Have you ever heard of people you network with or a business coach mention the term, “marketing funnel”. The first time I heard it and someone was trying to explain it to me, my eyes just glazed over. I had no clue what it meant to create a marketing funnel for my business. Now I know and I wish I had put a realistic marketing funnel plan in place years ago. It’s not a new concept, but it is starting to show up more and more as I follow business owners and how they are marketing their website and services.
Let me see if I can explain it in simple laymen’s term so you better understand what it means to have a “marketing funnel”…
What does it mean?
Simply put, it’s a system that helps you track the stages consumers or customers travel through to eventually make a buying decision. Easy enough, right?
It also lets you know what your business needs to do to influence customers at each stage, such as follow-up telephone calls or sending them positive press reviews. A marketing person or team can guide this traffic — the prospective customers — through the funnel using strategies that are designed to be effective at each stage.
Now that you now have an idea of what a marketing funnel is, let’s explore how the “stages” begin and how they end to create the “funnel affect”. Since the funnel starts out wide at the top and is really narrow at the bottom, you are able to fill something (like a container) up with a lot of material, but it’s what comes out at the bottom of the funnel that is truly important to what is being added to that container.
“The Five Stages of a Funnel”
Shown on the website sales funnel diagram on the right, you have a series of stages that the marketing funnel should follow and end with in order for it to be successful in any kind of business. This model can be used universally as any business marketing plan can go through the same stages, but the outcome may be different. Let’s break down each stage in more detail and I will offer you my advice on how to develop and implement each stage based on what I have created in my own business and my client’s businesses.
Stage 1 – Visitors
Obviously the first thing you need to do in your marketing funnel plan is to attract visitors to your website. This can be accomplished by developing a good SEO strategy and to also market your website through social media and inbound marketing.
Stage 2 – Engagement
Not that you have attracted visitors to your site, you want to be able to keep them engaged or interested in what you are offering in terms of your expertise and this can easily be accomplished by posting blog articles designed around your service offering(s). If your visitor likes what they read, then they will likely subscribe to your blog. That’s engagement that will grow as your visitor traffic grows. You may get a lot of visitors, but not all of them will stay engaged with you. The funnel size starts to get smaller in size, just like the funnel walls do.
Stage 3 – Call to Action
What is very important to provide to your engaged readers is some kind of call-to-action concept either on the end of each of your web pages or at the end of each blog post. You can also provide a call-to-action offer on your site sidebar so that it is visible on each one of your pages or posts. You can have a call-to-action on a stand alone landing page. This call-to-action offer can be a blog subscription offer, a freebie special report or a sample of an info audio that people can listen to. It can even be an offer to provide a small block of consultation time or coaching time. In order to move to the next stage, you want to be able to continue to communicate to those that opt to receive your free offer. This can easily be accomplished by providing a registration web form with a name and/or email field right below the free offer description. Most times you will find the web form on a website or blog sidebar where it is visible as soon as a visitor lands on the home page. Again your call-to-action subscribers may be smaller than the visitors to your site…the funnel wall becomes even smaller.
Stage 4 – Interaction
Now that you have provided a call-to-action offer and you are now collecting the names and email addresses of interested readers and those interested in what you offer in terms of content and expertise, then you want to continue this interaction with them through email marketing techniques. You always want to let your captured audience know that you are going to continue to provide them with useful information beyond your website. They may never return to your website, but they can still be communicated to through email campaigns. You can also let them know of special offers, webinars, events that you are hosting or managing. These can be free offers or these can be paid offers. Consistency in your interaction with your subscribers or followers will allow them to gain your trust in what your business can do for them. It may not be an overnight connection, but you will be able to convert interested followers into clients through consistent interaction with your audience. Again, the funnel wall becomes smaller here because the interaction will allow you to continue to keep followers or lose your followers because they feel they have received the information they need and they may decide to opt out and not stay on your “list”.
Stage 5 – Conversion
This last stage of your marketing funnel plan is ultimately the most important part of the funnel and that is whatever is at the bottom of that funnel successfully makes its entry into the container it’s going into…your business. It’s the most concentrated area of the funnel. You WANT to convert your interested subscribers or potential clients. And by following the first four stages successfully, your conversion rate should increase. You may not convert every visitor to your website, and that is okay. No one has a 100% conversion, but the more visitors you have to your website, the more client or customer conversions you will have over time.
If you are interested in developing a marketing funnel plan for your business for 2013, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to provide a business model assessment and a phone consultation that will guide you through this process. (my call-to-action)
Until tomorrow (Day 6 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge)!