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A sales funnel refers to the steps a customer will take as they move through your marketing process in order to (hopefully) make a purchase. The sales funnel can be thought of as having three distinct stages:
The first is the foundation, which will be something like a landing page or a pop-up. The landing page will say, for instance, “Ever wonder how to choose the best sales funnel tool for your business? Download this free guide!” The visitor will enter their email address in order to access the freebie – and voila, now you have their email address to contact later.
The second stage is the follow-up, which you’ll do through email automation and retargeting. The third and last stage is the flow of traffic to the action you want the person to take, like purchasing a product.
Sales funnels can be simplistic or complex. A simple sales funnel could consist of just two pages. The first page would collect email addresses in exchange for a high-value gift, then the second page would have a “thank you” message and the freebie to download. More in-depth sales funnels can have several steps and pages for the potential customer to walk through.
Sales funnel software makes it possible for your sales team to connect with your customers in a way that closes deals and attracts new ones. These tools have a ton of benefits, including:
The sales funnel is about more than just email list growth and higher profits, than numbers and dollar signs. It’s about finding the best way to improve customer affinity in a way that appeals to both you and them. It’s also about cutting down on some of the manual work your team’s been taking care of – like updating contact and sales information in spreadsheets – in order to focus on more important tasks like networking and communicating with your audience.
There’s a lot to take into account when you’re searching for the best sales funnel tool for your business. Factors to consider include features, required training, customer service and support materials, user-friendliness, and price.
In this article, we’ll start by quickly explaining three of the most common types of sales funnels. Then, we’ll talk about what you should know about your business in order to choose the right sales funnel tool. We’ll then jump into the features to look for in sales funnel software. To end, we’ll discuss usability and pricing, then leave you with some final thoughts.
Table of Contents
There are many types of funnels that you can set up and some software will let you pick and choose the specific funnel type you want to create. Here are three of the most common types:
Opt-in or lead capture funnels let you capture the email addresses of people in order to grow your mailing list. That way, you can send emails or newsletters to those subscribers in order to market your products or services. Most of the time, you’ll entice the person to sign up for the mailing list with a free digital download, like an e-book or software.
Sales page funnels help you to sell more products or services by adding things like upsells and cross-sells. This helps you to get the most out of each sale to those customers who have already shown interest. Upselling is one of the best things you can do for your sales funnel. It doesn’t just increase profits per conversion, but also improves the lifetime value of the customer.
These funnels are specifically used to get people to sign up for a webinar. You can then pitch the product or service you have for sale either during or after the webinar.
Before you can dive into the different types of sales funnel programs out there, you need to get a handle on your own business. Here are a few things to think about:
Some sales funnel tools let you choose your specific industry as well as the type of funnel you want to create. Here’s a little more information about some of these points:
There’s a big difference between a B2C (business-to-consumer) business and a B2B (business-to-business) company. You’ll need a specific type of software depending on the type of business you have. For example, a B2C company that targets consumers will need to track and manage purchases. A B2B company, on the other hand, will need features that will be able to track and manage deals with other businesses.
The sales funnel tool you choose will have to support all of the teams involved, from sales and marketing teams to management. Not only will these teams have to use the tool, but they’ll have to be trained on it, too.
If you have a developer on your team, you can create landing pages from scratch instead of having to choose from pre-designed templates. If you have a solid idea of what you want the landing page to look like, you can start with a blank canvas and create precisely what you’re picturing. Or, you can edit the code of existing templates to get exactly what you want.
On the other hand, while it’s great to have a developer on hand who can tweak and customize your sales funnel and landing pages, most teams need landing pages and templates that will work even without a developer’s expertise. Even if you do have a developer who will be working on your sales funnels, being able to use a ready-made funnel will let you test new ones out before taking the time to design everything from scratch. Once you have something that seems to be working, you can go back in with your developer to customize it or redesign it.
As you explore the different sales funnel programs out there, you’ll come across all types of features. It’s important to know three things:
Finding a program with the best combination of features means you’ll find it easy to use the software and that you’ll only be paying for the features that are most important to you. Mostly, you want to avoid software that’s bloated with unnecessary features.
Compatibility and Integration with Other Business Tools
If you already have a CRM (customer relationship management) system that you love or if you’re interested in a sales funnel tool that doesn’t include its own CRM system, you’ll need to make sure that the sales funnel software is compatible with your CRM solution. For example, if you already use and love MailChimp, you want something that will sync with it instead of replace it.
Page Creation and Templates
Creating landing pages can be difficult, especially if you’re not a designer or a developer. Look for sales funnel software that lets you create landing pages easily and without having to do anything too technical. A basic landing page will have a description of the product, possibly a promotional video, and an opt-in form to collect email addresses. You may also be able to add extras like more content, multi-media or image pop-ups.
You should also be able to create a “thank you” page where the visitor will go once they’ve added their email address to the opt-in form. This is where you’ll give the person more information, let them access the gift you promised them on the first landing page, and market your other products or services.
Quality sales funnel software will also let you customize pages based on where the traffic is coming from. For example, let’s say you have an ad on Huffington Post and you direct people from the ad to a landing page on your website. That landing page can say something like, “Welcome Huffington Post reader!” The more personalization your landing pages have, the more likely they are to convert.
