As an entrepreneur, you know the key to success is getting your products and services into the hands of as many people as possible. Traditionally, this has been done through intensive marketing campaigns that often yield inconsistent results.
Fast-forward to now. There are new ways to market your business without having to spend hours disseminating advertising throughout individual websites, publications, social media platforms, and physical mediums like newspapers, flyers, and beyond.
Investing your time and focusing your efforts on building a sales funnel for your business is one of the most effective ways to boost your webpage traffic and convert leads to paying customers, thus increasing your sales and the success of your company!
Experiencing a higher volume of visitors to your webpage means there will be more people talking about and sharing your business’s products and services.
While it may seem intimidating or like a daunting task at first, building a sales funnel can help propel your business forward.
Once you understand more about what they are, how they work, and the benefits to your business, it just makes sense to create a sales funnel. It quickly becomes clear that it is a professional move you can’t really afford not to make.
This article is the first in a three-part series that will explore sales funnels and how they can be used in tandem with your unique content to reach more potential customers and share your amazing products and services with those who need them in their lives!
So, What Are Sales Funnels Anyway?
In order to build and implement an effective sales funnel, it is important to first have a basic understanding of what exactly they are.
Essentially, the term “sales funnel” lends itself well to the explanation. Throughout this segment, keep in mind the defining shape of a funnel. It will help you envision how each stage of the process works and why it is important to adjust your content accordingly.
What Is A Sales Funnel?
Sales funnels are a marketing tool that outline the process a customer moves through as they go from their initial awareness of your business to (hopefully) becoming a paying customer.
It is easy to visualize how a sales funnel works by imagining an actual funnel, the widest section at the top is where all the visitors to your webpage enter and they move through the different stages of the funnel until they reach the narrow section, which is where the paying customers end up.
Of course, not everyone who visits your business’s page is going to travel all the way through that funnel everytime, but that is why it is so important to make sure the content provided throughout the funnel is tailored to your target audience.
Having a well-plotted sales funnel in place is one of the best ways to take a potential buyer who may just be browsing online, actively searching for a solution to a problem, or seeking a specific product or service and convert them into a paying customer.
Converting leads is one of the major struggles faced by many online businesses and entrepreneurs across the board.
If you can attract the attention of consumers and get them on your page, the value you offer through the use of sales funnel marketing can guide them effortlessly through the process to becoming paying customers, and that is what we call a “win-win scenario.”
The Stages of a Sales Funnel
Sales funnels are broken down into four main sections that denote the different phases your potential buyers will move through on their way to becoming a customer. The four main stages are:
- Awareness is the initial stage of the funnel and is the widest, broadest section. This is the stage people will enter when they are first exposed to your business and the products and services you provide.
- The interest stage is important because this brings those consumers one step closer to becoming a solid lead. They learn more about what you have to offer and the value you bring them as a paying customer.
- Next is the desire stage, which is characterized by the prospective customer determining that there is a verifiable benefit to them if they pay you for the products, services, subscriptions, etc. you are selling.
- Finally, you have the action stage of your sales funnel. This is the end-goal for any sales funnel, you want to effectively convert the lead into a paying customer. At this stage, the consumer commits to paying for what your business has to offer.
There is a more in-depth breakdown of the path a consumer travels through a sales funnel; these are called sales stages and dive a little deeper into each section mentioned here. We will review those a little later on.
How to Build a Sales Funnel (Plus Important Considerations)
Before you start the task of building your own sales funnel, you need to make sure you have all the information that will help you reach the right audience and offer them the value-packed content they are seeking.
A couple key considerations to help you prepare are:
Make sure you know your audience: determine who your target market is. Who will make up your customer base? How do members of that group typically get their information? What type of content are they looking for online?
Provide the content they want: Conduct research into what your target group is already consuming. How can you offer what they are looking for while highlighting your products and services? What problems are they looking for solutions to?
Once you answer these questions and are ready to actually start planning to build your sales funnel, you may find yourself unsure where to begin.
It can be an intimidating and even overwhelming task, especially for new entrepreneurs and businesses; however, there are some really great options available to you in terms of sales funnel building software.
By using a user-friendly platform that specializes in building effective funnels, hosting content and web pages, among many other business and marketing tools, you can create a streamlined business process that offers more than just an easy-to-use funnel building tool.
Sales Stages: A More In-depth Look at the
When you break down the stages of the sales funnel, there are seven identifiable segments that make up the journey consumers take from beginning to end.
Looking further into the four main stages of a sales funnel reveals these additional stages of a sales process that ultimately turn curious consumers into paying customers.
Let’s Dive Deeper Into the Stages of Sales
Here, we will do a quick overview of the four main stages of sales funnels and outline how the sales stages fit to help you gain more specific information on the path consumers are taking through your content:
- Within this first stage (Awareness), we find the first two sections of the sales process:
- Prospecting and initial contact - This is the stage where entrepreneurs and business owners are prospecting their base and creating brand awareness. Figure out who you want to target as your audience and let them know you exist.
