Sales funnels are essential for modern marketing. But they’re actually not all that new.
Business has always followed a funnel format – from audience research to relationship building and, eventually, sales. The big difference these days is the process is much easier and more or less online. So this post is all about sales funnels for artists and how to start growing your brand online while making more sales.
Consider this, data from Salesforce shows that 79% of marketing leads never actually convert to sales!
That’s a crazy high number, indicating a lot of lost opportunities.
But this is where funnels come in.
They’re powerful tools that guide us through the buyer’s journey, helping us to filter and find the right people who are actually interested in our brand, story and craft.
Also, you may find that you just simply enjoy the creative process of building funnels. After all, it’s our whole schtick.
Alright, enough small talk – let’s get it!
- What Is A Sales Funnel?
- Step 1: Use The Right Tools
- Step 2: Audience Research & Making A Great Funnel
- Step 3: How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel
- Step 4: How to Get Traffic
What Is A Sales Funnel?
And Why Should Artists Use One?
A sales funnel is more or less what it sounds like. It’s an organized system that outlines the typical buying process or customer journey.
And it kind of just looks like your basic kitchen funnel.
See, check out my beautiful quickly-thrown-together funnel example:
What you’ll notice is a fairly logical pattern. At the top, we have cold traffic and a focus on raising awareness.
This transitions to relationship building and followup communications, eventually leading to sales and loyal customers (i.e., fans).
So all sales funnels will follow a similar series of stages, starting from the top of the funnel (where sales rarely happen) and ending at the bottom (where most sales will happen).
Each stage of a sales funnel should have content, messaging and objectives that specifically match the customer profile at that particular stage.
For example, people at the top of a sales funnel don’t know you or your brand (yet!) and are far less likely to trust you or buy from you. This audience is cold traffic.
Here, a sales-focused advertisement or content piece would likely perform poorly.
So the top of a sales funnel is where we should focus on starting a relationship. We do this by adding value.
Value can be one (or a combination) of the following three things.
Of course, there are exceptions to the sale funnel “rule”.
For example, well-researched and niche targeting parameters coupled with simply amazing artwork or music could absolutely entice someone to buy or listen based on nothing else.
But this would likely be inconsistent, lacks repeatability and can become a quickly disorganized strategy as you grow.
After all, we want to know when people are most likely to buy something, engage with our brand and what content or messaging resonates with them most throughout different buyer (or fan) stages.
So to generate consistent sales and listens, implementing a sales funnel strategy with strategic retargeting campaigns is a powerful solution.
The more often people are exposed to and engage with your content, the more likely they are to become a fan and buy something.
OK, now that we’ve added some important context for the sales funnel methodology, let’s explore the typical stages of a sales funnel in more detail.
The Top of the Sales Funnel
The top of the sales funnel is where we reach out to new, potential fans.
These are people who have never heard of us or our brand. Sales rarely happen at this point in a funnel.
Therefore, we should build campaigns and marketing that focuses on adding value and building awareness.
We’re essentially starting a relationship with someone. Things like lead magnets, BOGO sales and freebies are all popular choices.
Here are some common characteristics of a good upper funnel offer:
- Content or offers that are quick and easy to digest
- Something that is highly visual
- Avoids information overload
- Focuses on the buyer
- Provides the audience with a “quick win”
- Solves a real problem
- Does not try to sell
- Adds value
- Something that is enticing and attention-grabbing
- Something that is specific and niche
OK great, so how does this all translate to musicians and artists? Here are some ideas for creatives:
- Offer free prints
- Show your face (yep, people want to see you)
- Use TikTok and post videos daily
- Offer to write a custom song (for a winner)
- Tell your story, as a series of short ads or posts, making people slowly more invested
- Free design “cheatsheet” for using wall art like a pro
- Free guide on what to play at a wedding/graduation/pre-game party/etc.
- Free music list for sleep, motivation, parties, wedding, etc.
- Link to interesting, relevant blog posts
- X benefits of listening to music
- What’s next for (genre) music?
- Is playing music to a baby actually good?
