How to Understand Funnels

by Lynn Swayze // April 7 // 0 Comments

by Direct Response Copywriter Lynn Swayze

What is a Funnel?

If you've been in marketing for any length of time, you've heard the term "funnel". You may also have heard related terms like flywheel and campaign. 

So just what is a funnel, anyway?

A marketing funnel (aka a "sales funnel") is a structured way to generate qualified leads into your prospect database (aka your CRM) so you can nurture them into becoming buyers. Hopefully, the sooner the better. 

A funnel generally attracts MORE PEOPLE at the top because it's broad and buying intent is lower, and brings through few people to the bottom. This is why we call it "Top of Funnel", "Middle of Funnel", and "Bottom of Funnel". 

According to the funnel gurus, there are many types of funnels:

  • A quiz funnel
  • A lead magnet funnel
  • An opt-in funnel
  • A webinar funnel
  • An affiliate funnel
  • A "Book a Call" funnel
  • Legal funnels
  • Book funnels
  • High ticket funnels

. . . and so on and so forth. The list is endless if you think about funnels by their contents and not by their structure and purpose

That latter bit is what I'm going to show you today. You see, I LOVE making things as simple as possible. I want to explain a complex thing to you and have you go, "Oh! That makes sense! I can do this!" and not feel overwhelmed by all the marketing jargon. 

The "Marketing Trifecta" Secret to Understanding Funnels

To make understanding marketing funnels easy, I came up with the "Marketing Trifecta". It's a simple way to understand what you're doing with each funnel asset and maintain focus on the goal at each stage. And the best news? It only contains three steps.

And even better, you can stack these sets of three together into endless varieties! The three steps of the Marketing Trifecta are: Attract, Indoctrinate, and Convert.

Step 1: Attract

The first stage in the 3-part funnel is Attract. By attract, I mean target and segment the tiny portion of people who would be a perfect fit for what you sell once you get them to the awareness level they need to be. 

When I say "tiny portion", does that freak you out? It shouldn't, because most people IN THE WORLD are not your target audience. For example, if you're in the USA and working in English, as I am, you probably already exclude most of the world who doesn't work in the US and doesn't speak English. From there, you need to exclude all the people who don't align with your 11 Marketing Factors, such as:

  • They don't have a career/life situation containing the problem you solve
  • Don't have a personality which would resonate with your brand/persona
  • Don't have the budget (or might never have the budget) to invest/see the value
  • Don't value the transformation/end result your product promises
  • And so on, and so forth

See what I mean by "tiny portion of people". What you're trying to do in the ATTRACTION step is TARGET those who'd be a good fit and TURN AWAY those who wouldn't. Again, depending on the Awareness Level of your prospect and how high up you want to target, but anyone who enters in the Attraction Phase SHOULD theoretically be able to become a good fit down the line. (This is why I recommend education/edutainment/info marketing, but more on that another day.) 

You attract via what I call an "Attraction Mechanism". 

Types of "Attraction Mechanisms"

Types of Attraction Mechanisms:

  • Facebook ad, Google ad, YouTube ad, Twitter ad, LinkedIn ad, Display ad
  • The opt-in page 
  • Blog post with a call to action (like this one!)
  • Broadcast email to a segmented list with a CTA

KPIs at this Stage

Key performance indicators of a marketing funnel at the attraction stage are:

  • Overall traffic / impressions / sessions / email opens
  • Clicks / click through rate
  • Bounce rate 
  • Number of leads / number of opt-ins

Step 2: Indoctrinate 

The second stage in the 3-part funnel is IndoctrinateBy indoctrinate, I mean entertain, persuade, and "flip the script" for the tiny portion of people who would be a perfect fit for what you sell once you get them to the awareness level they need to be. 

