Whether you have a website or not, if you are looking online to drive potential customers to your product or service, more than likely you will need a sales funnel.
It matters not if your final sale is made online or offline, such as a brick-and-mortar store, to drive traffic to it, from say, your social media account. A funnel can be looked upon as the ‘Client Journey’, taking the potential customer from your initial social media post or targeted ad, to your end goal one step at a time, whilst keeping them engaged along the way.
The sales funnel is usually an aspect of a larger marketing campaign (which could include many different funnels) or it can stand alone, in its own right.
Depending on what the end goal is, this journey can be relatively short of a few hours or it could span several weeks or even months. Even very basic sales funnels consist of several moving parts, each interacting with the potential customer in different ways, and with each element also communicating data with the other parts.
A good well thought and constructed sales funnel can take quite a bit of effort to put together initially. However, once completed it should be automated, requiring very little input from you and once it is tweaked and you know it is working well, it should be a set-and-forget item. The only real continual work is simply driving users to it.
Usually, a marketing funnel consists of the following elements.
- The lead magnet
- Landing page
- Thank you page
- Email CRM
- Email automation – consisting of:
- Email autoresponder
- Email nurture sequence
- Sales page
- 2nd Thank you page
- End goal
There could be other variables in this, depending on what your niche and end goal is. For example, if you are selling programs or online courses, the creation of user ‘waitlists’ is often utilised. It is also common for a marketing funnel to be served via a targeted social media ad, in which case an ad account would need to be set up and managed.
We shall explain the fundamental elements here.
The lead magnet is what you are using to entice your potential customers into your sales funnel. This could be anything and you can have as many as you would like. It is usually a good idea to test several different ones to see what your potential customers or avatar are responding to. Some lead magnets work better for some platforms, niches and avatars than others. A successful lead magnet for business-A may not work at all for business-B, so experimentation may be required.
The offer of the lead magnet is often attached to a social media post or ad that has been specifically written to your avatar which gains their attention. The headline chosen here is of particular importance. The magnet ideally needs to be something of value to the user, maybe addressing a pain point, some information or a giveaway.
Common lead magnets are:
- Free PDF
- Free eBook
- Daily (tarot, inspiration etc) card Free webinar
- Free online course
For the user to take advantage of this giveaway they are sent to the next part of the sales funnel when they click the link of the ad – the landing page. This is usually a small page detailing the giveaway further with an email box which the user completes to receive the download or offering.
The landing page can be a page created from your own website if that is possible or from a specific platform. Wherever it is hosted, for a landing page to work the most efficiently, it is created for the user to take just one action – to enter their email address. This goes into a specific email platform known as an email CRM where you can send automatic emails appropriate to them and their actions.
The navigation bar found at the top of the page of most websites which hold the page tabs is removed, as is the footer. There should be no other links, buttons or distractions on the page at all. The user only has one option available to them and the copy is written to guide the user to take this action – enter their email address.
There must be careful consideration taken when designing a landing page. It is common for most users to click away if the information that you are presenting is not immediately available, so scrolling should be kept to a minimum.
Once submitted, an email should be immediately sent from your email CRM detailing the download which they had signed up for.
The user, now called a ‘Lead’ is now on your mailing list, and they were attracted there by a magnet – the Lead Magnet 🙂
Now you have their email address, you can send a series of follow-up emails – how did you enjoy the webinar? Have you any questions regarding your quiz results? These emails are what is termed a nurture sequence.
The email CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) is your software which stores the lead’s details once they have ‘opted in’ and subscribed to your funnel.
There are some very tight laws regarding the privacy of the data that you collect and your CRM will assist in keeping you compliant.
The main role of the CRM is to automate the email side of your funnel. The sending out of the welcome email immediately after a lead subscribes is achieved using the CRM. The power of a good CRM however, is twofold:
- It keeps all of your users logically categorised through the use of separate ‘lists’ and ‘tags’. A list (or mailing list) groups together the leads that have subscribed to particular offerings, hence keeping them separated so everyone receives the correct emails. Tags are like sticky notes you can add and remove to leads depending on what actions they have taken within your funnel or business; with tags you can send pinpointed emails.
