T.P.R. Episode 3 - How to Build a Sales Funnel That Actually Works


Sam: Well, today is a great episode. We are going to talk about how to build a sales funnel that actually works. We talk about the importance of and why you should care about building a sales and marketing funnel in Episode 2, and we highly recommend that you go back and listen to that if you're trying to figure out what the fuss is all about with sales and marketing funnels. If you're trying to make sure that you build one that works then you're going to really like this episode.


Sam: Sales funnels are a core concept in digital marketing, and we discussed this in Episode 2. A way to really move prospective browsers in to customers. If you offer a product or service that people buy online, or if it requires human interaction for people to buy your product or service, then a well-developed sales funnel can take you from obscurity and lack of direction to a super, laser-focused strategy to get potential customers to take the actions that you want them to take.


Sam: Hannah, where should marketers start when trying to develop a sales and marketing funnel?


Hannah: A funnel won't succeed unless you make a plan and unless you know each step of that process.

So you know the end goal, which is you want them to become a customer, and you want to figure out how to get there. And so you want to figure out what content you want to offer, how you're going to get them to opt into the email list, and the different types of emails that you're going to send in order to sell them and have them become a customer for you.


A funnel won’t succeed unless you make a plan and know each step of that process.

Sam: So as a copywriter, is it important that companies document their target audiences through a buyer persona framework?


Hannah: Yes. A buyer persona is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time when you're building a funnel and a marketing plan because it allows you to focus on your ideal customer. Like it or not, not everyone is going to buy from you unless maybe you're Facebook. Even then there's some people that aren't on it.

And so you want to figure out the demographics, the psychographics, the age and income, can they afford your product, is your product for lower income families, and all of that you need to think through in order to know who to sell to and how to sell to them.


Sam: Very interesting. So building that framework and understanding who your audience is key.

Mikhail, do you use buyer personas when you develop content?


Mikhail: Yeah, absolutely. I think that when we are branding or marketing for any company, we have to understand who the client's ideal customer is. And should speak using a voice, and produce content, in a way that they would find valuable.


Sam: So if it was stuff for me, like you said, I would probably just like Star Wars 8 information only! And I'll read that all day long. But, if we're working with a beauty company, we want to go into the lifestyle of somebody who's going to be using their product.

So as a company is trying to figure out how to develop a really compelling sales funnel that works, Mikhail, what are some examples of offers that companies can create, or use, to bring potential customers into their funnel?


Mikhail: Well one of the offers that always worked best, like a sale, get "25% off" or something like that. But we've also found that when you are creating an offer, using an actual dollar amount works really well also. So that's one thing. Another thing would be incorporating other people into the offers so it's like, "bring your friend" type of thing. So that way you're not only getting more customers in but it increases your word-of-mouth after that also if the customer has had a great experience.


Sam: Gotcha. And so let's say for someone who is trying to take advantage of a "25% Off", or some sort of discount, that is maybe someone who's a little bit further down the buyers journey. This is someone who's in the place where they're looking for service providers and that offer is really great someone who's in the decision-making mode.


Sam: So Hannah, as far as offers are concerned, how can a company, or where should a company, start when developing an offer that's at the top of their funnel to really bring that brand awareness in?


Hannah: I think the key, and it's going to change depending on industry, but I think the key thing is to make it enticing. But also, because they are at at the top of the funnel it needs to be more enticing than if it's in the middle. But you also don't want to give it away too much or they're not going to be willing to pay full price for your item. And so I think you really need to balance that. It depends. It could be "$25 off a $100 order", which is pretty significant, but it all depends on your product and your margins, and kind of you have to judge it for yourself.

Mikhail probably has a little better insight than I have.


They key is to make it enticing.

Mikhail: It's exactly like you said though, it should be more general at the top of the funnel. But then when they're in your e-mail inbox, and you're in there and you finally got in, you've got to give them something that's unique to them. You know what I'm saying.

Because then if I tell Hannah, "dude I just got $10 off of my $37 Starbucks drink but I only got it because I'm on their e-mail thing." Then she might want to sign-up for the same offer.

So make it unique to that person.


Sam: Interesting. So let's say the traffic sources are the ways that we can bring people into the funnel which include email marketing, social media, and search.

So when you're bringing people in that way, how should our viewer and our listener think about, or consider, when constructing a landing page where that offer will live?


Mikhail: Well, making the landing page accurately describe what the offer is, and building value in the copy there is very important. And make it very simple for somebody to submit their information and sign-up.

