Why Marketing Funnels are a Necessary Evil

Apr 21, 2015

Practically every business has some sort of sales funnel. A sales funnel is essentially a marketing system that takes potential customers through a series of steps that eventually leads to them becoming a customer and ultimately a repeat buyer. Sound good in theory, but the practice is frequently something else altogether.

marketing funnels necessary evils

The problem is that people are human, and don’t always act in the logical linear fashion that a funnel dictates. You simply can’t predict why a given customer will stop at step 2, or skip steps 3 and 4 only to reappear at step 5.

Sales Prospects are Usually in More Than Just One Funnel
The volume of freely available information from the Internet means that not every search user researching a product or service is necessarily in a buying mode. They may just be killing time or fantasizing out loud about a dream purchase. Searchers may take advantage of every free report your funnel has to offer then disappear forever. On the other hand, the prospect who abandons your website today may very well reappear next month at step 7 with credit card in hand.

Sales Prospects are Well Connected to Information and Referral Sources
The idea that prospects go directly from a search engine query to signing up on your sales page is wishful thinking. Consumers today engage socially online with friends and family as well as seek out product reviews, and these recommendations carry considerably more weight than any cleverly written piece of sales copy you could ever hope to create.

The prospects who do manage to find their way to your website are in all likelihood researching a number of your competitors as well as your business, and will typically seek comments and approval from their social network peers before they make a final purchase decision.

Why Sales Funnels Still Make Sense
Despite the drawbacks of sales funnels, you need to have some mechanism in place to organize your sales efforts and to convert as many sales prospects as possible into paying customers. A strong and well-planned sales funnel can help you clarify your thoughts and processes on building genuine customer value that will sustain your business now and in the future.

The most important element in your sales funnel is the content. The hallmark of great marketing is great content – always has been and always will be.

  • To attract prospects to your website you need great content.
  • To capture email addresses you need great content.
  • To convert those leads into paying customers you need great content.
  • To retain those customers and encourage repeat purchases you need great content.

Tips on Building Your Online Sales Funnel
The ideal sales funnel is designed to nurture your prospects, giving them the attention and information that they need to solve the challenges facing them. While not every nurtured prospect will go on to become a customer for life, the ones that do are critically important to the growth and long-term sustainability of your business.

The following questions will help guide you as you sketch out your online sales funnel. Just remember that the most effective way to convert prospects into paying customers is with great content.

What methods are you using to attract new visitors to your website?
Do you have an effective lead magnet for converting those visitors into leads?
Are you providing value with genuinely useful content to build and maintain relationships with your prospects?
What are you doing to generate feedback from your prospects?
Have you created value-driven backend products to encourage repeat purchases?