To create an effective sales funnel, you need to understand all the tenets of one. And the best way to do that is by properly studying the stages of what a typical sales funnel looks like. As a marketer, you cannot mix these stages up because it’ll be disastrous for your campaign.

A sales funnel is the channel your target audience passes through before becoming a customer. It is the structure put in place to properly outline and create an effective marketing strategy. 

The funnel here is a metaphor used to describe the process involved. This is because there are a lot of visitors at the top of the funnel. Over time, these visitors are filtered because the funnel becomes narrower. This is due to the fact that the quantity of initial visitors reduces into paying customers. Your marketing messages become more targeted than before.

There are many ways to describe the possible stages of a sales funnel. However, we’ll be using the 4 common stages used to explain the transition of a visitor to an actual customer. Let’s look into these stages and how you can fit in your marketing campaign into them.

What are the Stages of a Sales Funnel?

Jump to a Sales Funnel Stage:

The Awareness Stage

stages of a sales funnel - awareness

Here, you’re gathering visitors into the funnel. This is the attraction stage for your prospective leads. It might start off as a social media post or an ad they see which of course attracts them to your product or brand. Your content here identifies a need or a problem you hope to solve.

Sometimes it’s finding these leads and creating targeted messages to attract them to your site. There is no awareness stage without your prospective leads. Because no one will buy if they don’t find your messages appealing enough to give a second glance. So you have to drive traffic to your site first. Then afterwards make them aware of your brand. This is like the point of your initial marketing. Get visitors. You can only do this by intensifying your content, SEO and advertising strategy.

Content is the first contact your visitors have with your brand. It’s like a window into your brand. This has to be properly written to attract them to visit your website. Content marketing isn’t just a trend, it is an effective strategy and that’s why you have to take it seriously at this stage.

Then there’s SEO. Content is useless if it isn’t optimized to rank where your targeted audience can find them. Search engines play a pivotal role in driving traffic to your site. Advertising is essential because it helps you reach a broad spectrum of prospective leads.

Other things to take note of is creating a user-friendly landing page to generate leads. Ensure your website is properly optimized to handle all incoming traffic and navigation. Test to see that all buttons and links are working. These visitors usually do a little digging about your product/service to know what you’re offering them.

At this stage, all you do is to try to convince them to engage. Anything to make them revisit your website, follow your media handles or generally spark an iota of interest. Of course, you have to determine that they are worth the pursuit. All of this leads up to the next stage

The Interest Stage

This might be the most heartbreaking stage of your funnel because most of your leads leave at this stage. At the interest stage, you already have the attention of your audience. What you’re doing now is convincing them that you’re better than the competition. It’s keeping them engaged. Your site visitors have progressed into prospects and these prospects have a lot of options. This means, their interests are scattered across these options.

What you’re trying to do now is to get them to stick to your brand. This translates to finding what they need and how you can surpass these expectations. Please note that at this stage, you shouldn’t be selling to them because this would be a turnoff. They are trying to make informed decisions so they don’t need your wares in their face.

At this stage, your prospects will have left you with their contact information or followed you on your social media platforms. At this point, what you should do is craft out emails or posts that help them get to that decision. Talk about what you can achieve, what problems your service can help out with. Ensure it’s in a suggesting manner and not an outright advert. They need to trust you enough before proceeding to the next stage.

Consistency is key in this stage. Your prospects are looking to find the details about your service and compare them with what they’ve gotten from the other options. This means that they are already engaged with your posts. So being consistent with the information you give out influences whether or not they proceed to the next stage. And if you aren’t consistent, chances are, your prospect will forget about you.

The best way to achieve this is to send out helpful emails, notify them when there’s a new blogpost and share helpful e-books.

The Decision Stage

stages of a sales funnel - decision

This is where your prospects decide to either try out your brand or leave the funnel. Here, they are gauging your incentives and all you have to offer. Your prospects will be considering you and a couple of other brands at this point. This means that they are ready to buy what you’re offering.

That’s why you should proceed to make the sales pitch to them. They need to be convinced to try your product out. It’s not enough that your prospects have decided to go ahead, the actual purchase has to be made. Hence, your sales pitch.

A sales pitch, in this case, could be in various forms. It could come as actual visits, calls, conferences or even emails. Set up a demonstration of your product. This demo will showcase your product in real life which is helpful in reinforcing their decision to go forward with it. Once they see how this product will solve their needs in real-time, it’s a nudge to closing the deal with you.

However, once your demo comes to an end, you have to do a follow-up. The follow-up helps steer them to your direction. Remember that, other brands are still trying to get these same prospective leads. Lack of follow-up calls will increase the chances of your prospective leads considering other platforms.

So, offer your best, be better than your competition. Make your offers irresistible to your prospects.

The Action Stage

The final stage which is the action stage is where your prospective leads graduate to actual customers. Finally, they are buying your product/service. It starts with them negotiating and then taking that action step. They are clicking that download button or paying for that service. In summary, taking action.

