A beginner’s guide to funnel marketing: how to set up effective marketing funnels in five steps
How to get started with funnel marketing: Larry’s top tips
Watch guide: 9-minute video
Watch Larry summarise the advice from this blog post in less than 10 minutes.
Quick guide: setting up effective marketing funnels in 5 steps
- Personas: Segment your target audience into defined personas, based on their needs, motivations, goals, objections, personal and professional profiles.
- USPs: Define how your product or service is of particular benefit to your persona groups, what problems it solves for them, which needs it meets
- User Journeys: Define which channels you will use to engage your prospects, and map out all points in their journey from initial interaction to conversion.
- Top, Middle and Bottom Funnel Messaging: Consider how these benefits could translate into messaging across the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, while your prospect is gradually moving from research to consideration and purchasing stage
- Campaign Prep: Now that you know who you are talking to, what you will say and where you will interact, it’s time to prepare your funnel marketing campaigns. There’s lots to consider, from targeting and tracking to reporting and campaign optimisation.
Not sure about any of the steps in this guide?
If you’re not sure about any of the steps in this guide, or you’d like some personalised advice from a funnel marketing expert, feel free to request FREE consultation
Step-by-step: setting up marketing funnels
Before we get started… what is a marketing funnel?
The marketing funnel is the journey your prospects take from initial contact to conversion, visualised in a top-to-bottom funnel. This funnel reflects the process of nurturing leads, as they distill down into high-quality prospects and eventually become sales-ready.
You probably know that a traditional marketing funnel is visualised as having three stages:
- Top of funnel – this is you casting your net wide to catch as many prospects as possible, with online advertising activity, cold email campaigns, doorstop drops, any form of mass marketing.
- Middle of funnel – this is you nurturing those initial prospects with further information, (for instance with re-targeting ads on Facebook or LinkedIn). Your goal is to move them from research to consideration stage, by impressing upon them why they need you
- Bottom of funnel – this is you converting your sales-ready leads into customers, by giving them an offer they can’t refuse.
By defining your marketing funnel, you can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your lead generation campaigns.
Marketing funnel jargon buster
Marketing funnel – the visualisation of your prospect’s journey from initial contact to conversion and retention
Awareness stage – when they first learn about your business
Consideration stage – when they are considering whether to buy from you
Conversion stage – when they go ahead and buy
Nurturing – the process of guiding prospects through the funnel with helpful, informative content
Lead generation marketing – the process of attracting and converting your prospects through marketing campaigns
Lead magnet – a helpful piece of content that prospects can download in exchange for giving their contact information, and entering your database
Warm leads – prospects who have warmed up to the idea of converting with you, as they move to the middle of the funnel
Top of the funnel (TOFU) – awareness stage marketing, casting a wide net to attract prospects
Middle of the funnel (MOFU) – consideration stage marketing, highlighting the benefits of your offering and building trust
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) – convincing your prospects to convert, providing a time sensitive offer or incentive
Post Purchase Behaviour – onboarding and supporting content to ensure your new customers engage with your product or service, leave positive reviews and repurchase from you over time
Step 1: define your personas
Your personas are segmented targeting groups defined by their interests, personal and professional profiles. By defining persona groups for your marketing funnel, you can ensure that you’re reaching people on the right channels, sending them the right messages and making it as easy as possible for them to convert with you.
We recommend assigning a distinct marketing funnel to each persona group, to ensure they are guided through the funnel as effectively as possible.
Take a look at the example below:
Here you can see that the messaging hierarchy and buyer’s journey directly relate to this persona’s goals, objections, and interests. By structuring your campaign funnels based on persona, you can dramatically improve results and overcome purchase barriers.
Elements we typically factor into our persona definitions:
- Basic profiling information: Age, gender, location
- Professional information: Job title, seniority, years of experience, career level, sector, industry
- Personal information: Living situation, kids yes/no, hobbies, interests, causes
- Motivations: Personal and professional goals and objectives, drives, ambitions and objections
For more advice on persona creation, read our in-depth blog post, “How To Create Powerful Marketing Personas”.
Step 2: meet their needs or solve their problems
Now that you know who your personas are, it’s time to figure out how your product or services help them to meet their needs or solve their problems. This is an essential step in your marketing funnel design before preparing your messaging, as it allows you to ensure your copy will resonate with its intended audience.
For each persona, answer the following questions:
- What problem does my offering solve for this persona group?
- Why is my solution more effective and desirable than others on the market?
- What is the most compelling USP I have for this specific persona?
- How can I convince them to trust that I will indeed meet their need/solve their problem?
Once you’ve answered these questions you should have a good idea of how your company can make a positive difference to this persona and directly add value to their personal or professional life.
Step 3: plan their journey
The buyer’s journey is the mapping of how your prospects will get from point A (initial contact) to point Z (purchase).
This usually involves many touch points across multiple channels – some of our most successful marketing campaigns involve a 10+ chain of nurturing emails, as well as advertising and retargeting activity that spans Facebook, LinkedIn and PPC!
The point is to be present, consistent, and tireless in your pursuit of your prospect, always reinforcing the reasons why they should pay attention to your offering.
Mapping out your customer journey may sound complicated, but it’s actually as simple as visualising where and when you are going to initiate and continue conversations with them.
The diagram below shows a typical customer journey we crafted for a client, spanning LinkedIn, email and website interactions, eventually culminating in a one-to-one sales call.
