I’ll jump right to it: lead nurturing and drafting a sales funnel go hand in hand. When you take a look at where customers are coming from, and then ask yourself if they’re ready to buy from you straight away.
The chances are high that’s a negatory.
That’s why it’s so important to nurture those leads, to grow those relationships. When people know you’re in it for more than just making sales, they have no problem buying, and they feel more connected with your brand.
And the best way, the most organized way, of going about making them feel that way, is through a conversion funnel. With it, you know exactly what to deliver to them, right when they need it. It uses up all your blog posts, your video content, landing pages, even newsletters. And by the end of it, they’re ready to convert.
So, let’s take a look at how you can build a high-converting sales funnel for your business, and what each funnel section is composed of. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what to do to generate the sales numbers of your dreams.
Conversion Funnel Overview
Consider this the path that your potential buyers take through your website that leads to a sale, or more, preferably. It’s all-encompassing, from when they first land on your site, to when they get that “Congratulations, your order is complete” message.
And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s a reason for the funnel shape: there’s always, no matter what, going to be more traffic than there are sales. That is just business, and even large corporations and successful entrepreneurs will attest to this fact.
Which means that people fall off at some point during the funnel, whether it’s early on, or somewhere in the middle.
Anything, really. It’s a long list of possible reasons. Slow website speeds is a huge culprit, as people are so used to fast-paced results, and grow impatient easily these days. But it could also be that your ad and your landing page have some sort of disconnect (ad promises one thing, but the landing page doesn’t quite deliver on that promise).
The good news is that you can…
Design your funnel as carefully as possible…
And identify and fix any “leaks” as you go along afterward.
And on top of that, there’s one additional element in your favor here: the funnels you already know well, like traditional sales funnels are more rigidly designed. With conversion funnels, the cone is more flexible, entirely based on customer behaviors, nurturing and retention instead.
In other words, there’s less structure and room for error. Instead, there’s the comfort of knowing it’s more in touch with the human experience of purchasing necessary items.
Think of ways to recognize, and even anticipate their needs. Or how you can make them aware of your brand.
In case you need a visual, take a look at Oberlo’s rendition below. They are a well-known marketplace that makes it easier to find items to sell online.
Notice the very center of the funnel is all about keeping customers. It’s about retention. You’ll be focusing on outreach, product updates, contests and events, blog posts, and loyalty programs, to name a few things.
Also, another thing to notice is how a lot of these things are one and done. Loyalty programs are designed once, and then maintained. Contests and events can be reused, given enough time in between. And blog posts, you should be doing that anyway, ongoing. After all, write enough relevant content, and you can combine several posts into a colossal book, perfect for lead generation.
But enough surface level information on conversion funnels. Let’s see how to go about actually designing one of your own.
Building A Funnel
Technically, there are five steps to designing a high-converting sales funnel. Each one of these steps is highlighted below, in detail. But before we dive right in, know that this is going to take a little time. Although there aren’t many steps, each one requires a certain amount of introspection and thought behind it.
Whatever you do, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to deliver right away. Take your time, design a draft, and then build on it as time goes on, even after you “launch” it.
#1 Getting People’s Attention
Many guides will tell you that you should be getting a ton of potential leads, even if they’re not the greatest. They’ll argue that quantity is what matters most here, as you can’t possibly prevent leaks in any funnel anyway.
Although a compelling argument, it’s not quite accurate. Quantity means you’re investing a lot of effort into just getting traffic, any traffic. But quality leads are what increases the odds of making good sales, and even getting repeat business.
And business is all about building solid relationships with likeminded people. You can’t count on leaks to stop, sure, but you can control the quality of your leads, so you should care.
So take a minute to figure out what your quality target audience actually wants.
Think about what competitors are doing, and why. Is it working out for them? What needs are they simply failing to meet with their approach?
Once you have the answers to those questions, it becomes a lot easier to outperform them. It’s essentially the act of taking a look around you and noticing the mistakes that others are making. Then, instead of making them yourself, you’re altering your actions to better serve your potential customers.
And remember, every potential customer is at a different point in the funnel. Some people just figured out who you are, and what your business is all about, but others are already completing the checkout process. That means your solutions, your plans based on the answers to the questions need to cover multiple angles.
