The future of online marketing is arriving now…
And it’s about to transform the way you sell your products and services online.
But who am I and why should you care what I have to say on this topic?
Well, I’m the founder of a Web marketing agency called QDS DIGITAL a 5 star rated digital marketing agency in South Africa.
While we are still considered a small company, I have been working with or on computers from the age of 8 or 9. Built my first fully working PC with scraps and got my first IT qualification at age 15, long before I finished school. I now have so many qualifications I don’t know where to put all of them, but that’s neither here or there. I have experience and perspective. I want to help you achieve fantastic results by simply seeing the opportunity that is in front of you, and capitalizing on it using the skills I have acquired over a very long period of time, and through all the major different trends pre-internet into the new social web we have now with all devices and people constantly being connected everywhere all around the world.
The big story that I want to get across to you here is that the online marketing barrier for attracting and converting customers via your website is rising as data and segmentation allow us to target prospective customers with a degree of sophistication never before possible.
Remember in the futuristic movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise is walking through the mall and all of the ads are scanning his eyes, measuring different factors like his location, what he’s wearing, doing, and current state of mind? The ads then automatically and instantly customize the presentation of their offer based on this data.
This once “futuristic” scene is now becoming a reality. It will eventually affect the way all business websites are designed to sell goods and services. This shift is happening right now because of next-generation website sales funnels, or “Smart Sales Funnels.”
The Smart Sales Funnel: What is it?
People have been talking about marketing like the kind portrayed in Minority Report for years.
Retargeting and dynamic email marketing automation from companies like InfusionSoft and ActiveCampaign, or Exit-Detection pop-ups were just the beginning.
Smart sales funnels—or smart funnels for short—are the evolutionary result of data-driven marketing and increased buyer sophistication.
A smart funnel is best defined as a fully integrated website design that recognizes each visitor and shows different content and offers based on where each visitor is at in the sales process. For example, a basic smart funnel could be set up to function like this:
- Is this person a new visitor? If yes, show her the introductory homepage with a call to action to join the email newsletter.
- Is this person already an email subscriber? Then show her an introductory offer.
- Is this person an existing customer or client? If so, based on what they previously bought, recommend a “next level” purchase.
Obviously, you can get much more sophisticated with it depending on how your funnel is set up and how much data you have on a visitor.
Over the next 5–10 years I predict that smart funnels will become a near marketing requirement that every business must have in order to compete and market effectively.
The Smart Funnel: Why now?
The invention of the smart sales funnel is the result of a few key factors culminating right now:
- Increasing competition online: more people (many retired or out of work) are entering the market looking to sell a variety of products and services. According to Babson College, who has been tracking the number since 1999, the number of people involved in startups hit a record high of 13% last year.
- Ad-Tech advances like retargeting, exit-detection and integrated CRM / email marketing technologies have set the stage to make this concept mainstream, readily accepted, and a logical next step in the march towards the marketer’s perfect ideal: the right message to the right person at the right time.
- Education: This is also a factor in the increase in competition online. Education has become a form of marketing in itself, and with people like myself teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs and small businesses how to do it, the level of sophistication of the average person has risen across the board.
These factors have set the stage for the concept of the smart funnel to explode on to the internet marketing scene in the coming months and years. And, yes, I know that sounds a little extreme, but I believe the facts support its coming popularity.
Even though the concept of a smart sales funnel is still in its infancy, a few popular websites and savvy marketers have already begun to implement it.
4 Examples of Smart Sales Funnels
There are only a few examples of true smart funnels on the Web today, largely because this is still such a new concept. There are a few very good examples online about these types of marketing funnels. Maybe you have already been in one, did you find yourself compelled to buy the special offer? Did you see how much they follow up with e-mails and Facebook messenger ads? They do it because it works plainly because you are paying attention. Money follows attention.
How Can You Implement a Smart Sales Funnel in Your Business?
