What is a Funnel? How does it help my Online Business?
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What is a Funnel? How does it help my Online Business?
Beginners Guide to Today’s Online Marketing & Strategies
You’ve more than likely come across the word ‘Funnel’ in your online business journey, but just What is a ‘Funnel’? & How does it benefit your online business? It’s used in so many scenarios that understandably it can feel confusing. In this beginners guide we’ll lift that confusion fog, plus how to plan & implement your funnel.
I was confused, ignored it & didn’t understand how beneficial it could be. Until I decided to analyse what I kept coming across & delve a bit more. I mean it keeps coming up so there had to be something about it, right?
Scroll down or use these quick links to your desired section
Let’s begin …
The ‘Funnel Concept’
I initially thought it was just about another tool / app / software marketers were trying to sell me, & yes there are many. But ultimately I realised it’s a concept used in online business.
‘Funnel’ is an interesting choice of word for this concept that marketers have coined. Yet I now understand why.
It’s not the word as much as what its’ shape represents.
We’re all familiar with the funnel in our physical world that helps us pour something into a narrower opening of another container. If we pour a litre of water into a big enough container with the narrower opening we get a litre of water in that container.
However in online business the ‘Funnel Concept’ doesn’t give us a litre for a litre. It’s a marketing strategy to hone in, no matter what you’re honing in on. The benefit is it saves you time as you’re more focused to achieve your goal as opposed to being all over the place.
The Core Definition
‘Funnel Concept’ is creating an automated Marketing Strategy designed to
♦ Raise awareness of your business
♦ Attract a large pool of potential customers to your business
♦ Take them on a journey to take action to your desired goal
♦ On the journey that large pool of potential customers will thin out so you are left with only those that are truly interested in what you have to offer
Ultimately it helps you
♦ Identify & understand your true ideal customers
♦ Helps with your research in how & where to attract more ideal customers
♦ Helps you create more offers that serves them which they want
♦ If they’re not quite who you expected, it helps you fine tune your offers
♦ Quicker route to achieving your business goals (Audience, Traffic, Sales, …)
Why Do You Need An Offer Funnel?
As a successful business owner your job is to create the right information and content to lead your audience from awareness to purchase. A great way to do that is through creating an offer funnel as opposed to randomly setting up pages & links online where you hope to capture the trust of the reader and make a sale.
You’ll match each stage of your audience’s buying cycle to the content that helps them become a paying customer or to move through your funnel, buying more expensive products or services.
So it is important to learn about offer funnels so that you can automate this process of creating awareness, gathering leads, and following up with prospects so that you can seamlessly increase sales.
Stages of an Offer Funnel
At the top of the funnel is awareness. This is done by the freely available content you put out online using internet marketing techniques such as blogging, social media, branding, advertisements, organic search, and SEO.
These things will bring your audience to your website. All you have to do is describe their problems, educate them about them, and yourself (your business), and the solutions you can provide to them while maintaining a consistent brand using different types of content.
At some point during the awareness phase a percentage of your audience will take up your offer(s). By completing an opt-in form giving you their email address to receive the offer, this will get them on your list. These people are considered leads.
You can offer anything of value to your audience which they will use and trade their email address for. By offering a helpful solution that solves one of their problems in the form of a checklist, eBook, short report, webinar, is valuable.
At this point… Once they are on your list you will start sending information to your leads via email to get them to become prospects.
A prospect is someone who has already proven to want what you have to offer because they signed up for your opt-in above. You’ll send them email follow-ups with ‘know, like & trust’ content that nurtures the prospect so that they become a paying customer.
Each entry point to your list is usually associated with a freebie or product. Choosing that item puts the customer on a specific path and email list according to the item he or she chooses. But the products, paths, and lists should change, somewhat, with each decision made.
You can segment your prospects depending on the action they take into separate lists to better serve & direct them. This is a useful beneficial automating feature used in email marketing.
