What Is a Sales Funnel? The Guide to Building an Automated Selling Machine
There’s been a lot of buzz around sales funnels lately. And as it is with most marketing fads, this buzz is often unfounded and perpetuated by people with vested interests.
Now look at this.
With stats like these in focus, it’s safe to say that marketing funnels aren’t just a fad. And nor are they limited to the internet. In fact, they’ve been around us for a long time. And I’m sure you must’ve been in one either knowingly or unknowingly.
Let me give you an example.
It’s 7 PM. And you’ve got a rumbling tummy. Suddenly that seductive McMuffin ad you saw a couple of days back pops up your head. Forgetting all the weight-loss commitments you made on the New Year’s Eve, you get up and dart for your car keys.
You drive hastily to your nearest McDonalds outlets, and in place of a McMuffin, you come out with three burgers, a pack of fries, and some nuggets.
That my fellow marketers is the power of a well-optimized sales funnel. Not only does it provide a potential customer exactly what he/she is looking for, but it also upsells and cross-sells them products they didn’t originally plan on buying.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of sales funnels, you must have a sturdy grasp of what it actually is, right?
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel can seem puzzling at first glance, especially when you see it getting defined using jargon-heavy sentences like “it uses marketing assets” and “it is a multi-modality process”.
Therefore, casting business-speak aside, a sales funnel is just you, a business, using a series of thoughtfully and strategically composed steps to warm up your potential customers for a sale.
Most businesses use this concept to track potential customers through the various stages of the whole buying process. You can understand a funnel as the place where your marketing and sales activities overlap, collide and work together. Thus leading sales funnels to be also called “conversion funnels”.
So is a sales funnel just about sales?
Yes. And no.
The caveat here is that although the main purpose of a sales funnel is to — as the name suggests — make sale, it involves a lot more than just that.
A sales funnel usually includes a preceding marketing funnel which ropes in prospects and leads. Afterwards, the sales part of the funnel nurtures them, entices them with valuable offers and prods them to take a desired buying action, thus turning them into loyal customers.
Let me give you a simple scenario.
- The Starting Phase: The process starts at the wider part of the funnel, when a person becomes aware of your brand either by organic sources of traffic like a helpful blog post or a paid source of traffic, e.g. an enticing FB ad. This is where you get in a ton of people but in most cases, almost none of them are ready to open up their wallets yet.
- The Middle Phase: This is the middle part of the marketing stage of the funnel. Your role here is to provide consistent value without expecting anything in return. You do this either by fulfilling their desires or soothing out pains. Then comes the call-to-action where this nameless breathing entity on the internet becomes a prospect or lead by doing an “action”. This can be anything, from typing in an email address for a free ebook to scheduling a free consultation call.
- The Ending Phase: The last phase of an average purchase funnel. From here on, everything you do with these warmed up leads of yours, is to push them towards a buying action. And, depending on when you present your offer, that buying action can occur sooner or later down the funnel.
A Real-Life Example
Have a look at Grasshopper.com if you want to see a strategic, emphatically composed sales funnel in action.
The Homepage: Their homepage is simple, colorful, concise, and crisp.
This landing page perfectly understands it’s audience’s troubles and gives them a simple two sentence explanation on how their virtual phone system can help them. In addition, it has got an eye-catching call-to-action and elegant mockups.
The Middle Pages: For their still unconvinced leads, they’ve got a well placed “Why Grasshopper” section in the header that answers all the objections their potential clients might have.
The Offer Page: Lastly, when their prospects are warmed up, and when they do reach the final page of their funnel. Their guard is put down by a no-strings-attached offer which clearly states what is included in the trial and what’s not.
If you notice, there’s structure, thought and empathy in this sales funnel. It doesn’t feel cheesy or forced, does it?
That’s because a good sales funnel understands the needs, fears and possible objections of its prospects. And isn’t about just churning a sale.
But why is a sales funnel integral to the success of your business or website?
Simply put, a website with a simple marketing or business plan in itself is not enough in today’s markets.
According to a recent study by HubSpot on which the above-mentioned graphic is based, the major issue plaguing us marketers right now is the issue of generating traffic and leads.
Sure you’ve got a sales funnel if you’re a business that actually exists or a website I can go visit on my browser.
That’s not the point.
The focal point is the viability, quality, and scalability of your funnels and whether they generate leads and turn them into consumers or not.
As mentioned above, a sales funnel is like a perfectly laid out path for your potential customers to take. It is organized, with an enticing offer, responsive landing pages, friendly yet impactful email sequences, gripping copy and attractive CTA buttons.
But before contemplating about your button placements or impactfulness of your copy, let’s first go through the actual stages of a high converting sales funnel.
All Stages of Your Marketing and Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is usually perceived as the visual representation of the sales process, i.e. from the point where an internet browser becomes aware of your brand — thus becoming a lead — to the point where he/she performs a buying action.
Like a real-life funnel it’s wider at the top — the point where it starts with a ton of potential consumers coming in via paid or organic sources. And as you perform your sales or marketing activities, less and less of those starting leads move forward.
Ultimately, at the bottom of the funnel you’re left with the qualified, properly warmed up customers, who’ll stay loyal to your brand for years to come.
But this is only looking at things from a seller’s point of view. To fully grasp the sales process it’s also necessary to look at the other half of the picture, i.e. the buyer’s journey.
The Buyer’s Journey
Buyer’s journey is the combination of stages a normal buyer goes through before making a purchase. The difference here is that this journey is from the point of view of the consumer, not the producer. It’s usually involves three stages:
- Awareness: Buyer becomes aware of a problem that needs solving or a want that requires satisfaction. After this identification a buyer looks for all possible solutions, products and services.
- Consideration: After making a short mental list of products, solutions or services that spike a buyer’s interest. He then puts all these solutions against one another, compares them and talks with the sells.
- Decision: Lastly, after proper analysis, the buyer hones in on the solution that best suits his needs and satisfies his wants.
Though there are stark differences between a sales funnel and a buyer’s journey, both the concepts collide when a prospect gets to the stage of consideration, and is ready to convert.
It’s at this point of the overall marketing funnel that the buyer enters the sales funnel of the seller. In an ideal scenario, your sales funnel, the buyer’s journey and overall sales process should align with each one another.
Now with the buyer’s point of view out of the way, this is where the “seller stages” come in and the importance of studying their intricate details becomes apparent.
The stages of the sales funnel enable you to analyze, optimize and manage its profitability, viability and scalability.
So without further ado, here are the four stages of a sales funnel explained in detail and align these stages with the buyer’s journey.
The AIDA Model: An 18th Century Concept That Still Works
The AIDA model is a marketing concept formulated in 1898 by Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an inductee of the Advertising Hall of Fame.
In an anonymous column, Lewis famously mentioned three marketing principles he thought were crucial for the success of an advertising campaign.
“The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.”
To paraphrase, it means that for a selling proposition to be effective, it has to generate awareness, peak interest, and create conviction for the potential buyers. And though more than a hundred years have passed, his principles still hold firm against the tests of modern marketing or advertising.
But why is it so successful?
Because the AIDA model perfectly encapsulates the journey a potential buyer goes through before actually making a purchase and gives a process a seller needs to follow to properly warm up its potential consumers.
Therefore, it helps businesses understand where their prospects are in their buying journey’s and how they can connect, communicate and satisfy their leads.
Here are the four stages of this model:
Stage 1: Awareness
Awareness is the first stage of a sales funnel and is usually where you, as a business, interact with your prospects for the very first time.
Be conscious of the fact that people you interact with at this point of time wouldn’t be ready for purchase just yet as they just got to know about you and your brand. So pushing for sales at this moment would be futile and shouldn’t even be on your mind.
Rather your aim should be to:
- Portray yourself as an expert in the niche you operate in.
- Inform people of the existence of your brand.
- Generate brand new leads that you will qualify and funnel downwards.
Types of Prospects At The Awareness Stage
You’ll find that at this point of time there are two kinds of people who’ll enter your funnel.
- Who are aware of their needs they want to satisfy or the issues they want to solve.
- Who aren’t consciously aware of their needs/issues. And would need extra effort from your side.
And it’s obvious that the needs or desires of these two types of people would vary. Let me explain using two scenarios.
Suppose that you’re bogged down with a ton of office work. And out of nowhere your PC breaks down.
What you will do is pretty clear in this case.
You will simply contact your nearest computer technician and schedule a visit as soon as possible, since you’ve got urgent work to do.
Now suppose one of your secondary drives of that very same PC bites the dust. Though your system drive still works, you miss that extra space a secondary drive provided you. So you open up a new tab on Chrome and start searching around for a storage drive.
But you’re faced with multiple choices to make. Choices between brands, choices between SSD or HDD and a number of other criterias.
Suddenly, your buyer actions aren’t as clear as they were in the first scenario, are they?
