Small businesses focus on sales first and foremost instead of focusing on the long-term passive income of developing a marketing funnel. You can work hard to meet monthly sales or work smart to build a database of customers. In today’s world of infinite supply, the game is changing rapidly, and competition grows every week. The only way to thrive as a business is through building trust in your brand and creating an emotional connection with your audience. The marketing funnel is not a new concept, yet its popularity surged only in the last ten years with the buzz around the online click funnel. Businesses are rushing to build their online funnel to get more leads but are finding the conversion rate very slim. The question is, why?
An effective marketing funnel consists of 4 key phases: Awareness, Interest, Action & Retention. Here are eight tips on how to develop an effective marketing funnel.
1. Awareness: Start with why
If you know your why, it’s easier to pick your how. A great marketing funnel always starts with a great vision. A powerful brand has at its core a purpose, a mission, and a vision to positively impact its entire industry and the world.
Here are three simple questions that will help you find your why.
Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?
Who are you?
We all have many hats we wear every day, and the same goes for your business. List everything you are as a business and as a business leader. It can range from being a mum or dad to an entrepreneur, an author, a plumber etc. Put all the roles that come to your mind down on paper.
What do you do?
Let’s now focus on what you do as a business and a business leader. Think of what you do now and your past achievements to get to where you are today. Some examples are, I fix cars, I clean houses, I bring happiness to people’s lives, I empower parents, I look after families’ wealth, I manage stress, etc. Get the main activity you do out then rephrase into an emotional value for your audience.
Why does it matter?
Why does what you do matter to you and your target audience? What drastic differences will you bring to the world through your business? What legacy will you leave? To find your purpose, you need to get your story out. Think about your accomplishment and failures. What is the series of events that brought you to where you are at today? What gaps have you identified in the market, and how do you fill these gaps? List the challenges you have faced in your journey. You are the hero of your story. Once you get your story out, you can see how you can inspire others through what has inspired you to create your business. Your story is what will become the foundation of your brand and help you make an emotional connection with your audience.
2. Awareness: Blow your own trumpet
You might know how good you are, but if others don’t, what good is it to your business? The key to growing your business to the next level is to assert your market position. Time to turn your purpose into a customer promise and promote it! Let the entire world know what you do and why you do it better than anyone else. Running your own business leaves no room for being shy about your achievements and capabilities. If it’s true, it’s not bragging!
Yes, that’s right, it’s time to own your awesomeness. Look at BMW’s slogan, “The ultimate driving machine”. They are not shying away from claiming the ultimate position in the customer’s mind. An even better example is, “I’m loving it” where McDonald’s goes a step further and puts words in the consumer’s mouth. So, don’t be humble if you are the best in your field, claim it! Obscurity is the worst enemy of business, yet most small businesses don’t claim their title. You also need to get creative with your message and find a different way of explaining your core purpose and consumer promise to capture your audience’s interest. Find a catchy phrase and be bold. No one will pick better over best. Be the best in your area of expertise and own it!
3. Interest: Repeat, repeat & repeat
It’s not just what you say; it’s how often you say it. A message sinks in only if you repeat it over a period. We all know that repetition is reinforcement, yet most businesses do an ad, a video or even a blog and only share it once. That’s just precious content wasted. Frequency is everything when it comes to marketing, especially as you are aiming at increasing your share of mind. The more you repeat a statement, the more people will start believing in it.
Coke built an entire brand on repetition. Repetition is the foundation upon which all successful brands rest. Coca-Cola has little to say about the virtues of its products; its sales success is primarily due to an astute advertising policy that always keeps the trade name in the face of its consumers. Repetition is used in advertising to keep a brand or product at the forefront of consumer’s minds. Repetition can build brand familiarity. Don’t be afraid of using the same piece of content across all media platforms and reusing again in a few months. Remember, people must see an advertisement at least nine times before they will acquire enough interest to consider acting on it. People tend to buy mostly from people they know. The more they see your business, your message and your brand, the more they feel they know you.
4. Interest: Be relevant or be gone
Content marketing is all about being relevant to your audience and the market. Having the right content is the hallmark of your marketing funnel. We are in the interest phase of the funnel, so pick topics that are relevant and exciting to your prospects. Are you offering them just a product or a service, or can you go a step further and solve other problems they have right now? Content marketing resides mainly on problem identification and proposing solutions. A simple yet effective way to create compelling content is to do a topic mind map. As an example, if you are targeting new mums, you can have a range of topics that will range from baby brain, baby tips, body image, mental health, sleep deprivation, baby milestones, organic baby food etc. You can use the same method with any target segment. Once you have at least 12 topics on your mind map, spread them over twelve months. That’s it! Your content marketing strategy is done and dusted for the next year. Each month spend some time writing a range of articles, banner ads and even video addressing one topic to generate interest from your audience and add value to your brand.
