Many digital marketing initiatives fail because of a lack of strategy. Executing digital marketing tactics is easy; doing it in a planned and cohesive way to support a long-term goal is difficult. In this article, we will learn about creating a marketing funnel & demand generation strategy. Rather than ask you to write a lengthy document, I will show you how to create a visual funnel map using freely available tools.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the three phases of creating a visual demand generation strategy & marketing funnel map. We’ll have a look at why a visual map is a great start to creating a clear vision of your funnel. Finally, I’ll share a real-world example of a funnel I’m putting together.
Why do you need a demand generation strategy
Most people who encounter your message or even come to your website won’t be ready to buy. Many will leave taking no action. You MUST have a funnel in place to nurture prospects towards a buying decision. The thought of nurturing prospects may seem like a massive challenge especially if you’re a small business. I will show you how, using cost-effective marketing tools, you can build a demand generation funnel on even the most modest budget.
A demand generation strategy puts the customer at the centre of your marketing activity. Rather than firing off ad hoc campaigns, you’ll be thinking about how to appeal to the needs of your prospect and over time get them to commit. The demand generation marketing approach also means you’ll have a full understanding of your cost per lead. This appreciation for how much it costs to acquire a lead will allow you to scale your spending on paid channels whilst remaining profitable.
Creating a visual demand generation strategy & funnel map
How many digital marketing strategy documents have you written? I’ve written quite a few. How many have you read? I’m guessing none. I know that my documented and detailed strategies are rarely read in full. That’s why I recommend visually capturing your marketing & sales funnel. A detailed document can then support this visual diagram and this approach means that you’ll rapidly articulate a clear vision of your funnel.
The best tool for creating visual funnel maps (and it’s free)
There are plenty of tools that make it easy to create visual funnel maps. My recommendation is a tool called Funnelytics. It’s free if all you want to do is using the amazing drag-and-drop mapping capabilities and it means you’ll have an electronic copy you can send around. Here are a few benefits of Funnelytics:
- It’s free to create visual diagrams
- Unlike other tools, Funnelytics has been created for the specific purpose of helping marketers create visual diagrams
- You can create many diagrams for different funnels
- It’s drag and drop. If you can use PowerPoint, then you can use this.
- Your visual funnel map can be edited at any time.
Why visually map your demand generation strategy?
Developing your digital demand generation strategy visually will give you the opportunity to plan each step of the funnel. You can see where traffic comes from, how the prospects move through your funnel, what happens if they fall out of the funnel and ultimately how awareness becomes demand.
- Mapping out the funnel visually will save you time because you’ll know exactly what needs to be created.
- If you overlay your funnel with analytics (we show you how later in the series) you’ll easily see where you might be wasting money.
- It’ll communicate your vision to your team.
I’ll be using Funnelytics to create my funnel. Read my Funnelytics review & grab a free login here >>
The three levels of marketing & sales funnels
There are three levels to a marketing and sales funnel for demand generation these are the funnel steps, funnel lead nurture and funnel traffic.
- Funnel steps – These are all the web pages you create that your visitor will step through in your funnel. For example, if you have a landing page and a thank you page, this is a two-step funnel. Many funnels have multiple steps.
- Funnel lead nurture – In the middle of the funnel you will need to nurture and persuade your prospect to take the next action. This is called lead nurture and there are plenty of tactics such as automated emails to nurture your prospects.
- Funnel traffic – This is the fuel for your funnel. A good flow of visitors through your funnel is essential. There are plenty of ways to attract visitors but they need to be relevant.
Why are you targetting? Why do they care? What’s the message?
When putting together a visual funnel you need a very clear understanding of your audience. This should be based on your demand generation market research.
In this demand generation case study we’re mapping out a demand generation funnel for attracting new affiliate marketers to promote our SaaS products. The core product we’re promoting is ClickFunnels and we’ll augment this with other products that affiliate marketers will find useful.
Based on the market research we did in the previous step this demand generation funnel will:
- Target new affiliate marketers
- The funnel will take them on a journey that shows them how to successfully promote affiliate products.
- As the user progresses through the funnel they will start using the affiliate products we invite them to promote.
