Sales Funnel

Chapter 01: What Is a Sales Funnel?

Have you ever wondered how someone goes from reading your content to becoming a customer? A sales funnel can help you visualize, understand, and optimize that customer journey.

A sales funnel visually communicates the conversion rate of prospects as they move through the pipeline stages. It’s called a “funnel” because of its shape: wide at the top as prospects enter, then increasingly narrow as prospects are removed (as a result of being unqualified or deciding not to buy).

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the process of creating a lead magnet. We’ll then share a variety of resources for lead magnet creation with examples of ones that are well done. Finally, we’ll explore creative ideas on how to market that lead magnet on Facebook and actually attract the leads you want.

What Are the Stages of a Sales Funnel?

From the moment prospects hear about your product or service until the moment they make a purchase (or don’t), they pass through different stages of your sales funnel. That journey through your funnel may change from one prospect to another, but in the end, they’ll evaluate it based on their interest level. They’ll think about the problem they’re trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution.

In general, there are four main stages:

Awareness: A prospect learns about your company for the first time. Perhaps she clicked on one of your ads, read your blog, found your website via a Google search, or heard a colleague talking about your product or service.

Interest: Once prospects have learned about your brand, they’ll evaluate it based on their interest level. They’ll think about the problem they’re trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution.

Decision: Armed with information about your company, prospects will dig deeper into your pricing and packaging options. Sales pages, webinars, and calls are helpful in this stage to help sway prospects to make a purchase.

Action: All your work comes down to this stage: whether the prospect makes a purchase or not. If she didn’t, the deal isn’t lost forever. You can create nurture campaigns to make sure you stay top of mind.

How to Create a Sales Funnel

For your sales funnel to exist, you first need prospects who can move through that funnel. Once you have those prospects, you can track behavior and engagement using lead scoring to identify where they are in the funnel.

Here are five steps to help you create a sales funnel:

Build a landing page: A landing page will most likely be the first time prospects learn about your company. If they click on an ad, sign up for a webinar, or download an Ebook, they’ll go to a landing page. That page should clearly communicate who you are as a company and your unique benefits (after all, this could be the one and only opportunity you have to wow prospects). And, most importantly, make sure the landing page has a form for prospects to enter their information — you want to capture their email address so you can continue to communicate with them.

Offer something of value: Here’s the part where you have to give something to your prospects in exchange for their email address. A lead magnet, like an Ebook or whitepaper, is an effective way to offer something of value on your landing page.

Start nurturing: At this point, your prospects will move from the Awareness stage into the Interest stage. And, because you have all their email addresses from the landing page, you can create an email nurture series to share educational content about your offering.

Upsell: As prospects move into the Decision stage, you want to offer anything that can nudge them into the direction of a purchasing decision. This could include a product demo, extended free trial, or special discount.

Keep it going: In the Action phase, you’ll either land new customers or hear why prospects aren’t interested in purchasing. Either way, keep the communication going. For new customers, focus on product education, engagement, and retention. For prospects who didn’t make a purchase, build a new nurture series to check in with them every few months.

Sales Funnel Example

Every business, regardless of location, size, or industry, has some sort of sales funnel. Don’t believe us? Here’s a simple sales funnel example.

Let’s say you’re on a road trip and see a billboard for Wendy’s. (Awareness)

The billboard is promoting a special offer on their burgers. You’re hungry and always on the lookout for a deal. (Interest)

You drive to Wendy’s and walk up to the register to order. All Wendy’s needs to do is close the sale, so they tell you about their special burger discount and tell you that if you upgrade to a meal with fries and drink, you can save even more. (Decision)

You can’t say no to fries, so you purchase the meal and enjoy your lunch. (Action)

How to Optimize a Sales Funnel

Creating a sales funnel is just the first step. The real goal is to create a successful sales funnel that converts. In other words, having a robust sales funnel doesn’t do any good if those prospects aren’t turning into customers.

Here are three ways to optimize your sales funnel and make sure prospects convert:

Always be testing: Something as simple as an email subject line or the color of a button could dramatically improve your sales funnel, so take every opportunity to test your landing pages and emails. For example, on your landing page, you could test the headline, color, font size, or button color and text. And with your nurture emails, you could test subject line, images, or CTAs.

Look at where your traffic is coming from: Let’s say you’re running a paid ad campaign to drive more traffic to your landing pages. You’re seeing a boost in the number of people who fill out the form, but no one makes it past the Interest phase. You can do all the testing you want, but sometimes the issue is with the top of the funnel: where those leads came from to begin with. Be sure to analyze the quality of leads that come from each channel and only invest in the ones that drive conversions.

Understand where content fits into your sales funnel: Are you using the right types of content at the right stage to move prospects through your sales funnel? For example, blog posts and guest posts work well in the Interest stage, whereas case studies and white papers are more powerful in the Decision stage. Map all your existing content to each stage of the funnel and conduct an audit to find out where prospects seem to fall off. This could be an indicator of where you need to test different types of content.

Sales Funnel and CRM

The right client management system can further optimize your sales funnel with automation. What is CRM? It stands for customer relationship management: a powerful system that connects the data from your sales leads and customers, all in one place.

You can easily generate leads with a drag-and-drop landing page builder and then track prospect information like email address, type of customer, purchase history, and how often someone opens or clicks an email. You can then use an autoresponder to send a series of personalized emails and monitor campaign results in real time.

Centralizing all this information in one tool can help you plug the holes in your sales funnel and turn near-misses into sales.

Final Thoughts

A sales funnel helps you understand what potential customers are thinking and doing at each stage of the purchasing journey. These insights allow you to invest in the right marketing activities and channels, create the most relevant messaging during each stage and turn more prospects into paying customers.

Interested in optimizing your sales funnel with automation? Learn more about how sales and marketing automation software like Keap can help you close more deals.