A sales funnel can be described as a visual representation of the steps to take to successfully convert visitors. Essentially, a sales funnel is a marketing system; it’s the “ideal” route you intend your consumers to experience as they go from Prospect -> Lead -> Satisfied Customer -> Repeat Buyer.
A sales funnel will also show you how many possible conversions you have in each stage of your sales cycle, as well as detailing your conversion rates for each stage.
What is a Sales Funnel Measuring its Health and Success?
There are four crucial metrics that can tell you the health and success of your sales funnel: The first is the number of potential consumers in your sales funnel (you should also be aware of the rate that the new opportunities are being acquired in your funnel = arrival rate).
The second metric is called a funnel value and it is the potential value of every possible conversion in the funnel. Next is the average amount of time it takes a consumer to go from one end of the funnel to the other, basically it’s the amount of time consumers spent in the funnel.
This can be measured as an average time or as a spread (in-funnel time). The last metric is called a conversion rate and it is the percentage of conversions that successfully navigate through your sales funnel- also known as a win rate.
The whole concept of the sales funnel is simple, and it actually existed long before the Internet. Each consumer moves from a place of never having known of your product/company/brand to converting and becoming a satisfied customer.
While on that conversion journey, there are several decisions, touch points, and potential places of influence that can all be leveraged to your benefit.
Shaping Your Sales Funnel
The sales funnel for each business will vary, and they will usually vary even within a business, depending on what the end-goal is. It is very important that you understand your own buying cycles, and make strategic changes to your sales funnel that will support those cycles.
Ultimately, the perfect content would fulfill the consumer’s need at each step along their sales funnel journey, encouraging them to take action and continue on to the next step in the process. Here are some ways to shape your funnel so it will better meet the needs of your business and consumers:
One of the key elements is understanding your consumers- who are they, what are their needs/issues, where did they come from? Find your core customer base and create a summary of their demographics. Then focus on their buying behaviors—the more you understand what type of spender your consumers are, the better you will be able to trigger the choices that you want them to make.
Once you have developed a well-rounded understanding of your customers, you will be able to quickly and easily identify future prospects. You will also be able to better design new content ideas based on what you know about the consumers and how to capture their interest.
Next you need to assess your publishing channels- think about where you want to publish your ideas/content before you create it. The two main reasons to go about it this way (instead of making the content and then trying to find a place for it to live) are that you will increase the chances of publication and waste less time creating content that won’t get picked up.
Also, it creates a clear strategy for publishing your content on outlets that your customer base already pays attention to. Since you have already determined what kind of customers fill the majority of your funnel, you will hopefully have a good understanding of how to build your platform to best meet their needs and desires.
One of your main focuses in your sales funnel should be delivering value to your customers before making the hard sell. As a component of your content marketing, you should make providing value your main goal, and in order to do this you can make accessing information easy, solve problems, and connect with people in search of the information you provide. When you do this, sales and leads are bound to happen.
Lastly, it helps to find creative ways to promote your content. This part of the strategy helps reel customers back to your business in order to get the repeat sale. A smart promotional plan adds speed and efficiency to the process helping ensure you get the ROI that you desire.
Optimize your content so that: it is easily found in search engines, it is easily shared on social media and so that it integrates into a path leading potential consumers through the sales funnel to conversion.
The Sales Funnel and User Experience
User experience, in general, refers to the way your website looks, the ease of which it can be navigated, how quick it is, and how few obstacles are in the way when trying to convert. It is extremely important to keep user experience in mind when designing your sales funnel so that the user stays on task and continues to move through the process without stopping too long at each step.
The two aspects of user experience that are the most important are: reducing conflict (such as wasted clicks, false starts, slow page loads, excess pages, etc) so that users don’t give up before going all of the way through the funnel; and reducing doubt and indecision in the user’s mind which could cause them to pause and consider not converting.
While some business’ websites use tricks to drive conversion, the resulting business growth is synthetic and hard to repeat. Instead of being deceitful to your customers, take a closer look at your sales funnel and see what you can do to optimize it, nudging your ideal visitors toward conversion.
Once you gain the conversion, their optimal user experience should make it quite easy for them to tell their friends about how great their experience was with your business through social media. This, in turn, creates more awareness of your business and drives customers right into your (now) optimized sales funnel!