This shows that the needs of the buyers in both of the scenarios are quite different from one another. And require intentional adjustment in the way a business would try to solve their issues. For example, a simple web page on Yelp — which lists local computer repair shops — would suffice for the first scenario.
But the second buyer needs a comprehensive guide on the differing types of computer storage drives, what he should look for and which brands are better trusted. He needs more attention and nurturing when compared to the buyer from the first scenario.
All in all, the point I’m trying to make is that the way you need to act at this stage will vary on the basis of the type of buyer you funnel in.
How to get people in your funnel?
At the awareness stage, it’s important that you pick and choose who you bring in and from where. Make sure you avoid traffic sources which may lead to an influx of low-quality prospects, freeloaders, cheapskates, etc.
There are two important questions you should ask yourself to form an effective traffic strategy:
Q1. What social networks do your potential buyers use?
This question is essential for reaching out the type of prospects who haven’t recognized their needs or issues. And aren’t actively searching around for information.
In that case you’d have to reach out to your prospects yourself, aware them of a problem they’re facing in turn generating awareness of your brand.
Suppose you’re a business offering cooking classes. Promoting your business on LinkedIn would be a complete waste given most of your target audience are women who use Facebook for socializing.
On the other hand, suppose that you’re a productivity and leadership coach looking to offer your services to Fortune 500s. Now in this case, LinkedIn ads are probably your best bet considering LinkedIn is where the big guns of the business world hang out.
Thus, by meeting your potential customers where they already are, i.e. in their comfort zones, you can down their guards, create a need, aware them of your brand, and sort of bypass the initial resistance an aggressive cold call might face.
Q2. How do they search for information when faced with a problem?
Do they search around on Google, or watch Youtube videos, maybe they turn to thought leaders of your industry for guidance or maybe chat in online forums. Whatever it is you have to discern the way your prospects search for information and how they consume it.
For e.g. A video review for a premium guitar would be more apt since your target audience would like to actually hear the crispness of the guitar’s strum, and have a visual feel of it. Using a written blog post for showcasing the guitar’s quality would be futile.
Now before we move on to discuss the actual traffic sources you can use to drive traffic to your sales funnel, you must have a solid grasp of the different types of traffic.
Types of Traffic
There are three types of traffic basically: cold, warm and hot. I will not got too deep into these but here is a simple explanation for them:
Think of them this way, the colder your traffic is, the lesser is the chance that you’ll make a sale. And as the traffic warms up, it becomes easier to sell to and finally performs a buyer action when it reaches hot.
This happens because cold traffic is mainly composed of people who are unaware of your brand. And at the awareness stage, the majority of what you’re getting into your funnel is cold traffic.
Think of them as random browsers who are searching around on the internet for info on their issues. Though these people might have the exact problem you’re trying to solve, it is very unlikely they are going to open up their wallets since they know nothing about you.
After getting them into your marketing funnel, you warm them up by providing value, qualify them, and then move them downwards towards an eventual sale.
With that out of the way, here are the sources you can use to get traffic to the doorsteps of your sales funnel:
PPC or Context Ads
What are PPC ads?
PPC or Pay-Per-Click is an internet advertising model where businesses who are looking to advertise their offerings, pay a fee every time their ads are clicked. In essence, it’s paying for people to get to your site, rather than waiting for them to “organically” show up at your blogs or website.
Search engine ads are probably the most popular form of PPC model with Google Ads coming up at top. But there are alternatives who work just as well, if not better, such as Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Pinterest Ads and Instagram ads.
But for the sake of staying on topic I’ll only go over the two major types of PPC ads.
1. Google Ads
With more than 2.3 million searches performed on Google every second, Google Ads can be an effective way of driving targeted traffic to your funnels. They become impossible to ignore, when you add in the fact that more than 60% of the shoppers begin their shopping journeys from a google search.
How do Google Ads Work?
Google offers ad slots which appear above the search results of a query. Using Google Ads you can bid for your advertisements to appear in these ad slots.
Here’s an example of a Google search engine results page (SERP) containing both: a paid ad and an organic result. The result in the yellow box is a paid ad, and the one in the pink is an organic result.
You can use these ad spots to rope people — who are actively searching for info on their problems — to a landing page where you provide them value and convince them to put in their info, thus turning them into a lead.
2. Facebook Ads
There has been a sense of growing disdain towards FB ads recently. But did you know that 74% of the high income earners use FB?
To put this in context, that’s more than the percentage of high income earners on LinkedIn.
Although, I will concede that it may not work for everyone. But I believe that shouldn’t deter you from testing it out.
How Do Facebook Ads Work?
There are several ways you can use Facebook Ads.
From promoting your page or sponsoring posts on your page to promoting your links to your landing pages itself. You can do it all.
The main difference between Google and Facebook ads is that on FB, rather targeting particular keyword searches, you are targeting users based on where they live, their demographics, and their profile information. Many of these options are only available on Facebook.
For example, If I was asked to set up this Netflix ad, I would target people aged between 24 to 35 who work at 9-5 jobs (meaning they’ve got money to spend) and who have got movies and series as their likes. And who engage with the content of my competitors, such as Amazon Prime or Hulu.
This is quite a simplistic example of Facebook targeting, check out this fully fledged guide on Facebook Marketing for more info.
3. Other Platforms — Youtube Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Pinterest Ads, Instagram Ads
You can also employ various other platforms that offer paid advertising. Remember that you would need to slightly adjust your approach for each of them. For example, An image based ad would work better on Pinterest or Instagram compared to a video ad. Whereas, YT ads almost always require high quality videos for them to work.
Just these two questions and their answers, in your mind: where can you find your buyers? And what kind of mediums do they prefer?
Organic Sources of Traffic: SEO, Youtube Videos or Content Marketing
Organic sources of traffic can be life-saving, especially if you’re on a shoe-string budget and can’t afford to pump massive amounts of cash in your funnels right away.
You can get that initial traction using SEO optimized content such as education YouTube videos, helpful blog posts, and insightful guest posts. Along with social media posts that speak directly to the needs and desires of your prospects.
And these sources can also be used as a good way to test out the content you plan on pusing via paid channels.
For example, at first, you can publish a short, non-sponsored, one minute guide on your social media profiles. Something that answers one of your audience’s questions in a to-the-point, no nonsense way.
Now you can analyze the engagement metrics of this post to decide whether it’s worth pushing via paid ads.
But there are some major drawbacks to organic traffic as well.
Building up a consistent channel of non-paid traffic is often difficult, takes a long time, and even if you do everything right, there’s still a chance you may end up with zero traction.
Why? Well mainly because it doesn’t require a big budget to pursue. You only need a product and a website hosting that product. Thus, there are a whole lot of people competing with one another for the same clicks.
Organic or paid, you can have all the traffic of the world. But it’s completely worthless if you haven’t content at the back-end of it.
Content Strategy For The Awareness Stage
Role Of Content At The Awareness Stage
Looking at a buyer’s journey, you already know that most of the people coming in at the awareness stage of your sales funnel are either mindful of their issues or they aren’t.
If they are indeed aware of their issues, then good for you. You can chime in with quality content and lead them into your funnel. Whereas, it is also your responsibility to use carefully curated content to make them aware of their issues, in case they aren’t aware.
Therefore, the main role of content at the widest part of the funnel is to:
- Catch the attention of your potential buyers and introduce your brand.
- Help & highlight their problems, even if they don’t consciously recognize their issues.
- Listen then analyze their needs, and pave a helpful path for them to the bottom of the funnel.
- Be educational, not sales-y. And build trust by providing tangible, real-life value.
- Portrays yourself as an industry leader. And an expert in your niche.
Content Types For The Awareness Stage
Though the type of content you put out at this stage matters, but it’s not impact much in terms of sales.
As I said earlier, the point of pushing out content at this stage is to position your business as a trustable authority. And you can do that with almost any type of content. The only caveat here is that your content should be extremely customer-focused. Meaning it shouldn’t be about your company or what you sell.
Content types you should create for the awareness phase:
Blog Posts & Articles
Blog posts and articles are the perfect for the awareness stage. They can be used to push out informative, educational content without being pushy.
Compared to paid or unpaid media posts, you can use blogs to make people aware of your brand without being sales-y, since most people are coming to these posts via Google search. Meaning they’re the ones reaching out to you, not the other way around.
Have a look at Ahrefs’s blog to see the prime example of a company that does blogging right.
The topic of this post is in no way related to the services they offer. But because they’ve studied their audience in detail, they realize that outreach is something that their prospects do. Therefore they created a long, informative post on how their audience can find emails for outreach.
Also notice the red box in the bottom right. The best thing about this post is the way they show off their content-explorer (one of their paid tools) in a non-obtrusive way.
This is exactly how an ideal awareness stage blog post should look like. If you need more info on blogs, you can check out our guides on blogging.
Nobody likes reading bloated blobs of text. And that makes videos probably the most engaging form of content with numerous studies making a solid case for it.
