The harsh truth is, even after we put a lot of effort into our marketing campaigns, be active in all social media platforms, and spending a lot of money in paid advertising, there is no guarantee to get the results we desired.
With those points being said, thankfully there is an answer to all the confusion, a tool to do more marketing with fewer efforts, and that is the marketing funnel.
But what exactly is the marketing funnel? How can we use it effectively to get more results? In this guide, we will discuss all the ins and outs you’ll need to know about marketing funnel.
Without further ado, let us begin by discussing the basic concept of marketing funnel itself.
So, What is The Marketing Funnel?
The term marketing funnel can refer to two different things:
First, is referring to the marketing term known as the buyer’s journey, which is the different stages a prospect will go through before they convert into a paying customer. Typically there are five different stages in the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: here, the prospect becomes aware of your brand or your specific product/service.
- Interest: the prospect starts to express interest on your product/service. Generally, here a business starts an engagement with this prospect.
- Evaluation: this prospect here starts to evaluate your product/service and compare it with your competitors’. In short, this stage is about figuring out whether your product/service is worth purchasing
- Decision: as the name suggests, the prospect have decided to purchase your option. Price negotiation (if any) will happen in this stage.
- Purchase: the prospect finally converts into an actual customer.
Second, is marketing funnel as a marketing system, which adopted from the buyer’s journey discussed above. Here, we design a marketing system to offer the ideal, optimized process your prospects can experience during their buyer’s journey, to improve their conversion rate. So, generally we’ll design an optimized campaign for each of the buyer’s journey steps, for example:
- Awareness: here we can optimize awareness through various promotions, including capturing site visitor information using lead magnets.
- Interest: mainly this stage is optimized through email marketing and content marketing .
- Evaluation: through content marketing or even a dedicated page on our site, we can help prospects in comparing our product with our competitors’. You can also offer free-trial registration, special discounts, and so on in this stage.
- Decision and Purchase: various marketing activities can be done here to optimize conversion rate, for example, offering special discount for a limited time to create a sense of urgency.
So, in this guide, we will discuss marketing funnel as a marketing system. How we can design a proper marketing funnel? How we can optimize and automate it? How can we implement it to grow our business? Below, we will find the answers.
The Foundations of an Effective Marketing Funnel
The key to success for every marketing strategy is having the right foundations, and the most important foundation is a thorough understanding of your audience: what they actually need, specific problems they are currently facing, their unique behaviors, and other important factors.
So, the first thing we should do here is a market research and here is the key steps to cover:
1. Defining Your Ideal Customer Demographics
Before we can understand our audience, we should first identify this ideal audience and their demographics data.
Demographics data from age, gender, income level, and location can give us a clearer insights on their behavior, and how their purchase decisions might look like. The more specific you can narrow down your ideal audience, the better you can develop your marketing efforts.
The main idea here, is that when you have a deep understanding of yourtarget, you can tailor your marketing messages and content. We all believe that we are special with our own unique problems and need, and so when we receive a marketing message that is a tailored fit, we are more likely to convert.
We can have a clearer picture of our ideal audience’s demographics by developing a buyer persona, and here are some key considerations in this step:
- If you already have an existing customer base, this is a great place to start. Look for common behaviors and interests, unique demographics factors like a certain age group, location, etc. The idea here is to answer the question: why do these current customers buy from you?
- You can always learn from your competitors. Check out your competitor’s target audience, their existing customer base, and why these customers are buying from your competitor but not you. You can either target other opportunities or compete with them.
- Another good approach is to analyze your own product or service, especially, who will benefit from this product/service, and how? Answering these questions will give you a better insight on who to actually target. Based on this answer, you can target specific demographics that are most likely to buy your product.
- If you are a B2B business, remember that there can be more than one people in your target organization that will be involved in the purchase decision process. These people can have different roles, needs, problems,and behaviors. You might need to create different buyer personas for each of them.
2. Using Your Demographics Data
Marketing, in essence, is playing with your audience’s psychology. The more specific your target, and the better you understand their problems; the better you can develop tailored marketing messages to increase the conversion rate.
Here are some examples on how we can use our understanding of our audience’s psychology to optimize their conversions:
- Whether you are a B2C or B2B business, your audience’s emotion is the one driving the purchase. The question is, which emotion? Which will vary depending on your product/service. You can generally observe the type of media and/or entertainment they consume to answer this question. For example, if many of your prospects are frequently visiting 9gag, then including humor in your marketing efforts can be effective.
- An often overlooked factor in driving more conversion is creating a sense of urgency. For example, a limited-time special offer.
Three Steps of Marketing Funnel Strategy
When we are discussing ‘marketing funnel strategy’, we are referring to a set of strategy with three main objectives. First, is to keep as many prospects as we can during each stage of the funnel, and second, increasing the possibility of a conversion. Last but not least, we should also be able to understand why prospects drop out at any stage. This way, we can improve our retention strategy in the future.
With that being said, here are the three simple steps of a high-conversion marketing funnel strategy.
1. Maximizing Awareness
For the top of the funnel, or the lead generation stage, our main focus is attracting as much awareness as possible. The first, and most important thing we’ll need to do is to understand our prospects and customers.
There are several different approaches and tools to achieve this. For example, developing a buyer persona can help you model your ideal customer. Tools like Google Analytics and others can also help us in gathering customers’ data. Also, if you are planning to do SEO (you should!), you will need to determine the relevant keywords that will be effective for the related audience.
Different niches and industries might have better lead generation results with one specific strategy over the other. For example, if your industry is saturated, you will usually get better results with PPC campaigns over organic SEO, because the main keywords will be so competitive, and there’s a high likelihood other competitors are also utilizing PPC advertising.
