This is a 10 step guide on how to build a marketing funnel. Many businesses build funnels that do not convert and simply persevere with them ad infinitum. It’s a strategy of course but it’s not a winning one is it?
Funnel building is a relatively simple process when you consider they are most successful when well planned and defined.
Solution led programs like click-funnels, Hubspot, Kartra, Drip, Infusionsoft and Pardot are great for facilitating the activity of automating your workflows but they are pointless if you really don’t understand what you need to do for maximum effect.
There are certain assumptions I am going to make at this point, those are as follows:
- You have identified your buyer personas
- You know what types of content you can produce, at a minimum blog posts
- You know what a landing page is
- You know what call to action is
- You know what a long tail keyword is
- You have a basic understanding of organic SEO
If you don’t I will add some appendix entries at the end of this post.
How to plan a marketing funnel
So always approach a funnel in its three basic requirements:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Decision stage
Your prospects (soon to be customers hopefully) have varying forms of activity when they are researching solutions to their problems. This is part of the customer journey at the top of the funnel. Typically they want to educate themselves or reassure themselves that their understanding of your offering is suitable to their needs.
The attract stage is the top of the overall funnel. It’s the content you want to create that answers generic searches your potential customers or target audience make to educate themselves about the type of solution your company offers.
Typically searches at this level of the funnel start with “What is” and “ Where can”, examples being
“What is cryptocurrency?” or “What is Bitcoin?” and “Where can I learn about cryptocurrencies?”
As you can see by the type of question, they are very educative searches, the prospect is trying to educate themselves about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin.
The convert stage is the middle of the sales funnel. The content marketing that should be distributed here is the type of content that answers direct and specific questions about your product or service.
Typically the questions that are asked for this section of the funnel start with “How do” and “How can”.
Typical pieces of content would start with “How do I trade cryptocurrency”, “ How can I trade Bitcoin”.
As you can see by this type of search question, it’s far more “about doing”, and therefore shows more intent in the request.
The closure stage is quite obvious. It is the searches that a prospect undertakes when they are ready to convert. That is to buy.
Content at this part of the funnel is all about converting to a trial of your product, an outright sale or a consultation.
Content types that you could produce would be (to keep the crypto theme going) “Where can you buy cryptocurrency”
Notice that this content is very much more about the purchase of cryptocurrency. You can be very direct here with the content topic outputs from a sales-oriented perspective.
The digital marketing strategy is relatively straightforward from here. My advice is to work on a marketing campaign that has 4 to 5 pieces of content to each funnel stage. Each funnel stage should compromise the 4 to 5 articles and a landing page.
Each article should have a call to action that directs a post reader to the landing page placed in the content.
So your overall strategy looks like this, 5 articles, 1 call to action, 1 landing page.
You repeat this strategy for each stage of the funnel so your overall full-length funnel, nurturing your prospects along has 15 articles, 3 landing pages and 3 calls to action.
That is the basic guide that instructs you on how to plan a marketing funnel.
Something to consider
Blogging is the easiest form of content to produce, but it is not the only form of content you can produce.
Have you heard of repurposing content?
This is a good way to expand your content types. You can take a blog post and repurpose it to other content types:
- Youtube video
- Social media posts
This way you can create your initial sets of content and then amplify the messaging through other channels giving you more opportunity to prospect online and drive further opportunity from a broader reach.
How to build a marketing funnel
Below are 10 steps that you must follow to ensure success in your marketing funnels.
#1 Know your market
This is the first thing you need to understand. I don’t mean know what market your product or service is aimed at, I mean to know who is in the market, what they are doing for customer acquisition and what you are up against. This will help with your customer acquisition and brand awareness.
#2 Know your client
This should go without saying. I don’t mean a reverse-engineered customer you imagined who would be perfect to buy your product or service. I mean a researched, buyer persona or personas that are strategically developed profiles developed from real-life research and stories from prospects who have and have not bought your products or services.
#3 Devise your strategy
If you have completed steps 1 and 2, you are in a solid position to develop high performing marketing funnels although there is still a lot more to do. After doing your competitor analysis and defining your personas you need to define your marketing strategy.
Your persona work will have given you the information you need to know:
- what content your prospects prefer,
- what social media channels they are active for work-related information in,
- what offline channels they use,
- what frustrations led to consideration for a product or service like the one you offer
- Why do they prefer your approach or your rival's approach in choosing their final choices
- Who is responsible for what choice at which stage of the decision-making process
- Improve customer experience and encourage paying customers
These are just a few critical pieces of information that you will need to devise your content-led inbound marketing strategy. The work you should have done by now will reveal more than I have listed but you should get the gist.
