The 5 Phases Of The Facebook Sales Funnel

By Nick O'Neill Comment

Facebook Sales Funnel ImageYou run the marketing for a business of any size and you’re trying to figure out how to leverage Facebook to increase your reach and generate more sales. With so much buzz, Facebook is hard to ignore but many people have yet to figure out the most effective way for using the site to generate sales. After studying the ecosystem over the past two years, we’ve generated a few models that we think are most effective to marketing on the site. The model I’ll present today should assist in increasing sales no matter the resources.

The first question to ask is “What is the goal of being on Facebook?” Hopefully you already know what purpose Facebook serves for your company. If your goal happens to be “obtaining new customers and engaging existing ones” then this article is for you. What I’m going to describe in this post are the 5 different phases of what I call the “Facebook sales funnel”.

This is not a perfected concept but the point is simple: marketing through Facebook does not mimic the standard three step online sales funnel: click, read (learn about the product or service), purchase.

Phase 1: Awareness

Phase one of the Facebook sales funnel requires the greatest time investment of all the phases. As a brand manger or person responsible for the company’s Facebook marketing, your job is to build brand awareness. In the Facebook sales funnel there are two things you want to make users aware of: your service and your presence on Facebook. Once you’ve made them aware, you can drive them to your Facebook Page. They may not know who you are or what you do, but you’ve at least generated enough intrigue for the user to visit your page.

So how do you build awareness of your Facebook presence? There are three primary ways (if you have others feel to add them in the comments):

Targeted Ads

Taking advantage of the Facebook advertising platform is extremely important. The standard cost of a new fan of a Facebook Page is approximately $0.50. While you can use the Facebook ads to promote off-site landing pages, traditional online advertising is not the purpose of this article. You want to promote your page if you are going to extract the greatest benefit from Facebook and that the primary promotional channel on Facebook is Facebook Ads.

Social Graph Distribution

One of the best parts of Facebook is the ability for information to spread virally. I remember when the Facebook platform launched; many brand managers were asking, “How do I create a viral application?” By now that question has evolved a bit but the primary response I have for generating the greatest organic growth is to create good content. You may be thinking to yourself “No shit Sherlock!” If you are one of those individuals thinking this to yourself, you may just be a step ahead of the rest.

The golden rule of viral (and organic) growth online is: create great content that people will share. It’s honestly as simple as that. If you want to know what’s good content and what isn’t feel free to ask me!

Cross-Promotion

If you have a site that’s already generating traffic you should be taking advantage of it! You’d be surprised how many people do not take advantage of their existing web properties to promote their Facebook Page. Are you concerned that sending people away from your site means they’ll never come back? Don’t worry! They will return as long as you give them a reason to. Cross-promotion goes both ways and once you get people to become a fan of your Facebook Page, you can then direct them back to your website (as I’ll discuss later in this article).

Phase 2: Education

For those visitors that already know your product or service, you may not need to do much education. For the more inquisitive user who has never heard of you or your company, you’ll need to educate them. The education process entails answering the following questions:

Who are you?
When I say “Who are you” I’m not just referencing your company or organization. As I tell people on a regular basis, you need to humanize your organization. By connecting with individuals on a personal level and letting them know that there’s another person behind the computer on the other end, you’ll build a strong connection that will help the individual associate positive feelings with your organization. Yes, you also need to let them know what your organization is, but I would argue that the personal touch is much more important.

What do you sell?
If the customer doesn’t know that you are selling something, you are going to be screwed in the long-run. Take for example the Facebook Privacy guide that I announced earlier this week. The response was a mix of positive and negative. Some users weren’t happy because I had never sold anything on this site before (aside from promoting my conference). While there will always be unhappy people, the more up front you are about the fact that you are selling something, the more accepting the customer will be when it comes time to purchasing something.

This could be as simple as something within the information tab in your Facebook Page that describes what your company offers. You could also create an entire tab dedicated to describing your sales proposition but I’ll leave that for another article.

Who’s in your community?
When a new visitor lands on your Facebook Page, one of the first things they’ll look at is the number of fans you have. You’ll notice that as Facebook Pages grow in size, they also tend to increase in the volume of new fans per day. This is because having a large number of fans turns you into a trusted authority. While there are exceptions to this rule (joke pages that are targeted at topics such as “pillow fighting”), the average individual or company who has a large number of fans is assumed to be an authority within their industry.

Users will also browse through the members of your Facebook Page to see who else is part of the community. They’ll also view the comments people are posting to see if this is something they are interested in hearing about. Do you have brand advocates that are speaking up for you when you aren’t around? Do you have people that have something valuable to add to the conversation?

