Unfortunately, the reason why we call it a marketing funnel instead of a marketing journey or marketing waterfall is that not everyone who enters your funnel will end up buying. At each stage in the buying process, you lose some potential customers, but a good marketing funnel will keep those losses to a minimum and produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing.
Of course, regardless of how they enter into your funnel, your goal as a marketer is to move them through the multiple stages that will take them from prospect to buyer. And once they're aware of you, you need to build their interest. To do this, you need to establish a relationship with the customer. You might have enticed them with a great offer (lead magnet) to grab their email address, but actually moving them through the funnel is a far greater challenge.
You can do this all by caring. Reach out and ask for reviews. Engage with them on social media. Offer them an insider-only discount. Give them something for free on their birthday. Give them advice for free. There are literally hundreds of customer retention tactics out there—find the ones that best suit your products and business. One simple—and cost-effective—way to care is with personalization.
A sales funnel reflects the prospect’s journey or path that takes them from awareness to becoming a customer. It encompasses actions you take to create this journey or experience. The sales pipeline, on the other hand, is the specific stages that a deal or opportunity moves through in your sales process from the salesperson’s perspective. See our article on the eight sales pipeline stages every sales team should have.
Of course, implementing this isn't easy. You need to first develop your stories, then decide on how you're going to convey those stories and at what drip-rate. For example, your first email or two might go out on the day they first signup, then one email per day might go out afterwards. How much of that will be story-based and how much will be pitches?
Reviews are the second golden ticket for middle of the funnel digital marketing—92% of online consumers read them, and 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Here’s one probable explanation why: Consumers don’t trust advertising and marketing anymore, if they ever really did. Now, it’s no longer shut-your-eyes-and-hope-for-a-good-refund-policy—people can effectively shop based on others’ experiences (which is one reason customer service is so important).
However, what Brunson cleverly conceived with ClickFunnels is to create a SaaS that can integrate with the world's most popular platforms and virtually anyone can quietly launch a funnel in hours as opposed to weeks of hefty coding and programming. As a fervent user of ClickFunnels myself, I can tell you that the system is impressive beyond measure.
Trials / demos: Trials and demos are a great idea if you can easily take a portion of your finished product and provide it for free. Doing this will allow your leads to experience your product with very little commitment on their part. The downside of using trials or demos, is that since they are not stand-alone content, they can be perceived as incomplete offerings.
One of the most critical weaknesses of the Customer Decision Journey is the connection between purchase and advocacy. Almost every marketer we spoke to described how social media has disconnected advocacy from purchase. “You no longer have to be a customer to be an advocate. The new social currency is sharing what’s cool in the moment,” says Joel Lunenfeld, VP of Global Brand Marketing at Twitter.
Now that you know the stages and strategies for the new digital marketing funnel, it’s time to put it all into action with a content distribution plan. To start, create an asset list in Microsoft Excel (I’ve included a downloadable template for you below). In your asset list, you should include all of your online marketing assets, including your landing pages (an easy way to do this is to run a crawl of your website with a tool like ScreamingFrog), ad creatives, blog posts, case studies, white papers—anything that’s come out of your marketing department.
The key thing here is that your marketing funnel doesn’t end with the purchase. There is plenty more work to be done at this stage. You can add as many stages into this funnel as you deem necessary to your brand but, again, it’s up to you how complex your marketing funnel should be. You can also expand it with time as your strategy becomes more efficient and new opportunities arise.
Here’s an example: To create your prospect experience in the Awareness stage, think about and articulate what you will do or say to your prospects when you first meet them. Then think about how your interaction will make them feel. Consider your prospect and their needs as you’re doing this. Then, document your actions and your prospect’s experience for this stage. Repeat this throughout the entire sales funnel.
Understanding what a lead generation funnel is and how it works is important to digital marketing, but it is also vital to note that success in these areas can only happen with proper lead management. Kimberly McCormick from Bayshore Solutions learned a great deal about these concepts on proper lead management after attending the Marketing Sherpa Lead Generation Summit and shared these in his article. Some of these learnings include:
Content that introduces the company and intrigues potential customers enough to move to the next stage of the buying process. For example, a Facebook post called “Behind the Scenes at Molly Marketer’s Company. This works especially well if you have a company with a corporate citizenship mission, such as selling sustainable, environmentally friendly goods.
Sales funnel is an illustration of the stages that a prospect goes through before becoming a customer. It resembles an inverted pyramid—it starts with a lot of your potential customers at the top. And, as your sales reps start engaging with them, only your most qualified prospects move to the next stage, and ultimately towards the close. So, at the bottom of the sales funnel are your most committed customers.
Sales funnels are right for businesses that rely on a high degree of prospect interaction and engagement to make sales or close deals. Their sales process may be long and complex or they may be selling a high-ticket item that requires a lot of consideration by the customer. Both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses use sales funnels.
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
That was an interesting article. I was looking on your page of scheduled webinars, and what about offering a webinar on segmenting your list? It seems that to use the marketing funnel idea you need to segment subscribers, so you’re not sending new subscribers something that should go to your “Advocates”. I’d love to see a webinar that really goes over how to use the funnel & segmenting together. Thanks.