What Is a Marketing Funnel

Marketing Funnel

Funnel is a term that’s used a lot in the marketing world. But what exactly does it mean?

A funnel is essentially an automated lead generation system. It’s a way for potential customers to get more familiar with your brand — who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

When it comes to premium services like coaching and consulting, people rarely buy on the first introduction. They need to get to know, like, and trust you. A well-designed funnel will help you to attract your ideal target market, provide value, and stay top of mind. By building a digital relationship with them, you warm them up to the idea of potentially working with you.

In this article, we’ll cover the five key components of an effective marketing funnel and how to utilize funnels in your business. We’ll also address four common mistakes and why funnels fail to deliver results.

5 Key Components of an Effective Funnel

Valuable Offer

The first and most important aspect of a funnel is an introductory offer. This is typically referred to as a lead magnet in the marketing world.

Your offer should provide tangible value to your audience and demonstrate your expertise.

Don’t think you have to spell out all your top secrets at once. In fact, you should keep it concise and digestible. It should be something that people can use to get a quick win or insight.

There are many ways to package your offer. For example, it could be something simple like a free downloadable resource — an eBook, checklist, guide, template, etc. Or it could be some type of interactive quiz or assessment.

You can also create a free video training, webinar, or online course. While these take more work to set up, when done well, they tend to lead to better results and have a higher conversion rate.

For service based professionals like coaches and consultants, a common lead magnet is a free coaching or consulting session. However, nowadays it’s so overused, and some people are weary of jumping straight on a call because they don’t want to get caught in a sales pitch.

It’s totally fine (and recommended) to have a free call option on your website for the most eager visitors. But this shouldn’t be your only offer. Create a lead magnet like one of examples above that’s low effort and that people can consume on their own. You can then use that resource to direct people to a free coaching or consulting session to learn more.

You might have a lot of lead magnet ideas floating around in your mind. The most important thing is to pick one and execute. Over time, you can create multiple different offers and see which one performs the best or gets the best feedback.

Landing Page

In addition to having a valuable offer, it should also have high perceived value. This is where landing pages come into play. The purpose of a landing page is to present your offer and have a way for people to opt in to receive it.

A landing page should start with an attention-grabbing headline. It should be short and catchy, something that highlights the main benefit of your offer. If you have trouble coming up with a good headline, use CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer tool for guidance.

Below the headline, you should have some type of media, like a professional mockup image or a short video introducing your offer.

Then list out some key benefits of your offer. Always prioritize benefits and results over features and jargon. People don’t care as much about the specifics as how it will help them. Speak to your target market’s pain points and desires.

Most importantly, include a simple yet compelling call-to-action, and an opt-in form where people can enter their email to get access. Ideally, you should place a call-to-action in three areas of the page: one near the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom.

For added trust and credibility, include assets like reviews and testimonials, media features, or a short bio section that shares who you are and what you do.

Besides your main landing page, you should also place banners and links strategically throughout your website where people can also access your offer. Some common areas include the top of your homepage or the side panel of your blog posts.

Email Automation

Use email automation to deliver your free resource. Continue following up with educational emails to nurture your audience and provide value. This keeps you top of mind and warms your audience up to the idea of potentially working with you.

The great thing about email automation is that once you set it up, it basically runs on autopilot. You can also leverage features like segmentation to create more personalized experiences and send different emails to different people based on their unique interests and activity.

In addition to providing value in your emails, it’s important to also include a next step for people to take if they’re interested. Depending on your offer, this could be to book a free call, attend an event, or buy a course or program.

When presenting your offer, speak directly to your prospect’s problems and goals. Demonstrate trust and credibility with client stories and examples. Address common FAQs and objections that people have. Last but not least, add an element of scarcity by placing a time deadline or availability limit on your offer.

Traffic Source

The previous three keys are all important, but they don’t mean much if people aren’t even aware of your offer. So after you set up your funnel offer, landing page, and email automation, it’s time to start sending people to them.

There are a number of different organic and paid traffic generation strategies. Depending on your needs and goals, it might make sense to utilize one or the other, or a mix of both.

Organic traffic strategies include SEO and content marketing via blogging and social media. It can also include online media and PR features or joint ventures and collaborations.

While effective, these strategies aren’t a quick fix and usually require consistent effort over a period of time to build momentum.

Paid traffic strategies include online advertising on search engines and social media. Compared to organic strategies, ads produce quicker results and enable you to reach more people.

However, we don’t recommend solely relying on ads, since they only work as long as you keep pumping money into them. It’s best to build your organic traffic and use ads as a supplement for certain times of the year or for special offers.

We’ll go more in depth in a future article on all the ins and outs of traffic generation.


