Take a moment to think about how you generate new customers. A reasonable assumption is that your various marketing campaigns are creating sales.
But while this is actually true, it doesn’t paint a full picture because the process is a lot more complex than most people think.
One of the major keys to being able to run a successful online business has to do with understanding the buying process that your customers go through.
Just because you are selling products or services that your customers want or need does not mean that you’re automatically equipped to make the sale.
But, if you leverage the basic concepts associated with the customer conversion funnel, you’ll be able to more easily guide your customers through the entire buying process.
This allows you to maximize your conversions and ultimately bring in more profits for your business.
What Does a Conversion Funnel Entail?
If you conduct a search for ‘conversion funnels’ on the Internet right now, you’ll be met with tons of information. The answers you get are each going to be different, depending on which person you ask.
However, ever though the terminology may differ slightly, the basic visualization of what a sales funnel is typically stays the same:
- The top of the funnel (the widest part) is the ‘Awareness’ stage
- Next, is the ‘Interest’ stage
- Followed by the ‘Consideration’ stage
- And finally, at the bottom of the funnel (the thinnest part), you have the ‘Conversion‘ stage
These are the basic steps that buyers go through before finalizing a purchase – and I’ll be referring to these stages as we continue with this post.
No matter which version you use, a funnel is a great way of generating more customers and driving more sales.
In this post, you’ll learn about the best marketing tactics that you can incorporate into your own sales funnel to immediately start boosting your profits.
But for those who aren’t yet familiar with customer conversion funnels, here are the fundamental concepts that you need to know:
Step 1: Create Brand Awareness
The first stage of your customer conversion process is where you create awareness.
At this point, you’re dealing with a brand new audience of people who have never heard of you or your business. They don’t even know your brand exists.
And that’s exactly what you need to change.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done! However, there are a variety of ways in which you can make this happen. It’s all just dependent on what your business goals are. You will also have to determine how much money (and/or time) you’re willing to spend on creating brand awareness.
If you’re not willing to spend money, then you need to understand that you’re going to have to put in a lot of time into implementing the strategies and tactics that I’m going to outline here.
The best and most effective way to create awareness is by improving your overall SEO strategy.
Remember that your prospects don’t know you exist, at this point. All they know is that they have a problem or desire, and they seek a solution. The odds are that they will start with one of the major search engines.
Because of this, securing a higher ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages) means you’ll be able to drive more organic traffic to your site.
On Google, over 33% of all clicks are to the number one search result. That’s a third of all organic traffic! Furthermore, Google’s first page controls over 75% of all clicks.
With statistics like that, you can understand why it’s vital for your business to get good rankings on the search engines.
That’s why you see businesses everywhere investing a lot of money and time into optimizing their various digital marketing channels for SEO.
These are the top marketing channels for businesses that invest in their SEO:
- Websites – 95%
- Social Media – 94%
- Email Marketing – 80%
- Content Marketing – 73%
- Paid Media – 68%
- Mobile Advertising – 44%
As evidenced by the data above, your website is not the only means of generating new leads or creating brand awareness with search engine optimization.
Social media is yet another cost-effective means of promoting your business.
Over half of all consumers have made at least one purchase directly through social platforms, and that’s enough to convince the majority of business owners, particularly e-commerce brands, that they need a strong presence on the various social media networks.
But that’s fodder for another post. Right now, we’re focusing on creating brand awareness. This was just to help explain why these digital marketing channels are so crucial.
Not all consumers are in the market to buy stuff on social media, but it’s still a good place to introduce your business to prospective buyers. You can begin by creating profiles on as many social channels as you can manage to stay active on.
You’ll need to post new content on each of these daily as well as keep an eye on the comments.
As you work to get more followers and interact with them, your engagement rates will increase and more people will be exposed to your brand as a result.
You can take this strategy up a notch by generating leads using targeted ads.
Facebook and Instagram have proven to be the easiest platforms for beginners, and you can use them for this strategy. The ads on these social media networks are set up using the same system, which means it’s easy to run paid ads through either of these.
Facebook may be the top marketing option, but Instagram is fast becoming the number one platform for anyone who wants to create brand awareness.
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of ways to make people aware that your business exists. But, it’s important to note that some tactics are a whole lot more effective than others.
For instance, you’ve probably gotten fliers of a new pizza place opening in your neighborhood.
That is an example of the ‘awareness’ stage of a conversion funnel. But, that type of method isn’t scalable, and it’s not applicable to all types of businesses (particularly online ones).
Also, you want to get high quality traffic to your site.
Of course, you may want to reach as many potential customers as possible to tell them about your brand, but that will be a giant waste of time if none of them actually become customers.
That’s why it’s vital to emphasize quality over quantity in order to create funnels that yield high conversions – and it’s also the reason why focusing your marketing efforts more on SEO and social media will be a lot more effective in the long run.
