Increase Conversion Rates with These Powerful Sales Funnel Strategies (Updated 2019)

This article has been fact-checked for accuracy.

Are you a marketer or an aspiring entrepreneur who is struggling to get new customers? You have probably invested a significant amount of time, money, and resources in building a powerful marketing strategy. You even receive many leads and try to charm them with your selling skills.

However, for some of you, all these efforts don’t seem to contribute to an increase in revenue or sales. In other words, your leads aren’t converting despite all your marketing strategies and selling tactics.

So, what are you doing wrong? Let’s find out.


The Myth About Conversions


Conversion is an elusive term that keeps baffling business owners and marketers. The most common mistake business owners make is that they get confused between conversion and the actual sale. Purchasing your product or service is only one of the conversions a potential customer goes through. It is crucial to take your leads through a series of small transactions before you finally make a sale.

To put this in context, a conversion occurs when one of your prospects takes the desired action. Visiting your website, submitting their email address, opting for a free trial – these are a few examples of conversion. It would be best if you focus your efforts towards individual conversion goals, instead of obsessing over the sales pitch. If you want to boost conversion rates, it is crucial to optimize your marketing strategy for each one of these goals.

To achieve this, you require a concrete sales funnel to gather and nurture your leads before and after a purchase. Before we discuss a few strategies to increase your conversion rate, let us delve deeper into the concept of a sales funnel.


Sales Funnel: Understanding the Concept

A sales funnel is a conceptual framework that outlines a buyer’s journey from a prospect to a lead and finally, to a customer.


It is the imaginary path that a potential customer takes from their first interaction with your business to the final purchase. There are always more prospects at the top of the funnel than at the bottom.

Chances are you might be unknowingly using a sales funnel for your business. However, a deep understanding of the process will help increase conversion rates and maximize sales. It is also worth pointing out that the entire sales funnel is made up of a series of conversion goals. A conversion happens every time one of your prospects trickles down from one stage of the funnel to another.

For instance, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to your website from search engines. In the next step, you lure website visitors with a free e-book in exchange for their emails. Once they submit their email addresses, you educate them further about your product and showcase your expertise in your niche. Finally, when the time is right, you make an irresistible offer that compels them to make a purchase.

This basic example of a sales funnel helps us understand that it is not all about the final sales pitch. Instead, a good conversion and traffic funnel allows you to understand the psyche of your leads at each stage. This enables you to personalize your communication and captivate potential customers in various stages of the funnel. As a result, very few of them slip through the cracks as they move down the funnel.

Typically, a sales funnel consists of four or five stages with a unique conversion goal for each step. Each stage highlights the mindset of a buyer in that part of the journey. Let us take a closer look.


Stages of a Sales Funnel


A buyer’s journey starts from their first interaction with your brand and continues even after they make their first purchase. Breaking this journey into different stages enables you to optimize your marketing and communication strategy. Doing this will increase the conversion rate at each stage and finally, helps you win loyal customers.

Here are the different stages of a sales funnel:

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Image via Cience


1. Awareness


Awareness refers to the first interaction of your target audience with your brand. At this point, your goal is to maximize your brand’s reach and visibility. It is equally important to position your brand as an authority in the industry. By establishing yourself as an authority, you earn the trust of your audience and keep them coming back to you.

You can attract your target audience using high-quality content in the form of blogs, infographics, videos, and podcasts. It also helps showcase your expertise and boosts brand credibility.


2. Consideration


Even though you have won the attention and trust of your audience, they are still not ready to buy from you. Instead, they want to know your brand and learn more about your product or service. You can use this to your advantage by offering them something useful in exchange for their email addresses.

Your goal, in this stage, is to convert website visitors and prospects into leads. You can do so by creating powerful lead magnets such as e-books, whitepapers, podcasts, and webinars. Additionally, you can use a landing page to encourage them to download the lead magnet by submitting their emails. Leads received at this step of the traffic funnel are passed on to the next stage for further nurturing.


3. Preference


Preference is the stage where a lead is contemplating the purchase and weighing their options. They are probably analyzing your competitors and pitting them against you. Preference is the point where you need to showcase your authority and uniqueness. Being the preferred solution will help you keep your prospects engaged and invested.

