What is a sales funnel? For an online business owner, a sales funnel is one of the most important marketing tools you have. And yet many business owners – both new and established – have no clear understanding of what a sales funnel is or how it works.

As you can imagine, failing to fully understand this critical part of your business means fewer sales, lower profits, and ultimately, an unstable business.

When you are creating your sales funnel, you also need to be thinking about the customer journey on your website to ensure you are leading them through your sales funnel. The goal is to let the ones who aren’t your ideal customer fall out at step 1 so you are building a warm audience

A Simple Sales Funnel

Step 1: At its most basic, a sales funnel consists of free content, which typically requires nothing of your readers. Many sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. This is the “top” of your funnel and is classed as brand awareness.

Brand awareness is all about getting your product or service in front of your ideal customer and driving them to your website, into your sales funnel.

Step 2: Now that you have your ideal customer on your website, you need to move them down into the next stage of your funnel. This is where you need to capture their email address. Use an attractive offer that requires them to give their email address in exchange for a discount, checklist or other valuable content.

Step 3: Once on your mailing list, send your readers an ongoing email series, providing information and offers. I recommend using an email platform like MailChimp and creating an automated email series for new subscribers. The purpose of this step is to build and nurture the relationship to encourage them to purchase your product or services.

Step 4: When your ideal customer purchases, they move further down the sales funnel to become a loyal and repeat customer. At this stage of the funnel, you can can encourage your loyal customer to refer new customers, putting your sales funnel on autopilot.

How Your Sales Funnel Works

If you imagine your funnel as looking like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content, at the top, is consumed by the largest number of readers. Below that, your extreme low-cost item (available only for the cost of an email address) attracts a smaller subset of the true freebie seekers. Next, your low-priced products bring in yet a smaller group.

Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the loyalest of fans and customers will purchase your highest priced offers.

Your job, as the business owner, is to ensure that your funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will make.

Most new, and even established, business owners can easily envision the top of the funnel, but if you truly want your business to grow, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel really is and how it works.

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