You should never underestimate the importance of conversion funnels.
A sales funnel is an essential part of every marketing process. It maps the customer journey from the first interaction all the way through to a final sale – and even further.
Your marketing conversion funnel influences every piece of content you create, and every sales-related decision. For this reason, it’s crucial for online business success.
But, in recent years, there have been big changes to the way businesses engage with leads, with an increased focus on touchpoints like social media, mobile, ecommerce, apps, and more.
This means implementing an effective sales strategy and understanding what works (and what doesn’t) is more important than ever before.
Related articles: B2B Sales Strategies to Grow Your Business
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What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is the set of steps a prospect or lead takes to become a buying customer. It is a prospect’s journey from awareness to action.
The funnel symbolizes that a business could attract many prospects, but only a few actually make a purchase.
Sales funnels are not just limited to websites. In fact, they could exist as retail stores, sales teams, email, and personal consultations.
5 Stages of a Sales Funnel
Although a sales funnel could vary from business to business, it is divided into 5 typical stages:
Stage 1: Awareness
Before selling anything, you must ensure people are aware of your business and products or services. You can build awareness through email campaigns, social media posts, guest posting and blogging, whitepapers, and webinars.
Stage 2: Interest
If you’ve successfully built some awareness about your brand, you will find people taking an interest in your offer. This means they will research, weigh their options, and compare different products or services in your niche.
This is when you present valuable and engaging content to leverage their piqued interest. This stage aims to help your prospects make an informed decision without pushing hard to get your products/services.
Stage 3: Evaluation
You would want to put out feelers during this stage and see what attracts your prospects the most. Tracking the links they’re clicking and the posts they’re engaging with helps you understand their problems and how you can solve them.
Consider using testimonials, bundled packages, insider news, free trials, and more to help your prospects evaluate your offer in this stage.
Stage 4: Engagement
At this point, you’ve managed to get your prospects to interact with you. They could reach out to you via email, calls, or social media to request more information about your business or be expressive about their opinions.
You can engage people through social media posts, survey forms, follow-up email campaigns, or polls in this action stage.
Stage 5: Commitment/Purchase
This is the stage where the main action happens — sealing the deal and converting your prospect. At the final stage of the sales funnel, a prospect becomes a paying customer by purchasing your product or service.
Use referral programs, upsell campaigns, and re-engagement email campaigns to retain your customers motivated to come back.
Why is a Sales Funnel Important
Here are some reasons why you should implement sales funnel.
Create customers – A sales funnel guides the prospects through multiple steps before they’re fully convinced to buy a service/product.
Generate referral – Besides satisfying your target audience, you could encourage them to refer other potential buyers.
Monitoring and tracking – A sales funnel helps you evaluate how each step of the sales campaign is performing and make adjustments where needed.
Focuses effort – Instead of wasting your efforts and resources on everyone, a sales funnel provides you with a focal point. It allows marketers to give more time to those who have expressed interest in a business.
How Sales Funnel Works
Building a sales funnel means creating a system that attracts the right leads and turns them into paying customers.
A sales funnel allows companies to acquire customers at a profit and scale their business. Once companies identify their target buyers, a sales funnel cultivates these leads into customers. They reach out to these leads through mediums, such as content marketing, video-based content, paid ads, word of mouth referrals, social media, and more.
Traditionally, businesses used to rely on outside factors and waited for customers to come to them to buy products. However, with a sales funnel, you can take control of your destiny, devise a step-by-step customer journey, and build a lasting relationship with your customers.
Common Sales Funnel Mistakes
Even the biggest and most successful companies must work hard to improve their funnel and conversion rates. This should always be a work in progress, and you need to be willing to recognize flaws and work on fixing them.
You need to understand what conversion means in business and how to achieve a high converting sales funnel to improve B2B sales.
No funnel is perfect, but when building and managing your sales funnel, there are some common mistakes that marketers make. Luckily, these errors can be fixed.
Here are seven mistakes you should avoid at all costs and how you can overcome them:
Having a weak offer
When business owners make their sales funnel, one of the most common mistakes is providing a weak sales offer.
This doesn’t mean the service or product itself is weak. Instead, it means they’re jumping straight in for a sale and not providing additional value. In reality, most buyers simply aren’t ready to make a purchase immediately when they enter your funnel. Even those who are ready and willing to buy will need persuading.
Customers need to see the value and a reason to buy. To do this, focus on selling an offer rather than just trying to sell a product. Providing a low-cost option, such as a discount, trial, or lower-priced limited service, can trigger the customer to purchase.
Chances are, when they do this, they will be more likely to buy your higher priced items, too.
