Marketing people are always talking about building funnels. But what, exactly, does that mean? A funnel is just a tool for sorting and directing something. In the kitchen, a funnel collects an unruly ingredient like flour or milk in the wide end and then neatly directs it into a smaller container. On a website, a funnel takes in lots of random traffic at the wide end (the landing page) and neatly directs them to the conversion point (the sales page.) At least, that’s the idea. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Is your website a funnel or a sieve?
The problem is most websites are more like sieves than funnels, full of tiny holes where traffic can leak out before making it to the final conversion point. So, we continually tweak and optimize every page so that more traffic makes it all the way through the conversion process.
If your website is set up like a funnel, it collects traffic and directs it to a sales page where you hope they convert into a customer. Most e-commerce sites leave it at that. They get the sale and they’re happy. In this scenario, you might get 100 anonymous visitors where 10 of them buy right away and the rest never come back.
But what if you could sell 10 right away and also collect contact information on another 20 and convert them later with follow-up marketing? That’s the beauty of a technique I call the Double Funnel – because if one funnel is good, two is better. What is a double funnel, exactly?
A double funnel is the combination of lead capture and sales.
Imagine two funnels – one on top of the other. The first funnel is designed only for lead capture. You offer the visitor something valuable for free (or very low-cost) in return for their name, email address, and possibly a phone number or mailing address. It could be a webinar, an ebook, a free evaluation, or video series – there’s a whole science to creating an enticing offer for lead generation.
Once they make it through this funnel, you’ve provided value *before* trying to sell them anything. And you’ve captured their contact information. You no longer have random traffic; you have qualified leads.
Then all those leads are directed into a second funnel. That could be a web page, an email autoresponder series, or even a direct mail campaign. This time the conversion goal is probably a sale. But because you have leads, not just nameless traffic, you have two major advantages.
Advantage #1: Increase conversions
People need to know, like and trust you before they will buy from you. And by putting your traffic through the lead funnel first, you’ve had a chance to introduce yourself and provide some value. They are already starting to know, like and trust you before you make any sales pitches at all. Because of this, you are more likely to convert a higher percentage of your traffic.
Advantage #2: Increase lifetime customer value
You’ve probably heard the saying it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a brand new one. This is the second advantage to using a Double Funnel. Because you went through the extra effort to collect a lead before trying to sell them, you are able to sell to them over and over again through the months and years to come. They become a loyal customer instead of a one-off visitor to your website.
You increase the lifetime value of each and every customer because you can keep in contact with them and offer them many opportunities to buy from you.
Multiply your ROI
Using a double funnel multiplies your return on investment for any form of advertising you use to send traffic to a landing page, especially pay-per-click advertising. The more you’re paying, the more important it is to capture that person as a lead because your odds of making a sale aren’t limited to a single visit to your site.
If you’re a huge commerce site like Amazon.com, maybe you don’t need to worry about capturing leads and maximizing each visitor. But the large majority of businesses I’ve come across can benefit from using and optimizing the Double Funnel technique in some way.