Just because someone has shared their contact details with you doesn’t mean that they are ready to buy from you. Today’s consumers won’t be duped into sending free money to your bank account. Instead, you have to educate them about your product/service and highlight what sets you apart from your competitors.

You can do this by sending them a series of emails about your product and its features. You can entice them further by using tutorials and how-to videos. The key is to personalize your communication and make every buyer feel valued and nurtured. If they feel convinced enough, they might consider purchasing from you.


4. Purchase


It is the time for which you have been waiting for all along. The buyer has weighed all their options and chosen your brand. However, they might need one last push to make the purchase. This is the opportunity for you to make an incredible sales pitch and sweep them off their feet.

Your goal here is to make the sale happen. The key is to offer them an irresistible incentive in the form of exclusive discounts, coupon codes, and free consultation sessions. Make it a no brainer for them to buy your product/service.


5. Loyalty


How do you approach a customer after they have made their first purchase? Do you abandon them thinking your job here is done? The way you treat your existing customers showcases your brand’s core values. If you don’t offer a memorable post-purchase experience, your customers can feel cheated and used.

Therefore, you should focus on bringing them back for more business. The first step is to offer incredible customer support in the form of regular follow-ups and technical assistance if required. Other strategies, such as a robust referral program or reward points can be beneficial as well.

An army of satisfied and loyal customers is an extremely incredible marketing tool for your brand. It is five times more expensive to bring in a new customer than to retain an existing one. That is why this is an extremely crucial aspect of your business that can give you an edge over your competitors.


Once you have a clearer picture of the various stages of a sales funnel, it is time to optimize them.



The Prerequisites for Increasing Conversion Rate


Optimizing your sales funnel will reward you with more conversions at each stage. However, you can’t do that unless you have a clear idea of what your audience wants.


Know Your Audience


Even before you start developing your traffic funnel, you should have a thorough knowledge of your target audience. Don’t restrict your experience to essential parameters such as age group, profession, and education. Dig deeper to find out their aspirations, preferences, and pain points. Additionally, it would help if you had a fair idea of their online behavior, including their favorite social media platforms and most-used devices.


Create a Power-Packed Content Strategy


High-quality content is the fuel that propels each stage of your sales funnel. Nothing showcase brand authority like a detailed case study or an interactive podcast. From insightful blog posts and data-driven whitepapers to quirky infographics and exciting videos – leverage content in every form. It will help you win the trust of your potential customers and rise above your competitors.


Know Your Competitors


A quick Google search with your target keywords will help you identify your competitors. Analyzing their website, blog posts, search engine listings, and social media posts. Doing so will help you outline their sales funnel. Watch out for minute details such as the positioning of their call-to-action or the type of lead magnet they are using. This, in turn, can help you improve your own sales funnel and maximize sales.


Optimizing the Sales Funnel


It is evident that you can drive more conversion and boost sales by optimizing various stages of your sales funnel.

Let us begin with tips to optimize the awareness stage of your sales funnel:


1. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


SEO is one of the most powerful and time-tested ways of increasing your visibility on search engines. This is because when your prospective customers want to buy a particular product, they are likely to search for it on Google. If your website is ranked towards the top of their search results, they might click on it.

A prominent position on search engine results reinforces brand credibility and trust. On the other hand, if your website shows up on the second or third page, your audience may never even notice it. Moreover, with SEO, you don’t have to have to pay search engines for organic website traffic. Thus, in the long run, means that you have in-bound for free.

Thus, it is extremely crucial to secure and maintain a high search engine ranking. The first step is to identify and analyze the keywords you wish to rank. You can use various tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner for this purpose. Other tools, such as SpyFu and SEMRush allow you to keep an eye on the keywords that are being used by your competitors.

The next step is to craft lucid, error-free, and original content using the target keywords. Make sure the keywords are seamlessly integrated into your content. The next step is to distribute your content across various channels, including social media platforms and discussion forums. You should also develop a strategy to attract high-quality backlinks that will further improve your domain authority and search engine ranking.


