What is a sales funnel? Different types of sales funnels explained.

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Let’s talk funnels, marketing funnels that is.

The sales funnel is the customer journey from their initial ‘awareness’ of a company all the way to the final purchase, with different stages requiring different actions from your company in order to keep the customer engaged. In this digital age, sales funnels have taken a new form, with consumers interacting with businesses through different channels and doing so more frequently, with more “touchpoints” prior to buying than ever before.

There are multiple types of sales funnel that are utilized by modern businesses that entice customers to purchase, subscribe and engage with your company. We’re going to take you through the different types of sales funnels and how to use them to inspire your potential customers to take action.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a marketing term for the process that customers go through prior to making a purchase or subscription. Each stage of the funnel takes the buyer a step closer to making that final purchase. Funnels are used across multiple industries and are often implemented to instruct and inform marketing strategies.

A sales funnel is used to inform consumers’ buying decisions at various points in their purchase journey. In the modern, online world of business, these points have become more varied than in traditional business and there are more opportunities to touch base with the customer to inform their buying decisions.

Being aware of the various stages of the funnel and how to utilize different types of sales funnels can add to your marketing arsenal and ensure your business maximizes its possibilities for conversions in multiple ways.

What are the stages of a sales funnel?

Before we look at the different types of sales funnels, we’ll introduce you to the basic sales funnel structure. There are generally 3 main stages of a sales funnel as described below.

Top of funnel – Awareness to Interest

The top of the sales funnel begins with the awareness stage. Before anything is sold, getting a company name out there is vital in the modern world. Building awareness of your business can include using the following tools:

  • Social Media
  • Guest posts/ blog articles (which you can get our content marketing wizards to write.)
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Online events

There are plenty of ways to build awareness of your company in the online space and that initial awareness is where all purchases begin. The progression of the top of a sales funnel would be to reach”interest”, which is when a customer is already aware of your brand/business and want to learn more about your services or products.

The interest stage is when you’ve caught the attention of the customer, but will likely be one of a number of brands the consumer is considering – which makes it one of the most important stages of the process.

Middle of Funnel – Evaluation to Engagement

The next phase of the sales funnel is when customers take a more serious interest in your company before making a purchase. They’re already aware of and interested, and here will be evaluating multiple potential purchase points. It’s important here for customers to be aware of your price points, testimonials, and product reviews.

Engagement is the fourth point of the sales funnel where consumers are actually taking action towards making a purchase, but are not yet ready to make the final decision. In the engagement stage, it’s important to try to utilize tools such as special offers, email campaigns, and insider knowledge to entice customers.

Bottom of Funnel – Engagement to Purchase

The bottom of the sales funnel is where the fruits of your labor become apparent – that final commitment from the customer to make the purchase and where a business closes the sale. In this stage it’s vital to capitalize on making the consumer feel like they’ve done the right thing – that the payment is smooth, the level of service doesn’t drop from the earlier stages in the funnel, and that after-sales service matches, too. 

Different types of sales funnels

There are various types of sales funnel that you can utilize in order to engage your potential customers and encourage them to delve further into the sales funnel for your business.

Different scenarios call for different types of sales funnels. Below we’ll take you through some of them and provide some pointers on how and when to use them.

Sales Letter/Sales Call

This traditional approach to pulling in customers is the standard sales letter or sales call. The modern spin would of course be an email campaign that directly offers customers a product that you provide. Remember to make it quick and snappy – emails can be quickly discarded, particularly if the consumer is nearer the top stage of your sales funnel.

Surveys

Surveys are an excellent sales funnel tool to make use of because they can help you can identify your ideal customers. Survey data can be used to tailor your marketing approach and direct respondents to the most appropriate funnels. As your customers are engaging with you directly by providing you with critical information, you’ll be able to easily adapt your sales messaging accordingly.

Squeeze Page Funnel

A squeeze page uses the element of curiosity in order to gain information – usually an email address – from your prospective customers. A squeeze page generally has very little information or distractions on the page (often not even a company name or logo) and has an enticing tagline in order to get your customers to provide you with their email addresses. The usual template of a squeeze page sales funnel is to require an email address in order to gain some information, answer a question or gain access to something.

One example is to have a question on the squeeze page, but the customer is required to insert their email address to submit their answer, thus providing you with their data.

The reverse squeeze works in the opposite way but holds the same kind of value. This is where you provide your customers with information first – such as a video or document – and then ask for their email address if they want further access. This is a good way to showcase your value to the customer before they submit their email address to you and, if done correctly, can have a higher conversion rate of success.

