People sometimes talk about sales funnels and if they are something new. The truth is, they are just a way of gaining perspective. Here we will take a look at the basis of a funnel and how they give us value and opportunity.
What is a sales funnel?
Everything that happens in a buy/sell situation is a sales funnel. Even if you look at the most basic corner ice cream shop, a sales funnel even exists in that model. Let’s say each day about 200 people walk by and see your sign. Of those, let’s say 30 stop and ask more about the price or consider buying an ice cream. In the end only 15 actually buy ice cream. Through each stage you narrow down more and more the number of potential buyers. When it’s segmented, you can also measure and tweak each stage of the funnel. If 30 stop and look at your shop, but then keep walking and don’t actually buy anything, you now know that you need to look at that segment of the process.
Affiliate marketing sales funnels
As stated before all sales transactions are in some kind of sales funnel. When we talk about it with affiliate marketing, we are usually talking about the journey from traffic source, to ad engagement, to the lander or offer and finally a conversion. To break it into more detail, here are the basic phases of the funnel:
- Awareness Phase – This is when a user becomes aware of the existence of your ad or a solution that you provide. They may also become aware of a problem they did not previously know they had.
- Interest Phase – At this point the user demonstrates further interest in a solving a problem they have and are actively researching potential solutions.
- Decision Phase – Here the user has show the intention to select the solution you are offering.
- Action Phase – The purchase or action (desired conversion) has taken place.
- Retention and loyalty – A funnel can be more detailed than this as well if we consider the post purchase phases. These have to do with the users loyalty over time or how you will how you will re-engage them in the future. Once they know you and you have provided satisfaction and value, it’s important keep them satisfied and engaged. If you can do this, there is a much higher chance they will be willing to purchase from you in the future and continue to do so. We all do this naturally, because once I “know you” and have had a good interaction with you, I trust you and most, if not all of my reason to not buy from you or to be suspicious of you no longer exists, especially if I can continue to demonstrate value.
5 reasons to use sales funnels
Your sales funnel illustrates the path visitors take before purchasing items. This is why carefully tracking those steps along the way gives us the data we need to see what phase of the process (or stage of the funnel) you may need to adjust. It also clarifies your strategy when building your campaigns. This is really valuable, especially in the beginning if you’re struggling with where to start. These are really just reductive step-by-steps. Thinking of those steps as a funnel flowing down helps us visualize these steps.
- Automation – When you have an idea of the flow you want people to follow and the possible variables in that flow, you can plan an automated strategy. What does this mean? Well, as the user progresses through the stages of your funnel you can set up emails to go out which advance to the next stages or re-engage the user to drop back into the funnel stage. This saves you loads of time and structures your sales approach in such a way that you can more accurately measure it.
- Building relationships – By tracking the stages of engagement in your funnel it helps you understand your potential customer better. When you know more about who they are, you can plan accordingly to build on that relationship. When they know who you are, they will more easily be willing to buy.
- A/B Testing – Funnels help you understand where to test and testing is what leads to pinpoint optimization.
- Increased LTV – It is said that a returning customer spends up to three times more than a one-time shopper and accounts for 1/3 of revenue. If you’re not looking for the long term view, you’re leaving money on the table. Without a funnel to capture that view, you will still to be able to build a list, but not near as effectively. Having a strong customer LTV means less work with a more steady income stream with far less work.
- People expect more – Once upon a time, people were either scared to buy online or were kind of fascinated by it (or maybe a little of both). Nowadays people don’t even think about buying on the Internet. They do however expect unique benefits when buying anything online. They know they can almost always get a better price than a brick-and-mortar. They know the market is massive and they are more aware of their value. A funnel can help deliver that customized concierge experience that people respond to.
- Predicting the future. OK, maybe that’s a little heavy handed (sales funnels won’t give you next week’s lottery numbers), but it will help you anticipate future trends. Sales funnels will help you understand your sales steps and process better. When you know that, it will allow you to make adjustments for the future and that directly impacts your bottom line. How? Because when you have an idea of what your sales will be you can adjust your resource spend accordingly.
Funnel Content Strategies
To get people into your funnel and help to them transition through it, here are some possible applications of various content types as it relates to the funnel stages.
- Blogging and social media (engages interest and awareness) – If you are speaking to a niche group or groups about things that they are interested in and passionate about, it helps to create a rapport by writing about things they care about. They could find your Facebook group from paid ads or organically. In social media many groups or pages are recommended to similar audiences, even without paying for it. This is where social media crushes it once again in the area of traffic quality. They could also find your blog from search results in Google using keyword campaigns. A good group or blog with regular, quality content can also help retain users in the post purchase phase.
- Video (engages awareness, interest, decision and action) – People have become so used to using video as a common resource for every stage of the sales funnel. This is why reviews and unboxing videos have become so wildly successful. It’s not secret how powerful video can be as an ad tool, but let’s once again think about the LTV of that user. A video can be stand alone or (ideally) it can be a part of a channel that continues to provide regular content. There are so many more emotive angels you can take with video that go beyond just great ad copy. Another (sad, but true) point to recognize is that people just don’t read like they used to and they often don’t want to be bothered to read anything outside of a funny tweet or meme.
- Lead Magnets (engages interest and awareness) – Who doesn’t like a free gift? It’s especially true if it’s something I care about or am in to. You can grow your conversations by offering something of value to your audience that they’re already interested in, such as a guide or course. Be thoughtful; think of the angle of utility. Have you ever been given a cheap, useless promotional gift with a logo slapped on the side that just winds up being food for the garbage bin? I’ve been given so many mouse pads over the years that I now find it hard to actually purchase one. Remember to be sincere and memorable in what you offer and people will appreciate and trust what you have to say.
- Webinars – As with the power of video, people respond very well the “show-me-tell-me” types of content. A webinar goes one step further because it’s live and interactive. By offering a webinar that gives your audience information or training relative to their interest you
Understand that a funnel process is taking place whether you’re paying attention or not. You can have all the ambition and motivation in the world to succeed, but if you don’t have a plan you’re no ware. Funnels not only give you a plan, but they become an instrument for measurement that helps lay out your future plans. Learn to master your funnel and you’ll see your profit soar.