Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.
You want to capture leads at every stage of the sales funnel and target them with messages that reflect their state of mind. To do this, you need to assign user actions to each stage of your marketing funnel. For example, a first-time visitor on your site will fit into the “awareness” category while someone who has repeatedly visited the same product page probably fits in the “consideration” stage.
How to get started: Look through your most popular blog post, video, podcast episode and turn that content into a lead magnet. If you have several related pieces of content that perform really well, you can consider combining them into an ebook. If you don’t have content yet, think of a simple resource that your audience would value enough to give you their email address: worksheets, cheatsheets, and checklists are all easy to create and perform really well as lead magnets. Then, you can use a free tool like Canva to turn that content into a lead magnet. You can also grab the lead magnets templates included we created for you.
How to get started: The easiest way to start a community is to leverage tools that are already built for this purpose. Our preferred one for its simplicity is a closed Facebook Group. When you’re just starting your group, it’s important for you to define some basic guidelines for participation and interactions within your group, this will tell you what’s acceptable and what isn’t within your group. You can join Teachable’s Facebook group, The Teachable Tribe, to check out how we did this.
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.
As a software engineer myself, I can tell you that building funnels from an application standpoint takes massive amounts of work. There's a great deal of coding and integration that's required here. From email systems to landing page implementations to credit card processing APIs, and everything in between, so many platforms need to "talk," that it takes the bar too high for the average marketer.
Next, you need to educate your prospects. In other words, you need to teach people why they need your product/service and how it works. In this stage, you can start promoting sales, but getting too aggressive can be a bit of a turn off. Instead, think about how to become a friend to a potential customers. For example, if you’re a car salesman speaking to someone looking at vehicles on your lot, you might have a common connection in the fact that you both have kids, so you can direct the prospect to vehicles that have a high safety rating or are great for growing families, as you’re talking about your own experiences dealing with a snarky teen or potty-training a toddler.
If you’re a small business owner, you might be a one-man (or one-woman) show, wearing several hats, including both sales and marketing. As your business grows, though, you’ll need to hire people for your team. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make over and over again is having their sales team and marketing team work completely independently of one another.
Task management tools help you move prospects through the sales funnel quickly because they help you schedule and assign tasks that must be completed to move onto the next stage. Being able to quickly schedule important tasks like sending quotes or writing emails helps keep these tasks top of mind and reminds you that there’s an important deadline that you must meet to get closer to a sale.
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.
First, try some cold calling. We’ve all gotten those dreaded calls from telemarketers, and while the number of hang-ups sales reps get is enough to make some people quit, this does still work. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t be doing it. The key to success with cold calling is to make sure you have a list of qualified leads. If you’re selling a product for men, for example, make sure your list is primarily male.
In marketing automation, Ryan Deiss, co-founder of Digital Marketer, often describes the sales funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that moves prospective browsers into buyers. It's multi-stepped because lots must occur between the time that a prospect is aware enough to enter your funnel, to the time when they take action and successfully complete a purchase.
The strategies used to gather information tend to vary based on the size and scope of the purchase. Recognizing that you’re hungry, for example, might result in a quick Yelp search for restaurants in your area. Deciding which provider to use to install a new inground pool at your home, on the other hand, will involve calling around, reading company reviews, visiting showrooms, and talking with salespeople.
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.
In addition to using your sales funnel for strategic planning, you can use CRM software to save time and focus on moving more customers to the end of your funnel with customizable pipelines and email integration features. For example, customizable pipelines allow you to engage with customers in a way that fits your business. Email integration lets you send communications without leaving the CRM.
As people progress through your funnel, their intent to buy steadily increases. You always lose people with each new commitment you ask for (we refer to these actions “conversions”), but the more people you can get to convert at each step in your funnel, the more sales you will ultimately produce. In marketing, we call this process “widening the funnel.”
You’d probably think I’d lost my marbles, and I don’t blame you. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a common marketing strategy to send out mass advertisements via fax machine, similar to today’s mass-email marketing campaigns. They worked. They were a viable marketing strategy because everyone had a fax machine, and used it on a daily basis. Now? Millennials are stumped when it comes time to operate one and the majority of Gen-Z doesn’t even know what a fax machine is.
Suppose your furnace goes out in the middle of winter. Your problem is obvious: you need a new furnace. And the solution is easy — you need to call HVAC providers in your area for quotes. But say you need a new car. Should you look for an SUV, a compact car or a mid-size sedan? Even vaguer still, if you’re frustrated with how much your accountant is charging you to do your business’ taxes, you might not even be familiar with all the different solutions, like cloud-based accounting services.