It may help to take a good two or three days on this step, just drafting things out, even in diagram form. Keeping track of all the branches is the most difficult part of funnel design.
#2 Keep the Action Going
Hopefully you have several landing pages for your campaign by this point. If you don’t, please do your business a massive favor and pause on this project to go tend to that one.
We’ll be here waiting, we promise.
If you already have several, don’t make the mistake of letting your copy and design do all the work for you. Landing pages only work when there’s an emotional investment in your visitors.
In other words, you have to find a way to create a solid connection.
Think of it in terms of several quick “wins,” rather than one solution that kind of helps everyone. And to do that, you need to listen to what your customers need from you. Because they will tell you what they need.
If they leave several comments echoing their need for more shipping options, you should do something about that, because clearly it’s affecting many people. Or if they keep bringing up their dissatisfaction with your customer service, you should look into the processes set up to help people. Clearly, those steps aren’t cutting it. If they are, then it’s probably your customer service team that needs a closer inspection.
This keeps the action going. It encourages your audience to keep saying what they feel is right. It cuts out any gambling, any guesses, on your part, making your job easier in the process.
#3 Content Planning
Taking into account everything you learned in step two, content planning is about actually planning out what you’re going to do at every stage of the conversion funnel. Each stage should resolve something that’s been echoed by your target audience.
And not to nag, but remember once again, every stage is different for everyone. There’s a lot going on in a funnel at any given time, and a lot of your solutions are going to overlap and resolve quite a few things simultaneously.
It’s easier with an example. Let’s say you’re a mechanic, and you run your own shop. Obviously, your customers come to you with a variety of car issues, everything from basic oil changes, to brake changing.
For the people in your acquiring stage of the funnel, you’d ideally want to use all available outlets, from social media to your blog, to address the more common concerns that you come across. Maybe even how-to pieces on how to better take care of your car to prevent some of those more common issues.
You may wonder why you should care to do this. What’s in it for you? Well, for one thing, you build brand awareness. Another reason is you set yourself up as an industry leader, which you should always strive to be.
But primarily, this is your chance to help people out, which as a business owner, should be your #1 mission. The more you help people, the more likely you’ll stay in business.
#4 Referral Programs
Once you get to the end of the conversion funnel, you’ll see a common theme: selling. Cross-selling, up-selling, next-selling, etc. It’s easy to become fixated on the sale, rather than the human being behind that sale.
You might be thinking “Well, I did just dedicate a lot of time catering to them during the first 99% of this funnel, I can’t get a sale?”
But think about the bigger picture: if you make customers feel like it’s all about them, all throughout the funnel, including the end, they’ll be more likely to do business with you.
And not only that, they will be more likely to refer other people to you as well.
Enter the referral program.
This is a great way to give something to a customer for referring another customer. And your referral gets something for nothing as well.
And before you think it, it’s not a loss on your end. Sure, you’re giving a small item away, or a discount code, or free shipping, but you get a new customer who is more inclined to continue buying from you because a) you were recommended to them by someone they clearly already trust, and b) you gave them something for free to kickstart your relationship with them.
If you’re trying to craft the perfect referral program, take a look at these steps:
Find the market that’s most likely going to bring you referrals. Which ones would be benefitted the most by sending new customers your way?
Clue that market in on who you’re looking for. That way they know who to send your way!
Walk them through the motions: let them know how to go about bringing you a referral.
Make sure you reward their work with something they legitimately want/need.
Remember that you’re banking on borrowed trust. You are being vouched for by someone that the new customer clearly trusts, so don’t make anyone look bad.
Rinse and repeat.
#5 Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
It’s easy to get caught up in the top of the funnel, because the emphasis of it is to acquire new customers―hence the whole point of a conversion funnel. Makes sense, right?
And to some extent, that’s really where you should be focused on. That is the primary goal here, and your funnel should cater to your audience from beginning to end, with that goal in mind at all times…
But it all means absolutely nothing without testing, testing, and more testing.
And the bottom of the funnel will always determine whether your funnel is effective or not. After all, it’s where the sale happens, and the conversion rate increases. Without testing things, you’re actually working really hard at the top of the funnel, while everything falls apart near the end of it. Your progress means nothing.
To go about testing, there are three main things to look at: prioritization, implementation and value. Let’s dive into each.