- Our audience will care because we’re offering them an easy solution to get started in affiliate marketing.
The three steps to building a visual funnel map
We’ve discussed the three levels of sales and marketing funnel. We’re going to align with these three levels and build our funnel in three steps. My biggest tip is to start simple and build from there. I always start with the simplest funnel and then test, improve and grow. It’s easy to get lost if you try and overcomplicate your funnel. Remember that you can always expand a funnel you have or even carry on the customer journey to a new funnel.
Step 1 in building a visual funnel map is mapping your pages
Many begin with mapping out traffic sources and I think this is completely the wrong approach. You need to think about the journey first before you can evaluate the most appropriate sources of traffic. I recommend you being with mapping out your funnel steps. These steps for the journey your visitors will go through in your demand generation funnel.
In Funnelytics adding new pages and stages to a visual funnel map is simple. It’s a case of dragging and dropping from the left panel on to your empty canvas as shown below. There are different page types and you can rename each one if you want to. Once you’ve built your funnel, you can even automatically import thumbnails of your actual pages.
Using the drag-and-drop approach, you can add, move and remove pages. It’s great to see how your funnel could come together from the first landing page through to the sale. Below you’ll see the foundations of the funnel. These are all the landing pages that the prospect will step through on the road to becoming an affiliate for the product we are promoting.
As you move through the various steps for mapping your funnel visually you may recognise additional pages you need to add or remove. The bonus of our visual approach to demand generation marketing strategy is the flexibility it gives us as marketers.
Step 2 in capturing your demand generation strategy visually is understanding lead nurture
Lead generation at the top of the funnel is just the start. If your visitor rapidly moves from one stage of the funnel to the next that’s great. But what if they don’t? It’s more likely your visitor will register their email address and then leave the page, planning to return at a more convenient time. Indeed, they will probably never return.
In the middle of the funnel, we need to put in place nurture steps. In the past, lead nurture was restricted to email. The trouble with email is that it can often be blocked or ignored. In the busy inbox standing out can be a challenge. That’s not to say it doesn’t work. If a lead engages with emails, then there is no better channel. To begin with, let’s add email nurture steps to our funnel.
Email is great if it’s received and read. What are the alternatives? I recommend a digital marketing tactic called retargeting. This is where you can show ads to prospects based on the fact they have visited your content. In the example of our funnel, we can show different ads based on the stage of the funnel the prospect is at. In later steps, we’ll show you how to set it up! For now, in our visual demand generation map, we’ll capture it as a tactic.
Step 3 in your visual funnel map is traffic
So far we only built out the core of our funnel and considered tactics such as retargeting that will drive visitors through the funnel. The best demand generation funnel in the world will be useless without quality traffic that’s likely to convert. Now we’re going to add to our visual demand generation strategy the top of the funnel sources that will fuel our funnel.
Top of the funnel sources of traffic are commonly divided into earned, owned and paid channels.
- Earned – Traffic through organic sources such as SEO and direct links. Your content is so great other sites link to it.
- Owned – Your have an entire ecosystem of web properties you own. Consider links from your websites, blogs and social profiles.
- Paid – Online ads and biddable media where you pay for visitors.
Below I’ve now updated our demand generation strategy with top of the funnel sources of traffic. In the visual funnel map, the sources appear to the far left. My plan is to drive paid traffic to the landing page and create a series of articles around the topic which I’m going to optimise for organic and owned channels.
Ready to create a visual funnel map of your demand generation strategy?
I know that a visual funnel map doesn’t fully replace a documented strategy, and it doesn’t go into the level of detail I would want to explore when creating a digital marketing strategy. However, this approach means that you and your stakeholders can see what your approach is going to be without wading through the detail. Even if you plan on writing a more substantial document, this approach will get you thinking about all aspects of the funnel and serves as a great foundation.
When creating our visual funnel map we used a free tool called Funnelytics. We can now save our demand generation funnel in Funnelytics to edit in future or export. Remember the visual mapping tools in Funnelytics are free and worth trying out. Read our Funnelytics review for businesses.
This guide forms part of the demand generation marketing series where I’m showing you step-by-step how to create an automated demand generation funnel.
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