- Top LGBTQ artists/musicians to know
- X super interesting facts about ___ music
- Free quizzes (like what your music/art taste says about your personality)
The Middle of the Sales Funnel
The middle of the funnel is where we strengthen relationships and establish greater trust, brand recognition and authority.
It’s hard to say where the middle of a funnel ends and the bottom begins, but staying vigilant by continuing to add value is a safe play.
Since artists and musicians are unique and can be quite different from a traditional business marketing scheme, it’s not a bad idea to test different objectives at this point.
Especially for musicians, where your core product may be streaming music, which is generally free and low-friction.
Still, we can think of the middle of the funnel as a continuation from the top. But one of the biggest differences will be a narrowing of your audience.
At the top, we were reaching everyone in our potential target audience.
In the middle, we niche down by retargeting only those people from the top-of-the-funnel group who are most interested in our art or music.
These will be people who engaged with an initial post by commenting or liking it, people who watched a video we promoted or anyone else that showed some sign of interest.
Remember, we’re funneling down to find only the most interested, engaged and supportive people.
These will be your customers and fans.
The Bottom of the Sales Funnel
Ah, we’ve reached the bottom. This is where all your most interested prospects, fans and returning customers live.
This audience knows you, trusts you and will readily recognize you or your brand.
They’re most likely to buy your art and merch, support your brand, go to your shows and stream your music.
Reaching this point can take some patience and creativity, but as you know, it’s totally worth it.
So keep on reading and we’ll look at how to create and optimize a sales funnel!
Before we jump in to the good stuff, you may be thinking, “OK this all sounds cool…but do I really need a sales funnel?”
And it really depends on your goals, preferences, budget, and willingness to learn a few new tricks.
I don’t want to lie and tell you “…it’s absolutely necessary or you’ll never sell any art!”
No, of course there are numerous ways to reach people.
Especially with platforms like TikTok – it’s a creator’s dream!
But a sales funnel does add an organized structure and strategy to your business. A sort of method to the madness, if you will.
So let’s look at a few reasons why sales funnels can be incredibly useful for artists.
Why Should Creatives Use A Sales Funnel?
- It’s simpler and you’ll be more organized
- You’ll boost sales and followers by reaching the right person at the right time
- Adds intention and structure to your content strategies and other marketing campaigns
- Saves time, money and energy by knowing exactly how and what to advertise and to who
- You’ll be able to track and analyze important data for retargeting ads and creating more specific, customized content
$ Tip Jar $
In marketing, the rule of 7 states that it can take, on average, up to 7 or more points of contact before a new potential customer takes some desired action or makes a purchase.
This is the power of remarketing and using a sales funnel methodology to reach out to the most interested prospects.
Read more about the rule of 7 here.
Step 1: Use the Right Tools
Funnel Building Software + Email Software
This may go without saying, but we’ll need the right tools to actually make a good sales funnel.
Essentially, our tool belt will consist of landing pages (one-page websites) and email marketing (for sign-ups and followup).
Remember, landing pages are different from your website or social media accounts.
Landing pages are very specific, one-purpose pages designed for marketing and sales.
Social media is where you showcase your authenticate self and your brand. It is not the best place to try selling. After all, people don’t want to follow account that always blast their feed with sales pitches.
And websites? This is your hub. Your site houses all general information related to your brand, art, music and business as a whole.
So it’s good to keep in mind that a website’s purpose is very different from a landing page or sales funnel.
Below is a short list of some popular choices for sales funnel building software and email marketing software.
I’ve included both free and paid options, if you prefer to keep things simple.
You’ll also notice that some softwares provide both email and funnel building. This can be quite common, so definitely check them out a bit to find one that suits you best!