- Qualifying - This is how you will determine whether or not the potential buyers are actually interested in proceeding with the process of purchasing and simply need more information. This reduces time and resources spent trying to convert dead leads.
- The second stage (Interest) includes the next two stages of the sales process:
- Needs assessment - This is where your research into what your targeted customer base is searching for will come into play. Your aim, now, is to demonstrate that you have what they need, thus creating their interest in your business.
- Sales pitch or product demos - Once you have them in the third stage of your sales funnel, you want to show them exactly why they should move from being interested to actually buying your product, enlisting your services, or subscribing to your paid content.
- In the third stage (Decision), you will find just one sales stage, but it is an important one:
- Proposal and handling of objections - Here you want to extend the option to purchase and, ideally, proactively offer rebuttals to common concerns or objections. Explain why your product is superior to competitors and leave the potential buyer feeling like they need what you are selling.
- Finally, in this last stage (Action) are the ever-important segments of the sales cycle:
- Closing - Every entrepreneur is striving to close the deal. It is the goal of every business really. No matter what you are selling, you need to convert leads into customers to succeed and keep the cash flow coming.
- Following up, repeat business, and referrals - This is something some newer business and entrepreneurs forget about. After the sale, it is imperative that you follow up with your customers.
Building an email follow-up for customers into your sales funnel, and even offering additional content and value after they have spent their money, is a great way to keep them coming back and referring others to your business.
How to Build A Content Marketing Sales Funnel
Entrepreneurs can boost the effectiveness of their sales funnel through their content creation by including blog posts, SEO articles, videos, infographics, templates, guides, webinars, course material, and much more.
Building a connection between content creation and your sales funnel helps the process feel more organic for consumers. You want to get more focused on their specific needs and desires, narrowing in on them as they move through the funnel using your unique content.
You want to ensure you are giving potential customers what they need to keep them interested at each stage in the funneling process. Break down your sales funnel into three sections to focus on and determine what content you want to include.
Top of Funnel (Awareness and Interest Stages)
When you are first introducing your brand to potential customers, aim to include things like blog posts, podcasts, images or infographics to share, videos, etc. Plug your business’s product or service through the use of these various forms of content.
SEO blog articles are one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your business and, thus, straight into the first stage of your sales funnel.
As previously mentioned, not everyone who visits your website is going to become a paying customer, but that is why it is so important to implement a sales funnel with top notch content.
Using targeted, high-quality SEO content is a strategy that can help ensure there are no opportunities missed to convert leads into paying customers.
This is the first opportunity for your funnel to grab the attention and pique the interest of your target audience. This is when you need to focus on demonstrating why your product or service is going to fill a need, desire, or solve a problem they have.
It is of the utmost importance to show how you can give them what they want and the value you bring vs. competitors they may also be considering.
You want people to find your business through the targeted content you’re sharing and have them remember your business and brand.
This initial grab is increasingly being accomplished through the use of various curated accounts on social media platforms and paid or sponsored ads on those same sites.
Mid-Funnel Content (Decision Stage)
This is your opportunity to take the interested parties who liked what they saw at the top of the funnel and turn them into actual sales.
You may want to consider offering incentives to those who choose to proceed with your business. This can be accomplished through the offer of a guaranteed free trial, a comprehensive sample of the content you provide, free guides and ebooks, and free templates and worksheets that directly fit the needs of your target market, etc.
Bottom of the Funnel (Action and Purchase Stage)
This final sales stage is where the solid leads you have created throughout your sales funnel will become full-fledged, paying customers.
When they reach this stage, they have become familiar with your business and what you have to offer, and as a result, they have determined that there is a demonstrated value to them by purchasing your product or service.
They are now at the point where they are ready to pay for what you have to offer them. You want to continue to provide content tailored to their specific needs, now more than ever it is important to drive home the value and trustworthiness of your brand.
You can do this through offering testimonials of previous customers, reviews, webinars and exclusive content, promotional codes for sharing or future use, and access to an email subscription that will offer new content and even more value to their purchase with time.
While sales funnels may initially appear complex and feel like more work than they are worth, the payoff for business and entrepreneurs who choose to use them prove that to be an inaccurate perception.
Just because you are not familiar with a concept doesn’t mean you should steer clear of it. Learning more about how and why sales funnels work (and can work for you) is a surefire way to get your business on track to bring in more sales and build a bigger customer base.
Sales funnels really are an essential tool to help businesses improve their sales and there are many different components that can be tailored to match your businesses specific needs.
Stay tuned for part 2 in this series as we go more in-depth with some of the specific types of content that can be used to attract potential buyers to the first stage of your sales funnel!
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