For example: if a woman and a man choose the same freebie, each chooses it for a slightly different reason or motivation. If with the next choice, the man picks the “Dad” item and the woman chooses the “Mom” item, the list can be segmented or divided into two additional paths – one for “Mom” and one for “Dad”. This makes it easier for you to market to Moms’ needs as well as to Dads’ because each is added to a different list, specifically to meet that groups’ needs.
In amongst the email follow-ups mentioned above periodically include content that encourages sales. This could be in the form of small reports, case studies, how-to articles, videos, and webinars with links to the product you are promoting / selling.
Eventually, a percentage of your prospects will move all the way through your various offer funnels buying what you’re recommending.
The content you provide to your audience needs to be designed to encourage them to buy more of what you offer due to the solutions you provide. This content will make your customers feel loyal, part of the group, and special.
As you see, an offer funnel is a very powerful way to weed out unqualified leads, get the attention of your ideal audience, and gently encourage your prospects to become customers. It doesn’t need to be pushy, or even sales like. You can simply use content, and solutions, to help your audience achieve their goals.
So What does a basic ‘Funnel’ look like?
Let’s take a look…
Basically you’d create a marketing strategy to drive traffic to your lead capture page and opt-in offer. You then send your new leads email messages and drive them to your sales page. It’s basic but it demonstrates the point and if you only have one product this is what your funnel would likely look like.
For Lead Generation:
⇒ Create Website Content SEO optimised with Opt-in Form & Call to Action (CTA)
⇒ Share on Social Media your Website Content for Traffic Generation
⇒ Audience comes to Website Content
⇒ Audience enters their email address in the Lead Capture Opt-in Form
⇒ After submitting their details the person is directed to your Thank You Page to get the promised offer or information of how to access it.
⇒ Plus they have triggered your Email Autoresponder Sequence.
For Sales Generation:
Following on from Lead Generation …
⇒ Within the Email Autoresponder Sequence you have a link to the Sales Page
⇒ Lead comes to the Sales Page with a ‘Buy Now’ type link to purchase the product
If it is your own product your buyer would …
⇒ Be redirected to your Thank You Page
⇒ & trigger another of your Email Autoresponder Sequences
How to Plan Your Offer Funnel?
As we go into the 6 steps, take action in making notes of your thoughts/ideas on each step.
Funnels can be very simple or very complex & multi directional (funnels within funnels). For beginners it’s best to start with a simple funnel. In time you can build another funnel that is independent or interlink it with another.
The first step is deciding what goal you want your funnel to achieve…
1. ‘Funnel’ Goals
As an online business owner your ultimate goal is to be profitable to the X value you’ve determined to make your ‘Why’ a reality. To achieve this you have many ‘Mini Goals’ that ‘funnels’ can be applied to, such as:
- Creating a Leads List
- Building a Prospects List (converting leads into prospects)
- Building a Buyers List (converting prospects into buyers)
- Making Sales
Each of the above can be broad or broken down further to a specific topic/interest or product.
If you’re just starting out or struggling to gain traction in your online business start with the more long-term success option/goal of creating a leads list. This is where you aren’t thinking about a sale the very first, second or even third time your visitors meets you, but where you build trust to enjoy a lengthy relationship online with repeat sales.
What is your ‘Funnel’ Goal?
2. What is your Offer?
Now that you know what your goal is, the next step is to know what you can offer to achieve that goal. A great offer is one that solves one issue in their lives & gives a quick win.
Get inside the mind of the consumer. What you’re offering to them on the first experience has to have ample value and put up zero to few obstacles in their decision to opt-in.
Think of the last email list you opted into or product you bought. Analyse the ‘why’ you opted in or bought it.
Now put yourself in the shoes of your targeted market…what are they interested in doing/knowing that you yourself could give them in exchange for their email address?
♦ Access to an email course or a video that shows them how to accomplish something that’s tied to their want/need?
♦ A report that shows them how to get from point A to point B in the fewest steps possible?
What ONE problem / need are you solving?
Why does your audience need / want it?