I would say that when you're constructing it, don't have like, "name, last name, birthday, social security number, driver's license, and then submit." Just have, "first name, last name, email, submit." That's really all we need for the first step. I think that it's really important to simplify it while building value in the copy and in the imagery.


Sam: Gotcha. So when it comes to you know the way that a company uses email marketing, in the funnel itself (once someone has opted-in or they have given their information), how can a company use email marketing, where do they start when developing that email marketing strategy, to nurture those leads that came in through the funnel to make another purchase or to get down to that conversion event, maybe scheduling an appointment, that they are ultimately looking for? 


Mikhail: Well I think what marketers should take into consideration is that you can't blast them with an offer every single time. If you do that, then your consumer or your potential customers is going to think, "Oh, I'll just wait till the next e-mail."

So building value throughout that, creating a funnel includes creating a series of emails maybe on a particular subject. So if we're going for the CEO, you can do multiple e-mails, "how to build a company culture", "how to increase sales", "how to do this, how to do this, how to do that." And then, "hire our consultant and marketing agency".


Sam: What should companies be focusing on, what key metrics should they be looking at and monitoring in order to understand, Hannah, how well it's performing?


Hannah: I think open rates are important but opening the email doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to do anything further. So you want to look at, "are they clicking the links, which links are they looking at, what geographical regions are they coming from.." Because if somehow someone from the U.K. got on your list, but your service is only available in the United States, then it might not be a lead.


Sam: Okay, most companies out there are using e-mail in some way shape or form. And they're trying to improve the way that those e-mails are performing, what is a way that a company, a simple way, could improve their open rates on emails?


Mikhail: Working on your subject copy is really the biggest thing. If it's just like 20% off here, somebody probably won't do that. The best e-mail I ever got actually when it said, "Oh look there's a unicorn inside." That's what got me to open that e-mail.

So get creative with the subject line copy. And then in addition to increasing your open rates, make sure that the content you're delivering within it is actually valuable to the end user. Because I do not want any more emails from Groupon, but I don't unsubscribe. But if there was always things that I really, really cared about within that email, I'd probably open it every single time so make sure that the content within it is good so that somebody that's already on your list continues to open that e-mail.


Sam: So it's not just about a catchy subject line, it's really about tying that subject line into what's actually in the email, delivering on that promise. Very similar to bringing someone to a landing page from an e-mail, or from a social media ad, or from an organic post somewhere. You want to fulfill on that promise. They clicked-through for a very specific reason and you don't want to let them down. It's really important to deliver on that, to fulfill that promise and show them exactly what they came there for.


Sam: For a company that is driving traffic to landing pages, they're converting and getting people to opt-in for their content offer or for their discount offer, and they're using e-mail marketing to drive traffic through, how is it that you can how do you construct the e-mail? How do you get people to read that e-mail? Is there a lot of images? Is there mostly text? Are there buttons? How would you direct our viewer and our listener to create a compelling e-mail that's going to work?


Mikhail: I think that for one, as Hannah was mentioning earlier, you really got to think about who your customer actually is. If I'm a fashion company, I'm going to want to use more pictures. If I'm a dental lab, maybe case studies or some videos or something like that will be more compelling throughout that email. So #1, always start off with a valuable piece of content. Make sure that you have your calls-to-action very clear throughout it as well. So not just at the very bottom because some people won't get there, don't be afraid to have one right in the middle or even closer to the top and make sure that somebody can actually see that call-to-action.

Also you have no idea how many clients and we've seen their e-mails, it's like their call-to-action button looks exactly the same as the rest of the copy, you can't even see it. So make sure that those things are standing out. And I think because consumers are relatively savvy and know what-the-hell is going on now...

Be genuine, be authentic, give good value.


Mikhail: Can I say hell on our show?


Sam: Yeah.


Mikhail: Hell yeah.


Hannah: They don't want to be tricked.


Mikhail: So be genuine, be authentic, give good value, but make sure that you are are asking at least in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd thirds of the e-mail at the very least.


Hannah: And also another thing to tack on to what Mikhail was saying is that people don't read online, they skim. So you want to make that call-to-action button obvious, you want to do short paragraphs. You need to realize they're not going to read your entire e-mail. Don't be insulted by that, it's just the reality of serving content online. And so just keep that focused, bullet points, bold some key statements, and then have that call-to-action.


Sam: Great stuff, guys. Awesome. Thank you so much.

To our viewer and our listener, I hope that you were able to find value here and learn a little bit more about how to really build a sales funnel that works. This has been an episode of The Production Room, brought to you by Replay - The Collective Marketing Agency.

My name is Sam and from all of us here at Replay, we love you. And until next time, don't stop growing. Don't ever, ever stop.