How to increase your online sales with a marketing sales funnel strategy

sales funnel

The marketing sales funnel marketers and companies/brands used for their online marketing strategy has been modified and tweaked numerous times since the concept was first introduced by E. ST. Elmo Lewis in 1898. But, when you consider how much consumer habits and technology have evolved over the past 100+ years, it is in no doubt to say the marketing sales funnel really hasn’t changed that much.

This shows how robust Elmo Lewis original concept of marketing sales funnel was and how it is still been used in today’s marketing strategy.

The 5 basic principles of every marketing sales funnel are essentially the same. They have been so for many years ago but the tools and strategies that companies/brands used to effectively utilize them are different.

In my today’s blog post, let’s look at what the marketing sales funnel means for companies/brand today and how they leverage on it to increase their online sales.

How Online Marketing Really Works.

The earliest version of a marketing sales funnel ever founded in the world is the one from Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith in 1904. Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith is the then editor of the salesmanship magazine. He died on February 23, 1935.

He is the one that introduced the concept of four stages of a successful marketing sales funnel that lead to a successful sale; the four stages are; Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

A sales and marketing executive in the pharmaceutical industry published a book called “Pharmaceutical selling, detailing and sales training”. The book was published more than 40years back after AIDA marketing sales funnel was discovered. Inside this book, the writer used the AIDA illustration in a way it has never been used before.

This is the first time in the marketing world the concept of stages in a customer journey is illustrated in detail as a marketing sales funnel and the four stages of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) are being used.

Let’s go deeper into how a marketing sales funnel really works;

The sales funnel gives in detail all the key stages a consumer will have to go through before deciding to buy from you. Nobody wakes up one morning and decides to make anyhow purchase for no reason; likewise, a lot of people don’t usually wait until they will be in need of something before they could buy it. The reality most times is that humans buy a lot of stuff that is not useful to them at the present moment.

And the key reason why people buy what they don’t need is that top companies and brands understand effectively the consumer journey. Not only that, these companies/brands know how to instigate this journey and guide customers through it.

The work of AIDA Marketing Sales Funnel.

Based on AIDA principle, a basic sales funnel will look like the one below;

aida sales funnel
  • Awareness: People don’t buy something they don’t know exists.
  • Interest: Once your potential customers know about what you or your company’s product offering is, you will then need to turn this awareness into interest.
  • Desire: With the Customer’s interest, the next stage you should look at is an emotional connection to establish the desire for people to make the purchase from you.
  • Action: Finally, you will show consumers how to turn their desire into a reality by  taking the proper call-to-action (e.g Click here, buy now, Make a purchase e.t.c)

This basic marketing sales funnel that is been used by most marketers offers a simplistic view of the consumer journey and the stages they will have to go through before making a purchase. This basic template can be used for your marketing strategy.

An example of this is when you create a brand/product awareness campaign to build an audience, you will target this audience with ads to generate their interest and deliver content that will help you build emotional desire before requesting them to take the desired action.

 The marketing strategy that takes consumers from the top of the marketing sales funnel to the last stage making them pass through the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action) is a great marketing strategy

Although this isn’t the only way the marketing sales funnel can be used. A marketing sales funnel has also been used countless times to generate leads at every stage of your company/brand-consumer journey and bring them on board with your company/brand including the customers who are ready to make purchases instantly.

What A Marketing Sales Funnel Looks Like.

There are many variations of the marketing sales funnel than ever in the year 2020. It doesn’t really matter that much the version of the marketing sales funnel you prefer to use for your company as a customer journey template, this is simply because the principles are or less the same thing it has been for years.

It is your understanding of these principles that really matter and what I have experienced is that simplicity helps when making decisions like this. I will like you to take a deep look at the visualization below.

The visualization is by Liz Willits.

sales funnel by Liz Willits

Unlike AIDA sales Funnel, this sales funnel approach considers customers after their initial purchase. This is really important in the growth of your brand or company because you want your existing customers to still come back to buy from you, turning them into loyal customers and you will likely also want them to help you attract new customers interested in what your company offers.

