A marketing funnel describes the various stages of a prospect’s journey, from the initial stages when someone becomes aware of your business offerings, to the purchasing stage, the marketing funnel ultimately maps the route to conversion.
A marketing funnel gives a simple visual interpretation of the stages buyers go through, making it easy for marketers and other business stakeholders to follow the process flow.
One of the biggest benefits of a marketing funnel approach is measurability. Using analytics the funnel can show you what actions are working and which actions aren’t giving a good return on investment. It’s easy to visualise where you are losing customers and then adopt the appropriate counter measures to your strategy.
It is important to note that there is no one single marketing funnel that will cover every single business and product offering. Some funnels will have many stages while others will have few. Stages will vary based on the type of product or service, target market, channel to market or the customer’s buying journey.
The following funnel description covers the most common stages and relevant potential actions.
The first step in the marketing funnel is the top of (ToFu) awareness stage - attracting your target audience.
In this stage the concept is to focus on an entire segment of potential customers. This involves raising awareness of your business and products by the use of effective advertising, marketing and other communication strategies. These actions may include SEM (search engine marketing), blog posts, advertising in publications, attending events, social media campaigns and the use of infographics or multimedia collateral.
Raising awareness will generate leads, as information is collected the leads should be pulled into a lead management system for nurturing further down the funnel.
Middle of the funnel (MoFu) actions drive interest and consideration in the product or service offering. They show potential customers that you have a viable solution for their needs, it is the time when you’ll be nurturing a lead and establishing trust between your target audience and your brand.
Great pieces of content at this stage tend to be things like nurturing emails, product solution focused white papers, case studies, customer testimonials, eBook publications or webinar series.
MoFu content should educate leads, providing information to give them answers to their questions. Content should also highlight your unique selling propositions so leads can see why you are differentiated from your competitors. Ultimately you want to communicate how your products or services can solve their specific problem.
The bottom of the funnel is the decision stage, it’s now time to give the lead a compelling push to purchase your product or service and finally convert them to a customer.
Different bottom of funnel (BoFu) tactics can be applied to aid conversion, to determine the best BoFu action you need to target your lead’s pain points. Often leads just need one more simple thing to push them over the edge. Promotional offers are a great way to do just that, however, based on the information you’ve collected on your leads throughout the funnel process you are able to execute a much more strategically planned offer.
If price promotion isn’t the thing that will drive them to convert then they may want to know that you have the correct expertise in their specific field and may need a little more confidence in your offering . In this case BoFu actions like offering bespoke customer webinars with industry experts, on site product trials or highly targeted case studies may help.
You may think that once a customer has converted and the sale made then that would be the end of the marketing funnel process, however the next phase is retention.
The retention step involves nurturing the customer to make more and potentially larger purchases, ensuring brand loyalty and then turning the customer into an advocate for both product and brand. Having an external recommendation not connected to the business can strongly influence future prospects.
The ultimate goal is to increase the number and size of purchases and to drive more awareness and referrals to fuel the marketing funnel in a continuous loop process.