How to Build a Lead Generation Funnel That Doesn’t Feel Slimy: Introducing The Forward Flow

At a mind-blowing 79%, the biggest goal people want to achieve through content marketing is to generate more high-quality leads.

But does your skin crawl when you hear the term “lead generation funnel”?

You’re not alone.

Annoying popups. Endless upsells. Aggressive click funnels. 🤦

This can feel like the modern-day equivalent to yucky telemarketing strategies.

But effective lead generation doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, there’s an even better way to bring awareness, engagement, and conversions to your digital marketing strategy.

By using an attraction-based marketing funnel.

One that’s built on trust — because building trust with customers is more important now than ever before (people now trust businesses more than their own governments).

So that’s great news for marketers (whether you’re building a B2C or B2B lead generation funnel).

Because it means people are ready to connect with you and your brand — if you approach marketing with authenticity.

In this article, I’ll show you how it’s done.

We’ll dive into:

  1. How to build a (non-slimy) lead generating funnel that uses real-life content
  2. My secret formula, the Forward Flow, to inject inside your sales funnels that builds trust and brings in leads
  3. How to make this process repeatable while keeping it rooted in authenticity

…and more juicy marketing tips for a high-converting funnel. 💥

Let’s get right to it.

lead generation funnel

How to Build a Lead Generation Funnel: What’s Inside

What Are Lead Funnels?

Why a Trust-Building Type of Lead Generation Funnel Works the Best

Introducing the Forward Flow: My Concept for Bringing New Traffic Over to Trust & Sales

4 Key Steps to Build a (Non-Sleazy), Trust-Creating Lead Generation Funnel

What Are Lead Funnels?

So, what is a lead generation funnel?

Your lead generation is the beginning of your potential customer’s interaction with you — and the funnel is the process leads move through to ultimately convert into a customer.

lead generation funnel

In the past, overly complicated and forceful sales funnels were the norm. But as consumers start turning to brands with hopes they’ll be more authentic and genuinely help solve their problems — attraction-based funnels are now the future.

Here’s what that looks like today:

  1. At the top of the funnel (TOFU), you’ll be qualifying and identifying people — making sure you’re targeting your ideal business persona. Not only does this save you time and resources (by turning away people who aren’t high-quality leads), but it makes an ideal lead fall for you and your brand even harder (and faster).
  2. In the middle of the funnel (MOFU), you should be giving your leads the goods (informing) while proving you know what you’re talking about.
  3. Then at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), you should invite your lead to act.

This is a simplified version of the historically complicated sales funnel and can be used for your overall digital marketing plan, or even something as granular as the flow you use when you’re writing a blog or three-sentence CTA.

Want to learn more about the 3 S’s it takes to grow a business – strategy, skills and systems? Watch our 100% free class.

free training

Why a Trust-Building Type of Lead Generation Funnel Works the Best

Tired of slimy sales funnels online?

I was, too.

I spent 10 years building a content writing agency that worked with over 5,000 clients (and I successfully exited for a 13,000x ROI). I’ve seen all the major sales trainings and read the most popular books — and I applied those strategies. 📚

But as time went on, I started to notice something.

The systems that were working for me were ones that were entirely based on attraction-based selling, where you attract your ideal customers to you through content that builds trust with them, and authority on your voice.

NOT the overly automated, blink-and-you’ll-miss-out sales funnels. (It’s time to flip the traditional and conventional on their heads.)

Introducing the Forward Flow: My Concept for Bringing New Traffic Over to Trust & Sales

So, I created the process I’m introducing to you in this blog, one that’s been taught exclusively within my business coaching program and getting my students superb results. It’s called The Forward Flow, and it’s an incredibly simple but POWERFUL way to keep your prospects moving forward in the journey towards conversion and a close.

lead generation funnel

When you look at the content trends of 2022, it’s all about trust.

Here’s why I call the Forward Flow I’ve developed “magic” (even though it’s all backed by data, psychology, and proven results). 📊

You can — and should — use the Forward Flow process in more places than you think.

Here are some of my favorite places within your marketing to use the Forward Flow sequence (qualify them – address who they are, then inform them with your knowledge and your story, prove your expertise with what you know, and then share a call to action).

Did I mention how powerful this is?! Here’s where you can use it:

  1. Web pages
  2. CTAs
  3. Blog articles
  4. Lead magnets (ebooks, infographics, roadmaps, etc.)
  5. Lead forms
  6. Conversation apps (SaaS brands are great at this)

For an example of it in action, check out my free training.

Does all this sound good, but you’re still asking yourself, “How do I create a sales funnel?” I’ll guide you through my process up next.

4 Key Steps to Build a (Non-Sleazy), Trust-Creating Lead Generation Funnel

I’d like to introduce you to what I believe is the future of content marketing funnels — the specialized formula I built after overseeing 40,000+ client projects at my writing agency.

And here’s how you can use it for your own sustainable online business.

Step 1: Tap into the Power of Attraction-Based Content

Alright then, what exactly is attraction-based content?

This is heart-focused work. 💕

Words and flow where you DRAW in your ideal client.

To do it, you need to not just know your message, but also believe in it.

Because if you believe in it, you’ll be able to speak to it clearly.

(Your leads are going to see this — and they’ll notice if you don’t. This is part of why I coach my students to also build businesses out of their passions.)

This may feel a bit intangible — but it all boils down to knowing the real transformation you offer people. You have to understand and speak to your brand’s Content Differentiation Factor (what makes YOU different from your competitors, and how that will help your leads).

