How to build an effective sales funnel for your business

Want to attract and convert more customers to your business? Digital marketing expert Kerry Coleman explains how to build a sales funnel.

If you are growing a business or creating a brand, chances are by now you have some sort of process in place to do each of the following things:

  • Introduce yourself to your audience.
  • Generate interest and create a buzz around your brand or business.
  • Educate and inform people of the many features and benefits of your products.
  • Make it easy for your customers to buy from you, repeatedly.

By doing all the above you will have naturally created your very own sales funnel, possibly without even realising it.

Getting to grips with sales funnels is the focus for this month’s blog.  I will be taking you through each stage step by step, giving you real-life examples of the types of activities and content, you might want to create.

If this is an area you need help with in your business, then stick around to brush up on your marketing know-how.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is essentially the journey someone takes from first discovering your amazing business or brand to then actually becoming your customer.

At the very beginning your offering may initially appeal to a huge number of people, however not everyone who starts out on the journey with you and enters your sales funnel at the very top will make it all the way to the end.

They may drop out at various stages along the way if they don’t want or need what it is you have to offer.

Don’t be disappointed by this as it is impossible to appeal to everyones taste, needs or desires.

How do people enter your sales funnel?

They do so out of curiosity and interest.  This is what we call the Awareness Stage, the point at which you want to be attracting potential customers, and where they get to know you, and find out you exist.

Before you can begin selling to anyone, you need to build a relationship with them.  They need to believe your product or service can help resolve their problem and trust that you will deliver.

It might help to think of this stage as a bit like creating a new community, making tons of new friends, and having lots of “getting to know you” conversations.   This will help you to get recognised, liked and trusted.

To do this you need to be popping up in peoples searches online, and on their social media channels, by posting and publishing content that will attract their attention, capture their interest, and leave them wanting more.

Examples of this could be:

  • Blog posts – that are both informative and entertaining, so you can be found on Google searches.
  • Instagram posts.
  • Paid advertising on social media i.e. on Facebook.
  • Articles on LinkedIn.
  • Videos – on You Tube or Facebook.
  • Press Releases.
  • Competitions/Giveaways.
  • Joining networking groups online.

The content you create for the awareness stage of your sales funnel needs to be five things:

  1. Purely informative.
  2. Non-salesy.
  3. Easy to understand.
  4. A little insight into your expertise, knowledge and values.
  5. Shareable

What’s next?

Once you have hooked the interest of those entering at the very top of your sales funnel, you want to continue to nurture them, because at this stage they are still deciding whether what you have to offer is really going solve their problem.

This is called the Consideration Stage.

Your goal at this stage is to deliver value, with very little commitment from your audience.  Maybe just their email address, so that you can continue to have a conversation with them at a later stage and lead them further into your sales funnel.

To help those along during this phase of the process, creating content that is solution focused is going to be key.  Your audience will want to see some proof of your expertise, so they can decide whether you have everything they need.

Examples of this could be:

  • Offering an E book or downloadable resource, such as a template, checklist or top tips guide.
  • A mini-webinar.
  • A special offer code for e-commerce brands.
  • Case studies.
  • White Papers.

You’re nearly there!

The third stage of your sales funnel is all about Educationand Evaluation.

Your prospective customers have consumed your content, they like what they see and are very nearly at the point where they are going to buy from you, however, you haven’t quite closed the deal yet.

They may need some more time to digest what they have seen so far, and to consider their options, or they may have some unanswered questions.

Creating content at this stage needs to focus on helping your prospect understand the benefits not just the features of your product, so that they reach an informed decision and go on to purchase from you.

Examples of this could be:

  • A free consultation or discovery call.
  • A free trial or demonstration.
  • A leaflet or brochure through their door or online.
  • A targeted email newsletter campaign.
  • A blog post highlighting the benefits of your product.

Don’t forget (with either of these options) to direct your prospects to a specific call to action so that you are not leaving them wondering what the next step is.

You’ve made it!

Your prospect has decided that they want to buy from you, and they have dropped down into the next stage of your sales funnel, the Purchase Stage.

It’s here that you want to make your sales process easy for the consumer.  Anything too techy or onerous may sway them from their decision to buy.  Think seamless, transparent and trustworthy.

Offering a new customer discount or setting up a landing page for the products you have featured on your social media channels for example, could make all the difference between getting the sale and losing their interest at the final hurdle.

The content you create at this stage of your sales funnel needs to be aspirational, such as sharing testimonials and reviews from your existing or past customers.  Highlighting the benefits and overall impact your product can have on the lives of others will help to clinch the sale.

Congratulations, you landed the sale!

For all those who journeyed with you through all the different stages of your sales funnel to become your customer, they are now in the Loyalty Stage.  Often a forgotten and overlooked stage of the sales funnel, despite it being of equal importance.

Although it feels wonderful to make a sale, how amazing would it be to get repeat custom?

The loyalty stage is all about retention and offering continued value and support to existing customers so that they return again and again, and recommend and refer you to their friends, family and associates.

Creating a sequence of welcome emails, birthday discount offers, popping a leaflet or brochure in with their order to encourage them to bounce back and buy again, are all workable options to market your offering to your existing customers to try and retain them.

You want those who buy from you to become advocates for your business as well, so be sure to appreciate them so that they stay loyal to your brand.

Activities like reposting user-generated content, creating a loyalty scheme, running discount codes or free shipping periodically, and keeping in touch with your customers so they are the first to hear about your special offers or news via your e-mail newsletter, are all great ways of showing you care and value their loyalty.

If I could give you one piece of advice when it comes to marketing your business, it would be “don’t just wing it when you can plan it.”

The whole process then becomes far less stressful, and you can measure your efforts and begin to see a return on your investment both financially and physically in terms of your time.

Kerry Coleman is an experienced digital marketing consultant and social media expert for luxury, premium brands.

Photo by Brooke Cagle