How to Create a Sales Funnel from Scratch
When was the last time a prospective buyer landed on your website and instantly made a purchase? That hardly ever happens because prospects go through a journey before they’re convinced about your product or service. Sales is a long-drawn process — it takes time and happens over various stages. While your website might attract many visitors, you’ll notice that only a few convert into leads, and fewer still end up making a purchase. This is why it is important to know how to create a sales funnel.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a visual representation of the stages a prospect goes through while considering or buying a product.
Creating a sales funnel lets you visualize the buyer journey and develop relevant offers to engage prospects, leading to increased conversions. It also makes it easier for you to identify gaps and accordingly optimize your sales process.
How to Create a Sales Funnel with Stages?
Picture a funnel — it’s wide at the top and gets narrower as you proceed further down. That’s what a sales funnel represents in terms of your target prospects.
When a prospect merely visits your website out of curiosity or lands up through a link, they get to know your brand and are said to be at the top of the funnel. As they continue to engage with your website’s content and browse through offers, etc., they keep going down the funnel.
Ultimately, your goal is to move prospects from the top to the bottom of the funnel with targeted solutions and constant nurturing.
A sales funnel can be split into three stages—awareness, interest, and decision. Each stage represents your prospects’ state of mind and requires a unique nurturing approach.
At this stage, prospects are looking for a product or service and have just discovered your brand. They may still not know their exact pain points and are likely to have lots of questions regarding their needs and how you can fulfill them. So it’s essential to offer them informative content that educates them about your product or service.
Here are some suitable content formats you can explore to share the relevant information for this stage:
Example of eBook by Freshsales
Prospects are now actively looking for solutions. They have clearly defined their challenges and know what they want. At this stage, you need to offer them targeted solutions while establishing expertise and credibility.
Here are some suitable content ideas for this stage:
- Case studies
- White papers
Example of Webinar by Freshsales
By the time prospects reach this stage, they’re almost ready to seal the deal but likely to be evaluating multiple options (read “competitors”). What will help push them in the right direction is making an offer that assures them of your capabilities and strengthens their trust in your brand. Have competitor battle cards ready and ensure you have aces up your sleeve.
Here are some suitable content ideas for this stage:
- Interactive calculators
- Free trials and demos
- Discount coupons
Example of an interactive calculator by Hauseit
How to Create a Sales Funnel in 5 Steps
While every business creates a sales funnel suited to their unique goals and needs, here are the five necessary steps involved in sales funnel creation:
1) Create buyer personas
Finding your target audience and understanding them are two different concepts.
It’s not enough to find or know who your target customer is; it’s important to go one step further and understand their goals, pain points, behavior, and demographic information.
Every customer is different and undergoes a different customer journey. Creating detailed buyer personas involves mapping out their journeys, which will help you create targeted content that resonates with them.
So, create surveys, talk to your sales team, and analyze the website and social media data to uncover insights and collect valuable information to build your ideal customers’ personas.
Here’s an example of what a buyer persona looks like.
2) Develop an enticing offer
Once you’ve created buyer personas, you’ll have a better understanding of their challenges and needs. This information is useful in developing the lead magnet or offer.
A lead magnet is a downloadable piece of content offered to prospects in exchange for their email address. On downloading a lead magnet, the prospect turns into a lead.
Lead magnets mark the first step in establishing a long-term relationship with the prospect. What’s essential here is offering a magnet that’s true to its name and draws prospects toward downloading it by virtue of true value.
So, identify a problem they’re facing and create a lead magnet that offers a solution to that problem. Lead magnets can be PDFs, checklists, ebooks, webinars, templates, white papers, and case studies, among others.
3) Create an optimized landing page
The next step is presenting that lead magnet to your target audience in a well-designed manner. Dedicated landing pages fit the bill: they are devoid of distractions and are likely to boost lead generation efforts.
Use landing pages to communicate what the lead magnet entails while compelling website visitors to take the desired action.
