An effective marketing funnel is designed to turn strangers into customers through an intentional trickle-down method, guiding prospective clients through the necessary stages of Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. The average consumer will not make a purchasing decision off the bat; a marketing funnel helps to structure the buyers' journey into a streamlined channel from the first impression to closing the sale.
Fortunately, your marketing funnel can run on its own without your constant attention. Once you've established your funnel steps, you can automate many of the lead generation strategies to nurture prospects and guide them towards a sale.
First and foremost, you need to attract your ideal client.
Start with a Lead Magnet
As its name suggests, a lead magnet is a marketing element that attracts prospective clients to provide you with more information so you can contact them at a later time. Lead magnets are typically digital giveaways that people can download in exchange for their email address, like a PDF checklist, a collection of email templates, a batch of custom photography presets, or a quiz that helps them discover more about their needs.
For example, a quiz may help them define their ideal event style, whereas a PDF checklist may walk them through the top ten things they need to do once engaged. Consider how you can provide prospective customers with solutions to their top challenges, without giving away the whole secret recipe.
Once you're ready to share your lead magnet with the world, it's time to employ digital ads to expand your reach and draw in strangers that are not already in your network. While it does take time to develop lead magnets, the ad experience is highly amenable to automation, so take advantage of Facebook and Google ads' features.
Plan a Nurture Sequence
Once someone downloads your lead magnet or takes your quiz, you’ll capture their email address and can then use email marketing to automate all of the down-funnel interactions that follow. A nurture sequence is a series of emails designed to cultivate their relationship with you and your brand, ultimately building the Know, Like, Trust factor that influences their purchasing decision. These emails are not intended to be overly salesy; instead, they should showcase your knowledge and position you as an expert that is uniquely equipped to solve their biggest problems.
To automate the nurture sequence, you must have a reliable email service provider like ConvertKit or Flodesk. Your email platform stores your email list (which will update automatically each time someone bites on your lead magnet) and allows you to create algorithms to streamline your email sequences based upon a reader’s action. A great email provider can also house landing pages, simplifying your marketing campaigns and keeping all aspects in one place.
Finish with a Sales Letter
After the nurture sequence is completed, people have already gotten to know you and your brand. Suddenly, it no longer feels like a foreign idea to book a consultation and get a quote from you. Encourage them to schedule a discovery call so you can begin discussing their event. Since you can include this as the last installment of your series of nurture emails, you are essentially automating your entire lead generation process.
Still, you can’t assume where anyone is on their individual buyers’ journey. It might take more than one sales email, so keep building your relationship and showcasing your expertise until they’re ready to buy from you. Try out a monthly promotional email as a simple touchpoint that leaves the door open for them to take the next step.
You can further automate the pre-closing process by using a scheduling tool like Calendly, which allows people to book time during pre-specified slots on your calendar. If you only take discovery calls on two days each week, you can define that in your schedule and include the link in your sales emails so your leads can book a time that works for them.
From there, you’re only a few steps away from closing, at which point you can use another automated email sequence to kick off the onboarding process.
Maintaining Authenticity with Automation
Many people think that automating your marketing funnel will lose the personal spark that you bring to the mix and become a robotic function to direct people through to close. However, you're not relinquishing every individual touchpoint along the way; you're merely taking the routine steps of your funnel off your plate. You're still going to connect with prospects when responding to emails or hopping on a phone call. You cannot automate genuine human interaction, so use those direct engagements to build a stronger bond with your leads.
When done correctly, automation will save you time and make you appear professional to prospective clients. With programs like Dubsado or Rock Paper Coin, you can automate recurring tasks like contracting, invoicing, and appointment scheduling. It feels more authentic and legitimate than sending over a PDF invoice with a PayPal link because it’s all linked together.
Ultimately, it's relatively simple to automate your marketing funnel, but don't confuse it with automating relationships. Real human relationships still require time and energy, so don't lean on canned responses and other automated features so much that you aren't developing authentic connections. Use automation as a tool to scale and grow, but avoid seeing it as a way to replace genuine client interaction.