2. Harness the Power of Blogging


While blogging is a part of your SEO strategy, its potential is not restricted to naturally improving your search engine ranking. When you publish high-quality content regularly, it helps establish your authority in your industry. Moreover, when people perceive you as a trusted source of information, they are likely to share your content in their networks. This, in turn, gives increased visibility to your brand.

Your readers may even use references from your blog posts in their content. Thus, you get an opportunity to earn genuine backlinks and boost your search engine ranking even further. Moreover, blogging barely requires any capital investment, as long as you have impeccable knowledge over your industry. Thus, if you are broke and need to make money through your online business, blogging is one of the most cost-effective strategies to acquire leads.


3. Explore Guest Blogging


Don’t restrict your insightful articles to your blog only. Instead, you should publish guest posts on other blogs and link them back to your own blog/website. This allows you to reach a wider audience beyond your website visitors and blog readers. It also strengthens your website’s inbound link profile, thus boosting your search engine ranking even further.


4. Use Paid Search Ads


While SEO is immensely fruitful in the long run, it takes time for the results to show. It becomes exponentially more challenging when you are targeting extremely competitive keywords. Additionally, if your competitors include big brands, they might outrank you just by virtue of high domain authority. An easier way to maximize awareness in such a scenario is to use paid search advertising.

The most widely used paid search advertising model is pay-per-click i.e., you pay search engines every time someone clicks on your ad. When a user clicks on the ad, they are usually redirected to a landing page or your website. It is also crucial to craft compelling copy for your ads. Such ads are often placed above the organic search results, thus ensuring increased visibility. 

For instance, when you run a Google search for the term “Lead Generation Software,” the top four listings are PPC ads.

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Image via
Google


Clicking on the second ad takes you to a landing page that encourages you to try a free demo of the software.

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Image via Salesforce


Most search engines have their own advertising platform. For instance, Google Ads enables you to run PPC ads on Google.


5. Leverage Social Media Marketing


Facebook receives a total of 2.41 billion monthly active users. Add that to the 1 billion-plus monthly users on Instagram and 330 million Twitter users per month. Looking at these statistics, it is not surprising that social media has emerged as one of the most marketing powerful tools. If you want to boost brand awareness, you must tap into its immense potential.

The best part about social media is that most of your prospective customers are already using one platform or the other. All you have to do is identify the right social media platforms and lure your target audience with top-notch content. You can use a combination of infographics, images, blog posts, and videos to reach out to your target audience.

However, it is crucial to know beforehand what type of content will perform better on each platform. While high-quality images of your products will appeal to Instagram users, thought-provoking blog posts might be more useful for LinkedIn users. It is also vital to ensure that your content is of the best quality to ensure that it cuts through the noise of mediocre content floating around on social media.


6. Use Facebook Advertising


Facebook allows you to run paid ads for various marketing objectives using highly precise targeting. You have to select your target audience based on multiple criteria such as likes, shopping history, online behavior, job titles, and maybe even gender. Facebook uses an advanced algorithm to show your ad to those users who match your targeting. This enables you to reach an audience beyond your existing social media followers.

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Image via Ladder


You can run ads to drive traffic to your website or a specific landing page that promotes a particular lead magnet. Make sure the communication of your Facebook ad matches the intent of the landing page. Any disconnect in this regard will drive your prospects away.


7. Partner with an Influencer


A quick and effective way of wooing potential customers is to collaborate with an influencer who is relevant in your niche. Social media influencers already have a highly engaged and loyal community of followers. When they endorse your brand, their fans are likely to perceive it as a genuine recommendation. This helps you capture the attention of an audience that would have remained inaccessible otherwise.

You can ask them to review your product or service on their social media profiles as well as blog. You can ask them to promote a giveaway of your products for their followers. You can even work with them to create an engaging video that features your brand.

For instance, Fiji Water partnered with fashion blogger, Danielle Bernstein to create a series of eight-minute workout videos. The campaign, titled Bodyworewhat, focussed on positioning Fijiwater as a brand that is committed to keeping fitness enthusiasts hydrated.

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Image via Instagram


It is, however, crucial to analyze whether influencer marketing will actually work for your target audience. For instance, if you want to sell dentures for the elderly, influencer marketing may not be the best choice.


