Why do you need an Internet Marketing Sales Funnel?

Let me make it very clear. If you are a Digital Marketer, an Online Entrepreneur or someone who is willing to start an online business, it is very important for you, to understand, the need to have an Internet Marketing Sales Funnel for your business. To explain it in simple terms, a sales funnel helps convert website visitors to customers. Any business needs customers to survive and building a proper sales funnel helps grow the customer count, which in turn grows your business.

Understanding Buyer Decision Process to build a high converting Internet Marketing Sales Funnel

Before you even plan to create a sales funnel, it is important to understand the buyer decision making process. In 1910, John Dewey, first introduced the stages of the buyer decision process. According to him, there are five stages involved in any purchase related decision:

Stage#1 : Problem / Need Recognition

This is the very first stage a buyer would go through before even deciding to make a purchase. The fact is, we never buy until and unless we have a need. Needs might vary from small to big. For example, you are hungry, which means you are in need of food. The need can be fulfilled by cooking something at home or by visiting a local restaurant or else by placing an online food order. That was a small need. Now let’s say you face a problem everyday while travelling to office and coming back home in public transport. The problem is that, it consumes a lot of time and energy. On realizing this problem, you decide to solve this problem by purchasing a car. Let’s say you are a salaried person, and you have a limited budget, which means, now you need to find a car in your budget, which moves you to the next stage of the buyer decision.

Stage#2 : Information Search

In this stage, a buyer searches for solution to his problem. In your case, you are looking to buy a car for your transportation needs but within a limited budget. So you start researching to find the perfect car in your budget that takes care of your needs. In today’s world, Google, Bing and other search engines seem to be the preferred choice of information for most buyers. That is why it has become very crucial for businesses to maintain their search engine presence. So when a buyer finds a solution to his problem, he/she gradually moves on to the third stage in the process. In your case, let’s say, you found that a hatchback car would be more convenient for your office travel need compared to a Sedan or SUV, as its compact and so will be easier to move in the traffic. Moreover it’s priced less than SUV’s or Sedan’s and so will be in your budget.

Stage#3 : Evaluation of Alternatives

Now that you have decided on the type of car that you need, you might want to explore the various hatchback cars available in the market to find the one that better suits your need. The buyer in this stage normally compares the various products that are available to solve his/her problem. Comparison might vary between product characteristics, specifications, benefits or the price involved. Once the buyer narrows down on a product he/she moves to the fourth stage of the buying process.

Stage#4 : Purchase Decision

The buyer in this stage has already made a decision to purchase a product. But the decision of the buyer might still change based on two factors – The first being the comments / feedback from other consumers, friends or relatives. The second might be due to any unforeseen circumstances such as a sudden financial loss of the buyer. Although the second factor cannot be controlled but the first factor needs to controlled by any business by building a loyal customer base who are happily sharing positive feedback after their purchase, which helps new prospects make a confirmed buying decision. This moves us to the final stage of the process.

Stage#5 : Post Purchase Behavior

After making a purchase, its obvious for a customer to go through a feeling of dissonance that buying the other product might have been a better choice. This is the stage where some businesses focus less as they think that the last stage, Stage 4 was the end of the buying process. Due to this, businesses loose out on getting repeat customers and building a loyal customer base. Lack of attention in this stage might also result in getting negative feedback and refunds. Always make sure that you give your buyers attention after they make a purchase to make them feel that they have made the right choice. This will bring your business a lot of repeat customers who might even skip the stages 2 and 3 when making future purchases from your brand.

Using Buyer Decision Process as a framework to build an Internet Marketing Sales Funnel

Now that we have understood a buyer’s decision making process, let’s utilize this knowledge to build a high converting sales funnel. A sales funnel is generally built on the AIDA concept. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

A sales funnel usually comprises of these four steps. Although some marketers tend to use slight variations of the four steps and add in some more to get better conversions. However, in this article, I am going to focus on these four core steps:

Step 1 : Attention

As we saw in the buyer decision process, a buyer wants to buy something out of need. The buyer then searches for solution to his problem in search engines. Now this is where a business needs to build his presence to be found by the buyer. To make this happen, you can create advertising campaigns on Google, focusing on keywords that your potential customer’s might search for. Keyword research is thus very important. If you take time to do proper keyword research, and run campaigns targeting those keywords, you have better chances to be found by the buyer looking for your solution. Next, you need to create a compelling title for your campaign using those keywords that grabs the attention of the buyer and makes him click on your link. Let me consider the previous scenario to share an example, where, you were in need of a hatchback car for your office commute purpose. If I need to target an ad to you or others having the same need, and let’s say I chose the keyword “hatchback cars under budget” and if I am only targeting people based in India, I might write the ad title as “5 best performing hatchback cars in India under 6 Lakhs”. This is just to give an example and to show you how to write a compelling title that grabs the viewer’s attention and makes him click your ad.

Step 2 : Interest

Once the searcher clicks on your link, he/ she becomes a prospect for your business. Now its upon the landing page and the contents in that page to grab the interest of the prospect. To grow an interest in your prospect’s mind for your solution, you will have to craft the web page / landing page as such that it answers most of his questions and choose the colors and typography of the page as such to match your business type and that gives your brand a unique look and feel. The contents include the headline of the page, any audio, video or text included in that page. Be careful when deciding upon the content flow. It should be engaging. The engagement level of content can be measured using Google Analytics, a free tool used to measure website engagement and  traffic flow. Tweak your landing page from time time using the data obtained from Google Analytics to improve the visitor engagement level.

A perfect landing page will create a long lasting positive impression on your prospect’s mind and grow an interest for your product or service.

Step 3 : Desire

Once you are able to develop an interest for your solution in your prospect’s mind, the prospect will now take some time to evaluate other alternative solutions available and compare them with your’s to find the best option to fulfill his/her need. Moreover the prospect might check for reviews or feedback from other consumer’s who have already purchased your offering. The prospect might also look for more information about your business in search engines or on social media to gain more trust before making a confirmed buying decision. It is therefore, important for any business to collect feedback and reviews from existing customers and share them on their social media pages and also on their website. This help to create a positive brand image and also ignites a desire in your prospect’s mind to purchase your product or service.

Step 4 : Action

This is the final stage of the sales funnel where your prospect has reached after doing his/her research. At this stage the prospect is ready to commit to your brand by either subscribing to a trial version of the solution you’re offering or else by making a direct purchase. This is where your prospect turns into your customer. However, always remember the fifth stage of the buyer decision process that we learnt. Never leave your customers unattended after they made a purchase from you. This can be ensured by taking your customer to a Thank You / Welcome page after their purchase wherein you can personally greet them or welcome them by recording a short video. You may also send a personalized email to your customer thanking them for making a purchase and explaining them in simple instructions on how to use your product/service. Also share a link to contact you in case they face any difficulty. This post purchase steps can take your business a long way and can help spread the word of mouth.

Conclusion

A sales funnel always has a wide opening and a narrow bottom. This is because only a fraction of your prospects that arrive at your landing page turns into your customers / subscribers. The conversion, however depends upon the effectiveness of the funnel. Understanding the buyer decision process is very important to build an effective sales funnel. An internet marketing sales funnel is a must for any online business. Building a successful sales funnel can not only grow your business by bringing in more customers but also helps gain authority in the niche of your business with time.

Do comment if you found this article helpful. If you have previously designed a sales funnel, do share your strategies. If you think adding some steps can make the funnel more effective, you may share those steps with us.

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