This last piece isn’t as relevant to your prospects and clients going through your funnel. But it’s incredibly important for you as a business owner.

Setting up tracking and analytics will allow you to measure your results and progress, and identify potential leaks or needs for improvement in your funnel.

There are many different analytics tools out there. But you don’t have to go crazy. At a minimum, you should set up a Google Analytics goal to track traffic and conversions on your landing page. You can also install software like Lucky Orange to generate heatmaps and recordings. These two tools alone will give you a lot of insights into visitor activity.

When it comes to email marketing, analytics are usually included, regardless of what platform you use. Pay attention to key metrics like open rate and click rate.

Based on all of this data, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s working, what isn’t, and how to further optimize your funnels. Then it’s just a matter of tweaking, and rinse and repeat.

Why Funnels Fail: 4 Common Funnel Mistakes

Even if you have all five of these pieces set up, it’s quite possible that your funnel will fail to produce the results you’re looking for. If it’s a few months in and your leads and sales haven’t been increasing, you need to reassess and figure out what’s wrong.

Digital marketing is part art and part science, so you won’t get it 100% right on the first iteration, if ever. It’s an ongoing process of building, monitoring, and optimizing.

While there are many reasons why funnels might fail, including some that are out of your control, in most cases they can be boiled down to four common errors.

Mistake #1: Weak Offer

Your offer needs to stand out and provide real value. With so many things vying for people’s attention online, mediocre won’t cut it.

Trying to appeal to a broad audience tends to dilute your message. Instead, target a specific niche with specific pain points or desires, and address it directly in your offer.

If your offer isn’t a hit and you can’t figure out why, it might be best to go back to the drawing board and do more research of your target market. Ask for feedback from past or current clients, people who have expressed interest in your services, or even colleagues.

Once you get real-life feedback, you’ll have more clarity on how to improve your existing offer or create a new one that your audience loves.

Mistake # 2: Poor Messaging

Your offer could be great, but if you present it poorly, people won’t know it.

Focus on benefits and results over features and jargon. This means telling a story and appealing to people’s emotions, not in a manipulative way, but in a genuine way. Provide compelling client stories, examples, and testimonials.

Use clear and simple calls to action that are consistent throughout your site. Some business owners think more is more, so they use too many different calls to action. But all this does is confuse your audience.

Mistake # 3: No Traffic Source

As already mentioned, setting up a funnel is only part of the equation. Once it’s up, you have to get the word out to your target audience and direct them to it, whether it’s through organic or paid traffic campaigns.

It sounds simple, but a lot of business owners fall into the trap of building a funnel and then just sitting back and expecting things to blast off without putting in effort to drive traffic.

Mistake # 4: No Follow-Up

It’s not enough to just present your offer once and expect new leads and clients to start pouring in. You need to establish a follow-up system to stay top of mind.

People aren’t always ready to buy right away, for a number of different reasons. The point of follow-up is not to pester or pressure them, but to continue offering value. Follow up regularly with tips and advice or share exciting new client stories.

This may sound daunting, but remember in the previous section we spoke about email automation. With a little bit of upfront work and effort, you can develop a system to tag subscribers in your list who express interest, and create content specifically for them.

Funnels Are a Must for Growing Your Business

Hopefully this article gave you some insights into what a marketing funnel is and how to implement it effectively in your business.

We covered the five key components of a funnel.

It starts with a valuable introductory offer that both demonstrates your expertise and provides a quick win for your audience.

Then you need a dedicated landing page that presents your offer in a compelling way that gets people to take action and sign up.

Next, utilize email automation to deliver your offer and continue nurturing your audience so you stay top of mind. Make sure to include a clear next step for interested prospects to take.

You also need to establish traffic sources to reach new people in your target market and send them to your offer. Use a mix of organic and paid traffic methods for the best results.

Finally, it’s important to set up and monitor your marketing analytics on a regular basis to spot potential weaknesses and address them.

We also covered four common reasons why funnels fail.

It could be a weak offer that targets too broad of an audience or doesn’t offer clear tangible value to them.

Even with a strong offer, poor messaging can fail to resonate with your target and inspire action.

Not having at least one or two traffic sources can prevent your offer from being seen by the right people.

Lastly, not following up with your prospects is a sure way for them to lose interest and end up going with a competitor who’s more engaged.

If you’re a premium service provider such as a coach or consultant and you don’t have any funnels, then you’re leaving a lot of potential new business on the table.

Whether you already have a funnel but aren’t getting the results you want, or you don’t have one but want expert guidance to build a funnel that converts, schedule a free marketing consultation with us. We’ll review your goals and challenges and offer a plan of action to help you create a winning funnel.

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About The Author

Mike Layer is a digital marketing strategist and the founder and CEO of Layer Digital Solutions.

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