Video Content

The online world is awash with video content – and it’s an excellent opportunity to use as a sales funnel. With over 2.6 billion people worldwide using YouTube, the power of video is certainly not going away. 

Your videos can work in multiple ways, too, which means you can take a tailored approach to each product and utilize A/B testing to figure out what works best for you. YouTube videos allow you to add a call to action (CTA) links throughout the video, direct customers to your website, and more. You can showcase a product more effectively through video than in writing and provide in-depth reviews and more through this medium. 

Videos can also offer a direct link to your product pages, so the flexibility and adaptability of videos – not to mention their popularity online – can provide huge awareness and even conversion in various stages of your sales funnel.

Social Media 

As we’ve already mentioned YouTube, Social Media presence is another key sales funnel type to utilize online. Falling predominantly in the ‘awareness’ stage of the sales funnel, ensuring a social media presence is key for awareness, visibility, and even Google search results – so you can enhance your search engine optimization as well as your brand’s reputation with a strong social media strategy.

Lead Magnet funnel

Lead magnet sales funnels are often used in SaaS businesses as a means of providing customers with a look at what that service is before committing to purchase. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon use Lead Magnets via free trials, but the same approach can be used with free samples of a product or report. Lead Magnets work where the customer is receiving something tangible (such as an ebook) in exchange for their information (such as email address) in the hope of converting them to paying customers.

Ad Funnel

Ads are often a core tool used in many marketing strategies for modern business. Google, Facebook, and YouTube have all monetized ads to such a degree that if you’re not using online ads in your marketing, you’re missing out. Especially so as almost half of all websites on the internet (45.9%) use Google Ads.

But ads are only as successful as their landing pages. It’s no good connecting to your customer through your ad, for them to click through to your website and find themselves lost and confused. Make sure your landing pages are engaging (e.g. quiz your customer or use optimized A/B testing) to ensure you keep your customers coming back in this sales funnel.

Cancellation Funnel

The Cancellation Funnel is more of a protective measure to use as part of your sales funnel approach. This funnel allows you to lower your churn rates and potentially keep customers on board who were initially ready to jump ship. You can retain customers with a good cancellation funnel by offering them special offers or even the chance to say why they’re leaving via an exit survey.

This last stance against cancellation is often all that’s needed for a customer to re-think their exit. It can also be utilized to inform your business – through the use of surveys – to better tailor your offering to ensure that less and less customers think of canceling in the first place.

These can be used whenever a customer is trying to cancel a purchase or subscription or when they’re trying to return a product.

Webinar sales funnel

Webinars work as a two-pronged approach to the sales funnel. If your customers are nearer the top of the funnel, such as the awareness or interest stage, a webinar can offer you the opportunity to move them one step closer to purchase. Likewise, if a customer is in the middle of the funnel, it can help them make that final decision.

The first step of a webinar is to have people register to attend the online event you’re hosting. This allows you to collect data and information about your customers and, depending on the webinar topic, allows you to understand where they are in their sales funnel journey. 

Your webinar then has the opportunity to showcase your product in a more engaging way. Webinars usually last around an hour, giving you ample time to share success stories and pique the interests of your customers – often giving your business the chance to close a sale at a higher price point and alleviate any customer qualms in the process.

Limited Time Offer

The Limited Time Offer Sales Funnel is an excellent type of funnel to employ if you want to achieve a higher number of sales over a short period of time. Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the premier examples of this in action and there’s a reason they’re major successes year after year.

Providing your customers with the mindset that they might be missing out if they don’t make a purchase can really boost sales over that limited time. Creating urgency with your prospective buyers is a great tool to be aware of – but don’t overdo it, of course.

It’s key to remember that the more personal and offer feels, the more likely a customer is to make the purchase. Think personal emails addressed to your buyer or using limited-time offers to new email subscribers – and you could create an excellent, results-smashing funnel for your company.

Using different types of sales funnels

Sales funnels are a vital tool to master in your overall business marketing strategy. While there are many types of sales funnels, some will definitely be of more use to you and your customers than others. Regardless, all businesses can benefit from making use of multiple sales funnel types. 

Aligning your funnels and offering customers at various stages of the sales funnel in their customer journey is the right way to go in order to maximize conversions for your products and services. Implementing them in these ways – often in tandem – can help solidify your awareness in the mind of prospective customers and help navigate them from one stage to the next and – ultimately – to make a purchase.

If you want to maximize the power of your sales funnels, improving the visibility and quality of your landing page copy and content is key. If you don’t have a way with words or simply don’t have the time to optimize your digital marketing strategy, worry not! Our content marketing experts can help.

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