How to create a sales funnel

sales funnel

Sales funnel

Every customer goes on a journey to find you. And your goal, as an entrepreneur and a business owner, is to make their journey as short and as lucrative as possible.


In sales and business, this journey is called the sales funnel, and it occurs even without your input.


However, just because the sales funnel occurs naturally doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything to optimize it. 


In this article, we’re going to show you how to create a sales funnel. 

Let’s take a look!


1. What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel (also known as the sales process, purchase funnel, and marketing funnel) is a sales model that illustrates all the things your prospects do on their way to becoming your customers.

 

Let’s consider a traditional example: 


          You’re walking down the street when a shop display catches your eye. You come in, and spot the sweater you need immediately. The shop assistant tells you it’s on sale, and you go whip out your credit card immediately. 


Congratulations: you’ve successfully navigated through the sales funnel!


Every action you took and everything the business owner did to motivate your purchase is a part of that sales funnel.


In reality, the term sales funnel is used to describe all the steps your potential customers take that will or won’t make them paying customers. 


Sales Funnel

Sales funnel illustartion

Source: Entrepreneur

You likely don’t even think of it in such theoretical terms; you just know that when you run an ad, you get customers.


Now, the trick is in knowing what to do to get a lot of customers and boost your revenue.

In order to understand the buyer journey, we visualize it as a literal funnel.


A lot of people come in at the top of the funnel. They’re all the people who see your offer at some point. 


However, as time progresses and they move towards making a purchasing decision, some of them will naturally drop off. Maybe they’re not interested, maybe they saw your offer accidentally, or maybe they don’t like your products.


At the end, the people who remain will become paying customers.


Buyer psychology is what makes the ultimate difference between people who could become your customers (but don’t), and people who follow through with a purchase. 


Why You Need an Optimized Sales Funnel


Now, you’ve already got a sales funnel. So why do you need to structure it and make adjustments?


Without a structured funnel, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t work.


The number one reason is getting more conversions. You want to increase your revenue and attract more customers. However, a haphazard sales funnel is not the way to do it.


 You’ll be leaving things up to chance.


When you create an optimized sales funnel, you can rely on it to generate more and more revenue.


create an effective sales funnel

Create an effective sales funnel

Secondly, you want to “plug the leaks.” Every sales funnel comes with leakage; prospects drop off at some points.


This is natural. However, you can reduce the number of drop-offs, increasing your odds of conversion. 


You can’t do this without an optimized funnel since you won’t be able to determine the exact drop-off points. 



Thirdly, a great sales funnel will help you standardize and automate the way you sell. 


Instead of wondering whether your actions and your advertising will capture the interest of your customers, you’ll know exactly what to do to turn leads into prospects. 


It’s organized, neat, and reliable, giving you more time to focus on running your business. 


Finally, you want to maximize the revenue you get from your existing customers.


The sales funnel doesn’t end with your customers purchasing a single product. 


Instead, an optimized sales funnel can help you retain your customers and maximize their value by up-selling and cross-selling to them. 


Sounds great, right?

It’s time to take a look at how sales funnels work in practice.


2. How does a sales funnel work?

A sales funnel consists of four basic stages:

  • 1.   Awareness
  • 2. Interest
  • 3. Desire
  • 4. Action

In the awareness phase, your potential customers are called visitors. In the interest phase, leads (as they have shown interest). In the desire phase, they’re prospects. 


And finally, in the action phase, prospects take action to transform into customers.

 Sales funnel consists of four basic stages

 Sales funnel consists of four basic stages

Source: Buffer

When we talk about sales funnels, we’ll often use the term “conversion.” 


Conversion can pertain to conversion between stages – when a lead becomes a prospect, and so forth.


However, conversion can also pertain to the ultimate phase: the moment when a prospect turns into a customer.


In order to win that ultimate conversion, you and your potential customers must first travel through the funnel stages. And every stage is different.


2.1. The awareness stage

In the awareness stage, your customers are vaguely aware of your offer.


They might have seen an ad, or they’ve googled a particular search term that you rank highly for. Consider this stage to be their first point of contact with you and your brand.


You have to leave a good first impression.


The goal of this phase is reaching the right audience and capturing their attention. You want to find people who have problems your product can solve. 


At the end of this phase, you should capture the qualified visitors’ information so you can advance them through the rest of your funnel.


This is typically done through lead magnets (e.g. eBook downloads, discount codes) and landing pages where you’ll obtain their email addresses. 


2.2. The interest stage

In the interest stage, you provide your leads with content that makes the product even more relevant to their needs and lives.


This is where you’ll nurture leads into becoming prospects. 


It’s typically done through email campaigns. 


You’ll show them the value of your product through a combination of personal stories about your brand, testimonials, and even blog content.


The best possible option is to show them testimonials from people just like them.


The goal of this phase is to solidify the interest of your leads. You want them to be sure that your product is the right fit for their needs.

2.3. The decision stage

When your leads are sure that your product fits their needs, it’s time to pitch and make the sale. 


