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What is a sales funnel (& why do you need one!)

One of the most commonly spoken words inside my brain and out loud is ‘sales funnel.’

Yes, that is how we roll at Bolt Digital.

I spend all day every day funnelling website traffic from here to there, trying to turn them into ‘leads’ (aka customers) both for my clients and even us as an agency. Amongst some ‘funnelling’ this week, we’ve been funnelling people to buy holiday cabins, book weddings, have a cosmetic treatment known as CoolSculpting and attend webinars for fertility and menopause treatments.

I live in a place where I presume that everyone just knows what a sales funnel is.

Of course I know that in reality they might not.

And that’s what I’m talking about today.

Technically, a sales funnel is a buying process that guides potential customers through making a purchase. Also called marketing or revenue funnels, sales funnels lead consumers from awareness to action, and encourage a customer to buy a product or service through a series of stages.

They look like upside down triangles: each step gets narrower and narrower as the prospective customer gets closer buying.

Non-technically, a sales funnel is a bit like luring someone into a place they may not yet know they want to go, and they may even need to be educated over why they want to go there, but once they get there, they are happy to have arrived (we are not talking about pushing boulders uphill or anything here!)

You need a sales funnel if you’re going to acquire customers online. They are vital to converting sales and turning all those potential buyers clicking around your website into actual buyers. They also encourage repeat customers.

It’s all about pulling, ahem, guiding buyers through purchase decisions, and I’ll walk you through the three important stages of creating one.

TOF (Top of Funnel) Awareness:

Let’s forget about the internet for a moment and think about the real world scenario of, say, seeing Angelina Jolie on Graham Norton. You hadn’t even known her next film was coming out and now you’re thinking ‘hmm, that’s interesting.’

You’re at the top of the sales funnel for the film. You are now aware of it. Your eyebrow has raised and there’s the smallest stir of interest inside you.

Whether or not you go and see it is another matter.

During this step, potential customers learn that your business exists.

Outside of Graham Norton, online, this can be done through social media, social ads, content, email and all the things I talk about all the time.

MOF (Middle Of Funnel) Interest:

Back to the film analogy. You’re free next weekend and from the depths of your mind, the thought arises that going to the cinema might be nice. You recall that episode of Graham Norton and remember that the movie seemed amusing, so you Google for more information. Maybe you watch the trailer on YouTube or visit the films official website. After doing some research, you now definitely want to see the film.

At this stage, customers will start to engage with the brand. They might ask questions, request more information, or start commenting on social media posts. While the number of potential buyers decreases, the possibility of a sale increases. Some will even book tickets at this stage.

With the particular funnels we run, especially those for private medical clinics or health practitioners, the interest stage is often done through webinars or open evenings.

BOF (Bottom of Funnel) Decision & Action:

Ok, it’s finally the weekend. That same film you’ve been wanting to see pops up on your Facebook feed. You now buy tickets.

This is the third, most important step: the decision right at the bottom of the funnel. At this point, your customer decides they want what you’re offering. They’ve looked at all the competition, they’ve had their questions answered, and they’ve made the choice to go ahead. All the previous steps funnel down to this: action. This is when the sale is officially converted, and the customer has made a purchase. The potential buyer becomes an actual buyer, and you’ve made a sale.

And that’s where it all ends, all perfectly nice and neat, clear and controllable.

Ok so that’s a joke. Once your funnel is created, that’s not the end. Oh no. There’s the whole part about testing, creating loyalty, and having different products at different stages, and what about when you’ve got that sorted, what about those people who come in at the bottom of a funnel and then work their way back up to the top…. those people who go in the wrong direction?????!!!! To be continued…..  

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