The best way to go about implementing a smart funnel for your website is to begin by thinking about it as a “step-by-step conversation” with a new customer.
Your strategy isn’t to try to sell them a high-priced product or service right off the bat. That’s like attempting to marry someone on a first date. It’s silly.
Instead, here’s a basic template to follow:
- Step 1: Since this is a new customer and they might not know anything about your company or brand, it’s logical to start by trying to build the relationship. Perhaps, invite them to join your email list. You want to do this because if they leave your site without signing up, there’s a 70% chance on average that they will never return. Email allows you to continuously follow up with them, educate them, and nudge them to return to your site and make a purchase decision. For a SaaS business, this is where users are signing up for a free trial or a free account.
- Step 2: Get them to make a small purchase. Even if it’s as low as $1, this is still a pivotal milestone to reach in your funnel because it shows that they value what you’re offering via a real transaction. In addition, this small, initial commitment means they are more likely to make another, larger purchase later on. For a service or product business, you might try to sell a $5 to $9 ebook or case study at this point.
- Step 3: Present your core offer or gradually escalate with more expensive, higher-value offers. If you’re a service business, this is where you make your $1000+ offer. With a SaaS business, this is where you’re retaining the customer month-to-month and/or nudging them to pre-pay for the year at a discount, and/or upgrading to the next pricing level.
That’s a relatively basic template. Now let’s look at some tools to help you actually set this up in your business.
Smart Sales Funnel Tools & Related Strategies
I was surprised to find that there are virtually no tools on the market to simplify the work involved in implementing a smart funnel. All of the examples given above required custom programming. That means the average business would have to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to implement a smart funnel on their website.
Is this really the future of marketing? How far can you take this?
If you’re still skeptical that this will be an up and coming trend, checkout these two quotes from two other accomplished entrepreneurs and marketers:
“Anytime you can make an experience more personal the better. I’ve started doing personalized video responses to people that email me and ask questions. Conversion rates on that stuff are thru the roof.”
– Bryan Harris, VideoFruit.com
“Smart funnels are definitely valuable. Constant Contact does a really good job with this after you sign up… We haven’t set up smart funnels on our site yet but we certainly will be playing around with some stuff here in the future.”
– Alex Turnbull, GrooveHQ.com
So it’s pretty clear the Smart Sales Funnel is going to grow in popularity as we move into 2020 and beyond.
There really are no limits to how far this can be taken, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
And remember the bleak Minority Report example that I started this article with? This is part of the reason why I expect some new government regulation (like the GDPR cookie laws already passed in Europe that require websites to inform visitors that information is being collected on them) around new marketing tech like this down the road.
However, as long as you don’t operate in the black or gray zones of “data-ethics” when it comes to your smart funnel, there’s little to worry about.
- A smart sales funnel is an automated website funnel design that changes what content and offers are shown to existing and would-be customers, depending on where they are at in the sales process (i.e. on the email list? already bought something?).
- Smart funnels will likely grow in popularity as marketers look for new ways to gain a competitive edge while utilizing the wealth of marketing data generated online.
- There are a number of prominent examples of companies who are ahead of the curve and already using a smart funnel strategy in their businesses like Billy Gene is Marketing, and the very popular Sabri Suby – Sell like crazy ebook campaign. Even Amazon uses these techniques.
- It’s still early, so there are few tools on the market right now that make the process of implementing a smart funnel on your website easy (which is why we’re developing our own and why we recommend other related tools and strategies in the meantime).
- The rise of smart sales funnel is happening now. You can expect it to become a near marketing “requirement” as businesses adopt the strategy and new tools and tech come out around the concept.
So now as you see we are moving into a completely new realm which requires quite a bit more work than just a website and a business card. The opportunity is massive, and all businesses should start investing into this immediately, or you will simply not even show up on the screens of millions of potential clients. That is a fact of the times we live in.
Contact us to help you get your digital presence set up correctly and be ready for the new marketing funnels that are already here and making millions. – Albert Nel