If done right, videos provide an excellent opportunity for you to give a personal touch to your brand.
There a lot of ways you can use videos to generate awareness around your brand:
- Educational Videos: You can take complex issues your potential buyers might be facing and break in down into chunks. Then you can publish how-to guides or short tips and tricks videos that answer their concerns in simple terms.
- Brand Films or Documentaries: A brand film can be used to show off what you value as a company and what is your overall mission. Whereas, documentaries can demonstrate the actual impact you’re having in the real world.
Both can be a good way for your leads to emotionally connect with your brand. Just make sure these aren’t the places to make a sales pitch.
A significant portion of our days is spent on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. For both personal and work related stuff.
Because of this, social media platforms are an ideal for creating a community of loyal followers and generate that initial awareness.
Though you can share your educational posts, I’d recommend posting bite-sized content on social media platforms as CoSchedule does in the example above. Their post is to-the-point & easy to understand. And is more likely to be shared forward given its short nature.
With that we are done with the top-most part of your sales funnel, i.e. the awareness stage. Next comes the step where you actually start warming up your prospects.
Stage 2: Interest
At this point, you’ve raised more than enough awareness around your brand and have caught the attention of your potential buyers. And if you did everything right at the awareness stage, your prospects must be aware of their needs, and your brand’s name must be in the back of their mind.
Coinciding with the starting of the consideration phase of a buyer’s journey, this is the phase where your prospects are actively looking for additional info on things you helped them recognize at the awareness stage.
This “thing” can be a concern, a need, a question or an idea.
Lastly, another important thing to remember is that a prospect’s progression from awareness to interests phase isn’t always clear cut. Some of your potential buyers might already be aware of their issues and needs. In that case, they would directly get into your funnel from the interest stage.
Your Role At The Interest Stage
Nurturing prospects is your main role at this stage.
The way you do this depends on the needs of your leads and may vary from business to business. Needs of a person who is thirsty, for example, are pretty crystal clear, whereas a graphic designer looking to buy a new tablet for his designs would do a lot more thinking.
Therefore your role at this point is to guide your potential customers on the issues they recognized at the awareness stage. And inform them, in an educational tone, of your offering and how exactly you can help them out.
Special emphasis must be placed on the aspects of your products that make them unique and what value do they actually add.
For example, if you’re a small marketing agency, you can demonstrate to your prospects that you give special attention to each of your clients, given you’ve got only a few. And promise them services that are personalized for their needs.
But do remember that although people are aware of your brand and their needs, they still are grasping the nuances of their issues. And are in no way warmed up enough for a sale. So rather than pushing for sales, you should aim to convert them into solid leads by getting their info.
Let me explain further using an example.
Suppose you’re a writing agency offering content writing services to budding businesses who are looking to recruit an online following.
At the awareness stage, you published:
- Education guides such as “Why is a sound content strategy important for small businesses?”
- Insightful videos like “Is content marketing right for you?”
- Share-worthy posts on your social media profiles containing short, actionable tips on writing quality content.
All in all, you generated a lot of buzz around your brand. And made your prospects understand the effectiveness and importance of quality content.
Though your prospects now better understand their needs, they still aren’t sure how they can satisfy them.
In the example above their queries transformed from “Is content really important for an online presence?” to “Should I hire a freelance writer or a writing agency?”.
If you notice, your leads are looking for info in both: awareness and interest. It’s just that the nature of their queries has changed. Thus, now it is your responsibility to — act like the industry leader you portrayed yourself as at the awareness stage and — help them better understand their needs.
To summarize, your role at this stage of the sales funnel is to:
- Provide further info and guidance on the issues you helped your prospects realize at the awareness stage.
- Showcase to your leads how your services/products are unique and a viable solution to their problems.
- Attract them by a lead magnet, and make their interest concrete by collecting their business details and emails.
Let us discuss the last point in detail as it is an essential step at the interest stage of your sales funnel.
An Important Step of Interest Stage
As we already established above, your role at this stage is to nurture your leads while portraying yourself as a guardian and a viable solution to their issues.
But if you are to properly nurture your leads on their issues, you’d have to form a tangible link between you & your leads.
How can you form this link?
In most scenarios, you form this concrete link by using lead magnets which help you collect relevant business & personal info of the people you attracted at the awareness stage. Thus building a virtual relationship with your brand and solidifying their interest in your offerings.
Overall, making them more likely to consider your products or services when they’re ready for a purchase.
Let us discuss the content strategy for this stage where I’ll go over how you can nurture your leads and what these lead magnets actually are.
Content For The Interest Stage
There are two aspects to the content you’ll put out at this phase of the sales funnel.
1. Content that’ll rake in new leads.
2. Content that’ll inform and nurture.
Let’s look at both of them one by one.
Getting Concrete Leads Using Lead Magnets
A lead magnet, also called signup incentives or freemiums, is a free offer where your potential buyer’s get a valuable piece of content by giving you their email address (and possibly additional information).
Lead magnets have been around for a long time with both online and offline marketers using them for bringing in new prospects into their funnels. But they’re especially effective in today’s digital age given how reluctant people are when it comes to giving out their emails.
What’s The Purpose Of A Lead Magnet?
The purpose of a lead magnet is to entice your prospects and get them to join your email list. Your aim for getting them on your lists is to convert them into customers by nurturing them using empathetically produced content, and personalized emails.
Therefore, the importance of lead magnets can’t be understated, as it effectively builds your audience and in turn, your business.
But Why Not Just Go For A Sale?
There are two reasons:
- Your potential customers are still in research mode and aren’t warmed up enough for a purchase.
- They’re stringy with their emails. And the days when people would unabashedly give out their emails wherever they could, are long gone.
Though there isn’t a monetary transaction taking place, getting emails of your prospects is a still valuable occurrence from your point-of-view.
It converts people who are just aware of your brand into a lead you can pursue, indicates solid interest in your offer, and gives you the chance to form a connection and market your products or services to potential buyers.
Remember people won’t just give out their infos for any offer. I mean have ever typed in your email in a simple newsletter form asking “Sign up To Get Tips & Tricks”?
For what you offer as a lead magnet to be actually magnetic, it has to be:
- Valuable: Though it would be free, whatever you offer must be extremely valuable to its consumers. I’d recommend aiming to make it like if you’re going to sell it forward.
- Specific: Be crystal-clear with the benefits your leads will get if they sign up for your offer. E.g. rather than providing an ebook on writing content, create a checklist consisting seven steps for optimizing your content for search engines.
- Relevant: Your readers are looking to solve their issues. And if you are to convince them to give out their emails, whatever you provide must be relevant to their needs. Offering “A Guide To Getting Free Organic Traffic” to a person looking to invest in paid traffic is futile.
Type of Lead Magnets You Can Use
Ebook: Whatever type of services you offer, an eBook is almost alway an excellent choice as your first lead magnet. They offer a lot of creative room, are easy to create, and simple to share.
You can create a solid eBook combining multiple blog posts of yours on a particular or related topic. For e.g. if you’re a company offering cooking classes, you can pick two or three topics such as:
- What Type Kitchen Knife Should I Buy?
- How To Cut Faster And Better?
- How To Keep Your Knife Sharp?
Then you can combine these topics and create a fully-fledged ebook titled “A Complete Guide To Kitchen Knives”.
This type of ebook is especially effective because it provides value by making the lives of your leads easier. And rather than hoping for them to find each of your articles, you package them up and deliver it to your prospects in an elegant way, thus proving your authority on the subject.
Example: Here’s how Optinmonster, a company offering lead generation tools, uses an ebook as a lead magnet.
Notice how it’s clearly valuable to their audience, is clear and specific in what it offers. Add the fact that they pop out this offer just as you’re about to leave their site. Thus making it relevant to their copy as well.
Cheat Sheets: If you’re a business operating in a technical field, or even if you’re not, you can create a simple one or two page sheet where you explain a complex topic in simple bite-sized form. Something your prospects can use to refresh their memories.
This type of download-and-keep PDF resource eases off the pressure your potential buyers might be feeling as they aren’t required to apply your tips right away.
Checklists: Checklists are just broken up forms of informational content. They’re efficiently consumable and incredibly easy to create. Just take one of your informational posts and break it down into bite-sized actionable one-liners. Now remove any points that can’t be performed and number the points in a structural manner.
There you go. You got yourself a high converting leads magnet.
Here’s a practical, structured, and actionable checklist from Hubspot.
It’s brilliant because it does what it says in a no nonsense way. And helps its users process and order their webinars with ease.
Webinars/Podcasts: Not everybody likes or has the time to read 10,000 words long ebooks. Therefore webinars and podcasts are perfect lead magnets to offer in place of ebooks as they are highly-engaging in nature.
And they don’t have to be an hour long borefest or seminar with multiple speakers. For example, if you’ve written a short post on low risk funds to invest in, you can just turn this post into a simple 30 minute webinar or record yourself talking about each of the funds, thus creating a personable podcast.
