Marketing Speak: Sales & Marketing Funnels

July 26, 2020

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This is Part 2 of the 4-Part Series. 

In this part, you'll learn about Sales & Marketing Funnels & the Customer Journey.

Introducing Sales & Marketing Funnels

Funnels are a critical concept for business owners -- online or brick-and-mortar -- to understand...even if they have an odd metaphor!

And, in case you think this is some new, 21st-century marketing gimmick, I can assure you the concept of "funnels" is nothing new!

It actually dates back to 1898 when American advertising expert Elias St. Elmo Lewis developed his "customer journey" model. The model was his observation of the 'typical' customer purchase process starting with awareness of a product to the actual buying decision.

Sales Funnel Graphic

Sales Funnel Diagram. Source

The AIDA Model

This evolved over time to what is now know as the Marketing industry's AIDA model, which more accurately represents the the today's customer journey.

AIDA stands for:

  • Awareness -- customer recognizes a problem they want or need solved
  • Interest -- they have discovered there are potential solutions to the problem
  • Desire -- they have come to the point of wanting one of the solutions they have researched from the interest level
  • Action -- this is the decision phase where the customer is ready to decide which solution to purchase

The Customer Journey

You may be wondering at this point...

"What does this have to do with me?"

I can assure you -- whether you realize it or not -- every reader on your website is on their own customer journey.

They don't necessarily know that, but you definitely should!

Assuming you are running a business and monetizing through your website, you need to understand what this journey is and the various stages of that journey your customer -- or potential customer / client -- is going to pass through.

And, you are going to help them along in that journey!

A Simplified Funnel Model

If you picture a funnel -- any funnel will do -- you can see that the funnel is larger at the top, narrows gradually at the middle, and ends in a narrow bottom portion.

Metaphorically speaking, the wide opening at the top is the point in the customer journey where you cast your net wide through various lead generation tactics and attract potential customers.

For us online marketers & website owners, this is usually done with Content Marketing, creating relevant articles, tutorials, podcasts, videos, etc. to get the attention of these readers. This method is optimal, becasue it's basically free! You have a website anyway, so the only cost is your time to create the content.

Remember our Lead Magnet I introduced in Part 1? This is where content marketing & the Lead Magnet come together to form the... Top of the Funnel, also commonly know in marketing speak as ToFu.

This is where the potential customer/client -- your 'Lead' -- gets nudged into the start of the "customer journey."

Remember? I told you above you would be helping them down this path...aka funnel!

And in case you're squirming a little because you don't want to come off as "sales-y," RELAX! This is just about the least "sales-y" it can get! If your reader isn't interested in your Lead Magnet, they won't ask for it! This is simply offering something of value to give them a quick win.

If they are interested, they get that quick win & give you permission to email them in the future! Which means you win too! And -- later in this article -- I'll explain a bonus win for you that we haven't discussed yet...

The Next Step of the Funnel... MoFu

Continuing down the funnel -- the customer journey -- your subscriber enters the Middle of the Funnel.

You now have a new subscriber, who has indicated interest in what you provide. You want to nurture this relationship of course. And, after continuing to email about newly published content, you could offer them a "low-cost" product. They are already "warm" (more "marketing-speak") & more inclined to purchase something because they are familiar with you and your brand.

Defining such product  -- or what constitutes "low-cost" -- varies widely depending on your niche & audience, and is outside the scope of this article, but it could be something as simple as a series of helpful and closely-related articles or tutorials on your website compiled into a downloadable e-book format.

As far as pricing, a good rule rule is to keep it in the range of "impulse buy." Something they don't really have to think about spending... $10 - > $20 is a very safe price point, but again this really varies by industry. And you know your industry best, so you'll need to decide on price.

The psychological advantage of MoFu is two-fold:

  1. It gives the reader another chance to "try you out" at a very low risk to them. This is why it's important to keep this price truly "affordable."
  2. By purchasing something from you, your subscriber is now a customer! Good for your bottom line, even if it's only a few dollars for each of these sales. It's well-known that an existing customer is more likely to buy than cultivating a new customer.

And...the customer journey continues...

The Final Step of the Funnel... BoFu

Now this same reader -- who is now a customer -- moves into the Bottom of the Funnel.

This is the point where you can offer them your premium product or service... This could be anything from a "flagship course" to exclusive one-to-one help or coaching, again depending on your niche and business.

Remember that your new customer is still a subscriber and should still be nurtured through your normal email processes. Now is the time to increase the nurturing, not to cut back in any way... A good way to do this is to add them to a special "Insider's" or VIP or "Customers-only" email list... (I explain how to implement this in Part 4 of this Series.)

Some Funnel Models add another step...

These marketing funnels are extremely popular because they are so successful in representing the customer journey & buying tendencies of most buyers across industries. They also apply to products as well as services.

One variation of the above 3-stage approach include the 4th stage of "customer nurture."

It really only makes sense that you'd want to nurture the relationship you've work so hard to established over time, and give your top customers even more benenfits. Of course, just as products and services vary depending upon your niche and business, how you choose to nurture your best customers / clients will likewise vary.

For example, in some industries your premium customer may not be ready to be buy immediately: think od the purchase of any high-end product -- a car, a house, an major appliance. Again, specific circumstances dictate the approriate follow-up nurturing sequence.

For a deeper dive into marketing models, there are a variety of online resources. Follow the link for one such very deep dive, or do  your own search for "marketing funnel" or "customer journey."

BONUS Strategy... Audience Segmentation

I mentioned above that I would introduce a closely-related marketing strategy. Audience segmentation fits in perfectly with the customer journey.

Audience segmentation -- more "marketing speak" -- is finding out what specific members of your audience are most interested in learning.


Like other marketing strategies, there are multiple benefits to segmenting your audience:

For your reader, you can tailor both your content and any Lead Magnets to the specific interests of each reader. This gives each reader the most beneficial reading and learning experience.

For you, understanding which topics in your niche are the most popluar means you can tailor your content to meet these reader needs.

For example:

  1. Professional Photographer: offers several types of photography services -- portraits, wedding photography, sporting events coverage, nature photography sold as fine art. All of these services are in the photography niche, but the services are completely different and likely serve a different audience with completely differing interests. Giving each interest area their own dedicated content and Lead Magnets will further enhance the reader experience, and position you as even more of an expert in each area.
  2. Personal Trainer: offers specialized training depending on client goals: weight recovery after pregnancy, marathon training, stamina training for seniors, recovery training following sports injury. Again, these are quite diverse topics but still within the niche served by this personal trainer. These topic areas might have some basic similarities, but by identifying specific goals for each segment of their audience, this personal trainer is much more likely to appeal to each group, enhancing the reader experience and their own expert status in the eyes of each audience segment.

Hopefully, these examples help to illustrate just how important it is to know -- and demonstrate -- your understanding of the different segments of your audience!

This topic is a more advanced marketing strategy, but it's an important strategy to be aware of. Implementing audience segmentation has become technically much easier in recent years. In Part 4 of this Series, I'll explain more on how to do it yourself!

Coming Up!

  • Part 3: How much to give away for FREE!
  • Part 4: How to implement these strategies, & recommended tools

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Karen McCamy

I'm a WordPress Trainer & Coach, and believe that everyone should be able to build & maintain their own WordPress website... without having to learn complicated code!

WordPress democratizes online publishing and completely aligns with my values as a a Social Science major, with a degree in Anthropology.

WordPress enables everyone to build a custom & conversion-ready website.

When not teaching WordPress, I enjoy writing at my local coffee house, trying to wrap my head around black holes & multiverses, or relaxing at home with my 3 feline adoptees...

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