What is a Marketing Funnel?
A marketing funnel is a system designed to attract and convert customers to your business. It helps you visualize the path buyer?s take as they become familiar with your company, from introduction to conversion.
Think about the purchase funnel for an ecommerce brand, like Amazon:
- First, a visitor has to visit Amazon?s website
- Then, they have to view a product
- Next, they add the product to their cart
- Finally, they make their purchase
In between each step there is the potential for the visitor to drop out and not reach the final step, the actual conversion. This is why your marketing funnel should include the following 5 stages: awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. If you are able to promote engagement in each stage, you will see an increase in conversions.
The Old-School Marketing Funnel
If you?ve been in business long enough you?ve probably seen the old-school cone-shaped marketing funnel. That marketing funnel requires you to continually fill the top of your funnel with as many people as possible since the bottom of the funnel only filters out a small percentage of customers.
But that?s not a strategy for growth. With the cone-shaped funnel, your marketing efforts end at the point of purchase. Once a visitor becomes a paying customer, your job is down and your focus shifts back to finding more new customers.
We recommend you follow the timer-shaped marketing funnel that is wide at the top, narrow in the middle, and wide at the bottom.
The New Marketing Funnel
Your journey with your customer shouldn?t end at the bottom of the cone-shaped funnel. Instead, you should open the funnel after they make a purchase and focus on customer retention. What does your customer do after they buy from you?
This is an opportunity to create a deeper relationship between you and your customer. According to the Harvard Business Review, profits rise as a customer?s relationship with a company lengthens. Long-term customers act as free advertising for your product or service, and Neilson reports that 84% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over marketing campaigns. So, gather as much feedback as possible from your customers and gain their loyalty!
Breaking Down the New Marketing Funnel
Now that you understand what a marketing funnel is, let?s break down each stage of the new marketing funnel.
During this stage, people who have a certain problem get to know about your product, company, or brand. Focus on establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry. This can be done in a variety of ways:
- They see one of your ads on Facebook;
- They search something on Google and find your website;
- They watch one of your videos on YouTube;
- They read one of your articles from your blog.
No matter how they find you, they now know you exist. Now that they?re familiar with you, they have a mental note that your brand is connected to the problem they have in some way. This is where your marketing strategy kicks in.
Talk more about the problem. Raise awareness of the issue. Convince these people that it?s important, and that it should be resolved. Teach them how to solve it, and connect the problem with your brand, product, or service.
Once your prospective customer moves from the awareness stage, they enter the consideration stage. Here they are willing to consider your company, product, or service. They are hooked and want to dig deeper into the subject.
They may begin to refine their searches using more specific keywords on search-engines. They might also look for experts and influencers to follow in the industry to know the trends in this area.
Since you now know more about your prospect in this stage, you can send them more targeted content that addresses their specific points. This demonstrates that you are able to provide the solution to their problem.
Your job now is to:
- Rank for the specific keywords so they find your content;
- Be the expert they want to follow and learn more from.
Once your prospective customer knows the value of your product or service and you have educated them through your content on how your product can resolve their problem, they are ready to make a decision on whether or not to purchase. Your goal now is to convince them to purchase your product or service.
Start talking about why your product is better than your competitors? and why it is perfect for your prospective customer. Focus on the benefits rather than just explaining the features.
Give them a nudge to click the ?buy now? button by offering a special discount or trial period of your product or service. There are other ways to give them that gentle push, like:
- Utilize urgency. If there is a limited-time sale or if the product is going out of stock soon, remind them that this may be there last chance;
- Make sure the checkout experience is easy and friendly to navigate;
- Give away samples so they can see the benefits for themselves.
Once your prospect becomes a customer, don?t turn your back on them and move on to the next prospect. Repeat and longtime customers are too valuable to ignore. So, how do you increase loyalty and retention?
Let?s say you are a fitness subscription box company, and you don?t want your members to lose interest and cancel their subscription. Here are a few ideas on valuable content you can include in your emails or social media posts to increase retention:
- A survey that asks customers how happy they are with the products they received that month in their fitness box and what other kinds of products they would like to get;
- A monthly 20-minute webinar that describes the items in the box and gives them tips on how to use incorporate them into their workouts;
- A 25 percent discount to customers that renew their subscription.
These little incentives will show customers that you value their membership and encourages them to stay faithful with your company instead of jumping ship.
When your customers become fans, you have advocacy. Not only have they purchased your product or service, but they?ve probably purchased again, and now they love you! They tell their friends and family about you and show off your product or service on social media.
Referral marketing is the most effective marketing strategy, because when your friends tell you a product or service is awesome, you are much more likely to purchase that product because you trust them.
Identifying customers that love you and send them an email asking them to recommend your service on your Facebook business page, including a survey in an email to learn how you can improve your product or service, or start a loyalty program where customers get incentives for referring you are just a few ways you can turn your customer into a raving fan.
Make sure to always engage with your advocates. Personally reply to their messages and emails. Share their posts on social media and respond to them with appreciation. Interacting with your raving fans keeps them loyal to you.
Develop a marketing strategy with the marketing funnel as your guide. This will ensure that you?ll convert more prospects into customers and more customers into advocates.