Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped companies such as Amazon, Uber and Salesforce acquire more customers, and co-founder of ClickFlow, an SEO experimentation tool that helps you increase your Google ranking. He also hosts two podcasts: Marketing School with Neil Patel and Growth Everywhere, an entrepreneurial podcast where he dissects growth levers that help businesses scale. Follow him on Twitter @ericosiu
1. Fuel – This is where fresh and unqualified leads first enter into your funnel. They’re typically attracted by an appealing offer, a tempting and free lead magnet, or simply the promise that you’ll be delivering them quality content chock full of valuable information. Many of the funnels we’ve built for our clients are fueled by Google PPC ads or ads through Facebook. 
If you’re running a consulting business, for instance, your clients already realize that they’re having certain problems around your service area – like disorganized spending (if you’re in accounting) or a high cost per lead (if you’re in marketing). On the other hand, if you’re running a software development business, your client could be having problems with absolutely anything right from the hours being consumed to other factors that affect deliveries.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
Suppose your furnace goes out in the middle of winter. Your problem is obvious: you need a new furnace. And the solution is easy — you need to call HVAC providers in your area for quotes. But say you need a new car. Should you look for an SUV, a compact car or a mid-size sedan? Even vaguer still, if you’re frustrated with how much your accountant is charging you to do your business’ taxes, you might not even be familiar with all the different solutions, like cloud-based accounting services.

The final stage of the sales funnel is the action that you're intending them to perform. In most cases this is the purchase. Again, how well you move them through the various stages is going to set you up with a specific conversion for this action. For example, if 100 people click on your offer and 10 people enter your sales funnel but only purchase people purchase, then you have a 2 percent conversion. 
Content that introduces the company and intrigues potential customers enough to move to the next stage of the buying process. For example, a Facebook post called “Behind the Scenes at Molly Marketer’s Company. This works especially well if you have a company with a corporate citizenship mission, such as selling sustainable, environmentally friendly goods.
Say you’re into cycling and you’ve decided to purchase Trek’s latest Emonda line road bike. You read a few less-than-positive reviews online, but brush them off on the understanding that all Internet comments should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, people only review products and services that they absolutely love or absolutely hate – but most customers fall somewhere in between.
OK, so really there are 11 steps to creating your sales funnel, but 10 just sounded more “precise”!  Lastly, your email system should tell you how successful your emails are. Use this information to tweak and improve them over time.  You should also track your blog posts, Twitter followers and Twitter activity, Facebook ad success, etc. Hubspot is a great tool for this kind of thing.
For example, let’s say your business has a blog and social media accounts it uses to get on a potential customer’s radar. From there, you encourage people to download an eBook in exchange for their email and drop them into an email drip that promotes an upcoming webinar. At the webinar, you sell people on your product or service, which convinces them to submit a lead form, work with your sales team and ultimately make a purchase.
Unfortunately, the reason why we call it a marketing funnel instead of a marketing journey or marketing waterfall is that not everyone who enters your funnel will end up buying. At each stage in the buying process, you lose some potential customers, but a good marketing funnel will keep those losses to a minimum and produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing.
In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
According to Pardot, 70% of buyers turn to Google at least 2-3 times during their search to find out more about their problems, potential solutions, relevant businesses, etc. Many people also turn to social media and forums for recommendations. At this point, they aren’t looking for promotional content; they’re looking to learn more about potential solutions for their need.
Through developing your online course, you should have the basis for some initial content to promote. Certainly, if you are just starting to create a course, then now’s the time to think about repurposing some of the content you will create. This would be blogs, guides, checklists, review articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, opinion pieces on Medium and LinkedIn and so forth. Make sure in this phase to create one or more lead magnets, such as guides, checklists, diagrams, etc. that you can leverage to collect emails later on.
Customers move on to Stage 5 when the sale is complete. Try sitting with your team and brainstorming upon the kinds of information these customers are going to need, as well as how you’ll provide it as part of a cohesive onboarding process. Although at this stage you don’t really need to worry about customers finding you or moving on to the next option, it’s still vital to address their needs so that they walk away feeling good about their purchase decisions.

Customers move on to Stage 5 when the sale is complete. Try sitting with your team and brainstorming upon the kinds of information these customers are going to need, as well as how you’ll provide it as part of a cohesive onboarding process. Although at this stage you don’t really need to worry about customers finding you or moving on to the next option, it’s still vital to address their needs so that they walk away feeling good about their purchase decisions.
At Disruptive Advertising, the marketing funnel is a key part of how we approach every client’s marketing. Getting into specifics about which tactics work best under which conditions in which stages is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like help setting up your own marketing funnel, let me know here or in the comments. Or, for additional content, check out this blog post.

In a recent conversation I had with Perry Belcher, co-founder of Native Commerce Media, he told me that you also need to train your prospects to click on links. For example, you could have them click on a link of what interests them or link them to a blog post or eventually to a product or service that you're selling, but you need to train them to build a habit of clicking on those links from the very beginning.
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