Sales Funnels: What you can learn from sales even when you aren't selling

I’ve been away from web design for a while. That’s the break when you work with large companies - you become specialised. So reentering the game has meant a ton of research into emerging tech. The new hotness is drop-in-‘n’-go JavaScript, and every second website has talked about user flow. So let’s talk about it.


Today, most of a site’s traffic will originate on social media. That’s just where the audience is. I think the number one priority for any business entity should be to setup a Facebook presence. It might not be the chief source of your traffic forever, but it’s a great starter for the uninitiated. And if you’re selling a product, you can even do that through Facebook pages and groups. The team at Facebook have done brilliant work to maintain as much traffic as possible. The tricky part now is convincing visitors to click away from Facebook for a moment to visit our sites.

It’s not an easy challenge to overcome. That click has got to lead to a mobile-friendly page but still look great on desktop, and it has got to grab your audience’s attention in seconds. And if you capture that attention, you’ve got to sustain it.

This has led to the creation of a lot of great tricks like infinite loading on blogging and news sites, recommended and related content based primarily on predictions about a visitor’s interests, and the prominence of video over text content on a page.

Just because you’ve captured their click doesn’t mean you’ve captured their interest.

How Sales Funnels Work

There’s nothing special about sales funnels. What is special is the emphasis put on this concept by salespeople. In fact, you’ll find the same discussion concerning user flow among user experience designers. But the concept of a sales funnel is a little easier to tackle first. The premise envisions a funnel with a wide mouth, narrowing out towards a small spout. The idea is that you funnel your customers through various entry-points to the one conclusion best for them and you as a business, typically a sale.

The funnel goes through several phases, beginning with awareness and culminating in the purchase or repurchase phase. If you aren’t selling anything yet, substitute ‘purchase’ with your ideal user action - this might be bookmarking your page so that they revisit.

You want to be aware of this concept early in your ventures, whether they are business-related or just a hobby, because funnelling will make your adoption process clear, manageable and effective.

Your strategy online will likely always start with social media. Here you generate awareness, which is why I emphasise you should setup a Facebook presence. Once you’ve grabbed the visitor’s awareness, you need their interest. These are the hooks we talked about that capture your visitor’s attention. And finally, you want to capture the sale. Your content needs to do the convincing, but with great copy and effective design you can convince visitors to bookmark your page, install a plugin or subscribe for notifications.

Okay, I know this isn’t rocket science. But simply being aware of this sort of thinking, and conscious to its implementation could serve you well to better sustain frequent visitors.

We will consider some more detailed examples in future episodes. Stay tuned.

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