What is a “marketing funnel”? No, it’s not what you use for cooking.
We’re talking about the kind of funnel that you absolutely must get right if you want your business’ sales process to run as efficiently as possible.
Basically, your marketing funnel is made up of several stages through which would-be customers move from first awareness of your brand to post-sale evangelism. It’s the process of converting a visitor or browser into a paying customer.
Think of pouring rice through a funnel: a lot goes into the top but only a trickle comes out the bottom. That’s how leads pour into a funnel: a lot of interested people go into it, but a much smaller number of people come out the other end — with your product in their hand.
Some business owners are moving away from the term “marketing funnel” because they think it’s too mechanical or simplistic to describe the lead nurturing sequence by which customers move from awareness to purchase. I think it’s still a useful way to describe a complex process and it’s a good visual to imagine the entire process from start to finish.
Here’s a more in depth break down:
What is a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a way of breaking down the customer journey all the way from the “awareness” stage (when they first learn about your business) to the “purchase” stage (when they’re ready to buy your product or service).
First, you want to attract awareness to your business by ranking high in search, publishing white papers, etc. As leads progress through your funnel, your outreach methods will get more and more personalized (sometimes involving a product demo or a phone call) until the sale takes place.
Let’s define this idea further by looking at two examples:
Norman Newbie owns a software company with ten salespeople and one product. He’s not a very savvy marketer, so his sales process currently involves handing his salespeople lists of leads that he purchased online and having them “dial for dollars.” His salespeople frequently get frustrated since his leads aren’t always good quality. Because they’re usually calling on people who A) aren’t interested in his services and B) are not a good fit for them, the salespeople close less than 1% of the prospects they initially reach out to.
Molly Marketer has a similarly-sized company, but instead of taking Norman’s traditional outbound marketing approach, she’s created a marketing funnel that helps her three salespeople close more sales with less effort.
Molly started by building a series of attention-grabbing content marketing pieces that are tied to landing pages on her website. Potential customers can engage with her content (blog posts, infographics, videos) and learn about her company and its services without a cold call from a salesperson.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages. These requests are routed directly to her salespeople, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo. Molly’s company closes more sales than Norman’s, with fewer salespeople and no time spent on cold calling.
Obviously, these are simplified examples, and most businesses will fall somewhere in the middle of this “0 to 60” spectrum. Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “marketing funnel” before, make no mistake about it: you have one.
Whether you’re an old hand looking for fresh ideas on optimizing your current funnel or a newbie wanting to learn how to make an effective marketing funnel, you’ve come to the right place!