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What is a Sales Funnel and How to Build an Effective One

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This article explores the methodology and technology of sales funnels – the fastest and the easiest way to promote, sell, and deliver your products or services online. You’ll find this article useful if you have an idea for an online business and you’re looking for a solution to put it quickly into action.

 

What is a sales funnel?

The idea of a sales funnel dates back to 1898 when E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a purchase funnel, or purchasing funnel – a marketing model which illustrates the theoretical customer journey from the moment of attracting customers towards the purchase of a product or service.

Since then, it’s been given different names (i.e. purchase funnel, sales funnel, marketing funnel, conversion funnel) but the model stays the same, which means that it’s:

  • universal: it can be applied to virtually any business in any industry
  • timeless: times change but the idea stays relevant

In ecommerce, for example, we use the term conversion funnel to describe the customer journey from the awareness stage (usually by driving traffic to a website through paid advertising in search engines and social media) to the conversion stage, when a website visitor becomes a customer.

You might also call it a business funnel, since it allows you to go into business and sell pretty much anything from a physical product, through an ebook, to an online course.

 


Editor’s note:

If using a sales funnel to sell an online course is something you’re looking for, make sure to check out the recording of our webinar with Leslie Samuel. You’ll take away a step-by-step demo on how to build a sales funnel for an online course and much more.


 

Why do you need a sales funnel?

As a business owner or a marketer, you know how complex the sales process might be. A journey from prospect to a satisfied customer might be a long and difficult one. And paradoxically, the constantly growing number of marketing tools doesn’t help you start selling immediately.

That’s exactly why you need a sales funnel. It offers you a simple roadmap to revenue. It helps you focus on the most important stages of online sales: lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales. With a sales funnel, you can start making money quickly and optimize business processes as you go.

 

How does a sales funnel work?

The goal of a sales funnel is pretty much self-explanatory – it drives sales. Whatever it is that you do, the sales funnel is there to help you get more business. The sales funnel model represents the customer journey as a series of stages.

 

What are the stages of a sales funnel?

The original purchase funnel has 4 key stages:

Awareness – when potential customers become aware of your product or service.

Interest – when they actively express an interest in what you have to offer.

Desire – when they know that your product or service is the perfect fit to their needs.

Action – the moment of purchase.

 

As your business develops and leans more towards recurring purchases, you can expand your funnel by adding additional stages.

The more complex version of the funnel might look like this:

Awareness – when potential customers become aware of your product or service.

Interest – when they actively express an interest in what you have to offer.

Evaluation – when prospects examine competitors’ solutions and compare their offers against yours.

Decision – when your offer is shortlisted and it’s time for some negotiation before the final decision is reached.

Purchase – the moment of purchase, when a prospect becomes a customer.

Reevaluation – customer has been using your product for a while. Every now and then they might look for other solutions that will meet their needs. (hopefully, if they’re satisfied with your product or service, they won’t feel the need to look for a different solution).

Repurchase – when a customer repurchases your product or service.

 

You should use the individual stages of the funnel as a blueprint for your marketing and sales communication. Monitor the results and optimize your actions to drive more sales in less time.

 

Here’s a short video from Ian Cleary from RazorSocial that will help you understand the different stages of a sales funnel and how they will impact your business.

 

 

The sales funnel model + technology = Autofunnel

What happens when you apply powerful technology to a solid marketing model? Yes, you’re right! You end up with an ultimate selling machine – Autofunnel.

 

 

Send traffic straight to your sales page with the quick sales funnel, or nurture new contacts with automated emails before presenting your offer with the full sales funnel.

 

What are the key elements of a sales funnel?

Usually, when you think of a sales funnel you think of combining different tools for different individual purposes: an ecommerce platform, landing page creator, email marketing software, webinar solution, social media apps, etc. to set up a sales process.

In this case, your job is not only to plan an online business strategy, but also to carry out an in-depth research of the available tools and integrating them so that they bring you positive results.

Fortunately, it’s so much easier with Autofunnel. You actually have 2 sales funnels to choose from.

 

Quick sales funnel

A very simple funnel that consists of just two elements:

 

  • a sales page

With a sales page you can customize the order form and encourage leads to buy your products. The order form is a place where your leads can see all the products they’re purchasing and how much they’ll pay.

 

sales page templates.

Autofunnel sales page templates grouped by the product type

 

  • a confirmation page

The confirmation page shows your customers the order summary, a download link, or contact details. Your customers also get an automated confirmation email, where you can say thanks and confirm the order.

Build your quick sales funnel »

 

Full sales funnel

Sales funnel focuses on the process of collecting leads and finalizing the sales process. Use it to find potential buyers, promote and sell products online, and increase sales results.

The full sales funnel consists of the following elements:

 

  • a signup page with an exit popup form

It’s a landing page where you can collect leads by encouraging them to sign up to your list. You can tell them what they’ll get in return for their signup. You can also offer a freebie to get even more signups. This page has an inline form and an exit pop up form (appears when someone tries to exit the page).

 

  • a followup email

A message which is sent to your subscribers as an instant, automated reply message. A series of these are often called, drip campaigns.

 

  • a sales page

It’s a page where you can turn leads into customers. You can design a page to promote products and encourage potential customers to buy them. When they choose a product on the sales page, they’ll get to the order page where they can complete the purchase.

 

  • an order form

The order form is the place where your leads can see all the products they’re purchasing and how much they will pay.

 

  • an abandoned cart email

It’s an email sent to your customers when they don’t complete their purchase. This email reminds them about the products left in the cart, including their name, price, and the URL. It’s one of the most important types of automated emails that has a direct effect on your conversion rates.

 

  • a confirmation page

It’s the page where your customers can see their order summary, a download link and other contact details.

 

  • a confirmation email

After making a purchase, your customers will get a confirmation email. There’ll be a clickable button there. When your customers click on it, they’ll see their order summary.

 

Sales funnel sequence.

The elements of the GetResponse sales funnel

 

Build your full sales funnel »

 

How to create a sales funnel?

Building a sales funnel is easy. You can use the Autofunnel creator, choose your favorite designs from the existing templates, and customize them with just a few clicks.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to create a quick sales funnel

 

 

And if you want to see how to create a full sales funnel, here’s a walkthrough video:

 

 

Here’s another video from Ian Cleary from RazorSocial where he shows how to bridge the gap between marketing and technology with a sales funnel. For the purpose of this demo, he is building a full sales funnel for a photography course.

 

 

Build your first sales funnel »

 

How to manage a sales funnel?

You can manage (edit, add, or delete) all the elements of your sales funnel in the funnel view.

 

GetResponse Autofunnel.

An example of a full sales funnel

 

How to measure sales funnel results?

Autofunnel allows you to monitor your business in real time. Your sales funnel results are displayed dynamically in the funnel view. In order to check the ROI, you just need to log into your account.

 

Build your own sales funnel »

 

What is a Sales Funnel and How to Build an Effective One.

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