A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Sales Funnels
Sales funnels are an integral part of any online business, but many greetings card and giftware businesses don’t seem to think about them much.
And that’s understandable.
Sales funnel doesn’t sound very exciting, it doesn’t even sound particularly important.
But online and offline card & gift businesses are dealing with sales funnels everyday, even if they don’t realise it.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is quite simply the process of turning a stranger into a customer.
Google the term “sales funnel” and you’ll find endless articles and graphics, which show a huge variety of sales funnel types, but in an attempt to simplify the idea I’m keeping it to 4 steps for this introduction.
Sales Funnel Steps
- Strangers: this part of the sales process usually takes place outside of your website. A stranger is somehow made aware of your business. This could be seeing a post on Facebook, being forwarded your details by a friend or seeing you mentioned on a blog or in a magazine.
- Visitors: the next step is for that stranger to become a visitor, they’ve taken action and visited your website.
- Leads: next step is for that visitor to become a lead, they’ve opted into your mailing list and you now have a way to contact them.
- Customers: last and most importantly is the customer stage, that former stranger has taken action and purchased something from your website.
You will find sales funnels online that go beyond 4 stages. You’ll get processes that consider repeat buying, or creating brand ambassadors; but for the time being I want to focus on just these 4 basic steps.
By now, you’re probably getting where the name “sales funnel” came from. Like any funnel in your kitchen, this eCommerce process gets it name simply from the shape; it’s wider at the top and narrows as you come down the stages.
In terms of selling it means this. There will be lots of strangers out there in the world, not all of them will visit your site. From all those strangers that do become visitors not all will become leads, and subsequently not all leads will become customers.
The goal is to have enough people trickling through each stage that the number of customers you end up with is enough for your business to succeed.
What About Non-Funnel Folks?
It may seem on occasion that there exists pesky “non-funnel folks”; people who disregard your well considered steps and buy something from your site without opting into your email sign up first, and that’s fine. They’re actually combining stages 3 and 4 into one and speeding through your funnel.
The important thing to remember is that not all visitors to your site will be speed demons, not all will want to buy straight away, and for these more laid back folks you need stage 3, to capture them as leads.
Why are Sales Funnels Important?
Creating your own sales funnel is an integral part of online marketing and online selling as it gives you something real that you can review, measure and improve to get more sales.
Let’s break this down with some pretend figures…
Ok, Katy runs an online shopping selling greetings cards, stationery and art prints.
Katy knows that the average value of orders placed on her site is £30.00.
She’d like to make at least £1,000 in orders in the next month, so knows that she needs 34 x £30 orders to make a total of £1,020.00.
Now this gives her an end target of 34 customers for the last stage of her funnel.
Working up the funnel from here, Katy can now start to measure every other step of the funnel to fill in the missing data.
So she finds that to get 34 customers she needs 340 leads.
And to get 340 leads on her mailing list she needs 3,400 visitors to her website.
And to get 3,400 visitors she needs to reach 34,000 strangers.
These figures are obviously made up, but hopefully it all makes sense.
By seeing each step of the process Katy has a way to evaluate how her business is working.
If she’s reaching her 34,000 strangers but not getting 3,400 of them to visit her site she can work on this area of the funnel.
If she’s getting the 3,400 visitors but not getting 340 leads from those visitors she knows she has to look at how she’s collecting leads.
A sales funnel breaks down the sales process into easy to manage bite size pieces.
How Card & Gift Businesses Can Use Sales Funnels
Sales funnels work for any type of business so should be embraced by the greetings and giftware industry.
So how do you go about using sales funnels?
The General Funnel
Well, first of all there’s the general funnel. As with the example of Katy’s shop above you need to know and measure how your website is doing overall.
How many visitors are you getting?
How many leads do you capture?
How many customers placing orders do you have?
Knowing these key numbers will help you diagnose how each stage of your marketing and selling is performing.
The Marketing Funnel
Next you can add in marketing funnels, these are specific funnels, which look at how your various marketing efforts work.
Most card & gift businesses have hundreds, if not thousands of products, so having a funnel for reviewing every single one is not always practical.
But by setting up a funnel review process as you create new marketing campaigns or set yourself up on new marketing platforms you can steadily increase how much data you have on your business.
Focus on Channels
A sales funnel for your marketing channels will tell you how well your different marketing strategies are working. As with the overall general funnel you can look at the big numbers to see how many visitors, leads and buyers you are getting from email, blogging or your social media accounts.
Focus on Products
Alternatively you could use a funnel to focus on a particular product or category of products. If for example Katy (from above) decided to promote her new collection of Valentine’s Day cards, she could look specifically at the number of visitors looking at the Valentine’s sector of her website and from there how many leads and customers she was getting.
By narrowing the focus of a funnel to a particular product or product line Katy would be able to review how well a particular page or section of her website is performing.
What to do Next
By now you’ve hopefully got a better idea of what sales funnels are. You should also have a clear idea of why they are important.
The next step is to start adding funnels into your business.
Start with a general overall sales funnel for your website; using your analytics programme to measure each stage.
Once you have that in place you can then move onto more specific funnels.
First the various marketing channels you use: blogging, email, advertisements, social media.
Lastly as you create new marketing campaigns map out funnels that review each project.
As you slowly add to your list of funnels you will start to get a much clearer picture. And you’ll have real data you can use to modify your marketing, so you only use what works.