Along with generating leads, effective webinars can make the attendees connect with you, ask one-on-one questions via chat, and feel like they’re communicating with a real entity not a faceless business enterprise.
Quiz/Assessment: Interactive lead magnets are quite hot amongst marketers of today. And lighthearted quizzes or in-depth assessments are probably the most notable of them.
Assessments work particularly well as a lead generation tool because they showcase your authority while helping your leads better understand their challenges. And give you invaluable data to analyze and grasp your audience’s needs.
Hubspot’s Website Grader tool is an ideal example of an interactive form of lead magnet. And has been generating them leads for years.
It’s instantly gratifying as it provides results in seconds. And doesn’t need too much input from the prospect’s side. In addition, it also promises valuable tips after the assessment is complete thus it adds for the lead to look forward to.
Informing & Nurturing Your Leads
Other than lead magnets, types of content you’ll create at this stage:
Nurturing Content: For people who have become concrete leads by giving you their contact information.
Informing Content: Though content pieces of this kind can be consumed by everyone, it’s mainly written for people who are still looking for info via search engines like Google. And haven’t interacted with your lead magnets yet.
So you got yourself some concrete leads. What’s next?
Now comes the time to use email campaigns to nurture your lead where you send out a series of strategically timed emails that help them understand their issues, showcase your authority. This whole process is called lead nurturing.
In essence, lead nurturing is like building a friendly relationship with your potential buyers rather than just a traditional seller-buyer relationship.
It’s not where you knock on someone’s door and just go for the hard sale, but you come in their house for a cup of tea, listen to their needs while giving out experience-backed actionable advice, and then after doing all that, you can mention your service/product/solution.
What kind of content your buyer needs for proper nurturing?
As your prospects are still at the interest stage, most of them are still looking to better grasp their needs, issues and desires. So sending out emails on your offerings isn’t going to be fruitful just yet. You’d have to warm them up first.
And you do this by matching the current requirements of your prospects and only emailing them stuff that perfectly aligns with their needs, desires and issues. For example it’s nonsensical to send out case studies of your vitamin supplement to someone who just downloaded your guide on protein intake, isn’t it?
Let’s look at some examples of lead nurturing.
- eNewsletters and Whitepapers that are relevant to your leads. It’s important that they are extremely customer focused and aren’t about your products or services since your aim here is to showcase your expertise and thought leadership, not make a sale.
- Webinar or Podcasts that educate on general industry trends, guide on problems your audience face, or anything that demonstrates your authority. One way you can discern your audience’s issues is by sending them a short little “What do you need help with?” questionnaire containing major industry topics and analyze their responses to deduce the exact problems that plague your leads.
- Downloadable Resources such as ebooks, infographics, guides, checklists work especially well as they instantly gratify your leads and warm them up for an eventual sale.
Some general tips for lead nurturing:
- Personalize: It’s better if your emails speak directly to each and every one of your subscribers. Little things like addressing them by their names, show that you get them on a personal level, and go a long way in building a sense of trust. So much so that a personalized subject line increases your open rate 50%. This also makes them feel like a real person rather than just a nameless being on your email list.
- Educate: Informing and educating should be the focal points of your emails at this phase of the sales funnel. If your audience responds positively to these informative emails, then maybe you can introduce your products or their case studies.
- Use Relevant & Resonating Content: Make sure the emails match the exact phase your potential buyers are going through. And are giving out only the info your leads looking for, nothing extra or fluff.
- Engage ASAP: People get bombarded with tons of emails per day. If you don’t act quickly they may forget about you and your brand. Therefore, it’s important to engage with your audience as soon as they sign up for your email lists.
- Diversify: Don’t just spam a single type of content. Keep things fresh by sending in-depth guides, educational videos and interactive quizzes.
- Use CTAs: After your prospects are done consuming your emails, tell them exactly, in simple yet striking terms, what do you want to do next. A simple “Check out this blog post” or “get in touch with our sales rep” will work. Just don’t just leave them hanging with “Now what?” feeling in their heads.
People today are much more savvier when it comes to researching information for their purchases. According to a study by Pardot, more than 70% of buyers turn to Google for a minimum of 2-3 times during their purchase process to find out more about their issues, potential solutions, relevant experts and companies.
You can’t underestimate the social aspect as well, after all we humans are social beings. Thus some of your potential consumers may also turn to social networks or online forums for recommendations.
As a result, it becomes increasingly important at the interest stage to create informational content that is social media friendly and optimizing it as such that it shows up in the search results of your buyers.
Almost all types of content we discussed at the awareness stage can be used here as well. The only caveat here is that it should be customer-focused and must be informational in nature.
But let me tell you the most important type that works especially well at this stage.
Blog Posts & Articles
Due to their versatility, blog posts, articles or videos can be used for almost every stage of the sales funnel. But the special attention should be given to SEO and proper keyword research while creating content for prospects who are at the interest stage.
Well because most of them use search engines like Google or Bing for research purposes. And if you are to rank on Google, you have got to optimize your content.
Basic content optimization process:
- Research: You can use various keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush or UberSuggest to find out the keywords your potential buyers use as they try to grasp their issues and find possible solutions.
- Write: Then you find broad keywords and create a post targeting that main keyword. And strategically incorporate all the related keywords in a structured manner. E.g. If your leads are looking into paid traffic, you can create a long-form informational post targeting “Top 5 Channels of Paid Traffic”, then go over FB ads, Google Ads or Pinterest Ads one by one.
- Optimize: Finally you optimize your post on the page as well as off the page with backlinks.
- Analyze: Your content isn’t evergreen, therefore it’s important to go back to your posts from time to time and look to make changes based on the data.
When Does The Next Stage Begins?
When your leads behave in a way that suggests they’ve moved on from info research and are now interested in your products or services. This can be anything, from clicking on your product intros, to checking out your pricing page.
Just remember that these behaviors will vary greatly depending on the industry your company operates in, behavior of your prospects and the persuasiveness of your content.
Stage 3: Decision
In an ideal scenario, you would have gotten some basic info on your potential buyers and turned them into full blown leads by the decision stage of your sales funnel.
You must have caught the undivided attention of your prospects, made them aware of your brand, educated them on their issues while showcasing how you can help them out, thus increasing their interest in your products/services.
Condition of Your Leads at The Decision Stage
Coinciding with the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, this is the stage where your prospects are although attentive to their issues and recognize your brand, they still aren’t ready to commit to your brand just yet.
The problem here is that they’ve also consumed your content from your competitors in the previous stages. Therefore rather than opening up their wallets for you, they’re scouting out their options, comparing different products, and putting brands and their products against one another.
This is also one of the major reasons why this phase of the sales funnel is considered to be the longest.
Though your leads consider you an industry expert, they are still unsure about whether you are an authority on the “exact problems” they’re facing.
They’re questioning themselves:
- Does your solution match their needs?
- Does it work within their budget?
- What kind of outcomes can they expect?
- How does your solution perform in the real world?
- Is it compatible with their business model?
Or maybe they got to know about you after going through the first two stages with your competitors. In that case, they’ll want to make sure you’re an authority and someone they can trust.
Your Role At The Decision Stage
As we discussed above, just because you can spam emails to your leads doesn’t mean they are going to just buy whatever you send in their inboxes.
So what exactly is your role at this stage?
Well, your role is to get more info on your leads. You have to ask them penetrating questions on their issues, analyze their answers, nurture them and deliver exactly what they’re looking for.
Just like you leads are testing out the waters, you too at this stage are qualifying or disqualifying leads.
For example, you can prioritize leads on the basis of:
How much are they willing to spend? – Maybe you only want to work with clients who can afford your premium services. In that case, it is conter-productive to move low budget leads up the funnel.
What role do they play in their companies? – You have to discern whether a lead is just a normal company employee that is just window shopping, or a high level executive actually has the power and influence to hire you. And prioritize between the two.
How big is their company? – Only want to work with the big guns, rather than newbie start-ups? Then finding out the company size of your leads becomes extremely important.
Because your resources are limited, answering questions like these is essential if you are to create and maintain a profitable sales funnel.
Other than getting to know you leads you have to:
- Amp up the nurturing process: If you look at the illustration above, your leads are at the product intro stage in your nurturing sequence after the completion of interest stage. Now your role is to amp up the nurturing process and move them onto the next stage.
- Use content to spark interest in your products: To actually move them on the sales funnel, you’d have to use impactful content like relevant case studies and success stories that resonate with your potential buyers.
- Unique selling proposition: Remember, your leads are also on your competitors radars, therefore it’s essential to differentiate yourself from your rivals. Tell your buyers what makes you unique, and why they should buy from you.
How to Get Additional Info on Your Leads?
To better understand your potential buyers, you will have to analyze how they interact with your content.
This “content” here can include anything, from your blog posts to your emails. And analyzing these analytics.
