funnel can be seen as a tool to aproach customer experience in the world of digital marketing, caring about the porspect and making them go through a series of steps that will determine the course of action they take. I like this term because it makes a good metaphor.
Just like when you're trying to refill a bottle or fill up your oil tank, you need a tool that draws all of the substance together and inside the desired place.
In online marketing, that tool is called funnel and the substance is called leads (or potential customers).
You use the funnel to lead the lead - no pun intended - among their experience in your website, trying to bring them together in the desired place: the checkout page.
In this article you'll learn about what types of funnel exist (depending on what you intend to achieve), the stages that make it up and, in the end, I will show you a few examples of well-designed funnels that are succesful at converting.
#1. What is a Funnel?
As I said, a funnel sort of acts like a blueprint that guides your lead along their journey from point A (landing page) to point B (conversion).
It is no more, no less than that. However, for this journey to be fulfiled, a few elements must be taken care of.
You must carefully design all the pages and steps for the lead to feel compelled to follow them, and therefore, complete their path to conversion.
The concept in itself is quite simple; however, achieving a funnel that converts is not as simple.
It is nonetheless crucial that you learn the skills and implement them properly if you want to maximize your revenues.
If you don't create the right environment for the conversion to occur, it will likely not occur.
Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right, starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal.Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-founder of Velocity, B2B marketing agency.
#2. Not Every Funnel Serves The Same Purpose.
Not all funnels are meant for the lead to buy or pay for some service, a funnel is just the means by which you attain a certain response from the lead. Be it buying from you, donating, entering their e-mail, or even subscribing to your YouTube channel.
You set the rules for your funnel, it is up to you to decide what you want to accomplish with it.
Once you have it clear, you can set your criteria for conversion. In other words: the conversion happens when a lead does what you've set them to do.
We could say that there are three main purposes when it comes to funneling though:
An acquisition funnel's main purpose is to get the business as many prospects and customers as possible.
An activation funnel's purpose is to convert as many of its prospects as possible into customers.
A monetization funnel is meant to generate revenue from the active prospects and buyers.
#3. Stages of a Funnel.
For the majority of the people, a funnel begins with the consideration stage (where the lead lands and decides wether they leave or not) and ends with the conversion stage (once they have already bought/subscribed/...).
I find it to be incomplete.
Because it misses many important stages that affect your sales performance by a lot.
I suggest the following model for what a funnel is:
These 3 added layers do have a direct implication in your website. and right now we'll discuss each separately:
3.1. Awarenes Stage
This is the first and most superficial layer of your funnel. It is here where your customers first acknowledge your brand.
It is the stage that is composed by the largest crowd. However, it is the one that keeps the least.
This happens because you're entering into the awarenes of a very broad part of the market, which means that the likelihood of a lead in that stage being interested in your product is very limited.
This stage happens in social networks, organic search and paid advertising. Which are the very first channels for a lead to reach you.
You should focus on addressing a broad, yet specific enough chunk of the market. But your marketing efforts should not focus on this stage, primarily because you can't, nor should attempt to, convince everyone to buy from you.
This is the stage with the highest exit rates, meaning that only a small percentage of the leads will follow on to the next step.
This small percentage - if you did your job well - will consist of a niche within that market. The niche that you're addressing, meaning the niche with the highest likelihood of converting.
3.2. Consideration Stage
This is the most important stage of all, because here's where the lead makes a decision.
The leads ask themselves the same question Mick Jones (frontman of The Clash) would:
Should they stay?
Your duty is to make them answer like this guy from The Simpsons would:
If they answered yes - hopefully did - the Conversion Stage takes place. That means you did a good job at compelling them.
If they answer is no, not all hope is lost, you can still regain their loyalty. (You'll learn how if you keep reading).
But hey, stop for a second, I want to make an important point here:
If the lead didn't go past the Consideration Stage, it is not because they hate you and your product.
If they left, it might be due to any of the following reasons:
- They need to wait for a paycheck to come through.
- They want to do some more research before committing to a decision.
- They're waiting for someone's birthday.
- They quite liked your product but they don't feel confident enough.
- And the list goes on...
They still, however, recognise and identify the value with your brand.
Now all you have to do is start the nurturing process.
The nurturing what?
The nurturing process could be described as providing the fugitive lead with enough value for them to come back to the Consideration Stage, make a decision from there and say yes this time.
A few ways you could approach this:
Create more content:
If they came to you from your content then they already associate your brand with the value. Hammer on this so you can have a second chance at converting them.
Maybe your next article is the last push they needed to decide to buy from you.
A value ad essentially is a call to action disguised as free material.
It feels like bribing your leads (it couldn't be more true), and it looks like this:
In doing this you ensure they subscribe, check your latest post or engage in general.
It is retargeting advertisements toward the leads that once left, offering them extra value if they come in again.
You could assume that if they came into the Consideration Stage in the first place, it is because they're interested in your field.
If they're interested chances are they're willing to exchange money/time for value.
Your end goal is to get in their minds like the best option to go to when it comes to that field.
