What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a series of sequential steps that a user takes from having no knowledge of your freelance business to becoming a customer. It is specifically designed to build a database of high-probability prospects rather than to sell right off the bat.
At the heart of the funnel is a powerful marketing infrastructure that is centred around finding potential customers, converting them into leads and nurturing those leads into loyal customers with a high customer lifetime value.
Every targeted keyword you use in your marketing campaign will fall into at least one stage of the sales funnel. Understanding where a particular keyword resides in the funnel can tell you how close the user is to becoming a customer.
When you understand your prospects in this way, you’ll be able to tailor the right marketing message to them. There is no time limit to the funnel. It could consist of five minutes from initial query to sale in the case of a B2C, or up to six months or more in the case of a B2B sale.
Some users may also jump directly into any phase of the funnel depending on how close they are to becoming a customer. And that is because they will be more informed about what they are searching for.
The AIDA Model
A typical sales funnel is based on the AIDA model. AIDA stands for awareness, interest, desire and action. The AIDA model has been successfully used by all types and sizes of businesses to sell products and services for over 120 years.
The AIDA model streamlines the sales process by identifying a series of sequential steps that a consumer goes through from the awareness stage to action. The awareness phase is where a social media marketing campaign is typically established. The purpose of setting up a marketing campaign for your freelance business at this stage is to find people who are interested in what you do, rather than trying to make immediate sales.
The more people that click through to your landing page at the awareness stage, the wider the funnel. This provides the opportunity to build value for those users and to position yourself as a respected authority and expert in your field.
Consider the following example to see why establishing a sales funnel can be such a powerful sales tool for your business. Say you’ve identified your ideal prospects as millennials aged 24 to 39, and you want to generate leads through Twitter. According to Twitter, 80% of its users are “affluent Millennials,” with 30% of Americans who earn $75,000 or more using the service. This means Twitter would be the perfect social media channel for you.
But instead of going for the jugular to make sales, focus on building a database of high-probability prospects by achieving the following objectives at the awareness stage of the funnel:
- Position your brand as an authority in your niche.
- Build a database of high-probability prospects by building a thriving and engaged Twitter community around your brand.
- Increase social proof to build trust and credibility in your brand.
- Attract new followers through word of mouth marketing.
- Inspire, educate and entertain your followers with engaging content.
- Cultivate relationships by answering questions and regularly interacting with your followers in Twitter chats.
- Offer a free PDF report in exchange for contact details.
- Setup a promoted tweet campaign to scale up your campaign.
Advantages of Building an Online Community
An online community is a targeted, like-minded group of users with shared values and a common interest that brings people together. You can get incredible results by building a community around your brand. Building an online community is often ignored because it is not easy to do. Yet, taking the time to build an engaged community can actually revolutionize your freelance business.
At the heart of the community are highly targeted followers who already know and like you. You can nurture those individuals with regular, value-packed information and convert them into loyal customers who are emotionally connected to your brand. Marketing profs reveals that loyal customers reportedly spend 10 times more with your business than new ones.
For most small businesses, social media is not really conducive to direct sales or hard selling. And that is why most social media campaigns run by small businesses either fail outright or generate extremely low ROI (return-on-investment). While you may be able to drive traffic to your gig, the vast majority of the people that see your ad won’t be in the buying mindset. Some users might be interested, but won’t be ready to buy. This means you may have to keep running your advertising campaigns until those prospects are ready to buy.
Futhermore, most of the sales that you get are likely to be one-time purchases from people who are motivated to buy as a result of your very competitive prices. This means that, in all likelihood, you may not make enough money to justify the huge cost of the campaign.
On the other hand, when you focus on building a relationship with your followers rather than selling off the bat, you’ll be positioning your business as an expert and building your future sales pipeline.
Social advertising campaigns should be primarily designed to generate leads rather than to get one-time sales. With a powerful lead generation strategy, you’ll be capturing the contact details of people that are ready to buy right now or in the future. This will provide the opportunity to nurture those high-probability prospects into loyal customers with a much higher customer lifetime value.
Creating a sales funnel offers powerful advantages over hard sales. By establishing a community around your brand, you would already be a familiar and likeable brand to your prospects. By engaging them with the right content and interactions, you’ll successfully convert them into loyal customers and brand ambassadors with an emotional attachment to your brand.