Understanding the Social Media Sales Funnel

How amazing would it be if your social media followers showed up on your Facebook or Instagram page, credit card in hand ready to purchase your product or service? However, this is rarely the case. Social media was designed to be a ‘social’ place—a place where people could socialise online with their friends, family and favourite brands. They come to be entertained and informed. They come to watch crazy cat videos and share what they’re watching, reading and eating. Because social media was primarily designed to be a social hangout, you can’t expect to post a picture of a product and list the features expecting your product will sell out overnight. Facebook and Instagram are not places where people go to make decisions.  They spend time on social networks to avoid making decisions.

Why people don’t purchase straight away

Potential customers need nurturing and educating before making an investment. It is said that it generally takes a person seeing your content seven or more times before they will even consider making a purchase. 

Example: Our head of content dithered about YouFoodz for two years before she even made a purchase but because their social media posts provided value and were informative, eventually she decided to give them a go! But prior to making that decision, she researched all the other food delivery options available and read a lot of reviews before she handed over her credit card details. Obviously, not everyone is as discerning or procrastinating as she was in this case, but when customers are parting with a lot of money they need to know they can trust you to deliver what you promise. And in a world where there are many people online ready to take advantage of you, trust is not easily earned.

The social media sales funnel in terms you can understand

For many years, marketers have used what they call a sales funnel to take their customers on a journey that takes them from awareness to purchase. Simply because you are on social media doesn’t mean you can do away with the sales funnel. Let’s put it in terms you will understand. When you go to the pub, you don’t approach the first bloke or girl you see and propose marriage. First, you get to know them, ask questions, perhaps get opinions from some friends, meet the family and decide whether you can trust them before deciding whether that person is worth the investment. Social media is no different. Your customers have to know your business, find out whether your product or service is trustworthy before they make a purchase. It’s not going to happen overnight.

What a social media sales funnel may look like

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling sustainable living products or real estate, you can apply to the basic sales funnel formula to any business on social media.

  1. Your followers learn about your product or service
  2. You spike their interest with reviews from happy customers, behind the scenes imagery and videos, tutorials on how to use the product, benefits of using your service.
  3. The engagement dance begins. They ask questions and you reply as soon as possible. Overtime they start to feel like you can be trusted.
  4. They continue to see the content of value from you.
  5. They might subscribe to your email newsletter, send you a direct message requesting more information.
    6. They purchase your product or service.
  6. They want their friends to see them as thought-leaders and viewed as being helpful, so often they will tag their friends and family members and/or leave reviews.

The social media purchasing process

Awareness

People who are at this stage of the social media funnel, don’t know who you are or what you offer. What they do know is they need a solution for a problem. During the awareness stage, a person might be deciding to take up a new hobby. At this stage of the social media sales funnel, they haven’t made a definite decision whether they want to take up painting, pottery, read more or join a remote control car club. The only way to get their attention is to provide informative posts. If it’s time for new glasses, straighter teeth or healthier meal options, you’ll need to highlight their pain points and the benefits of the solutions you can provide.

Consideration

When a person has identified what they need or what they want to do about a problem they will start searching for solutions. For example; they may look for remote control car clubs in their local area or hobby shops to compare what’s on offer. If they’re looking for healthier meal options like our head of content, they’ll be researching the options available to them from pre-made ready meals delivered to the door to healthy fresh vegetables and recipes that you cook yourself.

Decision

This is where the serious research begins. People will begin reading reviews from other users on Google and Facebook. They might send you a direct message asking for more information. If you have an ecommerce website, shoppers will compare product benefits, brands and prices. 

Most Facebook and Instagram users will be in the awareness stage of their journey, so when you start up a Facebook account or pass on your Facebook advertising to a marketing agency, you can’t expect to move all your product overnight and get exact numbers on your return on investment as social media isn’t an exact science.

What is the difference between successful social media brands and those who claim social media doesn’t work?

We’ve heard lots of people tell us Facebook and Instagram advertising doesn’t work, If it’s not working for you, it may be because you’ve skipped to the wrong end of the sales funnel. The most successful brands on social media all have social media sales funnels in place. It doesn’t matter if you promise giveaways with cash, it’s going to be a hard sell if you start at the wrong end of the social media sales funnel.

According to Statistica, the money spent on Facebook advertising amounts to almost 11.6 billion U.S. dollars, so when you’re competing for advertising space you need to go beyond the “here’s my product, buy it now before stocks run out!”

Answering the hard questions “What will I get for my return on investment?”

Many of our clients demand to know the return on investment (ROI) on advertising and how many units of their product you’re going to be able to sell in a month before they will sign on the dotted line. This is a hard question to answer. You can’t sell to people who don’t know or trust you (you’ll hear us refer to these people as cold audiences).

Often, we’ll show them the results we have achieved for clients in similar industries, but as for a monetary value or definite numbers on what to expect this is harder to predict. You need to ask yourself, how much value would you put on a new follower? How much value would you attribute to a Google review or a testimonial? How much value would you attribute to someone who shared your post?

In our next blog post, we’ll take a look at how to attract awareness and navigate the entry stage of the social media sales funnel.

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