A business is successful as long as it acquires and retains a steady stream of clients. As a business, there should be processes in place to generate a list of prospects, convert these prospects into leads, turn leads into paying clients and get these clients to buy repeatedly. This process is often referred to in the marketing parlance as a ‘Funnel’. This process does not happen all at once, it requires a dedicated sales process. The monetisation of the sale occurs as a last step in the funnel.
Every business has a funnel, the only difference being some are more structured than the others, some perhaps are automated to an extent, and some are technology driven.
In the digital marketing world, social media can make or break a business. It requires a new form of marketing and traditional marketing theories and practice do not hold water. The social media audience is characterised by low attention span and is spoiled by a plethora of choices for every product or service. A digital marketer’s task is therefore crucial in first attracting the prospects to the product and later converting that attraction into a sale.
What is an effective sales funnel?
The most effective sales funnels are designed with a level of intelligence in the system. An effective sales funnel depends on many factors. The most important factor is the quality of leads generated. Leads can be generated through multiple avenues – data from surveys, digital databases, and platforms like LinkedIn etc. What is important is filtering this data into high, mid and low prospective leads, and following up with these leads persistently.
Filters to be used will depend on the type of business. The interest expressed by the leads on various social media pages, the purchase history, demographics etc., matter when identifying a potential customer.
An old saying goes, ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. Similarly, if your target market is the millennials to whom you are trying to sell beer vouchers, having a database of senior citizens would not be effective. The idea of success is to bring in value at the top of the funnel so that the conversion rate is better.
Feedback management analysis and cross-selling post feedback are some significant ways of retaining customers. The quality of filtering will determine the success of sales.
How does a lead turn to a sale?
In the digital world, personalising the customer’s experience may be key to closing a sale. The other significant factor is ‘convenience’. The easier the customer finds it to give you their information, the higher the chances of you closing a sale. The most effective companies in the game have personalized chat windows and simple forms to obtain customer database and provide them with shopping assistance.
In an offline store where you go shopping if there is a salesperson to help you with the choice of clothing, explain the features, educate you about discounts, the shopping experience tends to become more wholesome. In the same way, personalization is the key in an online world as well. Good content can go a long way in educating the customer about the product. Reward programs and email marketing assist in maintaining effective relationships with the customers. Building brand recognition and brand empathy are essential. The leads should be subtly nudged so that they become a client; the product or service delivered should live up to the hype to ensure that the client stays a client.
The sales funnel model for the digital world can be effective by implementing the AIDA model.
Attention and Awareness: Even the cleverest of Ads will be successful only if it is brought to the notice of the prospect. Personalisation is one of the most effective ways of catching a prospect’s eye.
Interest: After catching the prospects’ eye, it is essential to retain their interest in the product or service. The information presented to them should be in such a manner that they want to read on or watch on and be keen to know more.
Desire and Decision: The more the prospects learn about the product or service, the more they should desire to purchase it. The prospects should be made to feel that they want the product, no matter what.
Action: ‘Close the Sale.’ Once the customer desires the product, make an irresistible offer. Provide the purchase link or the website link and present them in such a manner that the lead would want to buy immediately. Even if they do not buy, leave a lasting impression such that they would think of your brand anytime they want to buy the product or service you are selling.
Effective implementation of the above model, combined with persistent follow-up and quality of service delivered will determine the overall success of the business.