5. Action: Qualify fast
Don’t waste time barking at a tree. A marketing funnel is the place to qualify your potential customers. If you don’t convert in the first two phases, it means that your branding is not strong enough and you need a human to human interaction to complete the conversion.
A great way to get insights on how strong your brand is in the market is to analyse your funnel. Look at where exactly most prospects fall out of your funnel. If you have a call to action at every critical point of contact in your marketing funnel, you will be able to identify the weak links in your funnel. Each of the four phases reflects a vital part of the customer journey. A brand that has built trust and emotional value will convert in stage one or two. A brand that competes on price and benefits will convert later in the funnel and will need more convincing. The earlier someone converts, the less costly it is to acquire the customer. Banking on your brand awareness and generating interest might cost more at first. There is an initial investment in branding equity with little return, but this has a lasting effect on your audience and will cost much less in sales resources and marketing cost in the long run.
6. Action: Close the deal.
Calls to action are the baits in your funnel. The more calls to action (CTA) you have, the more chances of converting prospects earlier in your funnel. If the customer journey is long with twists and turns, it is hard to track if a section is working unless you have CTA in each one. A few examples of CTA in your funnels are, subscribe, call us, enter the draw, contact forms, action buttons, links, click-throughs, swipe up and the best one is BUY/BOOK NOW! Be bold and tell them what to do. There are two primary purposes for a call to action: to prompt someone to act or to entice your prospect to immerse into your brand experience. Doing some A/B testing on your various CTA also helps to determine which CTA appeals more to your audience.
There is no magic formula when it comes to a marketing funnel; you must go through a few trials to get it right. Without a CTA, you won’t see the types of conversion rates that you should. A CTA is always useful in your funnel. They are like gates that the prospect passes along the customer journey, and one of them will be the one they choose to enter. Most of the time, people listen to a call to action if the prepping work in the awareness and interest phases of the funnel has already conditioned them to act. The CTA should be the little nudge they need to commit to a relationship with your brand.
7. Retention: Nurture the relationship
Now that you have engaged the prospect give them a reason to stay. This is just the beginning of your relationship with your potential new customer. The best part of the marketing funnel is the creation of your database, a database of interested and engaged customers who feel your brand has something relevant to offer them.
Database marketing is particularly useful for growing businesses. A customer base segmented into smaller groups will generate vast amounts of transaction data. The larger the initial data set, the more opportunities that exist to reach groups of customers or prospects with customised communication and offers. To start, use some simple demographic segmentation of gender, age and event location will help you create customised and dynamic retargeted marketing campaigns. A simple yet effective way to market to your database is to send Electronic Direct Mail (EDM). An EDM is not just a newsletter; it is a carefully drafted piece of communication with multiple calls to action. Some even say it’s a start for your next funnel. EDMs contain news, offers, articles, videos, and even information about new products.
Most businesses send out passive newsletters instead of creating proactive EDMs. An EDM should be used to tell at least three different things about your business which will strengthen your brand. An example would be to have an offer section, a story section, and a tip section. A lot of companies get complacent with their database. It can get messy quickly, which results in them doing the monthly mass newsletter instead. Database marketing should be the most exciting part of your marketing funnel as you have to come up with new tricks every month to keep the engagement high and upsell, cross-sell and offer repeat sales at no added marketing costs. It’s is the holy grail of marketing.
8. Retention: What’s next?
The funnel and the database you have now created is an infinite source of new data for your business. Analytics and reports you get from an audience’s behaviour in your marketing funnel will be the trigger for new ideas for your business growth strategy. Today a business either evolves or dies. Data analysis is an eye-opener for market disruptors who use big data to look for gaps in the market and fill those gaps as soon as possible with new products.
Your marketing funnel becomes your insight into New Product Development (NPD) ideas and a way to identify flaws in your offer to your client. Use the funnel to gather even more data through NPS, surveys and even just small polls here and there. Run a competition with your database to collect specific data about a product or a service. Start a conversation with them through SMS. Why not do a forum on zoom? You can even do a focus group with segments of your database. Getting your database involved in the future development of your brand and products helps your customers build a better connection to your brand. You could ask them to submit ideas for your product design and win a prize for it. Database marketing is a two-way strategy and is the area of the marketing funnel where you switch from push marketing to pull marketing.
Developing a marketing funnel may seem complicated at first, but you can always start small. Create a simple funnel beginning with a key message, an awareness campaign, and a call to action. Then start developing a landing page where you can engage your prospects while growing your web traffic. Look at the stats – that’s your reward at the end of the day. You will see the engagement rise as you become more active in your funnel. Once you start collecting contacts in your database, you will feel excited about your marketing funnel, and you will have a marketing labyrinth in no time.