Optimising Your Website As A Sales Funnel (Part 1)
A strategy for converting
visitors into customers
Business Strategies to Amplify Your Brand
Achieving a good conversion rate from a website requires careful planning and strategy
Optimising Your Website As A Sales Funnel (Part 1)
A company creates a website to help develop its business.
In Ghana, it can be hard-work closing a deal. Consumers and clients are careful with their money and need much persuading. For products such as mobile phones, the desire is already there, and little work is required to close a deal. However, this is not the case for many other products and services, and a strategy is needed to help make the sale. With a little careful planning, sales can be significantly increased using a sales funnel.
The good news is if your business has a website, it already has a sales funnel. Any site that requires its visitors to buy something or sign up to something or make an enquiry or click on a call to action button is a sales funnel.
All it needs is optimising.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel (sometimes called a conversion funnel) is a series of stages that companies lead prospects through, designed to guide them to a buying decision. There are four typical stages; awareness, interest, desire and action.
The Basic Sales Funnel
The Four Stages of a Sales Funnel
Stage 1 - Awareness
The first stage is about creating an awareness of your product or service. It is about prospecting for leads and pulling them into the top of your sales funnel.
Stage 2 - Interest
After drawing potential customers into the top of your sales funnel, the next stage is to build their interest further and develop a relationship with them.
Stage 3 - Desire
The third stage is reinforcing the desire for the product or service. Here it is demonstrated how the product or service not only solves the particular problem the customer is facing but is the best solution available. The idea is to hook customers by showing how products and services offer fantastic value for money and by giving details of enticing refund policies, guarantees and so on.
Stage 4 - Action
Stage 4 is about closing the deal and is the final stage. This step converts prospects into customers, or not. If stages 1-3 have been executed well, stage 4 should be a relatively straightforward step in getting the contract signed, and money paid.
Notice that the funnel becomes smaller as we move through the four stages. This is because not all that enter the funnel will go on to develop an interest. The number that finally becomes customers is only a small percentage of those that entered.
A Website As A Sales Funnel
An online sales funnel is the process of pulling potential customers to a website and guiding them through various steps to take some action, whether that be buying a product, signing up for a service, opting into a mailing list and so on.
Developing an effective sales funnel is key to reliably converting visitors into customers. With the advent of the internet, consumers have become more savvy and many research products and services online before making a buying decision. The purpose of your sales funnel is to help them reach the decision quicker and in your favour.
Many small and medium-sized company owners in Ghana fail to recognise the potential of their website as a sales funnel. Often websites are regarded as something that all businesses are supposed to have, rather than the powerful tool that can be utilised to develop and improve any business that they are.
Instead of creating websites that guide potential customers into becoming actual customers, business owners outsource the development of their website, and little or no thought goes into how the site should be developed to be an effective sales funnel that can have an immediate and positive impact on the prosperity of the business.
So what should be happening?
The Sales Funnel Strategy
Your Website Can Be A Very Effective Sales Funnel
Awareness is the part of your inbound marketing strategy where your brand or product or service is brought to the attention of a new audience. This stage involves pulling prospects into your sales funnel (or conversion funnel).
There are many ways of achieving this, from giving out free ebooks to podcasts, but three commonly used methods of pulling prospects into your web sales funnel are:
Organic Traffic - By creating high quality, original content that is relevant to the customers you are seeking, for example, blog posts, good search engine rankings will pull visitors to your website through organic search.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns - PPC campaigns are a straightforward way of bringing targeted traffic to your website. Adwords and other comparable services allow businesses to be specific for the visitors to their website.
Social Media Campaigns - Depending on the product or service, social media campaigns are a useful means of bringing qualified traffic to your website. They also have the added advantage of coming with the endorsements of friends, family and colleagues.
Any of the above can bring qualified traffic to your website. However, with 51 per cent of all website traffic beginning with a search on one of the main search engines, the key part of your awareness strategy has to begin with search engine optimization to attract organic traffic to your website.
This stage must convert your website's visitors into leads by developing their interest in your product.
