One of the latest buzzwords in online marketing is sales funnel automation. There is even a new genre of specialists who are described as Sales Funnel Consultants. So what exactly is a sales funnel? It’s the decision making journey your prospect takes from the beginning point of awareness all the way through to purchasing. An automated sales funnel is the referencing of this journey being nourished through the use of automated triggers used in email and content marketing. A Sales Funnel Consultant provides the service of setting up these triggers and servicing the prospects at their respective stages in a manner that optimizes the results.
In a pure practical sense everyone ‘has’ a sales funnel since if you are attracting potential customers then they will go through what is known as the stages of the purchasing cycle, which are; pre-awareness, awareness, research & familiarity, opinion & shortlist, consideration, purchase and then finally brand ambassador or saboteur, repurchase intent which renters one into the cycle or defection. These steps are the pillars of a sales funnel and are present at anytime that a prospect is introduced to a new sales opportunity. Recognizing that these stages are present allows you to better serve the needs of those who are interested in what you have to offer.
In order to create a strategic online sales funnel, the typical starting element is a landing page with content and value that targets the interests of a particular segment of your market. For example if the product or service you are offering is specialized to those wanting a wedding photographer, you may want to create a landing page that offers content regarding what to look for when choosing a wedding photographer. This particular piece of content would be attractive to those perhaps just beginning the process of looking for a photographer and would enter them at the stage of awareness if they had not yet been aware of your brand or company. At this point you would want to offer additional value and content through email or social media that would assist at different levels of their purchasing cycle. By fulfilling their needs at the point of their research and staying present via social media which allows for familiarity, you then become a a member of their shortlist and hopefully are considered for final selection and the purchasing of your service or product.
Additional elements of a sales funnel should include the offering of an upsell (additional product or service which are available to those wanting more) and a downsize offer which is a less costly option for those unable to afford what was originally offered.
Maintaining your funnel allows you to retain more prospects who enter your funnel and provide content creation focus so that you are allocating resources in areas which will best produce results from your funnel. Simply by taking stock of what content and value you have produced and measuring the results of access to it is active maintenance of your sales funnel. You will also want to create what is called a customer journey which gives you a visual reference to how a particular type of customer might receive introduction and access to the content and value that you have created for them in relativity to the purchasing cycle.