These sales funnel that has five steps can help you achieve this.

These steps can be called with different names but, every successful online sale requires that customers are likely to go through the first three stages. Looking at the two stages of the marketing sales funnel, you will likely want every possible customer who makes a purchase to reach these stages of the buying cycle.

  • Awareness: This is the first stage of a customer journey, the stage a customer-first discover your company/ brand and its product, offer e.t.c
  • Consideration: At this stage, customers already know about your company/brand and what you offer but they are not interested or might not be ready to buy from you yet, perhaps; they might be waiting for a special offer or they might be comparing you to your competitor to know which of you will serve them best.
  • Conversion: This stage is the stage the customers finally trusted you and takes the decision to buy from you.
  • Loyalty: Customers that get to this stage find it difficult to buy elsewhere because they always come back to buy from you.
  • Advocacy: Loyal customers who always love to buy from you and not from your competitors will actively recommend you to potential buyers who will also buy from you.

The key thing is that your marketing, sales funnel do not end with a purchase, after the purchase, there is also plenty of more work to be done. Many stages can also be added to the customer’s journey as deem necessary to your company/brand and how it operates, but again the complexity of your brand customer journey is up to you to decide, it can also be expanded with time as your company/brand strategy becomes more efficient and new opportunities arise in your business.

Lead Capturing At Every Stage Of A Stage Funnel.

Marketing sales funnel is not a linear process in the marketing world, you should not limit your marketing strategy to generate leads at the top of your marketing sales funnel and then you guide them to the end. There are already thousands or millions of consumers who already know about your brand but they might have an interest in buying from you just yet.

Each stage of a marketing sales funnel represents a state of mind. An example of a marketing sales funnel acting as a state of mind is that some customers are still trying to make a decision on which brand of phone to buy i.e iPhone or Samsung e.t.c or which hotel to lodge for their travel while others know exactly what they are looking for and what they need is to simply get the right one.

As a company/brand you want to capture leads at every stage of the customer journey and target them with messages that reflect their state of mind. To achieve this, you will need to assign user action (Call-to-action) to each stage of your marketing sales funnel. For example, a first-time customer that visited your website will perfectly fit into the “awareness” category while someone else who has visited the same product page repeatedly will fit in the “consideration” stage of your company/brand marketing sales funnel.

By mapping out all these interactions and assigning them to each stage of the customer journey of your sales marketing funnel, you can target each customer based on their previous actions on your website, with marketing messages designed to draw them closer to making a purchase.

Benefit Of A Marketing Sales Funnel In Marketing Strategy.

We have so far focused our attention on the conceptual benefits of a marketing sales funnel, it’s also mathematically good to know the conversion rates of each stage of your brand sales funnel. You can easily calculate how the improvements at the top or middle of your funnel will have an impact on the bottom of your sales funnel.

“True North” is a marketing tool that allows you to simulate how improvements in your marketing sales funnel will impact your brand growth over a period of time, it then allows you to model different approaches for you to increase the likelihood of achieving your marketing goals.

With a set of tangible targets to improve your sales, you can brainstorm how you might deliver on those improvements. Having this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can apply this for each stage of your company/brand marketing sales funnel.

1. Awareness:

At the early stage of every companies marketing, sales funnel it is best to deliver your messages to the right audience because it allows customers to discover your company/brand and the products or services that you offer. Digital marketers focus more on this stage of the marketing, sales funnel by using different online strategies like SEO, Social Media, and paid search like Google ads to bring new visitors to the company/brand website.

This is the beginning of a perfect marketing strategy that turns new visitors into paying customers.

Targeting relevant audiences is the most important thing at this stage, the right audiences will bring huge traffic to your website with the intent of buying what you offer.

It is a wasting of time, budget, and other precious and valuable resources if your marketing funnel is not bringing in traffic of the right audiences who are interested in doing business with you.

Building Awareness With SEO.

