Funnels are a useful tool when it comes to cooking tasty foods in the kitchen, working on your car, and (most importantly) the marketing world! A marketing funnel is an essential tool for helping marketers (or business owners) understand where their customers are on the buyer's journey and create a game plan for success.
So what exactly is the marketing funnel?
You can think of the marketing funnel as a "roadmap" that leads your customers through their experience with your business. The marketing funnel begins at the very moment your customers first hear about or encounter your brand, and continues throughout their purchases and post-purchase evaluations.
Several stages make up the "marketing funnel," each of which a potential customer will (hopefully) go through on their way to becoming a loyal brand advocate. Identifying and understanding where potential customers are in the marketing funnel helps a marketer provide them with the right information and content to keep them moving down the funnel.
The "funnel" analogy also illustrates that many people will generally enter the top of your funnel, but only a percentage will trickle down to each subsequent stage on the funnel. There are many versions of the marketing funnel out there, but we're going to keep things simple with a three-stage marketing funnel.
Stage 1 - Awareness
Awareness is the first stage and sits at the "top" of the marketing funnel. Many marketers refer to this stage as the "attract" stage. This first stage is where potential customers first discover your brand (and where "leads" are generated).
Since new potential customers don't have any prior knowledge about your business, you want to present them with content that is welcoming, helpful, and refrains from coming off as too "sales-y."
You have plenty of time in the next stages of your funnel to close out a sale. For now, you simply want your audience to become attracted to what your brand represents.
Types of content/touchpoints best suited for the Awareness stage:
- Blog Articles
- Search Engine Ads/SEO
- Trade Shows
- Social Media Posts
- Magazine Ads
- YouTube Videos
Stage 2 - Consideration
Consideration is the second stage of the marketing funnel and is frequently referred to as the "nurture" stage. Your potential customers are already aware of your brand at this point, and now your goal is to build a relationship with them that hopefully leads to a future purchase.
The Consideration stage is the perfect opportunity to start informing your customers about your company's specific offerings. You want to make sure that you continue to build trust with your leads so they will begin to prefer you over your competition.
The second stage of the marketing funnel is also an excellent opportunity to segment your leads and create a unique customer experience by sending them targeted ads and content that fits their specific needs.
Types of content/touchpoints best suited for the Consideration stage:
- Company Newsletters
- Specific Product/Service Information
- Case Studies
- Free Trials
- Free Downloads/Tools
Stage 3 - Conversion
Conversion is the third stage in the marketing funnel and is where your customers actually make their first purchase. This stage is commonly called the "purchase" stage. By this point in your customer's lifecycle, they already are familiar with your brand and specific products/services.
All you need to do now is close the deal (much easier said than done, but you're almost there)! Your primary focus point in the Conversion stage should be ensuring a smooth transaction process for your customers.
Take the time to ensure that your products/services are easily accessible on your website, in your store, or any other point of purchase. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and try to eliminate any hassles or unnecessary steps that would prohibit a smooth buying experience.
Types of content/touchpoints best suited for the Purchase stage:
- Retargeted Social Media/Search Ads
- High-Quality Product Landing Pages
- Variety of Payment/Financing Options
- 1-on-1 Consultations
- In-Store Sales and Promotions
BONUS STAGE: Advocacy
We kept things simple with a three-stage approach, but your customer's post-purchase experience can be just as significant as the previous three stages. We call the final bonus stage of the marketing funnel the "Advocacy" stage because it is the ultimate opportunity to win life-long customers. You can also think of it as the follow-up or engagement stage.
Providing customers with post-purchase support, service, and information about additional products/services is the perfect way to convert "customers" to "brand advocates.
When a customer genuinely falls in love with your brand, they will make sure to tell thier friends and family all about their wonderful experience. Unfortunately, the same goes for negative experiences, which is why it's important to place equal value on your relationships with previous/current customers!
Many people think they need to be expert marketers to understand the marketing funnel, but that's just not true! Hopefully, we have broken things down enough that you can grasp the core concepts of how a marketing funnel works and can start applying it to your business strategy!
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