In this article, we will talk about sales funnels, why everyone mentions them, and why they are essential for almost any business type. We will also give you some suggestions and tools you can use to create a funnel, leading customers through the process automatically. Let's begin!
What Are Sales Funnels?
"Every online business can benefit tremendously by having their own sales funnel"
A funnel is that thing you use in the kitchen, to pour in the liquid from a bigger to a smaller bottle. It's wide at one end and super narrow at the other.
So, a sales funnel describes the process of leading visitors (of your site) and narrowing them down into becoming customers.
Sales funnels are especially crucial in the world of online businesses. If you don't capture visitor's attention immediately, they are one click away from leaving your site for good, and probably going straight to your competition.
A good sales funnel also filters out random visitors from real potential customers. People end up on your (landing) pages in many different ways. Maybe someone referred them, maybe they clicked on your ad, or perhaps they Google searched for the services you provide. Or maybe your competition is spying on you.
The job of your sales funnel is to convince those visitors who are not exactly sure why your service is excellent, explaining them the benefits, and what makes you, your company, products, and services unique.
That's the importance of sales funnels, they are one of the best ways of converting raw leads into finalized sales. On one end you have a curious visitor; on the other, you have a passionate buyer who believes your service is just the thing he/she was always looking for.
Sales funnels will lead visitors through the sale process, but often in a not that obvious way. While there are dozens of sales funnel types, with more being invented as you read this, they all come from a simple formula, called AIDA:
The goal is apparent, making a sale, but the means to get there are very different, in terms of how aggressive the funnel is.
A landing page is clear, as it has a "buy now" button, or a similar call-to-action somewhere.
But, an email newsletter is more sophisticated, as it gives quality information consistently, and only offering sales here and there. That way, users build trust in your brand, and once they see your offer, they will be more ready to buy than ever before.
A reverse squeeze funnel will offer value first and then ask for something in return, usually an email address. You give a free eBook to your audience, and then you say "If you want more, sign up for our free email newsletter."
An Emotional Journey
Every funnel is an emotional process, as it is based on triggering the desire, that leads to taking action. Implementing video to invoke emotion is another very effective tool.
Even the attraction and attention-grabbing parts aim to provoke emotions, usually by addressing the issue a potential customer has, and explaining how the product solves the problem: "Are you tired of XYZ...?!".
The emotion part is what makes sales funnel so effective. However, the more obvious it is, the more sleazy it looks, and you have to be careful, as doing too much selling will chase people away. Along the way thru your sales funnels make sure to include elements of Social Proof also.
Who Needs Sales Funnels?
Everyone! Well, at least anyone who is looking to sell.
Funnels are one of the best ways to increase your revenue. Not only that they convert visitors into customers, but they also help you sell more. You can upsell and downsell, offering additional services to already paying customers, who will be happy to enhance a purchase they already made with add-ons. Great wikipedia article on sales funnel management!
Automation Makes Sales Funnels A Must-Have
But, there is one huge reason why every business needs sales funnels—automation.
Once you set up a good sales funnel, it works its magic on its own. Your only job then is to check it every once in a while and optimize here and there. And count the money, of course!
The whole process of setting up and testing sales funnels used to be much more difficult. Physical marketing required you to actually print and send sales letters, buy newspaper ads, or TV commercials, run customer surveys, etc.
While starting all that only required (a lot of) money, the issue was measuring the campaign success. Even if the sales started coming in, you would never know for sure how effective each part of your campaign was, and it was very hard to optimize.
Digital era changed all that. Not only that now you have super-sophisticated tools (more in the next section) that let you create and test funnels with ease, but you also have much better ways to analyze everything.
You will know precisely what brought customers in, which will lead you to do more of the same, eliminating other, not that successful parts of your marketing campaign.
Great video on building your own DIY Sales Funnel!
Best Tools For Creating Digital Sales Funnels
ClickFunnels is the best-known software for creating online marketing funnels. This is an extremely powerful tool that will let you go deep, creating every step of the process in great detail.
This feature-packed app will let you create sales pages even if you don't have a website, entirely on their platform, all without coding. With it, you will be able to generate leads, sales, and even run online events like webinars.
You can go for basic lead generation, trying to capture email addresses of your clients you can later use. Alternatively, you can aim for long-form leads, asking visitors to fill up more of their personal information, collecting phone numbers, addresses and similar.
As for making sales, ClickFunnels goes in-depth, giving you three options.
First, you have "tripwire" and "unboxing" funnels, that are best for lower-priced products that draw customers in. What follows is an "upsell" where you offer more of your services.
Secondly, you have the option to create sales letters, even in video form. Best suited for your more expensive products and services that require a little more convincing.
Thirdly, ClickFunnels lets you create launch funnels. These are for your go-to products, as they create hype even before your product "hits the racks." With this tactic you can gauge the interest, allowing you to prepare the best sales tactic when the launch does happen.
As for running online webinars, ClickFunnels gives you a lot of flexibility, giving you options to run live seminars through familiar third-party apps or to create "evergreen" ones that run at scheduled time.