You have to look at content analytics and discern the type of content your leads like to read, what kind of resources and tips do expect from your emails, and any hesitations they’ve got in committing to your brand. Then, based on this analysis, you’ll create content that’s personalized and offers them exactly what they’re after.
For e.g. suppose you’re a writing agency. After getting emails of your leads, you can give away another guide like “What To Look For When Hiring A Freelance Writer” via landing pages that contain bigger lead capture forms. And ask them for additional details that your marketing and sales teams can use to qualify your leads.
Your End Goal At The Decision Stage
Your end goal at this stage of the funnel is to show your prospects a glimpse of what their lives would be like after they become your customers. And successfully differentiate yourself from your rivals by showing your leads the levels of returns they can expect.
Thus, making it easier for them to commit to your brand and make a purchase.
Let’s look at the content types you can use to achieve this end goal.
Content For The Decision Stage
At the decision stage, the content you produce is used to differentiate yourself from competitors who are going after the same leads.
If you are a marketing agency for restaurants, you really have to prove that you’re class apart from all the other marketing agencies out targeting the same restaurants you’re marketing to.
The way you’ll do it is by composing highly valuable content pieces that offer more value than what a boring blog might provide. Your content at this stage should demonstrate thought leadership, grant actionable tips, and backed by evidence and research.
To paraphrase, your content shouldn’t be just hot air.
In place of fluff, it should back up every claim with irrefutable proof, and introduce ideas that can’t be found just by a simple Google search.
Ideal Content Types For The Decision Stage
White papers or Reports: A white paper or a report is a written resource that helps your leads better understand a certain topic.
These are usually resources based on primary research that exhibit your authority and industry leadership. And showcase your depth of knowledge by providing dissecting a complicated topic into simple bite-sized pieces.
Though whitepapers and reports are often used at the interest stage as well. The only difference here is that they’re more specific when it comes to the topics they tackle.
If you notice in the example above, the title “Creating Ideal Customers” succinctly explains what the whitepaper is about. Then elaborates on an issue a lead might be facing, and lastly tells exactly how this whitepaper is going to solve this issue.
Case Studies or Success Stories: When leads are putting your products against your competitors, and considering your brand as an answer to their needs, an excellent way to win them over is to signify how your offerings have worked out for your previous clients.
In the example above, Tapad recognizes the effectiveness of a well-created case study and uses it brilliantly. They explain in simple terms what the case study is about and prove the metal of their services by highlighting a 35% increase in ROI.
Product/Competitor Comparison: In place of forcing your leads to mentally compare your products with your competitor’s, you can create a handy product description chart like the one shown below.
It can also be used to signify the differences between other services or just basic differences between your and your competitors. But remember to be respectful to your rivals and only use facts you can back with data or evidence.
Customer or Product Focused Webinars: Webinars are great content medium for the decision for quite a few reasons. Because they’re in a visual format, users often find them easier and more enjoyable to go through compared to a bloated blog post.
Similar to whitepapers, webinars at this stage too should be specific in nature and look to serve customers or differentiate your products.
Webinars also give your brand a pleasant image, as your leads get to see and hear you. Thus making them comfortable with the prospect of sitting for an hour.
Here’s a perfect example of a well-structured webinar signup from Lewis Howes that contains a clear title and enticing call to action. And pay attention how Lewis uses time and date at the signup page to create a sense of urgency.
When Have Your Leads Moved On To The Next Stage?
Leads who move on to the next stage are those that perform or show an inclination of performing a concrete buying action. This “action” will vary greatly from a simple agreement to a free consultation call to acceptance of a formal contract.
Stage 4: Action
So far you’ve notified people of your existence at the awareness stage, guided them on their issues while arousing their interest, and lastly you portrayed yourself as an expert on their problems as well as told them exactly how you can help them out.
Now comes the phase where all the action happens.
This is the stage you get rewarded for all that effort you put in the previous stages in the form of lead nurturing. By reward I mean you sealing the deal and converting your leads.
Condition Of Your Leads At The Action Stage
The action stage of a sales funnel is distinguished by scrutiny from the side of your prospects.
Your leads at this point of the sales funnel are going over your products or services in extreme detail. With hands on their wallets, your potential customers are almost ready to pull the trigger. But there’s this tiny speck of hesitation that dissuades them.
Add in the fact that your prospects have got other options available to them in the form of your competitors. As a result, It will take a lot of effort from your side to get rid of this hesitation and get that buying click.
Let’s see what they need from your side to finally make a purchase.
Your Role At The Action Stage
As we discussed above, getting your leads to perform the final buying action isn’t going to be an easy task.
Even if your leads are aptly warmed in the previous stages, there’s still a small part of their brain that’s holding them from taking the final plunge.
You have to be persuasive as well as pragmatic with your tactics to sway the chances in your favor.
Therefore, your role at this stage is to build on the relationship you solidified at the interest and decision stage by providing top-notch customer support and answering all their before/after purchase queries.
Signified by the fact that more than 80% of online shoppers feel the need to contact customer support before making an online purchase, it becomes apparent that having a channel one-on-one conversation with your sales team, a proper FAQ page and info on the onboarding process become extremely essential at the action stage of a sales funnel.
Other aspects to your role at this stage:
- Convincing your prospects that going with you is advantageous to them by showcasing how your services or products are better or how you’re more affordable.
- Encouraging your leads to take some form of buying action, with a transaction being in focus.
- Providing a positive customer experience to increase the likelihood sale and make them loyal to your brand.
Use The Principles Of Persuasion
I’d advise you to use these six key weapons of persuasion — that were formulated by Robert Cialdini’s in his business book titled Influence (1984) — to better understand your role at this phase:
Principle Of Reciprocity: The logic here is that human beings in social situations try to pay back whatever they receive. Therefore, if you provide tons of value to your potential customers through your blog posts, lead magnet, and emails, there’s a high chance they’d return the favor and convert themselves into loyal customers.
Principle of Commitment: This principle of social psychology states that when people commit to doing something they feel compelled to be seen as consistent, and finish the thing they committed to.
You can use this principle when optimizing the action stage of your sales funnel by making your prospects commit to a purchase before they whip out their wallets. An ideal example of this would be to ask for their shipping address before moving them onto the billing page.
Principle of Authority: According to this principle, human beings have this tendency to agree and comply with people who they perceive to be authoritative. So if you publish in-depth whitepapers, guiding webinars and impactful blog posts to portray your industry leadership, it is likely that your leads will see you as an authority and be more likely to make a purchase from you.
Principle of Liking: We as humans are more likely to be influenced by people we like and those we want to be like. This is pretty straightforward, if people like your brands and the image it carries, they’d be more inclined to make a purchase from you. Therefore it’s important to have a personable brand image, share relatable stories from media handles, and use humor and storytelling to connect with your audience.
Principle of Scarcity: Also an economic principle, the scarcity principle explains the additional value we humans put on objects that are scarce.
This is mightiest of the persuasion tactics as it’s based on our fear of missing out (FOMO). When we perceive things as scarce or that’s only available for a short period of time, it increases the value placed on those things by us.
You can use this principle at this action stage by incorporating limited-time discounts, countdown timers or limited supply.
Principle of Social Proof: This is the psychological principle which states that when people are uncertain about an object or action, they look around and copy what others are doing.
Therefore showcasing case studies, success stories or testimonials from your previous customers proves to your prospects that your words do hold their weight and your service/product is the best solution for them.
You can and should implement these for the entirety of your sales funnel. But it’s especially important to incorporate them at the bottom of your sales funnel, i.e. the action stage.
End Goal (With Caveat)
While your prime focus at the action stage is to get conversions, your roles and end goal aren’t just limited to that.
You also have to make sure that your almost-customers understand every intricate detail of your product or service and have been set up for success. This means granting them educational materials introducing them and how they can incorporate your solutions in their daily lives.
Types Of Content For The Action Stage
The action stage is when you potential buyers are reaching for their pockets. And the content you put out at this stage is going to make or break their decision to perform that final purchasing click.
The conventional way to come up with content ideas at the bottom of your funnel is by using data from your sales and marketing teams to assess your leads biggest objections against your products or services.
What would they like to know before buying? What are their major concerns? Are your solutions hard to implement? Do they want to try out your products before buying?
You have to answer these questions and provide your prospects an insider’s look on your services and products. Doesn’t matter if it’s an online demo, a free trial or an old-fashioned sales call, you got to provide them all the info they need to calm their nerves.
Here are some of the types of content you could use at the action stage:
A Sales page at the action stage is of immense importance.
If you are to convert your warmed up leads, you will need a sales page that’s optimized and designed in accordance to your prospects and their needs.
But what exactly is a sales page?
A sales page is a standalone web page on your website that has a single goal: to make a sale. Unlike a landing page which captures and turns cold traffic into leads, a sales page’s sole aim is to convince people who’re already your leads, to buy.
It highlights the benefits as well as features of your products or service. Now what these products or services are will actually depend upon your business, the industry you operate in and your niche in that industry.
