How to Start Building a Marketing Funnel

If you're a first marketing hire or you've inherited a marketing team where there's little to know data and the entire funnel is either non-existent or completely broken and you have no idea where to start, I'm going to give you a mind blowing piece of advice. 

Begin at the beginning. 

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The general marketing funnel looks something like this:

  1. Awareness - get your target audience to know your name
  2. Engagement / Education - get them to know what you stand for and offer
  3. Consideration - get them to understand how the tools are relevant to them and their needs
  4. Purchase - get them to buy your stuff
  5. Retention / Growth - get them to buy more and stick with your brand

People slice and dice the above up into smaller pieces or call them different things, but essentially, that's the flow a consumer or business goes through to buy your stuff. And they have to follow that flow, step by step. There's no "pass go and go straight to Retention" without first knowing your name, your offerings, and buying something with you a first time. 

That's why I suggest your marketing efforts and priorities follow this funnel in the beginning, too.

Your goal should be to create problems to solve in your funnel. Break it. Cause the leaks in your bucket before you try to patch them. 

Focus on awareness, thought leadership, making a name for yourself that strongly aligns with the message and perception you want to put in the market. While some will say "any PR is good PR," I'd suggest you focus on quality and not quantity - aim for strong stories in the press that don't just throw your name out there but make a point to share your POV in the market with the world. 

When you're doing this so well that your sales team complains that they're dealing with too many leads of varying quality, you move down the funnel and put a system in place to evaluate qualified leads. Same idea for consumers making it to your site, shopping around, but not actually purchasing. Get them there, then optimize those product pages and the check out page. 

There will always be more to fix, more tools to implement, more people to hire to manage those tools, more money to spend, more optimizations to make.

Just start at the start and soon, you'll be at the end. Then start over.