What format is your offer (email, report, video, …) ?
3. Think of your Opt in form
⇒ Come up with an Attention Grabbing Headline related to your offer.
⇒ Come up with attention grabbing copy/content related to your offer & Headline.
⇒ Think of where you are going to place it on your website – in a sidebar, top or bottom of your posts, in the footer …
Is your offer specific to a blog post or something useful to all visitors?
⇒ What enticing Call to Action (CTA) could you use on the opt-in button? Eg: Subscribe Now; I Want In; Let Me Have It; Yes Please; …
⇒ Once they have opted in where will you redirect them? To a Thank You page with information on how they will get access to the offer they opted in for or to another page/post on your website. A thank you page is a great idea. This is where you can make them feel appreciated, more excited about the offer they’ve opted in for.
For inspiration take a look at 2 or 5 websites you like to follow in the niche you’re in but with the eyes of a marketer – not a buyer. Take note of your favourite 2.
Links to your favourite 2 Opt-In form examples:
What is your Headline?
What is your copy/content?
Where will you be placing your Opt-In form?
What is your Call to Action?
Where are you redirecting them to after opting in?
4. How are you going to deliver your offer?
Depending on what you’re offer is & where you have it stored will help you decide how you’re going to deliver it.
♦ Email course = autoresponder segmented to course email sequence
♦ Video unlisted on YT = link
♦ Ebook = download link
BUT will you give them access to your offer from a Thank You page or their Welcome Email, or both?
Links to your favourite 2 Opt-In form examples:
Where is your offer stored?
How will you deliver it?
5. Follow up emails
Come up with 5 to 10 emails you can send to your new lead at a regular interval to nurture your ‘know, like & trust’ relationship with your new lead.
These emails don’t have to be lengthy. They can just briefly cover 1 or 2 points with some type of Call to Action. CTA’s could be:
⇒ link to blog post that expands on tip discussed
⇒ link to another related resource / idea
⇒ a task to accomplish
⇒ to reply to your email
» The first one would be triggered immediately –
a Welcome / Thank You & how to access offer they opted in for
» The second one could be 2 days later –
Giving encouragement / tip related to the content in the offer they opted in for
CTA: could be link to blog post that expands on tip discussed
» 2/3 days later –
Include a surprise gift
» & so on…
List your 5 to 10 emails. For each decide on your …
Subject / Headline:
Call to Action Ideas:
Trigger interval (days):
6. How are you going to share / promote your offer?
The simplest would be on a social media platform. Create a post(s) that has intrigue/value so that your audience is encouraged to click through to your website to find out more & be exposed to your opt-in form.
Share / promote what:
Share / promote on:
Putting it all together
The good news is if you took action on the 6 planning steps above, you’re almost there to reap the rewards.
Now just go back over the 6 steps & create / put in place each item.
Once in place test it all, making sure everything works as it should. Go through as though you are you’re target audience & experience the funnel as they would. Tweak / fix anything that isn’t right.
Testing done, everything is working / looking as it should – GREAT! Go ahead & promote.
What is a Funnel?
A ‘Funnel’ is a marketing strategy, which can be automated, to lead your target audience from awareness to your business goal.
It matches each stage of your audience’s buying cycle to content that creates awareness, gathers leads, and follows up with prospects so that you can seamlessly increase sales.
On the journey that large pool of potential customers will thin out so you are left with only those that are truly interested in what you have to offer.
This is achieved using a combination of internet marketing techniques & tools covered in this post “What is Internet Marketing?
– Beginners Guide to Today’s Online Marketing & Strategies”.
How does it help your Online Business?
The benefit is it saves you time as you’re more focused to achieve your goal as opposed to being all over the place.
Hopefully you now have a good understanding of “What is a Funnel?” & “How does it help my Online Business?”
