Why you need a Marketing Funnel for your creative business (and what a marketing funnel actually is)
If you’re a maker or artist you’ve probably seen Facebook ads promising that if you just use this “sales funnel” you’ll be able to earn 6 figures a month while sitting on a beach and drinking a cocktail. While we’re not suggesting a marketing funnel will do THAT for your creative business, we do feel that understanding what a marketing funnel actually is and how to use one, can help you grow your creative business so I invited Liza Simpson from WCM Digital to write this post on why makers and artists need a Marketing Funnel (and what a marketing funnel actually is). I hope you enjoy it!
While it might seem like marketing jargon or something that’s only relevant for huge businesses with sales teams and hundreds of products, a marketing funnel is actually a really useful tool for businesses of all sizes. It can help you think more strategically about your marketing efforts, and the interactions you have with your customers, and when implemented well, can ultimately lead to more sale. So, let’s break down what it is, how it works, and why you need one for your creative business.
What is a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a way of strategically organising your marketing activities and content to attract new customers (usually referred to as leads), and gently guide them through your funnel until they’re ready to make a purchase.
Why is it called a funnel?
Picture a funnel. It’s wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom. The top of the funnel is where customers first discover your brand, so this is where the most people sit in the
marketing funnel. The middle of the funnel is where people do more research about your product or business, and bottom is where they seriously consider making a purchase, and hopefully go through with it. As people move through the funnel, they naturally drop off (which is not reflection on your product – not every product is right for everyone!), until only a few customers are left at the narrowest part of the funnel.
Why does it work?
For many reasons, when a customer first encounters your product on social media, on your website or at a market stall, although they might love it, they may not be ready to buy. This could be because of their budget, unfamiliarity with your brand or they don’t feel they need it in that moment. If you don’t have a marketing funnel in place, that encounter could be the first and last time that customer ever interacts with your brand.
A marketing funnel works because it helps you capture new leads, then aligns the content, messaging and offers your audience receive with where they are in the customer journey. This makes the customer journey feel more organic to your new leads, as you gradually build trust, guiding them towards making a purchase, rather than driving them away with overly pushy or salesy content.
How does it work?
Marketing funnels can vary depending on the budget and tools you have at your disposal, but the principle is always the same – nurturing leads towards making a purchase, a booking or ‘converting’ as we often call it in marketing. As a small business, some of the tools you might have at your disposal are:
- Organic social media (great for top of funnel discovery and to support other stages of the funnel).
- Paid social media advertising.
- Email marketing.
- Your website.
- Free piece of content you’ve developed (also known as hooks or lead magnets).
Stage 1 – Top of Funnel
If you regularly run market stalls, think of the people visiting your stall for the first time as your top of ffunnel leads. You’d probably chat to them about your product, but wouldn’t be too pushy or they’d high-tail it right out of there! That’s the same principle with the content you should be putting out for top of funnel customers.
At the top of the funnel, people have just discovered your brand or product. This is known as the ‘awareness’ stage of the customer journey. Customers in this stage don’t want to be sold to, but they will be open to hearing a bit about your brand story, your product, and what problems it can potentially solve for them. Focus on content that will educate your top of funnel customers, and start to build trust in your brand.
Top of funnel interactions might include:
- Someone discovering your business on social media.
- Seeing your ad on Facebook.
- Visiting your website.
- Reading a post on your blog.
- Downloading a piece of free content from your website, like a recipe or sewing pattern.
One of the key elements of a marketing funnel is being able to keep in touch with your new leads. If you’re in a position to run Facebook ads, you can do this by running target ads to customers who are likely to be interested in your product. If not, collecting email addresses is a great option. This can be done through offering free downloadable content, having sign-up buttons on your website, running a competition that requires people to join your mailing list to enter, or even by collecting email addresses on an iPad or clipboard at your market stall.
Stage 2 – Middle of funnel
People in the middle of a marketing funnel are in the ‘consideration’ stage of the customer journey. They might have engaged with your brand a few times online, or may have been further researching your product and even comparing it with your competitors’. But they’re still not ready for a hard sell yet.
Content that appeals to your middle of funnel leads should be focused on continuing to build trust, and educating your audience about what makes your business and product unique. If you’re running social media ads, you can reach your middle of funnel customers through retargeting.
If you’ve been collecting email addresses, the middle of the funnel is where you can introduce a nurture sequence. A nurture sequence is a series of emails designed to nurture your new leads, build trust, provide value (think entertaining or free content of value), educate them about your brand story, team, values or products, and gradually warm them up to a point where they feel an affinity with your brand, and are more likely to make a purchase. These emails can be set up in advance to be sent out automatically over a few weeks or even months, depending on your product, offering and audience.
Middle of funnel interactions might include:
- Reading your website in depth.
- Researching your or competitors.
- Engaging with your longer form content, e.g., long videos or blog posts.
- Engaging with retargeting ads.
Stage 3 – Bottom of funnel
If leads have reached the bottom of your funnel, it means they’ve kept interacting with your ads or visiting your website, gone through your nurture sequence, learned about your brand, and now feel just about ready to make a purchase!
Customers at the bottom of the funnel are usually happy to be sold to, so it’s ok to use content and language in your ads or emails that is more sales focused.
If you’re in a position to offer a small discount or free shipping that’s time sensitive to encourage quick action, this typically works well at the bottom of the funnel. If not, product reviews or testimonials used in your ads or emails can help prompt them to take action.
By putting a marketing funnel in place, you’ll be able to start capturing leads and nurturing them, rather than losing them after one interaction. Although as a small business owner it can feel like a huge and scary step to invest in marketing tools like an email marketing service or paid advertising, when used correctly, these tools can really help support your business.
If you’re keen to get started, I recommend looking into an email marketing service as a start, as most email services have different levels of fees depending on the size of your list, so you can always choose one that will grow with your business. Try and having something in place in time for your next big market or event to take advantage of the extra eyeballs (or leads) on your brand. Good luck with your marketing!
This article was written by Liza Simpson who is WCM Digital’s CEO and fearless co-founder. Liza has over a decade of marketing experience, having worked for and run agencies large and small, with clients including PTV, Kidsafe and Taco Bill. Liza gets a kick out of the challenges and complexities that come with digital marketing, and always goes above and beyond to get incredible results for her clients. She loves working with the growing WCM team, and seeing businesses be empowered from the work they do with WCM.