You've probably heard about "the marketing funnel" and how clients go from awareness, through consideration, to decision. But what is this "funnel" exactly and how do you build it in practice?
What is "the marketing funnel"?
There's a lot of talk about "the marketing funnel" and how your visitors go through this supposed funnel towards their journey to become your customer.
But what is this "funnel" really? Is it an actual funnel that you build? How do you build it? Or is it just a way to describe a conceptual journey your customers make, and if so, how do you use this in practice?
If we zoom into this supposed funnel, we'll notice that it's not actually "a funnel". Those are, in fact, many smaller funnels that look like a single bigger one if viewed from a distance!
What does a marketing path consist of?
Each such marketing funnel path is unique. But the most common template for a path looks like this:
- Top (attracting new visitors into the path): Articles about that situation, Adwords campaign, social posts, and sponsored content that link to that offer.
- Middle (driving visitors to opt into your path): Offer page and lead magnet to opt into. This is the core of the funnel, as it is an offer that relates to a buyer’s situation.
- Bottom (driving visitors through your path towards a puchase): Emails or retargeting messages that follow up and qualify and push them into a sales process.
Start with a generic path and then go niche
Initially you want to create a broad and somewhat generic path, to be sure to capture the visitors who are most interested with a generic message. This message should contain the core problem and the core insight you want to convey.
Over time, you can add more targeted paths, targeting sub-problems, sub-groups of potential customers, and particular situations your customers find themselves in when they would benefit your services.
Each path will target a narrower set of clients, but convert a higher percentage of them. With many such paths, your overall marketing funnel will cover a large set of potential customers, with a very high conversion rate to paying client.
An army of marketing paths working for you
Each path you build in your marketing funnel, will continue to provide you new sales-ready leads long after you've built them. Once done, you can just leave it there to work for you, while you continue to build the next one. Over time, you'll have built an army of such paths doing the heavy lifting for you.
You can focus on broadening your funnel (building more paths), filling them with more visitors (publish new articles and spend more on ads), or increasing their throughput (analyze and optimize by editing the components that don't work and emphasising the parts that do work).
Marketing paths don't have to be digital
A funnel doesn’t need to be that people find you online and opt in. In fact, marketing paths have existed long before the Internet.
For example, a path can be: Meeting prospects at a trade shows (top part), building a relationship (opt-in), and following up with a call (bottom).
You can start building your funnel today!
A marketing automation system is designed to allow you to build, measure and optimize paths like the above. But you don't need one to build them! In fact, you can build one today with no investment required.
Here's what you need:
A) A website in which you can add forms.
B) An email address.
And here's how to build your first marketing path today:
- Create your foundational knowledge offer (a PDF in which you summarize the most generic sets of problems that your customers experience, and your most fundamental insights about those problems).
- Create a page on your website, in which you add a form. The page should explain the PDF and entice them to submit the form to get that PDF.
- When someone submits, you should get notified. Easiest way: An email is sent into your inbox.
- Prepare some template emails. One which you will send as soon as you see someone filling in that form, one more a couple of days later, and a final one a week or so after that. The first email should contain the actual PDF, and the subsequent ones should summarize the core insights and link to other materials, and contain a question that the lead can respond, or a call to action (for example enticing them to submit a contact form).
- When someone submits the first form, you simply send them these three emails manually.
This is good enough and the quickest way to get started. It allows you to quickly start learning while increasing your confidence, until you're ready to invest in a system that automates this process, and a whole lot more. Feel free to also check out our Building Your First Inbound Marketing Funnel recipe.
Try our own marketing funnel
One of our most successful paths is one that demonstrates to our visitors how a marketing automation system works. Try it to see for yourself:
Want to try being marketed to?
Do you want to see what Marketing Automation feels like from a customer's perspective? Our 7-week interactive marketing demo will show you exactly that, using fun and interactive emails, videos and screenshots once per seek that adapt dynamically based on what you do. Try it now!