You know what a funnel looks like — a big hole at the top, and a small hole at the bottom. In marketing, we use it as an analogy for the process of gathering a large audience and «funneling them» down into a focused action.
Sadly, most business funnels look nothing like that. In fact, they look more like a colander, with lots of holes leaking opportunities (and revenue) everywhere.
When it comes to funnel-building, there are many pitfalls. Some of them are so treacherous that even the pros will fall for them.
In this article, we’ll:
In case you don’t want to read, you can watch our video, which is based on this article 🙂
This is one of those pitfalls that typically affects everyone, but smart people are even more prone to fall for it. And that’s because smart people understand the bigger picture, so they try to plan for everything.
They’ll try to write down EVERY possible scenario for EVERY possible stage of the funnel, in granular and laser-sharp detail, so that they never miss an opportunity.
There’s an old military saying that goes, «No plan —no matter how perfect— ever survives first contact with the enemy.»
That’s also true in marketing as well. No matter how accurately you plan your funnel, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get it perfect right away. The perfect funnel is built gradually, over time, and based on constant feedback, testing and pivoting.
So you might spend six months planning and implementing a funnel, only to find out that you based it on the wrong hypothesis. What will this mistake cost you?
If those numbers go high enough, your business could take a hit that will be tough to recover from, if at all.
Take small steps at a time.
Here’s why this approach works best.
You hear it all the time.
«Segmentation is the key to having the right message-to-market match».
And it’s true… if you segment the right way.
If you just go by gender, age, geography, interests, and so on, without understanding how that segmentation will bring added value to your customers, it will all be for nothing.
Base your decisions on the data that matters.
The goal of your segmentation should be to make offers that make sense to your customers, and increase conversion towards specific goals based on analytics. Don’t forget to evaluate the ratio of costs and emissions, to make sure the exercise is a profitable one.
This ties in a lot with the first point — trying to build a complete funnel from the start.
The problem is that testing hypotheses on small segments can give you badly skewed results, and throw you way off track in the long run.
By the time you notice, you’ll have sunk a ton of time and money into a dead-end road. Not good.
Start wide. Figure out common values and common messages that apply to wider segments, even if it means using all of your users.
The larger the cohort, the sooner you’ll be able to see whether the hypothesis makes sense or not.
Once you’ve found one that it makes sense, you can start testing similar hypotheses on narrower segments and getting more granular.
Numbers — some people love them, some people hate them.
Whatever your opinion, the fact remains that without numbers, everything we do is doomed to fail.
You could have an amazing, state-of-the-art funnel, but unless you’ve worked out the numbers you need to get the desired result, you won’t see much benefit from it.
Think ahead. Educate yourself on industry conversion benchmarks.
What kind of results is it sensible to expect? How is your funnel performing in comparison to those benchmarks? And are you getting the kind of ROI required to justify it?
If you’re ready to give this area of your business the attention it deserves, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.
Evan Miller Calculator — Helps you to understand statistics, evaluate hypotheses, and calculate the required sample size for achieving a desired result.
It’s easy to get lost on the latest «Secret Tactic for getting 275,2X conversion rates OMGGG!!!» being published on every internet marketing blog out there.
Yes, experimenting with UX auto-messaging, changing the location of buttons, tweaking the colors and other tricks, can boost your conversion. But if you get too hung up on these things, they’ll eat up a TON of your time, without adding any real value to your customers.
The truth is that principles are more important than tactics. And if the foundation is wrong, no amount of changing button color/location will make it right.
During the first stages, experiment with the things that REALLY matter, such as pricing experiments.
Focus on understanding why your customers buy your product, and what problem it solves for them. With this knowledge, you’ll know which values to leverage for maximum traction, while you continue to experiment with minutiae like button colors.
Developers are a rare, valuable and expensive commodity.
Sometimes, we have a fantastic idea (at least we think so), and we rush to the almighty developers to turn it into the perfect reality. And then we’ll also pull in the design team, the UX experts… everything but the kitchen sink.
But what if this great idea turns out not to be so great after all?
Right. Lots of money down the toilet. And grumpy devs.
Turn off your inner perfectionist, and implement a «minimum viable version» of your hypothesis first.
Do it yourself, using the many tools available out there.
That’s why we built Dashly in fact. We wanted to give you a tool to quickly implement your plans with ready-made scripts, easy-to-use pop-up builders, and a wide choice of templates.
Get your minimum viable test off the ground first. Prove that the little chick can fly. Then bring in the team to build it a jet engine and take it to Mach 20.
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You have a unique vision, and nobody can take that away from you.
But having a unique vision, doesn’t mean you need to reinvent everything that is connected to it. Maybe you WILL need to do that eventually. But if you try to do it too soon, without having a proper foundation, you’ll simply be throwing money away, just as we mentioned in the previous points.
Look around you first.
Pay attention to how others have already solved similar problems. Learn valuable lessons from other people’s experiments and failures, and capitalize on their successes.
Don’t just look at people in your industry. There are valuable insights to be learned from anywhere, including areas that have nothing to do with your type of business. You’ll be surprised how sometimes the simplest or most counter-intuitive actions will bring the best results.
We’re not saying you should go out there and do your thing. But a tried-and-tested formula can carry you a very long way.
If you’re interested in how other businesses (both similar and different from yours) have done this effectively, check out our Dashly case studies. There are some fantastic insights in there that you can start using in your business today.
Check them out right here.