Marketing Funnels Simplified

Episode 3 March 24, 2024 00:28:31
Marketing Funnels Simplified
Marketing Funnels Simplified

Mar 24 2024 | 00:28:31


Hosted By

Nina Alexander

Show Notes

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Debullshified, where we take a deeper look into marketing funnels. In this episode we explain what funnels are and how they work, but we also look at a fact that’s rarely discussed: that marketing/sales funnels bow to statistics, ultimately conforming to the science of averages, a.k.a. mediocrity.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the third episode of the Bullshit Fight where we talk about marketing, business and life. This podcast is for critical thinkers, savvy entrepreneurs, and curious minds of all walks of life. Here we worship now gods, nor celebrities. We learn, we laugh, and we think independently. In this episode, we continue with marketing and business and we'll tackle a topic that is sparking a lot of controversy in the digital marketing world. Some people love it, some hate it, but I have never come across anyone who doesn't have a strong opinion about it. I'm referring to marketing funnels or sales funnels. Take your pick. The reason I'm saying marketing or sales is because ultimately it is the exact same thing. And the only difference is how we treat people who have gone through the different stages. It's much like picking your nose. Everyone does it. It is what happens after that differentiates us. But I digress. Let's start from the beginning. What are funnels? [00:00:56] Funnels are a predesigned process which aims to capture leads, aka people, and convert them to customers by following some steps. Most common funnels you will have come across follow the structure of somebody sees an ad, they click on the ad, they go over to a landing page and they have some sort of a sign up form in exchange for a guide, a trial, a free course, whatever. On the back of that they get a series of emails and then the funnel ends. Those emails will obviously try and push them towards a specific action. Some aggressive funnel techniques involve a phone call at some point in the process. Some funnels include a series of 1020 or even more emails. Some funnels contain a series of videos and might even have a free course in the process. [00:01:43] All funnels are different and how you will structure them will depend on what it typically takes to get a person to buy from you. [00:01:51] Funnels are and will always be a numbers game. If you've done a good job, you will get people from on step one, you'll get a lot of people. In most cases, fewer and fewer people will progress over to the next step. So if you do a great ad, then more of the people that see it will click on the ad. Out of the people that click on the ad, some percentage will go ahead and actually download whatever it is and give you their contact details. Out of those people that give you their contact details, only a fraction is going to stay on your email list and won't unsubscribe after an email or two. And then out of those, only a very small fraction will end up buying from you. This is why? I'm saying it's a numbers game. Ultimately, it is working to increase these numbers that most marketer and business owners will spend the majority of their time. [00:02:43] But why would you want to have a funnel for your business? The key thing about funnels is that they will allow you to communicate with customers at scale. See, if you hire a sales team to do cold calling every single day, there is a finite number of calls that a person can do in any given time. Even the fastest, most efficient salesperson won't be able to go through perhaps more than 50 or 70 calls a day. And that is if they're not very fond of water and don't need many loop breaks. But if you want the opportunity to reach out to a larger audience, a funnel will help you do that and will enable you to gather statistical data about your average customer and tailor your performance over time so you can optimize how quickly and easily you convert them from hesitant to paying. [00:03:32] The same thing is valid if you do any type of banner advertising, TV advertising, or any other type of ad that doesn't have a digital process on the back of it. So if you just do TV advertising, how do you know how many people have become your clients on the back of that? You can't. The same is true for, let's say, banners or billboards on the road. But digital funnels, unlike all of those methods of advertising, do allow you to keep track of the number of people that go through the different steps, and then allow you to see if any optimization that you may do over each one of those steps will make a difference. [00:04:11] Here is a warning label. I must warn you that since statistics is the science of averages and funnels are based on statistics, the same will apply to any data that you capture with your funnels. The same meaning it will be the science of averages. [00:04:28] Whilst it doesn't sound like a bad thing, you must know that averages mean that all your least potential customers will probably not fall into your funnel, but also that your best potential customers will not fall into your funnel. Just imagine a bell curve. This is the most typical chart that you have seen in statistics. It's the line that is very close to the main line, to the axis at the start, and then it bulges in the middle and then goes right down at the end. [00:05:02] That is what