The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Sales Funnel
It doesn’t matter how awesome your product or service is, getting prospective customers to buy doesn’t happen instantly. In fact, in today’s landscape of extra shrewd customers and fierce competition, it can be quite challenging to make the sale.
On top of that, if you’re throwing money at advertising and PPC campaigns and still aren’t meeting your goals, it can be disastrous. To help our customers close more sales and streamline the sales cycle, we recommend using a sales funnel to attract leads and help ideal prospects find their way toward the sale.
An efficient, optimized sales funnel is the number one way to improve lead generation not just in terms of quantity, but also in the quality of prospects. And, it’s a far more cost-friendly way to attract new customers than “throwing spaghetti at the wall” with your marketing efforts.
In this article, we’re going to provide a template, so to speak, to help you optimize your sales funnel and ensure your success. But before we begin, let’s get clear on what a sales funnel is.
What is a Sales Funnel?
Believe it or not, sales funnels are actually part of a marketing strategy that is engineered to attract cold prospects and sift through them to find high-quality, long-term customers.
Regardless of whether you are a small business or an enterprise, it’s important to understand that the end goal isn’t to just sell your product or service, it’s to create long-term customers who can provide good lifetime value.
You can do this by breaking the sales cycle down into smaller steps or stages that begin with the lead generation process which will bring potential customers from your target audience into the funnel and ends with a sale, and then a retention plan.
While the prospect moves through the funnel, marketers collect information and data that can ultimately be given to sales to help them close the deal when the prospect is ready.
The sales funnel can be broken down into three stages:
Top of the Funnel (ToFu) – Awareness Stage
As stated, this stage of the funnel happens is the very beginning. This part of the marketing stage is where your target audience will interact with your business for the first time and start gaining awareness of your offering.
They often find their way to the funnel because they have a problem to solve and come into contact with your business while researching solutions.
New customers might not know a lot about your product or service yet, so introductory content that educates them about their problem and subtly points to your solution as the answer will help to build brand awareness that eventually ends in a sale.
Popular TOF content marketing tactics include podcasts, infographics, and social media like LinkedIn.
Middle of Funnel (MoFu) – Consideration Stage
The next stage is the middle of the funnel. At this stage, target customers have begun to engage with your content and are officially considering your business as their potential choice to solve their problem.
However, it’s very likely that they’re also considering a number of other potential solutions as well. So it’s important to continue providing high-value content and be nurturing these leads to help them get to the bottom of the funnel.
At this point, potential customers may follow you on social media, subscribe to an email list, or register to attend a webinar. They may be looking for pricing or details about your offering to help them determine if it’s truly the right offering.
Bottom of Funnel (BoFu) – Decision Stage
The bottom of the funnel is the last place prospective customers go before they convert. You’ve gotten their attention, built trust, and fostered a relationship with them. At this point, they are ready to make a decision.
Therefore, it’s critical that sales have a good understanding of the customer’s needs, answers for their objections, and are ready to help them over the finish line.
If conversion rates are poor at this stage, it may be an indication that either your sales team is not prepared properly to convert customers, or the funnel needs optimization to improve the quality of leads that end up at the bottom of the funnel.
Ultimately, the quality of your funnel will not only impact your conversions but will also impact your long-term customer retention rate. The key to a successful sales funnel is to properly engage with prospects at each level of the funnel and provide valuable content that persuades them to keep reading and eventually, to buy.
Examples of BoFu content include whitepapers, datasheets, and case studies.
Now that we know what a sales funnel is and how it works, let’s talk about how you can optimize it so it works as well as it possibly can at converting leads.
8 Steps to a Fully-Optimized Sales Funnel
Step 1: Do Your Market Research
Before developing any strategy, it’s essential to make sure you understand your target audience and buyer persona (aka an avatar of your ideal customer).
Once you know who your target audience is, study them to understand what they need, what their pains are, where they hang out online, and what types of digital marketing content they most frequently consume.
Step 2: Study the Competition
Many of your competitors have likely already built a sales or marketing funnel so studying theirs can help you begin to formulate your own. We’re not saying to copy what your competitors are doing, but see where you can fill in their gaps.
Some things they may be doing well that you can replicate, but there may be other areas where you can improve what they’re doing. Additionally, this can be an advantage when talking with potential clients because you’ll have the ability to discuss ways in which your product or service is better than the competition.
Step 3: Start Engaging Your Audience
These tools can help you determine which topics your target market wants to read about, help content rank well in the SERPS so you can gain more organic traffic, and assist you with optimizing your site so website visitors have a good experience while reading.
The type of content you use will vary depending on your business and your target market. But viable options include social media, landing pages, email marketing, webinars, Facebook ads, blog posts, and especially gated assets to capture email addresses.
BONUS: It’s extremely important that you create product landing pages for all of your products as well as the industries you serve.
Step 4. Track and Measure Everything
Track everything you do from social posts to email campaigns – all of your content marketing should have tracking enabled through UTM links so you can see where traffic is coming from as well as how content is performing.
Additionally, you need to measure the performance of every tactic you use. For example, you can track the performance of email campaigns by tracking open rates and click-through rates.
When aspects of your funnel are underperforming, consider retargeting, and re-strategize. Also, be sure that every piece of content includes a CTA with a link to the next step they should take whether it’s filling out a form or reading a blog post.
Step 5. Don’t Forget Technical SEO and Domain Authority
Technical SEO is often neglected by businesses that are new to SEO strategy. Optimizing your content is pointless if your website is not also optimized to provide a good experience that keeps readers on your site longer.
Not only should you be building all your content around your SEO keyword research, but you should also be improving your website through technical SEO optimization. This means testing page load speeds, making sure links are working, including a search bar on your site, adding an exit popup, and having a good menu that helps visitors find content easily.
You should also be working to improve your domain authority by asking adjacent, non-competitive businesses for backlinks. By adding a link to your site or blog on theirs, you increase your DA, and link building can expose your content to a wider audience.
Step 6: Offer Upsell/Cross-Sell Opportunities to Buyers
Using an upsell technique or cross-selling tactic can be extremely effective, especially if you are an eCommerce website. Many people are encouraged by incentivized opportunities, which can be initiated in a marketing sales funnel campaign.
Ask yourself, for each of your buyer personas, what other products or services would enhance their experience? Be sure to offer these options both on your site through a recommendations widget as well as while closing the sale.
Step 7: Work on Adding Social Proof
The phrase “social proof” might sound new but it ultimately refers to any type of customer review.
Whether it’s referrals, testimonials, case studies, or reviews- showcasing a positive customer experience through word-of-mouth can strengthen your sales funnel and encourage prospective customers to pull the trigger on your business instead of a competitor.
Step 8: The Sales Cycle Doesn’t End at the Sale
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting a prospect the moment they become a paying customer. Not only is this shady business practice, but it can really cause you to shoot yourself in the foot by adding a ton of new customers that turnover at renewal.
Implement a good onboarding practice to ensure your clients get off on the right foot with your product or service. Follow-up with them regularly to check and make sure they’re still happy, resolve their concerns, and offer more value.
How Interrupt Media Can Help with Sales Enablement
Lucky for you, we’re pros when it comes to sales funnels and optimizing marketing strategy. We have a team of experts that can help you implement a marketing automation plan, map SEO topics to your funnels, and improve sales enablement.
Focus your attention on what matters most for your business and leave the rest to us. We’ll help you hit all your goals using strategies that are tailored to your needs, goals, and budget.
If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, reach out and we’ll set up a call.