Missing or weak calls to action
In a survey, 70% of B2B small businesses said they don’t use strong calls to action. If your sales funnel doesn’t include a clear call to action, you’re making a big mistake, as it needs to include clear instructions on what to do next.
A good call to action should:
- Create a sense of urgency
- Be engaging and persuasive
- Use direct instructions with actionable language
- Not require too much commitment or effort
Your sales funnel should be like a chain. For example, click link to learn more > provide contact details > make purchase.
To efficiently direct and drive leads to the next stage of your funnel, you need a strong, convincing CTA that encourages visitors to take the next steps.
Unattractive design and copy
Your landing page is the gateway to your online marketing conversion funnel. It’s one of the first things your customers will see, so making a fantastic first impression is critical.
This means that you need an attractive design, high-quality copy, and a clear, appealing, obvious call to action.
First, let’s talk about design. This is the first thing visitors notice, so it needs to be on point. The design of your landing page should:
- Be simple, easy to navigate, and free of clutter
- Have eye-catching colors that draw attention to the important parts of the page
- Use a lot of whitespace to help the text stand out
- Highlight the headline, call to action, and anything else that needs to stand out
- Avoid anything distracting, like navigation menus and graphics that add no value
Next, the copy itself should be well written and engaging. It should include:
- An appealing headline that draws people in
- A lot of focus on the benefits of your product and service
- Not too much detail about the features and technical aspects
- A highly actionable, specific call to action that’s highlighted and visible
Too many steps in your funnel
In an online conversion funnel, each stage requires the potential buyer to make a decision. Naturally, some people will choose to opt out at each stage. They might decide not to click your link, join your email list, make a purchase, go to the checkout, or finalize their purchase.
Whatever the online conversion length, it’s common and can’t be avoided. You’re going to lose a certain number of customers at each stage.
However, having big funnels for sales with too many steps means more people will be lost in the process. It can confuse your customers, cause unnecessary distractions, and lead to a lack of urgency.
Rather than focusing on how to make a large funnel, you can minimize the damage by cutting the number of steps in your funnel. Try and make it as straightforward as possible.
Not getting enough leads into your funnel
Another big mistake marketers make is not focusing enough time on getting leads into their sales conversion funnel. You need to get as many people interested as possible, and there are numerous ways to do this.
Social media is a highly effective tool. You can use paid ads, SEO, and unpaid content to get more organic reach. In addition, you can create exciting content to get more likes and shares and use prospecting.
It’s important to use multiple channels for generating leads. For B2B marketing, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms. Being the largest professional networking platform, it’s the most effective for generating leads and finding potential customers.
Furthermore, using a Dripify automation tool for prospecting on LinkedIn puts this process on autopilot. This means you can automatically be generating new leads at all times, even when you’re not online.
Not following up your leads
Practically, not all leads are ready to convert straight away. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t in the future!
Rather than writing these people off as “time-wasters”, be patient and persistent. Studies show that 80% of leads need five points of interaction before they convert.
Most of your leads won’t be ready to make a purchase immediately, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. They may just need additional persuasion and time before committing.
So, how should you follow up effectively?
Here are some tips:
- Focus on addressing their concerns. If the customer is initially hesitant or uninterested, try and find out why so you can help them and provide information.
- Don’t be too pushy, but at the same time, you should make the effort to reach out.
- Build rapport and try and grow your relationship with the lead. They will be more willing to trust you and discuss issues if they can see you’re a human.
- Resolve issues as quickly as you can. Research shows that resolving issues within five minutes makes them 9 times more likely to convert.
Ignoring or misreading analytics data
Another common mistake businesses make is failing to effectively utilize their sales funnel conversion rate data by ignoring or misreading their analytics data.
Companies have so much data at their disposal. And, even though analytics tools can be challenging to understand, without correctly identifying statistics and other key information from campaigns, it’s tough to identify which areas need improvement and how to do this.
Analytics tools have enormous capabilities. By learning to recognize and study this data, you can see patterns that you would otherwise miss for conversion funnel tracking.
There are plenty of tools available to help you identify which areas you need to improve or overhaul to improve your conversion funnel and optimize it for sales.
Tips to Avoid Sales Funnel Mistakes
Creating a highly effective funnel can be challenging, but it’s worth it in terms of results. Many B2B marketers make mistakes, which can end up costing them sales.
If you want to improve results, you should:
- Make sure you have a strong offer
- Have strong, clear call-to-actions
- Make sure your design and copy is effective
- Avoid having too many steps in your funnel
- Increase the number of leads entering your funnel
- Always follow-up on leads
- Track and monitor results using analytics
By following these tips, you can increase the chances of leads turning into paying customers, which is essential if you want to grow your online business.