A Sales Funnel is the process to convert a potential customer into a paying customer. To develop a sales funnel you need to walkthrough the whole process and refine your methods to maximize the chances of achieving your desired result.
The basic principle is to attract potential customers into the top of the funnel and have them emerge out the bottom as a paying customer.
During the process, they evolve from being a potential customer into a lead, and then a prospect. Finally, the aim is to convert them into a customer.
There is no rocket science in the definition. If you have ever sold or promoted anything in real life, then you already had a sales funnel.
It may not have been a good one, but it was a funnel nevertheless.
Why You Need A Sales Funnel
Think of the sales funnel as your strategy. I’m guessing you aren’t considering just throwing up a couple of web pages and hoping for the best?
The Sales Funnel is going to be a way of mapping out how somebody on the Internet is going to end up buying a product you are marketing. This process includes getting them to your website (traffic), turning them into a lead and then a prospect. Ideally, you automate as much of the process as possible.
Sales Funnels will vary depending upon the product, service or event you are promoting.
To best understand the process, let’s take a basic sales funnel and break it down.
Remember, a sales funnel is the foundation of a process, and this will vary depending on the product or service. We’re not trying to establish a perfect sales funnel here; the aim is to introduce the concept.
We’ll think of the funnel in the context of a blogger creating a passive income with affiliate marketing.
Let’s begin at the top of the funnel with Marketing Activities. These are the activities you undertake to generate traffic or at the very least, awareness. For example, one of your marketing activities might involve posting links to your site and blog posts on social media such as Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.
The first stage of the funnel is to turn the visitors into leads.
Leads are typically people who have opted into something you are offering them.
Examples of things they might opt-in to are:
- Your mailing list
- Joining your blog’s Facebook page or group
- Signing up for a webinar
- Subscribing to your blog
They might do this passively of their own accord. However, most funnels incorporate what we describe as a Call to Action, where your website has been configured to channel the visitor to perform an opt-in pro-actively.
An example of this could be a section of the website or a popup offering them something useful at no cost, like a free report, information pack or e-book. The visitor enters their email address and gets e-mailed the gift.
Once the person has done this, you can identify the visitor as a lead. They are identifiable. You know something about them, even if it’s only their email address.
The next phase is to convert the lead into a prospect – somebody who you identify as a potential customer. The line between the two is often blurred.
Generally, the prospect may have shown interest in an offering or engaged with you about a specific offer.
The customer is somebody who has been converted from a prospect and taken you up on the final offering.
They’ve paid for the product or service. In essence, a customer is somebody who has come through the whole funnel.
Defining the Structure of a Sales Funnel
How you structure your sales funnel is entirely down to you. The level of complexity is one that you choose.
Some Internet Marketers will break the funnel down into small components and adopt an advanced scientific approach to each element, mapping out processes and flows based on user behaviour and choices.
If you’re starting, keep it simple and then evolve it over time based on what works for you
An Example Of A Simple Sales Funnel
As follows is a simple funnel mapped out using Builderall for a Product Launch.
This process is straightforward:
- Generate awareness and traffic with Facebook Ads.
- Generate leads with the Product Page Launch via an offer that gets the user to part with their email address.
- Turn the leads into prospects via a series of emails directing the user to follow-up landing pages to “warm them up” for the product launch.
- Turn the prospects into customers when the product is launched using a Product Launch Order Form page.
The Double Funnel of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing usually relies on two funnels.
The first funnel belongs to the affiliate marketer and the second funnel belongs to the merchant who is running the affiliate program.
The role of the Affiliate Marketer is to have the user come through their funnel and to enter the funnel of the merchant.
Why not send the traffic directly to the merchant?
Some affiliate marketers will send the traffic directly to the merchant and bypass their own funnel. Trust me when I say there are plenty of Facebook Groups infested with people spamming boards with direct affiliate links.
Here are the reasons why I think you should not send traffic you are generating directly to the merchant:
- You lose the opportunity to provide your unique commentary on the product or service.
- You will not get to connect with the potential customer or elicit their contact details.
- Further potential to interact with the person is gone. Perhaps you wanted to introduce them to other products or services? Or invite them into your social media groups? That opportunity no longer exists if they bypass your funnel.
- The chance to form a professional relationship has gone.
- You will only receive any metrics in respect to visits, conversion rates and analytics that the merchant chooses to provide.
So, let’s think about how a sales funnel might work for a blogger who is affiliate marketing.
We lose the bottom end of the funnel as the potential customer will not complete the loop on the Blog website. The potential customer will enter the merchant’s sales process at that point.
How To Get Traffic To Your Website
The life source of any sales funnel is the ability to generate the traffic that feeds it. Here are some ways you can source visitors.
Organic Search Engine Traffic
Organic Search Engine Traffic comes from Google, Bing and other websites used to search the Internet. To be included in the results, then your site needs to be indexed.
The ranking of your website in the results for a search term depends on the search engine algorithm which is determined by many factors. This ranking is improved by Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Paid Traffic is one way of getting visitors. There are various alternatives including:
Pay-per-click search: Google Adwords and Bing Ads are examples. You’ll pay for each click through to your website. In return, your website will be featured prominently in the search results.
Social Media Ads: You can advertise with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and most of the large social media channels. Some of these allow you to target people fitting into a specific demographic of age, sex and interests.
Website Ads: You can pay to have your adverts feature on other peoples websites. This can be done directly or via an advertising network.
Social Media has exploded in recent years and can be an excellent mechanism for driving web traffic.
You can advertise your website, promote offers and provide excerpts of your content.
The following diagram lists the active members on social media channels across the globe (in millions).
Another way of generating traffic is through alliances and cross-promotion with other websites.
You could exchange guest posts, engage with each other’s social media and promote each other’s offerings.
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