When laundry owners contact me about increasing their wash-dry-fold businesses, converting more foot traffic or getting their pickup services off the ground, one of the first things I look at is whether or not their websites are adequately set up to make a sale. While this might seem like an odd place to start, you’d actually be surprised to learn just how many sites out there are underperforming when it comes to sales.
Most people automatically think they need help with social media or search engine marketing – and that’s true, but you won’t accomplish anything with that if your website sucks. In the digital age, you have to consider your website like you would a sales associate. You wouldn’t want to keep an underperforming associate around longer than you have to because it doesn’t make good business sense. So why keep an underperforming website?
I start with the sales funnel for a number of important reasons. It can make or break a deal. I want to help lay the groundwork for how a website’s sales funnel works and show you why it’s the most important part of your website. We’ll take it step by step, and then I’ll give a visual representation at the end to help you bring it all together. Let’s get to it!
Step One: Campaign
I won’t go in-depth on successful marketing campaigns here, but I do want to start with a recognition of their importance in the sales process. The best campaigns start where people are, and successful sales funnels rely on successful campaigning. Social media, SEO and paid ads continue to amaze the world of digital marketing with innovative ways to campaign, and that trend doesn’t look to be slowing down. There’s no getting around the fact that campaigning is essential. A perfect sales funnel with no customers is still ineffective at getting you any new business. It’s the indisputable first step in the sales funnel that drives all of your sales.
Step Two: Website and Landing Pages
A common misconception is that a well-designed and informational website will bring in business of its own accord. While it’s certainly true that a properly designed site will strengthen your brand in the long run, the secret to sales funnels lies in properly utilizing call-to-action buttons and landing pages. Landing pages are purposefully designed web pages used to help you collect information, such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers. In some cases, it’s also advisable to get a little more data to help you qualify the potential business.
You want your landing page to have a few very crucial elements. Ideally, it has to grab your visitor’s attention quickly. Short, engaging copy or video that establishes your brand’s storytelling and makes the visitor want to continue reading or watching is the best place to start. Offering enticing content or a promotion can help as well. Trade whatever you’re offering for contact information – or sell yourself well enough that people want to learn more about you. Your goal with a landing page is to start a relationship that will convert leads in your sales funnel. Don’t get greedy at this stage by looking for a quick sell, and keep your long-term goals in mind.
Step Three: Database
All of the information gathered by your landing pages should go into a database, or better yet a CRM tool. Whatever you use, it’s important to make sure that you have a reliable way to track new leads as they come in. It may take a while to build up your list of leads, but it’s both responsible and smart to make sure you’ve established a secure space to keep this information. It’s your business’ lifeblood.
Step Four: Email Workflow and Promotions
Once you’ve built a database, you need to start using the information you’ve been given to stay in touch with your leads. The best practice at this stage is to engage with an email workflow.
Workflows are incredibly flexible tools when you know how to use them. Your goal here is to break up the relationship-building process into a series of emails that are interesting, engaging and, above all else, human. The series can range in length depending on your product or service, but typically you should have at least three emails, if not more. Offer a promotion, ask for feedback and try to start a conversation with your lead. If you do have sales associates, try to get your lead to schedule a phone call or visit your store. Whatever you do, don’t sound robotic – and don’t be too pushy.
Step Five: Making the Sale
As you communicate with leads, you want to address their concerns and move them into a sale-ready position. You’re building a relationship based on trust here, so make sure your messaging is consistent across the board. Once you’ve built a relationship and addressed any concerns, you have a new customer. Congratulations!
Step Six: Recycle
Many sales funnels end at a sale, but there’s a fundamental flaw there. I believe that the final element of a sales funnel to consider is the potential for reuse when customers have completed a sale. The ideal situation for any company is to retain customers and turn them into brand advocates. A well-built sales funnel can help you with that process. Namely, creating further email workflows, promotions and continuing the conversation can keep individuals engaged and bring them back through the door. The more you reengage and keep connecting, the further your networking potential will grow.
What Does a Good Sales Funnel Look Like?
One of the best ways to understand the sales funnel concept is to visualize it. Now that we’ve talked about it in depth, here’s a representation that I’ve actually used with clients to show them the progression a lead could take through their sales funnel:
As you can see, the online funnel starts with a campaign and pushes everyone to the website. Once information is gathered from the landing page, one of two things can happen. Either you, an attendant or sales associate can contact the new lead and attempt to make a sale, or you can rely on an email workflow and online promotions to help push the lead to a sale. Once the process is completed, you can now remarket to the customer in hopes of gaining a return customer and brand promoter.
If you take anything from this, I hope it’s an appreciation for how important sales funnels are in any business context. Your success online is built on your website, and your website is essentially just a big sales funnel. The better the funnel, the better your business.