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A sales funnel is the buying process that a company leads customers through. It begins when a consumer realises that they have a problem or a need, and historically, it ended when the sale was made. However, contemporary marketing strategies have been designed to focus on building customer loyalty and advocacy, turning the “funnel” into more of an “hourglass.”

Traditional sales funnel:

Traditional Sales Funnel

Modern sales funnel: 

Modern Sales Funnel

In fact, some companies, such as HubSpot have done away with the funnel completely in favour of circular models:

Flywheel-3 

You can read about HubSpot’s Flywheel Model here.

Creating a sales funnel helps you to measure the demographics and behaviour of your customers throughout their buying experience. This will allow you to create content designed specifically to nurture your leads, make sales and keep your clients happy and loyal. We’ll lead you through the stages of the modern sales funnel. This has been proven to be the most effective method of segmentation. Especially for anyone implementing a productive inbound marketing strategy.

(You may hear people refer to TOFU (Top of Funnel), MOFU (Middle of Funnel), and BOFU (Bottom of Funnel) when discussing metrics and processes that apply to customers. These typically refer to the “Awareness,” “Consideration” and “Purchasing” stages, respectively.)

Awareness

Awareness

The first stage of the sales funnel begins as soon as a customer realises that they have a need or a problem, and begin to look for a solution. They may not even know what the best solution for them will be. They are typically researching their issue on Google, asking friends and family if they’ve had similar needs, and starting to browse the industries that offer solutions to their issue. It’s your job to be one of the solutions they see or hear about in their research. You should appear as a reliable expert in the field, with your unique solution clearly stated.

This is why you need a marketing strategy that includes SEO, SEM, social media and blog posts that lead back to your website. If a consumer is attracted to your brand, whether from a Google search, an Instagram post, or any other channel, they will begin to engage with your brand. Your website needs to be ready for this traffic and be designed to be informative, attractive and set up to convert prospects. Once you’ve captured their information, they turn from strangers into prospects, and are further into your funnel. 

Consideration

Consideration

When a consumer has clearly identified their problem and is determining which class of products and/or services will be able to solve it, they have entered the consideration stage. Once they have a better idea of what they need they will begin to research and evaluate individual businesses that offer solutions to their problem. 

This is why lead nurturing is so important. If you are able to identify which customers are considering your business, you can create content designed specifically to answer common questions, alleviate pain points and provide additional resources that set you apart from your competitors. You can then send them this content through email campaigns and other contact methods to help them progress through your sales funnel.

The consideration stage is known by many names, and often split into multiple categories such as interest, desire, like, trust, etc. It is the longest stage and can take anywhere from days to months, depending on the consumer and the industry they are shopping in. A realty company is going to have a much longer consideration process than a clothing brand.

Purchase

Purchase

The third stage is when the customer actually comes to the point of purchase. It is time for them to choose a specific product or service to fulfil their needs. This is where you prove to them, in-depth, how you are going to solve their problem. Depending on your industry and products/services, you may offer them a free trial, one-on-one consultation/pitch, detailed testimonies or case studies in order to make a sale.

In older models, this concluded the sales funnel. However, for the modern marketing campaign, the sale is actually a new beginning in the customer’s buying journey.

Loyalty

Loyalty

Once your customer has purchased your products or services, they enter into the loyalty stage. This is a time-sensitive stage. If you’ve created a great solution for them, then they are excited to finally have their new tool with which to solve their problem. You can elevate their experience by providing guides, tutorials, help forums, useful social media posts, live chats and world-class customer support.  Proving that you will reliably be there to help them get the most out of their purchase will increase loyalty and customer lifetime value. 

Advocacy

Advocacy

The final stage is the holy grail of all marketing campaigns. Turning your loyal customers into brand advocates. You’ve made your buyers happy by providing a stellar customer experience. This will encourage them to share their experience with friends, so that you’re at the top of their minds when they look to solve their problems. You can provide surveys, referral incentives, loyalty discounts, social media features and other methods for making your customers feel valued. This increases their loyalty and provides you with a whole new set of prospective customers. 

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Tagged marketing, marketing plan, sales, inbound marketing, sales funnel