Every business needs customers to succeed and consistent sales to grow, whether you sell products or services online, from a retail storefront or both. If you’re struggling to find customers or if you have plenty of leads, but they’re not converting, you may need to try a different tactic. Successful businesses have a strategy that incorporates a system that helps attract new prospects, boost sales, increase brand recognition, and improve customer loyalty.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel follows the journey prospects take on their way to becoming your client. This concept was initially developed in 1898 by Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an ad agency executive. He’s credited with being the first to design advertising and sales processes using scientific methods. The purpose was to optimize the interaction between buyer and seller through each stage of the buying experience.
At the top, or the widest part of the funnel is your audience. Early in the journey, consumers identify the problem they want to solve. Questions at this stage often begin with “Why” or “What” while gathering information. In the middle of the funnel, prospects are researching solutions. They know more about what they want, and they begin asking, “How.” By now, fewer people are asking questions.
The bottom of the funnel is the narrowest part. It’s the stage when consumers understand their problem, have identified the solution, and are looking for the best provider. They may be asking “Who” or “Does” questions. Although you may build brand recognition among thousands of clients, only a small percentage will become customers.
Today, the acronym AIDA stands for the steps marketers take to get brand recognition and encourage sales. It is the best-known classic advertising and PR model among non-marketers.
● Awareness – Attract consumer attention. Proven techniques include using disruptive imagery and statistics, email and direct mail personalization, and placing ads in unexpected locations (guerilla marketing).
● Interest – Grabbing the consumer’s attention is one thing, but keeping it is another challenge entirely. Generate enough interest that prospects want to research your service or product further. Visual or audio elements are often effective at attracting attention.
● Desire – Once the customer is interested in your products or service, it’s time to change their mindset. Effective tactics include using before and after images, suggesting better health or more wealth, or demonstrating the latest tech gadget. When successful, prospects go from liking it to wanting it.
● Action – Motivate the purchase by asking for the sale. Tactics include using a call to action with limited time offers or add a gift with purchase. A “buy now” button or phone number makes the next step clear to the prospect. Without the call to action, consumers may move on without buying.
The Modern Marketing Funnel
Although the AIDA approach is still in use after more than a century, it’s not identical to the original process from the late 1800s or even early 20th century. The widespread use of the internet is a massive factor in the way consumers research, find, and buy products and services. As behavior has changed, so has the buyer’s journey, and adhering to the classic sales funnel doesn’t do your modern business any favors. Today’s framework is less structured than the original. When represented visually, it’s a more circular process than linear.
This is the awareness stage of the new digital marketing funnel, and it includes the most massive addressable qualified audience. There is no commercial intent at this point. The goal is to bring the brand to the attention of consumers who may or may not know about or need the benefits your products or services offer right now.
The consideration stage is where you find the largest qualified audience with some commercial intent. The middle of the funnel is where the research happens. Consumers loop through different mediums at this point in the process. Most enjoy learning about products and services but hate the sales pitch. It’s critical to build authority in your industry, attract consumers to your site and provide quality, SEO-optimized content, from newsletters and email marketing to paid search ads video marketing.
This is the action stage. It’s when consumers convert from prospects to buyers. Successful marketing strategies at this phase include SEO, Email, and PPC. These tactics trigger activity, encouraging a purchase. Using action words like “quote,” “buy,” and “request” encourage consumers to act. If local buyers are your primary audience, using location-specific keywords such as city, state, and zip can help consumers find you easier. Personalized content, webchat, and customized presentations also motivate a purchase.
Today’s marketing funnel doesn’t end here. Retention and referral are two essential factors for customer loyalty and growing your business.
Sales Funnel Strategies
If you have a sales funnel that does not help you convert, it may need a few tweaks to help you begin generating conversions and revenue. An effective system enables you to attract and engage from the very beginning. This is a critical first step. If consumers get stuck here, it prevents them from moving through to the purchase stage.
Increase Brand Recognition
If no one knows who you are, it’s challenging to turn leads into customers. Let consumers know who you are, what you do, and how you do it better than the competition. A strong brand message helps you stay top of mind so that when a person needs products or services that you offer, your company is the first place they look. Promote brand awareness by:
● Publishing LinkedIn articles
● Guest blogging
● Running a podcast
● Creating and sharing infographics
Don’t worry about what the competition is doing. Take steps that serve your target audience the best and reap the rewards.
Rethink Your Target Audience
Do you know who your ideal customer is and what drives them? If you are targeting the wrong audience or don’t know who they are, your sales will likely suffer. Take a step back and reexamine your focus by asking these questions:
● Who needs your product?
● What is their demographic?
● What are their hobbies?
● Where do they live?
● What kind of jobs do they have?
Your target audience may have changed over time. The consumers who bought your product three years ago may not be the same demographic today? Updating your site and redefining your audience can help sales get back on track.
Boost Your Visibility
To be seen, you must be where your audience goes. Social media and display ads help generate awareness because that’s where consumers go to discover and research. Make your business more visible than the competition, and ensure your message is clear. Are you using an offer? Review each outreach channel and confirm that the messaging is consistent.
Social media networks are also a great way to nurture prospects into leads. However, if people are getting stuck at social media and never getting to your website, this could be the problem. Everyone seems to be on at least one social network, but you need to be active. Post quality content, encourage posts, answer questions, and be seen.
Contact Us Today
Whether you are a small business just getting started and need help gaining traction or have a marketing strategy that seems to have stalled, contact V Digital Services for a consultation today. Our marketing experts can help you get started on the right foot and reinvigorate your marketing funnel. As a full services digital marketing agency, we help businesses grow by developing a personalized plan, focused on company-specific business needs.