The term ‘funnel’ can be applied to any marketing activity where you are taking a larger group of potentially interested prospects and dropping them into a process – or funnel – that is designed to filter out uninterested parties (or those who aren’t quite ready to buy immediately) and generate sales or encourage a specific action from the smaller number of very interested and highly engaged individuals who successfully pass through the entire funnel.
Everyone needs at least one funnel in their business – the one that takes potential interested parties through from being simply a lead right through to becoming a paying customer – but there are a number of other funnels that you could set up and implement within your business that would enable you to make sales and build positive relationships with customers even if you aren’t 100% hands on throughout the entire customer journey. These can be implemented relatively quickly and simply if you have access to sales and marketing automation software that allows you to automate, speed up and streamline your business processes.
So, what are the top funnels I think everyone should implement in their businesses, large or small? Here are my top three recommendations:
- Lead to customer – this is the most common funnel, and a great starting point for any business. This funnel requires that you think about the entire customer cycle, from when people first identify a need for your product/service right through to when they become an advocate for your brand. In order to set up this funnel, you need to identify the key information required by the potential customer that persuades them to buy from you (or a competitor). As the owner of your business, or a member of its decision making team, you know what makes your customers tick and what their pain points are. Why do they come to you? What are they looking for? What makes them come back to you time and time again? All of this is essential information as you build out your lead to customer funnel.
Once you’ve reviewed your customer journey, you can start your funnel by developing a low cost item or freebie that grabs the attention of potential customers – perhaps a free webinar or download that provides valuable information for them, and which can be sent out in exchange for an email address. After they have received their high quality ‘free’ item, you may want to provide more information or give them a special offer to purchase the full price product or service you offer, and then gently remind them of these vouchers/discounts for a few days or weeks so that you can make the most of their recent interest in your business. The ultimate goal of this funnel is to nurture prospects into fully fledged customers, so a single post-download email may not be enough to convert your leads – you may need to develop a funnel that delivers useful, relevant and engaging content to your potential customers over a number of days/weeks until they are convinced to buy. If you have marketing automation software (like Mailchimp, Active Campaign, or Keap, for example), this can be set up to run automatically on any day and at any time – without any input from you after the initial set up – and can gently nurture interested parties from potential customer to paying customer when you are sleeping/out of the office/delivering high-ticket services to your customers.
- Unengaged to engaged – if you have a mailing list, the chances are that though everyone has obviously shown an interest in your products/services at some point (enough interest to make them sign up!), some will have lost interest in the content that you regularly send out, like monthly newsletters. An engaged mailing list is far more valuable than an uninterested list, and there is a chance that some of those unengaged individuals may actually be interested in buying your product/service, but find that your business is no longer ‘top of mind’ and your email content is lost in their overflowing inbox. For this reason, an automated process for your unengaged mailing list can be valuable – again, think of it as a funnel, with you tipping in all of the unengaged people at the top, and a few re-engaged (hopefully new customers!) coming out of the bottom of the funnel. A funnel of this nature may be triggered after a certain period of inactivity, and marketing automation tools like Mailchimp, Active Campaign and Keap can help you identify such individuals quickly and simply. Perhaps you could send out an email specifically to your unengaged list with an eye-catching email title and a personalised reminder of how much you value their support (personalisation merge fields can create the impression of a hand-written email even if it’s actually an automated message!)? Perhaps you could incorporate an offer or voucher to pique their interest in your products/services again? Whatever you do, taking time to clean your list and remove uninterested parties not only helps to reduce the risk of spam complaints from unhappy contacts on your mailing list, but also keeps your business top of mind and increases the potential engaged pool of prospects that you can work at converting in the future.
- Standard level customer to Premium level customer. Many businesses offer a range of products and services, from relatively low-cost, ‘entry level’ products to their highest ticket items. However, have you got a funnel in place to encourage all those purchasing at the basic level to increase their spend with you? This could be by upgrading to a higher grade product with a special offer, or offering additional services that complement the initial purchase – either way, the idea is to increase the spend of the customer after you’ve already done the hard work of converting them into paying customers in the first place! By offering a cross-sell or an up-sell at a ‘special offer’, you can make it seem like a no-brainer to upgrade their purchase and spend more with you. If you’ve got sales and automation software, this could easily be achieved by adding an upsell feature into the cart process (just before they buy), or by sending them an email after purchase with a special voucher code or offer for an upgrade. You could also set up an automation that reaches out to them after a 6 months/a year to see whether they need to purchase again from you if the product/service they purchased has a limited period of use.
As you can see, there are a number of ways that you can use funnels in your business to increase engagement and sales, and with the help of automation software, these can be set up and run in the background as you work on other aspects of the business, making them both cost-effective and time-saving.
If you’d like to find out more about how you could incorporate successful funnels into your business, get in touch!