Once you've nurtured the leads that left, they start the process all over again.
Second chance to convert!
3.3. Conversion Stage.
Here's where the magic happens.
And where most people with a business last pay attention. (huge mistake, read below)
If a lead has arrived here, that means they have completed the Consideration Stage.
Now they want to buy from you, what could go wrong? Now they're convinced they want to buy. (btw: whenever I say buy I mean converting in general, replace buy with whatever the goal of your conversion is).
Well, want to know what could go wrong?
-They can't figure out how to fill the checkout form.
-There's unclear information.
-Website crashes for certain platforms.
-Website isn't mobile-adapted (read my article for further info).
Remember what I said before: you should guide your lead throughout the entire funnel.
Well, this goes one step further.
You should make every element as accessible, easy, and intuitive as possible.
If they have to think an extra second, they will get tired and leave.
The conversion process should be as painless as you can make it.
You should make it so enjoyable and easy that they even come back and thank you for providing their credit card information.
When you're stuck and you don't know what the leads respond better to (what is easier and more intuitive for them) there's one tool that will save you:
It's called testing.
What you can achieve by testing is basically create two identicall versions of the site.
One has the element this way.
The other has it differently.
You leave the site running like this for a couple of days and come back after it.
You will see that one version converts better than the other. Then you proceed to drop the previous one and stick with the new, more efficient one.
This is, of course, a whole different topic to be discussed separately.
Once they've converted, you could run away with the paycheck.
Whay you could also do is convincing them to buy from you again.
If you convinced them to convert (buy/subscribe/...) but they did not leave satisfied with the product, they will not want to come again.
If that's not the case (hopefully), then they come to the next stage in the funnel:
3.4. Loyalty Stage.
Here's the phase where the converted lead, once satisfied, stays around as a loyal customer for further purchases (or whatever the goal of conversion is).
One way to ensure loyalty, let's say, with a satisfied customer, would be to offer them an excellent customer service. In doing so, you let the customer know that they can trust you in further transactions, since you've proven that you care about their needs and deliver. Which leads me to the next point:
As the French author - Larry Page - would say:
Always deliver more than expected.I just copied this quote from my frontpage, I thought it would make sense.
The point is clear. If you can go an extra step in customer satisfaction, go it.
Let's say that you're working as a freelance full stack web dev consultant - like me - and that you're carrying out the development of a site. One thing that could make the interaction more convenient would be creating a shared document with the client in which you keep track of the project. Thus, the client doesn't have to worry so much about how things are going since they know firsthand.
The client doesn't pay for the website. They pay for the huge burden you take off them. The more of a burden you take off them the more added value they percieve in your brand, and therefore the longer they stick around.
Another key point when it comes to customer loyalty is learning to take feedback.
It is crucial not only that you design the channel for communication adequately, but that you pay attention and see the hitns that they leave behind.
This could be integrated in a number of different ways:
- Through the comment section.
- Through e-mail.
- Feedback form in your website.
- Social networks.
The last point to be made on this stage is that you should create engagement with the converted lead.
This links back to all the content creation, proper branding, etc...
But this is a topic to huge to discuss here, so I'll leave it for another article.
3.5 Advocacy Stage.
Here's where the lead - not only converted - but also became loyal. So loyal that it is now seeking to give you more leads?!
And you thought the funnel process ended with the conversion...
This stage - to make it sound familiar - is when you like so much a song that you share it with a friend.
Or when you subscribed to that channel and shared it with a crowd on Facebook.
Or when you loved the service you received from that web developer and recommendend him to your friend who happened to need one.
This is what a satisfied, converted lead usually does. However, you can greatly increase the odds by keeping a few of these in mind:
You need a strong web presence, that means that you have all the channels covered:
-and most importantly:
Being on all social media for this single reason:
Now that the converted lead knows firsthand that the quality of your product is good, they would not hesitante about sharing your content on social media, so that their peers get the chance to benefit from your value.
What we can take from here is that a converted lead that generates more leads is in fact an asset - that's why we said we nurture it at the Consideration Stage. Now it has grown into a lead that generates more revenue for you, by ensuring that more leads enter the funnel and hopefully the greatest amount convert.
We should not forget about the customer once they converted - in fact - it is now when we should care the most.
A satisfied customer is the greatest way to demonstrate credibility, that's why we take care of them, so they give us more satisfied customers. Which, in fact, gives us even more credibility.
Funnels are a concept to guide you and give you perspective on how to articulate your website for optimal conversion rates.
There's too much to discuss about this topic, but with this you might get a general idea.
You don't have to plan this all by yourself:
In fact, you can hire a full stack web developer like me.
If you can find someone who knows and understands these steps well, you will be able to relax more and let them do the hard work for you.
It is obviously important that you can understand these principles so you can communicate with your web developer. But having someone who understands about it will greatly increase your odds for success.
Having a solid web presence, a working funnel and the right website, are the key to a massive increment in your sales.
In today's business, a company's website is the key to their entire businessMarcus Sheridan. Keynote Speaker, Author and Founder of The Sales Lion