The premium, Etison Suite comes up with two more released apps (besides ClickFunnels), and two more that are in the process of making:
Actionetics - this tool lets you create "smart" customer lists with incredibly useful information about them. You will see who they are, how they found your funnel, but also their buying history and information. You can use all that to create super-targeted follow-up email campaigns, that will significantly boost sales. All that within an easy to use interface.
Backpack - is an app for affiliate marketers which you can use to create an affiliate campaign, letting other people take care of your marketing. This app uses a unique system of "sticky cookies" that motivates your affiliates to sell more of your products, as it gives them more and more money. That way, they do the upselling for you, and you get to pay them only after the sale was made.
Pypeline - this software isn't released yet. But once it does come out, it will completely replace your current CRM.
Wasabi - another app that's waiting for its release date, Wasabi will let you create membership sites, which is one of the best ways to generate stable income online.
As you can see, ClickFunnels offers a lot, both alone and in the Etison Suite.
However, you will have to pay big for it, as there are no free options, only a 14-day trial. ClickFunnels alone will cost you $97/mo, while the full Etison Suite will require you to pay $297/mo. So make sure your business is big enough to support this hefty marketing investment.
In essence, LeadPages is a landing page builder, but it is so much more than that. This tool will allow you to create a complete marketing campaign, all the way from ads right to the money in your wallet.
You can create fully responsive pages in seconds, using dozens of templates. Everything is easily customizable, and you can take full control of how it all looks and works without entering any code.
You can create alert bars and pop-up boxes on your pages, making sure customers don't miss your calls to action. Additionally, you can create pages that have built-in payments, making the sale one step closer, and also giving you opportunities to upsell right on the spot.
LeadPages has an excellent Facebook ad builder that will automatically pull content from your pages. All you need to do is to slightly adjust it, and you are set. With this tool, you will not blow money, as it lets you carefully target your audience, making sure you only get qualified leads, so no wasting.
LeadPages lets you do A/B testing on all of your pages, which is an excellent way to see what works good, and what needs improvements. Plus, it gives you a lot of analytical data, but in a way you can understand. That will provide you with more insights about your whole campaign, in plain simple language.
Lastly, LeadPages has integrations with many popular services, including payment gateways, webinar platforms, chatbots, or scheduling apps and calendars.
Unfortunately, just like with ClickFunnels, LeadPages doesn't include any free plans, only a 14-day free trial. However, it is much cheaper and flexible than ClickFunnels:
Standard plan - $25/mo - works for one domain and gives you some decent features, which is good enough for smaller businesses.
Pro plan - $48/mo - you can connect up to 3 domains. This plan has more advanced features such as A/B testing, email trigger links but also access to weekly group coaching.
Advanced plan - $199/mo - for the biggest businesses. Supports up to 50 domains, and gives you all LeadPages have to offer - team sub-accounts, more text messaging credits, free workshops and more.
Sumo, formerly known as SumoMe, is another all-inclusive marketing tool that lets you convert visitors into customers. This tool is comprehensive, but also quite affordable, and it has a free plan, unlike the others mentioned above.
What makes sumo unique is that it is built on proven principles. The company used all these tools for their own service—AppSumo newsletter—and collected over a million emails. Sumo lets you emulate the same success on your own company.
Sumo consists of several unique tools that all have a dedicated purpose:
ListBuilder - this tool is aimed directly toward getting more people on your subscription list. It uses a set of popups either embedded, or triggered on certain scroll points, or when exit intent is detected. You can ask for email addresses, or put a different call to action inside your popup. SImple, yet extremely efficient.
WelcomeMat - this is another way to collect emails or put calls to action, either via a welcome mat on top of your page, or parallax placed somewhere in the middle of it. The impressive part is that you can embed a video too, to make the welcome mat even more awesome.
Smart Bar - this places a "sticky" smart bar you can position on top of your content, below it, or on the side. Smart bars are a useful feature for getting subscribers, or for putting calls to action such as "order now."
Share buttons - this tool creates share buttons, so your visitors can post content on their social media. All major platforms are supported.
Sumo is an excellent option for smaller businesses and those who are just starting out, as it has a generous free plan.
It will give you a lot of useful tools, with some advanced ones being locked, such as advanced user targeting, A/B testing, advanced email integrations, and analytics. Also, the free plan limits the number of emails you can make to 10 000, and the sumo-driven revenue to $500 per month. Also, you will have Sumo branding visible on your pages.
If you pay $39/mo, you will get everything unlocked, and there will be no branding. Paying annually will save you even more, and there's a 14-day free trial included.
Running an advanced marketing campaign based on sales funnels is one of the best ways to increase your traffic, quality leads, and eventually sales. While SEO is still a staple in driving traffic...sales funnels are also critical!
Three tools we displayed in this article will allow you to do just that. Study them on your own, and see what works for you; all three are unique in their way and guaranteed to generate leads and boost sales. Good luck!