Funnel Building Software
- Builderall (free plan option)
- Full sales funnel builder, membership sites, can use or share funnels and websites with other users
- Many features and upgrade options for optimization and customization
- Renderforest (free plan option)
- Builds both landing pages & websites
- Can also create videos, animations, logos, music visualizations, presentations and more
- Ucraft (free plan option)
- Simple and straightforward landing page builder with fully customizable templates
- Cool premium upgrade options
- Pricing starts at $15/month
- Comes with powerful email automation and a simple landing page builder
- Autofunnel feature builds sales funnels with email followup and landing pages automatically
- Start at $25/month (*if billed annually)
- Can make Facebook & Instagram ads directly inside the Leadpages dashboard
- HubSpot (free plan option)
- A powerful email autoresponder with a CRM, landing page builder, blog builder, social media management system…basically a full business management suite
- Mailerlite (free plan option)
- Extremely simple to use, track customer interactions for customization and optimization using Click Maps
- Build landing pages
- Benchmark (free plan option)
- Awesome drag-and-drop editor and built-in photo editor
- Great SMS features, social media integration and multi-user account set-up
- Create full sales funnels and use automation tools to manage email and landing pages
Step 2: Audience Research & Making A Great Funnel
Creating With Intention
The mark of a great landing page is customization and specificity.
This means making your design, messaging and content match a specific target audience with a specific offer.
As much as possible, you want people to feel like you and your art is speaking directly to them.
And this all starts with knowing your audience.
If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.
Digital marketing allows us to be hyper-specific and customize our campaigns to a very specific customer or fan profile.
This is great, because our campaigns will come across as more genuine and meaningful.
This saves us money and makes it more likely that the target audience will actually be interested in our work.
I’m not going to go into the specifics of finding your ideal target market, so if you need some more direction here, check out the recommend read below!
To recap, sales funnels should be customized for a very specific target audience and offer.
It’s our opportunity to create a personalized experience and to communicate directly with our audience’s issues and values by offering them a very specific and custom solution.
Once we know exactly who our target audience is, we can start building a funnel with a specific offer and messaging that resonates.
There are many ways to personalize and build a high-quality, value-adding sales funnel. So let’s explore this topic some more.
Customizing Your Offer
If you’re strategically building out a sales funnel, then you’ve probably thought about what your objective and offer will be.
If not, then you’ll want to clearly identify this since these details will determine your landing page designs, messaging, followup sequences, sales funnel length and complexity and followup protocol.
For example, if your offer is a high-ticket item (such as something $1,000+), then your sales funnel is naturally going to have more stages, more communication and followup and more information.
However, if you’re creating a sales funnel where your main objective is to capture an email by offering something for free (i.e., a lead magnet), then you could get by with a simple two-step funnel including an email opt-in and direct, to-the-point messaging.
So your sales funnel design and customization aspects will heavily depend on your specific objectives and you unique offer package:
- Are you capturing emails
- Is this for a webinar registration
- Are you focusing on brand awareness, product info or product selling?
- Are you offering a free downloadable guide?
- Are you giving away a free product or trial?
- Is this offer a discount or coupon of some sort?
- Or perhaps you’re giving away a free eBook!
As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive or complex your offer is, the more complex and longer your sales funnel will be.
When creating your offer, also keep in mind the type of customer you’re targeting.
If your target audience is cold traffic, then they’ll be at the top of your sales funnel, so you’ll want to focus on four key areas:
Focus On Giving Relevant Value
Focus On Capturing Emails
Focus On Building Relationships
Focus On Retargeting & Followup
Your actual sales conversions will generally happen at the bottom of your funnel, after the customer is warmed up to you and your brand.
This is when they will start to trust you and will be ready to convert after enough points of contact (or touch points).
So stay patient, on message and focus on giving value and retargeting the most engaged prospects.
Now that we have some foundation elements of your sales funnel established, let’s talk more about how we can optimize our landing pages and funnels for conversions and engagement.
Step 3: How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel
14 Points to Optimize For
There are some great best practices to consider when building your landing pages and sales funnels to optimize for conversions and user experience.
Some tips may echo what I’ve already mentioned above, but this will serve as a nice and organized summation for ways to improve your sales funnel optimization.
Let’s check them out!
14 Ways to Optimize a Sales Funnel
- Be Specific & Relevant to Your Audience
- Research from the MarketingBlender 73% of consumers feel frustrated when a content offers them something that’s not relevant.
