The 5 Stages of The Blog Sales Funnel and How to Use Them
The Internet comprises trillions of web pages and billions of websites. To say the battle for eyeballs is intense would be an understatement. Selling online is incredibly difficult and the overwhelming majority of blogs don’t break even or make any meaningful revenue. This is why a sales funnel is essential.
A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the progressive journey of a prospective customer from when they first visit the blog and culminating in single or repeated purchases. Whether you execute your funnel manually or use a funnel builder, there are 5 key stages that are critical to sales funnel success. We look at them here.
1. Create Awareness
The consumers out there that you hope will buy your product have likely never heard of you or know very little about you. The entry point of your sales funnel is awareness. You do this by creating quality, consistent, engaging, informative and relevant content that positions you as an authority in your field. Content is not just blog posts but also videos and social media updates.
Establish who your target audience is and tailor your voice to this market. The content should have broad appeal in order to capture as many prospective visitors as possible. Not everyone who is a good fit for your product will necessarily know from the get-go that they do need it.
2. Capture Interest
Once a visitor lands on your blog and starts to peruse through your content, it’s time to move them to the next level—interest. Interest goes beyond just getting them to read the content Instead, you want them to be so enamored by your blog that they are willing to provide their contact information (e.g. by signing up for your email list). That way, you can reach them directly whenever you have something to share that appeals to them. Include a call-to-action across your blog encouraging readers to sign up for your email list.
Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of online marketing and has remained relevant to this day despite the proliferation of a wide range of alternatives. In the age of privacy concerns, getting random visitors to give you, a stranger, their email address is challenging. You must provide a compelling incentive. It’s difficult to go wrong with free items (of course only as long as they do offer substantial value). Incentives may include a short training course, a webinar or an eBook.
3. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Once you have a visitor’s email address, move them to the third phase of the funnel—an exciting offer that entices them into a first purchase. In the past, this marked the final step of the sales funnel. However, a realization that the first sale should be just the start of deepening the relationship has meant the offer stage is the third of five phases.
To convince a mailing list subscriber to make this first purchase is difficult. Your offer should be attractive. Ordinarily, it would have a low price point such as a one-time discount. Be careful not to exaggerate the promised value of your offer. Inaccurate information or misleading anchor text (get more info here on choosing anchor text) may provide some temporary success but will do long-term damage to your reputation that’ll be difficult to reverse. If anything, make commitments that you can over deliver on.
The first sale should be the beginning of a fruitful, long-term relationship. Your product is likely vying against dozens or hundreds of competitors in the marketplace. Once you stop actively engaging with a customer, someone else out there will. When that happens, it will be only a matter of time before your otherwise loyal customer jumps ship and moves to your competition.
Check in with customers regularly to establish that your blog or product is meeting their expectations. Keep your follow-up emails regular but not excessively frequent as to be obnoxious.
Each email should be well-thought-out and take cognizance of the customer’s comments on previous follow-ups. If you can’t personalize the email to this extent, keep it as a general solicitation of feedback. Open your follow-up email with a context explaining why you are sending it.
5. Execute the Next Sell
This is the final stage of the funnel and, if successful, where the majority of your blog’s money will be made. Once someone gets to this stage, they are regularly engaging with your content and have bought from you at least once. You have established a formidable degree of authority which makes it much easier to close a sale.
Only a tiny minority of your site’s visitors will get to this stage but it’s these few clients that can deliver the steady revenues your blog needs to be profitable. Your next sell will depend on your keeping customers informed, providing a consistent level of service and routinely meeting their expectations. Master who this tiny few are, their preferences and respond with urgency to their requests.
A sales funnel will only be as successful as your ability to meticulously and consistently guide each prospect through these 5 stages. Not every prospect will make it through all 5 stages and that doesn’t mean your business model has failed. It might just be that your product isn’t the most appropriate for their needs. Nevertheless, the systematic nature of a sales funnel makes it much harder for you to drop the ball when someone who is a good fit visits your blog.