Here’s how to build an automated sales system using marketing funnels

Marketing funnel automation is a tool designed to bring potential customers into your sales funnel with the end goal of conversion and retention. A great way to achieve this automation is to build a reliable marketing funnel. This article will aim to discuss how a great marketing funnel can positively affect your sales performance, alongside how it can improve your customer’s journey. You will also discover how a great marketing funnel can optimise content, as well as breaking down complex terminology associated with funnels and automation.

According to the State of Marketing report by Salesforce, 67% of marketing leaders use a marketing automation platform. In a separate report, published by Marketo and Ascend2 shares, “91% of the most successful marketers say sales automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing programs. Therefore, it is not an understatement to say how vital sales and marketing automation are. By the end of this blog, brands will know the best-practices for how to improve their conversion rates, and streamlining the customer journey.

How a healthy marketing funnel can improve your sales performance

Marketing funnels enable businesses to construct and measure their automated selling system and marketing process, which run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is literally the automation of the entire sales journey which can be optimised using analytics

All marketing funnels are unique, depending on the brand and the type of business. However, no matter what industry a brand is in, all marketing funnels work on the same principles. Hopefully, when you have finished reading this, you’ll know exactly how to create a sales system and why marketing funnel automation is a must.

An example of the route that brands should consider when creating a marketing funnel.
An example of a marketing funnel

How can a Great Sales Funnel Improve your Customers Journey?

Businesses often struggle to set up their automated sales system because they often skip the specifics of their sales funnel. Thankfully, we have broken down all you need to know:

  • Awareness–This is the moment that a prospective customer first notices a brand’s products or services. For online businesses, a robust digital presence must be in place. Some of the most common tactics for driving awareness are:
  • Consideration–During the consideration phase, brands should ideally prepare a wealth of content, which shows their expertise and product superiority. This content should use case studies and answer all the customer’s technical queries to ensure that they are fully informed. Going beyond the basics of consideration, brands should also seek to create an emotional connection (empathy) with design, content and interactive elements which engage and delight website visitors.
  • Content marketingA top performing automated selling system should aim to offer prospective customers advice, information and guidance about a product or service. 
  • Social media–Harness the potential of social media by sharing content, which shows the brand’s credibility and expertise whilst taking advantage of the platform’s reach. 
  • Organic search (SEO)Produce expert content which is primed to deliver maximum value to prospective customers and is optimised to display on search engines.
  • Paid ads–Generate exposure through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and banners. Reward inbound website visitors with exclusive content and promotions to get them into the funnel.
How to build a sales funnel using a WordPress theme
Source: Socratestheme
  • Consideration–During the consideration phase, brands should ideally prepare a powerful collection of content which shows their expertise and product superiority. This content should use case studies and should answer all the customer’s technical queries to ensure that they are fully informed.
  • Conversion–Once a potential customer has purchased a brand’s products or services, the top priority should be to provide a slick and seamless sales journey. Obstacles along the way–anything that may give a lead some difficulty in buying the product – should be removed.

What do these Marketing Funnel Terms Mean?

Building an automated sales system will require an exact understanding of many terms and phrases. Luckily, we have explained the most important and useful below that will teach you how to create a sales system you can be proud of.