Here are six elements of an optimized landing page that can help prospects convert into leads:
- A powerful and compelling headline
- Crisp copy communicating the value proposition and benefits of the lead magnet or offer
- Use of visuals in the form of background images, videos, and icons to strengthen communication
- Clear and prominent call-to-action button placed above the fold
- Offer social proof (testimonials, reviews, and social signals) to build trust
- Clean and simple layout with consistent branding
- Optimized for on-page SEO
Example of Landing page from Freshworks
4) Drive traffic to the landing page
Once the landing page is ready, it’s about aggressively promoting it to drive traffic and encourage conversions. Here are some surefire ways to attract traffic:
- Place banners on your website and within blog posts
- Publish blog posts promoting the landing page
- Submit guest posts (linking the landing page) to authoritative websites that cater to a similar target audience
- Share posts on your social media channels
- Send email newsletters, directing subscribers to the landing page
- Run ads across search, display, and social media networks
5) Run an email drip campaign
Lead generation is just half the battle won. Once you’ve acquired leads, you need to nurture them with targeted content to push them down the funnel.
This is where email drip campaigns come into the picture. As per a study, companies that excel at drip campaigns generate 80% more sales at 33% lower costs.
Drip campaigns involve sending a series of relevant and timely automated emails to leads, depending on their actions and behavior. For instance, someone who signed up for your newsletter can be sent a welcome email with a link to some popular blog posts.
Similarly, someone who abandons the shopping cart and leaves your website without purchasing can be sent a reminder email, encouraging them to complete the purchase.
The purpose of email drip campaigns is to send the right content to the right lead at the right time, thus nurturing them through the sales process.
How to Create a Sales Funnel – Examples
If you are wondering how to create a sales funnel, and need a path to follow, here are two sales funnel examples to help you build yours.
Fracture is a photo décor company that allows people to convert digital photos into glass artwork. On visiting their website, you’re met with a pop-up that offers a 10% discount on the first order.
On entering your email address in the pop-up, you get a welcome email with a bright ‘shop now’ call-to-action.
On clicking ‘shop now’, you’re directed to their ‘upload photo’ page.
Headspace is a healthcare company focusing on guided meditation through an app.
Their website encourages people to take a free trial of their services. They have the call-to-action button placed across the website, on the header banner, and within the content on the home page.
On clicking ‘start free trial,’ visitors go to a dedicated landing page that enlists the benefits of the app and pricing options and an FAQ section. They’ve used crisp copy along with enticing visuals to communicate Headspace’s value proposition effectively.
On clicking the CTA button, you’re directed to the checkout page, which clearly states the fine print.
Clicking ‘proceed to checkout’ leads to a login page. They’ve made form filling extremely simple with just two form fields to fill along with convenient login options such as ‘log in with Apple’ and ‘log in with Facebook’.
Best Practices for Sales Funnel Management
Sales funnel management involves getting people through the funnel while tracking progress and making adjustments wherever necessary. Effective sales management facilitates building long-term relationships and boosts conversions.
Here are three best practices to manage a sales funnel.
1) Identify leaks
You will notice that some leads don’t make it till the last stage. They drop off somewhere along the funnel, and this is referred to as ‘leaks’.
It’s important to do a customer journey analysis to identify where they drop off and the reason behind the same. Let’s say you attracted traffic to the landing page but failed to see conversions.
Possibly, something on the landing page is not working and repelling website visitors. To improve the conversion rate, you’ll need to find the leak and fix it.
You can use Google Analytics to set clear goals, understand user behavior, and identify problematic areas.
2) Focus on qualified leads
It’s essential to have a laser-focused approach to generating conversions efficiently. Some leads are ‘warmer’ than the rest and therefore worth going after because they have higher chances of converting.
One of the best ways to qualify leads is by adopting the lead scoring method. It involves assigning points to each lead based on their information, website behavior, and email engagement levels.
3) Align the sales and marketing teams
Marketing and sales teams have mostly shared a love-hate relationship without realizing that businesses can close deals a lot more effectively if only the two sides were aligned.
It’s important to involve both teams in setting goals and buyer personas so that they’re on the same page. Define marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL) such that the two teams are aligned on when leads need to be handed over to the sales team.
Marketing should only pass on leads that show indications of converting. Handing them over prematurely to sales can result in a waste of time and effort.
Creating a Sales Funnel: The Takeaway
Creating a sales funnel is an ongoing process — right from identifying a need to build a funnel, even if you have a small business, to wondering how to create a sales funnel to taking the first steps to continually track performance while minimizing roadblocks and optimizing it to boost conversions.
What’s important is offering the right lead-nurturing content that will take the prospect further down the sales funnel while enhancing experience.
Simki Dutta is a content marketer at Venngage, a free infographic maker and design platform. When she is not working, she can be found refreshing her Twitter feed and binge-watching Netflix shows. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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