Every marketer understands the traditional sales funnel. Move the herds into the opening (awareness), give them opportunities that might be of value to them, make proposals that sweeten the pot, and then get those conversions in the form of sales.
Additions to the sales funnel in recent years have included securing customer loyalty and then finding ways to motivate those customers to become brand ambassadors for you.
This is a good general picture of a sales funnel, but there is a lot of detail missing. That detail is what gets leads into that “consideration” process and how those leads can be nurtured in personalized and individual ways. When that is accomplished, more move into the conversion level.
It’s All About Nurturing
Here an interesting, and disturbing fact. 73% of the leads you get into the top of your funnel are not actually ready to buy. But, if marketers take the time to nurture those “not-ready-to-buy” leads personally, 15-20% of them become paying customers. So, this conversion funnel becomes a lot more complex, especially in the “consideration” phase when opportunities and proposals are provided.
Re-Visiting the Sales Funnel with More Detail
Neil Patel, in a recent article posed a far more intricate and “open-ended” conversion funnel. According to him, most marketers are focused on moving leads through a funnel until that sale is achieved. And then, of course, there is the need to keep in touch, so that those sales will become repeats. But there are other “loops” which will not only keep those customers but generate more customers too. Here is his idea of an effective sales funnel.
So, the art of effective funneling is to keep the loops going by nurturing and relating in as many ways possible, so that leads and customers see value and feel cared about.
Looking at the steps to effective funneling should reveal what you are doing well and what you can do better.
- Attracting Leads into the Top
There is one thought that says just get as many as you can, and some will stick. This causes marketers to sometimes exaggerate claims and value. It also causes a full funnel with lots of dead leads. Instead, have an honest conversation with yourself, take a look at the needs of your true targets, and ask yourself:
- What is my competition doing and can I do it better?
- Are there needs that are not being met that I can meet?
This is precisely what the founders of Dollar Shave Club asked a few years ago. Their competition, every razor blade retailer in the nation, was selling razors and touting how theirs were the best. Rather than focus on that, these guys focused on convenience for buyers of blades – a subscription club which would deliver those blades to customers’ homes once a month – and an unmet need was thus met. The response was really overwhelming (the explainer video on the home page went viral, and people took action).
- Fixing the “Dropout” Rate
During a typical sales funnel process, leads will drop out. Finding out why will be important, and a lot of this information comes from big data. Marketers can know exactly where the bounces occur, and then ask the questions that will fix those “leaks.”
- Perhaps there was no intermediary conversion, such as giving something of a value for a subscription or registration. Given the great online registration software these days, it’s easy to automate this process. It’s a question of letting the data tell you which offers work well and which do not, even for segments of potential customers, and then automating those value propositions.
- Perhaps the value of your product/service has not been effectively demonstrated. To discover this, you have to ask some additional questions. (more on this later.)
- Maybe you are asking for too many mini-conversions and confusing or turning off your leads. Remember, the early stages of the funnel are not about selling – they are about showing value and developing relationships.
- Perhaps you did not “nurture” individuals as individuals. Given the technology and tools today, especially geolocators to track whereabouts and offer specials, and automated personalized emails based on what the visitor has looked at, there is no reason for any person in a sales funnel to feel like just another member of the herd. Email generator tools like HubSpot and InfusionSoft do an amazing job.
Your job is to meet that visitor, greet that visitor personally, offer that visitor value, and then encourage that visitor to take action because they feel valuable and they get a need met. If you can do this, you will gain a customer. If you continue to nurture, as shown in the sales funnel above, you will keep customers coming back and ensure that new ones keep coming.
- Staying in Touch
Once you have a paying customer, you know the drill. There are specials, upsells, great customer service, and a host of other ways to keep your brand in their minds and to make them feel valued. The cost of keeping a current customer is far less than getting a new one.
- The Right Content
There is no plural for the word “content,” but you must think in plural terms. Your target audience is in segments; your target audience individuals are at all different places in your sales funnel. This means they have different needs.
When you create content, make sure that you honor where everyone is and the needs they have at the moment. You will have very different content for those just entering your funnel, for those that are entering the conversion phase, and for those that have already purchased but who you want to stick around for more. And for those newbies? How about some user-generated content that speaks to their experiences with your product or service?
- Speaking of User-Generated Content – How About Referrals
If you will note from the horizontal sales funnels above, the large opening on the right funnel has the word “Referrals” on it. A referral program with valuable rewards attached is one of the best ways to get new customers. When they get a referral from someone else, even a stranger, it is far more valuable than any content you might generate, short of giving away free stuff.
- Continue to Collect Data
Whether you are analyzing the worth of your website pages or the methods by which you nurture your leads and keep customers, you can never have enough data, if you take the time to study it. It should drive all of the marketing decisions you make, because its objective and scientific.
You have two overriding goals and both are all about the customer, not you. One, you must give each lead and customer an amazing personalized experience, no matter where they are in thee funnel and you must prove the value of your product/service in meeting their needs. All else will fall into place.