How to scale your business with marketing funnels (Startup, Agency, SME, Muse…)

Julian Ivaldy
9 min readNov 30, 2021

After finding & validating your product-market fit and getting your first customers through hard work, you will probably want to scale your business. By developing tailored marketing funnels for your business, you will create the ideal customer journey to convert and retain as many customers as possible. You’ll automate most of the boring tasks of your business, and scale up by going faster and further.

Today I’m going to share my findings on marketing funnels: how they work and how you can build the ideal marketing funnels for your business. My name is Julian, Co-founder & Head of Growth at The Secret Company. We are a crew of serial entrepreneurs, with a pirate mindset, secret co-founders of 10+ startups.

Introduction to marketing funnels

Marketing funnels represent the paths you want people to take to get to a desired outcome. For example, a conversion marketing funnel is the path potential customers will take from the time they hear about you to the time they are converted into customers.

Marketing funnels help you plan a buyer’s journey through the different stages of the buying cycle. You can therefore plan online marketing actions according to the position of the potential buyer in this cycle. These funnels allow you to optimize your actions in a much more targeted way to get the best results. Your business will have the opportunity to reach the right people, with the right messages, at the right time.

When you start your business, you will focus on validating your Product Market Fit and acquiring your first customers. You’ll execute and work hard to try to get those first customers. You will identify the arguments that work, the main acquisition channels, what makes your customers stay, etc. Once you have identified all of this in hand, you will be able to scale your business, you will be able to go further and faster.

Marketing funnels can help you save time, money, and effort. You will represent a person’s ideal path to get to the desired result and improve this path by following the data & results of your strategy.

A funnel adapted to your market, offer, and customer

Understanding your consumers is vital, without understanding your customers and business, it will be difficult to identify the underlying areas of your business strategy and find solutions. Your marketing funnels must be tailored to your market, offer, and customer.

After going through the exercise of manually searching for your first customer, testing your offer, and finally validating your product-market fit, you will identify the base of your funnel (what has worked as an acquisition source so far). By studying your market, your offer, and your customers, you will be able to define the optimal way to collect data of your potential customers and how to process them. Finally, after your relentless efforts to sign your first customer, you will be able to define the ideal action(s) to convert potential customers into customers. You will then be able to build your marketing funnels (in a more organized way) based on the different conclusions you have drawn and improve them based on data.

Marketing Funnels examples

Here are some examples of marketing funnels from well-known companies. These marketing funnels work very well and have helped their business grow.

1) Basecamp

It’s a tool that helps companies manage all their projects, work, and communications in one place.

Basecamp has many sources of acquisition like Blog, PR, SEO strategy, Social Networks, etc. They also play an affiliate game with B2B influencers & media talking about business tools recommend their platform to new businesses.

The company gets a lot of lead data thanks to a very well-constructed landing page. Their landing page focuses a lot on the problems the platform can solve. Basecamp is also very personal, they put a face on their logo to create an emotional connection. They focus on social proof and present it in a unique way. In addition to social proof, they show their product “in action.”

For conversion, Basecamp uses a call to action with free registration for 30 days. This plays on the peace of mind of visitors. No need to fill in credit card information when signing up. After the free registration, a series of automatic emails are sent to help the free customer use the tool. There is a nurturing that pushes a large part of the free customers to become paying customers. If this is not the case, there are promotions that accentuate the transition from free customer to paying customer.

2) Groupon

It’s a huge global e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods, and services.

Groupon uses a lot of advertising, emailing, social networks campaigns, etc. The website has a public affiliate program that allows anyone to earn up to 10% commission from Groupon deals they promote.

The company has a very well-constructed landing page that directly highlights products that may be of interest to visitors (Product promotion or products similar to the visitor’s purchase). In addition to that, the company proposes from the first visit, access to the newsletter of the company & has exclusive offers, which allows him to capture data of potential customers and to feed its strategy of emailing.

Groupon has many ways to convert its visitors into customers like constant promotions or smart recommendations based on visitor profiles. Coupled with the emailing, the company is omnipresent in the customers’ minds, which strengthens its positioning and increases its conversion rate.

3) Netflix

It’s a subscription streaming service and production company. The platform offers a library of films and television series through distribution deals as well as its own productions, known as Netflix Originals.