Step 2: Generate interest
Now that your audience is familiar with you and your brand, you can take them through to the next step in your marketing funnel. You need to come up with strategies to create interest in your business and products.
One of the easiest ways of doing this is through your content strategy. During this stage of the funnel, your content strategy is your best friend!
You will also need to use your site to your advantage.
For instance, learn how to design a great home page that will convert well. Your site needs to provide visitors with information about your business that answers all the questions your customers might have.
So, if your business was providing ‘Forex Trading Signals’ (for instance), and someone was looking for your service, they might type something like ‘signals to trade forex’ into Google search, and because of your SEO efforts, you’d be ranked on the first page of Google (hopefully number one) for that term.
That is part of the awareness stage we just discussed.
But now that the visitor is on your homepage, you want them to gain an interest in the service to push them through the funnel.
So, on your homepage, you might include a lot of information about the range of services you provide.
Using our example, you may have the following:
- Forex Trading Signals
- Forex Trading Strategies
- Risk Calculator
- Daily Forex Analysis Videos
- And so on
It makes sense that a person who needs help with their Forex trading would click one of these to find out more information.
Step 3: Consideration
This stage is similar to the interest stage of your conversion funnel, but you will need to provide prospective buyers with some sort of incentive to complete their purchase.
This is what I mean:
When they are interested, your audience will read your blogs, sign up for your email newsletters and download your ebooks or whitepapers. But, not one of those actions generates profits! As I stated previously, different people have different terminologies for their conversion funnels.
Some may label the ‘consideration’ phase as ‘desire’ or something else – whatever makes sense for your business.
At this stage, the main thing is to make your brand appear appealing to your customer, and it’s a great way to show them why they simply have to have what you’re selling.
At this time, customers will often weigh a lot of options against each other before deciding to buy.
They will want to compare cost, quality, convenience, and a host of other factors before making their decision. All of these things fall under the evaluation stage of the buyer’s journey.
So, the three basic stages can bebroken down as follows:
Stage 1 (Top of Funnel or TOFU): Awareness
- Blog Post
- Email Newsletter
- Introductory Whitepaper
- Cheat sheet
- Introductory Course
- Educational Webinar
- How-to Video
- Educational Podcast
If you read my blog post on all the different types of content that you can create, then most of this is familiar to you.
Stage 2 (Middle of Funnel or MOFU): Evaluation
- Customer testimonials
- Advanced eBook
- Case Study
- Free Sample
- Demo Video
- Produce Spec Sheet
- Solution-Focused Whitepaper
- Frequently Asked (and Answered) Questions
- Product-Focused Webinar
Stage 3 (Bottom of Funnel or BOFU): Purchasing
- Free Consultation
- Pricing Page
- Live Demo
- Free Trial
- Estimate or Quote
These are the best ways to entice your buyers during each stage.
Some of these suggestions have a lot to do with the things we discussed in the second stage about generating interest.
By implementing these tactics, you make it more likely that consumers will go all the way through your conversion funnel.
Before you finalize the sale, let’s take a quick recap:
First, your consumer became aware of your brand. Next they learned more about what your business offers. Then, they weighed all of their options and decided to buy from you (as opposed to buying from one of your competitors, or maybe not even buying at all…)
At this stage, they have decided to buy, but here’s the kicker: That doesn’t mean they will actually do it!
Yes, they may want what you are selling, and they may even get the checkout process started, but that sale is not complete until it has been finalized.
For example, say you own an e-commerce shop and a customer decides that they want to buy something from you. They add it to their shopping cart, and all is good. But, they don’t end up buying the product.
Well, for starters, you must acquaint yourself with all the top reasons for cart abandonment, which are as follows:
- Reason #1: Additional costs too high (fees, tax, shipping, etc.)
- Reason #2: Site required creation of an account
- Reason #3: Complicated checkout process
- Reason #4: Couldn’t see or calculate total cost of order upfront
- Reason #5: Website crashed or had errors
- Reason #6: Didn’t trust website with credit card information
Those are the top reasons for cart abandonment.
Other reasons include slow delivery, unsatisfactory returns policy, not enough payment methods, and declined credit cards.
Once you know why some customers aren’t finalizing the sale, then you can take steps to prevent it from occurring in the future.
Ultimately, your goal is to take each and every element of your checkout process and optimize it for conversions.
Focus on the design of each of your web pages, images, CTA (call to action) buttons, color schemes, number of steps, value proposition, and so on to create the smoothest conversion process possible on your site.
Now that you know how to move your customers along the buyer’s journey, it’s time to implement these tactics in your marketing.
Understanding these phases – from getting more people interested in your brand to convincing them that your solution is the ideal one – will help you generate more profits for your business now and in the future.
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Updated: Originally published February 15th 2019