You must have heard that websites have become the business card of the 21st century. This is true in more ways than one. And just like a business card, many look at it once and promptly forget all about it. Or worse, they visit again and again, admire your lovely design and nice content but aren’t any closer to becoming your customer.
If you own a website because you just want to share information and help the world become a better place, good for you. Frankly speaking, the world needs more people like you.
But if you created your website because you want to attract all the right kinds of people and make sales, you should know this. You’re barking up the wrong tree.
If you’re set up to sell anything without having a proper online sales funnel in place, you’re leaking money. Really. Trying to use only your website to score quality leads and rack up massive sales makes just about as much sense as trying to catch fish with a spoon. You’re in the right place, and the fish are biting, but you brought the wrong equipment.
If this is you, it’s time to have a rethink. In this article, you’ll learn what an online sales funnel is and why it makes more sense for sales than a traditional website.
The problem with traditional websites
The average website contains 5 to 20 pages, with content interwoven all through. From any page, you can reach several other pages. More, you can have 20 visitors on the website and each one takes off in a different direction. Some leave for the about page, others browse through your product listings and a few read through your blog. Unfortunately, many fail to find what they’re seeking, leave and never return.
As you’ve seen, an online sales funnel is highly specialized. It’s refined for one purpose and one purpose only: to help you make money. And that’s all the difference in the world between sales funnels and websites.
Where your sales funnel is a lean, muscular hunting hound, your website is the equivalent of a clown dog. It can juggle balls, jump through hoops while singing soprano and could probably chase down a tortoise if it was lame in one leg. While the clown dog will gather a nice crowd, you need a slick salesman to make the greenbacks rain.
The bottom line is: your website, like so many others, offers too many choices and too little direction. This confuses your visitors and when they’re confused, they’ll be less likely to focus on what you want them to.
What is an online sales funnel?
In its simplest terms, an online sales funnel is the route that turns your web visitors into customers. It is the path they take on the way to buying what you’re selling. You may think of it as a sort of pitch that lets you introduce, explain and seal the deal.
Also called a digital sales funnel, an online sales funnel exists to help you do two things. First, it helps you monetise. If you have been maintaining a website with strong content for a while but just couldn’t find a way to make money or enough of it, a sales funnel helps you out.
Second, is its work as a filter. Not everyone that visits your website will end up buying from you. A sales funnel helps you identify those that are willing to buy more quickly so you can focus on them. That’s why it’s called a funnel. There’s more space at the top than at the bottom.
Online sales funnels are highly specialised in what they do. Their single aim is to help you make sales.
Implementing an observable and highly repeatable process, they help you optimise your sales process and ensure you’re converting well. How do they do this? By focusing on and optimising your sales process through specific stages.
Stages of the sales funnel
Every self-respecting online sales funnel has four stages. These stages pretty much describe the process that a consumer goes through, from visitor to prospect, lead and then, buyer.
The stages form the acronym AIDA, which means Awareness, Interest, Decision and Action. Let’s look at each of these below.
Awareness: Here’s where you first catch a buyer’s attention. At this point, they know about you and may have even passed through your domain at some point.
Interest: This is the point where they truly notice you. They’re doing research, making comparisons or just generally weighing their options to see what’s around. This is your chance to knock ‘em out with some quality ads or content.
Decision: At this stage, the consumer is ready to buy. They may be weighing one or two options – hopefully, including you. That’s why you have to make your best offer here. Beat the competition with some free shipping or a discount.
Action: If you can convince the consumer to buy, then you’re at this stage. The goal is not just to make the one sale though. You want to turn a one-time customer into a raving fan.
Why an online sales funnel works better
To truly understand why an online sales funnel works much better for sales than a website, you need to know how a sales funnel works.
Now the fact that your sales funnel works better doesn’t mean your website is useless, even in the sales process.
What most don’t realise is a website should form part of your sales funnel, not replace it. In truth, as you’ll see below.
How an online sales funnel works
Sales funnels work with two kinds of web visitors: inbound traffic and outbound traffic. Your inbound traffic comes from organic search while outbound traffic is generally sourced from PPC campaigns.
Although, most believe that sales funnels specifically generate returns on outbound traffic, there’s no reason why they should not work for inbound traffic as well. Here’s how it works.
Analysis of audience behaviour: The first step, like many others, starts with knowing your audience. Learn what they want to know about, how they behave on your site, what they’re looking for.
Capture audience attention: Knowing what your audience wants makes it easier to gain their attention. Quality content should generally do this if you’re going the organic way. Nicely placed ads also do the trick.
Lure them to your landing page: From finding their way to your site, the next thing is to get your audience doing what you want. A landing page does this nicely, steering the visitor to the next step, ideally a page with a tempting offer.
Capture them with your lead magnet: The tempting offer is the lead magnet. It doesn’t have to be the full works, it’s enough if it is brief and packs a punch. An invite to download an awesome e-book or opt-in to a can’t-miss webinar works nicely. And when they opt-in, you can capture their emails, laying the foundation for the next stage.
Create a drip campaign: This is a very crucial stage. Just so you know how effective this is, Salesforce reported that 8 out of 10 customers that signed on for emails bought something within 6 months. And their purchases were based on what they received in the mails. Unfortunately, many do well up to this point and then let dust collect on the email addresses. Don’t be that person. Using autoresponders, you can create an email drip campaign that provides amazing content to your leads and lets you market to them. But you need to build up to the sale by educating them first.
Make an incredible offer: Once the market is primed and educated, it’s time to make an offer they can’t refuse. Now they know all about fishing and the best equipment in the business, why don’t you introduce them to your all-star fishing rod. Which also happens to be going at 20% discount, with free shipping.
Start all over: The key to really unlocking massive sales is repetition. It’s also called re-engagement. According to stats, 60% of consumers are more comfortable with a brand after consuming from it. Your biggest market is your old market. So keep in touch, and move them over to another drip campaign or funnel that shows them the next incredible offer.
At the end of it all, websites and online sales funnels can be pretty important for you. But when it comes to sales, your online sales funnel is a 24/7 salesperson that never sleeps on the job. Always behind the scene, filling pipelines, collecting leads, booking appointments and making the actual sales that will make your business thrive.
And the best thing is, it does all this without you lifting a finger. At least it will when you have the likes of WellDigital designing and managing it for you. Start by booking a free strategy call here so you know we mean business.