What is a sales funnel (and why your website needs one)

A sales funnel is a marketing term for a strategic (and automated) way to build relationships with your potential customers or clients, with the end goal being a sale (and hopefully repeat sales).

Sales funnels can be simple, such as asking someone for their email address in exchange for a helpful piece of content (meaning they’re then on your mailing list and you can build the relationship), and complex, such as a multi-step funnel consisting of Facebook Ads, landing page, email marketing and retargeting campaigns (digital adverts that get shown to only people who have recently visited your website or interacted with your brand in some way).

Why your website needs a sales funnel

Most people who visit your website for the first time won’t be ready to buy from you; they’re simply curious about what you offer or sell.

On average, it takes at least 7 interactions with a brand before someone is ready to even consider purchasing.

When you see the purchasing process as a relationship-building process you begin to realise why creating a sales funnel is so important. Sales funnels help your business stay in front of potential customers and build the like, know, trust factor, with the end goal being a sale.

An example sales funnel works something like this:

  • Someone arrives on your website. They’re curious and like what they see. But they’re still in browsing mode; not ready to commit to a sale.
  • They see your website’s mailing list sign-up form. They see that you offer a 15% discount or free shipping to new subscribers, so they join (this is known as the sign-up incentive).
  • Your brand then welcomes them with a series of automated emails. The goal: grow the relationship with the potential customer so they get to like, know and trust your brand and buy from you. The potential customer is now on your mailing list so you can keep the communication channel open.
  • You could also create social media retargeting ads that get shown only to people who have recently visited your website. This speeds up the brand recognition process and works well in combination with email marketing campaigns.

Mailing list sign-up incentives don’t have to be discounts, they can also be valuable pieces of content (guides, checklists, worksheets and webinars) that help your key audiences. These types of offers work well for service-based businesses.

In essence, a sales funnel is a vital way to grow your business online. It’s also how you convert more website visitors into customers on autopilot.

Sales funnels aren’t difficult to create – you just need to think strategically and experiment. Once you find a winning formula you can scale and grow the campaign by using social media ads and Google Ads in order to get more people to visit your website and into your funnel.

Hi - I'm Megan Hodson

I’m a Shopify + WordPress web designer with 16+ years communications, marketing and digital design experience, including working in eCommerce since 2010.

Our studio collaborates with brave-hearted small businesses around the world, helping them create beautifully-functional websites that convert.

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