most statistically based work focuses on. It's the people who fall right in the middle, the biggest chunk of people who always will always be right there in the middle. But see, there is always a risk of optimizing for averages. So if you end up optimizing for those people in the middle, you will not give those people at the start what they need, but also you're not going to give the people at the end what they need. If you need a prime example on how working for averages is executed in worldwide scenario, imagine any national wide decision that is made by any government. It is made for the average citizen. But those who fall out of societies for reasons within or beyond their control, as well as those who lead societies by creating and progressing. Both these groups fall out of the services of government and are neglected, although in a very different way. So if you decide to create a funnel, be mindful of the risk of becoming average. If you will allow me, I would like to put this into perspective. Average equals mediocre. You are neither the worst, but you're not, unfortunately, the best version of yourself when you optimize for averages. And what that ultimately means is that you end up working with the average, aka mediocre customer. [00:06:29] With that in mind, you can still benefit from a funnel even if you're targeting the top end of your market. As a general market particularly, you can take advantage of a funnel if you have enough resource to work on the funnel without distracting your main gain. When I say resource, I'm talking about people. I am talking about time. I am talking about financial means to do that. [00:06:50] And that takes me over to the next step. How to structure a funnel. Since all funnels are different and I couldn't possibly cover all options in a single episode, I will take a sample, one that I was recently working on. The purpose of the funnel was to get people to book a call with a consultant because it was based in a business to business service environment. As with every funnel, this one too had a funnel starting point, second funnel step, funnel backbone and a funnel exit. These are the four steps that I see every funnel having. Starting point, second step, backbone and exit. So let's review all of these stages one by one. We'll start, obviously with the funnel starting point. Now, whilst many funnels use ads as their entry point or their starting point, this doesn't have to be the case. If you are good at content creation, if you're good at search engine optimization, if you have the time and the resource that these things require, you absolutely must have a funnel that has organic search as starting point. So let's cover the two options, paid and organic. We'll start with a paid funnel entry. If your funnel starts with any type of advertising, then it goes without saying that your ads should be relevant to what will be happening in the next steps that your leads are going to go through. Simply put, you cannot advertise bananas and then take people through a funnel about strawberry cheesecakes. Now, different type of advertising will work well for different brands, but one of the areas in which most businesses participate is search advertising, aka the promoted links that you see when you search for specific stuff in Google. [00:08:29] Google search advertising is a university, or at least a college degree in its own right, and it is also one of the topics that most marketers fear because of the constant updates and upgrades by Google that just keep you on your dose. In reality, it's not that complicated to the point in which a person with a reasonable understanding of technology won't be able to figure it out. But it will take time. It will take working with the platform daily and it will cost you. And for your information, these are not opinions, these are facts. [00:09:00] Nevertheless, working with search ads is worth it if your customers would search for you on Google, which is practically almost everyone don't believe in the whole Google is dead. Youngsters are using TikTok for search propaganda that sound marketers are blasting right now. I have two things to say to that. One, even Gen Z and Gen Alpha know well that some information will not be on TikTok. And two, those who control the money, aka millennials and Gen X, still use Google and will continue to do so for the next 20 years. So tell all TikTok fanatic marketers to cool it off. TikTok is an important channel by all means, but it is just that. It is just one channel. But again, I digress. So the entry point to your funnel can be paid ads. And as it was in my case, the ads would lead over to landing page and they would offer a lead magnet for downloading. And if you have listened to my previous episode about lead magnets, you would know that this would be a type of digital asset that is beneficial for that audience. So people would see an ad, they would go over to a landing page, and they would see something that they would want to read because it would help them with their business. With search ads, you get to specify the terms that people would search for and then the sentence fragments that they will see as a result. This is what Google will allow you to add. They will give you a few fragments of sentences that the algorithm will then combine on its own to serve the most relevant outcome to the person who's searching. So they will tailor the ad that somebody sees based on what exactly they've put in the