- Create automations. When a user enters your funnel, you can create a series of different actions and wait times specifically for your messaging. For example; A lead subscribes and receives a welcome email immediately. The CRM will know if the lead has opened the email and even if they have clicked on a link that it may contain. If so, your automation can send a second, follow up email depending on what action the Lead has (or has not) taken, and so on. If they have opened it but haven’t clicked on the link that it contains, you can set a wait time, of say 24 hours, before a 2nd email is sent. If they have clicked on the link, then they receive a different mail (yes, the CRM knows who has opened which email and which links were clicked within it).
A nurture sequence is a series of automated emails now being sent to your lead from your automation as described above. They can be of any number and their purpose is to ‘massage’ the lead into taking further action. It is through the nurture sequence that you can introduce your main product or another step for them to take. This is all dependent on what your end goal is, your niche, avatar and price point.
For example, if you are selling an online course, you could either offer this directly, maybe with a discount or add them to a waitlist, or you could offer a much smaller course for a very reasonable price as a ‘taster’.
Whatever you are introducing, it is common to now send the lead to what is referred to as a sales page.
Like the landing page, the sales page also has no distractions and the navigation and footer of the host website are removed. The sales page is also written to make the lead take just one action – buy the product, join a waitlist or something else.
The main difference between the landing page and the sales page is the sales page explains the product fully. It is written specifically so your avatar will respond to it. It will often detail their pain points, the solution you are offering, the advantages of signing up, some past client testimonials and the offer itself. It is usually good to offer some incentive to the lead, maybe a countdown timer or some discount for immediate action.
If, per the suggestion above, you offer the lead a smaller, more affordable online course as a step before the main course, then once signed, the lead goes into a second nurture sequence on the CRM (via the use of tags) and the process is repeated.
Diagram of an example sales funnel from a social media ad to sell an online course via a quiz as a lead magnet
How do you know your campaign is working?
Now you have built the various components that make up your sales funnel, how do you know it is actually working? And if you are not getting the results that you anticipate, where is it going wrong?
In our experience with working with clients who have previously attempted to create a sales funnel, we have found that many believe that simply having a landing page, some emails and a sales page is enough. In the purest form, it is, however, if any aspect of these is not performing to its full potential, that will affect the whole campaign. This can be viewed as a chain, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
- Is your ad attracting your avatar?
- Is the headline strong?
- Is the ad copy communicating what it should?
- Is the imagery and/or colours correct?
- Is the lead magnet enticing enough?
- Are users clicking to your landing page and then clicking away?
- Are the emails saying the correct things?
- Are the emails even being opened?
- If they are being opened but the leads are not clicking the links – why not?
- Are users visiting the sales page but not taking action?
- Is the copy speaking to the lead?
- Are the colours good?
These are just some of the questions we could ask if a sales funnel is not performing as expected, and this is actually perfectly normal to begin with.
Luckily there are ways to see what aspect of the funnel is the weakest link by studying the analytics and metrics coming from each platform and we have included a spreadsheet at the end of this guide to assist with this. Your social media analytics or ad manager will tell you how many had viewed versus clicked your ad. If this number has a wide gap then we can tell that the ad needs some work to make it more enticing. This is similar for the landing and sales pages, we will also know how many people have opened the emails sent, and how many have clicked through and soon a picture forms where in the funnel may be the sticking point. It’s then just a matter of some tweaking until users begin to flow freely.
The importance of split testing
Split testing, also known as A/B testing is a neat trick to really hone in on the best aspects of the various components of the funnel.
Split testing is creating two (or more) similar ads, landing/sales pages, emails etc with slight or major differences. Perhaps using two different headlines, colours, images or complete designs. These different ads are served randomly to the user and over time we can see that one version will be outperforming the other. Therefore, we can then concentrate on that version in the future and split test further until we arrive at a high-performing, well-responded ad or page.
We have seen this first hand with our clients. We once investigated why a sales page wasn’t performing so we simply changed the colour of the buttons and suddenly the page took off. Just one small detail was enough for users to either click away or click through.
Bonus ad tracking spreadsheet
We have included a free sales funnel tracking spreadsheet which can be found by entering your email below – yes, this is a sales funnel in real time 🙂
By using the spreadsheet you will be able to see at a glance which areas of your funnel may not be working so well and need your attention.
That is the basics of creating a sales funnel. We will go into more depth in the future regarding the varying different aspects, such as creating a well-performing landing and sales pages.