Your online presence should be part of a larger marketing plan for your business services and/or products. Starting with this kind of strategic plan can help you to easily gain new customers and increase your revenue.
One part of a marketing strategy is setting up a funnel. A funnel is made up of a series of interactions that your leads have with your business, until the point where they make a purchase. Each interaction is meant to push them to go on to the next one and continue engaging with your company.
Overall, a funnel can be a complex one that begins before a lead lands on your website or a short one that begins after a lead lands on any online platform where you have a presence. Let’s analyze these two a bit more.
A Complex Funnel
A funnel is based on your ideal prospect’s behavior and the most common journey he/she would take to become an actual paying customer. When planning a complex funnel, you need to anticipate how the prospect’s behavior might change at each step in the journey, how you can address that to make them move forward, and what it is that they want/expect from each of those steps.
One of the most popular models describing a customer journey is the AIDA model. AIDA is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action. Many marketing specialists add one more step to it, Retention, as it is much cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Your potential customers have different behaviors for each of these stages, and a funnel is a meticulously planned out process to convert your leads into paying customers.
You may find alternative models to describe a customer’s journey, like the detailed “awareness-interest-consideration-intent-evaluation-purchase-retention”, or the plain “see-think-do-care.” Here are some examples of tools and behaviors you’ll find for each step under the first alternative model:
- Awareness: ads, events, referrals, word of mouth, social media
- Interest: email/message from prospect, newsletter subscription, engaging in brand communications, visiting your website, reading your blog, sharing your social media posts
- Consideration: free trials and freebies, attending webinars or free events, reading testimonials and reviews
- Intent: signing up for demos, visiting a store’s physical location, adding items to a wish list
- Evaluation: researching alternative options, submitting a detailed inquiry
- Purchase: adding items to cart, saving billing information, connecting to payment platforms
- Retention: after-sale follow-up, remarketing, upselling, leaving a review and/or testimonials, recommending
The second alternative model (see-think-do-care) begins with a birds-eye view and then narrows down the pool of leads by screening people out to ensure you are only left with those who are most likely to buy from you. The “seeing” step means identifying your target market from your target audience (no, they are not the same thing), and finding out where they hang out online. Thinking is about segmenting your target market and creating specific avatars for each segment, with specific targeting methods for every one of them (the same methods listed under the awareness, interest, and consideration categories above). Doing involves all the other marketing strategies from the intent, evaluation, and purchase categories, and lastly, “care” is the same as the retention stage.
Your website can play a big role in a complex funnel by including touch points or action points at various steps of your customer’s journey. It is possible to have a complex funnel without a website, but it is harder to achieve the ultimate goal of the funnel and it involves having a presence on multiple online platforms to address your prospect’s behavior and needs under each step.
A Simple Funnel
A simple funnel could be looked at as a mini-version of the complex funnel, as it is mainly focused on the interest, consideration, or retention stages. The idea behind it is trying to keep in touch with a prospect if something at these stages (and at the purchasing stage) doesn’t go as planned. This way, you would have another opportunity to convert them later.
The most popular type of simple funnel is an opt-in funnel where the main objective is to get a lead to subscribe to your email list so you can forward them newsletters or promotional emails. To achieve this, you’ll need either a website, a landing page, or an online portfolio, as well as an incentive (e.g. downloading a freebie, registering for a free webinar, receiving prizes, etc.).
Your online platform should have an opt-in form that can be built into the site itself, added through plugins or extensions, or created using a third-party web application/website. Some forms will allow a prospect to be able to subscribe and receive their gift right away, while others will require them to confirm their email address. I highly recommend including the confirmation step because it will help you build a better-quality email list. If someone isn’t willing to confirm their email address, that means they were not interested in keeping in touch with you in the first place, and you have not lost anything by adding that extra step.
The next step in this funnel is the “thank you” page which can be a part of or separate from the final stage of delivering the incentive. This doesn’t have to be a simple “thank you and goodbye” message; it can also be your chance to gain more money and/or build up your reputation by implementing some of the tools under the retention stage of a complex funnel. It is also a great opportunity to do some research and gain some feedback on how going through the different steps in the funnel went for your clients.
Having a funnel in your business can make a huge difference for your bottom line and your brand image. For maximum impact, I recommend monitoring your funnel closely and over time, you’ll find ways to improve its effectiveness.