A Minimum Viable Funnel (MVF)

Building a funnel for acquiring leads and nurturing them via email doesn’t have to be a long, difficult project. Here’s what I consider to be the minimum viable funnel (MVF) you might use to generate and nurture leads for a specific service, your entire company, or a new market position you are testing:

  1. Build a 1-page service description page with a strong CTA to schedule a phone call.
    1. Configure your CTA form to both notify you (so you can follow up to schedule a call) and subscribe leads to your lead nurture campaign.
    2. Learn how to write a good landing page via Sean D’Souza’s “The Brain Audit”
    3. Here’s a great example of a service description page: http://websiterescues.com
  2. Build a CTA-able lead magnet as described in https://philipmorganconsulting.com/cta-able-content-marketing/ and https://philipmorganconsulting.com/what-is-an-educational-resource-center/
    1. Configure your email marketing system to both deliver your lead magnet and subscribe leads to your lead nurture campaign.
    2. Build a landing page just for the lead magnet. Good examples of this type of landing page are http://positioningcrashcourse.com and http://doubleyourfreelancing.com/free-pricing-course/.
    3. Make the secondary CTA on your service description page be an opt-in for your lead magnet. Good options for this opt-in form are a ribbon-style form using https://www.hellobar.com/https://sumome.com/, or https://thrivethemes.com/leads/.
  3. Write 12 200 to 300-word tips that are valuable to your ideal client. This is your lead nurture campaign. Use your email marketing software (https://www.getdrip.com/ recommended) to schedule these tips to go out every week to anyone who filled out the CTA form on your service description page or who signed up for your lead magnet.
    1. The first email of this campaign should briefly explain that you’re going to be sending weekly tips. Promise value but let folks know it’s 100% OK to unsubscribe if they don’t want the tips.
    2. Sell your service from the very first email and in every subsequent email. One way to sell the service is to simply say, “Need help with this stuff? Check out $LINK_TO_SERVICE_PAGE.” Mention your services either in the body or the postscript. Either way is fine, but don’t be shy about promoting your service. You’ll get unsubscribes. As long as the per-email unsubscribe rate is 1 to 2% don’t worry about it–those are totally normal and no different than someone browsing to your site then hitting the back button in their browser.
  4. Design and execute a promotion strategy for your lead magnet.
    1. Podcast guesting works well for me, but takes time to get results and may not be ideal for you. The CTA for your podcast guest spot should lead to your lead magnet landing page. Learn more:
      1. https://philipmorganconsulting.com/the-journey-from-121-to-1016-list-subscribers/
      2. https://doubleyouraudience.com/traffic-manual/
    2. Webinars have the scale advantage of podcasts and can work in basically the same way, especially if you can partner with someone who has an audience already for your first few webinars.
    3. Paid traffic can work well for some lead magnets. Learn more:
      1. https://gumroad.com/l/facebook-ads/
    4. Cold outreach can work well for some lead magnets but is less rewarding than teaching-focused outreach and the conversion numbers are not nearly as good.
    5. IRL teaching can work very well for some businesses and client focuses, and less well for ones where clients are literally all over the map. IRL teaching tends to scale poorly but delivers great numbers otherwise. The CTA for your class should lead to your lead magnet landing page.
    6. Guest posting works well for some people and when done well can be very effective. The CTA for your guest post should lead to your lead magnet landing page.
    7. Google will send some organic search traffic to your lead magnet, but do not depend on Google for your leads. Take control of the process with a real outreach strategy!

There you have it–a MVF that will take most folks a month or two of part-time effort to get up and running. No, it’s not easy. But yes, it works for developing and nurturing high-quality leads–the kind that respond to a lead nurture email out of the blue with a reply that basically says “When can you start?”

FAQ

I’ve been asked to address some questions about this MVF:

Which parts are optional?

None. Sorry, but they’re all 100% vital to the correct function of the funnel. You can’t remove 3″ of hose from the middle of a garden hose and expect water to make it all the way from one end to the other.

Can I just skip the outreach part? That seems hard.

No you can’t skip it, and yes, it is hard. This funnel is designed to produce high quality leads, not vanity numbers. It’s also designed to be a 1-time project rather than an recurring TODO that never actually gets completed (any business owner who has tried to “blog” regularly will recognize this problem).

The kind of content marketing that gets good results from Google is the kind of content marketing that does little to actually convert professional services leads into clients. This funnel does much better along the metrics that matter to a development shop, solo consultant, or agency.

What does the 1-page service description page do?

If you are testing a new market position, it lets you do so without disrupting your current position or alarming your existing clients. In this case, it’s a landing page that’s not linked anywhere in your site navigation and is probably set to “noindex” so Google ignores it.

If this is a new service you are testing or just a regular service you’ve been selling for a long time, the service description page describes the service and asks for action, but it does so without all the conversion-killing distraction of sending someone to your site’s home page. Again, http://websiterescues.com/ is a sterling example.

If someone is getting value from your lead magnet or lead nurture emails and responds to a CTA in the email, don’t waste that opportunity by sending them to your site’s home page. Send them to a landing page designed to move them to action!

The way I’ve described it here it seems like this funnel only works to sell one service, but you can use it to sell more than one service. Because it funnels people onto an email list, you can start to do more sophisticated things like segmenting the list, pointing to different services from different emails, and so on.

This seems like you’re just skimming the surface on how to actually do this. WTF!

You’re right–there are some important details to getting this right, and I’ve given you just the overview level here. But… I’m working on fixing that: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/lead-generation-course-for-software-development-shops/ (free). Also, you may be able to hire me to build it for you (not cheap, but awesome ROI).

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