Allow me to introduce you to the most misused and misunderstood word in all of sales and marketing…
It’s not just for digital marketers… online or offline, eCommerce store or dry-cleaner, if you have a business and you have customers then you have some type of funnel (even if you call it something else).
You might call it a “marketing funnel”, “conversion funnel”, “marketing pipeline”, “sales funnel”, “sales pipeline”, “sales process”, “sales cycle”… or any number of other terms that are all describing the exact same thing.
Bottom line, if you have a business it’s because you have processes in place to…
- Acquire new prospects and leads…
- Convert those leads into buyers…
- Get those buyers to buy more or buy more often (or both)!
Now, it might not be an optimized process (yet) but every business has some way of doing all the things listed above! So I’ll say it again… every business has a “funnel”.
For the sake of this article let’s give a clear and concise definition to the term once and for all.
What is a conversion funnel?
Here’s how we define a conversion funnel at Digital Marketer…
Conversion Funnel – A multi-step, multi-modality campaign that seamlessly and subtly leads a prospect toward a desired action.
Let’s break this definition down…
- multi-step, multi-modality – You don’t turn cold prospects into leads, customers and multi-buyers all at once. A solid conversion funnel anticipates each step necessary to lead the prospect to the conversion.
- campaign – Depending on your business and what you sell, a conversion funnel can require all types of different elements… sales appointments, consultations, landing pages, email follow-up, phone follow up, visits to your store and more to accomplish the ultimate goal. The important thing to remember is that it’s a process, not a single event.
- seamlessly and subtly – A well-oiled conversion funnel removes the friction between the prospect and the conversion.
Here’s what a conversion funnel is NOT: a silver bullet.
It’s not easy — nothing worthwhile is. But don’t worry… I’m going to show you a number of shortcuts that I wish I would have had when I was getting started.
I’ve dedicated my career to the testing, optimization and execution of conversion funnels. I’ve built hundreds of them for our internally owned companies and architected hundreds more for our mastermind members and clients… and I’m pretty dang good at it.
If you choose to learn and apply what I’m about to share with you — the knowledge will be life changing.
(OK, maybe not “life changing” but definitely business changing)…
I know that sounds “hypey” — but it’s true!
Ready? Here we go… there are only…
3 Types of Conversion Funnels
There are only 3 types of conversion funnels a business will employ… EVER. Maybe “types” is the wrong word, let’s call them categories. Let me start again…
There are only 3 CATEGORIES that every conversion funnel falls into…
- CATEGORY #1: “Acquisition”
- CATEGORY #2: “Activation”
- CATEGORY #3: “Monetization” Funnels
Each one has a very specific job in your business.
An acquisition funnel should be designed and architected to help the business acquire as many new prospects and customers as possible (at breakeven or better)…
An activation funnel should be designed and architected to help the business convert as many of its prospects (or inactive buyers) into recent buyers…
…And a monetization funnel should be designed and architected to help the business generate revenue from its active buyers and indoctrinated subscribers.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking…
“Which conversion funnel should I be using in my business?”
… but this is the wrong question.
The right question is…
“Which conversion funnel should I be using in my business, RIGHT NOW?”
Every business should deploy each funnel type at different times to different people.
So let me ask you a question or two…
“Do you need more leads in your business?”
Most people INSTANTLY and emphatically answer “YES!” but most of the time that’s not the right question (more of that in a bit). On to question number two…
“Do you have a large prospect list but not a large list of buyers?”
Are you starting to see where I’m going with his line of questioning?…
OK, on to question number three (I know I said a “a question or two”, but I changed my mind… I have three… sorry).
“Do you have an optimized back end sales process and want to generate a ton of revenue?”
The answer, of course, is yes, yes and yes.
But, this is critical to understand: A ______ Funnel can’t do the job of a ______ Funnel.
An Acquisition Funnel can’t do the job of a Monetization Funnel. A Monetization Funnel can’t do the job of an Activation Funnel. And so on…
Each funnel excels at meeting one particular goal.
So, where do you start? I’m glad you asked…
Build ONE Funnel
Focus on building the funnel that will have the most impact on your business. Once you’ve built that funnel — you’ll add another… and another.
The goal is ONE FUNNEL.
So, which best describes your immediate needs?…
- “I need to turn cold prospects into leads.” Build an Acquisition Funnel first.
- “I need to turn my existing leads into customers.” Build an Activation Funnel first.
- “I need to turn my buyers into multi-buyers.” Build a Monetization Funnel first.
Let’s take a deep dive on each of these conversion funnels…
Conversion Funnel Type 1: The Acquisition Funnel
Acquisition Funnel Goal
To acquire NEW prospects and customers for the business at break even or better.
Example Acquisition Funnel: The Splinter Offer Funnel
We use a number of Acquisition Funnels to generate new leads for the business including the…
- Free Book Funnel
- Football Phone Funnel
- Trial Upgrade Funnel
- Value In Advance Funnel
… but none is more versatile than the Splinter Offer Funnel.
(NOTE: All of the above funnels are covered in detail in our Funnel Blueprint 2.0 training.)
It begins by identifying a higher-priced offer (or continuity/membership) offer that can be “splintered” into smaller chunks and offered to cold prospects.
Why make a smaller offer?
Because making a high-priced or continuity offer to a cold prospect is the business equivalent to walking into a bar, introducing yourself to a woman and promptly asking her to get married.
First, that’s creepy. Second, the conversion rate on that offer is going to be pitifully low.
You need an offer that is the equivalent of asking to buy that woman a drink. You need an offer that is the equivalent of grabbing a cup of coffee.
Your eventual goal may be to get married — but there is a sequence that must be followed. The easiest way to produce these low-risk “front end” offers is to “splinter” them from your core offer.
