The digital sales funnel: What is it and why is it important?
If you’ve ever studied marketing theory — or even if you only know the basics — you’ll have heard about this thing called the “sales funnel.” It’s one of those marketing concepts that’s pretty handy for business owners to know about. And while it may seem like something contained within the pages of a dusty old textbook, the concept of a digital sales funnel remains equally as relevant in today’s modern marketing practices.
Keep reading to find out why. Plus, discover key tips on how to implement a digital sales funnel within your own small business.
What is a digital sales funnel?
The funnel describes the journey that someone goes on from first becoming aware of your brand. They:
- Start by researching what you have to offer
- Move on to buying your product
- Become a repeat customer
In its simplest form, a sales funnel consists of the following four stages:
Today, the widespread use of e-commerce and social media has evolved the application of the sales funnel. It may look slightly different from practices of the past, but the fundamental steps remain the same.
Key tips and advice for small business owners
In this section, we’ll look at the different stages of a digital sales funnel and what you need to do in each stage to move your customers along to the end. You’ll also find helpful tips on how to turn customers into loyal advocates of your brand.
In traditional marketing, the first awareness stage was often referred to as “Above the Line” marketing (ABL). This included anything that first made your target market aware of your brand and offering. Typical examples were:
- A person spotting your advert on TV
- Someone seeing a billboard ad while they were driving to work
- Reading a print ad in the Sunday newspaper
In a digital sales funnel, the awareness is done solely online. Modern marketing strategies typically range from:
- An ad on Google search results
- A banner on a favorite blog
- A sponsored post by an Instagram influencer in a specific space
Social media is also big at this beginning stage. It’s where people go to discover new things and gather recommendations. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are popular for this, which is why it’s essential for your brand to build visibility here.
Choose a platform that fits
The right platform for your brand will depend entirely on who your target audience is. This is why it’s important to first spend some time defining your target markets.
Once you have that down, you’ll then want to see how they behave online and which platforms they tend to use most. Are they pinning recipes on Pinterest or gathering service provider recommendations on LinkedIn?
Knowing exactly who you’re marketing to is far more effective than trying to be everything to everyone.
You don’t have to be on every single platform out there to have a successful digital sales funnel. Trying to be everywhere is very time-consuming — especially as a small business owner.
Equip yourself with the right tools
As with all awareness initiatives, getting your targeting right is key. Not only does it help you understand who sees your marketing message, but it also uncovers the overall interest in your product. You can use digital data like Google Analytics to easily track and monitor audience behaviors online.
Once you have a better understanding of who your audience is, it’s time to focus on creating targeted campaigns.
Tools like GoDaddy Studio can help you easily create eye-catching ads using various templates for banners and social media posts. The best part is, you don’t even need to be a trained designer to use it. It’s built with the average business owner in mind.
Cater to your customer’s needs
Even though the sales funnel has evolved in recent years, the function of the awareness stage remains the same. The point is to get in front of where your customers’ eyeballs are.
Let them know that you can solve a particular need they have. If you do well in this stage, you’ll successfully push them toward the next step in the digital sales funnel and edge them closer to a sale.
This stage in the digital sales funnel is where the customer moves from being a passive viewer to playing a more active role with your brand. They may engage with your brand a bit more on your website or show signs of interest through social media interactions. That’s why having a credible brand can pay dividends here.
Stand out among your competitors
Showcasing your unique perks helps give you the upper advantage when it comes to potential sales prospects. It’s also a key deciding factor as to whether they’ll commit to buying from you or not in the future.
Information is readily at their fingertips with things like review sites and social media. It’s what helps them compare products and services to find the best fit for them.
Even if you were only marketing products offline, your customers might still use online methods to make their brand comparisons.
Be visible in relevant spaces
Consumer behaviors vary in this phase of this digital sales funnel. They may jump between different platforms to compare similar brands, which is why it’s crucial to have mentions of your offering in a variety of different places.
Look beyond your own website or social media profiles and find online communities that tie in with your target audience.
Ideally, you’ll want to generate positive buzz about your brand in online spaces your audience frequents.
This means you’ll need to create opportunities for people to leave positive reviews about your offering. Try getting recent customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp or encourage them to post testimonials on their own profiles.
Alternatively, you can also get into the paid space here by sponsoring a product to a relevant influencer. Have them talk about it to their own highly engaged audience to boost your visibility.
This is the moment of truth. It’s the point of the digital sales funnel where your casual browser decides to become a customer. But it’s also the point where a good checkout process can seal the deal in customer satisfaction.
Enable a simplified checkout process
With e-commerce on the rise, many brands can benefit from a website that enables a simplified checkout process.
Evolving technology has made the online checkout process progressively simpler.
And it’s worth exploring if it means creating a smoother, more convenient experience for your customers.
Another way brands handle payments online is through social media. Some simply sell via direct messages in their Instagram profile or use an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) to complete the final purchase.
But if you’re selling this way, it’s important (perhaps more so) to make the sales process seamless and reassuring.
This is where e-commerce sites have a distinct advantage over their social media counterparts. They have the ability to reassure customers that their transaction is instant and secure through layers of payment technology. Plus, they allow you to easily confirm payments and show the status of an order in transit.
Maintain a good line of communication
One-to-one communication with your customer in this stage of the digital sales funnel is absolutely crucial. You want to make them feel secure and that their money hasn’t just disappeared into a black hole – especially if you’re brand new!
A good way to keep in touch is by following-up with:
- Confirmation emails
- Tracking numbers
- Text messages with status updates on order fulfilments
To make things even better, try communicating with your customer using consistent branding. A good visual or graphic can go a long way in delivering a clear message to update customers. GoDaddy Studio’s extensive range of templates can help you do this.
There’s no better ambassador for your brand than a happy customer. Keeping in contact with your buyers after they’ve received your product can be really valuable. This is especially true when it comes to building brand equity online.
Request feedback from satisfied customers
One way to gain loyalty is to capitalize on the warm fuzzy feelings a satisfied customer feels after they make a purchase. There’s no better feeling than the post-purchase glow of a happy customer.
When asking for customer feedback, seek out customers who are happy with the product and the sales process. You can ask them to leave a review or even to do a testimonial video if you’ve knocked it out the park.
Partner with influencers
Again, you could get into partnerships with influencers here too. If you see someone who likes your products, try approaching them about working with you on a long-term basis. It’s a good way to have them recommend offerings to their audience and boost your viewership.
A loyal customer can mean a steady income stream for your business if they buy regularly. Plus, they’ll become a loyal brand ambassador through word-of-mouth.
Just because things have gone digital, doesn’t mean you have to work any less to prove your worth to customers. The stages from the traditional sales funnel remain the same and the age-old concepts have not changed. Simply remember to focus on:
- Building your brand
- Offering something useful to your customers
- Producing quality goods or services
Keep in mind, the things that have changed are the ways you can reach your customers. It’s now much easier to communicate with them throughout the digital sales funnel – especially with all the technological advances available.
Remember, keeping your customers engaged with offerings they love increases your chances of building (and remaining) a successful business.
GoDaddy Studio has hundreds of beautifully designed templates for every stage of the sales funnel. Try it out right now, for free, on the web or mobile.