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Sales Funnel and Autoresponders: How it Brings More Conversions for your Business

Category : Email Marketing

Sales funnel, also referred to as a revenue funnel or sales process enables the conversions of cold prospects into hot leads. It is one of the prominent sales priorities that improve sales funnel efficiency. To get better insights into the topic, EmailMonks got in touch with Peter Sandeen, one of the marketing experts who offers great advice on how to carry out efficient and consistent marketing.

Let’s understand more about sales funnel as explained by Peter.

What is a sales funnel? Why is it important?

The simplest definition of sales funnel is any marketing where you have clearly defined steps to it, with clearly defined goals. Most of the time, these goals are measurable. To achieve these goals, you ought to have a sales funnel that compels you to build things that have clear purposes.

So, it’s not about someone managing Twitter, another one building a page, a copywriter professional who is busy blogging and still others managing the email campaign. Sales funnel makes sense only when these individual tasks are working together, towards the same goal.

For example: The goal of a blog post is to generate maximum sales by encouraging the visitor to click the link at the end and subscribe to the email list. When they receive a promotional email and click the link, we can determine the level of their interest. All these activities let the marketer know that their efforts are channelized towards better ROI. Rather than putting the efforts in blind trial and error, you can focus on what’s working and yielding results, thereby making the marketing more systematically and effectively.

What are the stages of sales funnel?

There are three main stages of a sales funnel.

  1. The very first stage of sales funnel is to reach new prospects and potential customers. It could be your first advertisement that they came across.
  2. The second stage usually is the biggest part of the sales funnel. Usually, that’s the one where you tell people something or help people see things that make them want what you sell. For example: if you have an email marketing software that you’re selling, then you could share case studies of companies that have used email marketing to get great results. So, what you do in that second stage is something that makes people want the kind of thing that you’re selling.
  3. The third part is closing. Once the prospect expresses interest in your offering, you can share more information about it.

It is interesting to note that if you see closely, there are no distinct stages in the sales funnel. It is overlapped string of things that you make people believe. You could start building beliefs according to the needs of your target audience and making them buy your product or service.

What’s the role of email marketing in the sales funnel?

A huge part of sales funnel comprises of email marketing. And if we stick to the three stages then it’s mostly a very big part of the second stage. The effectiveness of email marketing is because of the simple reason that once you get the permission to send people emails, you have a direct way to reach them over and over again. Most of the prospects don’t buy anything on the first visit or the first time they hear about you. Therefore, you need more time to make them want what you’re selling. That’s the second stage and e-mail marketing is really the like. It’s by far the simplest way to do it. And then autoresponders come into picture in addition to the broadcast e-mails. There are many different ways to do email marketing well and it depends on the situation, but email marketing overall and auto responders are a huge part of most effective sales funnels, not all, but a big majority of them.

How should a beginner go about building a sales funnel?

To start with, ask yourself what is that one thing you could give for free—that the prospect would want, and is broadly related to what you sell. It could be a direct link or the remotest of links that is related to your product or service. Then, you should ask people for their email address or ask them to join your email list so that they get that. That’s just a simple option.

Next step is to write a bunch of 5 to 10 emails that go through questions that the prospects might have very often related to the type of thing that you sell. Let’s say you’re selling an email marketing software. Your target audience might have questions like how often people should send email. You should answer those types of questions in your emails. At the end of each email, you can share a link that would share more information about what you sell. Alternatively, you can redirect them to your contact details or a contact form through which they can reach out to you. This is the simplest way to get in touch with your prospect — just offer them something they want enough to join your email list, then answer their questions and give them a way to take a step forward.

Of course, you can include the details about relevant products or services that you sell, in these emails. By doing so, you can ensure that the prospects still hear about what you offer even if they do not click the links in the previous emails. Despite being a simple approach, it works pretty well without overcomplicating things.

How to optimize a sales funnel?

There are numerous things that you can do to improve a sales funnel. That holds true even for the simplest sales funnel. The very basic thing to do is to track things that mean the most. As an example, you should track open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribes.

Additionally, you should keep a track of the number of people who buy from a certain email or how many people respond to an email and so on. Subsequently, you should look for trends. When it comes to an autoresponder, the first email probably gets a very high open rate. Let’s say 70% or 65% or 60% approximately. The next email gets a significantly lower open rate of around 45-50%. With every subsequent email, the open rate keeps getting lower to around 30%. This makes the trend fairly clear. However, if you notice that there’s one email that gets way lower open rate than the ones before and after it, then you should revisit the email and try to figure out why it isn’t working.