You can retarget leads and visitors with paid advertising. You can use highly-specific customer testimonials. Or you can offer them a discount or a special, time-limited offer.


If you’ve provided your customers with enough value throughout the previous stages and they’ve made multiple micro-commitments, it’ll be much easier to convert them at this stage.


2.4. The action stage

At last, we come to the action stage.

This is where your prospects follow through with a purchase.


Sometimes, entrepreneurs are shy to invest into their funnels. However, once you’ve tweaked and optimized them, you’ll get a lot of return on investment.


So if you find that retargeting works better than email sequences, calculate the costs and the revenue, and go bravely forward.


It also pays to keep emailing your customers to make sure you retain them and even win referral traffic.


Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing methods. Incorporate it into your sales funnel.


And now that you know all the basic sales funnel concepts, it’s time to create your very own sales funnel.


3. How to create a sales funnel

There are a few ways to create your sales funnel, depending on your needs and the methods you choose:


              • Literally draw it on a piece of paper and come up with a strategy, then take action accordingly.


              • Use a tool like Systeme.io to build an automated sales funnel.


Regardless of the method you choose, you can use the following steps to make sure you’ve got a watertight funnel:


3.1. Start with research

Research is indispensable if you want to create a sales funnel that doesn’t leak prospects.


And since it’s all about your customers, you have to start with customer research:


  • • What are your customers like? How do they behave?
  • • What are their problems and desires?
  • • Where do they hang out online and in the physical world?
  • • What content are they interested in?
  • • How do they communicate?

In short, you should build a customer persona. 

 customer persona

Source: Optin Monster

If you’re in B2B, your customer persona will likely contain information on business goals, authority, and so forth:

Call to action button

Source: CloudApp

Your customer persona should tell you what your potential customers care about, and how they like receiving information. 


For example, you could attract their attention through Facebook ads if they use the platform (you’ll know after researching their habits in this step). 


However, for the majority of businesses, SEO and search engine marketing work best. 


If you’ve already been in business for a while, poll your existing customers to understand their buyer journey. 


Finally, install a heat map software to your website to understand how your visitors and customers interact with it.


Sometimes you may be doing all the right things, but your website needs tweaking.


After you’ve completed the research in this phase, you should have a definitive understanding of:


  • • How to reach your customers (channels and topics)
  • • What your customers’ problems are
  • • What your customers’ journeys look like

3.2. Create your sales funnel structure

After you’ve gathered all the information you need to understand your customers’ journeys, it’s time to create your sales funnel structure.


First, decide on the primary channels you’ll be using for each stage.


For example, some companies target their potential customers in the awareness phase with social media ads.


Those ads then lead to landing pages where they capture their contact information with lead magnets and lead gen forms.


Then, they proceed to email marketing in the decision stage, ultimately giving prospects an offer they can’t refuse.


Sales Funnel Structure

Source: King Kong

  

The second step is to chart out the predicted progression and interaction:

  • • How do you expect your prospects to interact with your content, stage to stage?
  • • At which point will your prospects convert? 
  • • What will you offer them for conversion?

You should have an enticing offer at every stage.


For example, you could offer a lead magnet in the form of an eBook to capture your potential customers’ information between the awareness and interest stages.


Then, you could send them useful blog content through email marketing.


In the decision phase, you could offer your leads a time-limited discount to convert into customers.  


Finally, decide on the metrics you’ll use. How will you know if every stage meets the goals you’ve set? 


For example, some companies monitor the effectiveness of the awareness stage by the number of new email addresses they capture.


If they don’t capture enough, chances are, the stage could use a better lead magnet.


Similarly, you could track email opens and/or clickthroughs to evaluate the effectiveness of your decision stage offers.


Once you’ve fleshed out your sales funnel, it’s time to get to work.

3.3. Setting up your sales funnel

It’s best to do as many things on as few platforms as possible. 


So if you have a blog for SEO (incredibly important in the awareness and interest phases), you’ll want to set up your email marketing accordingly.


Making different apps work for your sales funnel is easy with Systeme.io.


With Systeme.io, you’ll be able to set up effective sales funnels in a few clicks:


  • • Sell any kind of product
  • • Build optimized landing pages
  • • Set up automation rules and workflows 
  • • Increase sales with upsells and order bumps 
  • • Set up automated email marketing campaigns 
  • • Run affiliate programs and promote your business
  • • Create informative blogs with a simple blog builder
Systeme.io editor

Systeme.io editor

For example, let’s say you want to create a high-performing sales funnel:

  • 1.   Awareness stage – Blog content and SEO
  • 2. Interest – Landing pages with lead magnets
  • 3. Decision – Email marketing 
  • 4. Action - Offers, promotions, up-selling

Typically, you’d need at least five to six services to create such a sales funnel (and they all come with hefty price tags). 


But with Systeme.io, you can set up everything in a single app!


And no, you don’t even need technical knowledge. You’ll be advancing customers through your sales funnel before you can say: “Let’s sell this thing!”