In this stage, you're getting the tiny portion of people you attracted to start aligning with your 11 Marketing Factors  and "The World According to You", such as:

  • Seeing themselves and their possibilities the way YOU see them
  • Seeing YOU as the valued expert who can help
  • Feeling GOOD about the transformation ("Promise") they could achieve
  • Believing differently about the other options out there to solve their problem 

You are bridging the "MARKETING MESSAGING GAP" to bring them closer to where you are. Note that in lead generating funnels, you're only bringing them so far that they take the next step . . . they don't need to go "all the way" to high ticket the first time. They can, of course, but that's a lot to ask and not realistic. 

You'll indoctrinate ("nurture") through whatever you promised in the attraction mechanism; if it's a book, you're using a book to bridge the gap. If it's a webinar, the same. If it's email, you're sending them a bunch of focused emails. Get it? 

One thing to note here: sometimes, the indoctrination happens elsewhere as people look for answers to solve their painful problem or answer their question. So they might come to you "ready" to buy, like when your sales people pitch and they're like "yeah! Let's go!"

Just because a small portion the already sold are ready to buy doesn't mean you can't do marketing or that marketing doesn't work. It's just that marketing's  job is to pull through MORE OF THOSE PEOPLE. The conceit of sales departments is often that the tiny percentage of already sold that they close is somehow all there is, and the goal is to just try to spam more people in this stage. It's not. The best use of everyone's time is for marketing to "create" more already sold leads. 

Types of "Indoctrination Mechanisms"

Types of Indoctrination Mechanisms:

  • Book, eBook, or guide
  • Free training, webinar, VSL 
  • Email / email series
  • The blog content itself 
  • Podcast episode

KPIs at this Stage

Key performance indicators of a marketing funnel at the indoctrination stage are:

  • Time spent on page
  • Open/read rate 
  • Downloads / Listens

Step 3: Convert 

The third and final stage in the 3-part funnel is Convert, or conversionBy Convert, I mean that you're going to get that "tiny portion of people" who could be an ideal buyer to then actually take the step and (ideally) buy something. What they're going to buy should be the first offer you have in your ascension funnel. 

If you're using information marketing to sell high ticket consulting on the back-end, then maybe it's a low ticket training, your non-fiction book, or a monthly newsletter. But it is something that gets them buying. If they don't buy at this stage, keep nurturing them until they do. 

And when you stack the deck further down, the Conversion Mechanism will be your course, conference, high ticket offer, or even mastermind. 

Types of "Conversion Mechanisms"

Types of Conversion Mechanisms:

  • Your non-fiction book about your system/philosophy
  • Paid monthly newsletter
  • Paid low ticket training
  • Monthly membership
  • Course 
  • Paid discovery call / session
  • Blueprint or Roadmapping Session
  • High ticket consulting / retainer

KPIs at this Stage

Key performance indicators of a marketing funnel at the indoctrination stage are:

  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Number of Sales
  • Cost per Customer Acquisition
  • Abandon Cart Percentage
  • Average Cart Value / Average Order Value (ACV/AOV)
  • Total revenue

Stacking Funnels Together

As mentioned, what you're going to do is STACK these funnels together. Here's how that could look:

So the first step is to ATTRACT potentially great buyers through an ad for the quiz. The quiz itself is the indoctrination mechanism (INDOCTRINATE), getting them engaged in their "type". The conversion is to ask them to put in their info, whereupon we'll give them their "results" and useful follow up information specific to their needs. That's funnel 1.

The next step is to ATTRACT those who opted in to the quiz through some kind of CTA to do more. Say a sexy headline is the ATTRACTION mechanism, and the email is the INDOCTRINATION mechanism, and the CONVERSION mechanism is the course itself which they buy. That's funnel 2.

Finally, after they've gotten further indoctrination in that first course, they'll get another email (or maybe a retargeting ad) that ATTRACTS people who want to get more results or further engage with the brand. They'll be sent emails to INDOCTRINATE them on the need. Or maybe a sales page. The CONVERSION will be either to book a call OR, if we don't want to do sales calls, the indoctrination will happen on a sales page and the CONVERSION mechanism will be to invest in the retainer. 

As you can see, this is really a tool for understanding and not a "hard and fast" rule about funnel structures. 

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