8. Use Hashtags Judiciously


Maximize the reach of your social media posts by using the right hashtags. Make sure you don’t flood your post with irrelevant and redundant hashtags. Instead, you should use a combination of the most popular hashtags in your niche and a few branded ones as well.

These hashtags usually have lesser posts, and thus, your post can stand out among the crowd with relative ease.

Some of the popular niche hashtags are #travelgrammers and #gametimelive. Ideally, keep 2-3 lists of hashtags, including niche and branded ones and swap the lists regularly to maintain variety.


9. Leverage Video Marketing


Videos are often extremely useful for conveying crucial information in a fun and interesting format. They are often more engaging than lengthy articles and e-book. Moreover, the total number of monthly active users on YouTube has reached 1.9 billion. If you want to grab the attention of your target audience, you must utilize video marketing.

From product unboxing videos to inspiring customer stories – you can create various types of videos. If you don’t have the budget to shoot high-quality videos, upload small snippets on your social media profiles.


10. Don’t Ignore The Traditional Approach


Age-old marketing techniques, such as print ads, hoardings, and television commercials might be more expensive. However, they can work irrespective of whether your target audience has access to the internet or use social media. Such methods can be useful when your target demographic isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t have social media profiles.


Now that you have managed to grab the attention of your audience, it is time for the next conversion goal. The following set of tactics will help you to convert more website visitors into leads.


11. Create Powerful Lead Magnets


A lead magnet is essentially an incentive that you give your website visitors. This is usually done in exchange for their information such as email addresses. It is typically a piece of downloadable content such as a whitepaper, e-book, case study or podcast episodes. You can also provide free access to a webinar or a free trial of your product. Once you create the lead magnet, you can promote it using the marketing channels available to you.

The idea is to offer something so irresistible that compels your audience to share their information. Take a look at the example below:

Crazy Egg

Image via Crazy Egg


Crazy Egg lures visitors by offering to show their website’s heatmap. They are also provided with a 30-day free trial of the tool. When you enter your website URL and click on the button, it takes you to a sign-up page:

 CrazyEgg 30days free trial

Image via Crazy Egg


12. Use Landing Pages


Developing a strong lead magnet is of no use if it goes unnoticed. Let’s say you create a PPC ad on Google to promote a new e-book. However, when users click on the ad, they end up on the homepage of your website. If they have to struggle even to find the link to download the e-book, they might exit without doing so.

That is why it is recommended that you use landing pages for your lead magnets. A landing page is a specially designed web page that focuses on a specific call-to-action (CTA). The layout and copy of your landing page should draw a visitor’s attention and direct them towards the CTA. You can also test different versions of a landing page to find the best performing one.

For instance, when you run a Google search for “SEO Software,” the first listing is a PPC ad by SEMrush:

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Image via Google


Clicking on the ad takes you to the following landing page:

SEMRush
Image via
SEMrush


The only goal of this page is to get the visitor to sign-up for a free trial. Observe how the minimalistic layout of the landing page immediately focuses your attention on the CTA. The bright orange color of the button also helps to attract visitors. When you click on the CTA, it opens the following sign-up form:

SEMRush Sign up

Image via SEMrush


13. Optimize Your Home Page


Apart from creating dedicated landing pages, it would help if you also tweaked the layout of your website’s home page to encourage email sign-ups. An easy way to do this is to convert your home page into a landing page. This requires you to remove all the distracting elements and retain only the most important ones.

Take a look at how Moz effectively implements this:


Another effective strategy is to add a welcome mat to your website. It is a full-screen CTA that greets visitors as soon as they land on your website. Take a look at the example below:

Image via Jeff Bullas


14. Use Hello Bar

HelloBar


Hello Bar is an extremely useful tool that allows you to add an omnipresent notification bar in your website. It immediately grabs eyeballs and can be used to convey crucial information. You can use it to promote your lead magnets or get people to sign-up for your weekly newsletter.

Take a look at the screenshot below:

Image via Dogs Naturally


15. Make Judicious Use of Popups


Popup boxes are widely used by digital marketers and website owners to encourage email sign-ups. However, it would help if you refrained from flooding your website with generic pop ups. Instead, it would be best if you customize them based on how a visitor interacts with your website. Launching a popup box at the right time can help to increase conversion rates in the consideration stage of the sales funnel.

