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What is a Marketing Funnel And Do You Need One?

Let’s talk about marketing funnels. What are they? Why are they so critical to your business success? And how do you actually go about planning out one of these things? And also why are they called funnels when they just look like giant spider webs? These are just some of the things we’re going to cover in today’s video!!


I’ll be doing my absolute best to answer any questions you have about sales and marketing funnels and also provide you with some more resources if you want to keep on learning about this topic past this video but if you have a particular burning question about marketing funnels when it comes to your own business or anything that I maybe haven’t answered in this video – make sure to pop it in the comments below and I’ll be able to help you out there.


So what is a marketing funnel?

Put simply, a marketing funnel or sales funnel is a framework businesses use to turn strangers into customers through several, relationship-building steps. Now don’t get me wrong… these things can get complex and intense BUT at its very core – the only purpose of a marketing funnel is to turn a stranger into someone who knows, likes and trusts you and your business and wants to buy from you.


Why is it called a marketing funnel?

The term ‘funnel’ itself is a bit misleading because it refers more to the system behind marketing funnels than the actual shape of the framework because in reality in their most complex forms they’re more like spiderwebs than funnels. 

But the funnel framework is essentially based on the idea that the number of people you attract to the initial meeting point of your business, whether that’s a website or social media profile, is much larger than the fraction of those who will show interest in your business and become leads, and eventually customers.  

So here’s how this looks in its simplest form: 

So at the top of the funnel naturally you will have the largest audience of strangers who are just discovering your business for the first time through blog posts, social media posts, videos etc. while at the end your audience will be much smaller as it will consist of your targeted customers and loyal fans. Also because just like an actual funnel, this system should work seamlessly for you… automatically moving your audience from one step to the next which is why you might sometimes hear the phrase ‘leaky funnel’ when someone’s digital marketing strategy is not converting people effectively through their funnel.

Ok so now that we know a bit about what these things are and why they’re named after let’s get into the fun stuff…


What should you create for your audience at each stage of your marketing funnel?

I’m going to break this down by focusing on each individual stage but I want to be very clear here and say that if your business is still figuring out what’s working and what isn’t for your audience… you need to focus the majority of your efforts on organic (unpaid) efforts here. Because once you begin advertising you will essentially just be amplifying your organic efforts by putting some money behind the exact strategies we’ll be talking about here. And if your organic efforts aren’t working then your ads won’t work either… but if your organic stuff is working smoothly then your ads will just amplify that success. So please DON’T SPEND MONEY ON ADS until you’ve figured out what works for your audience.

Ok? Ok. ow let’s get into it.


What happens at the top of the marketing funnel?

The top of your marketing funnel is all about increasing the visibility of your business and making your ideal audience aware of the fact that your company exists. This is your opportunity to showcase authority in your topic or industry. People in the top of your funnel are not quite ready to buy from you—they are just getting to know you. In practice, the top of the funnel might look like someone reading a blog post you wrote or viewing one of your YouTube videos basically any form of engagement or traffic. Not everyone has a website live right away and don’t let that stop you from attracting your ideal customers on social media or wherever else. I’ve seen people pull off some incredibly successful and profitable sales funnels without a website so just know it’s definitely possible.


Your goal at the top of your marketing funnel:

To attract as many targeted visitors as possible with relevant content. So this is incredibly key – you don’t just want to be attracting anyone and everyone to your website or social profile… you want to be attracting the RIGHT kind of audience. 

In an organic approach at this stage you would be looking to create entertaining or educational content for your visitors. This can include blog posts, videos, social media posts, infographics and podcasts. Basically anything that is free and provides value to your audience. BUT – it should be incredibly related to your ultimate paid offer whenever possible. Because if you create a video about the ‘Best Vegan Apple Pie recipes’ and it maybe even goes viral and your ultimate paid offer involves some sort of training about making beef sausages at home then your vegan apple pie lovers are just not going to buy it let’s be honest. 

But the important thing to remember at this stage is that quality and relevance are your best friends.. and hopefully people are loving your content here enough to want to jump onto your email list and move into the next stage of your funnel.


What happens in the middle of the marketing funnel?