search bar. But obviously the sentence fragments that you feed them have to also be relevant. So you have two options when you're doing this. One is to use generic, very broad terminology. If for argument's sake, you sell gaming keyboards with like super high profile, and this is your specialty, you can either capture anyone who is searching for gaming keyboards, or you can focus on capturing those who are searching for high profile gaming keyboards. So as you would imagine, the more specific you are, the more likely people searching for the product or service are to move over to the next step or aka buy from you. Because obviously they are searching for exactly what you have to offer. If somebody's searching for high profile keyboards and you show up, great. If somebody just searching for a gaming keyboard, maybe high profile isn't exactly what they're looking for. So out of these two possible audiences, the one searching for specifically what you've got is going to be more targeted. So if you target generally, you will capture all searches. Perhaps not all of those will be relevant to you. However, don't ignore them. People who didn't search for your exact product are not necessarily a bad audience. Perhaps they just didn't even know that your product or service was an option. Maybe the person who's searching for gaming keyboards didn't realize that there were high profile gaming keyboards or didn't know what wording to use to even express that. So whatever path you choose to follow, please ensure that the sentence fragments that you provide are relevant to what you have to offer. This is ridiculously important. I don't mean to shout, but please listen. [00:12:31] When you are doing search ads, you will often be presented to people who have never heard of you. This is the first time ever when they will see your name, your brand, your shop. If your ads promise high profile keyboards, make sure that the link you send them to has high profile keyboards. Nothing will destroy your reputation faster than what is practically letting people down by saying one thing in the ad and then giving them something different on the landing page. And here, don't even play with perception. We're not talking about perception. If you're promising high profile, do high profile. Don't. Don't do any of those. [00:13:09] Well, this could be accepted as a high profile. It either is or it isn't, and you can tell the difference. [00:13:16] So when I find a way to summarize this in this words, I will be printing t shirt. But for the time being, please write it down somewhere. If I promise bananas, I must give bananas. Perhaps this should go on a t shirt. Now let's move on. So let's talk about organic funnel entry. If you have decided that your funnel will be fed organic, and yeah, I heard that, then the entry point is going to be either a social media post or a link somewhere on your website. The simplest definition of organic, just to ensure that we are all on the same page here, is that this is a channel that you are not paying for with manure goods. It may be your social media profiles, it could be a Google Business profile, a link to a partner, a link on a partner website, an article that was written for you somewhere, quite literally anything that mentions you and that you didn't and don't have to pay for. Much like with advertising, your organic channels are going to have a front facing element, which may be what your prospects see first. If it's a social media post, it will be obviously the visual and the text. If it's a link on another website, it will be the description of that link. If it's a page on your website, it will be the title and the description of the page. Also called meta title and meta description. And just as with ads, just as with paid advertising, it is essential that whatever you say at the front facing element is what people will find when they click through the link. [00:14:44] Now remember, if you promise bananas, you must give bananas. Okay, now a side note on first impressions. [00:14:52] What I'll see next is just not necessarily rating, just funnels. But it is very commonly broken as a rule when funnels are created. And this is don't forget that when a person first come around, you are making the first impression. Whether they click through an ad, whether they click through a social media post, or maybe they found you in search engine, you get one chance to make a first impression. Don't let it be one of a scammer, please. Of course, your promotional descriptions will be flattering for your product, but they should not be misleading. All right, now let's move over to the second funnel step. The second funnel step of most funnels is going to usually be a landing page that people will click through from the ads, social media posts, Google search, et cetera. There is a lot that can be said about funnel landing pages and a million gurus out there that will tell you how they have to be structured. So I will not pretend to have all answers, but different scenarios will work for different product services, et cetera. So here are the few things that I have learned over time about landing pages. First, break your landing pages into sections. The easiest way to design a landing page is to break it into sections and think of the titles of each section. In my case, the landing page had a hero banner where we had the call to action in the form that people would fill in. The second stage was details on the offering. Third