By Neil Patel
How do you get a new customer?
It may seem like a simple question, but the answer may be more complex than you think. Sure, you’ve got various advertising campaigns, and you’re generating sales.
A reasonable assumption would be that your marketing promotions are creating sales. While this may be partially true, it’s not a full answer.
One of the keys to running a successful business is to understand the customer buying process. Just because you’re selling something a consumer wants or needs doesn’t mean you are automatically in a position to make a sale.
But leveraging the basic concepts of the customer conversion funnel will make it easier for you to guide the consumer through the buying process.
This puts you in a position to maximize your conversion rates and ultimately generate more profits for your company.
There is a ton of information on the Internet about the customer conversion funnel. The funnel may look a little bit different, depending on whom you ask.
While the terminology may vary slightly, here is a basic visualization of what this funnel looks like:
These are the steps a buyer goes through before they finalize a purchase. I’ll refer to this image as we continue through this post.
Throughout this guide, we’ll look at different versions of the funnel and discuss each stage in greater detail.
I’ll also show you some great marketing examples you can incorporate into your own funnel as a way to get more customers and drive sales.
If you are not familiar with the customer conversion funnel, this guide will cover all the basic concepts. Here’s what you need to know.
Create brand awareness
As you can see from the funnel I just showed you, the first stage of the process is the awareness phase.
The idea here is for you to come up with marketing strategies that can promote your company to a new audience. As of now, these consumers don’t know your brand exists.
You need to change that.
Obviously, this is much easier said than done. But there are plenty of ways for you to make this happen. It all depends on the goals of your company.
You’ll also have to decide how much money you want to spend when it comes to creating brand awareness. If you’re low on funds, you’ll want to take a look at my top tactics for marketing your company on a budget.
One of the most effective ways to create awareness is to improve your SEO strategy.
Remember, at this point, the consumers don’t know you exist yet. All they know is they have a want or need for something. Chances are they will start with a search engine.
A higher search engine ranking increases the chances of you getting more organic traffic to your website. In fact, 33% of clicks go to the top search result on Google.
Furthermore, the first page of an Internet search controls 75% of all clicks.
That’s why businesses are investing time and money into optimizing all their marketing channels for SEO in 2018.
As you can see from the data, your website isn’t the only way for you to generate new leads and create brand awareness with SEO.
Social media is another cost-effective way to promote your business. In fact, 55% of consumers have made purchases directly through social media platforms.
That’s why I believe one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to grow is to leverage social commerce.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Right now, we’re still focusing on brand awareness. I just wanted to explain why these marketing channels are so important.
While not all consumers are looking to buy things on social media, it’s still a great place for you to introduce yourself to prospective buyers.
Start by creating a profile on as many social media channels as possible. Stay active on these profiles, and post new content daily.
Do your best to get more followers. Interact with these followers to increase your engagement rates. As a result, more people will get exposed to your brand.
If you want to take this strategy to the next level, you can generate leads with targeted ads. Facebook and Instagram are two of my favorite platforms to use this strategy for.
That’s because the ads are set up through the same system, so it’s easy for you to run paid ads through both.
While Facebook will always be a top marketing option, it doesn’t mean you should overlook Instagram. Marketers agree that this platform has become a top choice for creating brand awareness.
In fact, last year Instagram surpassed Twitter in terms of marketing usage by brands in the United States.
As I said earlier, there are tons of ways for you to make consumers aware that your company exists. But some tactics are more effective than others.
For example, I’m sure you got flyers in the mail when a new pizza shop opened in your neighborhood. That’s an example of the awareness stage in the conversion funnel.
But those types of methods aren’t scalable and applicable to all businesses in today’s day and age.
You also want to get quality traffic. Yes, you want as many people as possible to know about your brand. But that’s not helpful if they’ll never actually become customers.
It’s important for you to emphasize quality over quantity if you want to create a funnel that yields high conversions.
That’s why focusing your efforts on SEO and social media is much more effective.
Now that people are familiar with your brand, it’s time to take them through the next step of your conversion funnel.
You’ve got to come up with ways to create interest in your products and services. Your content strategy is going to be your best friend during this stage of the funnel.
You’ll also need to use your website to your advantage. Learn how to design a homepage that converts.
Your website needs to provide visitors with as much information as possible about your business so that you can answer any questions they might have. Here’s an example from the SERVPRO website:
SERVPRO is a cleanup and restoration company.
If someone had a problem at their home, such as mold, they may type phrases like “mold remediation” into a Google search.
Due to their SEO efforts, SERVPRO would be a top search result. That’s part of the awareness stage, which I just discussed.
But now that a visitor has landed on the homepage, you need them to become interested in this service to get them through the tunnel. Based on this homepage, it’s clear that this company provides a wide range of services that includes restoration from:
- water damage
- fire damage
- mold remediation
- storm damage
- commercial services
It makes sense that someone who has mold in their home would click on mold remediation to find out more information.
SERVPRO provides detailed information about mold restoration:
But that’s not all. As you can see from what I’ve highlighted on this screen, their website includes lots of other resources for visitors to click on.
There is something for everyone here. They’ve got a guide about mold damage tips, odor removal, and detailed guide about black mold.
This is a great example of how you can generate interest in your products or services with your website.
