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How to create an effective digital sales funnel ?

The sales funnel is one of the central elements of the digital marketing strategy. You need to identify the different stages of a visitor interested about your products or services.

If you want to find out how to define a sales tunnel in your strategy, this guide which is part of the digital marketing resources will give you a clearer idea of the different phases to take into account. 

You will be able to define exactly which part of the funnel your visitors follow and how to optimize it to increase your sales.

What is a sales funnel in digital marketing?

The sales funnel can be defined as the path taken by a visitor to your site. This means that it shows the different stages (customer journey) of a person interested in your brand or one of your products until they become a customer.

Depending on your activity, you can set up several sales funnels for the services you offer or the products you sell. 

You can find various examples of funnel designs on the internet. However, it is important that the funnel relay your objectives.

If your strategy is to collect (contacts) leads, the funnel will be different from a template used for an online shop.

Citation Steve Jobs about sales funnel

The importance of the sales funnel in your digital marketing strategy

Contrary to what most people think, in most cases the homepage of a website is not the main entrance.

Visitors who browse the internet and search for information on Google may, at some point, come to your site. 

However, the page of your site they are looking at is not necessarily a page that promotes your products or services.

It could simply be a contact page, a blog post, or even content that you don’t want to show to your visitors (return policy, terms of use of your site, FAQ, etc.).

Setting up a sales funnel allows you to segment the different types of visitors and to better manage your sales process:

4 different types of visitors of a website
  • Prospect who has never heard of your brand, services or products
  • Visitor who has already visited your site or used your services
  • Customer who has already purchased a product or service from you

You can then group and optimize your digital marketing activities and content according to the type of visitor you want to reach.

Here are two unoptimised examples:

  • Advertising your brand to targeted people who have already bought your product is counterproductive.
  • Similarly, offering a service or product directly to people who have never heard of your brand will not be very effective.

The advantage of a sales funnel is that you can offer the right content for each type of visitor and at each buying stage.

What are the different stages of the sales funnel?

There are many models of sales funnels, but the main steps are often the same. 

To simplify, here is the most common model used, which consists of four phases:

Different phases of a sales funnel
  • Phase 1: Discovery – the prospect comes into contact with your brand for the first time trough search engines, for example. “He is discovering you”
  • Phase 2: Consideration – the visitor becomes a user and learns about your products or services. “He considers his future purchase”
  • Phase 3: Conversion – the visitor turns into a customer, because he is convinced that what you offer will meet his needs. “He has converted by making a purchase”
  • Phase 4: Loyalty – the customer is satisfied with your services and recommends your brand to others. They may also buy your products/services again. “He becomes loyal to your brand”.

Implementing relevant content and advertising strategies adapted to the different phases is fundamental. 

1 – The Awareness phase

The top of the funnel is often the most expensive phase in terms of budget and is often misunderstood.

Representation of a Sales funnel with the first phase "Discover"

When you invest in building awareness of your product or service, you are primarily trying to reach people who have never heard of your brand. As a result, these prospects will need more time to think about it before they decide to buy.

A parallel can be drawn here with a person going into a shop for a project. It is very rare that he is buying every product he was looking at.

Nevertheless, investing in this discovery phase is essential in your digital strategy.

Simply addressing your ads to people who have already heard of your brand is not a good long-term strategy.

If only 5% of your target audience know your product, you are simply ignoring 95% of your market potential. 

Of course, targeting the 95% requires a large budget, and it is not guaranteed that all 95% will be interested in your product or services. 

Before starting your campaign, you must establish the strategy for the discovery phase. 

You will need to define a certain percentage of your budget that will simply be used to fill the top of your sales funnel with new prospects who might be interested in your brand. Again, this doesn’t mean that these users will buy one of your products on first sight. 

You will therefore need to use a remarketing strategy, also known as the consideration phase.

2 – The Consideration phase

Once you have caught a prospect’s attention, and they have visited your site or landing page, you lead them to the middle of the funnel and can implement a remarketing strategy.

Representation of a Sales funnel, with the second phase "Consideration"

There are a number of tracking tools (often free) that allow you to identify the different type of visitors on your site.

Google Analytics is for example a very good tool to determine if the visitor is new to your site or if it is a user who has already visited it several times.

