A lot of engineering goes into building super fun amusement park water slides. Building marketing funnels takes nearly the same amount of engineering, but without slide rulers (see what I did there?). In this article we'll cover what order to build your funnel in, what content to use at each stage of the funnel, and what stages make up a marketing funnel. We'll do this so your prospects enjoy becoming repeat customers just like kids like to go through waterslides again and again.
In case you haven't heard, marketing is a highly technical discipline. It engineers people's needs and wants. If you read enough about it, it'll take the fun out of your marketing funnel real quick. By talking about how marketing funnels relate to these modern marvels of engineering, we give you a sense of the fun in the funnel. Let's get to it.
What The Three Stages of A Marketing Funnel Do
We slice up the path from marketing to sales into three phases: Top of the funnel (ToFu), the Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) and the Bottom of the funnel (BoFu), clever right? At each of these stages, people are interested in different things.
At the top of the funnel people are barely aware that they might benefit from what you're offering. In the middle of the funnel, they understand how they need to solve a problem, and are figuring out ways or searching a solution for their problem. At the bottom of the funnel, they're committed to solving the problem. Your job as an entrepreneur, founder, marketer, salesperson, etc is to guide people from the top of the funnel all the way down the slippery slope to being your regular customer.
ToFu - Choosing A Slide
The best practice for the top of the funnel, you let people know about the problems they have and then you present a solution to solve their problem. It's a best practice because what you're selling isn't relevant to someone who isn't aware that they need what you're selling.
Telling someone you have a plunger isn't relevant unless they went to Taco Bell yesterday. Now, if you see plumbing signs near Taco Bell, you'll know who's got great marketing chops. At the top of the funnel, you talk to people about what kind of life they want to live, who they want to be, and then how what you're selling can help them achieve that.
MoFu - Going Up The Steps
Once they've figured out they want to solve their problem, to get on a waterslide, then they're worried about the ride down. Are there lots of twists and turns, how much of it is open and how much of it is closed? Do you use a tube or not? These are the questions that people have for water slides. They ask the same kinds of questions about your products and services. They want to know about the experience of you solving their problems.
For your product or service, they're comparing whether it's safe, how long it'll take for them to see benefits, and other things like whether the features yours has is good enough or better than your competitors' slides. Take note, like a kid that's not ready to jump off the high dive, someone in the market for what you offer may go up and down the steps of multiple slides! It's common for people to research your competitors, so it remains important to keep telling people how working with you or buying from you is better than your competitors.
To keep this happening, elite marketers will use copywriting techniques like features-advantages-benefits, problem-agitate-solve, or attention-interest-desire-action in what they write. They keep the onlookers and researchers excited about the anticipation of the big splash and of whiled sliding down their slide.
BoFu - WHOOSH!!! SPLASH!!!
At the bottom of the funnel, but the top of the water slide, they're committed. This is when folks are either pulling out their wallet to go through your checkout or taking a deep breath before they start their turn on the slide. On the sales and checkout pages at the bottom of the funnel you just need that little scooch to send them over the edge into completing the checkout process.
By now, you'll have given them all they need to know about how your product or service solves their problems. You may have already thrown in some testimonials from previous customers to build their trust with you. You may also have added a few discounts or incentives to help them experience them getting a good deal.
Now that we've covered the three parts of the funnel, let's look at how your prospective customers experience the steps of the funnel. No, not the grate steps that let the water drop to the ground, but the pieces of information they see from start-to finish as they learn more about your wonderful products and get excited at the life they'll be living once they buy and use them.
The Content for Each Step of a Marketing & Sales Funnel
Before we jump into figuring out in what order to build your funnel, we will look at the content you'll need to create at each step of the funnel. It's important to connect each part of your funnel to the next step of your funnel. Let's look at what your customer sees and clicks on to get to the next step.
ToFu - Ads, search results, and social media posts
As people watch tv, click through websites and scroll social media they see many ads and promoted posts. From an individual standpoint you may not want to see them, but from a business standpoint ... those ads and promoted posts are there because they drive business to companies, so use them.
One critical thing about ads and posts is that you make them once, and run them for a long time. There are commercials you see over and over again, until you can hum the jingle, right? That's because you can run the same ad or promotion over and over again until people remember and refer to it.
At the top of the funnel, you're trying to quickly build interest so people explore more about what you're selling. You should aim to send them to your blog, call your number, click to go to your website or email your inbox so they can get better information from you. That takes us to the next step in the funnel where people learn more about what you're selling.
MoFu - Blogs, webinars, and landing pages
The second big stage of the funnel, the middle, is where you present your best guess as to what they need to hear to feel comfortable buying from you. Here you'll want to talk about the life they'll be able to live with your doodad. They don't want to have a phone with a good camera (features), they want to take better pictures (benefits).