This is the act of 1) knowing which of your pages are the best and worst performing, and 2) knowing how to fix the underperformers, while prioritizing the top performing pages.
For instance, maybe one of your landing pages is really doing poorly. You’d take a look through and ask yourself if there’s a disconnect between the marketing promise, and the page delivery. Maybe the ad says one thing, but the landing page really gives them something else?
Then you’d look for any technical issues, and if somehow it’s neither one of those factors, then perhaps it’s your lead magnet offer itself.
At that point, you’d take any necessary steps to course correct the situation. But rather than stop your marketing in its tracks while you fix things, you’d be leading people to a high performing page.
Can you realistically implement this new conversion funnel (the one you’re working on while using this guide) in the landing pages you already have available? What steps would you need to take, and how much time would it take to set up?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself now, long before the conversion funnel is really done. At this point, you’re still editing and moving things around depending on the tests being conducted. There is still time to change the things that are simply not working out in your favor.
Just remember that although you should take advantage of the time you have to get this all done, there is a limit as to how long is too long. If something is going to take too much time out of your schedule, find a way to simplify. Nothing should take an enormous amount of time, especially considering you have much more to do during your workday than just create a conversion funnel.
And finally, ask yourself is this is honestly going to provide value to your customers. Ask yourself if your offers, if your funnel, really does cater to the right people.
Remember, you should have a target audience in mind at all times, in and out of conversion funnel designing. It’s what your entire business is based on.
So, does your funnel target those people whole-heartedly?
It’s so easy to get sidetracked with this one, mainly because we’re dealing with new customers. The objective is to acquire new business, and more conversions. So automatically, some entrepreneurs begin to dream up new target audiences than they’d normally cater to, and then they wind up shooting themselves in the foot.
Because just because you’re looking for new customers, it doesn’t mean you’re looking for a new type of customer. New types of customers want different things, they have different needs, and therefore, they require different goods and services. Changing to suddenly cater to them not only betrays your established audience, it also makes your brand messy.
Suddenly, people aren’t sure what type of brand you are anymore. They don’t know if you’re trying to change your style, or rebrand, or anything.
So, above all, make sure your funnel is targeted to the right type of people. They can be new, they should be, but they should be the same type of people as your established customers. If you ever get lost, think of some of your recurring business. What do those people want and need? What are the issues they face? What do they absolutely love about your business?
Once you have all of these three things figured out, you’re well on your way to knowing whether your funnel will be successful or not. But there’s still more you could be doing to test.
For example, Google Analytics allows you to track customers from when they first land on your page, to where they go afterward, including where they fall off the funnel (leak).
This is important, as it can help identify problems with the funnel design. Maybe some of your transitions seem confusing, or unclear somehow.
Lucky for you, I’ve already written a detailed guide on everything related to Google Analytics, so take a look at that if you’re looking for some instructions and tips.
Once you have the funnel set up, and your tracking data is underway, it’s time to track your metrics and compare those to your research questions (the things you consider deciding factors in success).
Are the numbers high? Are the numbers proving that your referral program is a solid one, or are they declaring it to be a flop?
Getting Goal Oriented
It may not sound too much fun, especially since you’ve already spent quite a bit of time, money, and energy on this conversion funnel, but it’s time to get some goals. Without goals, everything kind of moves and does things…
But you really have no clue if it’s worth it. You don’t know if things are working in your favor, and if they are, then… why?
Think about it this way: getting a giftcard to a store is always a nice thing, right? You get extra money to spend somewhere and purchase an item or two.
But… What if the giftcard is for a store that you never shop at, nor want to?
Suddenly, you realize that just because something good happens, it may not always be useful to you. What would have been useful is a giftcard to a store that sells the item you most wanted for your birthday, or the holiday season.
The same rule applies to your funnel. Just because something seemingly good happens, it doesn’t mean that it’s working in favor of what you need to happen to achieve your goals.
And your goals need to be much more than immediate. It’s easy to get caught up in the conversion rate numbers, because that’s the whole point of the funnel. But what about… the long-term?
How many of these conversions are going to become recurring customers, and how are you going to ensure that happens? And your referral program, which is entirely based on these new customers really liking your brand, is it carefully thought-out? Is it working?
