Our previous articles emphasised that sustainable business growth is achieved by several vital activities with a systematic and comprehensive marketing strategy on top of them. Furthermore, we’ve stressed the importance of communication planning in our latest article. To further explore this topic, in this article, we’ll dive deep into one specific framework, the Marketing Funnel.
The Logic Behind the Marketing Funnel
The marketing funnel has been created with a simple notion in mind. For a potential customer to become your customer, they logically have to pass through several steps:
- They must realise that there is a problem to be solved/need to be fulfilled.
- They must have that problem and need to have it solved.
- They must choose your solution as the best solution to the problem/need.
- They must take the necessary action to solve the problem.
You, as a marketer are tasked with periodically improving the customer experience and therefore should always know precisely at what stage the customer is. Therefore, before diving into marketing activities, you need to understand your customer’s behaviour and build an intent-based audience strategy that applies different techniques based on the customer’s intent.
You may feel like this is primarily a sales thing; after all, Wolf of Wall Street’s “Sell me this pen” is aimed directly at this. But the same principle applies to marketing. You just switch discussion with content. Various practical customer-oriented concepts and strategies have been developed in the last decades when it comes to online marketing. Their purpose is to enable marketers to capture customers’ preferences and convert users into paying customers easier.
What Is a Marketing Funnel?
Since everyone’s business needs are different, there are many ways to design marketing funnel stages. However, the goal is always the same; increase conversions and produce consistent sales. Marketing funnels represent the phases of the purchasing cycle, from learning about the brand to becoming your customer.
The Different Types of Marketing Funnels
Customers’ buying activities are primarily enacted accidentally, even subconsciously. People rarely realise they’re in the middle of the awareness or consideration stage of their purchasing cycle.
The most common type of marketing funnel follows the well-known model AIDA:
- Attention: Drawing customer’s attention. Building brand awareness. Methods include articles, display ads, landing pages, paid search, SEO, webinars.
- Interest: Arousing interest in our product or service, explaining how your product solves a customer’s problem.Methods include web content, newsletters, email marketing, social media.
- Desire: Transforming interest into a desire for our product. Methods include microsites, brochures, white papers, free trials.
- Action: Nurturing the decision-making process. Methods include case studies, testimonials, customer stories.
Another well-known model, essentially focusing on the same logic, is TOFU/MOFU/BOFU. It breaks down the marketing funnel into three stages:
- TOFU/Top-of-the-Funnel: Problem recognition and information search stage. During this phase, your potential customers become aware of your brand and product. You need to attract cold traffic to your website by creating appealing content like educational articles on blogs, social media, podcasts or webinars. Optimising your SEO and SEM can be extremely helpful at this stage.
- MOFU / Middle-of-the-Funnel: Evaluation or consideration stage. In this stage, your prospects look for a solution to their problem and identify with your product. They research and complete the information-seeking process. During this phase, you generate marketing- and sales-qualified leads. To nurture them, focus on retargeting ads to engage website visitors and email subscribers, increase website traffic with extended content like free template offerings or walkthrough videos, or display exit-intent popups.
- BOFU / Bottom-of-the-Funnel: Purchase Decision Stage. In this stage, your job is to make the buying process as comfortable as possible. Offer your customers demos, free trials or consultations.
Finally, a new model has started to appear in recent years, focusing more on post-purchase relationships and working perfectly in the online environment – the See-Think-Do-Care framework created by the world-renowned marketer Avinash Kaushik.
- See: Similar to AIDA’s Awareness stage, the See stage is all about gaining visibility. It’s about the customer knowing that your brand/product exists. They need not necessarily have any feelings and opinions on it; they just need to know about its existence.
- Think: This stage is about developing a managed thought process in the customer’s head. Essentially, it’s about passing the customer through a set of steps, in which the customer acknowledges the need and chooses your product as the winning one.
- Do: This is the conversion point, placing the order or hitting the ‘Book a demo’ button. In this step, customer experience and smoothness of the process is crucial.
- Care: This is about the post-purchase customer experience, about overdelivering and maintaining a customer’s trust. Because based on that, you can start upselling, and your customers will refer your products further and start self-feeding the STDC funnel – driving your efficiency through the roof.
A couple of Notes on Marketing Funnels
📈 Marketing funnels help marketers to analyse the efficiency of chosen strategy for each stage of the customer journey. It allows them to evaluate how quickly visitors proceed from one stage to another.
🧐 However, in reality, only a fraction of people move through all funnel phases. Some of them enter through the top and leave after a stage; some enter halfway through the funnel and end up making a purchase. Thus, it’s essential to match relevant content to every stage, so your potential customers can find you anytime.
❌ One of the most common mistakes when setting up marketing or sales funnels is an ineffective combination of activities within each stage. You don’t have to spend millions on attracting everyone in the market. On the other hand, if you can draw only ten people to your website (Attention/TOFU), you can’t reasonably expect 100 newsletter signups (Interest/MOFU) or even 50 purchases (Action/BOFU).
✌️ All of the funnels mentioned above are great, but please consider them inspiration only! No two companies are alike, and you’re the best judge of what your company needs. So, create a new funnel with fewer or more steps, and define them specifically for your needs.
Don’t Body Shame Your Funnel?
When developing your funnel, you should always measure conversion rates of individual stages. Conversion Rates are measure as:
Number of People Leaving the Funnel Stage / Number of People Entering the Funnel Stage
Funnel Stage Conversion Rate
Here it’s important to say that there are no benchmarks. Do not trust “online conversion rates” or “ideal funnel conversion rates” you’ll find online. There are too many factors in play; every company is different to define what’s generally good or bad. Instead, what you should focus on is funnel shape. Four indicators will show you what you need to focus on:
The Footballer Funnel
This funnel exemplifies a case when you have a disproportionately large drop-off rate (low conversion rate) on one of your funnel stages. For example, you bring many users to your website, but they all leave immediately. To drive up efficiency, you need to focus on the content of your website.
The Fattie Funnel
This funnel is where you have excellent conversion rates all around but don’t grow. To increase sales, you need to focus on feeding more users into the funnel. For example, you have 100-page visitors every month, 90 of whom make a purchase. Rather than focusing on the ten that don’t, you should work on bringing 200-page visitors.
The Growth Spurt Funnel
In this funnel, you force your potential customers to spend too long in one of the stages. You are actively blocking them from continuing further. Often, this issue happens together with the Footballer (low conversion rate). In this case, focus on streamlining the storyline, the steps you want the customers to take.
The Shorty Funnel
The final funnel represents a case in which you’re pushing your customers through the funnel too quickly. You don’t let them ‘take a breather and acclimate’. Think of all the e-shops that show you popups for discounts and special offers, even though you haven’t even seen their products yet. Again, this funnel often coincides with low conversion rates. To fix it, look at the customer journey and think about non-invasive, supportive methods you could use to support your clients in their purchase decisions.
To conclude, the marketing funnel connects the brand’s long-term vision with the short-term tactics that address every stage of the buyer journey. Additionally, it helps you analyse the strategic performance of your communication strategy. Creating funnels isn’t rocket science. However, it’s more than challenging to design a profitable funnel that involves employing various marketing tactics.