Creating a marketing funnel is the basis of all digital marketing initiatives. If you put the term into google, you get back 3 million plus responses, many of them having nice illustrations attached that in one way or another, look like a funnel, with stages and various names attached.
However, there are very few places with useful advice on how you create and manage a funnel, perhaps it is easier than I have found it.
Every situation is different, and every prospect needs to be addressed personally in some way, nevertheless, there are a number of generalised stages I have seen, which drive the manner in which you deploy the digital tools.
Step 1. Create a “Hook”. A “Hook” is something that arrests the attention of someone in the target market. This implies, accurately, that you have defined your target market in considerable detail. I am working with someone who is an expert at setting up self managed superannuation funds. His target market is the owners of small businesses that rely on the owners presence, often they are tradesmen, who are over 55, and have not put enough money away enough for retirement. The “Hook” we have evolved is “If you are over 55, and behind in savings for your retirement, you have the opportunity to use a tax effective self managed super fund which delivers a doubling of your net worth in 7 years”.
This statement is in 4 parts:
It identifies the prospect very clearly,
It is very specific about the situation the prospect finds themselves in
It tells them of a solution to the situation
It makes a big promise.
Without the very specific definition of a target market, the Hook is less effective, as it does not speak to anything specific to which a reader will relate, it becomes too general.
Step 2. Generate traffic. This can be done by a variety of means, using both paid and organic means. Organic is slower, and is centred around personal networking, blog posts, articles, and other content that gets shared on social platforms. It is a passive approach. By contrast, paid traffic generation can be very effective with the great degree of target definition that can now be generated by all the social platforms. For my self managed superannuation (SMSF) client, we are targeting the small business owners with a very specific and targeted Google Adwords campaign, coupled with an extensive organic program.
Step 3. Customer capture. Having driven traffic to a website, you need to do something with them to progress them through the steps towards a transaction. Usually this involves the download of something of value for free in exchange for a name and email address. The lead is then followed up with a staged set of automated emails that are responsive to the actions of the potential customer, often offering further “freebies”. This tactic is now so widely used that it is losing its effect, so increasingly it is being supplemented with the further offer of something of greater value still for a minimal amount, $3-7. This does two things:
It qualifies the lead as a real lead, not just a freebie follower,
It gets leads used to using their cards to purchase from you.
Step 4. Transaction development. This process can take many forms, from the gentle prompting towards a transaction that can be a highly iterative and lengthy process, to the maximisation of a sale by adding value to the original offer. By way of example, it takes me ages to come to the conclusion that I need to buy a new suit, it is a substantial cost, and occasional purchase. However, once in a shop, the opportunity to also sell me a tie, belt, shirts, and perhaps another pair of shoes is real. The upsell stage, or as McDonalds have perfected, “would you like fries with that?”
Step 5. Remarketing. Once you have a customer who has bought and hopefully had a good experience, it is easier to sell them again, and again, and over time you can build a very good picture of what they like and what they do not by their interactions with your database. Again, by way of example, I still buy a lot of books, real books from one of the few remaining bookshop chains. I have a card that gives me a discount based on purchases, yet they insist on sending me emails with offers that bear no resemblance to the purchase habits exhibited on their database via the card. Utterly stupid, and exactly the reason they will go out of business eventually. Amazon will never make that mistake, their offers are very specific and targeted to behaviour, not just of the individual, but of the cohort of individuals with similar behaviours that can be ascribed to the individual. In addition, once someone subscribes to your database, you have their permission to market to them, so irrespective of where they may be in the funnel, there should be processes in place to periodically “re-tweak” their interest.
Funnel management Toolbox. There are a range of tools, digital and otherwise, for each step in the sequence, and their relative performance is the subject of much very effective review, so I will not repeat it. Suffice to say several specific tools are necessary for any effective automation.
- Registration page . To attract the registration and manage the delivery of the “freebie” and of the leads details to the auto responder software. There are many around, but Leadpages seems to have the game pretty well sewn up. Recently both Facebook and Twitter have added “one click opt-in” capabilities to their sites that leads people directly to your autoresponder.
- Autoresponder software. Absolutely necessary, and there are a host of suppliers, from those with simple tools to those fully integrated with CRM systems with more bells and whistles than even the most sophisticated and technically savvy medium sized business will struggle with, so my advice for the small businesses where I operate, is to keep it simple. Mailchimp and Aweber are the most popular around my patch, and both work well.
- Creativity and originality. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for some of us this does not yet come in a box, or made available for download, it resides between the ears of real people.
- Customer centric copywriting skills. As with the above, not available via download. It is one thing to get all the digital tools right, but someone still has to be able to make them work to optimum levels, and the copy writing skills and experience needed are significant.
- Technology implementation . Again, somebody who knows what they are doing with this technology. It is one thing to know how it works, it is another entirely to actually make it work. Implementation simply is not as simple as all the vendors would have you believe, for most small businesses, implementation sucks.
PS. The illustration at the top of the post is confusing, hard to understand, and not at all like the last one you saw. Just like in life!!