Optimising a Sales Funnel10 minute read

Sales funnels are a powerful method of creating awareness of your product or service, to capture new contacts and more importantly, to make sales. To have a focused, targeted and well performing sales funnel is one of the best marketing tools in this social media dependant world.

However, we have come across many people over the years who have sales funnels which are not performing and they either give up, continue to throw money into ad spend hoping it will suddenly take off or ask themselves why?

Many of these people have come from online marketeers, the ones who will ‘teach’ you the processes to creating a successful online business and, of course, creating a sales funnel is a major part of this.

Unfortunately, what most (nearly all in our experience) fail to mention, is the amount of work involved to actually get a funnel performing well, that it needs consistent adjustment and tweaking while in its initial stages. Sadly this information is often missed out by the marketeers in favour of what happens after a funnel has be optimised. My opinion is that their own sales is more important than actually giving relevant information and therefore they are selling a fantasy to unsuspecting clients.

We have heard it ourselves from clients many many times who has come to us over the years frustrated and disillusioned. They all repeat the same story that they have heard and subsequently bought into – “Simply create a landing page and send users there from a social media ad so they can sign up / join your list / buy your product etc

In one sense they are not wrong. In essence all you do need is an ad going to a landing page to capture the users details, however, in reality it is a bit more complicated than this.

When we create a funnel to begin with, everything is a ‘best-guess’. We are either making an educated guess through experience of the audience or imagining what they are most likely to respond to. This is a starting point only.

Many of our clients had achieved putting together a funnel themselves and this is what they believed is all they had to do, when in reality this is where the work begins.

Once the funnel is up and running and designed / written in a way that you would imagine your audience would respond to, it is time for optimising it.

If you are lucky, you could hit the target with every element on the first attempt and more power to you. However, for the rest of us, we need to tweak the different steps and the elements that they contain to draw people through.

The Pipe

Image we have a pipe with a series of 90º bends and also imagine we are pouring sand into the pipe.

Initially, there are so many bends in the pipe that the sand can’t travel through it at all.

Your funnel is the pipe and each of these bends are the different elements within your funnel.

The funnel is blocked and it is our job to make the pipe nice and straight for the sand to travel (the users) through freely – this is what we are optimising.

When users complete a funnel consistently then we know that all elements are working as they should. But if they are not, then the question is why?

A funnel is like a chain, and where a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a funnel is only as successful as each step along the way.

A sales funnel, being a linear process means that a user must successfully relate to each individual step before they move onto the next.

Each step then has its own individual elements and each element must attract and resonate with the target user for them to interact with that step before they go onto the next – a user must respond to the ad before they reach the landing page. They must them respond to the landing page to enter their email (or whatever) to move into your email CRM and so on.

  • Social media ad advertising some offer or giveaway (a lead magnet)
  • Landing page with a call to action
  • Email CRM automation
  • Sales page
  • Purchase

It is important to realise here that from the clients point of view, they don’t know they are within a funnel. They are simply reacting to whatever information (step) you are putting in front of them, and if they do not resonate, they will simply stop.

These are the typical individual elements for each step that must come together holistically for that step to resonate with the user:

  • Social media ad
    • Ad targeting – is it aimed at the correct avatar or audience?
    • Giveaway – is the lead magnet something that audience actually wants?
    • Ad image – does it attract the audience at first glance (milliseconds)
    • Headline – does this sum everything up in one concise sentence
    • Copy – is your messaging correct? Does the audience resonate with it? Is it addressing a problem or pain point or highlight a different way of thinking or offer some solution?
  • Landing page
    • Page load speed – its is quick to open or does the audience have to wait around?
    • Headline – does it match or is relevant to the ad? Does it make the audience intrigued to look further?
    • Layout – is the relevant information above the fold or does the audience have to scroll to find what they have come to see?
    • Copy – does it draw your audience in? Is it written relevant to them?
    • Images – does these portray what the messaging of the ad and copy are about?
    • Colours – are the colours likely to be responsive to your audience?
    • Email automation
      • Timing – are they receiving the first email quickly
      • Copy – does it give the correct information to make them intrigued?
      • Amount – are you sending too many emails which could appear like spam or not enough where you are quickly forgotten
      • Timing – are subsequent emails sent in a timely fashion? Too quickly and you could be falling in spam territory again and too long, easy forgotten once more.
    • Sales page
      • Page load speed – its is quick to open or does the audience have to wait around?
      • Headline – does it match or is relevant to the ad? Does it make the audience intrigued to look further?
      • Layout – is the relevant information above the fold or does the audience have to scroll to find what they have come to see?
      • Copy – does it draw your audience in? Is it written relevant to them? Does it address a pain point of of user or solve a problem?
      • Images – are they relevant and bring the page together
      • Colours – are the colours likely to be responsive to your audience?

