Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with John Lawson @colderice. John is the CEO at Colder Ice Media. He is an international keynote speaker and “Commerce evangelist” and an absolute wealth of knowledge on all things eRetail and online marketing strategy. John is a pioneer in the online retail vertical and founder of The Ecommerce Group, a global community of commerce vendors and marketers. He’s an Amazon #1 best-selling author, IBM Futurist and Ebay Influencer. For more info https://www.johnlawson.com/
SmallBizLady: What is a sales funnel?
John Lawson: A sales funnel is an ideal journey the consumer lead will experience on their way to becoming a paying customer. Although you can sell your products or services to thousands of people, only a small portion of these leads will become customers. A sales funnel brings them through a number of stages during the journey from lead to customer.
SmallBizLady: What are the main components of a sales funnel?
John Lawson: The sales funnel can be broken down into five main stages. 1) Awareness 2) Interest 3) Consideration 4) Preference 5) Purchase.
Awareness is letting the world know you are selling something. When the consumer becomes aware of the product or service and does research to get a better understanding of it, that is Interest. Consideration is when they move from research to considering a purchase. Preference is when they are ready to purchase, but they are weighing options of whom to purchase from. Finally, the purchase phase is when they have considered price, warranty, packages, color, size, etc. and go from looker to buyer.
SmallBizLady: How can this apply to my eCommerce or product business?
John Lawson: A funnel is the customer journey and applies to ALL purchasing. eCommerce follows the same 5 stages as above. However, when you are working in the digital arena, it also includes 3 “bottom of funnel” stages as well. These bottom of funnel stages makes an eCommerce funnel even more powerful, and they are Stage 6-Upsell, Stage 7-Cross-sell, and Stage 8-Brand Loyalty.
SmallBizLady: What should I do before I produce or design my sales funnel?
John Lawson: Start with some initial market research, so you understand what your customer goals and pain points are. The more you know about the audience, the better you understand their needs and wants. You don’t just want to know if they’re male or female but also age group income level, what websites they visit, what hobbies they have, etc. You can use Facebook Audience Insights as a tool to find most of this information.
SmallBizLady: I already have a website why do I need a funnel too?
John Lawson: The website is your welcome mat, and the landing page IS the sales funnel. Once a visitor comes to your product or landing page, assume that they could be at ANY of the first 5 stages. They could have just discovered the product, or they could have already done the research elsewhere and landed on your page at this point for consideration or purchase. Your page needs to address consumers where they are, no matter the phase. It should be designed to help them move further and further down the funnel, so be sure to address each phase on every product page.
SmallBizLady: What if I only sell B2B products, can a funnel still be used?
John Lawson: Absolutely! There are options for sales funnels with all purchase transactions for B2C or B2B businesses. The process of narrowing, sorting, analyzing and following up with sales leads is necessary for any business. The B2B customer journey from visitor to lead to customer to promoter is often broken down into five steps. 1) Awareness, 2) Interest, 3) Consideration, 4) Preference, 5) Purchase. Remember, a funnel is just breaking down the buyer journey of the customer.SmallBizLady: What is A/B testing?
John Lawson: A/B testing is a way to compare two versions of a single variable. You test a subject’s response to variant A against variant B and then determine which of the two is more effective. An example is testing the title of a product on a page. Variant A may be 14K Yellow Gold 2.5mm 16-24″ 10K Glitter Rope Chain. Variant B may be Mens Chain – Solid Miami Cuban Link 10K Gold. You would then run traffic to each of these variant pages where only the item title is changed and determined which one sells better. That would be the “test winner.”
SmallBizLady: How should I get started on our product funnel?
John Lawson: Here is my 5-step formula 1) Audience, 2) Attention, 3) Engage, 4) Inform, 5) Make an offer. Start with the buyer persona from the market research you’ve done, so you know the audience. Next, you want to get their attention, which could be as simple as a coupon, an ad, or even a blog post or video to show off the featured product or service. Now that you have their attention, you need to engage them. Engagement is deeper than just telling someone the features and benefits; it goes into leading them, even influencing them. Remember, when you’re informing your customer descriptions can TELL, but stories SELL. Make the product relevant to the buyer. Your offer is all about the ask, but you might need to remind them of your offer with retargeting ads.
SmallBizLady: What tools can I use to help produce a sales funnel?
John Lawson: There are a lot of great tools to help get you started and visualize the process. You can try Funnelytics.io, Google Drawings (docs.google.com/drawings) and funnelflows.com. These options all offer free trials. These tools will help you visualize the funnel flow, and then you can build your offers, landing pages, and checkout sequences accordingly.
SmallBizLady: How would you test an eCommerce product funnel without having to launch an entire site?
John Lawson: You should always try to test with the minimal build before you go for a full launch. That will save you time and money in the beginning. To test you can use a simple single landing page that is designed similar to the source or ad that brings the visitors to your product offer. To do a simple test you will need three pages. Page 1 is the product page. Page 2 is the cart page and ability to make payment. Page 3 is your confirmation page, which is the thank you page confirming the completion of the sale. Those are the three basic pages to launch.
SmallBizLady: Where is the best place to start getting traffic for my funnel?
John Lawson Focus on the traffic but don’t ignore the funnel and the overall consumer experience. The easiest source of traffic is your email list, so start there. Once the new funnel is ready, start sending traffic by emailing your customer list. Another more expensive but higher volume way is to use paid advertising on platforms like Facebook and Google Ads.
SmallBizLady: What metrics are most important to measure the success rate of a funnel?
John Lawson: There are four things to track with any sales funnel:
1) Entry point: The number of leads or potential customers that enter into your sales funnel in a certain period of time.
2) Conversion rate: The overall conversion rate is the ratio of the potential customers that your sales funnel transform into the buyers and potential customers that become part of the funnel.
3) Average Sale: Average sale is the value expressed in currency generated at the end of your sales funnel.
4) Duration: This is the time that is spent by a potential customer to become a buyer. This is an important metric that measures the quality of your sales funnel.
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