#4 Find the skills
Let’s face it, not all of us are creatives, writing content and copy or producing graphics and videos are not everyday skills. We often have to outsource these so make sure you know where to go for what you need. Although I'm a great believer in refraining to attempt something through fear of it not being polished enough, ultimately you shouldn’t refuse a content type for that reason.
For example, I found a video/production company and the reason I chose them was that they approach their production of video content from an inbound marketing perspective. That means our goals are both aligned and it's a sign that reassured me of the quality of their work as well as the quality visuals on their website.
Remember this saying “Buy cheap, buy twice”, I live by that.
#5 Map your funnels
Now, this is where the funnel process starts to become clear. As a rule of thumb, I work on 4-5 content outputs per section of the funnel. For me the funnel is split into 3 parts:
For each stage, you should have the 4-5 outputs tied to a landing page with a gated offer. That means a page where you have an ebook or webinar or video that the prospect can exchange their contact details for your educational content and you can start building your lead nurturing list.
The Attraction stage content should be focused on answer generic searches that would relate to your product or service.
The Convert stage content should be more focused content that specifically talks about the problems or solutions your product solves or provides.
The Close stage content should be all about converting. So content aimed at trial sessions, demonstrations or consultation sessions.
#6 Build in automation
By now, you are nearly there. You’ve done the research, you’ve identified your ideal customers and what will get them engaged in your content, you’ve designed your strategy, and mapped your content funnels.
But, you need automation. It’s virtually impossible to manually maintain the attraction activity you need to entice your prospects into your funnels. This is where any number of tools come into play:
- Act on
- Agora Post
As you can see, some of the better tools work in all areas and these are the ones that those investing in their businesses should turn to. Smaller companies that are budget conscious should look at combinations, like Kartra and Crowdfire or click-funnels and Hootsuite.
Whatever the choice be prepared to spend some revenue on marketing automation technology.
#7 Create the content
Well, even with the best planning, at some point you will have to create the content. Content can come in many formats so use variety, but base it on what your personas tell you. There can be cases of being creative for creative sake and then not getting any engagement for your efforts.
Things to consider:
- Blogging (long form, short form and micro)
- Motion Graphics
- How to's
- Case Studies
#8 Build your landing pages
More comprehensive platforms like Hubspot allow you to build and host your landing pages within the platforms. This is great from a media management aspect as your content and images are all centralised, but they are also tied in if you decide to opt for a change of marketing automation software down the line.
Landing pages are not the standard pages in your website, at least not to a seasoned marketer. A landing page is one of those pages mentioned in #5 which falls at the bottom of each funnel at each stage of the process (Attract, Convert, Closure).
If you are using a combination of software due to budget restrictions, the best landing page software I’d recommend is:
Unbounce for me is more user-friendly, you can also buy good Unbounce templates at Themeforest and customise those for your use, as you can the onsite Unbounce templates.
#9 Test the funnel A+B Test
Wow, you’re now so close to becoming a funnel expert, you just need some time to fashion your own distinctive style over the framework I have supplied.
But, once you create your content and put it live, you need to A + B test it. That means you set up two landing pages, maybe one with a question led text and the other with statement led text and see which performs better.
You could also try testing colours of buttons, different calls to action, different images and make sure you do this consistently.
I use Hotjar to generate heatmaps of user activity and find out where users are clicking, scrolling and how long they remain on a page.
#10 Monitor the data
Finally, for good practice and to ensure maximum returns and conversions, use the data the marketing automation platforms generate to constantly revise and review your content outputs. The ultimate aim is always to find out what is working in your content outputs and what doesn’t. You then ramp up activity on the content that returns the most website traffic and conversions.
So, that is how you build a marketing funnel. It takes a lot of work to get it right but once you have it right you can be assured of
- More website traffic
- Higher conversions
- Lower wastage of effort
- Better customers
- More refinement
- Increase in turnover
- Aligning of marketing and sales ambitions
If that sounds like the ideal strategy for your business then it’s time to kick off. Alternatively, if your current marketing funnels aren’t performing well, then compare your approach to the ten steps, establish what’s missing and try and incrementally increase optimisation.