A sales funnel is a sales strategy that gets its name from the way people draw it in a diagram. At the top is a group consisting of all possible customers. At the bottom is a subset of people from that group who've become paying customers. In between are a series of successively shrinking groups of people at various stages of the funnel.

A sales funnel is a great way to visualize your marketing strategy. It's also a great system to set up online.

Here's what you need to do if you want to create an online sales funnel.

1. Develop a Great Landing Page

Before you start actively marketing for customers, you need to a great landing page. That will be your "front line" in digital marketing.

It's important to get the landing page right because it's likely to be the first impression that people get about your brand. If you don't do a great job at marketing your product or service on the landing page, you're likely to lose a lot of potential buyers right at the top of the sales funnel.

Hubspot has a list of some of the best landing page designs

You can also use a tool to design a landing page that will convert curious visitors into paying customers. Unbounce offers a service to help with that.

Keep in mind, though, that one of the most overlooked components of a successful landing page is effective copywriting. If you're not skilled at producing copy that appeals to people's emotions and convinces them to make a purchase, hire a copywriter to handle the task for you.

Read that last paragraph again. It really can't be emphasized enough.

Once you've got your landing page set up, it's time to move on to the next step.

2. Get People to Your Landing Page

The best landing page in the world won't matter if you can't get people to look at it. That's why you need to actively market it.

Yes. You will end up marketing your marketing page. That's how it works.

How do you get people to visit your page? There are several ways to do that. The best option depends on your business model and budget.

Here are a few alternatives you can think about:

PPC Ads - definitely not the cheapest, but if you're offering a great product or service with high margins, PPC ads are an excellent way to bring people to your landing page

Email marketing - a good option only if you have an already established email distribution list

Social media - you can promote your landing page on social media, but don't come across as too salesy or people will unfollow you

Content marketing - post content on your blog that's of interest to people in your target market and then promote your landing page within and around that content.

Keep in mind, you might have a series of steps after your landing page.

For example, first they hit your landing page, next they click a button to watch a video and following that they are prompted for a free download. When they get the free download, you get their email address.

I will explain more... 

3. Collect Email Addresses

Assuming your funnel is not built for a lead, but instead is a nurturing online lead generation funnel, the next thing you want to do is collect the email addresses of people who visit your landing page. This step is easy.

Why? Because if you followed the advice in Step #1, then you've got a great landing page. That's most of the battle right there.

Just be sure to make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer their email address. Your landing page form should be easy to use on a laptop, desktop, or mobile device.

Once you have the prospect's email address, then it's time to start the drip campaign. There are many tricks to capturing emails, so make sure you do a little homework.

4. The Drip Campaign

A drip campaign is a slow and steady series of emails that you send to prospects who've provided you with their email address. The idea is to build a relationship slowly over time until the prospect is comfortable making a purchase.

Here's what a typical drip campaign might look like:

Day 1 - you send a "welcome" email that thanks the prospect for showing an interest in your product or service

Day 2 - you send an email that offers the prospect a freebie, such as an e-book that contains info relevant to people in your target market

Day 3 - you send an email that includes a customer testimonial about your product or service

Day 4 - you send an email that includes a personal story that will help people in your target market become more successful

Day 5 - you send an email that goes for the "hard close" with outstanding copy that convinces and converts

After Day 5, wait a couple of days and send an email to people who didn't convert. Offer them your your product or service at a discount. That might just be what it takes to seal the deal.

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A great sales funnel is essential to success in online marketing. If you haven't already set up a sales funnel that reaches people in your target market, why not get the ball rolling today?