FUNNEL FUN & FUNDAMENTALS TO SEND SALES SOARING
Are you a Funnel Fan?
It’s like magic. Silly, unaware prospects go in, and brand-fans come out. Just like that, you’re marketing job is done.
Except, of course, it’s not that easy. Maybe it would be with a real funnel, but it would have to be pretty large, and I’m not sure that dropping prospective customers into it would really enamor them of your brand. No, we’re talking about imaginary sales funnels because marketers are used to living in the conceptual world. Or, at least in psychiatric hospitals where dealing with the imaginary is kind of normal.
But let’s start with the basics. The “funnel-damentals,” if you will.
IT’S NOT A REAL FUNNEL
A sales funnel (or conversion funnel) is a modeling tool for understanding the consumer’s journey with your brand or product. It’s typically rendered in funnel form because it represents a narrowing of your customer focus. Customers start at awareness, and move through the funnel as part of your sales process, hopefully emerging at the other end as brand advocates. Of course, not all who enter will leave, so you could kind of think of it as a roach motel for your customers. See figure 1
THIS IS (PROBABLY) NOT YOUR FUNNEL
The problem with the basic sales funnel here is that it doesn’t really do the job. That’s because every business is different. Consider every business as a beautiful, unique snowflake, except they make money and generally don’t melt at room temperature. Each enterprise works in its own, unique way. Maybe you sell online, maybe you only sell in person. Maybe your products are inexpensive, maybe they cost as much as the entire country of Luxembourg.
These details are going to affect how you do business, and thus, how your funnel works.
NOT EVERYONE ENTERS THE FUNNEL AT THE TOP
This may seem confusing, until you remember that it’s not a real funnel. The laws of physics don’t apply.
Chances are that you already have prospects and customers at all the stages of your marketing funnel, so you don’t need to start them at the top.
YOUR FUNNEL SHOULD NEVER END
If this statement alarms you, it’s probably because the human mind is incapable of conceiving infinity. Your marketing funnel, however, is not. Ideally, customers should emerge from your funnel pumped and enthused, and ready to dive back in again, like the little kid who hogs the waterslide at the community pool. The basic funnel (shown in figure 1) does this by turning customers into acolytes who spend the rest of their days telling everyone they know how great your brand is until they are shunned by their peers and forced to live in exile in the wilderness.
To be sustainable today, you need to know how to keep a steady flow of consumers falling helplessly into your funnel.
This looks like a job for a listicle!
STRATEGY #1: Low-Hanging Fruit
Much of the magic of a marketing funnel comes from who you decide to pull into it. Your target audience can be large or small, but the more clearly defined it is, the better. No, you can’t target “everyone,” because you don’t have the budget for it, even if you own Luxembourg.
This is why you need to identify your low-hanging fruit first. These are the people who are most likely to buy without too much hand-wringing, torture, or whatever other methods you use to drag them through your imaginary funnel. AdWords is probably the best option for this.
By identifying and funneling the most qualified and eager buyers, you will quickly get an idea how your funnel works without having to sacrifice business while you work out the kinks.
STRATEGY #2: Get Them While They’re Thinking
You’ll notice from the diagram in figure 1 that the “consideration” stage occurs right before the “conversion” (or “sale”) stage. This is when they are on the fence about making a purchase. It’s also when they are most vulnerable. Try focusing your marketing efforts toward customers as they ponder. This is when your message will have the most profound effect, and you will get maximum bang for your marketing budget.
You can do this by anticipating the behavior of a ponderer, and then targeting those actions. For example, you know that someone who searches for your business by name has already passed the awareness stage. So you can hit them hard when they have the audacity to search you out by name.
STRATEGY #3: Never Surrender
Customers can be slippery things. You might be leading them down your marketing funnel when suddenly they jump out and drop off the map.
Now, if it were a REAL funnel that you were throwing people into and they started doing this, you would probably reach down, pick them up, and drop them back in, just like a patient god. You wouldn’t let them get away with that kind of insolence.
Fortunately, real-world marketing has its own version of this. It’s called “remarketing.” This is where you target people who have considered your brand, and then moved on like some heartless snob. Don’t let them get away with it. Hit them with some banner ads that remind them why they were interested in the first place.
Not only does this force them to reconsider, but it also lets them know that you’re watching their every move.
Most likely, your omnipotence will convince them not to disappoint you again.
STRATEGY #4: Make them your Personal Slaves
A happy customer is an asset everyone wants. So make sure you don’t let yours go. You can keep them in a dungeon in your basement, or you can keep them happy. Happy is probably better.
Once a customer converts, you need to make sure they are happy. You can do this a number of ways. Start by giving them a great buying experience, maybe add some free or discounted stuff, and listen to their feedback. Engage them. Make them feel loved. And then put them to work.
Encourage them to advocate for your brand. Build an affinity program that rewards them for bringing in new customers. Or, at least give them the tools to show people how awesome your brand is. The point is to get them to do much of the heavy lifting. After all, why else would you need slaves?
STRATEGY #5: Automate the Process
Once you have a marketing funnel that works – remember that not everyone will convert and that we are talking about IMAGINARY funnels here – automate it. Turn it into a machine that can run itself so you can sit back and reap the rewards from a beach somewhere with a daquiri in your hand.
How? Oh, that’s easy when you have technology. With a funnel that works, all you have to do is figure out how to keep it fed (i.e. marketing), and how to keep those who enter it engaged. Most of this can be automated by a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.
There are lots of CRM options out there, but that’s a topic for another day. This is an article about marketing funnels, not software, and it’s gone on long enough. You want to learn more about CRMs or funnels? Talk to the expert geniuses at DAMN GOOD. Step into our funnel, IF YOU DARE…