If there’s a dip in the open rate, you should consider changing the headline or subject line or create a new email that talks about a different topic. In case there is a drop in the click-through rate, you should think of changing the content that makes the subscriber click-through. The bottom line is to keep it fairly simple so that it doesn’t become unmanageable. Imagine, you have 17 different versions of ads. You could change the headlines, the content, the link text, the button text, the image and the text on the image in all of them. That will give you seventeen thousand variations of a single ad, that doesn’t make sense.

It is recommended that you track only the things that make the biggest difference and affect sales the most.

What are the mistakes that people usually make?

The most common mistake is that people don’t have a sales funnel. They just have a bunch of individual marketing tasks that don’t really connect to each other. These tasks will only get you followers, that does not eventually lead to anything. Traffic is not worth anything if the visitors are not genuinely interested in buying from you.

If you already have a sales funnel, the biggest mistake could be to try to build something really advanced like sales funnel experts online. It is not advisable to buy the dream of building the best sales funnel or the most effective salesman in the world. In business, people often think that that’s a reasonable idea. Let’s say you give a guitar to a five-year-old kid who has never played the instrument with some sheet music to the most technically difficult piece of guitar music in history. It would be in vain, right? It is a misconception to think that the most advanced sales funnels will create better results. It is a mistake to try to build something way too complicated especially if you’re not a professional sales funnel expert. It is not a good practice to struggle to create the best sales funnel. The next mistake is to keep talking about your product or services rather than the problems faced by your prospect. It goes a long way if you talk about the problems that you can solve for the person who’s reading the email or watching the video and describing it from their perspective or talking about their experience.

Switching the focus to autoresponders…

What’s the difference between autoresponders and email automation?

Technically, autoresponders are a form of email automation. However, you can also have other forms of email automation. For example: If people watch a specific video up to a certain point but don’t play forward from there, they get a particular email from me. That’s email automation. Email autoresponders typically come into play when someone joins your email list and receive a sequence of emails.

How to create an effective autoresponder series?

There’re many different approaches to creating an effective autoresponder series. One of them is to think of questions that relate to what you sell but not directly about your products or services. your target customers have that relate to what you sell but are not about your product or service directly. For example: If you are a Football coach, you could address questions such as how to run faster or how to train your muscles better, rather than the cost of your coaching. Write emails that answer these questions and at the end of email give people some way forward towards buying your offerings. For service-based businesses, it can be a link to an application page or a webinar that teaches more about your company and the services worth buying. You can send a few emails around these ideas followed by an email that talks about what you sell. You can also mix in a couple of case studies in these emails in addition to addressing the prospect’s challenges.

How can we generate more leads through autoresponders?

The best tip is to test things. Track the open rates or click rates and when you see anything that doesn’t seem to work, test something else. However, before you do that, try to think of a reason why something specific would work better— and only then test things. You have a much better chance of getting results if you really think through why something could work better or what could you do that would work better. The other thing that really like makes a huge difference is sticking to what your target customers want and questions they’re thinking of. Stick to how they will benefit from the product or the problems they have and their perspective as much as you can.

You could always ask for a feedback on how you can do things differently. The responses could help you improve and generate better conversions from your autoresponders.

How to make auto responder emails sound like they’re coming from a human and not a machine?

Simply put, just imagine you’re writing an email to your best friend. Even if you use swear words or anything that comes to your mind, just write it exactly as you would write for your closest pal. Start with something that actually feels natural and human and then edit it instead of trying to write properly edited text straight up.

What are some of the autoresponder tools that you can use?

Basically, you have to use an email auto responder system that has problems that are not too major for you. Infusionsoft is a very popular autoresponder tool. Another widely used tool is ActiveCampaign. If someone is looking for a free tool, Mailchimp is a good option. AWeber is a cost-effective and effective tool that can be used for drip campaigns.

Wrapping Up

Sales funnel and autoresponders are the crucial components of every marketing strategy. We hope these tips would help you get more conversions and make the most of your marketing efforts.

Happy Emailing.

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Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen gives clear, straightforward advice on value proposition and marketing message development. He also helps business owners build clear marketing strategies and sales funnels. And when the funnel is working, he helps with conversion optimization, so you make the most of your marketing.

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