Everyone’s talking sales funnels. We thought it’d be useful to decode the marketing-speak, give you a plain language explanation of what a sales funnel is and reveal how to manipulate the wisdom it delivers to convert hot leads into paying customers. Here goes.

What is a sales funnel?

Think ‘sales journey’ and you get the picture. All it means is the journey people embark upon between the point they decide they want a product or service, and the point at which they buy it.

About sales funnel touch points

What is a touch point? It’s every point along the sales funnel where people come into contact with your website. And prospects can potentially land on your site at any stage along the sales funnel.

Someone might happen upon your site at a very early stage when they’ve only just decided to find out more about products or services like yours. They’re nowhere near a buying decision, but they want information… and they want great information, whether it’s features and benefits, how to guides, reviews and testimonials, downloads, video, audio, hints and tips, instructions, images or all of the above.

Someone else might click through to your website when, having done all their research, they know roughly what they want. Now they’re searching for the fine detail, those invaluable pieces of information they need to make that essential purchase.

They might even come to your website when they’re right on the tipping point. In full possession of all the facts, having absorbed every bit of information they need, they’re looking for the best place to buy. And with a bit of luck, they’ll buy from you, provided you give them everything they need on your site. And that’s the crux of the matter.

Meeting visitors’ needs at every touch point

You can see how it makes sense to meet people’s needs at every stage in the journey, at every touch point along the sales funnel. When you provide someone with everything they could want at every stage of the sales journey, why would they click away?

How to move people along the sales funnel without losing them?

Here’s an example. Someone lands on your site out of the blue, at the exploration and information gathering stage. They might just browse your site for a short time then navigate away. But if you’ve provided a brilliant chunk of evergreen content that tells them everything they need to know and more, they’re more likely to stick with you as they progress farther down the funnel.

Say a prospect finds you at a later stage, for example when they’re researching the best price, best service, or even the site they feel most comfortable and familiar with it. Providing the exact information and insight they need at the stage they’re at gives you a better chance of eventual conversion.

Build a content marketing plan based on your sales funnel

So the idea is this: your site fulfils people’s needs at every single point along the sales funnel where they could encounter you.

Apart from anything else, mapping out your a sales funnel makes an excellent basis for a content marketing plan. Rough out a typical funnel that mirrors the way buyers in your sector behave. Figure out the touch points at every stage. Decide what content is most appropriate for each stage… then set about creating it.

What kinds of content will you end up creating? The digital marketing world is your oyster. Because different people react best to various communication styles and media, your toolbox includes more or less everything the internet can offer, including:

  • Product-led factual stuff revealing the product or service’s key features
  • Benefit-driven content explaining why your product fits their bill so perfectly
  • Fine-detail stuff designed to please detail monsters
  • Insight into the wider commercial landscape, talking widely around your subject as well as about it – for example, blog posts and white papers
  • Thought leadership items covering new research, developments, products and services
  • Stuff they can sign up to email updates and newsletters
  • Content they can consume at their leisure, like downloadable ebooks and guides
  • Images, infographics and video
  • User guides, podcasts and detailed instructions
  • Explanations of jargon and complex ideas in everyday language
  • Testimonials, case studies, customer reviews, price/service comparisons and buyer feedback
  • Delivery speed, methods and cost
  • Post-sales support
  • Payment options, guarantees, terms and conditions, refund policies
  • Content marketing success awaits you

It’s clear that moving site visitors steadily along the sales funnel towards a purchase is mostly a content marketing thing. So identify yours, populate your site accordingly and watch your conversion rate improve.

It’s digital marketing wisdom. And it’s precisely the kind of thing we take into account when we’re designing websites. As you can tell, building a hard working website is about much more than making something pretty! If you like our style, give us a call.