An effective sales funnel is a crucial part of any business’s marketing campaign. If you’re looking to improve up your sales funnel, here are three tried-and-true strategies you need to try.
What is a ‘sales funnel’
A sales funnel (often called a ‘purchase funnel’ or ‘marketing funnel’) is a model of sales where new prospects fall into the top of the funnel and become customers by the bottom.
The idea of the ‘sales funnel’ was first theorized by E. St Elmo Lewis back in 1898.
St. Elmo Lewis’s model is often referred to as ‘AIDA’, as it was released to the public as the AIDA model by William W. Townsend’s Bond Salesman book in 1924. All modern sales-funnels are based on the AIDA model, which includes four stages.
- Awareness: where you attract the awareness of new prospects.
- Interest: where prospects interest in the product is piqued by marketing.
- Desire: where prospects feel a desire to purchase your product.
- Action: where prospects purchase and become customers.
You may be familiar with several modifications to the sales funnel, many of which are industry-specific. Today, the most popular sales funnel approach is known as the ‘conversion funnel’. The conversion funnel uses five steps of marketing strategy, including:
- Traffic sources that bring prospects into the funnel.
- TOFU: Top-of-the-funnel content.
- MOFU: Middle-of-the-funnel content.
- BOFU: Bottom-of-the-funnel strategies.
- Re-engagement paths for returning customers.
Whichever sales funnel model your business is using, the three strategies to create a game-changing sales funnel are the same. Let’s go through those strategies now.
Strategy #1. Map your sales funnel with a customer journey.
Before you can improve your sales funnel, you need to understand how your customers experience the funnel. To do this, you need a customer journey map.
A customer journey is a map that shows your customer’s journey through your sales funnel. This map does not need to be formal, but it should highlight two things.
- Drivers that push your customers through the funnel.
- Barriers that threaten to take customers out of the funnel.
Understanding your drivers and barriers will allow you to improve your sales funnel quickly, as it will highlight areas that need improvement and show you which strategies are currently working.
To map our your customer journey, follow these steps.
- Step 1. Draw your ideal customer journey using your current sales funnel.
- Step 2. Recruit a handful of willing volunteers (including employees).
- Step 3. Sit each volunteer down and ask them to map out their customer journey, acting as if they are a customer who intends to purchase.
- Step 4. Ask your volunteers to highlight barriers and drivers for each step in their journey.
- Step 5. Compile your volunteer’s journeys to establish a standard journey.
- Step 6. Compare your standard journey to your ideal customer journey and highlight how you need to adjust your current sales funnel.
When mapping a customer journey, it’s important to ensure your sales funnel meets the needs of all customers – from industry professionals to new customers. For example, if you were running an eSports blog, your TOFU content would need to include both history of eSports style content and professional eSports advice.
Once you’ve mapped out your overall customer journey, it’s time to ensure each step in your sales process links together cohesively.
Strategy #2. Supplement your funnel with calls-to-action.
The second key strategy for an effective sales funnel is to supplement your sales funnel stages with carefully designed calls-to-action. Calls-to-action is phrases that tell your prospects what action to take and how.
For example, you’ve probably seen these classic call-to-action phrases online:
- Read more.
- Click here.
- Sign up.
- Learn more.
In a sales funnel, calls-to-action are the glue that sticks each phase of the sales funnels together. Good calls-to-action are clear, directed, and fit naturally into the context, bad calls-to-action appear spammy and aggressive.
Many poorly designed calls-to-action also make one key mistake: they do not present a compelling reason to click through.
For a successful call-to-action, you need to provide compelling content that supplements the previous stage of the sales funnel. For example, if you were a sports information blog, you would want to supplement your top-of-the-funnel match picks with middle-of-the-funnel content like resources on taxes, glossaries, and odds calculators.
While it may seem like multiple calls-to-action are more effective, these are confusing and will give prospects option-anxiety. Instead, use subtle and integrated calls to action. The perfect example of an integrated call-to-action can be seen in advergames. Advergames present several seconds of real gameplay as an advertisement, ending with the naturally-fitting call-to-action “keep playing”.
Of course, even the best calls-to-actions need to be adjusted occasionally, which brings us to strategy #3.
Strategy #3. Continuously update your sales funnel
Your sales funnel needs to be continuously improving to stay up-to-date. Once your sales funnel becomes stale, its effectiveness will decrease quickly. To upkeep your sales funnel content fresh, try:
- Re-optimizing the user experience on your website.
- Creating new TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU content every quarter, or adjusting existing content and republishing it.
- Updating your content around the latest laws impacting your customers.
- Adjusting your social media strategy and branding in-line with your website.
To ensure your business is only making positive changes, continuously measure the success of your sales funnel. The best way to measure your sales funnel is through your website bounce rate, click-through rate for each call-to-action, and prospect-to-customer conversion rate.
Another great way to analyze your sales funnel is through SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis will assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats surrounding your sales funnel.
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