The words “sales funnel” scares people.
It sounds so complicated…. So mysterious…. So techy. (Although in reality, it’s none of those things.)
Many of the explanations online don’t really help.
“It’s the process businesses put in place to attract prospects, nurture them, and get them to buy from you.”
But what does that look like in reality?
I find it can be much easier to understand the sales funnel by looking at examples. So I’ve put together four case studies, which show how completely different companies attract and follow up with their prospects online, in order to convert them, and grow.
I hope you can learn from their tactics!
Let’s start with a company whose online sales funnel we’ve all been through…..
This massive online retailer is one of the kings of sales funnels. As you most likely already know, once you’re a customer, Amazon makes it easy to keep coming back.
How does it get interested buyers to its website? Its PPC and SEO power is such that any book (and indeed, practically any product) you Google leads to a link to Amazon, right at the top of the page:
Once you click through, Amazon is very clever: It doesn’t ask visitors if they want to buy, it asks how they want to buy: Hardcover? Paperback? Audio? (And usually, Kindle?) New? Used?
But even before you’ve whipped out your credit card, Amazon is already trying to upsell its customers, leading them on to their next must-have:
If you do buy, Amazon makes the ‘return path’ easy for its customers, following up within days with an email making further recommendations based on your personal preferences, and offering special discounts. That way, the whole buying cycle starts again…
And if you don’t buy? Within minutes, your Facebook feed will begin displaying ads for the books you browsed, reminding you to go back and buy them if you didn’t have time to complete your purchase, or weren’t sure. (This is called ‘the Boomerang Method’ – find out more about it here.)
In short, Amazon has carefully considered how, at every step of its customers’ journey, it can push them towards a purchase.
And now for something completely different…..
2. Ian Brodie and Josh Turner
Two minds are better than one, goes the saying, and that’s exactly what marketer Ian Brodie and LinkedIn trainer Josh Turner believe.
The pair, who both have large followings, teamed up recently to offer a webinar on generating leads through LinkedIn:
Since they probably have similar audiences, but don’t compete directly with each other, it makes sense to work together, so they can access each other’s followers.
In one of several emails promoting the webinar to his email subscribers, Ian Brodie explains how it works. During the hour-long webinar, Josh Turner will offer valuable content, showing companies how to get LinkedIn leads…
But of course, there’s another benefit for both parties as well.
Even if the webinar participants don’t all sign up for Josh’s LinkedIn course then and there, he will still have their emails – so he can continue marketing to them long-term.
Likewise, Ian Brodie most likely has access to the participants’ emails as well. And since Josh Turner promoted the event to his own followers, the webinar will result in a slew of new email subscribers for Ian Brodie, turning a one-time webinar into an ongoing opportunity to find new clients.
There are companies that build their entire sales funnels around webinars, whether in partnership with other companies, or alone. A webinar centred around your core expertise will attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. You can spend an hour or so with them, building trust and explaining the value of what you do – and in the end, pitch to them directly.
Joint partnerships are also a valuable way of getting many suitable prospects into your sales funnel, for the reasons explained above!
If you’re anything like me, focusing on just one project can be a challenge when there are so many other activities demanding your attention. Work, Email, family life and even the news (I am a former journalist after all!) compete for precious time. RescueTime.com is an app that helps track productivity so users can see exactly where and how they spend their time.
So how does it make its sales?
Here again, RescueTime offers its website visitors two options: RescueTime Lite, which is available for free, and its premium package:
You can see that from the get-go, RescueTime tries to persuade visitors to sign up to its premium package, which is in a stronger colour and more likely to draw the eye.
But even if you choose RescueTime Lite, the company still tries to push you towards a greater commitment. This is the landing page you reach:
Notice how prominently it is pushing its free trial, and paid-for options, on the page which is supposedly giving away a ‘free’ product!
For those who want to try before they buy, the company offers a 14-day trial, which rolls into a premium account when the trial ends:
RescueTime makes signing up effortless for the customer and this increases the chances that users will continue with the service.
You may wonder why RescueTime would give away a version of its product. By offering this version, RescueTime is able to gather the contact details of people that are already interested in its product, and upsell them to a premium plan at a later date.
In fact, it doesn’t do this very well. I signed on to the free version, but since I didn’t actually use it (…clearly too busy doing other things….), I received a few emails warning me that it couldn’t tell me about my productivity that week – and then, radio silence.
Since they know that people who sign up for their free product have issues with productivity, they could have tried to re-engage me with relevant, time-management-related content, and get me using their product.
4. Kim Garst, Boom Social
Kim Garst is a Facebook marketing expert, so you’d think that most of her selling takes place on Facebook – right?
She has 212,000+ Facebook fans (as of the time of writing), so that is an enormous source of potential clients for her. But ultimately, she leads them out of Facebook.
Her Facebook page is interspersed with regular links to blog posts on her website:
Once her visitors get there, this is what they see:
The page is dominated by copies of her latest free e-Books. Yes, this underlines her expertise – but the main point is that these resources are downloadable in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
Before they leave, she has one last try, treating visitors to a large pop-up ad, urging them to register for one of her resources.
Once they are on her email system, Kim, like Brodie and Turner, is able to build a database of contacts who are interested in her know-how, and to continue communicating with them, giving them the opportunity to buy her products in the future.
Many of the emails she sends build her brand, and are simply useful to her subscribers:
…But in others, she’s selling:
Naturally, anyone who spends $97 on her Periscope programme will later receive other offers for related, more expensive products – this is the ‘upsell’. One purchase leads to another…
So what does your marketing sales funnel look like? Let us know in the comments!