White board with black letters that say audience
Sales

What is a sales funnel? 

Kathy Monroy

January 6, 2022

To create a well-thought-out sales funnel, you must have a holistic vision of the entire customer journey, including all the steps the customer takes to make the purchase decision.  

One of the first things you need to consider is the number of options your potential clients have. Nowadays, many businesses are providing high-quality services and products tailored to the growingly specific needs of their audiences. Therefore, it’s essential to find effective sales and marketing strategies to make your customers choose you.  

The key to success when creating these comprehensive sales and marketing strategies is understanding the sales funnel and every single step the customer takes to purchase your product or service.  

What is a sales funnel?

So, let’s start at the beginning by answering the question: what is a sales funnel? A sales funnel is a marketing term that describes the journey potential clients take to get to the purchase decision.  

This process begins when your potential clients hear about your product or service through an ad, word of mouth, social media; and ends with the customer making the awaited purchase. It is divided into three parts:

  • Top of the funnel
  • Middle of the funnel  
  • Bottom of the funnel

As seen in the image, the funnel narrows down to a smaller figure, since at the top, the audience is broader because it includes all the prospects, in the middle, it starts to shrink, and in the end, we only have the individuals that make the purchase decision.  

Creating specific tactics for each of the sales funnel stages is essential since it will directly impact the customer’s behavior. Knowing exactly where the customer is during the entire process will allow you to target their specific needs and obtain a positive outcome for your business.  

Explaining the stages of the sales funnel

As mentioned, there are three stages: top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Now, let’s dive into what makes each of them different.

Top of the funnel – Awareness Stage

The goal is to guide the potential customer through the entire journey and lead them to the bottom of the funnel, where they make the purchase decision. But, to get to the end, everything must start at the beginning. In this case, the beginning is the top of the funnel, which could arguably be one of the most challenging stages to target since there’s so much competition and diversity.  

The top of the sales funnel or TOFU refers to the first stage of the entire journey. In this stage, marketers create content for people to get to know your product or service, thus increasing brand awareness.  

To make it simpler, the TOFU stage can be compared to when someone walks by a store and identifies the brand, maybe sees some signs that talk about the brand, deals, and other benefits. The objective is to make the person walk into the store, look around, find something they like, and purchase. But the attraction part is crucial.  

Top of the funnel objectives

There are three basic objectives during the top of the funnel stage:

  1. Brand awareness
  1. Educating the audience
  1. Generating leads

To ensure these objectives are achieved during the TOFU stage, marketers must create different types of quality content that provides clients with relevant and helpful information.  

The content should inform and educate the audience about topics they’re interested in, not sell a product or service during this stage. It’s essential to get to know your audience, their specific interests, and the channels of communications they use to write about what they like.  

By creating entertaining and valuable content, you’ll be able to obtain your potential customer’s email addresses or phone numbers, converting them into leads. You may get this vital information by providing them with a white paper, case study, or even an eBook to download. You can also lead them to your website or preferred communication channel through CTAs at the end of each blog, article, social media post, video, infographic, or case study.

Middle of the funnel – Interest Stage

Now we continue our path to the middle of the sales funnel stage. Here, your potential customer, which has now become a lead, is searching for more specific information. They’re aware of the problem they have and that it needs a solution, so they start diving deeper into that solution. In this stage, the lead will evaluate different options and search for that specific brand they’d like to buy from.  

As a marketer, you must create content that helps your leads during this process but not directly sell them your product or service.  

Middle of the funnel objectives

There are three basic objectives during the middle of the funnel stage:

  1. Guide your customer in making an informed decision
  2. Establish your brand’s expertise
  3. Offer assistance

The content created in this stage must show your prospects that your brand is the best in its industry and make them feel safe to make the purchase decision. You could obtain this by creating content that includes case studies with your brand’s success cases, customer testimonials, or webinars, and live events that show your expertise in the field.  

This stage can be compared with the same example mentioned above. The clients walk by the store, but at this stage, they enter the store and search through the racks of clothing. They’ll select a few items they like and start comparing them with each other, trying to find the best option that suits their needs.  

This stage is all about mixing information and persuasion, giving your lead information about what they want, and letting them know that you have it and are ready to help them.  

Bottom of the funnel – Decision Stage

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for: the bottom of the funnel, the moment where your lead converts into a customer. In this stage, the lead has all the information they require to buy your product or service. They have compared your product with others and are ready to finalize the process.  

Bottom of the funnel objectives

There are three essential objectives during the bottom of the funnel stage:

  1. Provide reassurance and inspire confidence
  2. Position your brand as the best option
  3. Accelerate the purchase decision

Even though your potential customer has shown interest in your brand, at this stage they want to know the specifics of your product or service. Everything ranging from pricing to packages and more detailed information. Therefore, you must create detailed content like sales pages, emails, live Q&As, and direct phone calls that explain thoroughly what you have to offer.  

One of the most common ways to finally get your lead to make the purchase is by offering something irresistible like a discount code or a bonus product for a limited amount of time.

Continuing with the store example, in this stage, the potential clients take their selected items to check out and finally make the purchase.  

Creating a sales funnel

So, now that you have understood all the sales funnel stages, you must create one of your own that’s tailored to your specific brand. This sales funnel must consider each step and how the client has different needs in every one of them.  

Let’s simplify the process and create a straightforward sales funnel.  

        1. Target Audience Research

The first thing you’ll need to do is research. Research your target audience, get to know them, understand their behavior, and obtain insights on what they like and the specific channels of communication they prefer.  

Let’s say that after your research, you found out that your target audience uses Facebook the most. This information is relevant since you now know that you’ll have to focus your efforts on Facebook.  

        2. Ad Campaign

Next step is to create an attractive and engaging ad campaign for Facebook, one that’ll capture the attention of your target audience and lead them to a landing page.  

        3. Landing Page

The landing page is a great space where you’ll have the chance to impress your audience with more information about your product or service and how it can benefit them. This landing page must include a form where you’ll be able to capture your audience’s information like their email or phone number.  

But, to do so, you need to include something that interests them for them to want to provide their information, something like a free template, eBook, full-length article on a specific topic, or a guide. This way, they’re getting something in return. With this information at hand, your prospect turns into a lead.  

        4. Email Campaign

Now that you have their email information, you’ll be able to nurture your lead with helpful content about your brand’s product or service. Once you’ve provided valuable information, you can send a discount code or coupon for your product or service at the end of your email campaign. This will make your offer irresistible and finally convert your lead into a customer.  

 

With these four steps, you cruised through the sales funnel, from providing helpful information and increasing brand awareness to offering value to your leads, to finally providing them with an offer they couldn’t resist, persuading them to make the purchase.  

This is a simple example of a sales funnel, but creating a well-thought-out process requires time, research, and hard work. However, when done correctly, it becomes a certainty for success in today’s marketplace.  

With this in mind, it’s critical to take your time to create a process that considers the audience first and tailors the information to their specific needs. Providing the audience with the right information at the right time will increase the chances of a purchase decision.  

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