BY: Jeff Ventre
Your business has always had a website. You’ve spent a lot of time and money making sure it reflects your brand, provides useful information, and allows potential customers to get in touch.
And then you started hearing all this hype about “funnels” and “landing pages.” The terms started popping up in Instagram ads. Emails hit your inbox from random marketers trying to convince you “funnels” are what you need for success.
What gives? What’s the difference between a sales funnel and a website? Do you need both? How do you get started with funnels? We’ll help unpack all that for you here so you confidently know the difference between a funnel and a website.
Despite what some marketers may lead you to believe, funnels should not replace your website. Instead, they should work in tandem as a part of a successful digital strategy.
What is a website?
A website is a set of related web pages, often including a list of products or services, contact information, and sometimes a blog. It’s your company’s digital storefront and primarily designed to bring in traffic. While visitors usually see the homepage first, they arrive upon and navigate to any page or post they want. The visitor’s experience is filled with lots of choice and limited direction.
What is a funnel?
A funnel is a series of web pages set up so that traffic flows linearly from one point of entry, through a set of steps, to a specific goal/action. A ‘landing page’ is just a single web page with the same conversion intent.
Unlike your website, funnels aren’t meant to bring in traffic, just process it. Everything is designed to guide visitors in a single direction through the buyer’s journey. Sales funnels minimize distractions like outbound links, focus on an offer, and move the visitor to act.
What Are the Steps in a Funnel?
Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? At the beginning of the process there are a lot of visitors who take the first step. As the journey continues some drop out, and the number of people narrows.
- In the awareness stage, the visitor becomes aware of the problem they need to solve. They learn about your solution/product/service and you act as a resource.
- In the interest stage, the prospect is actively looking for a solution to their problem, and expresses interest in your solution/product/service. They are conducting research and considering competitors.
- In the decision stage, the prospect is ready to become someone’s customer. They are paying close attention to specific packages and pricing.
- In the action stage, the prospect becomes your customer. They click the purchase button, or sign the contract.
Do I Need a Website and a Funnel?
Not necessarily. You need a website. You don’t ‘need’ a funnel (or landing page). While many successful websites today contain multiple funnels, they are certainly not a requirement to get customers. That said, using funnels with a traditional website can significantly increase conversion rates.
There are some marketers that claim you can ditch your website and just use funnels. Not so fast. Tools like ClickFunnels or Unbounce were not designed to offer the utility to build a full site experience, which you need to host a blog, offer eCommerce, optimize for SEO, etc. More importantly, you don’t own the funnel pages you create the way you do when you purchase your own domain and host a website.
Remember that websites and funnels are companions, not competitors. The website is a generalized experience offering a variety of useful information. Funnels are targeted and focused paths businesses send visitors through to capture leads and drive conversions. They feature deals and special offers instead of the “distractions” on your normal website. When done effectively, using websites and funnels in tandem can accelerate your business.
How Do I Get Started With Funnels?
As is always the case, the first step is to figure out your goals and what you want visitors to do on your site. You can create a funnel for just about anything!
Once you’re clear on your goals, you need a strategy for how you’ll employ funnels. This often includes:
- Identifying the characteristics of your ideal customer so you understand their needs and frustrations, and the most relevant selling points
- Identifying where your ideal customer can be found online to inform your traffic and lead generation tactics (ex: SEO, Google AdWords, Social Media, etc.)
- Identifying an initial offer that would attract potential customers to your sales funnel (ex: free eBook/cheat sheet/template, free trial, etc.)
- Identifying ongoing engagement tactics help move leads down your funnel (ex: blog posts, newsletters, webinars, etc.)
- Identifying closing strategies to turn leads into customers (ex: limited time offers/discounts, sales calls/emails, etc.)
With a strategy in place you can then find the right funnel builder to fit your needs, build out your funnel, and begin testing & optimizing for success. But, how do you get your landing page(s) to show up on Google?
Need more help understanding funnels and if they’re right for your business?
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