Ok so this is the bit that is often overlooked by those who are new to online marketing. I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself over the years. Because it’s natural to want to go straight from delivering something of value at the top of the funnel, to asking someone to buy from you. BUT the middle of the funnel is when you build enough trust that people start showing an interest in what you do and what you have to offer.  So don’t skip it!


Your goal in the middle of your marketing funnel:

Your job at this stage is to provide enough value that your audience is willing to give you a piece of contact information—which is when marketers say they have become leads—that you can later use to nurture your relationship with them. This could be a free eBook, training, discount, even a free consultation depending on your business model. 

So the key here is to get a portion of the people who watch your videos, read your posts, engage with you on socials and everywhere else onto your email list. Notice I said ‘a portion’ because this is where your funnel starts to take form because just naturally not everyone will want to give you their email and that’s a good thing. Because the key here is to really focus on the people who will be most likely to buy your paid offer in the next stage of the funnel. So whatever you offer to get people onto your email list needs to be these 3 things in order for your marketing funnel to succeed:

  • Valuable
  • Actionable
  • Hyper-relevant to your paid offer

This will ensure they love your content because of the value it adds to their life, they’ll take action on it and get a few results that will make them feel pumped up and excited and then if it’s hyper-relevant to what you’re charging for then they’ll want more advice or support from you to get even more results which will lead them to your final offer so let’s get into that next…


What happens at the bottom of the marketing funnel 

In the bottom of the funnel, you will have already built a sufficient level of trust with your leads through your emails and your other content that they are ready to be presented with your main offer or product.  


Your goal at the bottom of the marketing funnel

Your job at this stage is to present your product in a compelling way that inspires them to take action—your leads should feel like it’s a solution to their problem. 

Your content at this stage should be aimed at really just helping your audience make a purchase decision by presenting your offer as a solution to their problem. This could be through a killer sales page, powerful testimonials or a great email sequence where you help to answer frequently asked questions or overcome objections about your paid offer. 

And of course if you’re at a stage of your business where you have a large enough volume of people going through your funnel and the budget to do so – paid retargeting ads can be a great way to convert people at this stage. This is especially key if you’re doing a product launch for example where there’s a cut-off deadline for enrolment. In which case you can send a series of emails leading up to the deadline to peak interest from subscribers and promote urgency and use paid ads to reinforce this deadline. 

Finally, let’s talk about the one thing my marketing students ask me about all the time –


How long will it take for someone to make their way through my marketing funnel and how many steps should I include at each stage?

Luckily, there’s a really clear answer to this. No just kidding sorry guys everything in the marketing world is too freakin’ complex for it’s own good. BUT there are some solid guidelines I can provide you with:

And that has to do with how much time and money is required as an investment from the customer’s side with respect to your paid offer. The more time and money that your customer has to give up… the longer this process will take.

Let me give you an example…

Are they signing up for a year-long program that has weekly calls and work required in between calls? You can bet that someone would sit on that for a while, several weeks or even months perhaps and you’ll need to give them content to consume during this decision making process so they don’t forget about you. Whereas if your offer is a 30 minute haircut at a barbershop near their house… they might make a decision on the spot and your funnel in that case might actually consist more on getting repeat business from your existing customers instead.

Now in terms of the money side of things – Are you offering an ongoing subscription for a $2000 a month service for a minimum of 3 months? People will need more convincing to buy from you. Or are you offering a one-off $50 product people can buy… way less resistance with that price tag. 

Now of course there’s a lot more that goes into this process and it takes some people years of tweaking, learning and talking to their audience to build a marketing funnel that is profitable and bringing in leads and sales into their business on autopilot. 

So if you’d like to learn more about how you can learn how to create your own profitable marketing funnel in just a few hours instead of a few years, check out my Profitable Sales Funnel Fundamentals Class on Skillshare here.

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Hey there - I'm Maggie

I’m a silly-outfit enthusiast whose guilty pleasure is happy-crying while watching highlights of the golden buzzer moments from America’s Got Talent.

And my mission is to continuously create a better digital space for creators and consumers through my work.

Check out my best-selling online courses with over 150k happy marketing students here.


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