If you are a business owner or just starting out navigating your way around online marketing, there is a fair chance you have heard the term ‘funnels’. You’ve likely asked yourself what that must be about and why they seem to be so necessary for this line of work. Well, this is an article for you then.
What is a Funnel?
First up, let’s define what this term means.
Simply, a funnel is a system of steps that your target audience go through that is designed to convert them from visitors to leads and then customers
If you have a business, whether online or not, you want your potential clients and clients to walk through a certain set of processes. You either want them to buy something from you, sign up to something or enter their details into some kind of form. This action of a visitor doing something you are wanting them to do is known as a conversion because by them taking the action, you have converted them from just being a visitor to a lead or even better, a client.
Let’s give you an example that may make things more relatable. Say you want to buy something from Amazon. You will go through their purchase funnel and go through a series of steps before you finish with the purchase.
- You visit amazon.com
- You view the products
- You then add those products to the cart
- You need to complete the purchase
There very may well be other actions that you take in between the above steps. Things like visiting their contact page, about page, etc but these are not essential parts of the conversion process. Conversion is going from being a visitor just looking or browsing, to someone adding items to their cart and completing the purchase. Or rather, conversion in the case of the above example is ending with a purchase.
So why are these steps or actions taken leading up to a conversion called a funnel then? This is because, in the beginning stage, there won’t just be 1 or 2 or 5 people entering the funnel, there are likely to be thousands. As people continue to go through the funnel, some may drop out of the process altogether and are no longer prospects. So essentially the crowds that entered the funnel reduce in size as they continue to follow the steps. Perhaps many will add the items to their cart but will then not complete their purchase. At this point, there is a possibility of intervening (email series or your sales team reaching out) to help nudge those who added to cart but didn’t purchase.
The number of people who actually complete this kind of funnel ie purchasing compared to the number of people who entered the funnel will be sometimes drastically different. Hence this is why this process is called a conversion.
By now you may have seen there are many different kinds of funnels. The example above is just one of many. Another example is known as the marketing funnel.
The purpose of this type of funnel is exactly that, marketing, and your objectives will usually involve lead generation and perhaps even nurturing those leads (working them up to the purchase). In the beginning phases of the funnel, you may get a lot of traffic coming in and through the stages where you create awareness, interest and give value in terms of content, you will see those who drop off and those who continue to move through the funnel. Essentially, only the most interested in what you are marketing will eventually complete the process in your funnel.
When you hear someone mentioning about widening the funnel you may now understand that this means they need to increase the number of people they are targeting to enter the funnel. The higher number of people who enter, the more probable it is that they will convert into customers given that they are the right target for what you are marketing.
It’s at this point right here that you need to keep in mind that the days of hard selling anyone and everyone you can think of to buy your product whether they are the right audience or not, are long gone. This is essentially one of the things that make using funnels really great for your business because it is not about targeting everyone but rather the people who you are sure will go for what you are offering.
As much as 73% of consumers have reported that they feel annoyed when a website offers content (like ads & promos) that does not have anything to do with them. (Marketblender)
What’s great also is that you are not restricted to using a funnel just for getting sign ups or getting people to buy from you or even list building. Funnels can be used throughout your website to check how people move through the different website flows.
Maybe you are trying to build an email list by offering people a weekly newsletter or giving away free content. Something to bear in mind here is how important growing a list is. On average, around 23,9% of emails are opened. This means the bigger your list, the more people you will have to open your emails. Do the numbers, if you have a list of 2000 people, that is 480 people opening your emails. Pretty neat.
But we’re getting distracted. In both the above examples, people will complete the funnel action by entering their details and submitting a form or page. Both of these are funnels that serve different purposes. The idea is to understand what you want to achieve and what the goals are of your business before you decide which funnel will work best for you and where you need to place it. Are you looking to grow your email lists or do you want to sell a specific product or service?
Once your funnels start to work, you will then also be able to iron out any issues and optimise them to perform the best they can to meet the objectives you have. Say, for example, people are signing up to your free ebook but not going on to book a call with you so that you can close the sale. This is the point you need to decide that maybe the call to action (the thing prompting them to take action) is not compelling enough or even appealing to them. You can change strategy and continue running the funnel to see if it makes a difference. It’s always about finding the right formula that works for your business.
Why are funnels so crucial?
