6 Sales Funnel Mistakes That Reduce Conversions

A sales funnel can be a powerful tool for nurturing leads and boosting your sales. That is, if you set it up the right way…

It is possible to make sales funnel mistakes, in fact, it's normal to make mistakes but you just need to keep tweaking and changing it until you find a formula that works.

Most of the time, these mistakes have simple solutions that will have your sales funnel humming again. Here are some of the most common faults with sales funnels:

#1. Poor First Impression

Okay, this bit actually covers a lot of ground. Needless to say, first impressions are vital. Did you know that it takes about 50 milliseconds for a person to form a first impression of your website that will determine whether they stay or go?

People coming into your funnel may give you a few seconds more leeway (if they’ve seen you before), but you can count on the fact that you still only have mere seconds to make the right impression.

One of the biggest mistakes with first impressions is having confusing messaging.

If the client doesn’t understand what you’re about almost immediately, they’re more likely to leave than spend time trying to find out. The trick is in understanding when and how your messaging might be confusing, and you’re not always the best person to see it.

When we’re close to the product or service, it can be difficult to see it through the eyes of someone who is new to it. One thing you can do is seek feedback from a third party:

Does your copy make sense to them immediately?

Do they understand what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for?

Remember that if there are different potential entry points into your funnel to have them all tested by the third party.

Are there other “first impression” issues besides messaging? Sure, what about:

  • Your choice of images or visual media
  • The quality of your copy and any media (for example, video)
  • A disconnect in terms of tone and voice compared to what people are used to from you
  • Trying to be too clever with your copy, have too much jargon or too many inside jokes
  • Making the process too complicated, for example, by having a poor user experience or difficult navigation.

The bottom line is that your leads should be entering a polished funnel and having a seamless experience. First impressions should leave them hungry for more rather than heading for the hills.

Sales funnel mistakes

#2. Weak (Or Missing) Calls to Action

“The call to action is a key element on a webpage, acting as a signpost that lets the user know what to do next. Without a clear CTA, the user may not know the next steps to take to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter and is likely to leave the site without accomplishing their task.” Optimizely

So if calls to action are missing or obscured, then the prospect won’t know what they’re supposed to do next and they’ll leave. The first point is simply “have clear calls to action.”

Secondly, you’ve got to have effective calls to action. This means your CTA actually compels people to take action. Want to know what doesn’t work? CTAs that give your audience no impetus to do anything. “Click here” is a good example – why should they? What are they going to get from it?

You have to be direct, but consider how you will evoke emotion or enthusiasm. “Click here to plan your dream holiday!” would be much more effective than “click here” (if you are a travel business, that is). You get bonus points if you can work something of your value proposition into your CTA.

#3. Your Target Audience Is Unclear

We spend a bit of time around here talking with business owners who’d love to take their business to the next level. Part of that often tends to involve getting a better sort of client. The sort who appreciates the value you deliver and doesn’t keep you caught up in endless back and forth over small details. 

A common mistake that many business owners make with their funnel is that they try to target an audience that is too broad. They worry that by being too narrowly focused, they’ll leave people out who could have brought in work, however casting a wide net often attracts no one.

Targeting a broad audience risks that you might attract no one Click To Tweet

This ties in with your messaging as well. When you have a clearly defined target audience, you can tailor your messaging so that you’re speaking their language. You want people to read your landing page or watch your video and scream, “that’s me!”  The danger of trying to target everyone at once is that your messaging becomes too bland. No one sees themselves in what you’re saying, in fact, they’ve probably gone to sleep!

If you look from the perspective of the potential client, you have to think about how they’re willing to spend their time. “What’s in it for me?” and “why should I keep listening?” are important questions to answer and you’ll fail to do that without a personal connection. Then it’s exit funnel left…

#4. Follow-Up Is Inconsistent (Or Non-Existent)

As amazing as your product or service may be, it would be rare for customers to be on board as soon as they make first contact with you. In fact, it takes an average of six to eight touchpoints before a lead may be considered “qualified” for a sale.

One of the cool things about a sales funnel is that you can automate many of these touchpoints. You can set customers on a path where they receive your emails and are encouraged to sign up for your webinar or watch your video. It’s a great way to humanise your business and build some rapport, but you can’t be complacent about relying on the automation.

