‘Sales funnel’, ‘Lead funnel’, ‘Conversion funnel’, ‘Marketing funnel’… Take your pick. Usually these all refer to the same thing, more or less. Yeah sure, there once was a difference, and there arguably still is for many, but it all comes down to a similar concept: a funnel.
A funnel is based on the framework that consumers move through various stages before purchasing a product or service. It’s the kind of theoretical underpinnings that you’ll find in the pages of textbooks.
But they work. Undoubtedly. Sales funnels will help you keep your campaigns organized, by first visualizing the stages of the customer journey and then more effectively drive them towards action.
Different tools and marketing techniques can be called upon to push customers ‘down’ this funnel, and varying KPIs are used to determine the progress of any given campaign. There’s a lot of useful guidelines around building funnels but there’s also a lot of room for preference and experience.
Like we said, a marketing funnel is a visual representation of your ideal customer journey. Once you know who your ideal customer is (and you should), then your ready-to-go funnel will help you attract said ideal customer, turn them into leads, and then convert them into paying customers.
And we mustn’t forget to mention that a marketing funnel is universal, for both online and offline businesses. No, a funnel isn’t only for those digital nomads out there. Another thing is that your funnel can be spread across multiple channels, so you can best target the audience you’re looking for on each relevant platform.
So, why is it called ‘funnels’? If you were to consider the size of your initial audience, and then compare that to the size of customers who have reached the point of sale, the volume looks pretty similar to the shape of a funnel.
The top of your funnel, the widest part, is an attempt to catch as many potential ideal customers as possible. While many people may see your ad, not all of them will take action by clicking further, so the next stage already has some of that initial targeted audience who have already dropped off.
Those visitors, in turn, may or may not take further action after arriving on your landing page, for example. Some may drop off at this point and return to what they were doing, while others will download the freebie on your well-designed opt in form,
See where this is going?
Those who signed up, they’ll receive an automated email sequence because now they are in your database.
Some will drop off by unsubscribing to your communications and others will ultimately go on to purchase your offering. The sales funnel narrows as visitors move through it. This is partially because you’ll have more prospects at the top of the funnel than buyers at the bottom, but also because your messaging needs to become increasingly targeted.
So that initial audience, the widest part, why is it that you wouldn’t want it to reach anyone and everyone? What is the purpose of target traffic when it comes to a marketing funnel?
We’re glad you asked. It’s because there’s no reason not to!
It’s a waste of your resources to get bad traffic, you simply don’t need it. Targeted traffic are visitors who would likely be interested in purchasing your offer. Those are the people you want to reach with targeted messaging, and it’s possible to do so.
Let’s use an example to illustrate. You run a local florist that offers a birthday party package.
Right at the top of your marketing funnel, you want to focus on sending targeted traffic to your landing page. There are various ways of doing so, but let’s say you use paid ads and run a social media ad campaign to reach your ideal audience.
After visitors have clicked on your ad, you want them to become prospects. You can offer them a free download for a guide on the biggest mistakes to make when using flowers for a party and how to avoid them. In exchange for their email, you’ll send this to their inbox free of charge. Some of that initial audience drops off at this point as they do not feel compelled to take further action.
Those who did take action, they will immediately receive the download along with a well-crafted welcome email. It will be the first of many in an automated email sequence that sends two emails a week with various tips on planning on a party. Each email relates back to this customer avatar, their pain points, and their needs.
You’ve now successfully pushed them further down your funnel to the middle. Yes, some will unsubscribe at this point or start ignoring your emails. It’s not personal, so keep going!
While reading your weekly emails and gaining valuable tips on party planning, your subscribers begin to trust your brand and recognize you as an authority on the subject matter.
Some might realize that creating memorable flower arrangements is not as simple as they imagined it to be, and they begin to see why they should rather entrust the experts to get the job done to the best possible standard for their planned celebration.
And this is precisely where your offer upsell comes in. To push those prospects into paying customers, you have to push them all the way to the bottom of your funnel, Present your offer in your email sequence, with some dazzling copy, and drive them from your email back to a sales landing page.
This is really your time to shine. Do your research, optimize your landing page and A/B test everything. Your customers must have the impression that your floral arrangements will elevate their celebrations and everything will be handled with care so they can rest assured and have one less task on their plate.
Prospects can either purchase your package directly off of your landing page, or whichever other closing method you prefer. Voila!
It’s worth mentioning that you must not forget to retarget those who did not go through with a purchase, abandoned cart and dropped off. They can be revived! In fact, at every stage of your marketing funnel, there should be a strong strategy in place to catch all of those who drop off at each stage.
Let’s get into specifics in another article on how to go about doing that as well as tips on improving your funnel, but for now it’s important to understand your funnel. What does it look like at the moment? If something is broken, you’ll need to grasp the full picture to anticipate a bottleneck or a crack where you’re losing prospects.
Knowing what a marketing funnel is and subsequently getting to know your marketing funnel inside-out will allow you to invest in the right marketing activities and channels, create the most relevant messaging during each stage, and turn more prospects into paying customers. Look carefully enough and there’s always something to be improved!