High-quality and accurate content will make these prospective customers trust your brand. If you’re the one educating them on a topic, they’ll be more likely to buy from you over the competition.
That’s why your brand needs to have a blog.
It gives you an opportunity to always post fresh content on various topics related to your industry. You can publish informative guides through this distribution channel as well.
While the content of each post may be different, they all need to be written with the same intention. You’re trying to guide consumers through the conversion funnel.
That’s why companies that have a blog generate more leads:
Your blog ends up killing two birds with one stone.
Earlier I mentioned that improving your SEO efforts will help you create more brand awareness. Well, blogging is a top SEO tool.
More visitors will get drawn to your website because of your blog, and ultimately that content will keep them interested as they continue through the funnel.
If you want to take your content strategy to the next level, you’ll need to create as many types of content as possible. Give these visitors a reason to stay engaged.
Enhance your content by building infographics and create downloadable ebooks as well.
Ultimately, you can use the interest stage of your conversion funnel to collect email addresses too. Once people subscribe to receive your emails, you can use this to your advantage as they continue through the buying process.
The consideration stage is very similar to the interest stage of the conversion funnel.
You’ll need to provide these prospective buyers with an incentive to complete the purchase. Here’s what I mean.
When they were interested, they may have done things like read your blogs, signed up for your promotional emails, or downloaded an ebook. But none of those actions generated a profit.
Remember earlier I said that different people have alternative terminology for their conversion funnels?
Well, I’ve seen ones that have the consideration phase labeled as “desire” instead. This makes sense, based on what you’re trying to accomplish here.
You have to make your brand look even more appealing to the consumer. Here is your chance to show them why they need whatever you’re selling.
The customer will weigh lots of options at this time before they decide to buy.
They’ll compare things like the cost, quality, and convenience of your product or service compared to alternative solutions. This falls under the evaluation stage of the buying process:
Refer to the above resource for ways to entice buyers during this stage. Lots of these suggestions relate back to what I previously discussed about generating interest.
Implementing these tactics will help increase the chances that consumers will make it all the way through the conversion funnel.
Finalize the sale
Let’s quickly recap.
First, a consumer was made aware of your brand. Then, they learned more information about what your company offers. Next, they weighed their options and considered buying from you as opposed to not buying at all or going to one of your competitors.
Now, they’ve decided they wanted to buy. But that doesn’t mean they’ll do it.
Sure, they may say to themselves they want what you’re selling. They might even start the checkout process. But again, the sale isn’t complete until it’s finalized.
Here’s an example to illustrate my point.
Let’s say a customer decides they want to buy something from your ecommerce shop. They add the item to their shopping cart.
That’s great! You’re on the right track.
But they never end up buying the item. What happened? For starters, you need to get familiar with the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:
Take a look at the first few results from this research. These are all things that wouldn’t have been discovered during the initial stages of the conversion funnel.
You need to recognize why customers aren’t finalizing the sale and set up your checkout process accordingly to prevent this from happening in the future.
Ultimately, you need to optimize every element of your checkout process for conversions.
Focus on things such as:
- the design on each page
- CTA buttons
- color schemes
- the number of steps
- value proposition
The list goes on and on, but these are reasonable places to start.
You can use tools to help you. Run A/B tests to determine the most ideal elements of your website to maximize conversions and drive more sales.
Tools like this can tell you whether certain CTA phrases are more effective than others.
Retain your customers
Most images of conversion funnels come to an end. As we’ve seen with the funnels we looked at so far, they tend to have an upside down pyramid shape or look like a funnel (hence the name).
They start wide because that’s when the prospective customer pool is the largest.
But the funnel slowly narrows because you’ll lose sales along the way. Don’t worry, this is inevitable. Nobody has a 100% conversion rate.
However, the idea that your funnel will continue to get smaller and smaller even after the purchase stage is a bit alarming. That would mean you’re losing customers.
Obviously, you don’t want this to happen. That’s why I prefer looking at this image of the funnel to illustrate why the conversion process never ends:
The process isn’t over after a new customer converts.
You’ll need to come up with additional marketing campaigns to get them to continue converting in the future. It’s a constant cycle.
Yes, I understand that the visual representation of the conversion funnel doesn’t actually translate to how it works. But with that said, I want to make sure you realize it’s not as simple as just a four-step process.
The model of the customer conversion funnel is one of the most iconic images in marketing.
As you’ve seen from everything I showed you in this guide, there are lots of different variations of this funnel and the way it works. While the terms of each stage may vary, the concepts of each one are the virtually the same.
You can generate more profits by understanding the basics of each phase.
Start by creating brand awareness. Then, get prospective buyers interested in your brand.
Come up with a unique value proposition that makes you stand out from the crowd as the consumer enters the consideration stage. This is your chance to tell them why they need to buy.
Optimize your buying process to maximize conversion rates.
The funnel isn’t over after a sale is finalized. You need to nurture your customers even after they convert to ensure they continue buying in the future.
These are just the basic concepts of the customer conversion funnel. We’ve barely scratched the surface here.
But as a beginner, you need to familiarize yourself with the above methods and implement these strategies before you dig deeper into the funnel.
How is your company using the customer conversion funnel to drive sales?