Sales Funnel

If you’re currently running a small business, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the sales funnel. If not, here’s a recap: the sales funnel helps sales and marketing teams to see new business opportunities that are available to a company. By effectively managing the sales funnel companies can map these opportunities and create strategies that lead to successful conversions and make or exceed sales goals.

In the sales funnel customers move from the awareness stage to the purchase stage. Customers move through the funnel due to gradual introduction to a brand and its products and services. These principles are as old as business itself, but there have been some new advancements thanks to new marketing tools such as social media. Social media has narrowed the gap between companies and their customers and makes it easier for both parties to exchange information with each other. These exchanges help to build brand loyalty and nurture customers as they move through the sales funnel.

Marketers can use social media to lead prospects through the stages of the sales funnel and guide them to perform certain actions, such as signing up for an email list or making a purchase.

With so many social media networks and tools available to marketers, it can be difficult to determine which are the best fit for a company’s sales funnel strategy. One of the most important things marketers can do to narrow this decision down is to deeply understand the audience and how to effectively reach them. A successful marketer will also know the company’s goals and determine how to measure those goals.

Each decision a marketer makes, from creating brand awareness to engaging potential customers, should reflect the sales funnel. So how can marketers use social media to influence the sales funnel?

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Choose the right network.
The success of social media campaigns can depend on a variety of factors. Post quality and frequency are important, but the all-important first step is figuring out exactly what networks a company should be on. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project “Social Media Update 2013” showed that 73% of adults use at least one social network and 42% use multiple networks. When it comes to demographics, The Pew Research Center found that people under age 50 are more likely to use social networking sites and today 83% of Internet users aged 18-29 use social media. Marketers need to learn the intricacies of each social network as well as the demographics that make up the user population. This helps them narrow the choices down to the networks where their messaging will be best received. Knowing this information lets marketers tailor campaigns to specific demographics and personality types and lead customers to specific areas in the sales funnel to perform the desired actions.

Create great content.
Social media may be the first contact a customer has with a brand. This is the awareness stage of the sales funnel. Trust is necessary to build brand loyalty with these customers, so brands need to quickly establish themselves as an authority. Marketers can accomplish this by creating superior content and sharing it with fans and followers. Statistics from Demand Metric show that content marketing initiatives generate about three times as many leads as more traditional marketing methods. First impressions are important, so brands should be careful to completely fill out their profiles and add in brand elements, such as logos, taglines, and other visual elements. Awareness is best achieved through engagement and repeat visibility, so it’s important to produce content that will keep customers coming back and run social ads that are targeted to the customer base.

Engage the audience.
Interest is another stage of the sales funnel and can be optimized through building and engaging a community. Engagement is great, but having a community to interact with is priceless. Build a community by consistently delivering fresh, relevant content. Marketers can ensure this goal is met by keeping a social editorial calendar.

Convert customers.
Once a customer is engaged with the brand on social media (and is hopefully a member of the community), a company needs to turn this interested party into a paying customer. Use social media networks to incentivize these customers. Guide them to landing pages that lead them to sales. For example, a marketer can guide a customer to a landing page that offers a promotion that this interested customer won’t be able to resist. Re-marketing techniques are also useful in this situation, as brands can gently reengage with customers if they don’t convert or make a purchase on their first visit.

The best results will come from frequent, powerful messaging combined with analytics. Today’s customers aren’t looking for a hard sell. Social media makes it easier for brands to engage with the modern customer in ways that are natural for them. Social media fits into the traditional sales funnel, but it also adds a new dimension that marketers can take advantage of to boost conversions and customer satisfaction.

About the Author: Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.

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