When you have their attention, you should talk to them about the three to five most important benefits they'll get. And you add in how they get those specific benefits by using the features of the products you build. You can write blog posts about each feature for each product, and link from those posts to other posts about that same product. This way people will be immersed in knowledge of your products and how it helps them achieve their goals.
BoFu - Sales and checkout pages
The sales and checkout pages are where the real action takes place. There's a difference between a blog that reviews or tells you about a product or service, and the page you buy it from. Some people make lots of money writing reviews as posts and videos, and posting them to the web with affiliate links to amazon. While the blogs (MoFu) increase interest and educate consumers, the sales and checkout pages are the ones that take payment information.
When someone is ready to pay, they probably already know and believe the benefits and want to make sure the features get them where they want to be. While the book pages on amazon tell you the ISBN and publisher, people may be more interested in how many pages the book has, what the reviews say, and how it ranks in a category. Either way, Amazon presents all of that information to facilitate the trust of the buyer.
Since we've covered the what the three stages of the marketing funnel are, and what types of information are present at each stage, now we can talk about the best way to build them. And the best way to build it, is in reverse.
Yes, you build your funnel from the sales page, to the content like blog posts, videos etc. Lastly you run promotional campaigns to expose your offering to the widest amount of people.
Why You Should Build The Marketing Funnel Backwards
If a mechanical engineer sees a doodad that they find interesting, they mentally break the movements and parts into sections to figure out how it works. And from there, they can figure out how to build one themselves. When they do that, it's called 'reverse engineering', where you start from the end and work towards the beginning. That's how you build a well-performing funnel.
With this in mind, you build the sales and checkout pages first, then you build the heavy content of the middle of the funnel, and last you build all of the promotional material at the top of the funnel. I breezed past it, but earlier I mentioned the FAB copywriting process. That stands for features, advantages, benefits. We can use that for the build order of your marketing funnel. You start with the features (like what's on the amazon page) on the sales pages. Then you build content talking about the advantages someone will have in life with your products. And then you create ads and posts that tout the benefits that will attract people in the first place.
First, set up the sales page - (BoFu)
The first part of building a water slide is building the pool. You need to know exactly where and how deep the pool is. Then you build the slide so that when the slide ends, it ends over the pool so people aren't dropped on the lip of the pool and hurt their bum.
In marketing you build the sales page around what you're offering first. Then you figure out where to put the ends of the funnels, and the curves
Then, blog posts, landing pages, and webinars (MoFu)
The path from the top of the funnel to the sales page is the middle of the funnel
One of the important things here is that this is a page on what we call "owned media". This means you control it (i.e. pay for it). You don't want your real important content on places that can censor you. So, you should pay for a company to host your website that you can download and move to another company. You want to be able to export your data and take it somewhere else.
Last, promote them everywhere! (ToFu)
One of the most consistent marketers I've seen is Ross Simmonds (tw: @thecoolestcool). He says 'write once, promote forever'. For us, that means having great long-form content in the form of blog post, videos, and landing pages for the middle of the funnel, then have lots of short content promoting the longer content.
For instance, I can write a tweet or shoot a video about any individual section of this blog post and tell readers and watchers to come to this post to view it more. And if you're one of those people that saw the shorter promos, see! it works!!!
So chop and slice your longer posts into sections and spread them everywhere. Create at least 10-20 short promotions of your content to put on linkedin, facebook groups, email list, twitter, instagram, tumblr, quora, snapchat, discord servers, and slack chats. Once you have something substantive to point people to, let everybody know! Don't forget that you can run ads and promotions!
Whatever you do, make sure you are consistent about pointing people to your high quality work! That's a good branding practice.
Quick Summary (and how to learn this faster)
We covered the order in which you should build your funnel, what types of content to create at each stage of the funnel, and what makes up the stages of a slippery marketing funnel. You can learn a lot by studying other people's funnels.
Whenever you see a commercial or ad, grab a screenshot of it, then click on it and read what they say next. Then click on whatever sends you to their checkout page. Now that you have all three steps, write down the different kinds of information they have on each page. Do this a few times and you'll start to see patterns. Make sure you do this with different types of products (home goods, business services, etc) so you can see what's happening in many different industries.
The Bigger Picture
This post forms a part of The Business Cortex, a program that shows you how all of the pieces of a business fit together in an easy-to-understand visual way, you can pick that up here.
Blog posts are informative, but sometimes you need more guidance and assistance with doing this for your products, brand, and company. If you need help with any of this, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow us on linkedin, twitter and instagram.