The search for conversions through sales funnel optimization

GrowthBy Gladys Gordon

Guiding potential clients through the sales process should be a company's top priority.

People think customer journeys follow a straight progression from awareness to purchasing. But the truth is that the user goes through a wiggly-road network, taking a lot of detours.

Optimizing every stage of the sales funnel is the key to success for leaders looking to increase conversions. So, let's take a closer look at it and discuss how you can optimize it for your business.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel structures the sales process from awareness to action. It outlines the steps a customer takes — from when they first interact with a business to when they make a purchase.

We call it "funnel" because it is wide at the top and narrows down toward the bottom. Every sales process begins with lots of potential customers. Yet, it ends with only a fraction of customers who actually make a purchase.

Potential customers move through many phases after entering the funnel at the top. These steps lead them closer and closer to the narrowest point — the point of action. Many exit as they reach the middle of the funnel, so only qualified prospects make it to the bottom.

Why is it important?

You need a sales funnel to understand the entire customer journey, as it gives you a framework for analyzing your business. You can use it to find holes in the sales process, make improvements, and ultimately turn prospects into customers.

Reasons for implementing a sales funnel

A good sales funnel allows you to:

  • Set your marketing on autopilot
  • Bring in new clients from a large pool of target audiences
  • Get strategic about creating purposeful content for your customers
  • Invest in the right marketing activities and relevant messaging
  • Focus your efforts on a specific group of prospects to help convert them into customers
  • Segment your audience
  • Track the sales process to ensure efficient use of time and resources
  • Get data to draw valuable feedback
  • Identify problem areas and create strategies for improvement
  • Weed out unqualified prospects.

Stages of a sales funnel

There are four main sales funnel stages — awareness, interest, desire, and action. The 5th stage, loyalty, deals with turning customers into repeat buyers.

Stages of a sales funnel
Stages of a sales funnel

1. Awareness

The first stage — the widest one on the funnel — is when people become aware of your product or service. They can enter the funnel from different sources: a Google search, an ad, social media posts, or even word of mouth. Yet, people in this funnel stage are still not ready to convert. They just know your brand exists.

2. Interest

Once a prospect becomes aware of your brand, they might show interest in your offers. They'll read your blog posts, check customer reviews, and browse your website or catalog. They can also start following you on socials, sign up for your email list, or send you messages. That's when they start becoming prospective customers.

3. Desire

At this funnel stage, the prospect compares vendors to get the best solution to their needs. Your goal here is to answer their questions and educate them further. Present your packaging options and use sales pages and webinars to help sway them to convert. Remember that customers don't always make decisions based solely on logic. So, incorporating emotional triggers can be an effective strategy as well.

4. Action

All your effort from the beginning of the sales process boils down to this stage. This is where the prospect decides to make a purchase. The priority at this stage is to offer extra support and give them more value from your offer. Also, study their behavior to understand what immediate rewards you could get them. As discussed in the last topic, not all decisions are rational because the human brain also leads us to unconscious behaviors.

5. Loyalty

Customer retention is a key component of every marketing funnel. The focus of this stage is to turn a customer into a repeat buyer, reducing the cost of getting new leads. Implement customer retention strategies at this stage to increase customer satisfaction. With this, you can drive loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

Differences in funnel structures

Sales funnel structures vary depending on the company or industry. Some have many phases, while others may have just three or more. It also changes from customer to customer, even inside the same industry.

For example, consider a B2C and a B2B sales funnel.

The customer journey of an e-commerce (B2C) sales funnel starts when a prospect accesses their site. The potential customer then adds items to the cart and goes to the checkout page. The journey ends when they pay. All this can happen in minutes.

On the other hand, many e-commerce prospects don't convert on their first visit. Some of them open many tabs with different alternatives after they search for a product on Google. And they don't complete the purchase in the same hour or day. Sometimes they like to think things over, consult with friends, and revisit your site multiple times before adding products to the cart and checking out.

B2B prospects access a software site at the top of the funnel. The potential customer becomes a lead by filling out a contact form that triggers an opt-in. From there, they get nurtured through email marketing, have a free trial, or book a demo with a salesperson. After researching and considering the features different software alternatives provide, they reach out to sign a contract. It's worth noting that this decision-making involves more rational approaches than the B2B sales cycle. Yet, it is also unconsciously conditioned by immediate rewards and emotional factors. In fact, some enterprise B2B sales cycles can take weeks or even months before the company closes the deal.

To help the prospect make up their mind, show them why you're better than your competitors. To do that, nurture them with case studies, ebooks, or product guides.

How to build a sales funnel

Here's a step-by-step guide for building an effective sales funnel:

1. Analyze your audience

Knowing your audience helps you better market to those who are a good fit for your brand. You can identify these folks by comparing them to your best users. Analyze metrics on how they use the website. Look for what they find most appealing and how much time they spend on your web pages.

