Modern consumers are smart. They invest significant time researching content across channels before deciding to ditch your competitors and buy from you. But if done correctly, you can build a sales funnel that turns more prospects into lifelong customers. Let’s show you how!
Knowing what your customers are searching for is important to create the right content and map it along the buyer’s journey.
Doing this allows you to generate awareness, build relationships, and convert more leads into paying customers.
If you’re curious to know how you can efficiently manage sales processes, you need to build and utilize an effective sales funnel.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel, also known as a marketing funnel or conversion funnel, is a pathway to attract, entice, and convert prospects into customers.
The sales funnel is divided into three main stages—top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.
Perhaps you have seen slightly modified versions of a sales funnel with more than three stages. That’s because each business is unique, and the steps to turn prospects into customers may need a different approach.
For example, in some cases, a business may need sales representatives to make calls to personalize the offer. Or perhaps they use their email marketing team to nurture leads.
To build an effective sales funnel for your small business, you’ll want to assign each stage based on how your audience typically behaves before they make a purchase.
The idea here is to visualize the stages your buyers go through before they make a purchase decision. This data helps create the right content for all stages of the buyer’s journey and guides them along the way.
How to Build a Sales Funnel that Generates, Nurtures, and Converts Leads
To understand how you can attract the audience, generate leads and convert maximum leads into lifelong customers, you need to understand the sales funnel. Once you understand that, you can begin mapping content for each of the stages.
Image via AE Design
Top of the Funnel: Attention and Discovery
The top of the funnel is the first stage in a traditional marketing model. In the upper funnel, users tend to begin their search and educate themselves about the problems and possible solutions. Main traffic sources are generally PPC ads, landing pages, lead magnets, social media, educational blogs, videos, and infographics.
Most queries in this stage correlate with how, what, which, or when.
- Mattress and bedding industry: How to wash a duvet cover
- Health and fitness industry: How often should I workout
- Gardening and landscaping: (What) seeds to sow in winter
- Food and beverage industry: how to make cakes
At the top of the funnel stage, you’re trying to answer questions on broad topics and clear doubts. Through quality content and flawless representation, you can educate your buyers and generate brand awareness and establish yourself as an authority in your niche business.
To further optimize your site for connecting with potential customers, use chatbots or lead generation forms so that you can collect the necessary information to communicate with them further.
Best practices lead generation:
- Create great landing pages for conversion or lead generation.
- Write quality content that shows your grasp on the subject.
- Use chatbots to help customers quickly navigate through or submit queries.
- Integrate lead generation forms or contact forms on the landing pages.
- Ask visitors to subscribe to your blog or videos.
This is your golden chance to nudge a few potential customers to develop a long-term relationship. Make the most out of it.
Middle of the Funnel: Interest and Consideration
In the middle of the sales funnel, you’re dealing with customers who have signed up for receiving your content. By now, you’ve already collected their email addresses, names, company size, or interests so that you can share relevant content they’re most interested in.
For most marketers, this is the lead nurturing stage.
At this stage, a customer gradually digs deep into the content as they learn more about your business. They may also be comparing products or services and considering prices for further steps.
You can use email marketing campaigns to deliver content that you promised, send promotional offers and customized packages. Middle-of-the-funnel content is a great way to take your audience to a receptive mode and strengthen trust.
Some types of content to consider offering during this stage include blogs, whitepapers, case studies, product mentions and comparisons, and demo videos.
You can create and distribute content that shows how your product or service can solve real-life problems. If you’re an eCommerce, retargeting ads and email campaigns can work great.
One important thing to remember about middle-of-the-funnel content: don’t make it overly sales-oriented. Too much sales-centric content can turn your potential consumers away. Offer value and solutions to help build your relationships and strengthen trust.
Bottom of the Funnel: Conversion and Sales
If your leads have made it here, great job! But your work isn’t finished yet. The bottom of the funnel is where the actual sales conversion happens. Depending on your business model, this is where your sales team would throw a pitch.
The bottom of the funnel is where your customers have identified their problems, considered an option, and are now ready to take final action and buy.
Content to offer during this stage can be sales materials like brochures, email landing pages, eCommerce product pages, and various other types of content.
To be able to generate maximum conversions, follow these tips:
- Create customized content or sales pitch that aligns with customer pain points and addresses specific problems
- Continue to send them content in the form of blogs
- Send personalized offers
At this point, your customer has come all the way down to the narrowest part of the marketing funnel. Keep your efforts laser-focused and convince them to take the final step. Share reviews or testimonials across channels to show that you have what it takes to solve their problems.
Bringing Your Sales Funnel Together with an Email Nurture Campaign
Now that you understand each of the sales funnel stages, it’s time to talk about how you bring it all together.
One of the most effective ways to move a prospect along through each funnel stage is through an email marketing nurture campaign. This is a series of emails sent out to a prospect based on an action they take to enter the funnel. Email nurture campaigns deliver timely, targeted information that helps guide them through your funnel. As your prospect receives emails, they are presented with information to help them choose a solution (product or service) that best fits their problem.
To build a nurture campaign that effectively converts prospects, you need to consider the following.
Segment Your Audience
Before you even start to think about converting your prospects, you need to define and segment them effectively to ensure they are going down the right path. Most small businesses offer multiple products and services, so think about that as you develop your prospect ‘buckets’ for your sales funnel.
Don’t Sell – Offer Value
Nobody wants to be sold to – especially right out of the gate. So as you start to build the relationship with your prospect, offer value first, and then as the relationship grows – they are actively opening your emails and engaging with the content you send them – you can make a pitch for the sale.
Have Goals for Your Emails
Each email you send in your nurture campaign should be well thought and include an objective and goal.
For example, if someone is interested in your fitness services and you send out a value-add email to them with a link to the blog that shares certain exercises that relate to this segment, your objective would be to educate them on the benefits of exercise, and your goal would be for them to click through and read the article.
Determine the Timing of Your Emails
A successful nurture campaign will send out six to seven emails to a prospect over a certain period of time. The goal is not to overwhelm the prospect with communication but to stay top of mind and remain a valuable resource to help them.
When building your campaign, think about the timing of your emails and plan it out strategically. You don’t want to rush the sale – patience is a virtue!
Measure Your Success
Like with all marketing efforts, it’s important to measure your results! Watch your open and click-through rates on your emails. If you see that not many people are opening the email or, even worse, unsubscribing, then change your messaging.
Building a successful sales funnel is a continuous effort. Consumer behaviors can change quickly. That means your marketing strategies need to identify sales gaps and address them quickly.
Evaluate your current sales model’s effectiveness and ask yourself what you can do to improve customer acquisition and retention. These practices get you more leads and help you get more referrals – which leads to more sales.