Once you know this, you’re nearly set. All you need to do is deliver this truth and authenticity within your content — as a pillar of your brand voice and tone — and remain consistent.

content differentiation factor

Summarized, the Forward Flow will look like this:

  1. Qualify
  2. Inform
  3. Prove expertise
  4. Call to act

If your lead generation funnel is missing this structure, it’s not going to sell to anyone in 2022 and beyond. 🤷

That’s because the Forward Flow is built on the foundation of genuineness, honesty, and trustworthiness (let’s call it being real, because it is). It’s powerful because real-life content builds brand trust, and we now know trust for small and medium businesses is stronger than it’s ever been.

Here’s an example of this “real-life content” in action:

I had amazing feedback on an Instagram Reel I shot holding my baby (showing my REAL life). Someone said they wished they saw more authentic content like this, and I agree!

I LOVE feeling like I’m going behind the scenes with creators — it instantly builds a connection.

real life content in your lead generation funnel

(And, I mean… a fresh little human?? Who wouldn’t want to peek at that? 👶)

More than one content type can be important pieces of your sales generation funnel — and you’ll need them to bring in prospects that convert.

You can watch me break this all down in the video below:

Step 2: Build on Your Own Real Estate

Social media is fun and flashy — no one will deny that.

But from an entrepreneur’s perspective, it can be extremely dangerous. Pour all your focus, energy, and time into building your biz exclusively on a third-party platform, and you risk losing everything in seconds.

Algorithms change. Rules shift. Social media platform companies don’t truly owe businesses any stability, and that’s why you can’t put the future of your business in their hands.

instagram account disabled

To avoid this major pitfall, you need your own website. Your own little home on the web. 🌐

You need this to establish your website content marketing strategy. This is a vital part of any online generation funnel — you don’t want leads getting stuck in your social media feed with nowhere to go.

Not only do you want to direct them to your website and email list from social media — you need that website to produce high ROI content that brings in leads like crazy through small business SEO blogging.

Step 3: Build a Team & Delegate

After building multiple seven-figure brands based on content, I’ve learned something simple:

No one can scale a business alone.

There’s simply too much to do — take it from the example below.

non-serious business owner

You need a team to delegate to, so you aren’t constantly getting stuck in the weeds and feeling burnt out. This is a key business skill you’ll need to learn.

So, another extremely crucial part of your lead generation funnel is to make sure you get a team to help you produce.

Your entrepreneurial spirit may be the fuel to your growth, but the combined planning, strategy, and delegation will be what scales and grows your business long term.

serious business owner

Not only do you need more hands on deck to complete more tasks, but the key here is gaining freedom from the grunt zone — so you can get the clarity you need (and frankly, deserve) to see your business strategy through in the long term. 🚀

Someone needs to be at the helm — so start building your rock star remote team from scratch to make sure you can properly and efficiently build and monitor your lead sales funnel (it’s WAY simpler than you might think).

Ready to start scaling with your own team of writers, graphic designers, support, and more? The curriculum in Phase 3, Growth, of The Content Transformation System, teaches you my rock-solid system you can use to find contractors you trust and love. Learn more here (seats are limited each month).

Step 4: Create High-Quality Content

One of the most important lead funnel stages is planning to create great content. I say “plan” because you’re going to need to do this over and over again if you want to grow your business organically. I like to position it as “managing” content versus creating it — since it’s ongoing.

You’ll need to use SEO to drive traffic into your lead generation funnel, and that’s a key component of high-quality content. You can do this by learning how to write an effective SEO blog outline (and hiring an expert writer). Then, you’ll be off to the races. 🏇

Step 5: Convert Leads into Customers

Like any leads funnel, every single piece of this flow needs to be assembled correctly for it to work.

Meaning, you can have EVERYTHING set up perfectly — and if you aren’t applying this process of authenticity to the end of the funnel where you’re closing (an uncomfortable sales stage for some, but an important one), your funnel will go ice cold. 🧊

(I’ve seen it — where all that was needed was ONE simple tweak to unclog a waterfall of new, hungry leads).

waterfall

This is going to look a tad different for each business (depending on your target audience, what you sell, the price point, your voice, etc.).

But the crux of what I’m saying is authenticity throughout is key to guiding your leads to a close. 🔑

The more unique and special an “experience” you can create for them, the better. (YES! Even if it breaks the framework above, but is AUTHENTIC to you and the transformation you offer, go for it! The 2020s are all about trying new, non-pushy, 100% authentic marketing tactics.)

Skyrocket Your Sales With a Killer Lead Generation Funnel

I remember the first time I put this concept down on paper, my heart swelled.

I had always loved content marketing, but I hadn’t realized I had naturally developed an authentic way to make sales without feeling like a sleazeball.

And I KNOW there are other people out there who feel the same about digital marketing.

The numbers alone speak for themselves — after only one year of implementing this formula within a solid business strategy, my writing agency went from $30K to $70K/month.

If you use this system as your lead generation funnel template, I’m confident you can succeed with it as well (while also having more fun and experiencing less stress).

If you’re on the growing list of marketers that agree that slime is out and attraction-based selling is in, I want to show you how it’s done.

Ready to take a deeper dive into my specialized lead generation process (complete with templates), plus get access to everything you’ll need to start or grow a sustainable online business to massive income and major impact — from templates to coaching and beyond? I invite you to apply for my next-level 12-month business growth mentorship today.

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.