The Beginners guide to building a sales funnel

The Beginner’s Guide to a Sales Funnel

Everyone who has an online business needs to create a sales funnel in order to convert his website visitors into paying customers.

If you fail to do that, you will hardly make any money.

Your primary goal with your sales funnel is to move people from one stage to another until they are ready to purchase.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how to create a sales funnel for your online business.  

Understanding the Sales Funnel Stages

From the first time your prospect hears about you until the moment he buys from you, he passes through different stages of your sales funnel.

This journey might differ from one prospect to the next depending on your buying personas, your niche and the types of products and services you sell.

So, you can design your sales funnel with as many stages as you want.

But, in general, these are the four main ones that you need to pay attention to:

AIDA Sales FunnelAwareness – at this stage, the prospect learns about your existing solution, product or service. He might also become aware of his problem that he needs to solve and the possible ways to deal with it.

This is when he visits your website for the first time, which he found from an ad, Google search, a post shared on social media or another traffic source.

Interest – at this stage, the prospect is actively looking for solutions to his problems and ways to achieve his goals.

He searches for solutions on Google.  This is when you can attract him with some great content.

Now is the time when he expresses his interest in your product or a service. He follows you on social media and subscribes to your list.

Decision – at this stage, the prospect is making the decision that he wants to take advantage of your solution.

He’s paying more attention to what you offer, including different packages and options, so he can make the final decision to purchase.

This is when sales offers are made by using sales pages, webinars, calls, etc.

Action – at this stage, the prospect is becoming a customer by finalizing the deal with you.

He’s signing the contract and clicking the purchase button.

Then the money is transferred to your back account.

It’s important to state that there might be additional stages to your sales funnel.

Your customers might become brand advocates and bring more business that way. At the same time, they might buy again from you and become loyal customers.

But, to avoid complications and keep things simple, we’re going to skip that part of the sales funnel. Still, it’s important to be aware these stages exist.

How to use content for each stage of the sales funnel

According to ringDNA, one of the biggest mistakes marketers make is that they don’t align their content marketing efforts with their sales funnel stages so they can close more deals.

More often than not, they don’t go deep enough. As a result, they fail to move prospects to the next stage.

That’s why we have decided to explain how you can use different content for each stage of your sales funnel:

Blogging (awareness and interest) – by blogging, you will generate awareness and interest for your solution.

It could be your main source of traffic for your website, and it’s also a good way to engage your list by sharing valuable content.

The way you bring awareness by blogging is to optimize your content with the right key words so you can attract your target customers from an organic search.

Another way is to promote your posts on social media by influencing other people to share them or by using promoted posts.

It’s important to state that blogging is not a “bottom of the funnel” activity.

In other words, it won’t lead to people making a decision to buy from you. For that, you will need to create other types of content or push people to go on a sales call with you.

Lead magnets (interest) – any type of lead magnet is used as a tool to generate interest toward your product.

You grow your email list by offering something of value to your audience that they’re already interested in, such as a guide or course.

Anything that can educate your prospects on how they can solve their problems and achieve their goals.

And during that time, you can start building the demand for your product.

Within the lead magnets itself, you can place call-to-actions to check out your products/services, call your sales department, etc.

For more information, check out the following guides:

Webinars (decision and action) – even though webinars can be used as lead magnets, they’re more focused on the decision stage and convincing people to take action and buy your products.

When people sign up for webinars, they’re already pretty interested in achieving a certain goal or solving a specific problem.

This could be growing their traffic, losing weight or finding the perfect soul mate.

Your goal with the webinar is not only to educate them, but to build their demand in order for them to take action.

At the end, you should always have a call-to-action to buy your product, start a free trial or request a consultation.

For more information, check out the following guides:

Videos (awareness, interest, decision, action) – they can be used in pretty much all the stages of the sales funnel.

YouTube is well-known as the second largest search engine, so by optimizing the videos for certain keywords, you can generate tons of awareness and traffic to your website.

Additionally, you can use services like Wistia to embed educational videos within your blog posts and your website to educate your audience on topics that interest them.

By creating explainer videos, you can build demand for your product or service.

Last, but not least, with sales videos you can entice people to make the final step and take action.

Check out the following guides:

How social media fits within your sales funnel

Now, let’s explain how social media fits within your sales funnel strategy:

Awareness and traffic – as mentioned by AdEspresso, the initial goal is always to attract website visitors to your website and build an audience in the cheapest possible way.

Too often, small businesses with very small audiences or email lists are so enthusiastic to try Facebook Ads after hearing all about “custom audiences,” that they immediately jump into re-targeting their (small) audience (mid-funnel).

And while they may temporarily see results, the audience exhausts itself due to the frequency of the Facebook Ads killing their performance over a few weeks.

So, your goal here should be to generate more traffic to your website and blog by influencing more people to share your content and by promoting it with ads.

Generating leads (lead magnets) – you can also promote your leads magnets on social media to generate leads.

This could be done well when your audience already has an interest in the content and solution that you offer.

