How to Build a Marketing Funnel

Foreword

I’m posting this because I hope it will help someone in the Reddit community, and I’m also hoping to get some feedback that will help me improve my writing.

I’ve worked in lead generation for almost a decade, and in that time I’ve generated leads in a number of different industries (e.g., legal, healthcare, real estate).

That said, I’m not trying to suggest that this is the best or the only way to generate leads. This is just how I do it. I’d like to hear how everyone else approaches lead generation, and I welcome any feedback on how I could improve my own lead generation efforts.

Introduction

For a while now I’ve been seeing the gurus on Facebook hawking sales funnel templates through ads on my newsfeed. The templates are “free,” but they require you to invest a lot of money in a program called ClickFunnels.

I don’t know much about ClickFunnels myself, but I do know you can generate tons of leads with out it.So before you go dump a lot of your money into software, hear me out.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to drive more leads and grow your business online— without spending $97/mo (or whatever it costs) on ClickFunnels. (Spend that money on ads instead!)

What’s a Marketing Funnel?

Marketing funnels are the blueprints to your lead generation strategy.

I recommend creating multiple marketing funnels as part of a comprehensive customer acquisition strategy that targets potential customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

By creating content designed to help prospects at each stage of the sales cycle, and targeting customers with content relevant to the stage they’re in (using different ad targeting methods) you can drastically increase revenue.

I primarily use the following three funnels (based on HubSpot’s inbound marketing terminology):

The Awareness funnel. Designed to attract prospects.

The Consideration funnel. Designed to drive prospects down the funnel.

The Decision funnel. Designed to close the deal.

Keep It Simple

These ads in my Facebook newsfeed that offer huge libraries of funnels are overcomplicating things in my opinion.All you really need are three funnels that you can tweak based on the specifics of your campaign.

I’m going to break things down for you here, and by the end of this post you can make up your own mind about the gurus and their funnel libraries.

Like I mentioned earlier, marketing funnels are like blueprints. A marketing funnel maps out the route you’ve charted for your traffic to become sales. Ask yourself these three questions:

Where will your traffic come from?

Where will it land?

What happens next?

Now, some would argue that there’s just one big marketing funnel. And some would say that every single campaign is a new funnel. I think it’s helpful to think in terms of three basic funnels because:

leads can enter the funnel at different stages of the buyer’s journey, but

unless you’re getting tons of traffic, it’s impossible to segment useful audiences for more than two or three groups

The 3 Funnels

Here’s an in-depth description of each of the primary funnels I typically use.

Awareness Stage

Here’s where you start building a relationship with likely prospects. At this stage, your prospects don’t know you. They might not even know exactly what their problem is (or that they have one).

But without these people, you’ve got an empty funnel and no one’s buying. So how do we get to them?

The Awareness Marketing Funnel (AKA the Lead Generation Funnel)

Initially, you’ll generate leads with an Awareness marketing funnel. The goal is to build up your remarketing list with people who are likely in the market (or will be) for your product or service. Then you’ll nurture those leads through your other funnels.

Traffic Sources

SEO is a great option for this stage if you can rank highly for relevant terms. Unfortunately, that’s very difficult for most people and it takes time, so I’m going to focus on paid traffic sources in this post.

Paid social (e.g., Facebook) and native advertising (e.g., Outbrain) are ideal for this stage.

The best choice depends on the targeting options you need. If your target market is fairly broad, native advertising might be a great choice. You can do some targeting, but you usually can’t get as granular as you can with Facebook or LinkedIn, for example.

Where Do You Send The Traffic?

A blog post can work especially well at the Awareness stage. It can build your brand and increase your credibility. And, perhaps most importantly, every person who visits your blog will be thrown into your remarketing list. That’s the main goal here, you don’t need to be as concerned with collecting email addresses at this point.

Calls-to-Action

Be sure to include at least one call-to-action somewhere in your blog post. Often you’ll see the call-to-action as a graphic at the bottom of a blog post.

But a HubSpot lead generation study found that only 6% of leads came from graphic CTAs at the bottom of blog posts and between 47% and 93% of a post’s leads came from the anchor text CTA alone. (An anchor text CTA is “a standalone line of text linked to a landing page.”)

So it’s probably a good idea to do both to cover all your bases.

Action? What Action?

For the blog posts that you use to put together your core funnels, the CTAs should lead to a landing page for an offer that corresponds to the stage of the buyer’s journey you’re targeting with the post.

At the Awareness stage, stick with something simple like a checklist (e.g., “Top Ten Things to Look Out for When It’s Raining”). Make sure the topic of your offer is related to problems you solve.

