Your sales funnel leads buyers on a journey from slightly interested to raving fans ready to make a purchase. Keeping visitors engaged from the moment they land on your page and through checkout is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. How do you lead them gently in the direction you want without them bouncing away from your site?
One concern for marketers is sales prospecting. It's hard to know what details to offer at which point in the journey. A misstep or two may derail the entire process and send leads into the arms of a competitor. Perfecting your sales funnel is an integral part of a successful online sales model.
The buyer goes through four levels of your funnel, including awareness, interest, decision and action. Knowing where buyers are in their journey helps you move them smoothly to the next phase. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your marketing funnel and increase your conversion rates. Even small changes have a significant impact on your revenue.
1. Know Your Audience
Without basic information about your buyers, it's impossible to know what messages resonate with them. Do your research on the people who buy your products. What is their age range? Do they have specific hobbies or a problem they face that drives them to your page? Create a buyer persona representing your typical customer and run everything you do as though aimed at the individual.
2. Lay Out Your Process
When it comes to parting with their hard-earned money, people don't like any guessing. They want to know exactly how many steps it will take to learn about your product and order it. The easier you make the journey, the more likely they'll complete it.
Your first step in the journey is to push as many leads as possible into the funnel. If any don't fit, they simply fall out of the channel. Once in, you can push them towards the next phase. Show those people what highlights they'll see along the way. There are occasions when a user skips from the first layer of the funnel to the last, such as a return visitor. Have a process for skipping around phases as well.
50 Floor pulls people in with special offers. As you scroll down their home page, you'll see the sales funnel process laid out clearly. They feature a headline reading “Here's How it Works,” with graphics highlighting precisely what will happen as leads move through the stages. They first schedule an appointment for more info, browse through the available options from the comfort of home, schedule installation and enjoy their beautiful new floor.
3. Attract Leads
To move people through your sales funnel, you must attract new visitors to your site. However, you also want users vetted and within your target audience. You can narrow the choice of who sees your ads on social media by defining your audience. Turn back to your buyer personas to help you choose factors, such as age, occupation, location and interests.
4. Offer Enough Information
In a push to move people through the funnel, some brands neglect enlightenment about the brand. However, certain people need more convincing than others. You need plenty of solid content showing why you're an expert in your field, and the buyer should trust you with their hard-earned money.
Hubspot's marketing report surveyed 3,400 marketers and found those who make blogging a priority see a 13-fold return on investment (ROI). Make material easily accessible at any point in the buyer's journey.
Fast Growing Trees offers plenty of content to help site visitors choose the area of the site they're most interested in. Note the categories at the top of the page leading to more information on each type of tree or shrub. They also offer a guide about the best tree for your state, hardiness zones and answers to frequent questions.
5. Cultivate Leads
Your first step in the sales funnel was grabbing attention. Now that you have their attention, you have to keep it and develop a strong emotional connection. Think about what drove the browser to your site in the first place. Typically, the person needs a solution to a problem. What emotions tie into the issue?
For example, if the user looks for home security solutions, they may fear for the safety of their family. Your content needs to explain how to stay safe or stick to protecting those you love. Tapping into emotions builds rapport and makes it much more likely the person will move from the interest stage to the decision stage.
6. Compare Alternatives
The interest stage is an excellent time to compare the other options a user has to yours. You may not want to name competitors specifically and give them free promotion, but you can offer a chart showing the benefits of buying from you versus “the other guys.” You could also simply add a list of pros for your product.
Comparing with a specific competitor can be effective if your product is superior to theirs in every way. If the other brand is already well known and your leads likely to have heard of them, then you aren't telling them anything they don't already know. You're merely enhancing the data to your benefit.
Zendesk mentions their closest competitor, but they then focus the remainder of the page on why they are better than them. Rather than comparing every little service, they mention where they excel. They offer a free demo, list how they are different and add a customer testimonial.
7. Ask for a Decision
All the steps in the funnel lead to the decision to buy the product or service. There does come the point where you need to ask your lead to make a choice. Are they ready to buy, or do they need more time? Look at this as closing the deal. Every good salesperson knows you simply ask for the sale when all the person's questions have answers.
8. Make Checkout Easy
The final stage of your sales funnel is the purchase. This part of the process must be as simple as possible. Complicated forms at this point may drive the person away and lose you revenue.
Add features such as one-click shopping or autofill fields based on details the customer already shared with you. Use payment systems such as PayPal or Square, where information fills in automatically. Anything you can do to move the person rapidly through this phase of the process improves your conversions.
Test Your Sales Funnel Process
Creating a successful sales funnel requires ongoing effort. The methods working for your site visitors today may change as technology and your customer base changes. Conduct split testing to see which wording, info and offers work best. Make changes and test those to see how effective they are.
See your sales funny as a fluid form rather than a hard plastic you create once and never look at again. With attention to detail and effort, you'll increase your ROI and grow your brand.
Lexie is a UX designer and digital nomad. If she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.