How To Create A Lead Generation Funnel (step-by-step)
The all magical “funnel”.
Promised by marketing experts everywhere to be the key in unlocking millions in 2 days and blow up your business like never before.
In a way, they’re not totally wrong. Funnels can be amazing at strategically growing your business, in less time, and with less effort because they’re automated.
But there are a lot of different funnels out there, certain skills needed for them to actually work, and funnels are heavily dependent on conversion copy.
So in this post we’re going to start off with the basics. The very first funnel you should set up before thinking about anything else
A lead generation funnel. (You might hear others refer to it as a welcome series but a welcome series is actually the set of automated emails you send after they’ve signed up to get on your email list.)
So, let’s get into it!
Pst! This post contains affiliate links! That means I get a commission from any purchases you make (at no extra cost to you). I’ll only recommend dope stuff that i’ve tested and truly find valuable. Scouts honor.
First things first: what is a lead generation funnel?
This is basically the step by step process you’ve planned out to get new people or “cold leads” onto your email list, build a relationship, and then turn them into “warm leads”
You get people interested in your business, do the whole “know, like, and trust” thing, then you invite them to take you up on an offer and in theory, they're more likely to successfully buy because they’ve been “warmed up”.
Now there are several kinds of funnels and in every one of them you can pitch at the end. But for the purposes of this post, we’re gonna keep it super simple and say our end goal for this funnel is basic email list building.
Goal: Get engaged customers on our email list
But before we even set up this funnel we need to know a few crucial things:
Who you’re targeting
Your traffic source
Knowing your audience is always key because you can’t write effective copy if you don’t know who you’re writing to.
If you need help figuring that out check out this post and download the free customer avatar workbook afterwards.
You also need to know what you bring to the table. You can’t convince someone that you can help them if you’re not sure yourself how you can help them. So really dial down on what their problem is and how you help solve that.
And finally, you can write the best copy in the world but 0 traffic means 0% conversion rates either way you spin it. So pick a platform, or look at your analytics to see where the majority of your traffic is coming from and go hard on that.
Now that we’ve settled that, let’s start building this funnel!
Because I love video games, we’ll break this down by levels. You’ve picked your character (your customer avatar) and now it’s time to conquer Level 1.
Level 1: Content strategy and creation.
The reason I believe content strategy (or content marketing) go hand and hand with copywriting, is because you need some way to get that audience’s initial attention.
*Content Strategy Definition: a plan for regularly adding unique, expert, and indexable content to your site.
You could run an ad for your freebie to a cold audience and grow your list that way, but some people are starting on a budget and don’t have room for ad spend (or don’t want to tackle paid ads yet).
Besides, why not take advantage of organic traffic? It’s FREE.
If you’re in the latter and want organic traffic, this is where your content strategy is going to come into play.
You don’t want to just go out creating content all willy nilly with no real plan. When you sit down to create a legit strategy (what you’ll post/write/record) it’s much easier to lead your audience into a funnel because the funnel will actually have a direction.
This is crucial if you plan on launching something later on.
Example: if you’re a beauty stylist and you’re launching a course teaching women how to take care of their hair, you don’t want to create random blog posts and Facebook Live’s about DIY nail designs, vitamins for skin health, and winter wardrobe the few weeks before you launch.
When the time comes for you to announce your course on hair care, you’ll have pointed your audience in so many different directions, you’ll find it difficult to get them to focus on your course on hair care. So those 4 or so weeks before your launch, your content should be mainly focused on taking care of your hair and you’ll outline what that content will look like.
So level one in your funnel is creating a content strategy.
First, pick a content medium. My personal favorite way is blogging, but I also do mini training videos using Facebook Live. Sunny Lunderduzzi uses Youtube videos. Amy Porterfield has her podcast, so on and so forth.
Second, reverse engineer and think about your end goal. Is there an upcoming launch? A special promotion? An affiliate you need to start marketing for?
Brain storm the content you’ll create and put it on your calendar!
For this post, our fictional goal for this funnel was simply growing an email list of engaged people. So we’ll just say we’re going to add a massive amount of value on topics that they’ve expressed interest in and focus on growing engagement/interaction.
Level Two: The Lead Magnet
Now we’re getting to the copy!
Your lead magnet is going to be the free offer you give to your audience in exchange for their email. This can be a checklist, mini course, template, etc.
If you want some ideas on lead magnets and how to create one, read this post here.
Once you’ve got that squared away, it’s time to build the landing page.
*Landing Page Definition: a stand alone webpage with a singular call to action. Often used to collect emails. Sometimes known as a “static” or “lead capture” page
What a lot of people don’t realize is building a funnel is about 80% copywriting.
Sure, you can use ads and drive a mass of traffic to a landing page, but if you don’t know how to write copy that will get that traffic to take action, then your funnel has died at level one.
The copy on your landing page should be simple, but attention grabbing. There are really 3 main parts of a landing page.
The header: should be scroll stopping. Let them know right off the bat what they’re getting.
The offer: should succinctly describe the benefits of the lead magnet.
The call to action: should be bold and clear
Don’t forget the Thank You page!
The copy matters here too! This is a great opportunity to have another CTA. Give them something to do.
Invite them to your Facebook group
Invite them to a webinar
Have them fill out a survey
Suggest other resources
There’s all kinds of actions you can encourage here.
Level Three: The Email Sequence
Still with me here? Good.
We’ve gotten our cold audience to say “I like what you’re doing here, i’ll give you my email”. And now they’re on the list!
This is the golden hour when they’re most likely to engage. We gotta make it count.
First things first: deliver the lead magnet right away. Depending on your email provider, it might automatically deliver after a verification email but you don’t want to hesitate on sending them what you promised.
In this first email you want your copy to convey how much you appreciate them letting you creep up in their inbox, introduce yourself, and set some expectations.
After that first hello, you’ll send out 2-6 more emails that follow. These strings of emails will become what is known as your email welcome series.
*Email Welcome Series Definition: a set of strategic, automated emails delivered to a subscriber after they’ve opted in to a lead magnet.
Now, what you’ll put in those emails depends on you and your audience (and that’s a whole monster of a blog post in itself) but here are some good practices:
Don’t bombard your subscribers. Leave some breathing room between each email
But also don’t leave too much room or they’ll forget you. Consider 1-3 days between each email.
Your headlines matter for emails too!
Take advantage of “sub headings” or email previews if your email provider has them
Be conversational (don’t make it weird being all formal and what not)
Give them prompts to reply to and engage
Invite them to connect with you more on other platforms
Be helpful. Offer helpful stuff. Don’t make it about you
Now, as mentioned earlier, you can pitch. So, if towards the end of your welcome series, you want to make an offer that’s relevant to them, go for it!
But be mindful that you’re still building a relationship and it’s still pretty new. Hard sells don’t typically go well in a welcome series.
Try offering something as a “p.s.” at the bottom of your email, or allude to the pitch in the emails prior so it doesn’t feel like it’s out of the blue.
Once they successfully complete your welcome series, they’re on your list and this particular funnel is complete!
Not too shabby right? So let’s do a recap.
And there you have it! A simple, step-by-step process for creating a funnel that’ll grow your email list. There are a lot of moving parts so if you’d like a checklist (with suggestions and copy tips) download the worksheet here.