You’ll want to use a very short form for Awareness stage offers. First name and email address only, unless you absolutely need more information for some reason.

Once they’re on your remarketing list, your next objective is to get their email address so you can contact them again in the future. If they leave without giving you that one piece of information, not only can’t you contact them, but you won’t have any idea what else they’re doing on your site.

(There are many tools that allow you to track a user’s movements on your website and their interaction with your ads once you’ve got their email address. For instance, you could see that a user found you through a particular one of your ads for a particular keyword, then they filled out a form to download an Awareness stage offer.

It’s very powerful information, but you can’t track it if you don’t have a contact to track in the first place.)

Consideration Stage

The Consideration funnel exists for people who know they’ve got a problem, and they’re considering different types of solutions.For example, if you sell umbrellas, your prospects are learning about umbrellas, raincoats, ponchos, and other solutions to the rain problem at this stage.

We want to collect these leads so we can help them understand why an umbrella is the best choice (and we definitely want to be there when they’re choosing which umbrella they want (in the Decision stage).

The Consideration Marketing Funnel AKA the Lead Nurturing Funnel

This funnel is composed in the same way as the components in the Lead Generation Funnel, with some contextual tweaks.

Traffic Sources

Again, if you can rank for your terms, SEO is always a great play.

Additionally, paid search is a great option to fill your Consideration funnel. Where do people go when they’re looking for an solution to a problem? Google, right?

With search ads, you can show up when they’re searching for “how to stay dry in the rain”. And with remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), you can even bid more for people who have already been to your site (or limit your ads entirely to your remarketing list).

Another option is to run ads on Facebook to your remarketing list. That way people you know have the problem you can solve will see ads with your Consideration offers. They’ll click them when they’re ready to move down the funnel.Ingeneral, remarketing is great for each stage of the funnel. Especially if you build your remarketing lists based on lead scoring or behavioral targeting (which you should).

Where Do You Send the Traffic?

Blog posts work well here too, or you can send them right to a landing page for an offer. You can ask for a little more information at this stage. Your offer should provide a real solution to their problem, so they’ll be more inclined to download it. But if they don’t, you’ve already got their email, so you can nurture them in other ways if they don’t download the offer now.

Offer

The offer should get them closer to a solution. Whether it’s something like “Five Ways to Stay Dry in the Rain”, or “How to Make Your Own Umbrella”, or a pattern they can use to make a poncho out of a garbage bag, it needs to offer the promise of an answer to their prayers.

You’re not trying to sell them on your solution here. This is just another opportunity to establish trust and credibility with your prospects.

Decision Stage

So far you’ve built funnels to find prospects who are just becoming aware of their problem prospects who are beginning to search for solutions.

Now it’s time to build the final funnel that will take the leads we’ve generated and convert them into customers. This is where you make your money.

The Decision stage is for prospects who are ready to choose from a certain category of solutions (your category).

You’ll nurture leads from your Awareness and Consideration funnels into this funnel, and you’ll also bring in new traffic through ads and SEO.

The Decision Funnel AKA The Closer

Paid search is a great way to generate traffic for your Decision stage offers for two reasons:

It’s very easy to bid on keywords that demonstrate purchase intent (e.g. “buy an umbrella”).

Since the prospect is so far down the funnel, these campaigns will have a higher ROI. So as long as you do them right (use negative keywords, target the right terms) they pay for themselves more quickly than others

Remarketing on social media channels can also be very effective at this stage of the buyer’s journey. Build an audience based on behaviors that show intent to purchase (e.g., a visit to your pricing page), and target them with ads for your Decision stage blog posts and offers.

Where Do You Send the Traffic?

Case studies and comparisons make great blog posts for the Decision stage funnel. Write about successes people have had with your product, positive reviews, and how your product compares to the competition.

Phrasing comparison posts as “[insert your product] vs. [insert competitor’s product]” can be a great SEO play, because not many people will be trying to rank for that phrase, but you’ll definitely want to control the conversation if someone is Googling it.

The form here will need to include all the information you need to make a sale. If you’re using a tool like HubSpot, you can have it autofill the fields they’ve already filled out at sometime in the past, or just make it so they don’t show up in the first place. That makes lead generation a lot easier.

But if you’re not using HubSpot (or something like it), make sure you get everything you need to close the deal. For example, if you need to call them to schedule a demo, make sure you get their phone number.

Since prospects in this stage of the buyer’s journey are more motivated, you can ask for more information if you need it. But always remember not to add any more questions than absolutely necessary.

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