The sales funnel and how it’s changing.

What is a sales funnel? 

Your sales funnel represents the journey consumers take with your brand before purchasing. Each stage of the sales funnel impacts consumer behaviour, meaning you need to know exactly what your consumer wants and needs. Your primary goal at each stage is to move people on to the next one, until they feel confident enough in your brand to make a purchase.

The funnel is a visual representation of a large number of potential customers starting the sales funnel journey, through to the small number that actually converts into paying customers – our job is to get this number as high as possible

Stages of the funnel.

Awareness. This stage is where you first catch a potential customer’s attention and includes the highest number of potential customers. Hooray, they all know your name. They might have identified a problem and started searching for a solution, becoming aware of a brand via search engines, blog posts, or asking friends and family.

They might not even realise they have a problem until they stumble across your brand, in which case, you’re in with a good shot.

When the stars align just right, they buy immediately. But purchase usually happens when a consumer has already researched similar offerings and knows that you’re offering something they need at a competitive price, or your product is absolutely the thing they’ve been missing from their lives.

Interest. The number of potential customers at this stage starts to decrease, but the likelihood of converting them into customers increases.

When consumers reach this stage in the sales funnel, they’re actively doing research, comparison shopping, and evaluating their options based on their specific needs and the solutions your brand provides.

This stage is where you should exhibit your expertise or niche offering to create content and conversations that build meaningful relationships with the right people by providing them with valuable information and solutions that align with their pain points and, ultimately, their goals.

Your content needs to be authentic and give them an experience they’ll remember without hard selling. If you’re too pushy straight out of the gate, you’ll turn off potential customers. The goal at this stage of the sales funnel is to communicate your brand values and product benefits to help them get closer to making an informed decision with authentic content.

Decision. The number of potential customers grows smaller again at this stage. But, the audience is much more engaged – potential customers know who you are, what your story is, and are looking for answers to their questions. After doing some digging into other offerings, they want to know just how and why yours is the best option for them.

Now is the time to give them your best offer. It could be a discount code, free shipping, or an in-depth look into the aftercare your brand offers. Whatever it is, make it the cherry on top that’s going to make people want the whole cake.

Action. The moment the sales funnel has been building up to – whether the potential customer makes a purchase or not.

If they buy from you, great – but it doesn’t mean your work is over.

Now is the time to dazzle them with your customer service, send a thank you email, maybe a loyalty scheme, invite them to give you feedback, or let them know how to get the very best out of your product.

If they don’t buy, it doesn’t mean it’s over – you sweep them off their feet with nurture campaigns to keep you at the front of their mind should they need you again in the future.

So how is the sales funnel changing? 

The sales funnel used to be a pretty linear journey, one that marketers had a little more control over, with introductions, over-explanations, and predictions of objections with a perfectly crafted sales pitch to try and persuade people to purchase. Now, with the growing number of social media platforms and ease of searching for brands on the internet, the customer is constantly in the funnel – but they can move in any direction – the stages are all there still, but they work a little differently.

Social media sales funnels

Thanks to technological advances and social media shopping updates, the entire sales funnel can now happen within social media.

If social media takes a significant place in your marketing strategy (if it doesn’t, you might want to rethink that). You can create social posts that fit into each stage and guide your audience through their journey organically – without asking them to do anything like leaving the platform they’re on.

Awareness. Shoppers use social media to discover new products to buy, 43% of 18-24 year-olds are using social media to discover products, and 47% of 25-34 year-olds are discovering products on social media. People are changing how they shop, and brands must keep up. Knowing that people use social media platforms to research your brand should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy considerations – what do you want your first impression to be, and how can you make it happen?

Social media makes it easier to use paid advertising to reach more relevant people. By targeting specific audiences, you’re reaching out to the people who could need a problem solving – one that you can help with – increasing the number of people entering the sales funnel.

Interest. When your potential customers land on your social media page, they get an instant idea of what your brand is all about. They will either immediately decide it’s not for them or scroll to find out more. The content on your social media page needs to be valuable to your audience – how can your content help them before they decide to purchase? Keeping your content people-first will help you build those all-important relationships needed to guide people through the rest of the sales funnel.

DecisionWhen your potential customer gets to the decision-making stage, they’ve usually done research into other brands. With a social media sales funnel strategy in place, you can make sure there’s enough content to help them with this process. Using user-generated content (social proof) gives your potential customers confidence in your brand or product that more traditional advertising methods cannot do.

You can (and should) use your social media page to respond to comments from existing customers, removing the need to go elsewhere to find reviews from genuine people that have already purchased.

Action. Now available on most social platforms, social shopping means the transaction can take place right where your customer is, without the need to go to an external site. (Instant gratification, anyone?) Consumers can be attracted, interested, research, and complete purchases entirely within the social media app they’re using.

So What? 

The changing nature of advertising, technology and consumer preferences has meant an increase in consumer-first selling, meaning sales funnels and strategies need to adapt.

Consumers are wise to shallow marketing techniques – they don’t want to be sold to. They want to be helped – with relevant content and outstanding products that offer them an experience. Fail to give them this, and they can find someone that will, at the tap of their thumb – your social media strategy needs to consider the fluid nature of people when they’re browsing on the internet and social media – if you don’t capture their attention, they leave. Quickly.

Knowing what your audience is going through at each stage of the traditional funnel will mean you can craft a robust multi-channel content strategy that functions as the new age funnel. What are their pain points? What research have they been doing, and which influencers or platforms do they look to for reviews and advice? Gathering these audience insights is the first step to crafting a new social-first strategy that works across all platforms to each part of the sales funnel.

If that doesn’t have you convinced – 98% of consumers plan to make at least one purchase through social shopping or influencer commerce in 2022.

To give your sales funnel strategy a social-first revamp, get in touch.