In a traditional business model, creating a sales funnel follows a simple formula. The marketing funnel typically correlates with the mindset of consumers at specific points of the customer journey and they would be ushered along to the next stage. But the digital age has shredded the formula.
Although the fundamental approach to marketing funnels has not changed, businesses do need to rethink how they communicate with customers and shift from the traditional funnel-shape to a circular approach. Consumer mindsets may not have changed, but the digital stage has influenced shopping habits.
In general, modern sales funnels should follow the principles of a typical customer journey; awareness, consideration, action, preference and purchase. But because customers are accessing content on a wide variety of online and offline platforms, together with various digital devices, the old-school sales funnel is outdated.
The look of a modern sales funnel
In the traditional model, marketing focused on the top end of the funnel. The role of marketing is to raise awareness, provide information and compel prospects to take the next step. At the narrow, bottom end of the funnel, sales would swoop in to sell the brand and seal the deal.
Today, marketing and sales have to work seamlessly at every stage of the purchasing process. In the digital landscape, customers can become aware of your product on multiple platforms and arrive at sales with a mindset that is still making considerations and research.
Sales teams can’t simply swoop in to seal deals anymore. They have to be on hand to provide information in a persuasive manner which traditionally is the role of marketing. The skill of sales staff these days is engaging customers in conversation and providing them with the information they require at any given point in the customer journey. Hence modern sales funnels are circular.
What do consumers want?
Modern consumers do not want marketing. They want a two-way conversation that will give them sufficient information to make an informed purchasing decision. The internet and a culture of content enables consumers to learn about a product and a brand before making a choice.
Conversations therefore should be central to your sales funnel. Giving customers as many opportunities as possible to gather information and learn about your brand is the way to go. Every customer has a need. Brands must convince them you have a solution.
There are plenty of platforms companies can use to engage prospects in conversation; social media, virtual assistants, chatrooms, blog comments, contact forms, peer-to-peer review sites, Q&A platforms and community forums. You also have the old favorites phone, email and SMS.
Given the mass mobile culture of the current age, it is not surprising that the latter is the most dominant channel for sales and marketing in todays digital setup. SMS is quick, convenient and cost-effective. Furthermore, consumers would rather text than talk.
Understanding the customer mindset
Together with information and honesty, consumers also want convenience, speed and a personal experience. Because SMS has limited space, messages have to be to-the-point and relevant to the recipient. And because SMS does not require shoppers to be online to receive them, the ability to reach your audience at any time is an added bonus.
You can also include SMS messaging in several stages of the sales funnel. Texting should not only be used for sending offers and raising awareness of products. Utilize SMS for chasing leads, answering queries, sending reminders, and making it convenient for customers to make fast purchases.
Mobile technology has developed fairly quickly over the last few years. And technology companies promise there is more to come from eCommerce in the future. Smartphone and wearables look set to take center stage in the future of shopping and including SMS in your sales funnel is a crucial element that is hard to ignore.
Furthermore, technology is changing the way customers choose to shop. We are already starting to see companies introducing alternative payment methods. As consumer demand grows for fast-checkout options both online and offline, brands have to find effective solutions.
Today’s retailers should be focusing on the surge of mobile transactions. Consumers are already accustomed to making purchases with mobile coupons sent via SMS. Mobile wallets and one-click buy buttons are also gathering momentum as consumers call for more fast and convenient ways of making a purchase.
The internet culture has tipped the balance of power in favor of consumers. Modern businesses have to find effective methods of communication at all points within the customer journey and create a sales funnel that provides customers with solutions and convinces them to choose your brand over your competitors.