Another important aspect to sales pages is that they differ depending on the type of traffic you drive to them. For e.g. if your leads are already warmed up, you don’t need to aware them of your brand, you can directly go for that sale.
But the objective of a sales page remains unchanged, which is, converting your leads into customers.
Since your sales page has a huge role in — as the name suggests — driving sales, it’s crucial to optimize it for conversions by:
- Having a concise and crisp heading that clearly explains what your offer is, and what benefit your leads are going to get. Ahrefs do this brilliantly by tapping into their audiences fear of “not being a SEO pro” and clearly convey their selling proposition.
- Having a single, striking call-to-action, that stands out. Notice the bright orange CTA Ahrefs use and how it attracts and expands what they’ll get after clicking the button.
- Expanding on the offer using number or bullet lists, thus adding breathing room and giving better visual feel to your sales pages. Site Audit, Site Explorer, Keyword Explorer, Content Explorer and Rank Tracker are the main tools that Ahrefs provide, and they showcase the elegantly using a unique numbered list with links to their respective tools.
- Showing social proof via brand logos and testimonials. Ahrefs use the weekly increase in their users and the established brands they’ve worked with to show their tools are widely used and socially accepted.
- Using bright contrasting colors. Observe the way Ahrefs use brighter colors on areas where they want you to pay your attention, i.e. headings and CTA. And the areas where they don’t want you to actively look at i.e. social proof logos.
If you keep these tips in mind and do this part right, you can increase your number of conversions as well their value.
Free Trials or Demos
A free trial or a demo allows your leads to interact with your products/services just enough for them to get a taste and understand what’s in store. It also incorporates the principle of commitment we discussed above as your buyers commit to a free trial and for a personal connection to your brand.
In the example above, CrazyEgg — a company offering website analysis tools — uses both: free rial and demo in their sales page. They show you how their tools work and take away the risk from your side with the 30-day free trial. Thus increase the over possibility of their leads pulling the trigger.
Usage Guides Or Training Videos
You should aim to set up your prospects for success even before they’ve converted. Afterall if your buyers are happy with their purchase, they’ll be more likely to accept your upsell offers and maybe even recommend your products to their friends and family.
Therefore, it’s essential to have properly structured content for your leads to consume so that they can fully and efficiently apply your solutions. And in return get desired results.
Ahrefs exemplify this concept perfectly in their sales page, where they anticipate technical issues of their leads and provide a proper “Help Center” with FAQs, guides, videos and tutorials.
Bizzabo, a company providing event planning, have got a fully separate page on their site for testimonials. Here they showcase their case studies as testimonials along with quotes and video testimonials.
Feedbacks, reviews, or comments from real customers show off how others have benefitted from your products or services.
Whether they’re in the form of videos, quotes, or blog posts, a compelling testimonial can go a long way in establishing trust and pushing your potential buyers to click that final “Buy Now” button.
Which Marketing and Sales Funnel Metrics Should I Track?
You’ve successfully visualized and created your sales funnel. And defined how your leads will interact with your funnel based on their behaviors.
In addition, you’ve also decided on the types of content you’re going to use at the different stages of your sales funnel.
But why should you fret about metrics?
There’s this pretty famous quote from Peter Drucker that fluidly fits in here. The quote is:
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Keeping that in mind, measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales funnel becomes of extreme importance if you are to optimize and improve it.
But don’t go around obsessing over every metric out there. Choose 4-5 and focus on them.
Here are some basic metrics you can focus on at the start:
Entrances & Entry Points
I believe this goes without saying, but just to reiterate: every sensible marketer should know the amount of people that enter his or her funnel and the sources where they come from.
They help you discern the acquisition channels that work for you, and aid you in calculating other metrics.
For e.g. if you see that most of your traffic is coming from paid Facebook ads, you can use this data to scale your ad campaigns and try to optimize other channels that aren’t bringing in the desired amount of traffic.
Usually considered the best predictor of future revenue, lead velocity or LVR refers to the percent increase of your total leads on a month-by-month basis. It signifies the amount of leads you’re currently nurturing and looking to turn into customers.
Calculating and following it is important because revenue just by itself isn’t a reliable indicator of current and future performance.
You see, the leads you convert today, got into your funnel a long time ago. And have converted after being nurtured and guided by your marketing and sales teams.
Often confused with LVR, sales velocity is a metric used to decipher how fast your prospects move from the top of your sales funnel — where they’re just leads — to the bottom of your sales funnel where they finally convert into a paying customer.
And it’s extremely impacting.
For e.g. if your leads spend too much time flailing around your sales funnel, it might indicate that your funnel’s too long. Maybe you’ve got too many generic content pieces or your emails are too spaced out.
In that case, you can use this metric to optimize the sales funnel and as a result increase your conversion rate.
Content Engagement Rate
Content Engagement Rate, when viewed from the context of sales funnels, is a metric that tracks the involvement of your leads with the content you put in front of them.
This content can be your highly converting emails, most shared blog posts, or best liked videos. Looking at the engagement rate for these content pieces helps you update and promote the ones that perform the best.
For e.g. if you find that short 300-500 word blogs get you the most FB likes, you can use this data to increase the production of such blog posts and even use paid traffic to promote them.
To put it simply, the sales funnel conversion rate is the percentage of your leads that convert to paying customers from the total number of people that come into your funnel over a given period of time.
You can calculate this for your sales funnel as a whole or break it down by the various traffic acquisition channels you’ve got. And you can analyse the conversion rates of your traffic channels and scale or optimize the most profitable ones.
For e.g. search ads from Google might be working better for you compared to FB ads since most of your leads look for info on Google. In this case, you can stop funneling FB traffic and scale and optimize your Google ads.
How Can You Track These Metrics?
There are tons of options out there on the internet but I’d recommend starting out the old fashioned way: with an Excel sheet.
Working with a spreadsheet where you manually and periodically record each of the metrics we discussed above, would give you a proper understanding of how these metrics work and sway your sales.
But most importantly, you’d be knee deep in the mud, actually doing stuff.
Best Sales Funnel Software for Driving More Revenue Fast
A solid sales funnel builder is essential if you are to test, optimize and improve your funnels. And there are an enormous number of alternatives out there on the internet.
But before we compare the various alternatives out there it’s important that you understand what a funnel software actually is and what you should look for.
What Is A Sales Funnel Software?
A sales funnel software is usually an online platform consisting of tools and resources that help you create your funnels, manage them efficiently, and optimize their performance.
From landing pages to email campaigns, the focal point of these softwares is to grant you a helpful hand as you build the various parts of your sales funnel.
Automation is another quality facet of these softwares, as they allow you to set and forget the moving parts of your funnel.
Aspects To Look For In An Ideal Sales Funnel Software
As I said earlier, there are tons of alternatives out there on the internet.
From “all-in-one” platforms that let you build and host potent landing pages along with persuasive email campaigns. To one-trick ponies that only help you with a single part of your sales funnel. And this can make things overly complicated even with a review list like this.
Therefore, here are some things you should keep in mind as you decide on a particular software according to your business needs:
Ease Of Use
Whether you’re a budding or an experienced marketer, fiddling with codes is not something you should be wasting your precious time on. You should be out in the online market testing, researching and optimizing.
And to do that ease of use and beginner-friendliness should be your priorities right now.
Customer support is of extreme importance, more so when we’re talking about sales funnels with lots of moving parts.
There are pages, lead capture forms, and all sorts of backstage stuff. And you want to be sure that you’ve people backing you up if you make mistakes or need any kind of technical support.
Other than a couple, not all the tools out there can handle all the aspects of your sales funnel.
As a result, you can be forced to use third-party plugins, apps or additional softwares to aid you in your funnel building process.
This is where fluid compatibility comes in. Make sure the software you finalize offers proper integration and documentation.
You might not have the time to focus on each detail of your funnel or optimize it manually. In this scenarios, pre-made templates can come in handy.
They take the guesswork out of the sales funnel building process and provide you with proven examples that are research-backed and work right out of the bag.
You’d be taking your leads contact as well as payment information. And what about your content? Is it securely backed up?
So make sure the platform you plan to work with is secure with your and your prospects info.
With these two questions out of the way, let’s look at the best sales funnel software in the markets right now.
What Are The Best Sales Funnel Softwares?
Here is a comprehensive list of 11 of the top sales funnel softwares out there, each briefly critiqued:
ConvertKit is a fully-ledged email service provider (ESP) created especially for small business creators such as bloggers or youtubers.
Created in 2013 by Nathan Barry, ConvertKit is one of the quickest growing email marketing companies around the globe, thanks to its beginner-friendliness and automation features.
In addition to that, ConvertKit also lets you design landing pages and email templates which convert your visitors into your email subscribers.
- Especially curated for online creators, thus the features provided are streamlined and aren’t overly complex.