For some products or services, customers will need more personalised follow-up before they agree to purchase. This is especially true for high-ticket sales funnels because most people want reassurance before purchasing something of higher value. You may need to schedule one-on-one consultations. These give you the opportunity to answer any questions or allay any fears of that particular customer – you can’t always anticipate what these will be ahead of time.

The key takeaway? Don’t be so reliant on automated communications that you miss the opportunity to serve the prospect better and close the sale.

#5. Being Too “Salesy”

This point is fairly short and sweet: if you come on too strongly to push the sale early in the funnel, you’ll find you have a leakage problem.

People have developed a certain amount of armour around advertising that perhaps they didn’t have as much of prior to the digital age. It comes from being constantly hammered by marketing, no matter where they go now. If it’s not something over the internet, it’s their T.V., junk mail and the annoying spambots who love to call their phones around dinner time.

A strong sales pitch too soon after first meeting you will have the prospect running.

The thing is, if you’re good at communicating the value you deliver and results you can get for customers, you shouldn’t have to come on strongly at all. Let’s leave the “ick” factor to the robocalls…

Sales funnel mistakes

#6. Your Funnel Progression Is Confusing

A good sales funnel should take the customer on a journey. It should be one that they enjoy rather than one that has them getting off at the next station.

There are a few ways in which you might confuse or lose customers:

  • There are too many potential options for them to take. Each funnel you create should be set up to serve one major end goal. The series of steps in-between should be designed to take them there – no detours. 
  • You distract the prospect with other things. If your aim is to ultimately sell them into your high-ticket coaching program, then now is not the time to throw in a pitch for your website building services or dog grooming business!
  • You forget to support the middle sections of the funnel. Many businesses put a lot of focus into bringing more leads in at the top and closing those at the bottom. However, those middle-of-funnel customers need their concerns addressed too. Remember that different content is appropriate for different stages. People in the middle may be comparing options, for example, and want to know more about the details of what they’re getting.

#7. Not testing and using analytics

Q: What keeps sales funnels fresh and helps to ensure you have effective content and systems in place?

A: Testing and monitoring of analytics!

It’s a mistake to think that you can let a sales funnel just sit there. Sure, for the most part, it is automated, but you may just automatically be making a bunch of mistakes…

How will you know? That’s what your critical metrics are for.

Every sales funnel should have a defined set of KPIs that you’re actively monitoring to track success or failure. For example:

  • Page bounce rates
  • Email open rates
  • Email response rate
  • Average amount of time your video is watched
  • Conversion rates (of course!)
  • Number of sign-ups
  • Leads qualified per week/month/quarter/year
  • Average purchase value
  • Repeat purchase rate (if applicable)
  • Return on marketing investment…

At the same time, it’s important to monitor analytics for clues. For example, how do your metrics on mobile compare to metrics on desktop? What if mobile users find something about your website difficult to use, whereas desktop users have no problem?

Are there any patterns you notice? For example, does the browser being used make any difference? What about the traffic source?

With a good handle on KPIs and analytics, you can set up split tests to play off one version against another. This is a whole other post on its own, but split-testing helps you to find a “better” version of something; perhaps your headlines or signup form.

The trick when you test is never to assume that you’ve found the “best.” What you’ve found is the best that you know of – there could be some other version that performs even better. It’s a learning process, and one that you get better and better at with time and experience.

Final Thoughts

A sales funnel is a powerful way to generate and nurture leads through to a sale, so it’s worth setting up the right way to achieve your goals. That means measuring, testing and making changes where necessary too (hint: we have a bonus about that – it’s another key area where mistakes are made).

It’s important to remember that your sales funnel doesn’t have to remain set in stone. Make changes based on solid feedback or data and don’t be afraid to try something new. Different strategies can work for different products and audiences, yours too!

If you need a step by step guide (with templates!) to set your sales funnel up, then make sure you check out Troy and Dave Foy's proven system. 

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Katie Joll

Katie Joll

Katie is a writer who specialises in technology, small business marketing and travel. She loves nothing more than a good success story, so keep them coming in!

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