section was testimonials. Fourth section was benefits. Fifth section was process. Then the 6th section was oh my God, that was a tongue twister. The 6th section was another section with benefits. Then I had an FAQ section, a customer carousel just to show you some of our customers, and then features like featured in this magazine and that magazine, et cetera. These were the sections that I started working with and I had those sections outlined before I started putting content into them. [00:16:58] Secondly, do not assume that people will scroll once they go onto the landing page. This translates into the conclusion that you have to put the most relevant information at the top of the landing page. If your ad is offering a quiz, for instance, make sure that the quiz is at the top along with the key information that you want. Your potential leads to see. You have to have your title there. They have to be able to see it first thing as the landing page opens up. [00:17:30] Then read each section of the landing page as an assistant to the one above it. The idea is that if the top section of your web of your landing page didn't get people to complete whatever it is that you ask them to do, then the next section should if the top one, for argument's sake, suggests that. [00:17:54] Sorry. [00:17:55] If the top section suggests that you offer the innovative interior design solutions, then the second section should show a variety of those interior innovative interior design solutions, then the section below it that can show awards that you have won, or completed projects or design ideas or testimonials. You see where I'm going with this? It has to be an assistant to the one above. Then number four, add value to your landing page. The saddest trend out there is that people don't think about adding any value to their landing pages. Unless you give away your email, you can only read promotional blubber. This is what your leads feel and if you think of it from the perspective of a consumer right now, you will see that this is true and it's quite unfortunate, wouldn't you agree? Now break the pattern and provide some value to your users. Here's the opportunity of them having clicked to get through to that page to establish yourself as an authority in your business. Besides, this will make them much more willing to give you their details in exchange for whatever you're offering, because they can already see that you bring value into their life. [00:19:07] And number five, on my personal list. Don't fence it out. You know how when you go to someone's website and click on the logo, it usually takes you back to the home page and you can see the menu like more information, et cetera. Well, most people deliberately remove this functionality from their landing pages when it comes to funnels. Whilst I agree that a full on menu might be a bit too distracting for your audience, I still don't believe in not allowing your leads to click through to your main site. [00:19:38] After all, if they are a bit hesitant, why won't you give them the opportunity to learn more before they make a step? Now, I find this to be a bad practice, but you can make your own decisions then your landing page's call to action. The main point of your landing page will be to get people to do something. So why go through the trouble of creating one if not right? In the example that I started with, we ask people for their name, their email address and a phone number in exchange for PDF guides. When they would complete the form, a second landing page would load and they would see another call to action, which was an invitation to book a free 30 minutes consultation to find out if the service was suitable to them. [00:20:25] Because there are effectively two landing pages, one after the other, and two calls to action. We call this a two step funnel. If you're creative and if it's suitable for your business, you can create yours to have more than a few steps. You can also use conditional logic. If, for instance, you offer training on leadership and you have two courses, one for middle level management and one for senior leadership. The first landing page may contain a form that allows people to download a guide. Now here is the plot twist on your phone. You can ask them about their position. Now, based on the answer, you can show them either a landing page for course one, which is for middle level management, or you can show them a landing page for course two, which is for senior leadership, you can also send them a different guide. Modern automation tools will allow you to create very advanced scenarios based on the behaviors or answers of your audience. Which obviously leads me to my next point. And this is the funnel backbone. [00:21:31] The backbone of your funnel is effectively the logic of actions that happens once a lead, aka a person, completes a step one, whatever that step one is. I mean, it could be clicking on the ad, it could be filling in the form, it could be just about anything. The backbone should really be a diagram with an entry and an endpoint. Now, this should actually be the first thing that you create before you even start to write your ads or draft your landing page or create your lead magnet. Just take a piece of paper and pen and draw your diagram. When you read it out loud, it should include steps such as when a lead enters their details, add them to the CRM by creating an account for them. Add a lead source which is my new funnel for