You can use an exit-intent popup box encouraging visitors to sign-up for a webinar when they are about to leave your website. Likewise, you can launch another popup showcasing an e-book when a visitor is half-way through your blog post. Take a look at the example below:

Image via Search Engine Journal


16. Use Slide-up Opt-in Forms


A slide-up opt-in form is a less intrusive alternative to popup boxes. It allows you to draw the user’s attention towards the CTA without disrupting their browsing/reading experience. It is often a more subtle way to plug in your lead magnet. As with popups, you can customize your slide-up forms based on how a visitor interacts with your website.

Here is an example:

optin monster

Image via OptinMonster


17. Explore Content Upgrades and Content Cliffhangers


You can add more depth to your content by using a lead magnet that’s designed to give more value over the original blog post. It could be a simple downloadable PDF version of your blog post or an add-on e-book. You should ensure that the topic of the content upgrade is relevant to that of the blog post. The key is to offer something so irresistible that a reader feels compelled to download it.

Here is an example of a content upgrade used by Leadpages on one of their blog posts:

Leadpages

Image via Leadpages


A content cliffhanger is similar to an upgrade, except that it restricts access to part of the blog post. A reader can only access the restricted section in exchange for their email address. It is crucial to ensure that the pre-opt-in part of your article is of unparalleled quality. Otherwise, the reader won’t feel motivated enough to sign-up.

Both content upgrades and cliffhangers are incredibly effective strategies to increase conversion rates in the consideration stage.


18. Offer Early Access


You can compel website visitors to submit their email address in exchange for early access to your product or service. This strategy is particularly effective when you are on the verge of introducing a new product on the market. It enables you to create a buzz and build an audience for your product even before its official launch. This way, you don’t have to spend time looking for prospects once your product hits the market.


19. Optimize Your Sign-up Form


Today’s consumers are incredibly skeptical about sharing their personal information on the internet. Moreover, lengthy sign-up forms that ask for many details often test the reader’s patience. Therefore, you should simplify the sign-up form and ask for only the most crucial information such as email address and name.

Take a look at the sign-up form used by Noah Kagan on OkDork:

OkDork

Image via OkDork


Observe how Kagan uses a simple layout and compelling copy to captivate his audience. It is also recommended that you test different versions of the form before selecting the best performing one.


20. Make Your Sign-up Button Attractive


The color, shape, copy, and placement of your sign-up has an impact on the number of email opt-ins. It is recommended that you used a bright color that distinguishes the button from other elements on the web page.

Additionally, you can use an interactive button that changes its shapes or color when the pointer hovers over it. This helps grab the attention of your audience even when they are just scrolling through your website.

Now that you have all these email addresses, you must be wondering how to convert leads into sales. Your lead has already reached the preference stage and is weighing their options. Your goal is to educate them about your brand and highlight what sets you apart from your competitors.

Here are a few conversion strategies for this stage of the sales funnel:


21. Leverage Email Marketing


Email marketing is an extremely useful technique to nurture your leads by delivering personalized and high-quality content. You can send a newsletter by assimilating your latest blog posts. You can even subtly plug in your product or service in the newsletter or include a list of FAQs. It is crucial to ensure that you don’t flood your leads with too many emails.

Another effective way of converting leads into sales is to use drip campaigns and auto-responders. You can create a series of pre-written emails that are automatically sent out to your leads based on their response. Tailor your emails based on how your leads react to them. It is instrumental in nurturing your hot leads and preparing them for your sales pitch.

You should also make use of attractive and personalized subject lines for your emails. Run-of-the-mill subject lines tend to get drowned amidst the plethora of promotional emails your subscribers receive.


22. Use Tutorials and How-to Videos


If you manage to hold the attention of your leads, they would want to know more about your product/service. You can drive conversions at this stage by using the power of videos. Create a series of video tutorials showcasing your product’s features, utility, and operation. You can integrate these videos with your drip email campaign and convert leads into sales.


23. Harness the Power of Testimonials


In this stage of the sales funnel, it is crucial to highlight why you are better than your competitors. The best way to accomplish this is by sharing product reviews and testimonials from your existing customers. Try sharing them in your newsletters, promotional mailers, and even landing pages and websites. This will help you win the trust of your leads and move them closer to the purchase stage.