3.4. Drive traffic to your sales funnel

The two stages of your sales funnel that you’ll promote the most will be awareness and interest. 

We’ve found that the following methods work best for getting your business up and running as soon as possible:


  •  3. 4.1.  Social media – Promote your content through organic and paid social media posts. 
  • You can even use social media ads for retargeting the leads that browsed your blog, but haven’t left their contact information. 

  • You’ll also learn plenty about the content your potential customers want to hear by joining Facebook groups, Twitter and LinkedIn discussions, and even message boards like Reddit.

  • 3.4.2. SEO – Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to reach potential customers ready to buy from you.

  • Since they all conduct searches based on the problems they’ve noticed, you’ll be one step closer to helping them make the purchase decision.

  • 3.4.3. Paid advertising – If you want results fast, go with Google Ads. 
  • Select long-tail keywords with purchase intent, and you’ll find leads that are ripe for conversion. 
  • Avoid informational and generic keywords (e.g. What is marketing) and focus on actionable intent keywords that your product responds to (e.g. Best marketing courses if you offer marketing courses). 

  • 3.4.4. Use lead magnets – Lead magnets are one of the most powerful marketing materials today. Create a great magnet, and then promote it everywhere. 

  • 3.4.5. Create dedicated landing pages – If you want to attract different types of customers (e.g. stay at home moms and middle-aged entrepreneurs)

  • create different types of landing pages for different types of customers to respond to their intent better.
A high-ticket coaching landing page created with Systeme.io

A high-ticket coaching landing page created with Systeme.io

               6. Ask for referrals from your existing customers – If you’ve been working for a while, you likely have customers who love your products.


It’s time to leverage them. You can send them an email, asking them to refer you to their friends. Of course, give them an incentive like a discount to do it (if possible). 


              7. Consider affiliate marketing – Affiliate marketing is just another form of referral marketing, and it works like a charm!


 You can set up your affiliate program through Systeme.io with just a few clicks, and automatically add it to your sales funnel.


4.5. Email is king

You’ve probably noticed how much we rave about email marketing. 


In reality, it’s because it’s one of the most powerful ways to turn visitors into customers. On average, you’ll get $32 for every $1 you spend on email marketing.


It’s more than worth it.


Get more customers with email marketing by:


                 1. Building an email list

                 2. Setting up automated email sequences

                 3. Writing really good emails


You can build an email list with sleek forms from Systeme.io, as well as segment your contacts. This is especially handy if you want to attract different types of customers.


Then, it’s all a matter of creating the right drip campaigns.


Maybe you want to follow-up with a prospect after a day, right after they get your lead magnet. Then, you could send them a follow-up email two weeks later.


Ultimately, you’ll give them an offer they can’t refuse.


Now, you could technically write all those emails yourself, but you’d lose a lot of time (and money). Instead, it’s much better to set up personalized and automated email campaigns with Systeme.io.


Your email content should be:

               • Relevant

               • Timely

               • Useful

This means you should give your customers the content they want when they want it.


For example, you could be selling laptops and phones. 


To maximize the conversion you get, you should create two mailing lists: people interested in laptops, and people interested in phones.


It’s what Amazon does all the time (and their sales funnel is pretty successful).


Then, send different email campaigns to different segments of your mailing contacts to ensure that they’re getting the content they want – not just everything you have to offer.

4. Sales funnel best practices

Finally, one of the perks of Systeme.io is that you can set up your sales funnel and forget it. 


However, if you want to maximize the amount of conversions you’re getting, you can use a few tricks:

A/B Testing

Constantly test your landing pages, content, and lead magnets. You can even test your email sequences!


Just make sure you only test one thing at a time so you can attribute growth to the specific changes you’re made.


For example, test your landing page copy one month, and test your email sequences the next. 


Automate everything

You want 80% of your business to run on autopilot so you can focus on the 20% that requires your strategic input.


Just some of the things you’ll be able to automate with Systeme.io are:


  • • Sales
  • • Workflows
  • • Sales funnels
  • • Email marketing
  • • Affiliate marketing
  • • Upselling and cross-selling

Follow-up and reengage

The key to unlocking your full sales potential is in the follow-up. On average, 80% of sales require at least 5 follow-ups. 


Having a great email sequence really comes in handy. You won’t have to do anything manually, but you’ll get all the results.


If you have inactive email subscribers (or leads that haven’t converted for a long time), try to reengage them with a special offer.

Measure the success of your sales funnel

Finally, some of the simplest sales funnel metrics you can use are:

  • • Conversions total (The total amount of people who have turned from leads to customers across the funnel)
  • • Conversions per sales funnel stage (How many people went from visitors to leads, from leads to prospects, prospects to customers, etc.)
  • • The number of sales/leads/conversions
  • However, you can also use advanced metrics such as:
  • • LTV (Lifetime value of a customer; how much money have you earned from them ever since they became your customer?)
  • • Sales velocity (How long does it take for a lead to become a customer?)

And there you have it!

Are you ready to build a great sales funnel?

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