So what is your ‘funnel’ goal? …
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Wow, this concept confuses me a lot unit now. I’m a new affiliate marketer and I’ve been hearing about sales funnel, but don’t know how to implement it on my website. And yes, I thought it to be some kind of software of some sort. Now I know how importance sales funnel is to online businesses. It saves a ton of time doing one thing repeatedly. No wonder lots of email autoresponder are some popular these days. I’ve not started using one but do you know of any good autoresponder that can be best fit for sales funnel?
Hi Kelvin, I get how confusing it all can be. Glad you got value with this post. Funnels are a marketing concept & there are also apps/software to help create & automate them.
I have found a very popular funnel builder. Actually right now it is all the buzz. It is free for life & you can find it here, check it out. They also have loads of free training too & a huge community full of experienced funnel users.
To your success! 🙂
Actually Brigitte, this is the first time I am hearing of funnel in an online business platform, well that’s because I am still a new member to affiliate marketing, so the word funnel is a concept and not an app wow! This is interesting and it actually helps in automating market strategy and it helps in understanding true customers and how to attract customers and lot more. It was a nice lesson with you Brigitte.
Hi Maureen, yes funnel is a marketing concept. There are also apps out there that help you set up & automate your funnels. A popular free lifetime one I’ve come across, which you might find useful can be found here.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Best wishes with your business. 🙂
Hello there! Thank you very much for sharing this article. I’ve gone gone through it and it’s a well detailed article and it contains valuable information. This is my first time hearing of funnels and how it can help my online business . I’m glad I came across this article because if I hadn’t, I won’t know if it. I’ll share this article with friends and family, thank you
Hi Sophie, I know what you mean. Our business journey is a discovery journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Glad you found value & I wish you success. 🙂
Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoyed going through your review as it contains valuable information’s one needs to be aware of to build on their online business. Personally for me i have always heard the word funnel but i have never tried to read more about it, thanks for sharing this
Hey Philebur thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m happy you found value. I hope it encourages you & wish you success with your business. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing with us such a wonderful article on the funnel. A funnel is basically a marketing tool through which the customer is converted into lead generation. Using Funnel, it is possible for any customer to bring sales to the main sales page. I have my own online business so I also use the funnel and can easily bring the target audience to my sales page. And this is how my online business is expanding by selling products.
Thanks Arman for sharing your enjoyment of this post & how you’re having success with funnels. Best wishes for your continued success. 🙂
This is one vital information and I’ll love to get it noted somewhere. I have been new to online business and I have been going around getting all the important information I’ll need to help me grow. Creating a funnel as you have explained here would have some very interesting impact on your business and it will help you grow. Social media will be a great idea and place to get customers
Absolutely Reece having funnels will help you grow your business. So glad you found value here & best wishes with your funnels. 🙂
I must say it’s very thoughtful of your o put this article out here, this is actually the first time I’m reading extensively about what a funnel is and how it can be used to affect our online business. I’m so lucky to have this, I’ve gained a lot from it and it’s so understandable. Funnel will help a lot in making money easier to make online. I’d love to check out about it.
Glad you got a lot out of this article. Best wishes to applying your funnel to grow your business. 🙂
Thank you for bringing clarifications to the term funnels. You know I have seen people throwing this world around on the online space but because I have no knowledge of it, I kept on getting into it the wrong manner. It Is a good thing finally understanding what it means and how to actually maximize its use. Thank you fit sharing here with us
Hi Darmi, glad this has helped you have an understanding. I wish you success in creating your funnel to grow your business. 🙂
Thanks so very much for this enlightening article on the Funnel Concept!
It is a very good concept that actually works even for traditional brick and mortar businesses. You start off with a huge pool of customers (and I mean it’s worthwhile creating massive awareness and hype e.g. by means of launch functions), then the pool thins out with time. So the more you start off with, the merrier really!
I have come across people who for various reasons are hesitant to venture out and create awareness of the existence of their business and what it offers. Their hope being that clients will be Ambassadors of the business / service. My response to them has always been, “go big, or go home”!
Hi Teboho, absolutely funnels are a great way to grow your business online or offline. 🙂