Sales Funnel and Your Digital Marketing
If you own a business, you absolutely need to know what a sales funnel is and how it applies to your company. Every company should be able to explain what their funnel looks like and how they utilize it. In this article, I am going to break down the funnel’s theory and how it applies to today’s digital marketing world. By the end of the article, you will learn the basics of the funnel and have a thorough understanding of its concepts.
Let’s get started!
What is a Sales Funnel?
The funnel is a visual aid that has been created to understand how a prospect turns into a customer. It stems from the acronym, AIDA which means Attention, Interest, Desire (or decision), and Action. This acronym was first published in a work by C.P. Russell called “How to Write a Sales-Making Letter” in 1921. There is some debate over who first came up with the overarching concept, but Elias St. Elmo Lewis gets cited and credited the most as the founder of the theory in even earlier works than C.P. Russell.
The concept of a sales funnel has since been referenced in selling and marketing fields for nearly a century. Throughout that time, some companies and marketers have added additional stages to the funnel due to the complexity of some modern sales transactions.
Essentially, the funnel is the buying process from beginning to end that a company attempts to lead their prospects through. By examining the acronym, we see that each sale begins with gaining a prospect’s attention. Once you have caught their eye, you need to get prospects interested in your product or service. After that, you have to create a desire for them to make a purchasing decision and then finally get them to act.
How to Use the Funnel in Today’s Digital Marketing
The first portion of the funnel, or the top of the funnel, is attraction. Start by gaining interest and attracting your target audience to your website. Obviously, you should have a great looking website that your customers will both enjoy and be able to navigate easily. There are a number of ways to drive traffic to your website. Some of the most common methods include:
- Lead Magnets
- White Papers
- Seminars (or Webinars)
- Targetd Ads
You need to understand and utilize content marketing strategies to create valuable content that your prospects will find useful and interesting. Once you develop valuable content that will help your audience, give it to them for free in the form of blogs or webinars.
Share this information on social media. The goal is to get people to engage more with your posts by sharing it with their friends. By providing links and videos, you will increase traffic to your website overtime. When customers start coming to your website for information, you need to establish yourself as an expert and solidify your brand in their minds.
To expand your reach further, use social media advertising campaigns to target prospects who will find your content interesting. The more a prospect interacts with you, the further they move down the funnel.
Attraction to Interest
Next in the sales funnel, you need to move prospects from attraction to interest. Lead the prospects to other content on your website which talks about how your products and services are the solution to their problem or how your services will enhance their life in some way. Those who are now interested in your services are in the second part of the funnel and will continue to seek out more information on your website.
Interested prospects need to be further engaged to move them forward and make a purchase. Once a prospect is interested, present more defined ways that your services will help them. Interested prospects will begin viewing you as an expert. You need to continue building trust with them and further demonstrate your company’s expertise.
Now is the time to point them towards specific products and services they should buy. Customers that move on to this portion of the funnel are in the desire or decision step. They are looking to make a purchase and are evaluating and weighing alternatives.
Finally, you need to have a call to action. If a customer is in the decision phase, you need to ask them for their business. Literally, ask them to buy your product. If they have made it this far, they are much more likely to buy. They see you as the expert and trust in your products, you just need to entice them. Explain clearly what they need to do in order to make a purchase and you will get a sale.
After a prospect turns into a customer, they have exited the funnel and the buying process is complete. However, you ultimately want them to reenter the funnel and begin the process all over again. This means that you will need to deliver more content and create more value over time in order to keep customers coming back.
Luckily, it is much easier (and less expensive) to retain current customers because they already know what to expect with your products and services. The funnel becomes much shorter for returning customers and you will not need to expend many additional resources to get repeat sales.
Evaluate, Tweak, and Improve
Now that you understand what the funnel is and can recreate a similar process for your business, you are ready to make more sales. However, don’t fall into the trap of setting up a funnel and hoping for the best.
Building a funnel is an ongoing process and you need to constantly reevaluate it. Gather and analyze data to see how your funnel is performing. Try to see where most prospects that don’t end up purchasing exit the sales funnel. Tweak areas where you see this happening and measure the results until you see improvement.