December 2014 Featured Article
Funnel Marketing Demystified
You've probably come across this term a few times before… Funnel Marketing.
This is especially likely if you have ever searched for marketing help on the internet.
“Funnel Marketing” is a big catch phrase in marketing. And it can take on many forms depending on what industry and medium you are dealing with.
But this article will do what no one else seems willing to do – explain it to you from the ground up.
You'll also learn the structure of how to put together a marketing funnel, and how it can really turn your business into a marketing automation income machine.
But first, the basics.
Funnel Marketing is a system that provides the stages people travel through to eventually become customers. A well-designed funnel will gently push them from stage to stage itself.
To understand how this works you first need to understand what those stages are.
The best way to illustrate how people become customers is through the AIDA concept introduced by St. Elmo Lewis back in 1898:
- Attention – when a prospect focuses their attention on your message, service or brand.
- Interest – when that customer wants to learn more about what you have to offer.
- Desire – when they are convinced that your product or service satisfies a desire they already have.
- Action – when they finally make the purchase.
This is the emotional and cognitive journey that every customer goes through, and you should absolutely take the time to understand it.
But for funnel marketing purposes, we are going to use a slightly different set of terms that you will hear quite often.
A New Way of Thinking
In funnel marketing, we use specific words to define customers that are in those stages. While looking at this list, keep AIDA in mind.
The following terms are listed from the broadest group to the narrowest. You may have heard some of them before:
- Audience – All of the people who could potentially become prospects. This is pre-attention.
- Prospect – These are the audience members who are giving you their attention, and are learning about you and your product or service.
- Leads – The prospects who have taken an action demonstrating their interest, and are now paying close attention to your offer.
- Customers – Leads who desired your product or service and took action resulting in a purchase.
- Advocates – This is the real meat and potatoes of your funnel, going way back to our topics on neglecting your clients – Click here to read… “Neglecting Your Clients” and “Satisfaction vs Engagement, Which Retains Customers Better?” Part of your funnel should be focused on engaging your customers and encouraging them to leave feedback on your product or service. This will lead to them becoming loyal and advocating your business – the best marketing you could possibly ask for.
This may be a lot of terminology at once, but it is important to understand these very basic definitions of the consumer's journey, so that you can create the most effective funnel possible.
What Not to Do
Before we get into how to create a funnel, you should understand what having one prevents that is not only ineffective, but potentially damaging to your company.
You see, without a funnel, you are merely dealing with a list of names and e-mail addresses of people who have taken a look at your site before.
Perhaps you keep a database of those you have contacted, or even have gone so far as to have people fill out a form on your website (which is a major part of a funnel, so good going if you already are doing this!)
When all you have is a large list of names, the only way to reach people is by blindly sending out offers weekly, or even every few days, with the hope that someone will bite.
The problem is, not only is that a really inefficient method of running a business…
You might be unknowingly getting marked as spam by major e-mail providers.
If they notice that you are consistently e-mailing a very large group of people with no regard to deliverability (i.e. some e-mails are bouncing back to you), Gmail, Yahoo, etc… will take note of that, and start to filter your messages.
A good funnel works against that to ensure you are reaching the best prospects and leads 100% of the time.
How to Build Your Funnel
The most common method of doing that is offering a free e-book or report that would be of interest to your prospects in return for their contact information.
If you work in career coaching, perhaps that would be “The Top 20 Ways to Nail an Interview”.
Anyway, this turns your prospects (the people looking at your site) into leads (people who are interested in what you have to say).
Once they fill out their information, it goes into an auto-responder, and they will receive an e-mail from you saying something along the lines of, “Thank you for requesting my report; It's helped a lot of people. If you haven't downloaded it yet, you can do so by clicking here. I'll check back with you soon to see how you liked it.”
Next, there will be a second e-mail highlighting one key point from your e-book that will make them want to read it. Perhaps, “If you do #7 in your next interview, you'll land your dream job!”
Wouldn't that make you want to read about tip #7?
Now that they've consumed something of yours, and believe that you are an expert, you can start engaging them about reading your blog, joining your community, etc…
This establishes a relationship with them and positions you as an authority.
The next step in your marketing funnel would be to introduce a relatively inexpensive product – perhaps another e-book for $30 about the ins-and-outs of getting a job and getting promotions quickly.
If they purchase this product, your funnel will continue to lead them to more engagement, consumption, and higher-priced products. All the while, of course, encouraging them to give feedback and testimonials on what they purchased.
If they don't purchase that product, you can continue to engage, and perhaps try a different angle on the same product, or offer an entirely new product.
The key with funneling is that it starts to segment that large list you developed into tiny manageable groups. This allows you to target them appropriately and get better results from your efforts.
More importantly, you won't have e-mail providers blocking your messages because you'll only be sending out a handful each time, which all happens automatically.
The Most Automatic Way of Marketing Online
This really just scratches the surface of how to create a funnel, but it's crucial that you understand this concept.
It may seem like a lot of work, and it is at first, but once it is set up, it will run automatically and you'll only really have to tinker with it once a month or so.
Remember, the best way to know what works is to test, test, and test some more.
And that is where your work becomes fun.