The sales funnel is a necessary part of any business venture – online or off. You have to know the path you’re going to take customers on from start to finish, so you can build the steps and process to get them there; and so you can know where any customer or lead is at any given point. What makes the process difficult for many is that even though the stages are typically the same, the funnel that works for one business, doesn’t necessarily work for another – even in the same niche.
So, if the idea of designing your sales funnel is overwhelming you, or if you feel like your current funnel just isn’t working the way it should, try this simple approach: build from the bottom up. Of course you’re not going to have customers at the bottom of the funnel before you even have a funnel to put them in, but you at least know what the end goal is, and you can work backward until you get to the top where you’re bringing them in.
Step One: What’s Your End Goal?
What are you hoping to achieve with your marketing? The obvious answer is to sell things or to make money, but to build your funnel effectively, you must get specific. If your target is too broad, it becomes harder to hit – no matter what conventional wisdom and physics may tell you.
Your funnel goal will look different from mine, because it depends on how you operate your business.
You may run a service-based business that depends on drawing in long term clients who will use your most profitable services more often – such as a cleaning business. You want those return weekly contracts, because they make more money in the end compared to a one-off deep-clean or move-out clean.
Or you may run an ecommerce establishment where you sell a variety of products, so it’s harder to find the focus for your first funnel – especially when your business covers a lot of territory. But, if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking about how if you could sell more of these you’d be set, then you know which product(s) you need to market more effectively – and that can be the start of your funnel.
You’re never limited to a single funnel – it’s ideal to have one for each campaign, instead of one “general” funnel you use for everything. It’s also possible to have a separate funnel for social media, even though you’ll use it across various parts of your sales funnel, but that’s another blog post for another. When I get around to writing that one, I’ll come back here and link it up so you can give it a read.
All right, so at this point, let’s say you have your funnel’s goal decided. Now to make it something you can measure. How many new clients do you need to land? How many big-ticket items must you sell every month to either make a profit, or achieve your desired growth rate?
Write it down. Hold onto it, because it’ll help you make decisions as you build the rest of your funnel, and help you keep track of your success.
Step Two: What’s the Last Thing Leads See Before Converting?
Take a step back and think about what it is leads see before they become a customer? Clearly, in the case of the ecommerce business, the last stage is the checkout page. But, what if you’re running that cleaning service? Isn’t the sale made after the consultation where you give the quote? In this case, that consultation is the final step.
In any funnel, the answer is: leads see something that makes them want to buy. Here’s where your funnel can either remain fairly simple, or it can get complex, so spend time thinking about what they see, and what they need to see to motivate them to become a customer. In the case of booking that consultation – you’ll need to give them a lot of stuff that convinces them you’re the one to do business with… and that’s where we back up to the middle of the funnel.
Step Three: The Middle
Let’s continue with the cleaning business example. Your goal is to book more regular clients, right? So what do prospects need to see?
- Testimonials from previous customers – to show you do your job well, and to instill confidence in your leads you can do the same for them.
- Proof of professional association memberships – to show credibility and experience… to ultimately build trust. Your business isn’t just a one-person show with cleaning supplies and a car.
- Information about the services you offer – don’t make them waste time calling you to find out more if you can’t do what they’re looking for.
- Any press coverage/awards your business has received –to provide more credibility
- Information on any cleaning products you use – A lot of people are looking for “green” cleaning solutions that won’t harm children, pets, or those with allergies or asthma.
- Before and After Photos – always get these with consent of the client, of course, but they can be a great accompaniment to testimonials.
And for good measure, let’s say your goal is to sell your eBook. If you already have a big following, that could be as simple as sending the link to your webpage about your book to the people on your email list. They’ll click the link, check out the webpage, and buy the book.
But if you’re still working on building that following, you’re going to need to give them a bit more to show them what you’re offering, why you’re offering it, and most importantly, why they need it.
One of the best ways to do this is to offer them a chapter of your eBook for free – showing them exactly what you have to offer, and giving them a taste of what they can expect to get from your book. If they like what they read, they’ll be more inclined to buy the full book from you.
So, instead of focusing solely on the product page for your eBook, create a landing page that lets people join your email list in exchange for a free chapter. But, you can go further back, to give them a bit more engagement, and write a blog post about your book (or several, if you’d like.) Write a post about the book release, and write another about the process that went into writing the book, or the reasons that motivated you to write it. Then link the posts to your landing page where people can get the free chapter.
Now of course these aren’t your only options for engaging people. You’ll want to have an email, or a series of emails you can send to someone after they opt in to let them know how to buy the full book. The number and frequency of emails will vary depending on the amount of engagement your audience will need.
As you step back further and further from that end goal, your audience gets broader, because we all know nothing you do will have a 100% success rate. Even though that audience gets bigger, it’s that focus on the action you want them to take that keeps everything narrow and targeted.
Step Four: The Top of the Funnel
That brings us to the top of the funnel – attracting prospects to your business in the first place, so you’ll have people to bring into the funnel and move through it. Here’s where you’ll answer the big questions:
- Who are the people reading your blog posts?
- Who are the people looking at your landing pages and requesting consultations or free quotes for your home cleaning services?
- Who are the people who are going all the way through the process and actually buying your eBook or the tangible products you sell?
These are the people coming from your traffic sources:
- Organic search results
- Paid search campaigns
- Social media (organic or paid)
- Press attention
- Business cards
- Networking events
- And so on…
You pick and choose which traffic sources you want to master, because there’s always room to learn more and fine-tune your approach. The most important thing isn’t where the traffic comes from, but where the traffic ends up, which why we start at the bottom and build up, rather than top-down.
Finishing Up: Filling in the Details
Once you’ve nailed your end goal and all other major parts of your funnel, comes the task of filling in the details. Factor in all your traffic sources, email drip campaigns, and any other elements that are necessary to get people from one stage of the funnel to the next, from start to finish, logically and efficiently.
Does your sales funnel seem as complex when you look at it from the bottom up? Give me your answer in the comments below.