example, and maybe add a tag to that lead. Then assign them to my marketing department. So your marketing department is going to own that lead. Then send them an email with the guide that they have requested. Two days later, send them an email with the success story of Tom who used my products and cannot stop raving about them. Then another two days later, send them an email listing all the benefits of my products. Then two more days later, send them the last email of the sequence offering them a 20% new customer discount. Now obviously this is just one option. There is a lot more that you can do. You can hold email off until the first email has been read, until the link to download the guide has actually been clicked. From the first email that you send, you can include different links in the follow up emails and you can tailor the content based on what people engage with. The possibilities are so many with modern automation, and here are the best few tips that I can give you. First of all, invest in a diagramming tool. If you're serious about it, whatever tool you choose to use, invest in a diagramming solution that will allow you to design and maintain the logic of your funnels. And I'm not talking about the automation that you're going to have in there. So obviously, whether you use Mailchimp, whether you use HubSpot, Salesforce, whatever tool, whatever tool you are using for your actual automation, it will look like a diagram or very similar to it. But actually invest in an external diagramming solution which will hold the information to your entire funnel from beginning to end. You can use my draw, you can use lucid charts, you can use most product management tools. They have a diagramming solution in them. Whatever you fancy. I am not recommending pen and paper because updating your funnel then will mean that you have to redraw from scratch every single time. Choice is obviously yours, but investing in a diagramming tool will save you a lot of time. My second advice is start simple. When you design your first funnel, don't overcomplicate it. Add a basic sequence and improve from there. [00:24:40] Number three is measure the drop off rate. This is basically the rate in which people will drop off from one stage to the next. Ultimately, that is what you want to improve. There is no point of having 15 mediocre funnels, have a couple, if not one, that performs great and give yourself and the funnel the time that it takes to mature and the final step is a funnel exit. This is a step that many businesses forget and will sometimes take their leads on a journey. Send them a few emails and them completely disappear. [00:25:18] You need to have a good understanding of what happens with your leads once they go through all the steps in your funnel. Will you continue to send them your regular newsletter? Will you close with a final email saying something like we're here if you need us, but we won't be chasing you? Will you sign them up to another funnel? You have to know. My personal recommendation is that you continue to email them regularly, exploring the topics in which your business lives. Don't blast a quantum stream of why we are the greatest emails. If your funnel didn't convince them to go ahead, respect that fact and respect the fact that it may not be the right time for them. So stay in touch without being annoying. Trust that when and if the time comes for them to buy from you, they will. And if they don't, well, they were never going to be your customers in the first place. [00:26:15] So let's summarize now that you know how to create a funnel. [00:26:24] So let's summarize and now you know how to create a funnel. Since the aim of this guide is to the Bolshevi, I hope I managed to achieve my goal, but if I didn't, don't hesitate to head over to and let me know. There is a lot of S's and C's in that if you're wondering. Yes. So let's just go over what we covered. A marketing or a sales funnel is a process designed to take leads through a few steps with the goal of converting them into customers. It has four key elements, an entry point, landing page or pages backbone and an exit point. Funnels are designed to draw leads at scale without having to hire salespeople to do cold calling. The idea is that you will be able to nurture the leads in the process via emails and potentially other means. [00:27:19] You must remember that what you promise and the entry point of the funnel is what you must provide throughout the experience. If you don't, you run the risk of being perceived as dishonest and to kill your chances to sell your products, you must use automation. That being said, you must have a CRM system that has automation, or you must use zapier or another similar tool. This automatically means that funnels are not free, nor are they cheap. And if I have to be honest, the best case scenario, you're looking at a minimum of $100 per month, or the equivalent in your local currency. [00:27:58] Remember to start simple and optimized. Good funnels are like good wine. They need to mature with time and care. And much like wine, they also need to be monitored and their environment needs to be tailored. So I hope that this new knowledge makes you feel empowered. My name is Nina Alexander and it was a pleasure. Remember, the world is full of mysteries and low is your potential. Keep exploring, stay curious, and as always, thank you for the bullshit. One more topic with me.

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