A sales funnel can sometimes seem like quite an abstract concept, especially for those business owners who do not have a background in marketing. If the concept itself is abstract, optimising your sales funnel can seem completely overwhelming.
Today, at Effector, we discuss 10 ways to optimise your sales funnel and keep it performing for you on an on-going basis. We hope that it dispels some of the mystery and helps you to take action in your business today.
- Establish Your Sales Funnel
Before you can optimise your sales funnel, you have to establish it first. This process can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Each business has its own requirements and business owners or marketing teams have varying levels of expertise.
What matters is that you understand how the sales funnel works and what you need to focus on at each stage. Essentially, a sales funnel is a system where lots of prospects enter at the top, the widest part of the funnel and flow through to the bottom, where a sale is completed, usually. As prospects opt out along the way the funnel narrows meaning that less people come through at the other end to complete the conversion.
- Identify Your Conversion
For most businesses, the ideal conversion is the sale; it is what most of our marketing efforts are driven by. However, it is not always the case. You may have interim conversions for various projects that are underway including email sign ups.
Being clear about what conversions happen where throughout the sales funnel is very important for all sales and marketing staff. You can then optimise your sales funnel for each conversion at the relevant point.
- Examine where Leads Come From
The prospects that enter your sales funnel at the top may come from any number of sources. To optimise your sales funnel at this point, take the time to investigate where they are coming from. Some of your traffic will undoubtedly be organic while another part of it will be derived from your paid advertising activities.
As you plan your advertisements and select the audience that is targeted, it is easier to measure metrics for paid traffic than for organic traffic which may be erratic in nature.
Once you know exactly where the traffic is coming from you can see which advertising, social media and content marketing efforts are most popular – and what simply isn’t working.
- Metrics that Matter
The best way of knowing which marketing efforts are performing best is by monitoring your metrics. However, metrics can be a complicated business and it is worth delving into the patterns to gain a solid understanding of how your sales funnel is working.
A surface glance at your metrics generally doesn’t reveal the really useful information upon which we can build. It is nice to know how many followers your page has or the number of visitors on a certain day. It can make us feel good, and that is why these types of numbers have attracted the name vanity metrics.
To optimise your sales funnel we need to face the numbers that matter, such as:
- How long do your audience engage with your site?
- What are they doing with your content?
- Are they returning on a regular basis?
There is a whole raft of metrics that you can explore depending on your specific objectives, generally anything that gives you a greater insight into your audience and how they engage with your page is useful.
- Fine Tune Your Landing Pages
Landing pages are the place where your paid advertisement or other marketing efforts send your prospects as a first port of call. It is where they ‘land’ on your site.
Not all pages on your site are landing pages, there are ones that are optimised to make a great first impression while others are more work horse pages – they have a function but it is not a primary part of your sales funnel.
Your landing pages play are huge part in your sales funnel as this is where prospects often make a decision to continue or to opt out. To optimise your sales funnel then, you must fine tune your landing pages.
Each landing page should have one specific function and everything on that page should support that function. It may be that you want the prospect to hit a ‘Buy Now’ button at the end of the page or to complete some other interim conversion.
Keep your message on your landing pages clear. There is only one message, confusing that with other messages will weaken your landing page and consequently your sales funnel as a whole.
- Address Customer Concerns
This is the part of the sales funnel where you need to troubleshoot. Every prospect that comes your way is bound to have some concerns, some will be stronger than others, but all potential customers have them. These concerns play a key part in our decision-making process during a purchase. To truly optimise your sales funnel you need to identify your prospects key concerns and address them in such a way that they can be alleviated.
The main concerns or objections to a sale come under the following headings:
How you choose to alleviate these concerns can help decide whether a prospect continues down the sales funnel or jumps ship.
There are many ways to address any of the above objections. For example, if a prospect feels it is not the right time for them to purchase, you may choose to employ a limited availability time frame which makes the decision more urgent and your product or service seem more exclusive. Knowing and understanding your customer is key to getting this right, if you use a misguided tactic you may lose prospects but if you hit the nail on the head they will flow on through to the sale.
- Maintain Contact (Email Campaign)
An email campaign may play a significant role in your sales funnel when working towards a product or service which has just launched or which is due to become unavailable shortly. This time frame gives you a window in which to maintain contact with prospects who have expressed an interest in your offering to help move them further down the funnel.
You can use your email campaign to inform about the product or service, to address and alleviate concerns or to generate excitement about a launch.
Don’t forget to include a link to the most relevant landing page in your emails and to monitor the metrics of your email campaign too as this is another tool to optimise your sales funnel.
- Scoop Up the Leakage (Remarketing)
Got a leaky funnel? That’s ok, many businesses do! What is important is knowing what to do when your prospects start to trickle, or sometimes flow out of your funnel through a chink.
We spoke about customer concerns above. Sometimes these concerns are mild enough not to deter a prospect entirely, while other times they may cause your prospects to leak out of your sales funnel.
Do you just let them go? Well, that of course is up to you. There is an important consideration here. Are the prospects who are getting away qualified to buy from you at this time? If so, then it is worth following up with them. This is called remarketing and it simply involves presenting your ads to those who have already expressed interest in your product or service, but who didn’t follow through on their purchase.
Remarketing can have great results for those prospects who were caught at an inconvenient time and were unable to commit at the exact moment. When they see your ad a second time they may opt back into your sales funnel and slide the rest of the way down without any issue.
But if you don’t try remarketing you will never know!
- Nurture the Future Relationship
Ch-Ching! The sale is complete; that’s your job done. Or is it?
Of course, you know it’s not. While your sales funnel is mainly about moving the prospect from initial contact to completed sale, it also has a role to play in getting those completed customers back into the top of the funnel so the whole process can begin again.
What form does your aftercare service take? There are some sectors in which aftercare is significant part of the transaction. But what about a simple sale of a cup of coffee, does that transaction need aftercare? If you care about keeping your sales funnel in healthy working order, with a constant flow of repeat business, then yes, aftercare should be part of the deal. What form that takes is entirely up to you.
- Monitor Your Sales Funnel as a System
The sales funnel of any business is a living breathing system. Newton’s Third Law of Motion tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Physics works in your sales funnel just as well as it does in a physical function. When you change one element of your funnel, you can be sure that it will have an effect somewhere else in the system. So, in order to optimise your sales funnel effectively, it is key to always look at it as a whole.
Though there may be a lot of moving parts in your sales funnel, the most important factors are the relationship between the numbers entering at the top of the funnel and the numbers coming through successfully at the other end. Everything else is secondary to this vital metric.
To optimise your sales funnel and keep it performing properly, treat it as an ongoing, key task in your business. Schedule regular sessions with your sales and marketing team when you will examine recent performance and tweak the system in line with your findings.