Should My Business Consider Using Sales Funnels?

The sales funnel is a tried and tested method and has been perfected over many years and despite falling behind in popularity, still remains a common choice for businesses and marketers today. Due to their tried and tested nature, there are many companies such as Clickfunnels that have sprouted up in order to provide all the services needed to run and maintain an efficient sales funnel without having to rely on multiple services working in tandem, which can result in chaos if part of your system happens to go down.

The AIDA Model

The sales funnel follows a specific formula set up in one of the most effective sales techniques of all time, the AIDA model. This sales formula has effectively stood the test of time and has been a consistent driving force in business for many years.

The AIDA Model stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

Attention: In this phase of the formula, you draw in the customer’s attention and focus. In this first step your customer begins to develop an awareness of your business and brand. This can easily be achieved by placing an advert say on Google, Instagram or Facebook.

Interest: The customer begins to gain an interest in your product. They may have seen it advertised in several places, or maybe gone to your website to look at it. 

Desire: The customer, now aware of your brand’s existence begins to favour it. Sometimes, it can take the customer several views of your advertisements to notice you and want to have what you have on offer. The customer mulls the product over in their mind and starts to want it.

Action: The customer purchases your product or performs a purchase intention, such as putting it in an online basket.

A Sales Funnel will take your potential customer through the AIDA model on your website’s landing page. Initially, their attention will be grabbed by a well placed advert, this will usually be found by your customer on either Facebook or Google. The potential customer will proceed to click on one of these advertisements if they have an interest in a product or service your company provides.

Once they have taken the initial step, the customer will be taken to a specialised landing page on your website. This page will be set up to promote the service, usually with an explainer video or video advert and text. A landing page that has been effectively and intelligently designed will have a high conversion rate, with lots of customers purchasing your product from this page.

Many companies will have several landing pages to test which are the most effective at making a sale. The highest generating page will usually become their main sales page in future ads.

Some platforms you can advertise on, such as Facebook, can be set up so that they track customer interactions on your site allowing you to retarget customers that are interested in a specific item, say they keep it on screen for a certain time or put it in their basket, pointing them back to the item. This is a useful technique for helping to persuade a hot lead to make a purchase.

So What Is A Sales Funnel?

The Sales Funnel is a process where a customer is led through the AIDA model resulting in the purchase of goods and services. Depending on the services and products you are providing and your sales model in general, sales funnels can vary quite a bit. Your main aim is to attract someone who is interested and turn them into a paying customer.

Example Sales Funnel

When I was much younger, I was very interested in magic tricks and illusions, and I used to spend many hours on YouTube watching a variety of fantastic performers showing off their skills. One day I came across a video in which a magician took a handkerchief and showed me how he made it vanish into thin air. This trick contained a gimmick in the form of a plastic thumb tip I could use (if I had one) to make the handkerchief disappear.

The magician in the video directed me to a link in the video description which brought me to a landing page on a website he had set up to sell the gimmick so that viewers like myself who were interested in performing the trick could acquire one.

All I had to do was to enter my email and my name and the magician would send me the gimmick for nothing more than the cost of shipping. I bought it and it arrived. This was a great deal and a brilliant starter trick I could use to impress my friends and family. Later as I grew older and learned more about marketing, I realised that this was a loss leader. An excellent offer that would be hard to resist because it was such a great deal. The magician was paying for the thumb tip and buying me as a customer at the same time.

Having ordered the thumb tip, I had signed myself up to an emailing list wherein the magician would email me every week showing me a new fantastic trick, each of which used a wonderful little gimmick that I could buy cheaply from him. As the months went by, I bought six or seven more items from him, each of them useful, but some of them very expensive. He was an excellent magician, marketer and very skilled when it came to making money. This was an excellent and very effective sales funnel.

The initial sale with the thumb tip that I got was excellent for two reasons. 1, it was an easy trick to do, and 2, it established a trust between myself and the magician. I paid a little and got something of good value from it. Because it was a valuable quality product, I trusted him enough to buy again and again, and I didn’t question what I was buying, and probably spent a lot more than I had to on different tricks. 

The advantage of selling a real product for a great bargain price over a free download of a PDF, which is what every single marketing company seems to be doing nowadays, is that people get something real, it arrives in the mail and they are automatically passed through the hardest hurdle, which is actually buying for the first time. Value is established with the object’s arrival, and thus a trust is formed. If you merely give away a free PDF, there is only a small chance people will even read it, let alone convert into paying customers. Most people who give away free PDFs also give such low quality advice in these PDFs that it often persuades people like myself against trusting them. It can lose potential customers, but I digress.

