In this series, we’ll be giving you a solid understanding of ONLINE funnels, what they are and why they are one of today’s most powerful marketing tactics.

If you’re thinking this is going to be scary stuff, only for tech-heads from MIT, fear not, it’s easy stuff. So easy that my 8-year-old niece built one last summer. I’ve got your back, so stay with me.

When I was approached to write an article about marketing funnels, and given a word limit of 900-1300, I knew I had my work cut out for me. What I decided to do was write a multi-part series, each month covering one aspect of funnels, but with an accompanying supplementary video series, so that you can learn more, step-by-step at your own pace.

123rf67392531 mktg funnel largeWhat the heck is a “funnel?”

[quotesright]A funnel is a relationship-building sales process, deliberately planned and mapped out by a business. [/quotesright]

The first exposure I ever had to sales funnels goes back about 25 years, several years before the internet became prevalent when I got one of my first ever sales jobs. It was as a waiter at Pizza Hut. There was me thinking the manager will just throw me an apron, an order pad and tell me to “go to work.”

But oh no, I was sent to the head office where they proceeded to show me that the entire visit of a customer was planned by the company literally down to the minute.

Their funnel starts with a free or low-end offer in the form of a coupon usually found on the customer’s doorstep. When the customer visited the restaurant, we were trained to control the entire customer journey.

Now, this was 25 years ago, so I don’t remember all the details exactly, but within two minutes we’d have to have seated the customer, then:

  • At five minutes take their order,
  • At eight minutes deliver a low-end product (e.g., garlic bread and drink),
  • At 13 minutes deliver the main course,
  • At 16 minutes offer drink refills,
  • At 18 minutes ask the customer if they enjoyed their meal so far,
  • At 21 minutes deliver dessert…and so forth. It was all mapped out.

Your business may already have a process like this offline (i.e., face-to-face in the real world), but up until a couple of years ago, replicating or creating a process like this online required substantial resources in terms of both time and money.

I remember being asked to write an article for a publication with massive readership, about five years ago, and so I asked if they could wait until I built an opt-in page so that I could invite readers to get a free tutorial.

[quotes]How long do you think it took for me to get someone to build the opt-in page?[/quotes] A week? A month? Two months? Nope. The answer is, it never got built. I was chasing my designer for nine months and he still never managed to build it. Further, the cost for doing it was going to be thousands of dollars.

Today, software makes it possible to build almost any kind of funnel: opt-in funnels, sales funnels, webinar funnels, auto-webinar funnels, live event funnels and many other types, literally at the speed of thought.

123rf58616134 largeGetting started with online funnels

The first question to ask is what types of funnels does your business really need?

The answer is you’ll need several different funnels to suit different levels of relationship and the “temperature” of those relationships. By temperature, we mean whether the prospective customer or “traffic” is cold, warm, or hot. (For the best walkthrough on the topic, Russell Brunson, the founder of Clickfunnels, goes into this in great detail in his book DotComSecrets. See the links below to see how you can get yourself a free copy.)

Cold Traffic

For just about every client I have, I build multiple opt-in funnels (you may have heard them referred to as landing or squeeze pages), where we offer a free “thing” like a free e-book, cheat sheet, tutorial video, or other highly desirable product or service, give it away for free in exchange for a name and email address and possibly other information.

[quotesright]These are effectively two-step funnels where we give them something of great value for free in exchange for their name and email address. [/quotesright]

This type funnel is principally used for”cold” traffic. By cold traffic, we mean an audience that has never heard of you before now. Hence, you have to “warm them up.” That is, give them free or nearly free samples of your product or service.

It’s a bit like that guy who was giving out small sample cups of hot chocolate outside the chocolate shop recently, during a short bout of exceedingly cold weather! It “warmed” me up and made me go in and explore their other chocolates and goodies and now I’m customer.

Warm Traffic

Typical funnels you would send your “warm” traffic to include:

  • Webinar funnel. This is an online class where you teach something you are an expert in and at the end present an offer to your audience to purchase something
  • Sales funnel. If you’ve bought anything on the Internet, you’ll have been through one of these. Usually, a long page with lots of sales copy and maybe an embedded video talking about the product and what problem it solves.
  • Product Launch funnel. This is a multi-part funnel taking prospects through three or more informative videos. (You’ll actually see one of these shortly.)

We’ll cover more funnel types as we go.

The main thing to remember is that a key factor of all online funnels is they do not have dropdown menus or navigation bars with hundreds of links you can go to. [quotesright]You can usually only do one of two things on every funnel page. [/quotesright] You can either:

  1. Take the next step, i.e. buying the product or requesting further information, or
  2. Leave without acting on the “call to action.”

Hot Traffic

[quotes]Your “hot” traffic is all your raving fans.[/quotes] People who absolutely love what you do, what you sell, and what you stand for. They’ll buy just about anything you have to offer. Only your hot traffic trusts you enough to buy your highest priced products and services – your high ticket items.

We’ll go into funnels for hot traffic in more detail in later articles, because this is usually an application funnel where the prospect is invited to apply and arrange a time to speak with your top salesperson. Why? [quotesright]Because people just generally don’t buy five-figure products/services on a web page. They want to talk with someone. [/quotesright]

Having given you a short introduction to some basic principles, let’s go to an educational site to show you a few basic funnels in action, share a few funnel templates with you for you to use, and were you can get Russell’s free book:

Jason “Funnel Jedi” Economides, co-founder of Funnel Jedi