Keep in mind that 97 to 99 percent of people will not be ready to purchase. So it’s a much better move to turn them into email subscribers.

For more information, check out the following guides:

Engagement – in my blog post Email Marketing vs Social Media Performance in 2016, I stated that social media has a much higher engagement rate than email.

This has been confirmed by most of the email marketing experts I talked to during my research.

We all know how Facebook videos tend to go viral as people are more likely to share and comment on them.

One of the newest ways to also engage your audience is to use Facebook live.

The biggest advantage here is that you can interact with your audience in real time – they can see and hear you.

There is a great opportunity here to use it to build a demand for your product and even sell your services.

Check out this post by Buffer:

Creating your sales funnel

Now it’s time to create your sales funnel. For that, you can use the following step-by-step template:

Gather data and understand your customers – the best way to do that is to talk to them.

According to Matt Ackerson from Petovera by doing that, you will understand their needs and frustrations – and how well (or not) your offer helps to solve their problem.

That way you can adjust your funnel to focus on those key and most relevant selling points. You may also gain insights that lead you to adjust your product or service, and make it better.

The most important questions you should ask your customers are:

  • What are your current challenges with [the area that you cover]?
  • What are your current fears and frustrations? What are your goals and aspirations?
  • What have you done to try to solve your problems/achieve your goals? How well did it work?

Based on your data, you can create content for each stage of your sales funnel and help prospects move down your pipeline.

Create buying personas – the truth is you can’t have the same sales funnel for all your customers.

Probably because:

  • They have different reasons for buying your product
  • They’re going to use it differently
  • They make buying decisions in different ways

It’s a lot smarter to create different buyer personas for each customer type and create different sales funnels to better match their experience.

For more information, check out the following guides:

Traffic and lead generation strategies – there are three different directions you can go here – toward paid traffic, “free” traffic or cold outreach (or a combination of the three).

The paid traffic is the easiest way to bring traffic to your website. You pay for an ad and as soon as someone clicks on it, you will have a visitor to your website.

You can also use:

The disadvantage of paid traffic is that as soon as you stop paying, your traffic will stop and you won’t get any new leads.

Affiliate marketing is also a form of paid traffic. The only difference is that you don’t pay in advance. You only pay after a sale has been made.

“Free” traffic is the one you don’t pay for directly. However, this doesn’t mean it’s truly free.

You might need to spend money on paid tools and work really hard to optimize your site for Google and earn the attention of others so they start talking about you.

Free traffic includes:

  • SEO
  • Social media traffic (non-paid)
  • Referral traffic (from other sites linking to you)
  • Direct traffic (from people who know about your brand and have visited your website before)

Cold outreach is a strategy that involves you sending cold emails or cold calling companies that might need your product or services.

It is the most time-consuming strategy among the tree.

Engagement strategies – you need to constantly engage your leads, educate them on topics they are interested in and help them move down your pipeline.

That way, at some point, they will be ready to make a purchasing decision.

You can also engage them with:

Closing strategies – these are the strategies that you use to convert your prospects into customers.

For that, you can use:

  • Sales calls and emails
  • Webinars
  • Sales and product pages

What’s important is to build the demand of your prospects in advance and turn their implied needs into explicit needs.

Then you can make a clear offer that targets the needs of your customers and closes the deal.

It’s important to explain to the user what he needs to do in order to buy from you.  

Check out the following guides:

Next steps:

Your work is not done when you create your sales funnel. In fact, this is where it all begins.

You need to gather data and analyze and improve your funnel if you want to get better results.

If you don’t have enough prospects, engagement or sales, the problem needs to be fixed.

Martin Zhel is the CEO of Orior Creative. He helps startup companies grow traffic, leads and revenue with the power of content marketing. Download his free ebook How to use quality content to rank in Google.

  • http://www.matickasnik.com Matic

    Great read, worth every word!

    • http://www.oriorcreative.com/ Martin Zhel

      Thanks, Matic! 🙂

  • http://www.digitalseoguide.com/ Digital seo guide

    Hi Martin,

    What an amazng article, all the steps are clearly explain. This sales funnel guide is very helpful for making sales strategy. Thanks for sharing.

    Arpit

    • http://www.oriorcreative.com/ Martin Zhel

      Hey, Arpit! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  • Ferranstore

    HIS website, HE buys, and HIM… from the email in my inbox to this article…I guess women don’t have websites or buy anything….know your audience….stopped reading after the first sentence.

    • http://www.oriorcreative.com/ Martin Zhel

      Hey Ferranstone, I’m sorry if you got offended in any way by my article. By using the word “he” I actually refer to both genders (men and women). So I’m not neglecting you, if that’s what you think 🙂

    • Steelbooker

      I only see “his” in the first sentence.

    • Sean Connery

      Lighten up, Francis.

  • Alvin Nurse

    I’ve never had the steps for this laid out so clearly, and explained so well (and I’ve followed some great info products in the past). This will help massively!!

  • Fatal Jay

    awesome article Zhel

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