Inbound Marketing Strategy

The 4 Stages of an Effective Online Sales Funnel

Brad Smith
September 21, 2011

Business websites are not online brochures.

They are lead generating machines.

They should have a systemized sales funnel built right into them.

Sales funnels are used to transform strangers into prospects, customers, and loyal fans.

It’s a way of strategically moving people closer to your core product or service. You do this by getting their attention, developing trust, converting them into customers and keeping them satisfied.

A sales funnel also gives you something significant to measure.

Specifically, there are 4 stages that have to be in your online sales funnel.


online sales funnel
Image courtesy of Marion Doss


1. Get more people to come to your website

First, you need to get their attention.

People today have the attention span of a 2 year old.

But it’s not their fault!

Life is fast these days. Technology has improved our lives, but it’s also made it more complicated.

It’s just too easy to get distracted.

Getting people’s attention is one of the most difficult tasks in online marketing.

What is your strategy for getting people’s attention?

How will people find you?


2. Turn them from strangers into potential prospects.

Now that you have their undivided attention, how are you going to keep them interested?

You want to keep them coming back for more.

This is especially true if you have an expensive product or a complex buying process.

People won’t purchase an expensive life insurance policy after just stumbling across your website for the first time.

You need to get their permission to continue to market to them over time.

Then you can nuture these leads and continue to build trust with them.

If people don’t trust you or your service, they wont buy.


3. Convert them into customers

Now when you have their attention and trust, you need to close.

Just like in traditional sales, you need to make offers with an appropriate Call-To-Action (CTA).

This prompts them to make a decision.

The good thing about an online sales funnel is that you don’t have to close on the first try. As you continue to develop the relationship, they can close at any stage.

There are also ways to improve how you’re converting those customers.

This is referred to as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). It includes things like setting up dedicated landing pages and testing variables such as headlines or different calls-to-action.


4. Keep them happy and loyal!

Finally, what’s your plan to keep people coming back?

It’s much easier and less expensive to keep current customers than find new ones.

Referrals from existing customers is also one of the most effective, least expensive ways to acquire customers.

The best form of any promotion is from the customers themselves.

And social media makes word of mouth faster and easier.

People will know you before they buy.

Do you want them hearing from strangers, or loyal fans?

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