The SEO strategy of building company/brand awareness is to target low and high intent keywords from consumers who may be interested in buying what you offer.

Your aim is to build a collection of low and high ranking content for the topical interest of customers who will be interested in your brand.

The goal of SEO is for potential and relevant consumers to discover your brand and get value from your content.

Building Awareness With Paid Advertisement/PPC Marketing.

There are plenty of keywords that trigger ads in google search, this can be used as an opportunity to increase awareness about your brand online. PPC Marketing techniques are really needed for building awareness because you will need to have them before starting your marketing campaign. Before starting a PPC campaign it is advisable to have a solid lead nurturing system in place first.

The reason is because you are paying every single person that click on your ad, that’s why it is called Pay-per-click (PPC)

Building Awareness With Social Media.

Social media is a powerful channel that a lot of companies/brands use for their awareness campaign; it is a powerhouse for building brand awareness. The most important thing about social media marketing is to know which social media channel is most important and effective to use in getting your potential audience’s attention.

For example, A lot of every business customer is on Facebook but a lot of these companies and brands don’t produce the right quality of video and visually engaging content that will take them to get the desired result out of the network.

Facebook marketing is expensive when it comes to online investment but it has relatively low CPCs, a huge audience, and incredible targeting options. To make a success out of it, it is required you make it a great long-term strategy for building your company/brand awareness.

2. Consideration:

Having done your awareness campaign in the first stage of your brand sales funnel, you are now ready to target new customers already in the consideration stage of your sales funnel.

At the same time, you will also want to target consumers who are aware of your brand product offering, and then you will bring them into the second stage of your brand sales funnel.

While your SEO and PPC strategies on the awareness stage can be focused on low-intent keywords for the consideration stage, this is where you target people who show a clear intent and desire to purchase from you.

You will be targeting keywords like “Best Construction Company in USA” or “Best Insurance Company for tech startups” this type of keywords shows a clear intent to buy either now or in future to come which can then be used for remarketing because the key to a successful Remarketing Campaign is to segment your campaigns to target specific customers interest based on the information you already know about them; the ad they clicked on, the landing page they visited, actions they took on your website e.t.c

Depending on google analytics setup, you can track specific consumer actions and create segmented remarketing lists with messages defined for each audience. The best thing to do is to make sure you are using google event measurement in google analytics (Linked to your Google Ad account) so that you can place customers on remarketing lists based on the page elements they clicked on the website as well as the URLs they visited.

This then allows you to create remarketing lists for the following type of customers.

  • Browsers: customers that visit multiple pages on your website spending minutes.
  • Bouncers: Customers that leave your website within seconds (they didn’t view a single page of your website)
  • Scrollers: Customers that spend a good amount of time on your website landing page before leaving.
  • Clickers: Customers that click one of your Call-to-actions button (CTA’s) but don’t make it to the final conversion.
  • Quitters: Consumers that start the conversion process on your website (e.g Filling out your lead capture form) but quit before they could convert.

All these actions indicate the extent of customer’s awareness and interest which you can take advantage of to create relevant campaigns for each audience and these tactics too can be used to target leads at all stages of your company/brand marketing sales funnel, making use of the actions they take on your website to assign them to your remarketing lists.

Capture Email Leads For Lead Nurturing.

Email marketing is one of the best and most important channels for reaching out to your existing customers at the latter stages of your sales funnel.

Before your customers can turn to lead, you need to get them to sign up to the email lists from your website email capture form.

With a healthy number of email leads every month, you will need to make use of a customer relationship management (CMS) e.g Hubspot CRM(Free) system and the right set of other email marketing tools to manage your leads as they progress along the customer journey.

But then this has been built into a single CRM system to make your leads nurturing easier for you. Some companies like Active Campaign, Mailchimp have made the job easier for you with their email and marketing automation.

They gave you a platform to manage and organize your leads at every stage of your company/brand marketing sales funnel. You can also use these platforms to track user behavior, place users on segmented lists and target them with your highly relevant email campaigns.