2. Grab the audience's attention

You need to grab your users' attention to encourage them to convert. Do that by showing them the right content. Consider creating a lead magnet — such as a free trial or a discount code — in exchange for their contact info. Also, SEO optimization, blogs, infographics, and videos can help you in this job.

3. Direct the audience to a landing page

After capturing your audience's attention, lead them somewhere for further engagement. You can direct them to an attractive landing page that spells out your offers, communicates who you are as a brand, and what needs you can solve. The landing page should also feature a contact form and a clear and objective call to action (CTA).

Read more about landing page best practices in our blog post.

4. Start nurturing with email campaigns

Now that you have their contact information from the landing page, it's time to market to them. Most nurturing involves an email drip campaign. It allows you to educate and encourage them to take action. Other lead nurturing channels like social media and paid retargeting campaigns can also help. The goal here is to nudge them to convert.

How to reduce marketing costs and increase ROIHow our customers reduced their remarketing costs and increased their ROI by 13% with personalization
Example alt

5. Close the deal and keep the circle rolling

That is where the lead becomes a customer. Now it's time to apply retention strategies to turn them into repeat customers. While growing your user base is essential, remember to engage your existing customers. Maintain the relationship, inspire trust and build loyalty. And for those who didn't convert, return to your nurturing strategy and reach out every few months.

Common mistakes in a sales funnel

Sales funnels are effective, but you should keep an eye out for some common mistakes. Here are a few:

Poor definition of the target audience

Many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone. Not only could this make users angry, but it's also a waste of time and resources. Focus on a specific group and design your funnel around their needs.

No compelling content

You can use great resources to avoid having a leaky sales funnel. Create attractive, informative, and valuable content to keep your prospects engaged.

No incentives

The secret to making your prospects hurry down the funnel is to offer something they can't resist. It could be a free trial, a discount code, or something that makes them look good in front of their peers. Just encourage them to take action.

Not making it easy to convert

When a lead gets to the bottom of the funnel, it's critical to make it easy for them to convert. You'll lose them fast if the conversion process is too long or confusing. Avoiding long forms and other types of friction is table stakes to make it work in this stage.

No lead follow-up

Staying in touch with your leads after conversion can make them customers for life. Keep nurturing them through emails and updated information on new products and deals.

No result tracking

You need to track your results to know if your sales funnel is working. A funnel analytics tool can enable you to see how well users engage with your content and campaigns. If you need help figuring out where to start, check our out blog post on how to craft a good tracking plan.

Lack of AB testing

AB tests allow you to try different versions of your sales funnel communications to see which one gets better results. So, you can continuously optimize your funnel to boost conversions. We also wrote a blog post on AB testing. Check it out to learn how to take advantage of it.

Why and how to optimize the sales funnel?

Sales funnel optimization sets your brand apart from competitors. It positions you in a way that makes your prospect choose your product and services over others.

That optimization also helps you make the most out of your marketing campaigns. And you'll want to take advantage of opportunities for a higher ROI by not revamping your marketing funnel.

Follow these steps to optimize every stage of your sales funnel:

  1. Know enough about your audience to market better and convert them into customers
  2. Create measurable goals to get data for decision-making. For example, bounce rates, session durations, and impressions
  3. Optimize your landing pages and CTAs to engage the prospects and allow them to convert
  4. Capture leads from the landing page and nurture them with email marketing
  5. Include trust signals and social proof across all stages of the funnel. Product ratings and reviews can help increase signups in the awareness stage. Also, customer testimonials and results from case studies can help boost conversions
  6. AB test your sales funnel at all stages. Try different things and track the changes in conversion rates. That'll show you which ones are the most effective.

How to measure the effectiveness of the sales funnel

After applying optimization strategies to your funnel, look at the metrics for results. For example, the number of people that created an account by clicking on your ad.

When you track sales funnel metrics, you can identify what works and the improvements you can make.

Another way to measure the effectiveness of your sales funnel is by tracking user engagement at each stage.

For instance, how is your content performing at the awareness stage? What percentage of leads share their email addresses? What is the churn rate? At what stage of the customer journey do customers usually drop off? How many prospects get to the purchase stage?

Paying attention to these areas sets up your sales funnel for conversions.

How Croct can help

We help companies improve their sales funnel by personalizing user experiences to boost conversion rates. Our platform tracks and analyzes funnel events to increase performance.

Engaging users with relevant content is especially useful at the desire stage of the funnel to increase the number of signups. And with our AB testing and personalization features, we can help enhance your remarketing campaigns.

Wondering how to start optimizing your sales funnel for conversions? Create your free account and explore our platform.

Let's grow together!

Learn practical tactics our customers use to grow by 20% or more.