August 22, 2019

If you work online in any way, there is a fair chance you have come into contact with a marketing term called ‘funnels’. You’ve likely asked yourself what it’s all about and why they seem to be so necessary for this line of work. If that’s the case, then we suggest you keep reading…

What is a Funnel?

First up, let’s talk about what a funnel is.

Simply, a funnel is a system of steps or processes that the visitor needs to go through before they reach the stage of being converted into a lead.

If you have a business, whether online or not, you want your potential clients to go through a certain set of processes. You either want them to buy something from you, sign up to something or enter their data 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 enter their purchase funnel and go through a series of steps before you finish with the purchase.

  • You visit
  • You view the products
  • You then add those products to the cart
  • You need to complete the purchase

There may 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 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 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.

Marketing Funnels

By now you may have guessed 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. 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 also great 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 a 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 digress. 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.

After you’re done with the marketing funnel setup and 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.

How To Set Up A Marketing Funnel

If you’re thinking about setting up a marketing funnel but aren’t sure where to start, take a look at the guide below to help get you started.

Step #1: Decide which marketing funnel setup you are going to go with

This is pretty simple because depending on how far along you are with your business, is how you are going to look at prioritizing which funnel stage you should begin with.

Break it down according to the following options:

  • You already have incoming customers buying whatever you’re selling.

If this is your situation, you are going to want to build a funnel according to the customers you already have and look at remarketing your services to them. They already know and buy from  you, so now it’s a question of offering them more value they can get out of this transaction.

  • You have no customers at all.

This requires you needing to bring in traffic into the top end of your funnel and help leads make their way through your funnel until they buy from you. Your focus here will be lead generation and traffic to your funnel.

Step # 2: Pick a tactic or two for each stage of the funnel

There are a lot of things you can do at each stage of your funnel to increase the likeliness of lead conversion but you should only concentrate on a couple of these at a time because you will be able to get better results this way and monitor the results you are getting at the same time.

For example, if you are looking to build a list at the beginning of the funnel, focus on getting the person to enter their details and then creating a value exchange with them once they sign up. 

Step # 3: Make sure you have content created for each tactic

Once you have decided what tactics you are going to use, you need to make sure that the right content is created for the tactic. Like we said above, if your aim is building an email list, you need to ensure you are creating strong email content to give value to the optins. There’s no point going to all the effort to get people to sign up and then not doing anything with those sign ups.

Don’t go too far also though, create a reasonable amount of content. Create as much as you will need to sustain that tactic and what you are trying to achieve.

Step # 4: Connect the funnel and start building its continuity

Once you are ready and have created your tactics and the content needed to execute them, you then have to connect the funnel and make sure there is a good funnel flow from start to finish.

This means that you want each person moving through the funnel to do so with utmost ease. If you are thinking right now this sounds a bit complicated, here’s an example.

If you are collecting emails in your funnel and sending out correspondence – some of the content in the funnels can be to provide a call to action at the end of the email. Perhaps your funnel starts with people signing up and the end step is to buy a course, but maybe some people stop moving through the funnel once they hit the sales page.

This way, you already have their emails so you can continue to nurture the leads that have signed up and eventually get them to buy your course.

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.

Examples of marketing funnels


To conclude

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!