3. Conversion:

Everything I have written about so far has been building up to the point where users take the desired action for conversion. Purchases are the most valuable type of conversion, but there are always others you might be targeting with different conversion campaigns e.g Free Trials, Email Sign Ups, Content Downloads i.e Brochure, Demos, Account Creations, Upgrades e.t.c

CREATE A SEARCH CAMPAIGN AD FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE READY TO BUY AT THE PRESENT MOMENT.

Unlike the first two stages, you are going to create organic and paid search campaigns to target new leads at the conversion stage: this is to target the consumers who are ready to purchase at the present moment.

That means your SEO strategy is to create organic content for specific conversion goals – such as guides to effectively get the best outcome out of your 14days free trial. Or you might create comparison reviews of your product vs your rival’s product to rank organically for consumers who are ready to do business with your brand competitors.

You can also create Google ads campaigns and include your rival’s product names as keywords to steal leads at the last moment. You will also like to target keywords that signal immediate purchase intent like “free delivery” “In my area” “buy now” “best price” and anything else that could suggest a consumer is ready to make a purchase.

Optimize Your Website Form In order To Maximize Conversion Rates.

Once consumers are on your website, the focus you should have is to maximize the percentage of them that will convert into leads for your brand. Every conversion usually requires consumers to complete a contact form, this is the beginning of your conversion optimization efforts.

Leadformly is a contact form builder tool that makes it easy to design and optimize multi-step forms on your website without writing a single code. They have multiple contact form template you can select from to get started and you edit it to suit your needs or start from scratch using drag and drop contact form builder and you will embed the finished contact form on any page of your website you want to get leads from.

Leadformly advanced form analytics features provide in-depth feedback on consumer’s activity including how long it takes consumers to complete each field and the last field consumers interact with before quitting your form and important key insights to help you optimize your website for maximum performance.

Smart Way Of Dealing With CRO..

Conversion rate optimization(CRO) is a marketing strategy that transforms business results positively. Unfortunately if done poorly, it is also a strategy you can waste huge amounts of money and time on. Above all, you need to know that your well conducted tests and optimisations are going to result in enough additional income to pay for themselves and generate more profit for your brand.

A lot of marketers and businesses make the mistake of getting occupied in design details that don’t really impact conversions or sales. You might end up with better user metrics and an improved UX but this means nothing if you are not making enough money from changes in your CRO.

You have to focus on the aspects that truly influence conversions.

  • Reducing website loading time
  • Make use of a single-column website
  • Remove navigations from the landing page
  • Test your call-to-action (CTA) Placement
  • Try exit-intent popups
  • Make use of multi-step forms

Above all, make sure you focus all your attention on increasing incentives and removing conversion barriers. Make sure to test and optimize your page copy to find the most compelling message and ensure obvious UX issues like the loading time of your website. You can also make use of tools like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity and their Heatmaps features to see what actions consumers are taking on your website. These tools will allow you to check if your website visitors are seeing your Call-to-action (CTA) button and determine what they are clicking on and what they are not clicking on.

4. LOYALTY:

A lot of brands make the mistake of thinking that a sales marketing funnel ends once their primary conversion goal has been accomplished. However, this is just the beginning of the customer experience and your return on investment from all the hard work you have put into the accomplishment of the conversion goal.

It is important you maximize your ROI

With your marketing strategy generating and closing leads from the first three stages of the consumer journey on your sales funnel, the emphasis shifts to the direction of customer retention and maximizing the value of each customer. You will be glad if your existing customers keep coming back to buy from you.

Customer Service Should Be A Priority To You.

Strong customer service is at the heart of any commercial relationship. Take a Look at a review site like Trustpilot and the vast majority of negative feedback comes down to consumer service and support.  You will understand that consumers don’t expect a product to be perfect but they do expect a company to be available for them when something is not right.

This isn’t a thing to be surprised about.

You could learn a lot from software companies that excel in customer service and support. Consumers are always going to run into problems with software – a complex mix of user error, configuration issues, integration problems, and all kinds of technical issues. Some of these issues are critical while some are not.

