Article

Chad Reinertson
Chad Reinertson 21 July 2016

Is Your Sales Funnel Broken?

As a marketer, you're tasked with the challenging role of attracting new customers and generating leads for sales. Your company most likely has a sales funnel set up to channel that traffic into the buying process and convert them into customers.

However, how do you know if your sales funnel is really working or broken? Are leads you spent money on to attract, dropping out and why? Few marketers can actually identify problems in their funnels and know how to fix them.  Here's how to fix the cracks in your sales funnel.

You’re about to spend a big chunk of money on a shiny new online ad campaign. You split test the ads, poured over the copy and double checked all your links. It’s time to turn the traffic on and start spending real dollars. There’s just one question…

Will your sales funnel work?

This is a question surprisingly few marketers actually ask themselves before turning on their online advertising campaigns. Will your sales funnel actually convert paid traffic into leads, and better yet, into sales?

How do you know if your funnel will actually work for you, and perform how it’s supposed to? Where are your cracks in the funnel? How do you know you’re not just wasting money and watching it wash right out of your company?

This is what I’m going to show you how to identify and fix, since it’s a common problem I see among many marketers. I’ll teach you to examine your sales funnel and determine how well it’s working.

We’ll walk through the steps of mapping exactly what your funnel looks like, identifying the problems and fixing them. We’ll also discuss the critically important final step every funnel needs to have, but few do.

By identifying what’s working in your funnel, what’s broken and where the cracks are, you’ll be able to ensure a higher percentage of leads turn into sales and repeat clients. This means higher revenues for you.

Only 57% of marketers prioritize converting leads into paying customers.

Let’s start with a simple question. Is your sales funnel profitable? Are you making money from it?

If you’re not able to answer this question, then STOP your spending immediately. You are not alone, as many companies don’t know if their marketing is actually profitable or not. Yet, without knowing if you’re losing money, you have a giant flaw in your operation.

What Is A Sales Funnel

Here’s a real quick back to the basics. A sales funnel is the full scope of tools you have in place to direct all of your traffic through the buying process and turn them into sales. Pretty important for any company.

A sales funnel is much greater than just having visitors click an ad and send them to your website though. The truth is, most customers today aren’t ready to buy right away after the first time they land on your site. They need time to research, browse, shop and think about it.

This is where most companies lose track of their customers, and exactly where a funnel becomes important.

With analytics, you can easily tell how many people land on your site. You also know how many people purchase. Somewhere in between those two points, everyone else leaves your site. The trick is finding where in the funnel they leave, and fixing that crack.

The more cracks you have in the buying process, the more leads (aka $$$) leak out.

Know Your Funnel

Let’s take a look at the typical sales funnel quick to identify the most common problem areas, and discuss what you can do to fix them.

These are called funnels because they start with a larger number of visitors at the beginning, and throughout the process lose visitors to cracks, fallout, objections and just plain opting out. The number of people in your funnel lessen with every step, until you’re left with a significantly lower number of actual sales at the end of the funnel.

It starts with the lead magnet attracting people to your site. Lead magnets are ads, free valuable information, specials, offers, deals, blogs, downloads, courses or anything your audience is attracted to.

Every buyer follows a path when they hit your site. You want your site’s content, navigation and products to lead them all the way to the end, to a purchase. This is the bullseye at the end.

As people travel through the sales process, they go through five stages.

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Decision
  • Action
  • Re engagement

I included a 5th step for re engagement I think is critical, which many companies miss or leave out. This is turning a one-time buyer into a repeat customer. It’s vital you capitalize on your existing customers to purchase again. This will increase your margins and lead to higher revenues.

Your goal is to create a sales cylinder. The same number of leads at the beginning turn into sales at the end. This means you have no cracks, leaks or loss. This is maximum efficiency. More on this later.

68% of companies can’t describe their funnel or how it works.

In many cases, companies don’t know what their sales funnel looks like at all. Infusionsoft recently published a study finding 68% of companies can’t describe their funnel or how it works. Yet they still drive leads to it. This is like driving a car with your eyes closed. Sure you can do it, but it’s dangerous (and downright irresponsible).

Identify The Problems

The first step to knowing how to improve your conversion rate is know what your funnel looks like.

  1. Sketch out your funnel and how it works
  2. Map each of the five stages to your own process.
  3. Identify each stage, who’s involved and what needs to happen in order to move to the next stage.

The trick to increasing your lead conversion is clearly understanding the entire process your audience goes through, and ensure you provide the necessary support and information needed along the way.

Now, take a look at your funnel sketch. What’s missing? Where will people leave?

The second step is predicting what’s going to cause problems, and fix it.

  1. Where are your customers getting stuck?
  2. What information or assistance are they possibly missing at each stage?
  3. How can you make the process smoother for them?

Don’t get discouraged if this sounds tough. This step is often the most difficult part. Thankfully, this is where our good friends at Google come in.

Google Analytics has tools that track the buyer’s journey through your site, and identify the point they drop off. By setting up a Google Analytics goal analysis, you can see precisely how many visitors move through each step.