24. Use CRM Integration


CRM software is usually used to track and monitor your interactions with existing and potential customers. It helps you determine how far a lead has moved down your sales funnel. You can even integrate CRM with your email automation software. This allows you to identify hot leads and personalize your email campaigns even further. 

For instance, you can use CRM software to set reminders for a lead’s birthday or anniversary. You can, then set up an automatic email that is triggered by this reminder. Don’t restrict the email to a simple wish; use it to offer a special discount or free samples of your product.

Now that you have qualified your prospects, it is time for you to make your sales pitch. However, instead of directly asking them to purchase from you, you can offer them an incentive for doing so. The next set of tips discuss how to convert leads into sales in the purchase stage of your sales funnel:


25. Offer an Irresistible Incentive


Strengthen your sales pitch by including an exclusive discount or free shipping. It makes them feel valued and entices them to purchase from you. Make sure you create a sense of urgency by creating a limited-period offer or highlighting limited stocks.

Instead of offering generic discounts, you can create personalized offers for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. You can even announce a seasonal sale during holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.


26. Leverage Free Trials and Demos


Consumers are incredibly skeptical about spending their hard-earned money. Even after you have managed to woo them and win their trust, they may not feel convinced to make a purchase. You can give them the final push by offering a free trial of your product. It gives them a sneak-peek of how your product works and helps them make a decision.

Likewise, if you run a service-based company, you can offer a free demo or consultation. This strategy often helps to drive conversions without being aggressively promotional.


27. Host a Giveaway


Nothing attracts potential customers like freebies from a brand they have been closely monitoring. You can use your newsletter to announce a limited-period giveaway of your products. If your leads are happy with the free products, they will feel more compelled to purchase from you.


28. Use Transactional Emails and Retargeting


If you run an eCommerce business, you most definitely need to integrate your website with email marketing software if you haven’t done it already. This lets you automatically send targeted emails based on how your leads interact with your website. You can offer a discount to a prospect who has viewed a product multiple times but is yet to make a purchase. Likewise, you can reduce cart abandonment rates by offering free shipping to those leads who abandon their carts.


29. Simplify the Checkout Process


Minor changes, such as allowing guest checkout or easy payment options, can drive conversions and increase sales. Make sure you don’t ask a customer to fill in extensive information before they can make the purchase. This is usually one of the lowest hanging fruits that helps boost sales.

Finally, you have succeeded in converting leads into customers. However, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. Instead, you need a set of new conversion strategies to transform your one-time customers into loyal brand advocates.


30. Create a Thank You Page or Email


The simplest way to make a customer feel valued after their first purchase is to display a “thank you” message. Just send them a heartfelt email thanking them for choosing your brand. Make your email more memorable by including a coupon code for their next purchase. It is a subtle way of encouraging them to return to you for more business.


31. Keep in Touch


It is crucial to stay connected with a new customer after their first purchase. Please send an email asking for their valuable feedback. Also, you want to provide them with impeccable assistance in case of any issues. While these may not be direct conversion strategies, they can go a long way to create a memorable customer experience. It positions your brand as one that values its customers and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Moreover, you should regularly follow-up with them to address any grievances. It is also recommended that you send timely reminders for product upgrades or renewals.


32. Develop a Strong Referral Program


The best way to boost brand awareness is to let your happy customers do the talking. However, they won’t do so unless you offer an incentive in return. Therefore, you need a powerful referral strategy that rewards customers every time they recommend your brand to others.

For instance, Uber has a simple referral program in which new users can invite others to join the app. Every time someone signs-up using their referral code, the user is rewarded with a free ride.

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Image via Uber



Conclusion


Conversion strategies are incredibly crucial for the survival and success of your business. They become all the more critical when you are competing in the world of online companies. However, if you create a concrete sales funnel and optimize it, you can drive conversions at each stage. It is also crucial to understand that every stage has its own conversion goal and requires a set of different conversion strategies.

What conversion strategies have you used to optimize your sales funnel? Share your views in the comments section below.

Struggling to find the best way to increase conversation rates? Check out the best sales funnel strategies that you can implement right now!

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