It’s true that the traditional sales funnel is a thing of the past. The steps that sales people and marketers took even 5 years ago are already outdated for the uber-connected marketplace. Customers expect brands to be attentive and intuitive to their needs, even when a direct sale is not the immediate outcome. More than ever, sales and marketing teams have to work together to reach their shared goals.
By tweaking the sales funnel model, however, you can still make it work in a digitally-centric space – and quite effectively – for your brand. Here are the components of a
This is what “getting your name out there” is all about. You have to let people know that your brand exists. Today, this happens through the messaging on your website, your social media content, partnerships with other sites to promote your brand, and word-of-mouth marketing. This portion of the sales funnel is so important because it essentially introduces you to new customers.
Are you being portrayed the way you want? If not, it’s time to take a closer look at how customers are finding you, and what their first impressions are of your brand. We all know that simple exposure to our brands can often fall on deaf ears, or unreceptive minds. There are so many competing messages and distractions that capturing a consumer’s attention, even for a moment, is a win.
To ensure your brand is connecting with the right audience in the right way you need to create detailed customer personas for each type of customer who will purchase your product or service. Say you are a clothing company selling swimsuits to men and women. Do your target customers identify in a specific group like “surfer” or “jock?” What age ranges are these specific groups in? These are the type of questions you can ask yourself that will help develop detailed customer personas that inform how you position your brand and the messaging you use across your marketing channels.
The discovery portion of the sales funnel involves consumers approaching you – either through a visit to your website, a question on your social media accounts, an email, or even a phone call. This discovery portion includes self-education by the consumer on your product or service and can also include reading consumer reviews. Brands should anticipate what consumers will be asking about them and make sure the right information and support is located where potential buyers can find it.
It’s imperative that you understand what’s important to each customer persona while in the discovery phase. This is when your brand should uncover pain points and offer solutions through your digital content distribution channels: your website, blog, social media and email.
Once consumers have heard of your brand, and researched it, they come to a point where they must consider if it’s time to move forward with a purchase. This is a pivotal step in the process because even with positive exposure and discovery, a consumer can decide to go a different direction before placing the order. Having a robust email marketing platform, like Campaign Monitor, in place keeps the potential customer engaged throughout the consideration phase by allowing you to build customized journeys that deliver targeted content based on things like demographic info, geo-location and past interactions.
This is the step we all want to reach in the quickest time possible – it’s the big payoff for doing everything right leading up to it. Don’t rush this step by simply asking the prospect to buy. Continue to build trust by providing value. If you’re in a B2B sales organization, it’s also important to further qualify the lead to ensure your sales team isn’t chasing down a prospect that will never pan out to a sale. This step could use an email that asks the lead to sign up for a product training which would be an offer that only a serious lead would consider redeeming due to the time and energy that would be required. Leads that aren’t rushed through the buying cycle, but rather consumed content that was in line with their interest level are more apt to make an informed purchase.
A good strategy is to take a small sample of your prospect list and AB test messaging, offers, subject lines and pricing to find the right communication that will results in the best conversion rate.
Establishing a Relationship
The first sale is the hardest so take advantage of all the build up to create repeat buyers. First, live up to what you offer. Make sure your product or service is delivered in the time frame you promised and in the condition you promised, too. Send an email receipt that actually has the words “thank you” on it. If there will be a delay in delivery, let your customer know. Be proactive in as many ways as possible so that you aren’t fixing things after a customer is already unhappy.
Continue to collect insight about your customer base and use automated technology like CRM and email to engage with each buyer well after the first purchase. Encourage customers to engage with your brand on social media channels. Reward those customers with exclusive discounts and let them be the first to know when you have a new product or service debuting. Not every email or post will net a sale from every customer – but keeping your brand in the front of their minds will mean better retention long-term.
Continue to provide value to customers well after they make a purchase. Find ways to engage with customers by creating content that continues to help solve problems, educate them or be entertaining. Stay top of mind and focus on being a resource for customers well before asking for another sale.
Understanding that there is a process to selling effectively in the digital space will net your brand more traffic, higher sales and happier customers. When digital sales and marketing goals align, the end result is a boost to brand satisfaction and bottom line.