You have been able to pull many potential customers into the top of your sales funnel by creating and sharing awareness building content such as blog posts. Now it is important to move as many as you can through the rest of the funnel by creating content that makes it clear that your product or service is superior to your competitor's.
It is necessary to demonstrate to your site's visitors the benefit of engaging with your company. To achieve this, you must 'put yourself in their shoes'. What questions will they have? What objections might they put forward? What is it about your product(s) or service(s) that makes it the solution to their particular problem?
You must, through your content, answer their questions, deal with their objections. You must create content that positions you as an industry leader. Here it may be worth engaging the services of a good copywriter who knows how to push the correct buttons in your prospects.
Today's consumers have access to a wide selection of alternatives. Most markets are crowded and competitive. The majority of a site's visitors will not make a buying decision on their first visit. You have to keep up the level of engagement with your prospects, build their interest and keep them coming back to guide them through your funnel.
How is this achieved?
To keep up the level of engagement, you can give them freebies, talk to them on social media, entice them into joining your mailing list so that you can keep the conversation going and so on. At this point, it is all about building trust in your brand.
Probably the most successful method is to get your visitors to sign up to your mailing list so that you may continue the conversation with compelling emails.
An effective method of harvesting email addresses is a pop up where visitors sign up for enticing, relevant content. This content can be anything from pdf files containing hints and tips that are not available on the website to coupons for special offers.
Now that you have won your prospect's interest, the aim for this stage is to turn your website's visitor's interest into a desire for your company's solution.
Your goal now, is to convince your site's visitors that they need your product or service.
The mailing list that we were able to get our interested leads to sign up to is excellent at achieving this. Regular emails can be sent out that continue to increase trust and develop the relationship. Use the emails to highlight how your product or service solves the particular problem they are facing and how it is better than the other solutions available.
Again, engaging the services of a good copywriter could be an excellent investment and contribute to a better result and greater rewards.
Now that we have some leads who desire your product or service, the final step is to win their trust.
Here your content should be trust-building such as testimonials, success stories, case studies demonstrating how your company has solved the problems of others. You are building credibility that will allow your leads to make a buying decision.
Now that we've understood the basics, it's time to explore how to set up a sales funnel on your website.
Setting Up Your Sales Funnel
The first two steps are intended to help you attract a lot of high quality, qualified traffic to your website. Then we will examine how to optimise your site to be an effective sales funnel.
Search Engine Optimization
The first step is to make sure that your website is optimized to rank well for your particular market in the search engines.
More than half of internet traffic begins with a search; this means that the potential for large quantities of qualified visitors or prospects for your sales funnel is enormous.
SEO firstly involves keyword research for your market. It is vital to know what your customers are searching for and the exact search terms that they use to perform those searches. That way you can optimize your web pages for the most popular search terms.
For example, if your company is providing web design services, your keyword research would involve checking the number of searches for keyword phrases such as:
Website Development Agency (averaging 250 searches a month)
Web Design Services (averaging 3,520 searches a month)
Web Developer (averaging 1,280 searches a month)
A tool such as Google's Keyword Planner will give very detailed breakdowns of what yuor customers are searching for and help you to choose the optimal keyword phrases.
Examining the (made up and very limited) data in this example, it should be clear that the second phrase is searched for far more often on the search engines. This phrase should, therefore, be the primary keyword phrase that the website is optimized for.
Once your keywords have been researched and selected it is time to address on-site and off-site SEO. Read our blog post, SEO 101 for a good introduction to the steps required.
To really make your sales funnel 'fly', you are going to have to have some well-written, compelling content.
Frankly, having great content is vital to the whole operation.
Great content is going to help with your SEO. Having articles and blog posts that people want to link to will increase the number of inbound links to your site. The more good quality, relevant inbound links, the better for your website's search engine rankings.
Well-written, compelling content is what is going to convert your site's visitors at the various stages of your funnel; from prospect to lead to customer.
Good quality content must be easy-to-read, compelling, interesting and informative. It needs to keep your visitors attention and be persuasive enough to convert. Your website's content must be structured around your sales funnel and must guide visitors gently to the next stage.
Finally, your site's content must, as earlier discussed, present your business as an industry leader and demonstrate the expertise your company brings to the table.