In 1898, a 26-year-old marketing agent Elias St. Elmo Lewis have noticed that the customer’s interest in anything follows a similar pattern. That’s how the famous sales funnel was born to become the main instrument of the marketing.
And even though it’s been more than a century since the times of Elias, and the marketing itself became digital, the sales funnel remains a key element of turning a potential customer into a paying one.
How does it work
St. Elmo Lewis’s funnel consists of four levels of engagement — Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. AIDA, for short.
Any contact between your customer and the product — for example, them seeing a product page — is attention.
On the first stage, the number of the potential customers is much larger. But most of them are not interested in your product and never will be since they opened the link just to browse. It is considered normal to lose more than 50% of customers at this level.
Your mission here is to convince people that they need your product. For example, a shaving kit. Not Philips shaving kit with LEDs, diamond-cut blades and an ebony handle — that’s what the next stage is for — but simply the shaving kit.
The more people are interested — the better.
Once your customers are interested, they’ll start browsing the wares — both yours and competitors. A lot of people will browse other wares even if they already found something that suits them perfectly.
Interest is a stage of comparisons. At this point, your mission is to convince the customer that your product is the better one.
Interest stage ends, when an interested customer decides that they want some specific product.
Desire is a powerful factor. But it doesn’t mean that you can let the client go and hope that they will make a right decision. You have to remind them that they like your product and simply can’t live without it.
At this stage, you don’t have to talk about your product. You customer already knows it all and simply tries to rationalize the purchase, especially if it is a pricey one. What you have to tell them, is how it will change and improve their lives.
A successful third stage always ends with an action.
The purchase itself. The call to action has been answered and you get a yet another happy customer. Everyone can go home and enjoy a celebrational dinner. Except, not really.
If someone already bought something — they can buy some more! Offer them accessories to their main purchase. Ask to showcase the product on the social media — in exchange for some bonus. Did you release an updated version of the product? Shoot them a newsletter, maybe they’d like to upgrade!
Also, don’t forget that each customer becomes disappointed in the product. Maybe in a year or two, but it happens. So don’t leave your customers without a guiding hand and show them where to find a better product (hint — in your own store).
How to apply the sales funnel
You can write a book on the theory behind the sales funnel. And you can write a small library on the theory of its application. But if you want to get into it quick, the best way is to see it in action. So I’ll show you how it works in practice and explain how and why exactly everything happens.
Imagine a situation: an accessory start-up plans to sell $6000 worth of wallets in October 2017. This should be enough to cover all the expenses, pay the salaries and even get 25% in profit. A single wallet is $68, which means that they need to sell at least 88 of them.
The marketing department opens up their statistics and sees that in September they’ve had 1000 website visitors, 400 of them actually went to a different website page, 250 added a wallet to the wishlist and 67 of them actually bought one. It sounds kind of bad, but it’s actually normal stats in this day and age. But they have to do better.
The first move would be to define all stages.
- 1000 people visited the page. That’s Attention.
- 400 visitors actually browsed the website. That’s Interest.
- 250 actually added the wallet to the wishlist. That’s Desire.
- 67 purchases. That’s Action.
Based on this info, the department can start planning their further actions.
- Make ads on Google Adwords and social networks to lead more visitors to the website.
- 600 visitors ignored the web page. Try to understand why. Not the target audience or simply don’t get something? Make a landing page about how cool the wallets are and send people to it first.
- 150 visitors browsed the website but didn’t add anything to the wishlist. Do they not like the design or the material? Explain in the page’s content why this material is the best and how functional the design is. Maybe make a competition on the social media pages, asking fans to help us design the next model.
- 183 visitors added the wallet to the wishlist, yet didn’t buy anything. Send them an e-mail with a reminder and give a 10% discount.
Of course, that’s a pretty rough example. Everything is getting done at the very last moment and there’s an end result — sell 21 wallets more than the last month.
In real life, the marketing team should have a global plan for working with clients on every level. Let’s imagine ourselves in their place and try to develop one:
- Attention. At this point, we’ve got nothing. So let’s make sure that we show our product to as many people as we can interest in it.
