What is a sales funnel
content marketing Small Business Marketing

What the hell is a sales funnel anyway?

What is a sales funnel I hear you cry? There’s no getting around it, the world of business and marketing is full of buzzwords. New terms seem to pop up left, right, and centre, and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up. One term you might have heard of is the ‘sales funnel’ – but what exactly is a sales funnel and why should you care?

The concept

The funnel is most commonly known as a sales funnel, but can also be referred to as a marketing funnel or revenue funnel. Confusing, right? Well, the concept is actually fairly straightforward. The funnel is used to demonstrate how every new product starts with a large base of potential customers, which filters down to a smaller number of people who eventually buy.

The four stages

At its simplest, the sales funnel has four main stages:

  • Awareness – The first stage is where potential customers become aware of your product or service. This might be through an email marketing campaign, blogs, social media, and many other traffic sources. You need to think that before you can convert a prospect to a client, they will need to see 7 hours of  content in 11 different formats in 4 different locations. 
  • Interest – If the potential customer likes what they see, they’ll filter down into the interest stage of the sales funnel. At this stage, you need to try and get their email address so that you can send them more tailored and specific content and they might start to engage with you in different places – such as on social media and try to get in touch for more information. This is the point where potential customers begin to decrease.
  • Decision – The third stage is decision time. At this point, the potential buyer will be weighing up their options to decide whether or not they want to make a purchase with you. You need to give them some sort of offer for your product or services and a reason to buy.
  • Action – The three previous stages all funnel down to this crucial point. At this final stage, the potential customer is no longer a potential customer – they will take action and purchase your product or service.

Creating your sales funnel

In order to generate the most sales, it’s important that you carefully craft your very own sales funnel. There are a number of ways you can do this and you need to use different techniques and technologies at different stages:

  • Understand your customers – You can do this by speaking with your customers and gathering relevant data. By understanding why people buy your products and services, you can better target your marketing campaigns. Check out our previous blog on understanding you customers
  • Drive traffic – Driving traffic to your website can help generate awareness, and a well put together website can help with the interest stage too. You can drive traffic by using paid ads services (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads) or un-paid methods such as improving your SEO and making the most of social media.   You might also want to think about offering free content.
  • Engagement – Engagement is essential to help potential customers move down the sales funnel. Engage with them by using blogs and videos, and maintaining a presence on social media.
  • Grow your email list –  You need to also grow your email list so you can communicate directly with both prospects and customers. Emails are a great way to persuade customers, new and old, to buy from you, but growing your subscriber list can sometimes feel like you’re fighting a losing battle at times. If you need a nudge in the right direction, here are our top tips for growing your email marketing and newsletter list.
  • Convert prospects to customers – Provide your prospects with compelling reasons to buy. Why this? Why you? Why now? And, the final stage of the funnel is complete.

If this all seems a little overwhelming you should think about implementing a marketing automation tool to make it simpler for you. We hope we have we helped you understand the sales funnel a little better? Please let us know in the comments!

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Author Info

Caroline Sumners

Blogging about small business marketing, venues, events and social media!

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