As an example…
- You sell vintage guitars? “Splinter” guitar picks and offer them to cold prospects at cost. (We call this a Tripwire Offer)
- You sell social media marketing services? “Splinter” the Facebook Page set up service and offer it to cold prospects in exchange for their contact information. (We call this a Lead Magnet)
- You sell speed reading training videos? “Splinter” a single speed reading drill from your training and offer it to cold prospects in exchange for their contact information. (Another Lead Magnet)
Our Core Offer at Digital Marketer is Digital Marketer Lab. It’s a membership site that offers digital marketing training for $38.60. But it’s tough to sell Digital Marketer Lab to cold prospects.
So, we “splinter.”
One benefit of Digital Marketer Lab is 30+ Execution Plans that take you step-by-step through virtually any process needed to market online. One of those Execution Plans is called “The Content Engine” — it teaches business owners how to crank out high-quality blog content.
We “splinter” this single training from Digital Marketer Lab and offer it for just $7 when it’s regular price a la carte is $47. (That’s 85% off for those scoring at home)…
But the “splintering” doesn’t stop there. Inside “The Content Engine” Execution Plan there are 7 blog post templates that can be used to build great blog content with speed.
So, we break one of those templates out and offer it in exchange for a prospect’s contact information…
Does asking a cold prospect for their contact information in exchange for this Lead Magnet convert better than asking them to give me $38.60 every month?
And asking that new lead to give me $7 converts better than making the $38.60 membership offer right off the bat.
The $7 offer is a “splinter” of the $38.60/month offer. And the free (Lead Magnet) offer is a “splinter” of the $7 offer.
It looks like this…
This funnel will ACQUIRE lots of leads and the $7 and $38.60 sales made to these leads will help offset the cost of traffic.
But this funnel isn’t going to MONETIZE your leads and customers. And, it’s not best at ACTIVATING lots of new buyers.
For that, you need an Activation Funnel…
Conversion Funnel Type 2: The Activation Funnel
Activation Funnel Goal
To convert large chunks of leads into buyers.
Unlike the Acquisition and Monetization Funnels, the Activation Funnel goal requires some explanation. Why are we interested in “activating” buyers?
Here’s why Activation Funnels are important…
Once a successful buying transaction has occured, the likelihood of a second (and third, fourth, etc) purchase is much higher.
Understand that the goal of an Activation Funnel is QUANTITY of converted customers — NOT profit. Profit comes later when these activated buyers enter a Monetization Funnel.
Example Activation Funnel: The Flash Sale Funnel
We use a number of Activation Funnels to convert leads into buyers including the…
- Simple Survey Funnel
- Velvet Rope Funnel
- Blog Launch Funnel
… but my favorite funnel is The Flash Sale funnel.
To activate buyers you must answer this important question in the prospect’s mind…
“Why should I buy NOW?”
Is the price going up? Is their a limited quantity? Is there a sale?
The Flash Sale Funnel employs two conversion triggers proven to activate buyers…
- A deep discount
- A limited time
Think Groupon. Think Black Friday Sale. Remember, the goal is not profit — the goal is ACTIVATION. Offer as much value as you can at the lowest price you can stomach.
Consider the Splinter Offer Funnel we reviewed in the Acquisition section of this article.
What would happen if we removed the Lead Magnet from this funnel and made a limited time (3-5 days) offer to get The Content Engine Execution Plan for just $7?.
In fact, we could leverage the same assets (products/sales pages, etc) we built for the Acquisition Funnel and instead of directing traffic to the free Lead Magnet, we send our existing leads directly to the Flash Sale page…
While this Flash Sale offer isn’t likely to convert well to ice cold prospects — this limited time deep discount (the “why”) is very likely to ACTIVATE large numbers of our existing leads.
So, just by repositioning the offers we made in our Acquisition Funnel, we have built an entirely new funnel that meets a different business goal: ACTIVATION.
But we still haven’t MONETIZED these leads and customers. For that, we need to build a Monetization Funnel…
Conversion Funnel Type 3: The Monetization Funnel
Monetization Funnel Goal
To generate as much revenue (gross sales) as possible.
Example Monetization Funnel: The “Magic Question Funnel”
We use a number of Monetization Funnels to monetize existing buyers and indoctrinated leads, including the…
- Perpetual Webinar Formula
- The “Mini-Class Launch”
- Paid Webinar Funnel
- Live Event Funnel
… but one of the most versatile Monetization Funnels is The Magic Question Funnel.
Any time you want existing customers and leads (think hot prospects) on a consultative sales call to sell high-dollar products or services — employ the Magic Question Funnel.
Here’s the “magic question”…
“Want some help?”
This works in virtually any niche or vertical…
- “Want some help putting together a retirement plan?
- “Want some help building your website?”
- “Want some help repairing your roof?”
Simply set up a page like this one we used to sell a $25,000 “Done-For-Me” service…
From this opt-in form you can take them to a video that explains a bit about your high-ticket product or service and either…
- Asks them to make a deposit to hold their place for the consultation;
- Takes them to a questionnaire to get the information you’ll need to qualify and close them on the consultative sales call.
Ours looks like this…
Can you see how this “Want Some Help” offer would fail miserably to cold prospects?
It’s just too soon to make a marriage proposal.
Eventually, you’ll want all 3 funnel types in place: Acquisition, Activation and Monetization.
Begin with the type of funnel that will have the most impact NOW, but put the other two funnel types on your short list of things to do.
Because once you’re leveraging the strength of each type of conversion funnel you’ll be acquiring new leads, activating buyers and seamlessly transforming them into high-ticket, multi-buyers.