Jumping the funnel kills your marketing plan

(Last Updated On: June 30, 2013)

Most creative types work hard to avoid organization, structure and plans. If you are an engineer, you may appreciate this post recommending process and structure.  No matter who you are and what you do, developing a sales and marketing funnel is an important part of growing your business. Don’t make it tougher on yourself by jumping the funnel.

funnelThe goal of a funnel is to create a complete working process that produces a desired result. You may not have a perfect funnel, but a working funnel is a good start. If you don’t follow the funnel creation process by working from the top to the bottom, you will create a confusing mess.  When you jump the funnel, you’ve made decisions based on faulty data. Eventually, the process will blow up.

The top of the funnel represents grabbing the attention of your prospect using some form of communication such as a trade magazine ad, social media post, or your elevator pitch. The final step in the funnel is the conversion. Conversion is when prospects do what you want them to do, such as call your office, email, download or purchase your product or service.  Everything else in the funnel depends on the process, system, or tools you implement to turn a prospect into a customer.

This is a process that involves testing.  But, before you start testing you need to develop a plan that represents all of the steps in your sales or marketing funnel. Once you’ve established the plan, test each step in order.

Start at the top of the funnel and work your way down.  The only fixed part of the funnel is the product or service you offer.  During the funnel development process don’t change anything except the elements within the part of the funnel you are working on.  For example, you can test digital ads, but don’t change the landing pages.

As you begin to refine your funnel, only test one element at a time. If you test more than one, you really won’t know which change represents the positive or negative result. The smallest things can make a big difference: A single word in a headline, the color of a button, or the size of a photo will all play a role in driving prospects through your funnel.

When you change or skip to another part of the funnel while testing, you are jumping the funnel. We are all tempted to jump the funnel based on our life experience or results from previous projects.  Maybe you have a great idea that you want to try immediately. Don’t do it.
Wait. Let the original test run its course.  If your great idea is in the middle of the funnel, don’t implement it until you are done testing the elements higher up on the funnel. Jumping the funnel tends to lead to doing the work over.  If you don’t have data behind your actions, your decisions are hard to justify later.

If your funnel is complex, it is a good idea to test individual parts of your funnel on a smaller scale, away from the main funnel process. Product interest, pricing, headlines and landing pages all can be tested and researched independently and then applied when the time is right. It’s best to test different sections of the funnel as part of the flow of your marketing project.  I find that positive results from the smaller tests sometimes encourage marketers to skip steps, or jump the funnel, because they make assumptions based on incomplete information or opinions. This leads to problems down the road. Be careful. Discipline is important.

If things are not going well, stop the test and start over.

You can relax a little once you have a complete working sales funnel, such as an engaging advertisement, delivered at specific times of the day, leading to a landing page with a relevant hard-to-refuse offer, followed by a well-tested shopping cart with a positive user experience.

Remember, a working funnel doesn’t mean the testing is over.  Now you need to go through the endless process of management, which consists of testing and refining the funnel. Now it is a little safer to jump around the funnel to test different ideas. Maybe you think your online shopping cart experience is great, but feel the landing page needs improvement. Now you can get away with making adjustments because you know the funnel works. Only work on one section at a time. If you break it, there’s no mystery about what needs fixing.

Although you can jump around a completed funnel, I recommend you start from the top and test your way down through the funnel process.

You can apply the concept of jumping the funnel to any process or workflow.  Over time we become familiar, get lazy, and our experience tells us we can skip steps.  Over time, this will slowly break your system and one day you will wonder how everything got so messed up. Sound familiar?

The better method is to combine steps, create new methods, and use better tools to improve the process rather than eliminating steps. Continue to reexamine your workflow, sales, and marketing funnels.

If your sales funnel just doesn’t seem to work no matter what medium you use, level of creativity, call to action, unique selling proposition or price, it’s time to look at your product or service, it just might not be a viable solution. You may never figure what really works and what does not if you jump the funnel.

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