They say that you are who your friends are and on Facebook, you are who your community is. Foster a valuable community and there’s a greater chance you’ll convert new visitors into fans.

Why do I want to join?
Finally, before becoming a fan the user will try to figure what benefit they are going to get from becoming a fan of your Facebook Page. The benefit could simply be an opportunity to express their affiliation with your brand. Another benefit could be ongoing access to valuable content. If your Facebook Page has nothing to offer the user, the only people that will become a fan are those that are already your fans or those that are interested in existing community members.

The goal is to reach new customers though so you’ll need to present at least a minimal value through your Facebook Page.

Phase 3: Engagement

“Enagement” has become the cornerstone of social network marketing. Even Facebook has named their primary advertising product (“Engagement Ads”) after it. While many marketers criticize engagement for the inability to quantify it, every online marketer knows that engaging your customers is the new form of marketing. Rather than speaking at your customers, marketing has now become a two-way dialogue, leaving many traditional advertisers and marketers feeling powerless.

You aren’t completely powerless though since you can control the environment in which much of the conversation takes place. While there are many other platforms for engaging your customer base, Facebook Pages are a great environment for engaging a large portion of your customers and fans directly. With an estimated 250 million users and growing, there’s a good chance that a large percentage of your fans are on Facebook.

The engagement process is also critical to building a relationship with your fans and to strengthen their personal brand affiliation. One thing to keep in mind is the impact that various forms of engagement have on the relationship with your customer:

  • Low Impact Activities – There are a lot of low impact activities that a consumer can engage in. One example would be “liking” a status update in Facebook. While the user read the status, it was a quick action in a number of activities they were involved in. (For those that may be confused, “liking” is the feature in Facebook that lets you click “Like” under a feed story.)
  • Medium Impact Activities – Commenting on a status could be one example of a medium impact activity. An individual or brand could turn it into a high-impact experience by providing one-on-one dialogue to turn the experience from a single comment to an ongoing conversation.
  • High Impact Activities – As I mentioned in the previous example, ongoing conversations are a high impact activity. An additional form of high engagement activity would be a branded game (such as the Bacardi Mojito application).

Granted, it’s not clear where each activity falls within the “engagement impact spectrum” because each experience differs from user to user. For example there may be a video or a game that resonates deeply with a user, and for others, a direct conversation may not have as deep of an impact as you’d hope for. In the list above, I arbitrarily assigned activities based on their impact level according to my own personal experience.

For different brands and different people, the impact will differ which is why it’s best to provide as many engagement opportunities as possible. As many industry experts know it’s also extremely difficult to measure engagement currently as there are no standards but it’s no excuse not to try as many forms of engagement as possible.

Phase 4: Action

In contrast to search engine advertising, which involves clicking an ad and then taking some sort of action (e.g. filling out a form or purchasing a product), the Facebook sales funnel involves building a relationship and presenting multiple opportunities to take an action. At this point you’ve already converted new visitors and in the engagement phase you built the relationship. Now it’s time to present opportunities to make a purchase, to join a site, or to take some other form of measurable action.

Most Facebook users are not ready to buy (or to join a site, etc) when they become a fan which is why you need to present calls to action on a regular basis. One example would be instant discounts. For example you may want to provide a 2-hour long 50 percent off discount of a given product. There are other examples like entering their name and email into a newsletter list. While there are different strategies for optimizing your calls to action, it’s important to produce calls to action on an ongoing basis.

There is one exception to this rule and that’s companies that are strictly focused on brand building. This article is focused on those companies that want to generate measurable results which is why we are now presenting a call to action.

Phase 5: Repeat Engagement

Now that you’ve presented a call to action and some of your users have taken that action, you need to continue to engage them. If you use the relationship marketing model on Facebook, you’ll end up a winner. For those unaware of what relationship marketing is, Wikipedia states:

Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or “Intrusion” marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists.

You’ve already subtly introduced calls to action and now that some users have taken those calls to action, you need to keep doing what you did in phase 3: engage them. As the Wikipedia definition of relationship marketing highlights, it’s not about a one-time sale or action. Instead, we are in the business of building relationships and Facebook provides an optimal environment for doing just that.

Conclusion

The Facebook sales funnel can differ from one business to another. Some people would like to use Facebook as a model for filtering users into their standard sales funnel (such as get users to register for the company’s e-mail newsletter). Those individuals are not taking advantage of Facebook’s full marketing potential. The Facebook sales process is an elongated one which entails engaging the user throughout the entire sales process (starting with their pre-purchase experience).

Ultimately each business needs to determine what the best strategy is for them based on the resources available but the Facebook sales process will help you to generate valuable customer relationships, not just one-time customers.

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