So How Did This Funnel Work?

I came across the sales funnel in a YouTube magic tutorial. As I was looking to learn about magic, I was a hot lead. Interested in finding out more about how to perform the trick, I eagerly followed his link ending up on his landing page where I subscribed and bought my first product from him. I received follow up emails and bought more items over the next few months, which would have netted the magician a nice amount of money. The funnel worked like this:

Advert > Landing Page > Subscribe > Purchase > Follow Up Emails > Future Purchases

There are two other common kinds of funnels, Capture Funnels and Opt-Ins which both allow you different ways of marketing to customers. 

So do you NEED a Sales Funnel?

Most businesses don’t need a sales funnel in order to function well online, however depending on how you wish to run your might find some use for them. The standard landing pages are falling behind in the wake of more popular methods such as promoting online stores directly and some businesses such as restaurants have had great success with utilising capture funnels that add people to a mailing list who can then be marketed to.  

As a marketer, I have designed many different types of sales funnel over the past few years, some more successfully than others. Most industries are better off advertising services without capturing customer details these days.

As an advertiser I am against growing mailing lists as they seem to be deteriorating in effectiveness every year. Despite the fact I don’t personally like them, a sales funnel can be an effective way of getting customers to buy a series of items, or products, and they are still effective for promoting webinars and digital products such as software, which means there are no shipping costs.

I generally recommend against sales funnels unless you’re a drop-shipper or entrepreneur looking to specifically market using sales funnels only. I have seen sales funnels pushed (often by over eager marketers) on a variety of companies that simply do not need them, from restaurants to roofing contractors. Let me ask you: How many products do you have that you want to sell to a customer? Are they related? Is your product digital, or does it come with shipping costs? Is a sales funnel really the best way, rather than promoting your sales page directly and getting customers used to ordering from there instead?

If your answers are any of: Less than 15, completely unrelated, non digital, you are probably looking at a situation where your sales funnel will most likely be unsuccessful.

If a marketer recommends you consider a Sales Funnel, ask them why they specifically want to follow that route, if it will be the optimum choice for your businesses marketing needs, what examples can they give of similar companies using sales funnels in this way. If they have trouble answering this, they are probably 95% of marketing companies using sales funnels in the UK.

I would always recommend against using a sales funnel unless you really REALLY know what you are doing.

Can Sales Funnels be Detrimental?

Sadly, they can. One of the most successful sales funnels I have used is a high quality food sales funnel built by Market Porter and rebranded to Heartier. Market Porter provided a fantastic Jaw Dropping Offer with a huge percentage off their products all of which the value was unquestionably excellent.

I ordered first off the company when they were Market Porter and continued for a while to order whenever there was an offer in my email, as the food, whilst excellent quality, was expensive.

I would wait until the company sent me another fantastic deal in their email and then order from them using their discounts. Market Porter was renamed to Heartier, presumably as it felt like a better brand name and the sales funnel continued to function.

Heartier no longer exists as a company, and whilst I do not believe that the sales funnel directly contributed to this, however, it definitely helped. The issue was that I, and presumably many other customers came to appreciate the quality of the food, however the jaw dropping offers they always sent were really good and far too common for us to order directly from the site. 

Let me ask you a question: If you had the option to wait one or two weeks to get up to 50% off of specific products at a company that provided everything of a high quality, would you ever go onto their website and order products directly? The issue was that when the products are always exceptional, it seems like a much better deal to order whatever they recommend at an amazing discount, safe in the knowledge that it will taste astounding! 

For me, because everything was high quality, I was always up for trying new things, and their offers were amazing. One day, I got a message telling me that Heartier was closing down, and to not give up the good fight and keep buying local. I was really sad to find out that Heartier was no longer there…

To Nick and Miles at Heartier, if you ever read this, thank you for many amazing dinners, and I will definitely keep ordering local! 

To Finish Up

Many businesses have successfully used sales funnels. This has been a result of having the right products at the right time, excellent marketing and advertising. In today’s world, Sales Funnels are harder to operate due to a large number of factors including people’s familiarity with them, regular scam funnels on sites like Facebook, which are sadly becoming more common, and a deterioration in email open rates. 

I hope that this has been helpful!


Alex O’Neil

I am a blogger based in the UK. I work as an SEO specialist and Web Designer, and my hobbies include making small films and writing music.