Netflix does a lot of advertising for its original programs. They also use a lot. emailing, partnerships and sponsorships. The company has a real creativity game to realize successful marketing campaigns for the launch of its original films and series. For example, Netflix did a lot of “street marketing” for the launch of the series “Casa de Papel” by posting videos extracted from the series in big public places like train stations, to impact people and make noise.

The Netflix landing page is very clear, there is not much confusing text and you know exactly what you are getting. The background image changes depending on the movies and shows being promoted. Their homepage emphasizes the “no commitment” and “security” features of their price plan. Sometimes you can see a big call to action button that refers to a free trial, otherwise, there is only a button to join the platform.

Netflix regularly offers a 30-day free trial, cancelable at any time. By default, the platform selects the Premium plan for you, however, you can downgrade if you wish. Switching to payment is really easy, you have several payment options: gift card, PayPal, or credit card where all major credit cards are accepted. All of the platform’s content (movies and series) is referenced on Google, so you can easily come across Netflix content after a google search, but only subscribers can access it.

Build effective marketing funnels

In a funnel, there are several stages, the TOFU (Top of the Funnel), the MOFU (Middle of the Funnel), and the BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel).

For the top of the funnel (TOFU), it’s more about bringing people to your offer, it’s the awareness. For a conversion funnel, you’ll be generating leads with social networks, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, ads, etc.

For the middle of the funnel (MOFU), it’s more like the consideration stage. For a funnel to increase your customer basket, you will turn leads into warm prospects by highlighting the benefits of having another product or plan. You use webinars, free resources, a personal call, etc.

For the bottom of the funnel, it’s more about how you will get people to the results you want. For a conversion funnel, you’re going to convert prospects into customers with free trials, demo, product appeal, social proof with customer stories, events, etc.

Start building your funnel with a visualizer platform

Whenever I’m working on creating marketing funnels, my little reflex is to use a tool I really like: Funnelytics. I use this tool to build my funnels step by step with a kind of funnel viewer & builder. I choose the sources of acquisition, the means of collection to be given, the call to action, and above all, all the strategies that I will put in place to convert the lead into a customer.

It remains a visualization platform but you can connect some of the blocks that you will include in this representation of this funnel, like Google Analytics, FB Ads, Google Ads, etc. This allows you to see the conversion percentage live at each stage of your funnel and therefore to optimize it directly.

Choose 3 channels of acquisition

The first step is to choose how people will hear about you. This can be through social networks, SEO strategy, personal branding, advertising… With a good SEO strategy, you can ensure long-term visibility to your company, with personal branding, you can very quickly make your offer known… Choose the right channels :)

Choose where you will catch your lead data

This can be a lead magnet with a squeeze page, call booking, events, landing page, etc. A great way to create the first point of contact with your buyers would be to invest in a landing page. An effective landing page should contain relevant information about your brand and a way for customers to connect with you. If your landing page is created with a strong call to action, you can expect solid leads that are ready to enter the awareness stage of your sales funnel.

Push your leads towards the interest zone

You need to engage people who are or have been interested in your offer. You can do this with educational and relevant content about your business. The more customers learn about you, the more interested they become in you.
Brands can use a variety of channels for this step, such as relevant blogs, emails, text messages, videos or even downloadable PDFs. This step is crucial for engagement and convincing customers to invest in your brand. You need to highlight the unique features of your brand that make it better than its competitors.

Choose your conversion strategy

The next and final stage is conversion. This last step involves consumers buying the product and completing the transaction. There are several ways to improve this stage:

  • Create a free or cheaper offer to convert more easily to the final product (eg: Guide, training, etc.)
  • Provide a lot of value to facilitate the conversion
    (eg: Emailing, events, webinars, coaching, etc.)
  • - Shorten the sales process by making the buying and signing up process easier (eg: No signup, Free trial, etc.)

If leads aren’t converted at this stage, you can invest time in developing an effective follow-up strategy. This last step also allows you to inspect for leaks and strengths in your marketing funnels.

For the construction of your marketing funnels, a very important point is the choice of the tools you will use. Here is The best Pirate Marketing Tools to grow your business (Startup, Agency, Muse…) .

And there you go!

You can also check out the video version where I share everything you need to know about marketing funnels, the best in history and how to create your own funnels.