- Find popular fashion (as in 10 000+ subscribers) accounts on Instagram and Facebook and offer their owners to use only our wallets for a month and promote them as much as they can — take pictures, post link to our website etc. If we like the result — repeat the campaign. This is called influencing and is actively used by all fashion brands.
- Don’t forget about normal ads and Google Adwords. Make banners that show how thick normal wallets are and how they break the lines of clothing turning a great outfit into a mess. Show how designer wallets don’t do this.
- Make guest articles on the fashion blogs. Not about our wallets, but about designer wallets at all, with ours as examples. Or simply order such articles from the blog owners, if our content team is not up to the task. Of course, there should a link to our store at the end of the article. This way we should be able to capture the audience that is already interested in the subject.
- Send the wallets to the editors of the popular fashion magazines and owners of the blogs that do not accept guest articles. Ask them to review the wallets. The goal is the same — capturing the already somewhat interested audience.
- Make an e-book about how quality accessories influence the image. Promote it as well as we can and place a link the header of our website.
- Interest. People want a cool wallet and come to our store. We just have to convince them that our wallets are the best because otherwise, everything we did on the first stage won’t matter.
- Make a pretty and convenient main page. Place links to all the product pages and a description of our company.
- Make a comparison of different models — both ours and competitions. Post this comparison on every product page. People will look for this comparison anyway. This way we will be able to present all our advantages in the best way.
- Write content for the product pages where we describe the advantages of these models. Once again, buyers will look for it anyway, so it would be better if they see our point of view first.
- Make a weekly newsletter with fashionable looks (of course, achieved with our accessories). Add notifications about all sales and special offers to it. Remind our buyers about us and offer them ideas on using our product.
- Make a remarketing campaign in Google Adwords. If the user has visited a page for the Aurora wallet, show exactly this model in the ads. Once again, remind them that we exist and they are interested in our product.
- Desire. E-mails those who added the product to the wishlist should be automated.
- A message the second they added the product. An invite to our social media accounts. Allows the SMM manager to join the fun.
- A reminder in three days. «Did you know that our 8mm wallets fit 8 bank cards and 8 bank notes?». Push the practicality of our product.
- A reminder in a week. A lot of stylish photos with models using our wallets, a reminder that they are all hand-made by the best designers in the world. Push the prestige angle.
- A coupon for a 10% discount in a month. ДPush for those who cannot quite afford the starting price. The profit margin is 25% and 15% left after the discount is better than nothing.
- A notification of an end-of-season sale. Pushing those, who cannot afford the starting price at all.
- An offer to purchase the wallet from B-stock (small flaws that do not impact the practicality) once the sale is over. Getting rid of the B-stock and finalizing the push on those who hadn’t bought yet.
- A notification about the new collection. Chances are slim, especially after the B-stock offer. But why not?
- Action. The client actually bought it something.
- Congratulate them on the purchase. Cause positive reaction towards it.
- In two days, ask them to take a picture of the wallet and post it to Instagram, VK, and Facebook. In exchange, we offer an exclusive e-book on how to create an effective look (of course, with our other accessories). Getting free advertisement and attaching the client to our brand.
- Check, whether or not the client bought additional accessories. If they didn’t, email them a couple of months later and offer the care package for the wallet that will help to restore the original look. That’s called upselling. Even if the care package wasn’t of interest to them originally, something could have changed.
- Before launching the new collection, send its catalog. Just in case they want to upgrade.
Sounds complicated? Unusual? A lot of work? Yeah, sure. But that will give you the best result and up the sales funnel efficiency.
Sales funnel is the foundation of the marketing as the science and the first tool to transform a quantitative marketing into the qualitative one. Yes, there are more delicate and interesting techniques, but all of them come back to the works of St. Elmo Lewis in some way or the other. So, if you are not using the sales funnel in your business — start immediately!
And if you are using it and don’t mind sharing some inside — let’s talk in the comments about interesting ways of interacting with a client at different stages!
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