4 Types of Automated Funnels for Your Online Business

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Hae Park
May 14, 2021 · 9 min read

Sometimes when people think of funnels, their minds stop working. It’s as if we dropped some medical jargon that takes doctors years to master.

But I just want to say that funnels aren’t complicated at all. Just like everything we do as entrepreneurs, service providers, and educators, we’re taking people from one place to another.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by my client, “what types of funnels are there?” and honestly, my mind stopped working. At this point, I started wondering if I even knew what a funnel was because I couldn’t get myself to answer a simple question.

So I decided to organize the four different types of funnels we use in our online businesses. Whether you’re selling a program, a shoe, or a service, I’m certain that you need all four types of funnels in your business.

And before we dive in, I want to mention that I’m all about automated funnels. You won’t see me talking about things you set up once and never use, it’s something that you set up and use all the time without needing to look at it again every time you use it.

Funnel #1: Lead Generation Funnel

Your first funnel is a lead generation funnel. This includes pieces such as social media, traffic, lead magnets, paid ads, email subscribers, etc.

At this stage, you’re taking your anonymous audience to become members of your business. You’re taking a YouTube viewer, an Instagram liker, or a Facebook commenter to give you their name and email address.

This is the start of everything.

So how do you set up a lead generation funnel? While I don’t want to overgeneralize how this works, I’ll share a very simple way that you can get started.

Give Something for Free

People love free stuff. But I don’t mean make it sound like everything’s free and they’re getting a laptop for free and such. TMI: When I was in high school, I fell for those fake ads that said they’ll give me a free laptop. Don’t do those fake ads.

Instead, think of a problem that they’re facing currently and see if you can put together a resource to give away for free. It’s even better if this free thing you’re giving is related to whatever you’re selling or promoting.

In my world, we call this a lead magnet or an opt-in.

How to Set Up the Tech

Starting with an email list, we heavily use Activecampaign in our agency, but there are many other options. Once you choose your option, follow the steps below:

  1. Set up the email list
  2. Set up an automation where if someone subscribes to the list, they are added to this automation (most email marketing tools should have this feature internally)
  3. Inside the automation, set up an email that will be delivered once someone signs up to that list
  4. The email should introduce you and deliver on what you promised (the free stuff)

Most of these tools also have an option to create a landing page for your lead magnet. However, if yours doesn’t, you can opt-in to use WordPress, Squarespace, or a landing page software.

Funnel #2: Sales Funnel

The second type of funnel you’ll need is a sales funnel. Now that you have the information of your potential customer (their email), you want to convert them to purchase your product or offer.

At this stage, you’re taking your email list subscribers to become customers. They gave you their email, which means that they’re showing interest in what you have to offer.

They signed up for that free resource because they have a problem that they’re wanting to solve. And you’re holding the solution.

So what you need to do in this stage is to show them a few things.

  1. Show them that they have a problem While they do have a problem that they’re facing, most times they don’t know that they have this problem. So it takes someone else pointing this problem out for them to realize that they have a problem.
  2. Show them that there is a solution Once you help them realize that they have a problem, you want to show them that there is a solution for that problem. In this case, you should start talking about your product or offer as a solution.
  3. Show them why they should choose you They now know their problem and know that there is a solution. Now, you want to show them why they should pick your solution over others. This could be in the form of social proof, outlining all the features, taking them through an example of your product, etc.

How to Set Up the Tech

All of this could be done easily by writing a few emails and putting it after the lead generation funnel. For example, after someone signs up for your free resource, they’ll get these sales emails every week.

Another way you could do this (which I personally don’t prefer) is to launch. You can gather your email list for weeks or months, and send the emails all at once to everyone during a specific time period.

Here’s why I don’t like launches: They take more time & more work.

When you set up and everlasting & automated funnel, you set it up once and all you have to do from there is promote you free resource. But when you launch, you’re putting the pressure of getting results to that ONE launch and it’s over.

So if you are here to create your everlasting & automated funnel in one week, I want to invite you to apply for our VIP Week. We offer a full-service automated funnel build with custom-designed & developed landing and sales pages, emails are written with your voice and mission in mind and set up the entire technical integration all in one week.

