The traditional marketing funnel has been around for decades and has been used to explain and sell marketing in thousands of different ways. At its core remains a solid tried and tested method for turning strangers into customers, and that’s why it’s still as relevant today as it’s always been.
This is how the funnel works, and it’s free to get it working, you don’t need Ads to make it work, you just need to make each step work in order.
The marketing funnel is a way of splitting your content into stages that your ideal customer can progress through, in order to become a customer. Some people will not progress all the way through, so the ‘funnel’ shape shows how the number of customers reduces at each stage until you end up with a small number of customers at the bottom when compared to a large number of strangers you put in at the top.
By using messaging designed to attract your ideal customer at each funnel stage it helps you attract strangers and nurture them into your ideal customer.
Two truths about marketing funnels that most people won’t tell you are:
- They only work if you use it as part of a marketing plan
- You need to make it work organically on its own before you spend any money on Ads
To create your own marketing funnel you start at the bottom. We need somewhere to ‘collect’ the customers, if you start at the top you’re making a hoop, and you can’t catch anything with a hoop.
The first thing to do is to make sure it’s easy for customers to buy from you. This seems obvious but it’s the most common mistake we see. It needs to be clear within a few seconds of being on your website what you want a customer to do in order to buy your product or start the process of buying often ‘get in touch’.
The other thing that needs to be clear in what it is that you’re selling, the offer. Use clear language that the customer would use to describe your product, don’t be too clever and don’t use a lot of complicated or made-up words.
Keep it simple, make it easy to buy.
Right before someone is thinking about buying from you they’re trying to decide one thing, do they trust you? If they do then they buy. If they’re not quite sure then they are missing some information that they feel they need to make that decision.
You can create content that answers common questions, explains the process, confirms the outcomes and clarifies the price and terms. Having this content clearly signposted on your website means you can automate turning a prospect into a customer.
You need to have some way of people getting to like you without them having to commit to much. This could be joining your email list, following you on social media or subscribing to your podcast. Whatever the format is the content you put out needs to add value to the customer, not just be sales!
You can answer questions, offer advice, share stories from customers or peers. You can also drop in about your offer and your story, but the main focus should be educating the customer and removing some of the doubt and questions they have.
At the top of the funnel, we have to grab the attention of our ideal customer, whilst not trying to sell to them. At this stage, we simply want to grab their attention and collect signals from those who are interested. A mistake a lot of businesses make is trying to sell too soon, they try to propose on the first date. The aim here is to collect signals from those who are interested and let those who aren’t interested pass on by. We do this with content, and maybe some Ads to help reach a brand new group of people, and we ask them to take a very simple step like click a link, view a page, like a post.
Those who do will progress down to the next stage Like, and then Trust and then Offer and then Customer. By preparing all these stages first it means we’re ready to help these strangers become customers, if you start at the top they have nowhere to go!
Loop it back
Once you have some lovely customers, and you have delighted them with your offer, you can ask for some testimonials. You can then use these as great content to put back into the funnel to help nurture more customers. They are best combined with photos of the people giving the testimonials as it gives them much more impact.
Supercharge with Ads
Some businesses look at the funnel and think, “I can just pay for some Ads and get the same thing”, and in a way they’re right. But what happens if you can’t afford to run the Ads or if the Ads don’t work? If you don’t have a way of nurturing customers without Ads then you become reliant on spending a lot of money to get new customers and that’s not sustainable or profitable.
Investing time into creating a funnel that works without Ads means that you can then use Ads to get more people into the funnel. You’ll be able to see where in your funnel you need a bit of a boost and use Ads there to help. This can save you a lot of money!
Using the marketing funnel to grow your business
If you want to get the most out of the marketing funnel you need to use it as part of the marketing process and fill it with empathy led content that resonates with your ideal customer. This sounds like a lot of work but if you take it step by step then it’s not at all. We’ve written a free small business marketing guide that explains how you use the marketing process to make your marketing more manageable and have more impact.