It’s not enough to get leads to transform into customers but making these customers an integral part of your business. At this point, your strategy will shift towards customer retention. You’ll need to convert that single purchase to a thousand over time. Plus, a well-satisfied customer will help with referrals. These referrals will build your brand over time. All of this comes back to form a big business circle.

To do this, simply start by thanking them for their purchase. Go on to give discounts, promos if you can. Request for a review or feedback so you can gauge what they love about your service and what needs improvement on your end.

Sometimes, leads don’t transition to customers after the decision stage which is okay. All you have to do is take them back to the top of the funnel and tailor messages to get them to the end this time. The key now is to further engage them using A/B testing. Find ways to encourage them to revisit your site.

Using the Right Content and Strategy for Each Stage of your Sales Funnel

Knowing what the stages are is helpful in creating a sales funnel. Since your content is the most integral part of your sales funnel, we know how difficult it might be to determine what content is right for each stage. This is why we’ll be highlighting how to use the right content for each stage of your sales funnel along with some examples.

Content and Strategy ideas for Awareness Sales Funnel stage

The first form of content for the awareness stage is blogging. Blogging helps to create awareness for your brand especially when they are detailed and highlight the key features of your product. Also, your blog posts will have to contain properly researched keywords that’ll help with SEO.

Another option is using social media posts. This is because social media posts help promote your brand by creating awareness. You could have sponsored posts and encourage others to share these posts with their own network. These posts, of course, will have links that’ll drive traffic to your website.

Videos are also excellent content for the awareness stage. YouTube is a tool that helps you promote your videos because it serves as a search engine for video content. So optimizing your videos with keywords for YouTube can help you create awareness for your product/service.

Since the primary aim of the awareness stage is creating awareness and driving traffic, there are two major ways to do that. Either using paid or organic traffic. With paid, there are several tools like Google Ads word, twitter ads and Facebook ads that help with search engine marketing and social media marketing. The downside of using paid traffic generation is that prospects stop coming once your plan expires.

With organic traffic, it means optimizing your content to rank on search engines and getting referrals from social media, direct traffic or backlinks from other websites.

Content and Strategy ideas for the Interest Stage

In the interest stage, all you’re concerned about is creating engaging content for your prospects. It’s intriguing them with informative content that’ll keep them interested in your brand. This is why blogging is an essential key in this stage because it offers them interesting in-depth content on how they can solve their challenges. It also offers a comment section where they can ask questions about anything they need assistance with.

This is also the stage you introduce lead magnets. By lead magnets, I mean creating an effective landing page with a clear CTA. Of course, this will offer them something for this action. It could be offering them a weekly newsletter, an e-book, or a guide that’ll have a detailed explanation. This will help increase your mailing list which will further help you keep them engaged. The content in your interest stage should provide a demand for your product without selling.

Videos are also effective at this stage. However, they should be strictly educational videos. You could also embed these videos into blog posts so they can offer a variety of options for your leads. Podcasts and social media posts are essential because they can help with informative responses a lead might be seeking.

Finally, this is the stage you can accumulate email subscribers. This is because your leads are already interested in what you’re offering. Emails help you highlight your most prominent features in short, catchy texts. They also create a demand for your product because it shows them in the need for it.

Content and Strategy ideas for Decision Stage

First off, understand that at this stage, you need to make a pitch. Blogging won’t be an effective strategy here because it won’t push your leads into taking that decision. This is why the first type of content we’d be suggesting is a webinar.

A webinar is a direct contact that can serve as a virtual sales call. Your leads are already interested and that’s why they signed up for your webinar. So, it shouldn’t just be solely educating them about how to solve their problems but also making a pitch to your leads. It’s all about convincing them to go ahead with the decision of choosing your brand.

Asides from a webinar, your regular YouTube videos can come handy too. Create a sales or advertising video and share using social media platforms. This, of course, will be targeted at your subscribers and interested leads. Please note that your content should carry all the steps and requirements for buying your product so it’s easy for them to go through with the deal.

Your strategy should centre around targeted sales. Sales videos, pages, calls and offers. Try to outdo the competition and if possible, offer discounts and free samples.

Content and Strategy ideas for Action Stage

Your action stage really doesn’t need any sales content or strategy. This is because all that’s needed is taking a particular action. Consider leaving a CTA at the end of your webinar or sales email. Your content might be the landing page that finalizes the transaction like a thank you page.

Since most of your strategy will be focused on retention, consider using forms and surveys for customer feedback. Give out follow-up emails that show off perks of being a customer as well.

So there you have it. The four stages of a sales funnel explained. Remember, content SEO and advertising are your three pillars for creating an effective sales funnel. Also, know that your sales funnel might not transition smoothly due to the varying visitors and prospects you might get. And that’s okay.