

You scan through the homepage and notice the big blue button that says "Get Spotify Free." You enter your name and email address and sign up for an account. Before you know it, you're enjoying your favorite tunes!

Close

A couple of days later, you receive an email from Spotify which describes the benefits of Spotify Premium (no ads, offline listening, etc.). The free service has been great, but the ads are a bit annoying so you enter your credit card details and subscribe to the premium account.

Delight

You enjoy Spotify so much that you tell your friends about it and encourage them to create free accounts. You effectively become a promoter of the service and you continue to engage with other subscribers through shared playlists and social media.

In this example, Spotify attracted you to their service through a mix of SEO and brand recognition. Their offer for a free Spotify subscription converted you from an anonymous website visitor into a lead and the email helped close the deal. But it didn't stop there. The high quality of service and social sharing options inspired you to refer friends so the cycle could continue.

The reason I call this the ideal scenario is because it assumes that you found Spotify from your Google search for "streaming music." In reality, Spotify worked to attract you to their service through YouTube ads, social media advertising, and other marketing channels. After all these efforts, the Google search was just the last piece that pushed you over the edge.

While your company is likely very different than Spotify, the principles remain the same. You need to do all you can to attract qualified traffic to your website, convert visitors to leads, close your leads, and delight your clients so they stay with you and help promote your products or services.

Tips for improving your sales funnel

  1. Use multiple marketing channels to attract visitors. Our most successful clients are using multiple marketing channels including pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, off-site SEO, direct mail campaigns, and cold calling. Your specific channels may differ depending on your industry, but it's best to not put all your eggs in one basket.
  2. Analyze the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. In order to learn what marketing channels are most effective, analyze your website traffic and inbound phone calls. This data will help you make educated decisions so you aren't throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping for the best.
  3. Add new blog content to your website on a regular basis. Content is king and a blog is a great place to organize all of your great content. Writing useful blog posts can improve your SEO and help you engage with your current clients.
  4. Listen to your prospects and customers and adapt your website accordingly. If your clients and prospects are asking questions related to your products or services, consider answering the question in a blog post. Chances are that others have similar questions and adding the answers to your site may attract new visitors.
  5. Include more than one call to action (CTA) on your website. Chances are that your website visitors will be at different stages of the customer journey. Some might be ready to call or email while others might be researching. Make sure to include offers like free eBooks or whitepapers to capture names and email addresses for those who aren't quite ready to talk to your sales team.
  6. Re-target website visitors who don't convert the first time. You won't be able to capture lead information for all of your website visitors, but that doesn't mean you should give up on the visitors who don't convert. Consider running a retargeting campaign so you can display advertisements on popular websites which will display only to people who visited your website. This will give you another chance to draw them back in.
  7. Become an authority in your industry and/or region. If you're known far and wide for being an industry expert, you'll have prospects seeking you out rather than the other way around. Consider planning lunch and learn sessions or organizing webinars on a regular basis. As your brand recognition grows, you may even attract inbound links to your site which will benefit your SEO.
  8. Nurture your prospects. Don't give up on your leads. If they provided their email or phone number, it's likely that they have interest in your products or services. However, you may have to nurture them by sending monthly email newsletters, targeted email broadcasts, or email drip campaigns.
  9. Add an incentive to your referral program. If you have a referral program, make sure you're promoting it to your clients. You should have a page on your website which explains your referral program, but you can't expect your clients to hunt for it. Make sure to remind them in your email newsletter or email signature.
  10. Take action now! The first step to improving your sales funnel and marketing efforts is to take action. If you delay it until next month or next quarter, it likely won't get started until next year. You don't have to take on everything at once, but you should create a game plan with specific due dates to ensure you can start making progress.

Taking action

A good first step is to simply write down all your current marketing efforts on a sheet of paper. Then categorize them into the 4 sales funnel categories (attract, convert, close, delight). Once you have everything mapped out, see if you can spot the gaps. Once you've identified areas for improvements, list them out in order of priority.

Take it one step further and break your marketing improvements down into stages. Perhaps your first stage of improvements is to enhance the conversion path on your website by offering a free eBook or free consultation to your site visitors. Once you feel confident that you can capture lead information, you might be ready to invest in additional marketing efforts to attract new visitors to your site.

Of course, if you're a Pronto Marketing client, we're always here to help you along the way. You have a full team at your disposal which can help implement on-site changes. Additionally, we offer several marketing services which can help take your marketing efforts to the next level.

Don't hesitate to schedule a call with us so we can discuss your marketing goals.


Scott Pressimone

Scott Pressimone

As the Senior Marketing Consultant at Pronto, Scott works closely with our clients to help them build and strengthen their online presence through a wide range of digital marketing channels.