  • Bounce Rate–The percentage of people who visit a website but leave engaging no further (they enter the funnel and leave without making a purchase, for example).
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Marketing funnel automation can really help boost the percentage of people who clicked through an ad to see a website. 
  • Content upgrade–Additional piece of content that is offered to audiences who are reading an initial piece of content. For example, a brand can offer a ‘complete guide to building marketing funnels’ to a website visitor who is reading an article about marketing funnels. The content upgrade is offered in exchange for the customer’s e-mail address and the content is then emailed to them.
  • Conversion rate–An automated sales funnel can streamline how many leads are converted to actual customers. This is done via lead nurturing. White papers are a handy tool to use at every stage of the marketing funnel automation process, but they are effective as customers make the purchase decision!
  • Core offer–The main offer which is being promoted to visitors entering the sales funnel.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)–The average amount of spend that a brand has to make to gain a new customer over a specific time period. 
  • Landing Page–This is essential in creating an automated selling system. A landing page is the page that website visitors ‘land’ on when they click through. The landing page usually offers website visitors an enticing offer or an incentive, such as an e-book or discount. The landing page is the entry point for the funnel.
Wistia's landing illustrates a good marketing funnel
Source: Wistia
  • Lead–An automated sales funnel can help sales teams to attract potential customers
  • Lifetime Value (LTV)–The total revenue that a brand generates from a customer during the entire time of their relationship with that brand. 
  • OneTime Offer–A product which is offered to potential customers within the sales funnel and which is presented as an offer which is not available for purchase anywhere else. 
  • Open Rate – An automated sales funnel can help increase the percentage of people who open an email out of all those who received the email from a specific campaign
  • Opt-In–The act of giving permission (opting in) to receive further communications from a brand. This is usually done in exchange for receiving a free e-book or another value incentive.
  • Opt-In Rate–The percentage of people who arrived on a landing page and completed an opt-in process.
  • Order bump–A product which can be purchased as an add-on to the major product (this is also known as a cross-sell). Order bumps typically appear as a checkbox within the order form during the checkout process. 
  • Order form–A page in the sales funnel where customers enter their payment information in order to complete their purchase. You can set up an automated selling system that accepts credit cards, sends invoices and keeps track of payments.
  • Scarcity–A marketing tactic which states that there are a few products available to inspire customers to purchase immediately. 
  • Urgency–A marketing tactic which uses a sense of limited time in order to encourage the customer to buy immediately rather than wait. 
  • Value Ladder–A set of products which deliver increasing value to the prospective customer. The value ladder usually represents a sales journey with the introductory (entry level) product or service being sold initially, followed by the more comprehensive / complementary service. An example is a web design company selling a website audit and then selling a website redesign and then, finally, selling an ongoing marketing retainer. This is used most commonly as a tactic to increase revenue in B2B businesses looking to maximise client revenue.
A diagram of Value ladder for marketing funnels and how the correct value and price drives better results the brand.
Source: Passivesecrets

Does an effective marketing funnel improve my content?

An automated sales funnel can help sales teams in constructing great content for the customer. One of the best ways of how marketing funnel automation can be used is to follow the stages of content creation using the acronym–AIDA. 

  • Attention–Define and articulate a problem which resonates strongly with the desired audience. Customers who are experiencing certain pain points but have not yet recognised the specific issue will focus their attention on what a brand offers. 
  • Interest–Stands for both interest and information. This is the stage where customers who are actively seeking a solution will become interested and seek to gain more information from a brand.  
  • Desire–Customers who move beyond attention and interest will now have the desire to find a solution. Here, it is the job of the brand to position itself as the best value, highest quality and most comprehensive solution available.
  • Action–Once a customer takes action, brands should make it easy for them to say yes to the solutions offered. 
This diagram shows how a brand can apply AIDA into their marketing funnel
Source: SingleBrain

Automated Sales System: Closing Thoughts

When building an automated sales system, it is important to consider all of your options to ensure you make the best choice for your specific needs. There are many things to look for in a sales system, but the most important aspect is finding one that can be customized to suit your needs. Creating an effective sales and marketing funnel requires research and development and a strong understanding of what prospective customers need. Operating the funnel requires a mechanical mindset where brands are focused on encouraging more leads to enter the funnel. Nudging the customers the right way through it, and eventually turning them into loyal customers and brand advocates, is an important skill which will pay dividends when performed correctly. 

Analysing funnel performance data via analytics will show the performance of different areas of a marketing funnel. This includes the points at which brands may lose customers – allowing them then to adapt, iterate and optimise the funnel in order to improve conversion rates of the funnel. This technique will simplify how to create a sales system.

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About James

James is an award winning digital strategist with over 20 years experience helping challenger brands and market leaders (Unilever, Diageo, MasterCard, HSBC) launch and scale their data-driven sales and marketing. Connect on Linkedin

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