Imagine taking every single visitor to your website and pouring them into a giant funnel.
Thousands of customers pouring into the top, and neatly out the bottom. Buying your product as they go.
Sounds like a perfect system doesn’t it? Well, that’s the plan anyway! In this series of posts, we’re looking at doubling your conversions. One of the quickest ways to do that is by plugging a leaky sales funnel.
What Is A Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is an easy way to visualise your conversions. The top is vast and wide, representing every single person who comes into contact with your brand or website.
We use this metaphor because you want a wide top to catch people from all over the place, and funnel them down into one very specific target.
Once they’re in your funnel (on your website), they move down as the gap narrows. Here, they learn more about your brand and your product. You convince them to buy, and directing them to the final target.
The shape also represents the number of people along the way. Inevitably, you’ll lose people as you go down. Visitors will decide they’re not interested in your product, or they’ll get distracted on the journey. So at each stage, the funnel gets narrower.
Finally, the most profitable customers emerge at the bottom. It’s usually just a small portion of the huge numbers that entered the funnel. But these are your most important customers.
The customer that reach the bottom are your superfans!
Sales funnels are great because they sift out your absolute best customers (maybe they should call it a sales sift instead?)
Web owners use the sales funnel to isolate a small amount of superfans. These are the people that will buy your most expensive product and come back repeatedly.
Let’s Build Your Sales Funnel
The top of your sales funnel is the widest part. It’s designed to catch as many potential customers as possible. This top part includes anyone who ever comes into contact with your brand. It’s all about awareness and marketing.
Let’s say you’re running a Facebook advertising campaign, and it reaches 100,000 people. We call these people leads, and they represent the very top of your funnel.
Your goal is to find as many leads as possible. But, you also need targeted leads, or ‘qualified’ leads. This is marketing speak for people who are actively interested in what you’re selling. By hunting out ‘qualified’ leads, you significantly increase the likelihood of people making it to the bottom.
The middle section is where you turn these initial leads into prospects. It’s turning casual visitors into interested customers. Here, you’ll help people understand what you do, and draw them closer to your final product.
Unfortunately, this is where most businesses LOSE their leads, so pay attention.
It’s very difficult to sell your most expensive product or service right away. So in the middle of the funnel, you want to give away lots of information and promote smaller support products. You need things that start to nurture your customers. You need to build trust and credibility here.
It’s also where you start capturing customer data and making the first small conversions. You could offer an eBook or a free trial in exchange for an email address, for example.
The middle of the funnel is all about educating and inspiring people. It’s about making small sales, small conversions, and collecting data. Turn casual visitors into real customers.
The bottom of the funnel is your ultimate goal. You want as many people as possible to reach this point. When customers reach the bottom of the funnel, they take big actions.
You’ve built their trust. You’ve sold one or two support products, and built a relationship along the way. They’re ready to buy the premium product from you.
The customers that make it to the bottom of your sales funnel are your superfans. You only need a few superfans buying your expensive, premium product to make it all worthwhile.
An Example with Cold-hard Data
It’s all very well explaining this, but how does it work in real life? Let’s take a look at an example based on average click-through and conversion rates. Let’s say you run a Facebook advert costing $100 (average to reach 100,000 people)
Facebook advert reaches 100,000 people 1% clicks through to your website and reads a blog (1,000 people) 10% downloads your eBook and signs up to mailer (100) 10% of them buy your support product at $10 (10) 10% buy your premium product at $50 (1)
Every business is different, but you get a sense of how the funnel slims down to just a couple of big customers from a huge start of 100,000.
It sounds small, but based on this funnel, you’ve made a profit of $50. You’ve also gained 100 email signups. Not bad!
Now you know the average click-through-rate and sales for your website, you can scale this up in a big way.
How To Plug A Leaky Sales Funnel
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a watertight funnel in online sales. As you can see in the example, we lose thousands of leads on our journey, making only one premium sale. So, how do you plug the gaps?
The first step is to analyse your existing funnel. As you can see on the example, you can actively spot where users are dropping off. So your first job is analysing where your biggest leaks are coming from. Is it at the top of the funnel, the middle or the bottom?
Now comes the clever bit. If you’ve set the funnel up as I have explained, you should be capturing plenty of email addresses in the middle part. Even after they’ve abandoned your site, you can send them timely updates and newsletters. That puts them right back into the top of the funnel!
As for those who didn’t sign up to anything, you can get them back too. Set up cookies on your website to your track visitors. Then set up a series of online adverts that ‘retarget’ these very leads. By sending adverts to those who have already been on your website, you put them right back in the funnel too.
When the funnel leaks, catch them, and put everyone back in the top.
A good sales funnel captures as many qualified leads as possible. It filters them through your carefully structured web of information, support products and freebies. Finally, the superfans emerge at the bottom, buying your premium product.
I’d love to hear about your sales funnels! Readers, let me know what your perfect journey looks like.
Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+ and Twitter.
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