The software companies have excellent customer service providers, and an extensive online library of guides, troubleshooting, and FAQs to help their customers get the best experience from their product and to help them to be able to deal with basic errors.

These techniques also save software companies from their support lines and email addresses being clogged up with basic user queries allowing them to deal with more sophisticated issues their customers might encounter.

You will also see a lot of software companies use chatbots and live chat widgets to provide instant responses to basic customer problems. In many cases, this method simply points customers to a relevant online resource or connects them with the technical support team if their issue is more critical.

This method helps the complete to automatically filter customer cases more effectively

Reward your loyal customers.

Rewarding your loyal customers for their ongoing purchases will make them feel valued and this will encourage them to keep buying from you. Incentivizing loyalty will increase the motivation of your customers to keep buying from you.

You value your customers and like to give them a little gift every now and then.

Up-selling/cross-selling campaigns.

To maximize customer value, it will only make sense to encourage them to buy your most profitable products for as long as possible or to buy the highest quantity of products possible. This is where up-selling and cross-selling come in. The up-selling and cross-selling campaign’s aim is to increase the value of every existing customer.

  • Up-selling: It is a marketing strategy method that encourages customers to purchase a more profitable product or service than their usual or recent purchases.
  • Cross-selling: This method encourages customers to buy additional products or services based on their previous purchases.

If you are an eCommerce brand, you will do the whole amazon thing and make the relevant product recommendations to tempt customers into making further purchases apart from the one they have done before. If you are a SaaS company, you will try to upgrade as many customers as possible to the premium version of the products your software offers.

With the email marketing and automation tools that are abundantly available today, you can basically automate these campaigns entirely. You can even create new segmented lists based on how customers respond to your up-selling and cross-selling emails to target those most likely to take the desired action and make a purchase and also keep the rest of your leads warm.

5. Advocacy:

The marketing goal of advocacy is to turn happy customers into lead generation strategy.

Happy customers are most likely to keep buying from you and they are also more likely to recommend you to other potential buyers that might be interested in your product. 85% of buyers say recommendation from their friends/colleagues has the biggest influence on their buying decisions.

Meanwhile, another study shows that 77% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation from friends, family, and colleagues. These two statistics should tell you everything you need to know about turning the existing customer base you have into new prospects.

Build An Excellent Profile Of Online Positive Reviews..

Yes, we have already touched on reviews in this article and this is one of the most important marketing strategies for brands and companies across all businesses in the digital age.

Having an excellent profile of positive reviews on platforms like Google reviews, Trustpilot and other popular third-party platforms is invaluable and you don’t need to stress about having 5-star ratings either.

The scrutinous bunch is much among Online buyers and studies have shown they are less likely to trust a brand that has a gleaming profile of 5-star reviews. In fact, it turns out the review scores that are between 3.5 to 3.8-star marks have the most positive influence on online buyers.

This should make you concentrate on providing a quality level of service and generating as many positive customer reviews as possible to make you stand out. Be fast to respond to negative reviews from customers and try to help them solve issues as best as you can- but don’t also worry yourself about having perfect scores.

Success Stories From Your Customers.

Another area your existing customers can help you to attract new potential buyers is through their testimonials, success stories, and case studies. If you are into B2B business you generally will need a good collection of customer testimonials on your homepage and possibly even specific service or product pages to entice conversion.

Case studies and success stories are a good resource for leads at the interest stage of the customer journey. It is also good for customers who might want to know more about how you operate or who might compare you to your competitors. You can also create and optimize these pages for organic search and use them as part of your awareness campaigns to generate new leads.

Create A Referral Campaign.

I mentioned the power of personal recommendations earlier in this article and this is something every business that wants to grow should leverage on. The consumer journey shrinks considerably when your existing customers make a recommendation about you to their friends, family, or colleagues and this is especially true in the B2B scenarios.

Best of all, this strategy is simple to implement and easy to manage with good customer referral programs.