Funnels = Growth
I’ve been in the camp of direct response marketing for almost a decade and the realization I had early on was that creating comprehensive funnels is where all the gold lies. And most businesses have no idea about this, proceeding to throw shit against the wall, acting like schizo’s with their lead gen activities.
Because of this, they stay small.
They never develop anything consistent they can rely on.
Services like KissMetrics are built solely with the purpose of improving the performance of every conversion step in your funnel, and an entire ecosystem has been built around helping companies develop funnels. The funny thing is that ad agencies still stick with the old school crap of brand building, or even worse, building your social media. They have no concept of what a funnel is or what the steps are that must be done every single time a sale is made.
Once you grasp the value of a high performing funnel, you’ll never look at marketing the same way again. It becomes your only goal in marketing, to figure out how to build one and get it cranking for you.
The magic happens when you get one working and generating profits you can rely on. Then you get to start building out the next complete funnel, adding pillars to your foundation that you can build on.
I’ve seen 1-single-funnel drive a company to $10 million in annual revenue. They had NOTHING else that brought in consistent lead flow. They were completely at risk of shutting down overnight if that funnel disappeared for whatever reason. But, they were making cash hand over fist with that one very well oiled funnel.
A few years in, they tripled the effectiveness of that funnel by landing a celebrity partner. It was crazy to watch. They went from spending $18 per lead they generated from it (fyi – funnel focused marketers discuss things like “Cost Per Lead”) to $6 per lead, overnight. They didn’t triple the number of leads because their ads were almost saturated in that market, but their ROI tripled. They added hundreds of thousands to the bottom line instantly with that increase.
And that’s the beauty of building a reliable, effective funnel… You optimize it over time and the results just get better and better.
Here’s the kicker though:
It’s hard and time consuming and boring as hell to build funnels. That’s why the average business owner never does it. And their business plateaus.
Building Your First Funnel
Write It Down
List every step in your sales process. Include every repeatable action that is completed to take someone from a curious prospect to a happy client.
For example, let’s say you are an Enterprise Software as a Service company.
Here are the steps you might list:
- Prospective client hears about you.
- They decide to research you and end up on your website, checking out your features, pricing, and case studies.
- They opt-in for a demo
- The next step is to schedule a consultation to discuss their needs and existing systems.
- Then you have the consultation and make recommendations.
- Discussing the scope and fees is next.
- Once they decide they want the system, they schedule implementation.
- They get training once implementation is completed.
- Ongoing support is provided.
- Features are rolled out and additional integrations are offered going forward.
Split it Up
Figure out what steps generate and qualify the lead, and then where the (consultative) sales process starts. Marketing handles generating the lead and handing it over to be turned into a client (sold).
- In the process above, the first three steps are where marketing lives, and the sales and support teams handle the rest of the steps. They are all important because failure at any point causes fallout to occur, but the majority of businesses suffer with steps 1-3.
Now this is where the hard part starts. Figuring out where to invest your time and money generating the leads can feel like a total crap-shoot. There are seemingly endless options because of what the internet has created, but that’s also a big benefit, since your competition can’t dominate all of the options.
Here are our favorite places to build the front half of funnels with currently:
- Facebook Ads: It’s like Google AdWords circa 2003 right now. After Facebook went public, they had to get serious about generating profit. They realized the opportunity they had to let companies promote ads to their users and they invested heavily in making it really worthwhile. The ability to target your ideal prospect on Facebook is unparalleled. The amount of data they have on all their users is staggering.
- YouTube Videos: Google owns YouTube and has a ton of money invested in it, so they really want it to grow and grow. We leverage this relationship a number of ways, starting with SEO since YouTube videos have a permanent spot around position #4 on Google search, so you can leapfrog all but your biggest competition using YouTube videos. Plus, video is more interesting for most businesses, so even if you had competitors ahead of you in spots 1, 2, and 3, you’ll swipe clicks away from them with your great videos.
Then, when you add in remarketing (Google’s ability to put ads back in front of people that have watched your videos and/or visited your website), you’ve got a powerful 1-2 combo.
- Google+: This is likely going to be one of the most strategic moves by any company in the first half of the 21st century. Everyone thought Google was stupid for chasing Facebook after they already had the market cornered on social media. What most failed to realize was the fact that Google created it to be a hub for their entire ecosystem, drawing everyone into it through Gmail, YouTube, Google Places, as well as the social media component of it.
They just launched their Post ads function and will be catching up to Facebook’s ad functionality in very short order. Plus, they’re making it easy for advertisers to win with it so it becomes a staple of their advertising, so it’s like shooting fish in a barrel right now.
Once you figure out where you’re going to start advertising for this funnel, you need to figure out a testing plan that will allow you to ease into it. There’s nothing more painful than watching a company find a new place to generate leads from and then blow their wad in one shot and not have it pay off. The beauty of web based advertising platforms is that you can start out very small, with as little as $10/day, and test a lot of different things to see what’s going to get people interested in what you have to offer.
- For Facebook Ads, we start with a minimum of 10 ads for a single offer that we’re kicking off for a new campaign. They are completely different in the copy and images used to see what part of the spectrum draws the most interest. Then after about a week of rotating them, we hone in on the 2 or 3 that got the most interest and then create another 10+ ads riffing off the themes in them. We repeat this process over and over until we find a set of ads that’s getting the amount of quality clicks that we want.
Then, and only then, do we start increasing the daily click budget because we know that there will be a good ROI on that increased budget, allowing us to continue expanding it going forward.
Next, you’ll want to create single-purpose web pages (aka “landing pages”) that you drive prospects to and make it very obvious what action you want them to take when they’re on it. This is really hard for a lot of business owners to actually do, because they can think of about 10 different things a prospect can do at any point, so they want to serve all of them so none of them are pissed off that they can’t get what they want. What it ends up doing though, is cause nobody to do anything because they’re all overwhelmed with options.Prospects really want to reduce the amount of decision making they have to do, so the easier you can make it for them to take the very next step in the process, the better.
- A great example is to simple ask for their email address so you can continue building trust over time. We usually do this by offering a free educational report that helps them figure out the lay of the land and what they should be looking for in whatever it is they want. Providing education is a great way to build trust quickly and results in great loyalty. 67% of consumers say that they bought from the company that first educated them on what they needed to know before they made a buying decision.
- Another example would be to go for the next big step and just offer them a complimentary consultation. This is a bigger step, so you won’t get as many people taking this offer as the free report, but you might get enough to make it worthwhile and eliminate the nurturing process altogether.
We’ve found that you get about a 40% increased ROI from nurture sequences, but those can be added later if you’re getting a solid ROI from just offering the consultation right out of the gate.
Make everything else build off of these steps. There are about 5 more pages worth of tips I could give you here, ranging from how to integrate your consultation request form with an autoresponder (like GetDrip.com) that sends an impressive introductory email right after they submit the form, to how to greet the person when they first meet with you, offering a tour of your facility and brief history about your passion for creating it.Just know that once you get the lead, the rest of the steps better be just as impressive to match whatever you promised them to get them to this point.
It’s truly a never ending process of optimizing each step, and as I outlined above, there are huge wins that can be made years down the line with a single funnel as you keep chipping away at it.
If you got value out of this, share it with your team, or send it to a friend that’s wanting to grow their business.
If you want help figuring out how to put this to work for your business, start here and we’ll see what we can do.