We've sure you've heard the buzz about sales funnels lately. Though not a new concept in the overall world of marketing, it has become a much hyped buzzword in digital marketing in the past few years, with various websites hawking expensive software designed to make high-converting funnels idiot-proof. But is it all hype?
You're (Probably) Already Using Funnels
I mean they sound fancy, but essentially any time you make a post on social media that guides someone to a page where you want them to do something - that's a funnel. So no need to panic that you've missed the boat on some marvelous new technique.
Here's a funnel:
You Share a Link -- > They Click the Link --> They Buy
But Your Funnels Could (Probably) Be Improved
This basic funnel can often be improved when it comes to conversion rates - and that's where the marketing strategy comes in. If you simply share a link to a product on Facebook and tell people to buy it... will they buy it? Maybe, but probably not. You need to do MORE et each stage of this process, from catching the attention of more potential customers, to encouraging more customers to understand how your product will really benefit them once they reach your website.
Where are you losing customers in the classic funnel stages?
The process of converting a new customer or client via digital marketing (or really, any marketing) is often depicted as a funnel because at each stage in the process you likely lose a certain percentage of people. Some people will inevitably click your link but not add your product to the cart, and then some of those who add your product to the cart will become distracted and never make the purchase.
The goal in examining your marketing funnels should be to look at each stage of the process and do your best to address the various reasons why people might drop off. While you can never expect to win over everyone, each place where you hold onto a few more customers will trickle down to more purchases and a higher conversion rate at the end.
Catching the attention of more potential customers in the beginning can drastically increase sales, even of conversion rates remain constant, so it's tempting to throw everything at paid advertising or other attention-getting tactics. However, many brands could build more profit by improving conversion rates at other levels of the funnel, from improving clunky checkouts, to capturing customer email addresses so that you can encourage them to return.
But... Do You Need Expensive Software to Do This?
Our opinion, as marketing professionals, is that marketing professionals will beat trendy funnel software in any battle ... but we admit we might be a teensy bit biased.
The reality is that no small business is the same, and depending on your needs and abilities, different software might work better for different companies. Whatever makes your product or service offerings unique impacts your choices when it comes to how to address each stage of any marketing funnel you want to work on.
A NOTE ABOUT AFFILIATES
It's tempting to be wooed by amazing reviews of software, but keep in mind that many funnel platforms, from Clickfunnel to Mailchimp offer some kind of affiliate or referral program. This means that many reviews out there are inherently biased - they're written by people who will earn money every time someone signs up for a program they're recommending.
Exploring Your Options
If you already have a website...
Whatever platform your website is in will likely support some kind of landing pages. Because landing pages are very simple page layouts, they're inherently simple to build, so there's no reason to commit to an expensive monthly fee. If you choose to use your existing website for your funnel, we prefer to support that with the addition of specific software designed to support your funnel goals rather than running a full funnel from scratch.
If you don't have a website....
It's tempting to hop on board with ClickFunnels, Builderall, Leadpages or one of the other buzzword happy programs, but we suggest considering your long term goals when building your first simple funnel. If you begin with a website that's scalable to meet your long term goals, you save a lot of money in the long run, as you're able to scale as your business grows rather than running into software roadblocks.
THE MOST FOR YOUR MONEY
FREE - DIY - If you've already got a website, you probably have everything you need to build a funnel for free. With a little tech savvy, or just use of your web hosts pre-made templates, you can whip a landing page up pretty quickly. Many email marketing services are free until you've built up your following.
ONE TIME FEE - Hire a professional to create a template... and show you how to use it - marketing professionals (like us!) can create a template that you can drop your own content into any time you need a new landing page. This can be customized to your business needs, your design aesthetic, and your clients. Marketing professionals can also help you get started in the appropriate email marketing services, and more!
MONTHLY FEE - There are dozens of platforms out there offering easy "funnels" for a monthly fee. These can be handy for someone with no design experience since someone has already done the heavy lifting for you. If you're going with one of these, be sure to do your research, because the price range between different platforms is huge, with some offering basic services for free (check for email marketing services that offer landing pages, such as Mailchimp) while others are as much as $300/month (we're lookin' at you, ClickFunnels).