- Tag-based subscriber system helps you not only divide your subscriber on the basis of tags but as lists as well. Thus adding flexibility and allowing possibility of personalization in your email campaigns.
- It’s pricey with the free plan being quite limited in its usage, and the paid plans starting from $29 per month. There are cheaper options available for people just starting out.
Compared to ConvertKit, Kartra is more of a robust all-in-one solution offering page builder, email automation, ticketing and much more.
The best thing about it is that starting with Kartra is extremely simple.
You can build your inter-linked pages for your sales funnel, create nurturing email campaigns and analyze your results, all under the same roof.
- An ideal all-in-one platform where you can take care of your website, landing pages, leads, emails, and customers at the same place.
- They provide a supportive knowledge-base in the form of “Kartraverse” where they teach you step-by-step how you can build a fully-fledged sales funnel using their platform.
- Because they offer so much of the stuff in-house, their integration list is a bit limited. And can hamper your adaptability if you’d prefer to use particular third-party tools or apps.
If you’re in need of an all-in-one solution, you check out available plans for Kartra and maybe start with the 14-day free trial they offer for $1.
Even if you’re a newbie marketer, chances are you might have heard of ClickFunnels.
Sort of similar to Kartra in its scope, Clickfunnel is a sales funnel software designed for small businesses and budding marketers who haven’t got tons of resources to put in their funnels and need something that’s easy and quick to set up.
- They offer a one-click upsell tool that upsells any shopper that purchases anything from your website. Increasing your revenue as a result.
- Pop-up editing is also included in their landing page builder/editor. This negates the need for an additional popup plugin and shows you in-house how your popups are going to look.
- Difficult to learn in and purposefully apply all the functionalities in the free-trial period.
- Though it’s targeted at starting marketers, the price point is quite steep at $97 a month after a 14-day free-trial.
Clickfunnels have been in the sales funnel building market for a long time. And their products show their expertise. Check out their pricing page for more info on the plans they offer or you can start right away with a 14-day no-questions-asked free trial.
4. WebinarJam (and EverWebinar)
WebinarJam & EverWebinar are major webinar management software. Though they are both owned and marketed by the same company, their functions are a bit different when put up against one another. With the major difference being the way you can push out your webinars.
Using WebinarJam you can only manage and publish live webinars which expire after a time, whereas with EverWebinar, you can create and push out evergreen webinars that always stay online. And can be consumed by your leads forever.
Apart from this difference, all the other things such as the interface, analytics are the same.
- Both are beginner friendly to use and set up. And you can switch between the two seamlessly in your dashboard.
- You can integrate with other third-party sales funnel softwares such as ConvertKit or Kartra and increase the overall functionality of your sales funnel.
- Mobile compatibility has been an issue with users reporting that sometimes their leads are not able to watch webinars from mobile phones.
- The templates provided by both are pretty weak, in case you don’t want to use third-party templates for your landing or thank you pages.
If you’re aiming to mainly use webinars as a means to market yourself, then WebinarJam/EverWebinar can be an ideal choice for you.
Demio is one of the best all-in-one webinar software on the market today. It allows you to publish both live and evergreen automated webinars using their hassle-free, powerful and modern platform.
And it offers almost everything you’d need to run an impacting webinar campaign. From launch offers, CTAs to interactive Q&As and polls along with webinar registration, email reminders, and much more.
All in all, Demio is best for marketers who are looking for a sturdy webinar platform. And aren’t shy to flesh out some extra cash with their monthly starting from $49 per month.
- Because their platform is web-based, your leads won’t be faced with software downloads or other technical stuff and can directly get to your webinars.
- It offers both live and automated webinars under the same roof, and also gives you the ability to join in between automated webinars to interact with your viewers.
- No free plan to start with after the free trial. This can be especially problematic for starting entrepreneurs, since they haven’t tested their audience as well as their products yet.
GetResponse will probably be your best if you want to automate the process of building an entire sales funnel up from scratch.
With the recent introduction of “Conversion Feature” to their arsenal of tools, you can now use per-made templates of fully-fledged sales funnels that can help you create every moving part of your sales funnel using their platform, i.e. your landing or sales pages, paid ads, email campaigns, webinars and order pages.
They encapsulate the phrase “plug and play” as they offer one-click compatibility between all their products.
- You can see all the stages of your sales funnel, and get info on their performances at one place.
- They offer smooth integration with their email marketing platform and their other products.
- As their plans are based on the number of people you’ve got on your lists, it can get expensive if you’ve got a lot of subscribers or if your lists are growing at a rapid rate.
HubSpot is much more than just your boring sales funnel software.
They’ve got everything a modern business would need. From premium marketing and sales softwares for generating traffic, leads and sales to CRM/CMS systems that help you service your customers.
To test out their tools, I’d recommend starting with their Starter Growth Suite that can get you of all of their offerings at an affordable price.
- Probably “the” best all-in-one business software out on the internet. But this can backfire as well if needs are limited and you don’t require a plethora of features.your needs are limited.
- They’ve got tons of training material and educational resources: blogs, informative courses, guides, ebooks and much more.
- $50 per month can seem like a good deal but as your business grows this plan gets quite limiting and things can get pretty pricey for you.
- Their contracts aren’t flexible and once you’re locked in you can’t claim a refund.
Due to their affordability, LeadPages position themselves as an ideal alternative for solopreneurs and budding marketers.
But keep in mind that they don’t provide email marketing software and mainly focus on the visual aspects of a sales funnel with their simple drag-and-drop page/website builder. So though they do look affordable at first glance, you’d need to use third-party tools for your email campaigns.
At last, the best thing about them is that they don’t charge you on the basis of how many people opt-in to lists, meaning you can collect and create unlimited leads without being charged a cent extra.
- They offer pre-made templates for your pages that you can sort by conversion rates.
- In contrast to other softwares on this list, LeadPages don’t charge you extra in case you bring in a lot of people into your funnel, meaning you’ll always pay the same amount.
- You’d need to rely on third-party softwares for your email campaigns.
- The templates they offer are limited in number.
If you need an elegant, no-nonsense page builder, check out LeadPage’s pricing page and start with a 14-day free trial.
Although best known for being a platform for hosting online courses, Kajabi is much more closer to all-in-one business softwares.
Somewhat similar to Kartra, Kajabi also offers almost everything an online business might require to sustain and earn profit. It offers an integrated email marketing system with products for analytics, page building and lead management.
But all this does come at a heavy starting price of $119 per month, which is still worthy if you can afford it of course.
- It Incorporates many different features that would usually require you tons of integration issues.
- Provides proper customization along with fluid automation of the different parts of your sales funnel.
- Too pricey for startups and businesses who are still in their infancy.
More than a sales funnel software, Kajabi is an all-in-one business platform. Have a look at the plans they offer and start with a 14 day free trial.
WishPond is a really beginner-friendly sales funnel software that allows you to build landing pages, pop-ups, content/promos, and marketing automation. With “contents and promos” being something that’s very unique to them.
They provide integration capability with major ESPs such as MailChimp, Aweber. And offer a good email automation system that allows you to segment your audience and optimize your emails using A/B testing.
- Intuitive templates for landing, sales and content pages along with pop-ups.
- Solid email automation and lead segmentation possibility.
- As a sales funnel software, WishPond lacks the ability to see the bigger picture as it doesn’t have a visual sales funnel builder.
Using WishPond, you can build beautiful landing pages, pop-ups and contests. Take a peek at their plans or test them out with a 14-day free trial from right here.
Unbounce is a robust landing page builder considered to be a premium option amongst marketers.
Along with free templates, it hosts a marketplace where you can buy absolutely stunning pre-made templates. And it offers A/B testing and in-depth analysis on the pages you build.
But to create a complete sales funnel you’d need other softwares as it only covers the visual aspect of a sales funnel.
- It offers striking pre-made templates that are especially optimized for conversions.
- Analytics along with A/B testing are it’s strong fronts.
- Very high-priced considering the other alternatives mentioned in this list.
Get instant access to Unbounce with their 14-day free trial and start building simple yet striking landing pages right away.
Proven Sales Funnel Templates
We’ve already discussed what sales funnels are, their importance, and tools you can use to build them.
But things can seem pretty daunting when it comes to actually getting in deep waters and building a sales funnel, since it’s a complex object with tons of movie parts.
Therefore having well structured templates that offer guideline and focus can help you:
- Visualize and outline your sales funnel in its entirety.
- Signify ways in which you’d strategize each aspect, stage or part of your sales funnel.
- Identify any gaps or potential issues before you get in the dirt and start the building process.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s discuss and dissect some actual templates.
Online Course Sales Funnel Template
So you’re an expert on your topic and you want to sell a course you’ve built or are planning to build?
But the problem is that you’re not an expert marketer. And don’t know how to aware people of your course, get them interested, and make them open their wallets.
You see, a good sales funnel — that’ll automatically market your course — is essential, given a great course in just the starting requirement for being a successful online instructor.
