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How to build a marketing funnel (and live to tell the tale)

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If the term “marketing funnel” sounds like something complicated that you might have time to learn after you retire, we’ve prepared a complete guide on how to create a basic, simple but efficient funnel. Save your retirement for your grandkids.

The concept of a marketing funnel is fairly simple: to take people from the street (or, if you prefer, from the digital world – the matrix) who have never heard of you before and turn them into paying customers. The way to do this is that lead them through a process that on one hand is meant to help you invest the majority of your efforts on the most specific audience possible (those who showed the most interest in making a purchase) and on the other to introduce them to your messages step by step so that they arrive at the purchasing stage perfectly prepared just how you like them.

There are all kinds of different funnels and schemes for your customers’ journey, the differences between them being the number of steps in the funnel, platforms, analytical tools and more. The most complex schemes take place across multiple platforms and know to show specific content to each customer based on the stage he is currently at. We’ve taken the most basic example that everyone can program himself even without years of experience.

We’ve written down the different steps, including the goal of each, the thought process and example numbers. To make it as real and effective as possible, take a moment after reading each step to think how it can be applied to your brand.

Are you sitting? Is the popcorn ready? Let’s get started.

The example product we’ve chosen: Anti-aging face cream

Part 1 – Preparation

Before we get going, it’s very important to draw everything that’s going to be happening in this campaign on a board or a piece of paper. We’ll start with how the funnel looks, what content it will include, how many people you expect to convert from stage to stage and more. Organized preparation will simplify the process ahead of you and allow you to get started with focused rather than being distracted by the endless side options that will appear before you

1. Choosing a funnel

If you search Google for “marketing funnel”, you’ll run into an endless number of variations. There’s no correct or incorrect here and, of course, something different is best for each separate brand. Besides brand suitability, you also need to choose a funnel that fits your abilities. As we said, we’ve taken the most basic example: a 4-step funnel focused on one platform (Facebook) and promotes videos. The steps are:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Purchase

The concept is clear: As you head down the funnel, the audience that’s left grows smaller and more focused. With us so far?

 

2. Funnel content: What are you promoting?

Everything can be promoted these days. There are a wealth of options to consider, but we’ll just talk about the two main ones:

  • Promotion of written articles on distribution engines (Taboola/Outbrain)
  • Promotion of video content on Facebook

How do you choose? You write a list of positives and negatives:

Written articles on content engines 

Positives: It’s easy (relatively) to do and cheaper than the video (although it’s important to stress that you’ll need professional help here as well. We don’t advise that you write the articles yourself, but if you do make sure you really know what you’re doing). Another benefit is the fact that you’re bringing people to your website, meaning you’re also strengthening your brand indirectly.

Negatives: Mostly the fact that bringing people to your website from another platform is an expensive business, whether you chose an engine like Taboola/Outbrain or Facebook. Even the fact that you need to embed a pixel on the site (in order to follow views on the article), could be a barrier for some people.

Facebook video

Positives: Cost efficient and simple. Video promotion, at the moment at least, is a relatively cheap option on Facebook that also gives you very simple but effective targeting options according to actual views. What’s more, video is a more efficient media than texts and usually works better.

Negatives: While promotion is cheap, production of the video could be expensive although with a bit of creativity and initiative you could film and edit on your smartphone for no cost at all. It’s all up to you. Another drawback is the fact that the audience that you create doesn’t belong to you, meaning that if you stop advertising on Facebook one day for any reason – a significant portion of your investment in creating an audience will go down the drain.

There is a wide array of different things to consider here. The choice also needs to depend on the best stage for your audience (are they of Facebook or some news website?) and also on your abilities – technical and professional. It’s possible to combine things of course, but we’ll keep it simple for now.

We’ve chosen to promote video content on Facebook, which is slightly simpler on a technical level.

Part 2 – Creating the funnel

The step of the funnel itself actually takes place on the move. Every step is a campaign in-and-of-itself that can be created after the previous step gathered a large-enough audience that you have something to work with. Of course, everything is continually being updated on the go.

1. Top step: Awareness

Goal: At this stage, the goal is to build awareness of the product and the need for it. There are funnels that include one step in preparation for creating the need factor (need awareness) and only after that focus on creating awareness of the brand itself, but we’ll include both of those elements here.

Content: The content created at this stage is meant to attract the relevant target audience (women in the case of our anti-aging cream) by addressing one of their needs (for example, 5 weekly activities that will keep you looking young). Then, sort of “along the way”, you include a tip to use anti-aging cream (we haven’t even discussed which yet). Want to be even more precise? We aren’t targeting all women after all, but women in a certain age range. So, choose a topic that’s relevant to them. The more specific you are with the need you decided to address for your audience, the more focused and specific audience you’ll get.

Take note, you can put in a link or some other mention of your product (like in a photo or as an example in a relevant place), but this stage doesn’t deal with the product and isn’t supposed to revolve around it. In other words, don’t be tempted yet to talk about yourself, you’re only on the first date.