- Communicate the Customer Transformation
- This basically echos what I’ve been saying above
- Keep It On-Message & Have Clear Call To Actions (CTAs)
- A CTA is the button telling the customer exactly what you want them to do next
- Have one CTA objective per landing page and objective
- Have multiple CTAs buttons, both at the top of your page (above the fold) and at the bottom (and also throughout the page if you have longer-form script and information)
- Match Your Messaging Throughout Your Funnel
- Don’t get off topic and start adding other offers
- Although, one-click up-sells and order bumps can be a great way to boost your average cart value during the checkout process
- This is often overlooked and can actually lead to disapproved ads (if you’re running Facebook or Instagram marketing for example)
- If It’s Cheap Or Uncomplicated, Keep It Short & Simple
- I’ve talked about this point, so remember what you’re offering and use logic to match your landing pages and messaging to that thing
- Create With A Mobile-First Approach
- Mobile use continues to grow steadily and actually surpasses desktop use
- So having a mobile-first approach ensures your optimizing for this trend
- Split-Test Different Landing Pages
- Most landing page and sales funnel builders will have an A/B split-testing option already built-in (another benefit to using a sales funnel software)
- Testing for different headlines, creatives, text/image placement and colors can all yield different levels of engagement and conversions
- Take Advantage Of Templates & Done-For-You Designs
- This can of course save you invaluable time and you can be rest assured that you’re using a design that’s optimized and of high quality
- Keep It Visually Interesting By Using High-Quality Images & Videos
- Although raw, unedited videos can be very effective also, using high-quality creatives (especially video, as this is a continually growing trend) will increase your conversions and optimization throughout your funnel
- Use Social Proof
- This can be customer reviews or live visitor pop-ups that show who else is viewing the page they’re on or pop-ups showing people who are currently purchasing the product/offer
- Use Different Landing Pages For Different Customers
- Again, don’t treat all customers the same
- Hyper-personalization in marketing is a growing trend
- Use Scarcity & Urgency
- FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing!
- Putting in a simply timeline or countdown urging the visitor to “act now” while the deal lasts can be extremely effective at prompting a desired action
- Be Honest, On-Brand & Tell Your Story
Step 4: How to Get Traffic
Free Ways, SEO & Paid Traffic
I decided to add a section on traffic since this will be the fuel to your funnel. For simplicity, let’s split all online traffic as coming from sources that are either paid and unpaid.
Paid traffic will give you faster results, but requires a bigger budget.
Free, organic traffic is often slower but is a great long-term strategy.
Whatever you choose, both approaches do require some technical know-how and strategic finesse.
So while I’m just giving you the sort of 10,000 foot view in this post, I’ll provide some helpful links (below) for further reading on these strategies.
Ideally, you’ll be using both or a combination of the two traffic strategies.
But if you’re new to marketing, I recommend focusing on just one method to start, testing it out and learning before moving on and adding additional layers.
Below is a short list of some common paid and unpaid methods for getting traffic.
Each option links to a tutorial on each idea.
Paid Traffic Ideas
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Google Display Ads
- Influencer Marketing
- Pinterest Ads
- TikTok Ads
Deciding which strategy is right for you will depend on personal goals, experience and budget.
Both paid ads and free methods have their pros and cons. But I believe a great place to start is always with content marketing (such as creating a blog or focusing on building a “fire” Instagram).
Plus, the social media infrastructure and content you create today can be recycled used when implementing paid ads down the road.
I personally prefer blogging since it’s essentially free and becomes a long-term asset that pays off in dividends as you get more and more free traffic from search engines.
If you want to learn more about blogging and SEO for artists, check out the recommended read below!
Otherwise, I guess it’s time we wrap things up here.
$ Tip Jar $
Match your content, messaging and offers to the particular platform you’re using.
The user’s state-of-mind changes depending on the particular platform.
For example, Facebook or Instagram are great for socializing with friends and family while Pinterest or Google are great for inspiration and getting answers to questions.
This post has provided a detailed overview of everything needed to make great sales funnels for artists.
We talked about helpful tools, best practices and traffic strategies to help you get started on the right foot.
Remember, websites are general and house all of your brand information whereas sales funnels and landing pages are specific and customized for a single purpose.
So thank you for your time today and I hope this article has provided you with useful value and actionable information!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried using a sales funnel or what parts of this concept still confuse you!