Let’s take a look at the 4 important aspects of a sales funnel especially designed for online courses:
Getting Traffic & Leads
A sales funnel only survives and works when you’re getting new people into it. The sources you use for getting this traffic depends upon your budget, audience, and your online course.
For example, You can put up ads on LinkedIn, if for example, you’re a marketing consultant teaching people how to form a sound marketing strategy.
But where will you drive this traffic to?
To your lead magnets where you convert normal browsers into full blown leads for your online course as you capture their contact info, and the start the next step of the process.
The process of qualification and nurturing begins with more and more people coming to your landing-pages/lead-magnets and converting into concrete leads you can pursue.
You send them personalized emails that provide them value and showcase the authority you command on the course subject.
After you’ve nurtured your leads, they’re warmed up and ready to be sold to. So you nudge them on to a strategically curated sales page that educates them on the course you’re offering and entices them with a too-hard-to-resist offer.
Upon clicking on that offer, your leads are taken to a perfectly curated checkout page with social proof where they convert themselves from leads to consumers of your course.
Retargeting Lost Leads
Not every person you get into your online course funnel is going to turn into a lead. Similarly, not every lead’s going to turn into a customer. Therefore, it’s necessary to recapture the people who’ve fallen out — at the various stages — of your sales funnel using retargeting ads.
Other than marketing, it is important to have a course that’s actually valuable and informative to your audience. So take a peek at our comprehensive guide on creating an online course from scratch.
Software Business Sales Funnel Template
Marketing your digital products as a software or SaaS business can be a distressing task. You’re competing with established juggernauts in a market where people are bombarded and overwhelmed with offers to an extreme level.
And if you don’t play your cards right, you may expose yourself as a newbie and lose the interest of your potential buyers
Therefore let’s look at 8 steps you can follow to create a winning software sales funnel.
- The first step is to decide on the traffic sources depending on your niche and your audience.
- Then build a lead magnet that solves a major pain point of your target audience and drive traffic to it.
- Turn the people who visit and opt-in for your lead offer into full blown leads.
- Nurture them using informative & educational email sequences.
- Inform them of your products and educate them on the problem it solves on how it is better than your competitor’s offerings.
- Offer them a free trial or demo of your product. And provide for them as you would help out a paying customer.
- Send them an email with a proper CTA to a checkout page, suggesting they buy your product after the trial or demo gets expired.
- Confirm them of their order and thank them for their trust using a personalized thank you page.
Now I recognize that these were a series of general steps which may not apply to your business. Thus, you should study and edit the template mentioned above according to yours and your business’s needs.
Ecommerce Sales Funnel Template
Running an eCommerce business either with gigantic platforms like Amazon or on your own is a grueling task. The competition’s immense and people are weary of sketchy brands that deliver only a fraction of what they promise.
And this is where an eCommerce sales funnel can come in handy.
It lets you target, find, qualify and nurture the people who are just right for your brand. And the rewarding thing is that an eCommerce funnel does all that automatically.
Let’s see the two question you’d need to answer to build a sound sales funnel for your eCommerce business:
Q1. How Will You Get People Into Your Sales Funnel?
The answer to this question mainly depends on the type of product you’re selling. And the online places where your audience hang out.
For example, suppose you run a gaming eCommerce store that sells computer peripherals/parts made for gamers, such as graphics cards or gaming mices. Now it is likely that you’ll find your target audience on niche platforms like Reddit.
Q2. Where Will You Drive This Initial Cold Traffic?
Continuing the example from above, you can create ads that funnel people to a “tailored landing page” that speaks directly to your audience.
Example: “What To Look For In A Gaming Mouse?”
After this, you can pitch your products with an impacting CTA.
In response, you’d be faced with three scenarios:
- The people you tried selling to, purchased your product thus leading to a quick conversion.
- They try to exit your funnel by leaving your landing page. Which can suggest your prospects aren’t warmed up enough. And before they leave, you can try to capture their info using an exit pop-up. You’ll use this email to nurture and in turn warm up your traffic.
- The third and final scenario is that they add your product in their carts, fill in their billing/shipping info but due to some last minute resistance your leads abandon the purchase. In this case you can try to contact them via email or use retargeting ads to calm their nerves, answer their doubts and try to recover the purchase.
Coaching Business Sales Funnel Template
Whether you’re a startup offering business consultation service or a personal coach who teaches real estate investing, it’s risky to depend solely on networking and word-of-mouth for your sales.
And another important aspect that’s especially relevant for coaching businesses is the criticality of properly qualifying your leads given the products you’re selling are high-price.
Hence, a well-optimized sales funnel can be quite impactful for your coaching business and propel it towards sustained profitability.
Here are a 6 steps you can follow to curate a striking sales funnel for your coaching business:
- Look for places where the people you’re trying to coach spend their online time. This can be Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. And entice them with a lead magnet.
- Refer them to a landing page that gives them the promised lead magnet in exchange for their contact info.
- Send an email linking to a live or pre-recorded “training” video/webinar where you educate, guide and help your leads on their issues. Your aim with this stage is to win their trust, showcase your expertise, and position yourself as an authority.
- After giving your leads a taste of what’s to come, you nudge them onto an application form asking for further personal and business details. This is the stage where you ruthlessly disqualify low quality leads.
- Then you schedule a one-on-one call with the leads who you think are a perfect fit for you, understand their needs in detail and finally push your product.
- At the final stage, you accept payment from your leads and turn them into paying customers.
Sales Funnel Template for Affiliate Marketers
Spamming links on Facebook Groups and sending icey cold traffic to your affiliate offers is not the way you should go about affiliate marketing.
If you want success as an affiliate marketer, you need to build an organized sales funnel.
Here the 4 aspects you should keep in mind while building your affiliate funnels.
Similar to all the previous funnel templates we discussed above, you need to decide on the platforms to target according to your product, the people you’re promoting to, and your budget.
Example: If you’re promoting apparels or cosmetic products, a platform like Instagram would work better because it’s an image based social network.
The bridge page is meant to — as the name suggests — act as a bridge for your leads to move from their social network sites to your affiliate offer. And it must provide value for your leads to move to the next stage.
Example: Suppose you’re promoting camping equipment. So at this stage you can offer a one page checklist on essential equipment to take to a camping trip, in return for your leads emails.
Now comes the time to utilize the emails you got from your prospects and nurture them using a sequence of informative, educational content relating to the products you’re promoting.
Reaching the final stage, you’ll finally go for the sale with a link to the final affiliate offer using actionable CTA.
Sales Funnel FAQ
A sales funnel is the visual as well as conceptual representation of the journey your potential buyers go through on the way to making a purchase. And how as a seller, aid them in their journey.
There are several stages to a sales funnel, with the topmost being the awareness stage where you aware people of your brand.
Next come the interest & decision stages where you nurture your prospects.
And lastly, you have the bottom most part of the funnel in the form of the action stage where you motivate/nudge your leads to perform a buying action.
Here are the 5 major steps for creating a highly converting sales funnel:
Step 1: Research Your Audience
You need to understand the pain points, interests, and annoyances of your potential buyers if you want your sales funnel to be effective.
This will help you position your brand uniquely and connect with your audience on an emotional level.
Step 2: Create Buyer Personas
Properly visualizing your prospect’s motivations will help you discern the exact need your leads want to solve and what products do they require to satiate this aforementioned need.
Step 3: Develop A Strategy For Traffic & Lead Generation
People need to be aware of your brand if they are to ever become your loyal customers. Thus it is critical to drive targeted traffic to your funnel using various traffic channels such as paid ads, content marketing, social media marketing and influencer.
Step 4: Develop Engagement & Nurturing Strategy For Your Audience
Upon capturing your audience’s attention you need to engage and nurture them by educating them on their issues and informing them of your offerings.
Step 5: Convert Your Leads
Lastly, your leads are aptly warmed up and interested in your products. Now is the time to go for the hard sale while answering any last minute questions or concerns your prospects might have.
Yes. There is tons of data and stats that showcases the effectiveness of sales funnels as a concept.
But nobody can say with resolute that they will hundred percent work for you considering the needs and circumstances of each business are different.
The top of the sales funnel — also called the awareness or discovery stage — is the phase where you as a business aware people of your brand, help them understand their needs, and position yourself as an industry leader as well as an expert on their issues.
Ready to Set Up Your Sales Funnel and Increase Your Revenues?
And with the ending of that FAQ, we are done!
I’ve told you what a sales funnel actually is, why you should build one, and how exactly you should go about creating it.
And I’ve also provided you a comprehensive list of tools that can help you along the building process.
Remember, planning and creating a sales or marketing funnel is not going to be something you do in a day. It’ll take weeks, even months. And that’s just the creation part, it can take you even longer to fully optimize and improve it.
But I can promise you, as long as you follow the guidelines this post provides I’m sure you’ll create a striking, elegant and profitable sales funnel for your business.