Promotion: The audience here is broad, meaning we’ll target our audience according to areas of interest, position (as much as you can – Facebook is slowly removing that option) etc. or any other way of targeting that you can manage. In the following steps, targeting will be based on the audience that passed the first stage.

Estimates*

10,000 views

Average cost per view: $0.05**

Total cost of this stage: $500

10% pass, meaning 1,000 people join us for the next step, those who care about the topic (exactly the people we want to talk to).

*Take note: It’s best to look at this section as KPI, or measures of success. But the first few times you create a funnel, it’s difficult to understand the numbers where one is based on the other. And people often get stuck at this stage. So, in order to simplify things, we decided to call it estimates.

**Another note: We mixed numbers in order to illustrate how it’s supposed to look, but we seriously advise you to ignore them. The numbers vary wildly depending on the category of the product, how specific you have targeted your audience, the quality of the video and and endless number of other factors that aren’t in your control. It will almost always be a mistake to mention a number without trying first to get to know the field in depth. You can search for benchmark numbers for various industries, but it’s very difficult for new businesses to predict numbers ahead of time.

2. Step two: Interest

Goal: After gathering a sizeable group of women who are interested in ways to stay young, this step is meant to give them information on the category you’re dealing with (anti-aging in this case). We’ve taken the topic we started with (anti-aging right? Are you following?) and brought it to a more specific audience we can speak to directly. Take note, this still isn’t the place to talk about yourself (have patience, it will come). This is the place to give useful information about the field of interest, answer questions and give suggestions. The information you provide needs to be given with the intention of leading the audience with care to the next step and on the way to establishing some trust with him or her.

Take note: If you included a link to your product in the previous step, you might be able to try skipping this one for people who already clicked on it and go directly to the step of consideration. Try and see if it works.

Promotion: We’ve chosen a campaign of video promotion and at the crowd selection stage we’ll choose the people who watched more than 75% of the video we promoted in the previous step (this can also be 100% or less than 75% under certain circumstances – it’s up to you).

Numbers

Here we’ll leave the work to you:

What’s your total budget?

How much of it are you setting aside for this step?

How much do you figure each view will cost on average?

Accordingly, how many users are you expecting to complete the expected task? Are you looking for people who watched 50%, 75% or 100% of the video?

3. Step three: Consideration

Goal: You have a focused group of people (women in our example) who expressed interest in your kind of product – now is the time to convince them that yours is the best product for them. In other words, NOW! THIS! IS! THE! TIME! TO! TALK! ABOUT! YOURSELF! If we are in the anti-aging market, this is the time to upload a very promising video about your product. You can compare to others in the field (on the condition that you do the comparison, of course) and we recommend to do a before and after. Don’t forget to conform the content of the video as specifically as possible to the kind of women you are addressing.

Promotion: Exactly like the previous step – we’ve chose a campaign of video promotion and when choosing our audience, we’ll select those who wanted more than 75% of the video we published in the previous phase.

4. Step four: Purchase

Goal: Finally, the moment for which we started out on our journey has arrived. This is the place to take those who passed the last stage (according to what you labeled as success) and show them focused advertisements that drive them to make a purchase or give them personal inspiration so that your representatives (sales) can continue from there. We strongly suggest that you include some kind of incentive (a discount for example) but for a limited time. The media you promote here can be a photo, video or anything else that you found to be efficient in supporting sales.

Promotion: The campaign here needs to be a sales pitch – leads, personal messages, links to landing pages or products and anything else that drives sales or personal inspiration. Audience choice should be made according to the same principle as in the previous stages: whoever watched more than 75% of the video you promoted in the last step (as previously stated, this percentage is entirely up to you).

Take note: If you want to make things a bit more complex, you can create a few sets –for example, one for those who watched 50%, one for those who watched 75% and one for those who watched the entire video – and give each a different bid according to the logic that the hotter the audience is the more it’s worth to you.

Final important points

  • The final goal is sales but – the way to get there is to create content that addresses a need of some kind. Don’t be tempted to put out marketing messages that are out of place.
  • Be focused – The need you are addressing must fit your target audience. We said people on the street, but in reality the more specific you can be about your audience and the message that’s tailored for it, the more efficient, effective and cheap the process will be.
  • Concerning numbers – There is no write or wrong. What’s important is to remember to take the cost of every step per every paying customer you converted and see if it’s worth it to you.
  • Very important – Along with advancement through the various steps of the process, it’s very important to continuously be putting more and more people into the funnel. The longer the funnel is kept working, the new data flow you get will be better because the system learns with you. Costs per customer will usually be higher for at the beginning than for those who joined the funnel after it has already be in motion. Pay attention that you divide up the budget in a way that allows you to do this.

That’s pretty much it – simple if you break it down and look at it step by step. Let us know how it went for you, add some points you’ve discovered and of course feel free to ask us questions. And just in case you were wondering, you just passed the first step in our funnel! See you at the next step 🙂

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