Wouldn’t it be nice if people woke up in the morning and instantly decided to buy from your small biz? No questions asked — just a sale notification in your inbox. Ding!
Sadly, that almost never happens. Even if someone has been acquainted with your brand for a while, there’s a journey every client or customer must complete before you ever make a sale.
This is known as the customer journey and it's necessary for understanding your audience — how they think, what problems they need to solve, and what drives them to action. Once you know your customer journey, you can create a sales funnel that moves them along that journey to the much-coveted sale or conversion.
Understanding why you need a sales funnel — and how it can move your audience from “interested” to “gotta buy now” — is the key to success. Before we dig into more about what a sales funnel can do for your business and why you need one, let’s really break down what a sales funnel is.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a marketing concept as old as time. Customers move through their journey from “first sight” (when they first see your resources/blog/Instagram page/face/etc.) to “loyal customer.”
While the term “sales funnel” today might be synonymous with automation tools and marketing platforms, the actual definition of a sales funnel is “each step that someone has to take in order to become your customer.”
With your business, the ultimate goal is to move people closer to purchase. Without a clear sales funnel, you’re probably going to:
- Be on discovery calls all day long with people who won’t actually turn into clients
- Have to sell your products or offers through constant promotion
- Be answering tons of questions in your inbox
- Work hard for every. single. sale
- Lose clients or customers because they’re confused
Only a small portion of your audience ends up buying from you, so it’s important to know how people move through your sales funnel, from top to bottom.
The broadest portion of your audience will be classified in the awareness category. They know about your business, products, and services, but that’s about it. They may have followed you on Instagram because your graphics were eye-catching, or on TikTok because they thought you were funny.
There’s not much to this step because it's kind of like meeting a friend for the first time. You know there’s a connection there, you like hanging out with them, but they aren’t on your speed dial list yet.
When your audience hits this stage in the sales funnel, they’re interested in what you’re offering, but they’re still doing some research or price shopping. They’re mulling over whether or not they need this purchase.
This isn’t the time to sell, but to continue building your connection with them, showing (not telling) them why you’re different from your competitors. This is the perfect stage for freebies, masterclasses, live trainings, etc. so they can get even more involved with your brand.
Viola! Your customer is ready to buy — but not before they waffle between all the whys and why nots. They know the heart behind your business, they’ve made a connection, but now it's time to let your offers shine.
This could be free shipping, discount codes, or bonus offers. If you’re a service provider, it might be time to show them a case study or testimonials about the results you can get them, or offering a free discovery call.
How much more value are you tangibly giving your customers/clients over anyone else? Take this time to speak to their needs and show them how you have the solution to their problem.
Cue the party hat emojis — you just made a sale! Break out the good wine and make a toast to all that hard work.
But just because you made a sale doesn’t mean it’s time to move on to moving another client or customer through that funnel. Once someone has made a purchase, it's time to focus on retention. Focusing on keeping current customers and clients happy is the best way to funnel in more leads (read: get people to the top of the awareness funnel). They become repeat customers and brand advocates and spread their own testimony to drive new leads.
Why your business needs a sales funnel
No matter what type of business you own, or what you offer, you need to implement a sales funnel if you want to see more success and growth in your business. Does that make you get a little sweaty? Does a sales funnel sound like a lot of work?
“Sales funnels,” especially in the online business world, have become synonymous with complicated software, bro marketer sales pages and timed offers with tons of bells and whistles, and so on. But sales funnels, at their core, are very, very simple.
When you understand where you want your business to go, and understand the needs of your audience, you’ve got a solid foundation for your sales funnel — which is the hardest part of making them work.
They matter because:
- They attract your audience to your offers
- They offer value that leads potential clients or customers to make a purchase
- They help people better understand what you do/what you offer
- They can help further pinpoint what your audience is craving and can help you create offers that resonate with them
The main thing? Connecting with your audience in the right places and nurturing them to action. That requires addressing where people are at each stage of their journey/your funnel.
Creating content for each stage of the sales funnel
Now that you’ve become well aware of what your audience wants, you can create content for clients and customers at each stage of the sales funnel. Doing this helps you ensure the right information is going to the right people without sounding too “salesy” or pushy.
Content for the top of the funnel
In the awareness phase, people want answers, resources, education, data, and insight. Here’s the type of content you can create to build awareness:
Content for the middle of the funnel
During the interest and desire phases, your audience is doing a lot of thinking about whether or not they need what you’re offering. Don’t be afraid to get salesy with the content here — it’s your opportunity to reel ‘em in!
You could try:
- A free trial
- A live demo
- A nurture email sequence
- A free (short — we don’t work for free around here!) consultation
- Case studies and white papers
- A live training or workshop
- A discovery call
Remember that the higher up they are in the funnel, the more timid they are around your business. Let people warm up to you before you try selling to them.
Content for the bottom of the funnel
These people are primed and ready to buy or book from you! This is the perfect time to let them know exactly what you offer, with:
- A discount
- A proposal for services
- Retargeting ads
- A sales email sequence
- Testimonial comments and videos
- Bonuses (especially great if you sell digital products or courses)
- Comparison blogs (your product vs. a competitor’s)
Basically, this is where you really need to know your differentiator, because that will be what gets people off the fence.
Need help creating your sales funnel?
We get it — sales funnels aren’t the most glamorous side of running a business. There’s a lot to think about and work through to ensure you’re consistently creating the best content, and offers, possible.
We know that making connections with your audience is invaluable and that creating content with a killer strategy to back it up is also super important… but it can be time-consuming and confusing.
Styled Stock Society membership is here to make things easier for you!
Not only does a Styled Stock Society membership offer you thousands of beautiful stock photos, but you can get access to our growing library of templates and other marketing resources to incorporate into YOUR sales funnel!
As a Styled Stock Society Member, you’ll get:
- 6,000+ stock photos and videos shot by professional photographers
- 1,500+ customizable graphic templates just for Styled Stock Society members
- Monthly caption guides with prompts, templates, and sample captions
- Marketing toolkits and bonus resources added throughout the year to help you advertise your latest offer
- Unlimited downloads and lifetime access to assets you’ve downloaded