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Understanding your Digital Sales Funnel

Filipe da Luz

The advent of digital marketing has completely transformed the traditional sales process. The days of salespeople spending days on the phone, cold calling prospects to close deals has clearly become a thing of the past. 

Prospects now have all the information they need about a product or service at their fingertips. In fact, a study by CSO Insights found that more than 70% of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with a salesperson, and almost 50% have identified the solution they need before reaching out. 

This shift in power from seller to buyer has helped shape the modern digital sales funnel and forced businesses to redefine how they approach selling their products and services.

What is a digital sales funnel?

Essentially, a digital marketing sales funnel represents the buying journey customers take from knowing nothing about your business to becoming a customer and then, ideally, an advocate for your organization.

The goal is to fill your sales funnel with website traffic at the top and use digital marketing strategies to move that traffic through each stage of the buying journey, eventually arriving at the bottom of the funnel where those prospects convert into customers.

How to create a digital sales funnel

In order to create an effective sales funnel, you’ll want to develop a sales and marketing strategy based on in-depth research,  including brand positioning, competitor analysis, targeted keywords, customer personas and smart goals.

Mapping content to each stage of the digital sales funnel

Once you have your sales and marketing strategy in place, you can begin to create highly targeted and relevant content aimed at your target audience and tailored to each stage of the digital sales funnel to start filling your funnel with website traffic. 

What does content at each stage of the buyer journey look like?

Awareness:  Content to move prospects through this stage of the funnel includes blog posts (related to challenges your ideal customer is facing), infographics (looking at stats or research) and email newsletters (filled with insights and thought leadership from your team). 

Evaluation: Content to move prospects through this stage of the funnel include webinars and events (focusing on specific industry challenges), case studies (showcasing how you helped existing customers with similar challenges) and white papers (covering trends or industry research).

Conversion: Content to move prospects through this stage of the funnel include free demos, audits, consultations, free trials spec sheets and comparison sheets.

How to fill up your digital sales funnel

Once you have your content developed, you’ll need to distribute it and promote it through various channels to drive traffic to your website and fill up your sales funnel.

Social media

Social media is a great way to engage with prospective customers and bring them into your sales funnel, as well as keeping existing customers up-to-date on your business. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others offer the ability to post content like blogs, case studies, service pages, and white papers that drive users back to your website.

Search engine marketing (SEO)

Search engine optimization is one of the most effective and sustainable channels for driving traffic into your digital sales funnel over the long term. The goal is to have your website rank at the top of search engine result pages (SERPS) for your target keywords. This way, when prospects are searching for information based on the products or services you offer, they’ll click on your top-of-the-page result, bringing them into your sales funnel. 

Paid advertising

Paid advertising can take on many forms – from pay-per-click ads on Google to advertisements on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. For Google ads, the objective here is to have your website show up on the first page of the SERPS in the paid ad position, to give your brand visibility for your targeted keywords and drive that qualified traffic back to your website and into your sales funnel. For social ads, you can target who sees your ads based on their location, company, job title and demographic profile to get your content in front of the right audience.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and powerful drivers of website traffic. You can create hyper-targeted and personalized email campaigns for new prospects, qualified leads and existing customers to help push them through their respective stage in the digital sales funnel. Email is inexpensive (you can send thousands of emails for just a few dollars) with an incredible ROI – businesses can expect an average return of $42 on every $1 they invest in email marketing.

How to measure the success of your digital sales funnel

One of the great things about digital sales is that almost every platform and tool on the market comes with robust and in-depth reporting so you can track your progress. It’s essential to create SMART goals so that you can measure and track your performance against your KPIs.

Standard metrics to measure include: website traffic, traffic by source, number of leads, conversion rate (that is, your website traffic divided by the number of leads), qualified leads and new customers.

Developing a digital sales funnel takes work, but with a strategy in place that’s backed by solid research, you’ll be able to turn your website into a lead generation machine that will consistently keep your sales funnel full.