    If your audience doest resonate with some/any/all elements of each step, then the likelihood is that they will drop off and not continue. We have just a second or two to grab the user with each step. A second to stop them scrolling their feed on social media to view the ad and a couple seconds to grab them once they arrive at the landing page.

    If you are advertising to a niche with lots of competition, then it is even more important to have every element performing at its optimum level.

    Testing – the real work

    To successfully test the problem areas of a funnel can take some time and more importantly traffic – if there are not enough people viewing your ad to begin with then all other steps becomes moot.

    As we have already discussed, a funnel is a linear process so the first thing we have to check is where in the funnel is its sticking point by looking at the data from the various platforms and starting at the beginning.

    If users are not going to the landing page then the ad is the issue. Is the targeting ok? Are the correct people seeing the ad or is it being shown to those who deem it irrelevant? If the ad is receiving views, how many are clicking? What is the percentage? If you have high views and low clicks then something is wrong. Maybe it is the targeting, or it could be that the image isn’t right, or the headline is not grabbing them. If this is the case then maybe split-testing is a good idea. Run a second ad, keep everything the same but change one element, maybe use a different image, or headline or show the ad to a different audience.

    This process is continued through every step of the funnel; if you are not receiving many people signing up but they are arriving at your landing page, then that will need investigation also, and so on.

    As you can see, testing a sales funnel can be quite involved and time consuming, and we have to keep in mind that we still need to keep traffic running to it, the more the better, which means ad spend.

    We have split-tested pages and sometimes it is the most unlikely things that can gain results. We once had a client who’s sales page wasn’t performing and all we changed was the colour of her sign-up button from green (in keeping with her website) to a bright orange and her page suddenly took off. That one single change made all the difference.

    Once this work is completed however, a sales funnel can be a source of generating many many leads and sales.

    Final Notes

    • Design everything and write copy for your audience and not yourself. If your audience is responding to everything it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the design yourself. Like the example given above, our client designed her page ‘in keeping’ with her website, but in this instance this was her downfall.
    • Don’t have any distractions on your landing and sales pages. These pages are designed for the user to take just one action. There should be nothing else that the user can do other than take the action your are aiming for. Make sure that the website navigation is removed (if the page is created on an existing website), that there are no buttons or links going to other places.
    • If you see that particular contacts are not opening your emails on a consistent bases, think about removing them from your list, or flagging them at the very least.
    • Email automations. An important note to take into consideration.
      When you send out emails from an email CRM (Mailchimp, Active Campaign et al), the open rate can affect future emails being received. If a high percentage of your contacts are not opening your emails on a consistent bases, over a period of time it becomes more likely that your domain name – the name you are using to send your emails from, can be flagged as a spam sender by the different spam filters around the internet. This stands to reason. If you have a list of poor quality leads and nobody is really interested and ignore your emails, it can appear that your domain is sending emails that doesn’t interest anyone – spam.
      Therefore, it is important on the quality of leads that you are attracting rather than simply the quantity.

    At Digital Startup Solutions we offer a Sales Funnel Optimisation service where we look at your sales funnel holistically and find and tweak the areas that are not performing as well as expected. Please contact us here if you would like some more information.

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