Often, I find that a picture gives clarity and focus to my thinking and execution.

So, I've been picturing my online business as four funnels, a bucket, and a pie.

Which makes my job as a leader in this business to:

  • Improve the funnels
  • Plug the holes in the bucket and
  • Bake bigger pies

Improve your funnels

Here are the four funnels.  You want to take customers from the top state to the bottom state of each funnel, moving left to right.

PainAwarenessInterestFreemium or Free Trial
AwarenessInterestFreemium or Free TrialPaying


Your goal is to increase the number of high-quality leads that exit each funnel and enter the next.  This is made more difficult by the tendency towards an inverse relationship between lead quantity and quality.  Like inertia, this tendency can only be overcome by effort.

Your success at the first three funnels is determined by your marketing.  You will be more effective the better you can identify your target market, understand it, identify your buyer, clarify and express clearly their pain, get their attention, and communicate your value and differentiation.  I always find David Skok's blog  For Entrepreneurs helpful and he has done several on this topic.  As well, I recently met On Demand Advisors at SAAS University.  They have a nice revenue map that inspired some of my thinking here.

One of these funnels is not like the others.  The fourth funnel is different.  Your success at the last funnel is determined by your users' experience with your product.   You can't be successful with this fourth funnel unless you understand what your users are doing in your product so that you can (a) respond to them personally based on their behavior and (b) improve your product.

However, the more you can provide prospects in earlier funnels a taste of the experience of your product, the better.  This was highlighted by Ken Rutsky of KJR Associates whom I also met at SAAS University.

Plug your leaky bucket

Once you have a paying customer using your solution, they are yours to keep or lose.    Keep them!   Patch the leaky bucket.  Keep your customer engaged.  Keep serving them.  Keep adding value.  If you do, you will renew them and reduce your churn rate.  How to do this?

  • By building a great product that solves their pain and gives them a great experience.  And by improving that product by understanding how your customers are using it and where it needs to be improved.
  • But also, by understanding each customer's behavior within your product and then leveraging that understanding to better serve them.  What is the difference is between your customers who renew and those who do not?  Which customers are at risk of churn?  Make sure each customer is as successful as possible with your solution.

Bake bigger pies

Keep adding value to your solution so that you keep delighting your customers each month and year

  • Design your pricing model so that it's natural, easy, and desirable for your customers to increase what they pay you.