Marketing Funnels 101: What Are They And How To Build Your Perfect Funnel

Any entrepreneur who is growing their business has come across the term funnel, whether it's marketing funnels, sales funnels, or just funnels in general. One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making is that they think they need a website before all else, when in reality, having marketing funnels first allows them to be in direct communication with people all across the web from the start.

It's scary growing a business online from scratch, thinking it will take weeks or months to simply have an online presence. Believing that you must put your business on hold to prepare you for exponential growth - but you don't need to!

While you need a website as an entrepreneur and budding small business, you also need to be in direct communication with your audience, the best way to do this is through a funnel.

What Are Marketing Funnels?

Marketing funnels allow you to automate collecting people's information and contacting them. They are broken down into three parts: attraction (enticing people with something), connection (collecting their information), engagement (responding with something you promised and building a relationship).

Why You Need Funnels

While this article is focused on marketing and sales funnels, a funnel is a system in your business to automatically guide people through a process.  Your funnel may not sell something or even focus on getting to an eventual sale, but be for after a sale!

Some examples of funnels are:
  • Upselling purchases
  • Onboarding people into a program
  • Connecting to a new audience with a free promo
  • Automating your discovery call
  • Receiving testimonials about your service
  • Setting up and encouraging a referral program
A funnel helps you put pieces of your business on autopilot, allowing you to focus your energy and effort elsewhere, but still guiding and creating a hand-holding process for your business.

Now, why do I call them ‘marketing funnels’ and not just ‘sales funnels’ like 90% of the rest of the internet? (That was an entirely made-up statistic by the way.) Because sales funnels focus on a sale, marketing funnels cover not only the sale, but general connecting, and after you make the sale. Marketing funnels help you think of your entire customer journey, not just getting money out of them.

Marketing funnels typically break down into three general categories: engagement, selling, and delighting, let's take a look of one of each!

Marketing Funnels For Engagement

This is the first funnel I believe every business needs to have, whether it’s someone opting in for a small discount and subscribing to your newsletter or someone opting into a free program.

Funnels for engagement are all about offering something to your audience that they want. One of my favorite examples of a funnel for engagement is from Design for Hackers from David Kadavy and his Design Pitfalls funnel.

A marketing funnel for engagement I love is from David Kadavy where he shares, in 6 emails, the worst design mistakes and how to avoid them.

This funnel promises to deliver 6 different design pitfalls that many brands fall for and how to avoid them, all of which is delivered in such well-written emails I actually looked forward to them every day for a week.

But this funnel didn’t just deliver amazing value, it also prompted me, very softly, to enroll in David Kadavy’s premium course that delivers lessons like the ones in Design Pitfalls. Not only did the Design Pitfalls funnel give me tons of information, engaging me every day for a week, but it also prompted me to continue my learning through a paid course.

You can recreate this by:
  • Creating a simple landing page where people can opt-in for a free offer
  • Building a simple form of just email or email and name
  • Writing a series of emails that deliver your free offering and continue to follow up with valuable information and includes an upsell.

Marketing Funnels For Sales:

Sell your latest product or course to those you’re already connected to, whether on social media or in your email list. Take a look at Amy Porterfield’s funnel to get people enrolled in B-School. She sent out a newsletter to her engaged list, sharing with them a webinar where she’ll cover how B-School helped her.

Even though this funnel is targeted towards her Amy Porterfield's email subscribers, that's just one of the ways she leads traffic to it (in addition to social media and, probably, Facebook Ads).

This funnel is not only informative but aims to sell Marie Forleo’s B-School through Amy Porterfield’s affiliate link.