This will show you the drop off at each stage, so you can identify what’s causing visitors to leave and fix the issue.

The more red on each line, the more visitors are dropping out of your funnel. This shows you exactly where your cracks in the process are.

Try to experience each stage through your customer’s eyes. What are they not seeing. What causes them to leave? Here are a few common causes for visitors to bounce….

  • Lack of compelling content
  • Non-relevant information
  • Confusing navigation
  • No clear call-to-action
  • Unclear pricing
  • Poor website design
  • Vague descriptions or mixed-messaging
  • Inconsistent branding
  • Bait-n-switch feeling

Tools like this make it simple to analyze your website’s problems, and start to correct them.

Fixing Your Funnel

It may take some experimenting to completely fix any issues or cracks in your funnel. Several very useful tools are –

  • A/B Testing
  • Heat Maps

A/B or Split Testing presents multiple variations of an image, ad or content to your audience. Instead of guessing, you let them decide which one they like the best. Then you know what to go with. No more guessing!

Use data driven decisions to remove the guesswork. Go with what you know is successful, and resonates with your audience.

It may not be easy to predict exactly what tiny changes will have the best results, so test everything on your site. It’s worth the time to figure out what works and pushes visitors forward through your funnel.

Heat Maps display colored overlays on your website for what users are looking at. This gives you a clear vision of the text and images users are looking at, and what influences them the most.

Here’s a great example of website heat map from heatmap.me. The red show areas of high interest, where other areas are completely overlooked.

Use this to feature your most important content in the highly important areas. Also, use it to figure out what your visitors are looking at. Is that the right message you want to them be focusing on?

Fixing Your CRM

We know that consumers are completing more transactions online every year without directly contacting the company. Infusionsoft predicts that by 2020 (just 3.5 short years away folks) 85% of customers will complete their online transactions without talking to anyone at the company.

That means fixing your automated steps above are the first line of defense. However, it does not mean you can neglect your customer service and lead management.

55% of customers reported they intended to make a purchase, but backed out due to poor customer service.

Over half of customers wanting to buy said they didn’t because of bad personal interactions. Consider that for a moment.

Strong customer support is essential for moving visitors through your funnel, and especially the reengagement stage getting them to purchase again. When a customer loses confidence in your company, feels let down or neglected, they’re going elsewhere.

It’s important to ensure customers are receiving the appropriate care and attention throughout every step in the process. Invest in using a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) system, and use it consistently.

This enables your sales and customer services teams to keep a close eye on customers. When they see customers dropping out of the funnel, they can act quickly to personally re engage that person and bring them back in.

CRMs will help you better track each customer’s journey through the funnel. You’ll be able to quickly monitor a wide variety of data to help manage visitors more effectively, and guide them all the way to the bullseye.

Invest In Automation

Your sales funnel doesn’t stop after the initial purchase. Most companies I interview fail to implement any way of staying in touch with their customers, or reengaging them for future purchases.

The 5th stage of your funnel is all about staying in touch with valuable content, interesting news or email sales sequences. Investing in a reliable CRM or marketing automation will make this task so much easier.

A CRM will notify you when it’s time to contact each customer or group of customers. This action can be your sales staff calling them or sending an email. It’s a good foundation to start with staying in touch, although requires time and resources each time.

85% of customers will complete their online transactions without talking to anyone at the company.

Marketing automation does this step for you automatically. You set up the contact sequence once and it runs in the background for you 24/7. This is how companies take the next step and grow exponentially.

When you can re engage customers without putting any more resources towards it, your time is freed up to work on your business instead of in your business. Marketing automation doesn’t care if you have 100 customers or 100,000. It allows those customers to receive the right message, at the right time, and stay connected to your company.

Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft or Campaign Monitor are a few of the automation tools we like to use.

Make Your Funnel A Priority

Infusionsoft’s study also revealed that only 57% of marketers prioritize converting leads into paying customers. This came as a little shock to me. Only half of companies using a funnel, prioritize pushing their leads all the way through to a sale. Talk about wasting money.

Make fixing your funnel a priority, and you’ll start to see higher revenues as a result. Figure out where visitors are leaving, and guide more of them through to buying.

A functioning and effective sales funnel has a very real impact on your bottom line. It can also be the difference between simply spending money on website traffic and making a profit from online advertising.

There are plenty of great tools available to help with this task. If you already have a sales funnel in place, don’t wait to examine it and fix any problems. In the end, as you’re waving to competitors while passing them by, you’ll be glad you did!

To read more on sales funnels and marketing automation visit my main blog page.

________________________________________

About The Author:

Chad Reinertson is CEO and co-founder of Uproar Group, a digital marketing firm located in Portland, OR.  Specializing in website marketing, he leads a team of professional email, social, web and content marketers.  He is a graduate of Westminster College, where he received his MBA in 2012.

In 2013 he published the entrepreneurial guide book Don’t Start Your Own Business to help small businesses successfully launch and survive their first five years. Chad is an avid outdoors man and enjoys skiing, mountain biking, surfing, hiking and camping throughout the American west.

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