You can use a variety of tools to map out your customer journey, including free resources such as Microsoft Visio, Gliffy and Lucidchart, or you can opt for a paid solution like Omnigraffle. You may find that your CRM or marketing automation platform actually provides templates for customer journey mapping – Hubspot offers several highly effective templates for customer journey design, which you can use to build journeys directly within the software.
Whatever software or tools you use to map out your customer journey, make sure that your chosen channels are persona-appropriate and your targeting and budget are optimised to reach as many high value prospects as possible.
Step 4: map your funnel messaging
By now you know who you’ll be talking to, which channels you’ll be speaking with them on, and what messaging to use. Now it’s time to translate these insights into powerful messaging that spans the top, middle and bottom of your marketing funnel.
Top of funnel messaging
Often referred to as an ‘awareness’ stage, the top of the marketing funnel encompasses your first few interactions with a prospect, from initial ad to follow up. These interactions could take place on a variety of channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, PPC, your website, or via email, to name a few.
Some things to consider when crafting top of funnel messaging:
- What is the single most important point to emphasise when introducing my offering?
- How can I get my point across as quickly as possible?
- What fun/engaging/unique approach could I take to stand out?
- Which free asset could I offer in exchange for their contact information?
Make sure to factor in the following considerations:
- Character limitations. For example, PPC ad descriptions are limited to 90 characters, and Facebook link descriptions can only be a maximum of 30 characters. Make best use of your character limits and avoid message truncation
- Design and copy impact. Ensure your visuals, messaging and CTAs (call to actions) are appropriate for the channel you’re using, and that they stand out in a sea of content
- Clarity of proposition. Will your prospect be able to understand what you’re offering them in a split second while scrolling through information? Make it clear & keep it simple
We recommend using lead magnets (enticing content placed behind a data wall, eg a ebook or whitepaper) to make your top of funnel messaging even more effective. You can read our blog post, What is a Lead Magnet and How Do You Design One? for advice on how to craft a lead magnet.
Mid funnel messaging
Once your prospect is fairly familiar with your brand and product/service offering, it is time to move them into the consideration stage. This is when they receive a series of automated nurturing messages, packed with enticing offers and interesting information that will reinforce your USPs and prod their memory of those first few interactions with you.
Mid funnel messaging typically takes the form of a series of nurturing emails, supplemented by retargeting ads that are served on your top of funnel channels.
Some messaging themes you may wish to consider:
- Sharing an interesting and related blog post
- Linking them to a video or webinar you made about a relevant topic
- Offering them a VIP freebie, like a free demo, a 15-minute complimentary consultation or an online video chat with a consultant
- Building trust with testimonials, case studies and glowing reviews from satisfied clients
- Immersive content about your service offering, for instance, a video explaining how it works, or an interactive demo they can click through on their own
Once your prospect has started engaging with your mid funnel content, they will be subject to lead scoring. A process that involves assessing how “warm” they are – how likely they are to convert if contacted by your sales team. The more they interact with your mid funnel content, the further they move down the funnel, towards your end goal; conversion.
Bottom funnel messaging
Once your prospect reaches the bottom of the funnel, they have engaged and interacted with your content on numerous occasions and are very familiar with your brand and offering.
At this point, they are considered a marketing qualified lead, and they are moved to the bottom of the funnel, ready for the sales team to contact.
Your bottom funnel messaging is arguably the most important of all, as a wrong step at this point could undo weeks, maybe even months, or years, of hard work. Here are some things for your sales team to consider when crafting their bottom funnel emails, or preparing the script for their sales call:
- Always keep your persona profiling in mind – are there any sensitivities, biases or objections you need to avoid triggering when going in for the hard sell?
- Remind them of the USPs you promoted in your top of funnel and mid funnel messaging. Prod their memory of what makes you a great choice.
- Prepare to answer any questions your prospect may have, and to address any concerns that are holding them back from purchase. Remember that these people have been in your funnel without converting for a while, despite showing interest, and there must be a reason for this. Be ready to skillfully handle their objections.
- How easy is the conversion process? If your bottom funnel objective is to get them to buy online, you’d better make sure the user journey is fully optimised!
Step 5: prepare your marketing campaigns
Your funnel is all set up and ready to go, your messaging is approved, so now it’s time to set up your campaigns!
We go into detail on how to set up a lead generation campaign in our blog post, How to Generate Unlimited Leads Online: Set Up Your Lead Generation Campaigns In 12 Steps.
In general, here are some things to consider when setting up your campaign:
- CRM integration – how will you connect your campaign activity with your customer database and website management system
- Marketing automation – how are you sending out your ads and nurturing content
- Tracking and cross channel monitoring
- Budget – what is your advertising budget for all stages of the funnel and all channels
- Reporting – plan dashboards, decide how often will you report and agree on KPIs
- SLA agreement – what does success look like, what are the responsibilities of each team member working on the campaign, how is their performance to be measured
- Post launch improvements – how will you test, tweak and enhance campaign targeting and messaging, modifying your funnel for future success
- User experience – make sure that the journey from top, to middle, to bottom of your marketing funnel is seamless. If there are any issues with user experience – for instance broken links, buttons that don’t work, poor page layout or unclear messaging, make sure to address these before your campaign goes live in order to maximise results.
Now that your marketing funnels are fully operational, your messaging is ready and your tracking and reporting is in place, it’s time to push the button on your first funnel marketing campaign!
Remember, if you need any help crafting your marketing funnels or setting up your lead generation campaigns, you can request a FREE initial consultation with The Brains. We’re here to help you supercharge your growth and ensure your marketing activity is fully optimised.