Marketing funnel. Sales funnel. Conversion funnel.
They all point to the same thing: taking a potential customer through your sales process easily and effectively so that they become a paying client.
Really, that’s all it is. Sales & Marketing 101.
But in today’s world, the funnel concept has become more sophisticated because of the awesome tools and techniques that are available to us as business owners.
Websites and Facebook and live video training all provide opportunities to market our products in ways that we’ve never seen before.
At the same time, our potential customers are being marketed to every. single. second. of. every. single. day.
The biggest challenge that we face is growing the “know, like and trust” factor with our customers. Those that do it well can cut through the noise and clutter that our potential customers are bombarded with daily.
Most likely, you’re reading this post because at some point, you entered my marketing funnel (I’ll bet you didn’t even realize that!)
Because this is such a hot topic in the online marketing world, I’m going to break down the steps in a marketing funnel so that you can start to use them in your own business and grow that know, like and trust factor that will set you apart from your competition.
Step 1: Define your ideal client.
I know that this sounds like a pretty simple thing but I want you to REALLY dig deep and think about who your ideal customer is. What does she look like? What kinds of things is she interested in (books, magazines, blogs). Is she married? Have kids?
What keeps her up at night? What struggles is she dealing with in her business and life?
You want to take the time to put yourself in the shoes of your potential client because you’ll want to deliver content and information that she needs right now.
Step 2: Create something of value (real value!) that you can give away for free.
The next step in the online marketing funnel is to figure out what you can create that your ideal customer needs to help solve a problem.
This is often referred to as a “lead magnet” or “freebie” or “freemium” or “giveaway”. Whatever term you use, it’s basically something that you create that you give to your prospect for free.
The key is that what you create should directly solve a problem or address a pain point that she’s dealing with right now. (That’s why Step 1 above is so important!)
If you’re a health coach, maybe it’s a free guide that gives the 7 Steps to Getting Back on Track To Healthier Eating.
If you’re a business coach, maybe it’s your checklist of the top productivity tools you use every day in your own business.
Or maybe you’re an interior designer and you put together a short video that shows how you can take furniture from one room and move it around to give the space an entirely different feel.
Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something that your potential customer will see and say “Holy smokes! This is SO GOOD that I want more from her!” Don’t hold back. Make it packed with value that shows what you’re capable of delivering.
Here’s a blog post that talks all about lead magnets that will give you some ideas!
Step 3: Sign up for an email newsletter service.
You’ll need to be able to communicate with your potential customers (super important for growing the know, like & trust factor!) but you’ll need an email service provider to do that.
This is different from your Gmail/Yahoo/AOL, etc. email. It’s an actual service that you’re going to use to start collecting email addresses from your prospects so that you can send them stuff.
There are SO MANY different email service providers out there and I know it can get confusing (and expensive).
You’ll want to find one that has an automated email feature (meaning that if someone gets added to your email list, an auto email can be generated and sent immediately with a link to your freebie).
You also want one that allows you to “tag” or “segment” your subscribers so that you can keep track of things from a marketing perspective. For instance, if you have two different freebies, you’ll want your email service provider to “tag” your subscriber based on which freebie she got.
Here are a few that I’ve used (either personally or for clients) that you may want to check out:
Mailchimp is often the first email service provider that people use because it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. And it actually does a pretty good job in terms the ability to segment your list into groups.
It’s a bit on the clunky side to set things up, I’ve found, so it may take some playing around to get it working the way you want and need it to. But I know many marketers who use Mailchimp every day in their business.
ConvertKit is a really great email service provider and you’re able to do a lot with it while not being overly complicated to use. Setting up an automation and tagging and tracking subscribers is fairly easy. The pricing starts at $15 per month for up to 300 subscribers and goes up from there.
This is what I use at MavroCreative. It definitely has a LOT of bells and whistles and you can do some pretty sophisticated segmentation with ActiveCampaign. If you’re just starting out, you may not need something as robust as ActiveCampaign but it’s worth checking out!
I’m putting ConstantContact on this list because I know that for many years it’s been the go-to for businesses and it may be the one that you’ve been using forever.
But I’m also hesitant to put it on the list because ConstantContact is not exactly the best for the type of online email marketing that we’re using with a funnel. It’s great for a weekly newsletter that you want to make look pretty, that has different sections and areas for content. But it’s pretty limited when it comes to automation, tagging, etc.
