How to Create a Sales Funnel for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you know it’s important to have a steady stream of customers.

But how do you ensure the stream never runs dry?

A sales funnel or marketing funnel is a strategic framework for bringing in new business and nurturing brand advocates.

Building and maintaining a sales funnel has more benefits than bringing people through the door:

  • Forecast revenue more accurately
  • Gather first-party customer data
  • Make better business decisions
  • Know when to hire employees
  • Nurture and retain high-value customers
  • Cultivate business name loyalty
  • Improve after-sales support

Sales funnels are evolving, and small business owners must stay ahead of the curve.

###Shaking up the sales funnel in 2024

The traditional sales funnel is linear and consists of four concurrent stages: awareness, interest, consideration and decision.

The goal is to guide potential customers, called “leads”, from top to bottom using pre-planned marketing activities.

At the top of the funnel, they’ve never heard your business name but they meet your broad target audience criteria.

At the next stage, they become a “qualified lead”, i.e. they might be in the market for your product.

Next, they show signals of being ready to purchase.

By the time they reach the bottom, they’re ready to commit.

In reality, though, customers are rarely this well-behaved.

Some business-to-business (B2B) buying journeys will be linear, but the rest are complex and chaotic. At the same time, the line between digital and physical customer experiences is blurring.

As a result, the sales and marketing funnel must evolve.

sales funnel edited.jpg

Embrace the messy middle

The modern sales funnel engages people at various touchpoints based on their interests and behaviours.

Leads are still essential, but the focus is on providing personalised customer experiences and earning brand loyalty instead of pushing leads down a linear funnel.

Google calls this the “messy middle” of consumer behaviour and suggests businesses should worry less about controlling the speed of the funnel and focus more on delivering mutually beneficial buying experiences.

Make no mistake: creating a sales funnel is still important for all the reasons listed above.

People still follow the same journey of awareness → interest → consideration → decision (and ideally → loyalty).

They just do it at different speeds, in unpredictable sequences, and with more scrutiny.

The bottom line for Australian business owners

If you want to dig into Google’s research on behavioural science, there is a lot of good stuff to read.

But the key takeaway is this: Sales funnels need to get personal, which means evolving your marketing approach from planned campaigns to always-on content.

How to fill the new sales funnel

The good news is that because customers drive decision-making in the new marketing funnel, you don’t need to worry too much about planning and carefully timing campaigns.

There are also loads of marketing funnel tools out there to help small business owners automate customer journeys.

What you should focus on is understanding your target audience in detail and creating content for each stage of the funnel so customers don’t encounter any barriers when they’re ready to buy.

TOF touchpoints

Top-of-funnel (TOF) activities are aimed at drawing in potential customers.

Registering a distinctive business name and securing a relevant .au domain through Registry Australia is the first step to building online visibility and attracting more eyes.

From there, experiment with TOF activities to see what your customers respond to:

Considering customer behaviour

Depending on what your business produces, you might find leads spending a long time making decisions or making a beeline for the “Buy Now” button.

If they’re in the first camp (e.g. big-ticket items, professional services, B2B customers and long-term commitments), then you can keep them interested by offering relevant content:

  • Webinars
  • Email nurture flows
  • eBooks and whitepapers
  • Case studies
  • Feature breakdowns
  • Product guides

Ideally, you learn a little more about the lead with every interaction. Use this valuable first-party data to make content and calls-to-action more personal.

Brilliant buying experiences

When a lead is ready to buy, your task is to make the experience seamless. That means:

  • Free trial periods
  • User-friendly online checkouts
  • Easy in-person purchasing
  • Personalised discounts or offers
  • Prompt after-sales support

Remember that purchasing is rarely the end of the sales funnel. From the customer’s perspective, your relationship has only just begun.

Building loyalty

Studies suggest that existing customers spend 31% more than new customers, cost less to convert, and have a profound multiplier effect when they recommend your business by name to friends and family.

Still, customer loyalty is harder than ever to earn and easier to lose.

Retaining and re-engaging customers again means using what you know about them to offer personalised experiences:

  • Exclusive customer-only content
  • Early access to new products
  • Loyalty and referral programs
  • Customer appreciation events

A truly mature sales funnel focuses a lot of energy on retention and re-engagement because long-term success comes from loyal customers.

Where to start: Building a sales funnel as a small business owner

Most small business owners are already stretched thin without adding the complexities of customer loyalty into the mix.

However, investing in maturing your marketing funnel can boost profits and build a loyal customer base, giving you room to hire employees or engage external partners to help.

It all starts with building a website hosted in Australia. Websites are still the most effective way to get your business name out there.

All the other pieces of the marketing funnel – emails, CRM system, SEO, digital advertising and online storefronts – rely on a secure, user-friendly website.

Explore Registry’s cost-effective Australian website hosting services to get started.

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