Social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, content automation – sometimes it feels like there is so much you must keep up with on the digital side of your business that you can feel overwhelmed. Now you’re learning about funnels, too! Don’t worry, learning about and using funnels can be easy. Here we’ll go through a comprehensive guide to funnels and their use and benefits.
Let’s start with this – what actually is a funnel? Well, you want visitors on your website to take certain actions, right? Whether you want them to make a purchase, sign up for something, fill out a form, or give their contact information. When the visitor to your site follows through with the action you want them to take, it’s called a conversion. This is a positive thing!
A funnel is a plan that helps guide the site visitor to take the steps you want them to take. Think of the steps that need to be taken for the conversion. First, the user has to go to your website. Then, they have to view a product. Then, they have to add the product to their cart. Finally, they have to purchase the product. Yes, there are more details than that, but we’re looking at the big picture when it comes to funnels. You only must list the absolutely necessary steps to achieve the conversion.
Why is it called a funnel? At the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people that take the first step. A lot of people visit your website! But not all of those people take the next step – viewing a product, and even less of those people take the next step – adding the product to their cart. As the steps progress, less people take them. Some walk away from the purchase, decide to come back and purchase at a later date, or forget they wanted to make a purchase in the first place. Think of the shape of a funnel – does it make more sense now?
Figure out what your goal conversion is for your website and you can make a funnel to guide your site’s guests to it.
Why are funnels useful? By using a funnel report, you can see where people are dropping off in the path to conversion. Maybe a lot of people add products to their cart, but never make a purchase. Maybe a lot of people visit the site, but never add anything to their carts. With these reports, you can identify what it is that is stopping your website’s visitors from making full conversions.
Now how do you approach a marketing funnel? There are typically three layers to a funnel. These layers are the Prospecting System, the Sales Conversion System, and the Customer Lifetime Value Max System. These aren’t official terms, but for ease of conversation, this is how we will define them.
Lets start with the Prospecting system. This is the first general step towards creating a funnel. It is how you take a person who is a total stranger to your brand name and help them get to know you and your brand, usually by receiving regular updates from you. It is the most “visible” of the three systems.
When you look at a competitor’s marketing tactics, you’re seeing their Prospecting system. You are looking at how they interact with potential customers to get their name out there. It is all the actions taken on blogs, social media, and PR work.
The ultimate goal of the Prospecting system is for your customers to sign up for some kind of recurring outreach from you – usually an email newsletter. Why? Once you have gotten them to sign up for that, you have an always open channel to speak to them anytime about whatever you need to. You can also track how they respond to the topics you email them about and adjust your other marketing tactics.
The next immediate step is to begin the Sales Conversion system. This is almost everything that happens after you have received the subscription to your email newsletter or other recurring outreach channel. During the Sales Conversion system, you are trying to convert the stranger who signed up for your newsletter to a customer. Your goal is to build trust with them and eventually guide them to making the conversion you defined earlier.
To do this, you can provide value in your outreach – don’t just send an email to check in, offer the reader a discount code or coupon they can use for money off of your product or services. Occasionally, you can directly offer them an entry level product or service to buy. You’ll then be able to see if they go through with the purchase or not.
If they didn’t buy, you can follow up with another email to ask them, gently, what their objections were. Maybe they think your service is too expensive. Maybe they found your product cheaper elsewhere. A good system and some careful planning and note taking will allow you to make note of as well as remedy these issues.
You can also remind the customer who didn’t buy originally of the same product later. They may not buy on the first email outreach, but they may buy on the third or fourth.
Finally, we will discuss the Customer Lifetime Value-Max system. Again, not an official name, but we’ll use it for ease of conversation! This system is for people who have already bought your product or service. People who buy from you once are more than likely happy with what they got, and will be much easier to convince to buy from you again.
To make this system work, you have to have some kind of system to keep track of who has purchased what product or service from you. You can offer those people other, different products and services.
You’ll occasionally send email or other newsletter type outreaches to these people, thanking them for their first purchase, and advising that they may also like some other things you have to offer.
Don’t have time to keep track of that by yourself? There are marketing funnel automation systems to run this process for you and keep track of the data automatically.
Doing all three of these things concurrently equals a funnel. By guiding your site visitors through these three systems, you’ve guided them through a funnel. With your funnel, your clients have gotten to know you, been turned into email subscribers, been kept in touch with, converted into buyers, guided them to a great customer experience, and upsold your products.
But wait – you aren’t done. Nope, not yet. There are different types of funnels that you can use depending on what type of business you are running.
Is your business a type of company that requires a conversation must be had before a purchase is made? For example, perhaps you sell an exercise program that requires further details about it’s user’s health and weight before purchase. In this case, you would use a “Free Consultation” funnel type – one where you guide the customer to that conversation.
Does your business sell products that are of a timely nature – where the product or service is legitimately only able for a limited time? You should check out a “Limited Time Product” funnel. It creates a sense of urgency and necessity that the site visitor complete the funnel. A good time to use a “Limited Time Product” funnel is if you are offering a service such as a class that has limited sign up spots.
If your business offers free samples before purchase, look into a “Free Sample” funnel. It tempts the site visitors with the free sample, and guides them to buying the full version of the product. For business like those that sell vitamins, makeup, or low ticket consumables, this may be the way to go.
Many types of products and services work well with a “Cross Sell” funnel. If a buyer has already purchased one product from you, you can cross sell them another one. The second product must be in relation to the first product, but can’t be the same one. The best way to go about this is to offer the second product as a supplemental product to the first. Have you ever been shopping online and seen a bar showing you “recommended products based on your past purchases” or “products you might like”? This is a Cross Sell funnel.
Finally, consider a “Service Upsell” funnel. The goal of this type of funnel is to get the customer to purchase an introductory product, and then invite them back to purchase a service. A good example of the right company for this is one where you, perhaps, sell a book that can later be paired with an accompanying class.
Funnels can sound confusing, but once they are understood, they can be personalized to exactly what you need them to be to get more conversions from your potential buyers.