It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. There’s always some level of risk involved with every business decision, funnel related or not.
Don’t expect to know exactly what’s going to happen, or whether or not something is headed in the right direction. The best you can do is stay informed on the happenings, fix any issues that arise, and steer things in the direction that you need in order to achieve your numbers goals.
We just went over the conversion not being the end-all goal for your funnel. It’s about recurring business, it’s about referrals, and brand building with new customers. You want as much lifelong business as you can get.
Well, there’s one more thing you can do to achieve that, but it’s too often overlooked and taken for granted: the follow-up, which you can do in the form of a survey, a pop-up, or better yet, an email.
Because remember, even after a sale or subscription is made, there’s still that nagging question: “Did I make the right choice?”
Think back to the last time you made a purchase with a new store. Maybe you’d never been to it before, but decided to go in this time because you saw they were having a really good sale. Upon walking in, you browsed around, getting a feel for what the store was all about. You looked at their items, their style, their identity, and decided that they could be something you’d be interested in moving forward.
But then you saw it: the item you’d been looking at for a while now. They had it, and it was part of the major sale.
It made sense, obviously you needed to purchase it then and there. It was on sale, you wanted the item for a while, and you liked the store. All the elements of the decision making process were logical.
But you still asked yourself if you’d make the right choice afterward, didn’t you?
It’s in our nature to second guess anything of value. Anytime money goes out the door, you have to wonder if what you spent it on is worth it, even if it’s something you’ve been wanting for months.
It’s especially true on high-ticket items.
That’s why your follow-up is so critical. Your new customers need to feel reassured that they made the right choice in not only purchasing the item, but in purchasing it from you.
If it helps ask yourself some of these questions:
Are the instructions that accompany the item or service clearly written and relevant? Is it easy for them to use the product right away, or will they be wandering around frustratedly trying to figure things out for a while? This is very important, as you want to be selling things that solve issues, not ones that cause them.
If your products are too complex, consider a new and improved version. It takes time and money, but it may be well worth the investment.
Sometimes things are simpler than they appear. If this is the case, it could be that your manuals are the real culprit. Hiring a technical writer may be the answer.
Do they know who to contact if there are any questions, concerns, or comments? How easy is it to find customer service, and how effective has customer service been in the last 6 months? It may help to compare their ticket numbers to their number of successful resolutions. If the ratio is off, consider implementing an improved training program for all staff.
Also remember that social media is the new way of communicating with businesses. Sometimes, letting them know that they can Tweet you, DM your business, or otherwise just tag you in something is enough to let them know you are to resolve their issues and lend a helping hand.
How are refunds and exchanges handled? This is the type of information that should be easily found on your website. But also, you should be able to provide this information in as clear of an answer in person, and on social media, if anyone should ask.
Don’t feel bad if there are returns and exchanges, since everyone has them, even big corporations. It’s part of running a business.
Strive to sell quality, relevant goods, and market them appropriately to dwindle down return and exchange numbers.
There’s lessons to be learned here. Make sure you find out why things are being returned, and what you could be doing better to satisfy your customers.
It may seem like a hassle. You’re already blogging, you’re already meticulously designing your website and landing pages. You’re not even using more than one call-to-action at a time. But on top of that you still need to nurture leads?
Think of it in terms of segmentation: not everyone needs, or wants, the same thing. You don’t go into a store looking for the same type and style of shoes as literally everyone else going to that store. That’s why there’s such a wide selection, hopefully.
And taking that lesson and applying it to your business means that everyone requires different leads from you, at different times. Some may really love your YouTube content, but others may just be invested in your blog because it’s full of actionable information.
The good news is that although it may seem complicated, trying to reach out to all of these people at the right time, with the right thing, all it really takes is a well-designed funnel. Once you have that in place, you’ll know what to do when. And most of it will be automated anyway!
And if you still think it’s too much to tackle alone, you can always hire on some help. Outsourcing tasks to freelancers, and getting guidance from consultants is the new normal for business. Sometimes a little help can make the difference between a subpar job, and an extraordinary step toward your goals.
So, of all the steps required to set up a conversion funnel, which one do you find the most difficult?
Remember, you’re free to leave comments, or ask your burning questions regarding the content of this article at any time! I love hearing from you all.