Once you have identified the phase your visitor is in (new visitor or known visitor), you can activate certain promotional levers to retarget these potential customers.

For example, when you are in the Awareness phase, most of the communication formats will be around the discovery of your brand or product.

“Discover the brand with this new product”.

After you identified your prospects, you can then communicate about the features and benefits of your specified product.

“Discover the features of my product”

Again, communicating the right message to the right type of visitor is key. Simply to increase your conversion rate and for the success of your digital marketing strategy. It is therefore imperative that you develop multiple communication formats for each phase.

You can consult the article on the different remarketing strategies for the consideration phase.

Once you convinced a qualified prospect about the benefits of your product, he or she moves on to the final stage (conversion phase). This is where you turn a prospect into a customer.

3 – The conversion phase (Purshase)

This is the crucial phase of a sales tunnel. The prospect is ready to buy. After accompanying him through the various stages, you have to find “the right words” to encourage him to become one of your customers.

Representation of a Sales funnel, with the third phase "Conversion"

Most companies that start in online marketing focus exclusively on this phase. In the short term, the results can be quite good, as many of the visitors to your site have already decided to buy your product.

However, in the medium to long term, focusing only on this phase is a bad idea.

Acquiring new leads on a regular basis is imperative to fill your sales tunnel.

The conversion phase is first and foremost the confirmation that a prospect has a strong interest in your product or service. 

A prospect is someone who is looking for a solution to his problem. 

Once you have presented your services or products as a solution. All he has to do (if he is convinced) is to buy and become one of your customers.

In terms of message, people at the bottom of the funnel often no longer need relative arguments, but rather a call to action to simplicity the transaction.

Therefore, the communication around the conversion phase will be very much about price, in some cases offers or also about a particular product.

You have a lot of information at your disposal at this stage. Very often misinterpreted, the digital marketing strategy is primarily based on a prospect’s interactions with your site or across the internet

Personal data such as name, surname or even address have little importance at this stage. 

However, browsing data and especially conversions play a central role. This is why it is very important to use a tracking system on your website. 

It provides you with precise information such as the last page your visitor visited or if the visitor has already purchased a product on your site.

You can then send a new message to this visitor, like the price of the product he last consulted, or simply not contact him, because he is already a customer.

Once the transaction is completed, the prospect becomes a customer and enters the retention phase. 

4 – the retention phase

Too often ignored, the retention phase is a major asset in digital marketing strategy.

Representation of a Sales funnel, with the fourth phase "Retention"

It is not uncommon to see companies that are content to generate sales and leads without really caring about the customers they acquire. 

For customers having problems or questions about your product, you are setting up a customer service department.

It may seem that retention is not as profitable as sales, but you should not forget that the most expensive part is acquiring new customers.

Once you have a certain audience, it will be much easier to sell new versions of your products or simply other elements of your range to people who have become your customers. 

Don’t forget that a satisfied customer will for sure give positive feedback to their friends and family and on social networks. This is a powerful form of communication that can be very similar to advertising.

There are many customer relation management tools (CRM) that allow you to perpetuate this new relationship, particularly through marketing automation. On the one hand, you can generate income with little investment, because you no longer need to convince satisfied customers. On the other hand, this activity allows you to better understand their expectations and to define the target audience that best suits your products or services.

To conclude

A conversion funnel represents the different phases of a visitor going from prospect to ideal customer. Once you have identified which phase of the funnel they are in.

Using a web analytics tool is essential in the digital marketing strategy. Simply to identify the right digital channels (social media, search engine, etc…). Thanks to the various data recorded in the tool, you will be able to communicate optimally with your visitors. 

Regarding the different types of communication according to the phase of the sales funnel stages:

  • Discovery phase: communication about your brand to increase brand awareness
  • Consideration phase: communication about the features of your product
  • Conversion phase: communication on prices and special offers 
  • Retention phase: main communication around additional products or new releases

Of course, you can break down some phases of the funnel and add more steps until you reach conversion. 

Nevertheless, this article aims to make you aware of the importance of defining a sales funnel in your strategy.

Digital marketing is all about Return on Investment (ROI). Setting up a sales funnel is a very good technique to perfectly measure the budget invested in the different phases and the revenue generated.

If you would like to discuss your digital strategy and sales tunnel in more detail, please contact me! I will be happy to give you my point of view on your current strategy.

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