However, in general you will always get awareness when you can publish valuable and relevant content regularly. Make sure you have done your competitive analysis homework, learn from your competitors, and perfect your lead generation strategy.
2. Starting A Relationship
Once you get people interested in your product, they have successfully been converted into a lead. The next step of a journey is to start your relationship with that prospect, which can be done in several approaches:
- You can engage them on Social Media to start a relationship (well, this can be a tough one),
- You can capture their phone number and start cold calling (if you can get the phone number)
- arguably the most effective and easiest way is to capture an email address.
There are many different techniques in acquiring an email address, and this guide by Optinmonster might help you.
Yet, arguably the best way to get email address is to offer valuables in exchange on your landing page. It can be a valuable downloadable content, it can be a free-trial for your product, or other things depending on your niche.The key here is to give the valuable content in exchange for their email address.
So, the better you understand your prospects, their needs and their problems, the more email addresses you can obtain and use advantageously for your business.
3. Nurturing Relationships
Now that you’ve got those valuable email addresses, we can build and nurture relationships through an email marketing campaign, or an automated drip campaign.
There are several key principles you can follow for an effective marketing campaign:
- Building Credibility
Show positive reviews, case studies, testimonials, white papers, etc. Yet, the best and most obvious way to show credibility is to give an excellent service.
- Build Trust
Create a compelling story for your brand and your product.
Be consistent in your branding, messages, content, and every other aspects of your business.
Keep your content well-structured, interesting, and helpful so your prospects can really engage with it.
Building Your Marketing Funnel
So, when we are talking about building a ‘marketing funnel’, we are building a set of marketing strategy to keep the prospects during each stage of the funnel. Also, the marketing funnel should be able to gauge why customers drop at each step. How can we do it? In the rest of this guide, we will discuss the steps you will need to take to build a high-conversion marketing funnel.
Top of The Funnel
The goal here is to attract new prospects, or technically, generate leads. This stage of the funnel is mainly about making your business known, and so that the targeted audience can be aware that your company/brand/product exists.
It is important to note that your audience in this stage is generally not ready to purchase your product/service.So, your main job here is to showcase credibility and authority as an expert in your niche/industry, to also show that you have a reliable product.
In practice, activities in this stage of the funnel can be a new audience who stumbled upon your content after a Google search, or someone who clicked on your banner ad while browsing.
Middle of The Funnel
More often than not, we give too much focus on the top and the bottom stages of the funnel and neglect the middle one. Yet, this stage is actually very important, as this is where you build relationship and trust so that those that are already aware of your brand can then be interested. In short, this middle stage of the funnel is about nurturing leads until they are ready to purchase.
So, this stage is all about amplifying your credibility and authority which you have built on the previous stage. Also, in this stage you should qualify (link to lead qualification) and nurture your leads.
Bottom of The Funnel
The audience that stayed in this stage already has an adequate level of trust with your brands, and so here your main goal is to convert these prospects into purchasing customers.
Here’s the catch: even when people are already convinced with your product/brand and is ready for a purchase, they won’t buy immediately when there’s no urgency. This is why many marketers often use limited time offer or similar tactics to build urgency in this stage.
So, what you’ll need to do in this step is to break down the processes and strategies you will have for each funnel stage, which will be necessary for the next step. Simulate different funnel possibilities, for example, a prospect might stumble upon your content from a Google search (the top of the funnel), nurtured through email marketing (middle), and finally converts after attending a webinar (bottom). Trial and error different funnel scenarios, and optimize on the most effective one(s).
Check out this guide by Teachable to help you further in building your marketing funnel.
Step 1: Attracting Awareness
The first step and the top of the funnel is to attract as much awareness as possible from prospective customers. To do it right, you will need to understand your demographics and related to SEO, the keywords they will specifically search for.
You can do it in several ways. Ranking high in Google searches through SEO is one, as well as having a working paid advertising campaign.
This step will be largely dependent on your niche and/or industry. Some industries work best with SEO, some others, especially highly competitive ones, will work better with PPC campaigns. Some niche can get more awareness through informative, high-quality blogs.
Do your research, learn from your competitors and find the best lead generation campaigns in your industry.
Step 2: Capturing Email Addresses
Capturing your leads are usually the major focus for most marketers, but it is actually just the start of your marketer’s journey. The next step is to start a relationship with your prospect, which is typically done by acquiring their email address.
This guide by Optinmonster can help you with acquiring more email addresses in simple ways.
However, the best way to get email addresses is arguably offering them valuables. It can be special offers or discounts, special contents, invitations to your event/webinars, or other forms depending on your products or services.
The better you understand your prospects’ psychology, the more emails you can capture. So, make offers that are relevant to your audiences.
Step 3: Nurturing Relationships
Once you’ve got your prospects’ email addresses, the next step is to build and nurture relationships through email marketing campaigns.
Remember that they are already interested in your products or services at this stage, and they will benefit from more information. Here is where you can show them positive reviews of your products, giving them access to white papers, case studies, or any beneficial information depending on your products or services.
There are several different types of marketing campaigns available, and depending on your goals, you might want to choose one over the other. Check our full guide for email marketing here.(link)
In this stage, there are several principles you can follow:
- Build your credibility through proofs and credibility. You can do this through reviews, testimonials, case studies, white papers, etc.
- Build trust. Your brand is a story, so write a good one
- Keep your email autoresponder well-structured, interesting, and helpful for your customers
- Plan a consistent email marketing campaign to nurture your relationships
The most important thing in a marketing funnel is to understand that it is a long-term project. You can work with revenue-driven B2B marketing agency like Maguire Marketing Group to achieve your key objectives: minimizing the loss of prospects in each stage of the buyer’s journey, and maximizing conversion.