You can build this funnel by:
  • Sending a newsletter to your current list sharing with them a webinar or call where you’ll talk about your product and the questions holding them back from acting
  • Build a landing page where people can sign-up for the webinar
  • Create a simple form asking for their email and first name
  • Write an email series that will send before the webinar or call reminding them of the call and asking for their questions or concerns
  • Holding a webinar or live call, ending with a call to action to buy your product.
  • Write another email series following the webinar or call that sends just to those who did not buy your product, prompting them to buy and focusing on how it will benefit their life

Marketing Funnels to Delight

Making a funnel simply to delight doesn’t feel like a great use of your time, but its sole focus is building a longterm relationship. These funnels are often to delight new customers by providing service above and beyond or engaging new contacts to build trust for days, weeks, or even months before you ask for a sale.

One entrepreneur who started her entire business off of funnels to delight is Marie Forleo. In her funnel for the audio training “How To Get Anything You Want” she not only provides an hour-long training to help people, she follows it with a thank you page offering even more helpful tips and insider information, and delivers a series of automated emails providing the audio training and more information around overcoming your business obstacles.

Marie Forleo is, probably, the queen of marketing funnels to delight - she loves to share her knowledge and delight people whether they are customers or not!Your funnel can always lead into another, like Marie Forleo's thank you page containing the option to subscribe to her newsletter.

Does that mean Marie Forleo doesn’t have a call-to-action? Of course not, what’s a funnel without a call-to-action?! But it’s a minor PS in a series of major trust-building, education-focused actions.

Recreate this funnel for yourself:

  • Build a simple landing page that focuses on the benefits of your free training
  • Create a simple form, only asking for their email
  • Follow it with a thank you page offering a secondary opt-in for your newsletter
  • Automatically send an email with the free audio training and where to discover more valuable training from Marie Forleo

Creating Your Own Funnel

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of funnel formulas out there. They promise to deliver amazing results with just a plug and play simple 10 step process...but they can still not work for you.

So frustrating!

I love marketing coaches and strategists willing to share the processes they have seen work time and time again and thought leaders sharing the funnel formulas that grew their business, but these funnel formulas may not deliver the results you’re striving for.

Before you can have a successful funnel hitting business goal after business goal - you need to define a clear purpose and goal for your funnel within your business!

100% look at funnel formulas and experts as examples and a starting template, but always, always, always customize it to be specific to your business!

Start With Your Audience

Before you even think about the funnel you want for your business, think about what your audience needs and will engage with! Create a reason for new people to connect with you - this is your funnels why for them.

It’s really two parts:

Why would your audience care about this funnel? (Their benefit)

Why are you building this funnel? (Your goal)

As you think of your audience and your business goals, you need to make sure what you’re delivering is in step with your brand, putting thought and intention behind your actions. It’s wonderful when Ben & Jerry’s has free cone day every year where they hand out free ice cream cones, but it would make no business sense for them to give $100 to each person who comes in to help pay off car loans.

Paying off a car loan is something a big chunk of their audience needs, but it doesn’t connect to their overall brand.

Know What You Need

As you know, every marketing funnel needs to attract, connect, and engage, so you need to make sure you have each of these elements in your funnel and that they are striving to benefit you and your audience.

You may have a landing page with a form that asks 10 questions when you really need to only ask 2 or you may have emails to engage your audience when you need to partner that with a video series.

This may require a little bit more leg work in the beginning but will help bring in more leads and connections over time. Don’t put off now what will benefit you in the future!

Measure Your Success

Lastly, but certainly not least, you need to be able to know if you’re marketing funnel is successful and working!

A few things you need to look at:
  • Conversion rate. How many people come to your landing page and how many people actually fill out your form and convert?
  • Email open rates. How many people who convert are opening your emails?
  • Email click-through rates. After people open your emails, are they engaging with them and clicking on the links inside them?
Not only will these metrics be able to tell you areas (or even specific emails) that needs to be improved, but also, areas of your funnel that are huge successes and can probably be repeated in other funnels you want to create!

Keeping track of all of these metrics is really easy in Wavoto’s Funnel Builder, where you can not only create your funnel with our drag and drop builder but be able to see each new lead and how people are interacting with your funnel. Everything you need, all in one place!

Get started with your first or your one-hundredth funnel on Wavoto today, check out Funnel Builder for yourself!

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