Content Marketing For Cannabis Businesses: What is a Sales Funnel & How It Works
I’m often asked “What is a sales funnel, how does it work, and do I need one?” Well, I’ll tell you one thing, whether you know it or not, you have a sales funnel. Whether it’s a profitable one or not is a different story all together.
When you understand what a sales funnel is and how it works, you have control over every single stage of your customer’s buying behaviour, allowing you to gently but effectively guide them from just being potentially, maybe interested in what you have to offer, all the way to helping them make their decision to purchase.
So, what is a sales funnel? Why is it important? And how DOES it work?
What Is A Sales Funnel?
The easiest and most simple explanation of what a sales funnel is, is that it is the path website visitors take on the way to buying your product or services.
Some people will reach all the way to the very end of this path while others will never leave the top of the sales funnel. But the good news is that you can help influence not only how many people enter into the sales funnel, but also how many people reach the bottom.
Your sales funnel outlines the path website visitors take before they buy your products or sign up for your services and understanding what your sales funnel looks like will help you optimize that process. On the other hand, if you don’t, you cannot plug the holes through which your visitors drop out, bounce from your web shop and don’t convert.
While there are a lot of variations on the theme with many marketers adding on fancy little bits and pieces, the fundamentals of a sales funnel always remain the same. So in order to keep things simple, I’ll go over the four most common stages, what they look like and how they work.
What is a Sales Funnel: The Process Explained
A visitor does a Google search or follows a social link and lands on your website. He or she is now called a prospect. The prospect might check out a few of your blog posts, or hop over to your FAQ page before browsing your web shop. At some point, if you’re a little bit marketing savvy, you might even offer him or her the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter or download an e-book to help you generate and email list.
If the prospect fills out your form or downloads your e-book, he or she has now officially just become a lead. You can now market to that person outside of your website. You can help persuade leads to come back to your website when you contact them to tell them about new blog posts, or offer them some valuable industry news. You can even entice them to make a purchase by offering a coupon code on their next purchase or telling them about any special offers you are running at the moment.
As a prospect moves down the sales funnel to a lead, the sales funnel becomes narrower - in part because you’ll always have a lot more people interested in what you do than people actually making a purchase, but mostly because you’re not going to be the right fit for everyone.
That is why your marketing message needs to become more and more targeted as each consecutive stage of the sales funnel. In order to do that, you need to understand the four stages of a sales funnel.
What is a Sales Funnel: The Four Stages Explained
The four stages of a sales funnel basically represents the mindset of your prospective customer during the various stages of their decision making process as to whether or not they should a) buy the product, and b) whether they should do so from you.
Each stage needs to be approached differently. If you are sending the wrong message at the wrong time, it’s a bit like your waiter asking you what you want for dessert before you’ve even ordered your first round of drinks.
So, let’s take a look at the different sales funnel stages in more detail.
Stage 1: Awareness
This is that first moment in which you catch someone attention. Think of it almost like a courtship. This where you’re locking eyes across the room and they are becoming aware of you. You’re trying to woo them into engaging with you, while they are trying to figure you out and see if they’re interested.
In some cases the stars align and they make a purchase there and then. But most of the time this is a process of discovery in which they are doing a certain amount of research on the type of product or service you sell, and if what you have to offer is interesting to them.
Stage 2: Interest
At this stage you’ve met and there is the tentative suggestion of a first date - they are thinking over their options and deciding whether there should be one, while you need to take your opportunity to sweep them off their feet.
During this stage of the sales funnel, they are doing their research and weighing up their options. It is your job to offer them tons of valuable information about who you are, what you do and how you can help them WITHOUT MAKING A SALES PITCH.
If you start pouching your product or service on them from the beginning, they are going to run. The goal is to establish a sense of trust, explaining to them you can help them and help make them make an informed decision
Stage 3: Decision
You’ve gone on your first date and they are ready to get serious. The are ready to buy and are now considering two or three options - one of which hopefully includes you. This is your chance to make your best offer and finally seal the deal by giving something that your competition doesn’t.
It could be free shipping when other’s don’t, a discount code or a bonus product. Whatever it is, you need to make it irresistible. In other words, you should make them want to want you.
Stage 4: Action
Here at the very bottom of the sales funnel, he or she said, “Yes!”. This is where they act, they make that purchase and become part of your business’s ecosystem.
But just because a consumer reaches the bottom of the funnel, it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to fulfill your side of the deal and take action by continuing to woo him or her. You want your relationship to last, i.e., customer retention.
The best way to do this it so show your gratitude for giving you their trust and buying from you. Invite them to come back with feedback and make yourself available for any questions or support they might need.
What is a Sales Funnel: An Example
Imagine you own a brand of premium quality, full-spectrum CBD products for pets that you sell in your online on your website. You know that your target audience hangs out on Pinterest and Facebook a lot and that they consist mostly middle to high-income women between the ages of 35 and 65.
You are sharing blog post on CBD for pets on Pinterest profile and interacting with people in relevant Facebook groups. This drives traffic to your website where you offer a “CBD for Pets’ downloadable guide as a bonus for signing up to your newsletter.
Now you have leads instead of just prospects and they are moving through the funnel from stage 1 to stage 2.
So far so good, right?!
So now, over the next few weeks you send out your newsletter and content that helps them overcome their initial fears and concerns. For instance, help educate them on all the different aspects of CBD for pets like what the endocannabinoids system is, how this works in dogs and cats, and maybe even have an interview with a vet about the safety profile of CBD of different kinds of pets. Add in a discount for first time buyers.
And boom! Not only have they now gotten to know and trust you enough to buy their CBD pet product from you, but you’ve also given them an incentive to do so.
You’re selling your stuff like there’s no tomorrow.
So what you need to do next is retain those customers. Add them to another email list - one where you start the process all over again. But with different content. It’s now moved away from overcoming their initial fears and instead giving them ideas on how to incorporate their products into daily life. Write an article about how to make dog treats with your CBD pet products, or advise them on how to use CBD to help their dog during the 4th of July firework celebrations. Maybe even offer some loyalty program or discount.
And there you have it. That is what a sales funnel is, what it looks like and how it works.
If you’re still unsure on what to do, or simply don’t have the time for designing, implementing and maintaining everything that needs to go into a sales funnel, getting a bit of outside help can be life saver. Get in touch with me here or email me directly to discuss your needs and requirements.
INTERESTED IN SOME MORE AWESOME IDEAS ON HOW TO GET YOUR CANNABIS BRAND AHEAD OF THE CROWD? CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES TO GET YOU STARTED
- 5 Reasons Why You Need to Create Regular Content
- Which Social Media Platforms Should I Use For My Small Cannabis Business?
- How to Market Your Cannabis Business Effectively & Legally
- 5 Major Blogging Mistakes & How To Fix Them: A Guide for Cannabis Businesses
- Benefits of Blogging for Business: A Guide for Cannabis Brands
- Why Your Social Media Follower Count Doesn’t Matter
ABOUT LIEZE BOSHOFF
Lieze, is the founder of LBC3 Marketing, a leading content marketing and copywriting consultancy, working exclusively in the cannabis industry.
Lieze is a passionate and data-driven content marketing consultant with over 3 years of medical cannabis and CBD industry experience. Working with a wide range of brands and businesses globally, Lieze specializes in helping her clients get clear on their content strategy, creating educational and engaging content, and crafting conversion-focussed copy that resonates with their ideal customers.
If you're ready to see the impact a strategic Content Marketing plan and well-crafted Copywriting can do for you and your cannabis business, take that first step, contact her here for a free consultation.
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