Click here to apply for your VIP Week today.

Funnel #3: Onboarding Funnel

Your lead generation funnel was to gather the group of people interested in your offer. The sales funnel was to take your people and convert them into paying clients and customers.

And a lot of people know about the two funnels above and even set them up pretty nicely.

However, so many people neglect the onboarding funnel.

The onboarding funnel is taking a customer or client and helping them use your services/products consistently. Basically, you want to eliminate buyer fatigue as much as possible, as soon as possible.

And in order to do this, the most important thing you give them is clarity.

They need to know exactly what they’re doing at every step of the way to make sure that they feel supported and truly use your product or services to the fullest.

This could look like sending them a welcome packet that walks through the step-by-step phases of working with you. This could be a PDF guide that shows how they can use all the features available in your program.

While you don’t need to contact them every day, I personally like to recommend that you have at least 6 touchpoints with your client or customer during the first two weeks of their purchase.

How to Set Up the Tech

While we want to automate every single part of this, we actually have a small portion of this automated and have SOPs for the rest. Because we work with clients, we want to customize this as much as possible to help our clients feel supported at a whole another level.

However, with businesses with many customers, I highly recommend that you set up the basics for each of your products, that could be specific with them.

Like everything before, you can easily automate this in a tool such as Activecampaign. This would usually be set up like:

  1. When a customer purchases a product, they should be tagged with a product title tag inside the email list automatically.
  2. Create an automation where if a tag is added, they are received emails in the span of 2-3 weeks about the product and how they can use it better.
  3. Better yet, throw in a digital gift that they can benefit from.

Funnel #4: Retention Funnel

Customer retention is important yet so tricky.

You want to be in front of your customers as much as possible, but you also don’t want to seem like you’re just contacting them for marketing purposes.

So how can you ensure that your customers think about you without connecting the dot to a marketing campaign?

This is about setting up an automation to follow up with your clients and customers to ask for feedback, link them back to the product they purchased, or encourage them to share what they’ve done so far with your product/service.

It’s about simply asking a question via email, “Hey, I just wanted to check up with you to see if you need any help going through the product! Feel free to reply and let me know any questions you have.”

This could be extremely useful in shops with multiple products where you’re appearing in front of them in this age of massive digital clutter without sending sales or marketing emails.

This type of work could be more annoying than sales or onboarding because customers usually don’t have something to benefit from by investing their time. (Yes, your customers benefit from being sold – surprise.)

So what you want to do is make this fun and exciting for them to open. I’ve seen companies offer gift cards in exchange of feedback or a coupon code for them to use next time.

One of my favorites was when I was working with an e-commerce client. We offered one year of free shipping for everyone who filled out an 8-minute survey. This one campaign increased both the amount of feedback we received but also the sales because they knew that they had one year of free shipping.

How to Set Up the Tech

This can be easily done in an email automation using tools like (you know it’s coming) Activecampaign. While you don’t want to create something as frequent as the sales or onboarding emails, this is something you want to do maybe once a quarter or twice a year.

While you can create the automation inside your onboarding automation, it could be easier to organize it if you create a separate automation for each campaign or type of email you want to send.

For example, if you’re going to send an email asking for a testimonial, you’d have one automation:

  1. Trigger of the automation would be the list you had back in Funnel #3: Onboarding
  2. You would wait for about 3-4 weeks or more depending on how long it takes your product or service to get the first result.
  3. Then you would have the email be sent after the wait.

Wrapping Up

Now before we conclude, I want to mention that funnels should make your life easier. It’s not something you want to complicate. Instead, identify your problem and find the easiest solution – take the path of least resistance!

For example, if your immediate problem is the fact that your customers are feeling lost after purchasing your product, you should be working on Funnel #3 – your onboarding funnel.

So while I had so much fun talking about funnels, you should be minimizing the amount of time you spend on figuring out everything you need and instead, focus on solving the problem you have right now.

Until next time,
Hae Park

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