It’s always helpful if the software has templates that you can use so that you don’t have to design everything from scratch. Even if you’d prefer to design the pages on your own, starting with ready-to-use templates can get your funnel up-and-running quickly so you can explore the rest of the features. This is useful if you’re just testing out software during a free trial.
If you have a variety of goals ranging from collecting email addresses to selling a number of products, you’ll want software that has a broad selection of templates to choose from. You can even find software that has templates pre-designed for specific goals.
The best funnels share a similar aesthetic and design across each page and step. This helps with brand recognition and saves your customers from confusion. The overall goal is to create a set of complementary pages that smoothly lead people through the funnel and to the action you’d like them to take, without losing them along the way.
If you want to encourage customers and visitors to act now instead of bookmarking your page for later, look for sales funnel software that has a deadline feature. You can do something like create and add a counter to the landing page, then auto-close the offer once the deadline arrives. Scarcity is an extremely powerful motivator, one that can have a big impact on conversions.
Email Marketing Tools
Email collection is a cornerstone of the sales funnel and the best tools will have multiple email collection options, such as:
Here are a few more email marketing tools you may find in sales funnel software:
A little more about creating personalized experiences for segmented audiences: if someone visits a specific landing page, you can put them on a certain path. Or, if you know they’re interested in a specific product, they can be sent down a different, more customized path. The email content can also be personalized so it seems like you’re talking right to that person instead of to a big group of people.
Think about what you need in terms of email marketing features. You could look for a sales funnel tool that has a handful of email marketing tools or one that has the full suite of tools so you don’t need a separate CRM or email marketing system.
If you’re going to sell products or let customers pay for services or membership as part of the sales funnel, you’ll need a tool that is able to process payments. Advanced tools may include a list of shoppers who added items to their cart and then abandoned it. You can retarget these customers by encouraging them to go through with the purchase they started.
For most businesses, mobile functionality is a must-have. If you’re on-the-go or traveling a lot, you probably want to access your sales funnel tool right from your smartphone. You may even be able to design a landing page right from your mobile device using a drag-and-drop editor. Look for software with a compatible app and read the reviews to determine how well the app works.
Analytics and Statistics
You definitely want to look for sales funnel software that will provide you with analytics and statistics for every step of the funnel. Otherwise, how will you know what’s working and where you need to make improvements? Here are a few analytics features you may want:
The way this information is presented is also important. For example, you may prefer to see graphs for specific time periods or you may want a synopsis emailed to you on a recurring schedule.
While we covered some of the more basic features to consider when choosing sales funnel software, here are a few more that you may want:
You may also decide that you want a sales funnel tool that completely takes the guesswork out of the process. For example, Slingshot tells you what to do at every step and utilizes proven campaigns that have already garnered great results. The program tells you what to do every week in order to be successful. Something like this may be a good option for a business that’s just starting out with sales funnels – it’ll get you up and running quickly and you’ll start to gather insight from the very beginning.
Ease of Use, Training and Support
Any type of business tool you use has to be user-friendly. You and your teams will have to be able to easily and quickly navigate the sales funnel tool so that it doesn’t slow down processes. You can’t streamline your sales processes and improve productivity if the business tool you choose is difficult to learn or too complex to use.
Quality sales funnel software should have some type of training available so that everyone can get up to speed. Even software that’s easy to use out of the box can be more complicated to apply to your specific purposes. Consider how much training you’re able to put your staff through, what’s required in order to use the tool and if there’s support available. For example, some vendors will provide training for your staff. This training may be included or it may have to be purchased separately (obviously, the ideal is to have free training included so you can start using the software right away). Another option is to hire an outside consultant who’s familiar with sales and marketing processes, as well as the software you choose.
Even if training went smoothly and everyone’s used to the software, you’re going to run into an issue at some point. The last thing you want is for anything to get in the way of your daily operations. This is why it’s so important to make sure there’s a support team who can help out when you need it. When researching vendors, think about the level of support they offer, including:
It’s also a good idea to look into their self-service database to see how much information is available if you want to troubleshoot on your own.
The entire purpose of sales funnel software is to generate and convert leads at as low a cost as possible. In that way, the software is a fantastic investment – so long as the software itself doesn’t start costing too much. Unplanned expenses can cut into your profit, so in addition to the actual cost of the software, consider how much it’ll be if you have to hire a developer to integrate the software with your business. Even something as simple as the software’s startup fees can eat up a portion of your budget, which can make a real dent if you’re a startup or small business.
That doesn’t mean you want to look for the cheapest software out there, though. Low cost software could have very limited functionality or could lack a reliable customer service team, which won’t help you get the most out of the tool.
In order to get a reliable program without spending more than you’re able to, take plenty of time to compare everything that figures into pricing, like ease of use, training and support, plus the features you’re getting vs. what you truly need.
Everyone has their favorite sales funnel tool, but what works for Business X may not be the right fit for your business, even if you’re in the same industry. When considering the different tools out there, you’ll want to look at their features and pricing, and also consider their case studies, popularity and ratings. You could even end up combining two or more tools to get all the features you want for the right price.
When you find the right sales funnel tool for your business, it’ll feel like you’ve hired a new team member for your technology suite. Finding the right sales funnel tool will save you time while generating more leads and sales. You’ll grow faster while working smarter, and you’ll be amazed at how much growth you sacrificed up to this point by not optimizing your sales funnel until now.
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