Behind the funnels, you have all the analytics which can help you pinpoint what is happening and where you may be going wrong. A funnel can also show you where people are dropping off in the process which will help you see why you may be losing clients.
Take this funnel for example. In the steps, you may be able to identify a roadblock for people leading to buy the final product.
- Visitor lands on your site
- Sign up for the Free Trial you are offering
- Tries the product
- Upgrades to paying (does not cancel before it renews)
Many people won’t need to try the product before they decide to buy while others may cancel the trial and not upgrade. But the point here is that in this step you are able to identify what people are choosing to do and if you are losing them to the final step. This will help you decide what to do with the funnel if a lot of people are taking the trial but not taking the product. The numbers behind the funnels will help you out a lot.
Funnels occur in everyday life both online and in traditional retail. However, the difference between a funnel in your normal bricks and mortar store and your e-commerce store is that online you are able to track the numbers down to the last one. It’s accurate. You may very well be able to track those numbers in your normal store, but with a lot more effort.
Case Study: Webinar Funnel
Having a funnel isn’t enough to bring in the leads you are looking for let alone turning them into customers because the point of the funnel is to make sure that the leads you find and make it into your funnel become qualified leads that helps you know who you need to focus on when converting them to clients.
A webinar funnel can be a really good way to qualify your leads and leave you with a pool of people who you know for certain you will be able to close. The webinar is also a really good way for you to bring value to your audience while generating an interest in what you are talking about at the same time.
It’s a good idea to set up the objectives of the webinar ahead of the broadcast so that the ideas are clear from the start of what you intend to share with the audience and why it is something that would be of value to them. After people register for your webinar, you know you are talking to people who are interested in what you’ve had to say on the sign-up page or else they would not be here. This is why it’s important to talk to them the right way when you are pre-framing them ahead of the webinar. For example, you won’t be trying to convince them still why they need to register, you need to take it a step further. They’ve shown interest and now you need to show them why attending the webinar will benefit them even more.
Of course, all the people who have registered won’t make it the entire way through your funnel and that’s ok but what is important to remember is that you need to make sure you are targeting the maximum amount of the audience that your product or service would benefit. This way, your chances of better turn out figures and of course, more leads to work on qualifying will be higher.
To give you an idea of the flow, take a look below:
Your traffic will be generated from ads that you run which will then push people through to a registration page. From there, people sign up and they are directed to a thank you page. On the day of the webinar, they are sent communication via email or text to give them the link of the broadcast as well as ensure they remember to show up.
Your webinar is then set up to provide the valuable content. This is done by highlighting their problem as well as showing you can provide a solution before ending off with your offer in the form of a product/service. After all, the point of this type of funnel is to guide visitors through your funnel and qualify them as leads that you can then close.
There are two things that may occur afterwards. Either they buy what you’re offering or they don’t. But since they have been taken through the funnel, you still have a chance to confirm their purchase by setting up a series of follow up emails.
The purpose of these emails is to re-iterate to the viewer the problem they are having, how painful it feels and present them a solution. Of course, at the end of this, the goal is to convert the lead.
What’s great about this type of sales funnel is that since you are appearing in front of your leads, they are getting a more personal experience while they travel through your funnel. This can work in your favour and gives people a sense of security that you are understanding them and offering a solution.
We’ve covered the core elements of what the funnel is, a couple examples of funnels and why these funnels are beneficial to your business. We talked about conversions and why this entire process and experience through the funnel matters when you are creating the different funnels.
It’s a known fact that the terms ‘lead generation’, ‘sales’, and ‘lead nurturing’ are the three top organizational objectives for marketers. Because of this, the need for having a strategy in place to make sure that this is possible and for that reason integrating funnels into your marketing strategy is not just important, it is crucial!
With funnels, you are able to track and control the outcomes because from the start you are seeking out the clients you feel are your target. The message is more directed instead of just putting it out there and hoping the right clients will arrive.
Funnels allow you to take better control of aspects of your business that can then lead to creating a steady flow of leads into your business. In other words, they are your business’ best weapon in today’s online world.
There have been cases where online businesses have increased their profits by 412% just by implementing a well-working funnel. And yes while this kind of profit will not just come as a result of having a funnel (the work needs to be put in, obviously) – understanding what your clients want and going after those particular audiences, goes a very long way to this kind of success.
And finally, you are able to see clearly what is not working and fix it to optimise your funnels so they perform better and better!