Marketing Funnels – A Practical Framework To Improve Your Digital Marketing
Imagine you are doing digital marketing activities to boost the presence of your online footwear store. What will you do first? You will create multiple advertisement copies and run them on Google. You may write blogs daily and post it on your website. You may offer free shipping and a short delivery period. To sell athletic shoes, you may consider organizing a group run or workout class with a local fitness studio and offer participants a discount to pick out some new sneakers at your store afterward. Also, the blog topics you would write will revolve around the users who need athletic shoes. All this is nothing but digital marketing based on marketing funnels!
A few weeks back, we talked about user journeys and buyer persona. Until and unless you have the right knowledge of marketing funnels, you cannot apply buyer persona in your digital marketing efforts. However, it does not mean that your marketing activities are not in line with marketing funnels. It simply means that there is some ignorance towards this concept. And if you know it thoroughly, you can apply it right to enjoy better results, better ROI.
Marketing Funnels – What exactly does it mean in digital marketing?
Marketing funnels are all over. These funnels are an incredibly important marketing strategy that can help brands evolve and expand.
A marketing funnel is a series of stages that prospective customers move through. The commonly divided stages are:
Former THREE falls under the category of marketing whereas later TWO are more considered under the umbrella of sales.
Marketing funnels were aimed at getting these potential buyers through the buyer’s journey to eventually buy the products or services of a brand. What are these stages and how does it impact (actually, strengthen) your digital marketing?
Throughout the user journey of these FIVE phases, a brand needs to nurture the audience and keep pushing through the phases. A marketing funnel is a process of trying to convert those target audiences into a customer and then convince them to buy your offerings and become a repeat customer and brand advocate.
1. Awareness Stage – Your brand is completely new for users
It is the stage where users are not yet aware of your brand and offerings. They do not know that you have solutions to the challenges they are facing. Here, you need to educate the users and introduce your products or services as a solution to their problems. And, if they are not aware of the challenges they are facing, you first need to highlight those problems.
The digital marketing goal in the awareness stage is to increase brand and product awareness. It can be done with the help of content marketing, social media marketing, and paid marketing so that organic impressions and searches can take place.
For a brand selling room fresheners, the awareness stage consists of informing the audience about the benefits of using room fresheners and why they need one. You can highlight the cases wherein room fresheners are used. Make them aware of how they can remove unpleasant room odors. What are the negatives of living in bad odors, etc?
Here, there is no sales pitch, it’s all about educating their needs with respect to your products or services.
Tip: Content and marketing activities at the awareness stage of marketing funnel consist of blogs, webinars, emails, events, trade shows, social media viral posts, online mentions, etc.
2. Consideration Stage – Users are looking for alternatives to solve their problems
By now, users are aware that they have a problem and for which some solutions exist in the market. Here, they will look for all possible alternatives available for them. This is because they are still not completely committed to any particular solution. They have recognized the need but are not yet ready to make a purchase decision.
The digital marketing goal in the consideration stage is to prove to your potential customers that you are the best option. Because here your target audience is doing heavy research on whether your product or service is a good fit for them or not.
For example, Nirma washing powder advertises its product by adding a tagline – Milk White Super Shine. This is a sort of comparison with its competitors. People looking for washing powder to wash white clothes will think of Nirma first.
Here, rather than sales pitch, comparisons work better. Videos are a great way to demonstrate what your offerings can do for them. Hence, provide content that builds relationships, nurture the lead and establish the trust of the user in your brand.
Tip: Content and marketing activities at the consideration stage of marketing funnel consist of eBooks, webinars, targeted emails, case studies, FAQs, newsletters, product information, brochures, free trials, free consultations, etc.
3. Decision (Purchase) Stage – Users are ready to invest in the solutions
This is a very important stage of your marketing funnel. Users are indeed ready to invest in the solutions to their challenges, but that still doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to come to you. Any slip in marketing can push your prospect to your competitor. Here, writing a blog will not help them evaluate why you are better over others.
For a brand selling weight loss program, the decision stage consists of providing benefits of a particular package to lose weight in XX days. Or, you can display video testimonials of your existing or past customers who have successfully lost weight, with your program, without getting any side effects.
To strengthen the purchase stage user journey of your buyer persona, make sure your website is easy to navigate, user-friendly to click on CTAs to avoid any sort of distraction that could cause a lost opportunity.
Tip: The most effective types of marketing content in the purchase stage tend to be product demos, reviews of existing customers, trials, case studies, freebies, discount offers, and product literature.
4. Retention Stage – Users should consider only your brand as the best
Done with promotions and sales, what next then? Here, comes client retention. It is the responsibility of the sales department. No doubt, a good customer retention rate is dependent on the industry. But, it is still a vital parameter to evaluate your business’ success and the quality of customer services. For example, a company selling baby food will have a lower client retention rate as compared to the travel booking portal. However, the average repeat purchase rate falls somewhere between 20% and 40% regardless of the industry you serve. When your lead converts into a customer, your job is to keep in touch with him to build their customer loyalty.
For example, when a customer buys a vehicle from any brand, s/he may be offered after-sale services like assistance in a number plate, furnishing further with seat covers, etc.. Also, the brand may have a warranty for that vehicle or a provision to get first two-years service free. Based on customer service satisfaction, the same customer may come back to the same brand to buy another vehicle in the future.
The game here is to stay in touch with your customers, keep asking their comfort with your product or service. You can ask them to review your offerings on social platforms.
Tip: The most effective types of marketing content in the retention stage tend to send emails and newsletters with upcoming products/services, offer customer loyalty rewards, events, surveys, etc.
5. Advocacy Stage – Users promote your brand through user-generated content
Digital marketing and sales is a cycle that keeps going on and on. Once you have won the trust of your customers and have turned them into repeat customers, you can still have them as your brand advocates. This works best in the fashion and media industry. Celebrities often promote clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, etc. they use from the brand as the best products. They regularly recommend your offers to your potential buyers.
For example, an advertisement for Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo says that it is best to treat frizzy hair or unruly hair for a smooth look. The celebrity or any normal customer, if they post a positive review of the product, it is called brand advocacy.
The chief thing here is that your marketing funnel does not simply end with the purchase. There is plenty more work to be done at this stage to ensure the consistent promotion of your brand.
Tip: Use their reviews and feedback as user-generated content and promote it in front of a new audience. You can run contests and quizzes make the content viral.
Over to You – How does your marketing funnel look like?
By now, you will have agreed that every single business has a marketing funnel, whatever we call it. If you are aware of what your audience wants, you are good to go with help them passing through your funnel. But how would you know that? Well, this can be analyzed from your data. Keep an eye on specific metrics that indicate customer engagement and interactions with your marketing channels and promotions can be of tremendous benefit.
If you analyze the metrics and data, it will expose the areas of your marketing funnel where you are losing your customers. Also, with the proper data analysis, you can remove or adapt whatever hurdles are getting in their buyer journey.
There is a border difference between these two. A marketing funnel usually markets a product or service to give leads a reason to buy. On the other hand, the sales funnel deals with the leads (from the marketing funnel).
Agreed, setting up the marketing funnel can be confusing to many marketers. It can be, typically, done together by the marketing and sales department by analyzing their existing data and evaluating their offerings.