Before tackling the question of how to build a marketing funnel that converts, it’s important to properly understand what a marketing funnel is.
Funnels come in many forms and have several different applications across a vast array of industries… but what are they, really? Are they a series of well-designed landing pages? Or eye-catching headlines? Or high-value lead magnets? Or relevant calls-to-action?
All these things are what a marketing funnel needs, but individually they are not what a marketing funnel actually is.
What is a Marketing Funnel?
The marketing funnel is a mechanism through which a brand can guide prospects on an emotionally-stimulating journey along the path to purchase, building trust and demonstrating their ability to solve problems and address pain points in unique and creative ways. The objective is to capture as many leads as possible at the top of the funnel and nurture them through the consumer decision journey, with the pool of prospects becoming smaller and more qualified at each stage.
This process, combined with a well-constructed, compelling offer, then becomes a system for turning prospects into leads, leads into customers and customers into powerful brand advocates.
However, achieving this requires more than just designing a funnel’s individual components.
What we must do instead is to focus intently on the needs and desires of our customers, so we can then reverse engineer the consumer decision making process to identify the most effective lead magnets, marketing copy and CTAs that resonate directly with them.
Peter Drucker said:
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
This quote encompasses the first vital step in building a marketing funnel that converts: understanding your ideal customer.
Understanding Your Ideal Customer
There are many ways of doing this, but one of my favorites is called empathy mapping. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, you can check out this article, but fundamentally it looks like this:
By analyzing our ideal customer within the context of these six categories, we can begin to structure our message around what is most important to them:
- Goals (Who are we empathizing with? What do they need to do?)
- What do they see?
- What do they say?
- What do they do?
- What do they hear?
- What do they think & feel? (Pains/gains)
The answers to these questions then give us a framework to follow when deciding what our message needs to be and how to communicate it most effectively so we can engage our target audience at each stage of the consumer decision journey.
If you haven’t done this for your business before, print off a copy of the diagram above and try it yourself!
Once this step has been completed, we can then confidently move on to the second phase: the technical implementation.
As mentioned previously, funnels come in many forms depending on your goals, and a forensic analysis of how to create each one is beyond the scope of this article.
However, there are some universal components that are fundamental to all successful funnels, which I will now briefly discuss to give you the best chance of success:
1. Flexible software:
The best strategy in the world is useless without the necessary tools to execute it. The ability to customize every aspect of every page, test them against each other and manage leads effectively with minimal amounts of friction is vital to your success.
Fortunately, there are several tools available that make this process as pain-free as possible:
- Clickfunnels: https://www.clickfunnels.com/
- Kartra: https://home.kartra.com/index
- Unbounce: https://www.unbounce.com
Any of the above will get the job done, with nuanced features depending on your specific goals.
2. High-value lead magnets:
This is where we start to reap the rewards of our empathy mapping process. Typical lead magnets include:
- Physical books (if you’re an author)
- Buyer’s guides
- Video tutorials
Understanding the core problem you are solving for your ideal customer enables you to craft a lead magnet that sparks your prospect’s interest. The idea is to clearly demonstrate value by positioning your offer as the best solution to their problem, generating enough desire for your product or service that your audience is happy to exchange their contact information to get it.
Here’s a simple structure to follow when creating lead magnets:
“How to do ________ without ______.”
“How to lose weight without starving yourself on crazy diet plans!”
Keep in mind, the lead magnet should give your prospect everything they need to solve their problem on their own, while highlighting the common obstacles they are likely to face in doing so.
3. Compelling and emotional marketing copy:
This is where the rubber really meets the road.
Now that we’ve successfully exchanged some upfront value (lead magnet) for the prospect’s basic information and shown them how to solve their problems, our new goal is to build enough trust that they are willing to give us the opportunity to solve it for them.
To achieve this, we must answer the following questions:
- What is the root cause of their problem?
- Why can’t they (or why is it difficult to) fix it themselves?
- What is the cost of them not fixing it?
- How does your product/service fix the problem?
- Why is your product/service better than (or different from) competitors?
- What results are your current customers already getting?
- How can they easily switch to work with you?
The purpose of this is to trigger an emotional reaction while encouraging the prospect to trust that we’re an authority in our field and can help them solve their problem, just like we’ve helped others.
4. Irresistible offers:
At this stage, if you’ve properly executed the previous steps, your prospect should be very interested in working with you. If they’re not, then they probably aren’t a close enough match to your ideal customer.
All that is stopping them from taking action is a compelling reason to do so now.
Keep in mind, so far we’ve taken the prospect on a powerful emotional journey, but the same emotional triggers that have endeared them to our brand will also make them doubtful about taking the next vital step (to work with us).
Your prospect will likely be thinking;
“I feel like doing this would be a great idea, but maybe I’ll sleep on it/check with my partner/wait until payday/any other excuse before deciding for sure…”
Whether you’re asking them to set up a consulting call, attend an event, or buy a physical product, this flutter brain reaction is what will consign your efforts directly to the funnel graveyard.
“People buy on emotion, but justify with logic.”
Which is exactly why we now need to justify the emotional benefits of using our product by appealing to their logical brain – and provide them with an irresistible offer that it would be completely illogical for them to say no to.
Typically, the best way to do this is to bundle together multiple different products & services into a high perceived value package, with a discount that expires if they don’t take action within a specific timeframe. Time-sensitive offers are so effective because they leverage one of the most powerful principles of persuasion: scarcity. Scarcity is the perception that products are more attractive when their availability is limited. Simply put, scarcity sells.
By promoting time-sensitive, high-value offers, we combine the trust and good will associated with our brand with a logical reason to take action now rather than later, creating the necessary conditions for a successful conversion to take place.
5. Relevant Call-to-Action (CTA):
…remember to ask for what you want!
It might sound like a basic point, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get – and you would be surprised how using the incorrect terminology in your CTA can hurt your conversions.
If you’re asking somebody to sign up for a call, then using language like “Speak To An Expert” will consistently outperform a simple “Book Now” CTA.
Before we wrap up, it’s important to remember the final ingredient to building a successful funnel – and arguably the most important component of any marketing strategy: Consistent, data-driven iterations and improvements.
Ultimately, no funnel will be perfect straight out of the gate… but that’s why we invented A/B testing!
The ability to isolate which variables will move the needle on conversion rates at each stage of the consumer decision journey is what will turn even the most basic funnel into a well-oiled, lead generation machine.
Over time, what you will end up with is not just a marketing funnel that converts, but a self-reinforcing feedback loop with your customers that continuously improves itself – and informs long-term decisions about product development, content creation and your brand’s overall position within your niche.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a bit more about our approach to marketing funnels! I hope you found this post useful and learned a few valuable takeaways to apply to your own marketing efforts. If you have any questions, or you want to share your own experience with building marketing funnels, be sure to drop us a note in a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
Ready to get started with building a marketing funnel that converts? Let’s chat. Our team of digital marketing experts are standing by, ready to help you map the consumer decision journey to transform your unaware prospects into brand advocates – reach out to us today for a free consultation.