Image by Samuel J. Woods — Growth Marketer

What Is A Marketing Funnel And Why Should You Care?

Hint: Because it’s the basic requirement of a successful online business.

A marketing funnel is what takes a potential customer through the whole journey from discovering your business, all the way to purchasing your products on a regular basis.

The goal is to create a highly automated system that is measurable at any point in the customer journey.

Let’s just say that you are selling four main products:

  1. A book
  2. An online course
  3. Seminars
  4. A one-on-one coaching program

It’s highly unlikely that somebody comes across your name, researches everything that you have to offer, and then immediately decides to buy your most expensive one-on-one coaching program.

In fact, that hardly ever happens.

For customers to purchase your products, they first need to be convinced that they are making a good investment. They need to trust you. They need to feel like the risk is relatively low.

In short, they need to ‘get to know you’ through a process. They need to have different touch points with you over time. They need to see consistent value from you over time.

And that’s what a marketing funnel does.

It takes your customers from the first point of hearing about you (e.g. through your blog or through an interview you gave on Youtube) and takes them through all the steps until they become frequent buyers of your products.


The three layers of a marketing funnel.

1. The prospecting system.

A prospecting system is basically a way of getting a prospective customer to know you and getting them to receive regular updates from you (e.g. by subscribing to your e-mail list or by following your Medium account).

This is what most people instinctively build and focus the large majority of their energy on.

Why?

Because it is the most visible of the three.

When we try to look at what other ‘successful’ businesses in our field are doing, we immediately get to see their prospecting system. This is all the stuff they do on their blog, on social media, the PR work they are doing and so on and so forth.

Everything that gets prospects to stay in touch with their business on a regular basis, really.

The golden grail of this stage is to get your potential customers to become subscribers of your e-mail list. Why? Because you have full control over this channel and you can measure the outcomes of what happens with your e-mail subscribers clearly.

Once you have gotten people through this stage, you can:

  • reach them at any point in time
  • track how they respond to your offers
  • adjust your marketing accordingly

2. The sales conversion system.

A sales conversion system is basically everything that happens once you have gotten somebody to subscribe to one of your channels. What you want to do is to slowly build trust with your potential customers and then eventually to convert him or her to buying one of your products.

You continuously provide value through things like free weekly newsletters, podcasts, free reports and so on and so forth, and then you occasionally share one of your products with your target customer.

Your system automatically keeps track of who bought and who didn’t buy.

If somebody didn’t buy, you can send them follow up e-mails asking why they didn’t buy and what their objections were. You can use these as data points that will tell you more about how you should market your products in the future.

Obviously, customers sometimes just aren’t ready to buy.

They might really want to join your coaching program, but they just don’t have the money to pay for it. A good system will allow you to track such things and then get back to your potential customers later.

Or, you might find that one of your customers simply wasn’t aware of one of your lower-priced products.

So you can offer that to them.

Mostly, the first point of sale is going to be one of your entry-level products. In the case of the business model outlined above, that would be your book (which is the cheapest product you have to offer).

You will have to find subtle ways of reminding your potential customers on a regular basis that your book is still available for purchase.

They might not buy the first time you offer it to them.

But they might buy it the seventh time.

Again, a good system keeps track of where your customers are in the life cycle and then adjusts your offering accordingly.

3. The system to maximize customer lifetime value.

The people who have already bought from you also are the people who are potentially the most valuable to your business. People who buy from you once and are happy with the experience, are much more likely to buy again.

So you need a system that caters to people who have already purchased one or more products from you.

You need to keep track of who purchased what products.

And you can offer these people those products, which they haven’t bought yet.

Let’s say that Peter just bought your book. At the end of the book, Peter finds a listing of other products you have to offer. At this point, he just isn’t ready yet to make such a purchase.

Perhaps he currently has money problems. Perhaps he is currently going through other issues in life. Perhaps he just wanted to read a good book and currently isn’t trying to solve the problem that your courses solve.

And that’s all okay.

But Peter’s situation might change. Maybe six months later, he desperately needs the solution that you have to offer. And yet, he might have forgotten about it completely.

That’s where your system comes into play.

Occasionally, it sends out a subtle message to Peter, reminding him that your product is still there for him to buy whenever he is ready.

Obviously, you can’t keep track of such things for every single of your customers by yourself. That’s why a good marketing funnel automates this process for you and keeps track of the data automatically.


Conclusion:

A marketing funnel is a system that provides the right solution at every step of the customer journey. The better it keeps track of customer data and the more automated it is, the more successful it will be at driving results.

Essentially, you will need a system that:

  • Gets people to know you
  • Turns those people who discover you into e-mail subscribers
  • Remains in touch with your e-mail subscribers, provides value for them and builds trust
  • Converts them from consumers of your free stuff into buyers
  • Delivers a great customer experience for them
  • Upsells your products & maximizes customer lifetime value

A marketing funnel is deliberately designed to go in line with your overall business model. It keeps track of results, automates the process, and reduces the amount of time you yourself need to invest into the process.

This system allows you to know exactly at which point of the customer journey every single person in your database is at which point in time.

All you need to do now is to tailor your marketing messages accordingly, craft compelling copy and you will get the results you are looking for.


Call to action:

I’ve put together a free step-by-step guide on how to turn your blog into a profitable business. You can get the guide by clicking here.

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