In an ad agency over an epoch ago, the furtive “marketing funnel” started to take shape. Today, your business might have one, whether you realize it or not.
You might not know how it works, what it looks like. You might call it a “sales funnel,” a “conversion funnel,” or some other name – but if you are part of a business that depends on customers to grow, then you do have a marketing funnel.
If you are searching for further clarification about it, you are not alone. Read this article to answer the question “what is a marketing funnel” and how it helps businesses grow.
What Is a Marketing Funnel?
In theory, the marketing funnel is the representation of your customer’s journey from prospect to the consumer, combined with the processes and tools you utilize to gracefully navigate them through.
But in practice, developing a conversion funnel is far more complex. What do the building blocks of an effective sales funnel looks like? What processes and tools ensure the maximum number of generated leads become customers and stay loyal to your brand?
The quest for these answers started in 1898 with a four-letter acronym: AIDA.
The Evolution of the Marketing Funnel
At the end of the twentieth century, Elias St. Elmo Lewis crafted a model that highlighted the numerous stages of a buyer’s relationship with a business. The model – AIDA indicates that every purchase entails the following stages:
Stage #1: Awareness
In this stage, the prospect buyer becomes aware of their problems and their potential solutions.
Stage #2: Interest
The prospect buyer shows interest in a particular group of services or products that answer their certain problem.
Stage #3: Desire
The prospect buyer expresses interest in a particular product, service, or brand and starts to gauge whether it meets their needs.
Stage #4: Action
The prospect buyer decides whether that product or brand meets their needs or not. If it does, they make a purchase and become a consumer. If it does not, they continue to evaluate till they find a product or brand that does.
Deconstructing the Marketing Funnel
The essentials of the marketing funnel have remained unchanged since the 1900s. Nonetheless, no single model is universally acknowledged by all businesses. Some prefer to keep their sales funnel simply by using the TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel), BOFU (bottom of the funnel), which refers to every stage as a distinct element.
While many other businesses believe that adding “advocacy” and “loyalty” stages to the marketing funnel can improve the marketing strategy, and it makes sense; after all, businesses lose up to $1.6 trillion each year when consumers leave them.
Strategies for Every Stage of the Marketing Funnel
Keep in mind that the sales funnel works as a unified whole. This means that each section or stage needs to work perfectly for the entire journey to be successful. There are several things that downgrade friction in the marketing funnel. For example:
- Awareness – Branded content strategies and tactics attract audiences and make them more receptive and approachable to future interactions.
- Consideration – Social proof and brand advocates aid customers when they are comparing you against other market players and competitors.
- Conversion – A simple buying process diminishes the risk of buying.
- Loyalty – A devoted loyalty program with email interactions, regular discounts, and social media helps to sustain previous customers.
- Advocacy – Remember, receptive people in your loyalty program can help support your future sale funnels.
The Benefits of Marketing Funnel
Here are a few of the many benefits of having a marketing funnel for your business:
- Marketing funnels greatly simplify the buying journey for customers and make it easier for businesses to follow a strategized sales plan.
- Sales funnels map out every stage of a brand or business’s client’s decision process and thus, effectively plan the steps they want to take in each stage.
- A marketing funnel pertains to almost all customer interactions. Whether you are seeking to generate traffic for your brick and mortar shop, enhance online sales, or want to collect clicks as an affiliate, you must require a marketing funnel.
- The marketing funnel is a powerful tool to bring visibility to each stage of connecting with your consumers.
- The biggest advantage of a marketing funnel is its measurability. Your conversion funnel shows you where you are losing consumers and helps you pivot your strategy accordingly. For example, if you are losing customers before they even reach the second stage, then you need a better brand awareness campaign.
The Difference Between B2C and B2B Marketing Funnels
Marketing funnels usually change depending on your consumer base:
- B2C consumers usually navigate the marketing funnel alone or with a trusted advisor like a friend or a family member. Moreover, B2C customers might never interact with a business representative directly.
- B2B clients have more focused and larger buying groups. In addition, B2B customers interact with sales representatives directly in the lower stages of the sales funnel.
Adjusting your marketing funnel to fit your user personas promptly makes it more effective.
What Your Funnel Should Look Like?
If you are to follow the above-discussed steps, over time, you will begin to notice something strange about your sales funnel: it is not a stagnant funnel or even an hourglass. When you draw it out, it will begin to appear like an upside-down, ever-growing funnel.
Keep in mind, the more you continue to please your advocates, the more they will give back to its growth by referring more prospective customers. And as the marketing funnel swells, so will your consumer base and your business.
To learn more about the marketing funnel or digital marketing, head to the blog section of our website.