It can be done, but it’s not the best platform to use.
Here are a few others that I know people use and like. I haven’t used them myself, so I can’t speak to their functionality. But you can explore them as more options:
Step 4: Give your potential customer easy access to your freebie.
So now you’ve got this amazing checklist that you just know people are going to be clamoring to get their hands on. Now what? How to you get them to see it and take action?
This is where it can get a little bit tricky and how you’ll actually get your opt-in box on your website is a bit dependent upon the email newsletter provider that you selected in Step 3. But stick with me here as I outline the process.
The goal is for your potential customer to become interested in what you’re offering and opt-in to get it. They will enter their email address and name, which gets automatically added to your list in your email service provider, which then triggers an automated email that gets sent that has your free download.
You can create an opt-in box that’s either embedded right on your home page or you can also have it be a pop-up. Here’s a link to a blog post that we wrote that’s all about pop-ups!
Here’s an example of an opt-in that we’ve had on MavroCreative’s homepage:
I’m able to design my opt-in and generate code that I can copy and paste into my WordPress site, as seen above. Many other email service providers (like the ones I listed above) have some capacity for doing something similar. The main difference will be in the amount of customization that you’re able to do and how much control you have over the opt-in box (for instance, can it only be a stand-alone or can you also have a pop-up?)
If your email service provider doesn’t have great templates to work with, you may want to consider using a plugin for your WordPress site to create your opt-in box. You’ll just have to check to see if the plugin you’re looking at integrates with your email service provider.
Once you’ve set up your opt-in form, you’ll want to segment your audience based upon their actions. For instance, if someone signs up for our free video training, “Start Building Your Website in Five Easy Steps”, they will be “tagged” in ConvertKit with the tag that I created (it basically says “5 Easy Steps Video Training Freebie”) and they also get added to our “nurturing email sequence” as outlined in Step 5 below.
Step 5: Create an email sequence
This step is where your marketing funnel really starts to move into the know, like, and trust mode. Consumers are savvy. They know that when they give up their email address in exchange for something, they’re most likely going to be added to an email list.
The actions you take once you have their email will make or break your future relationship and possibility of converting them to a customer.
That’s why the first email they receive from you when they opt-in will set the stage. In this email, you’ll want to remind them why they gave you their email (give a link to the download and remind them that they signed up for it) and thank them for joining your list. Let them know that future emails will be coming that will continue to have value and solve a problem they may be having.
At this point, if you have a product or service that you’ll be offering, you’ll want to take them down a path before hitting them with a hard sales pitch. You’ll want to start to reveal a bit more about yourself and your business and begin to grow the “know” and “like” factors.
Your email sequence could include a series of 2-3 more emails, spaced a few days apart (or even weekly, depending upon the product or service that you’re offering). The most important thing is that these emails provide value before you get to the initial sales email where you’ll introduce your product. Which leads us into Step 6….
Step 6: Nurture, nurture, nurture
Once your audience has been “warmed up”, knows more about you and your business, likes your style and can relate to you, and most importantly trusts you, that’s when you can shift into sales mode and introduce your offering.
From there, continue to send emails that add value and always deliver quality content, even if they don’t buy from you. Be generous with your content and continue to nurture the relationship that you’re developing.
Be consistent. Whether you email weekly, biweekly, or even monthly, you need to communicate consistently with your audience so that you’re always top of mind. There’s nothing worse than signing up for something, getting one email from the person or company, and then hearing nothing for months until suddenly an email with a sales pitch arrives in your inbox.
When this is done correctly, the trust factor will begin because your audience will know that every time an email from you pops into their inbox, they’ll be learning something or getting something of value. You want them to be like “Yay! Another email from Donna! I wonder what she’s going to teach me this week!” (That’s always the goal!)
I’ll be breaking down each of these steps in even more detail in future blog posts. In the meantime, remember that each and every email address that you collect belongs to a real, live person. Value that online relationship and treat your email subscriber the same as you would if you were sitting down and having a cup of coffee together. It’s all about building relationships. And if a sale comes out of it, that’s awesome, too.
Before we go, we have a really cool, free download that outlines the entire sales funnel process. All you need to do is click on the image below (and now you know what happens from here!)
Until next time!