Marketing funnels explained: where does a funnel fit in your marketing mix?

Marketing funnels explained: where does a funnel fit in your marketing mix?

Funnels play an integral role in any marketing campaign. It provides a useful guide through which marketers can analyse a business and identify areas for improvement. This article will explain how a marketing funnel works and how it fits into a larger marketing program and the customer’s journey.

The marketing funnel explained

The marketing funnel is the journey that customers take from awareness of a business, through interest and consideration, to purchase. It’s a handy tool for mapping out the steps a customer takes on their way to becoming a paying customer, and beyond.

We sometimes label marketing funnels as “lead funnels,” “sales funnels,” “conversion funnels,” or “purchase funnels.” While there are some slight differences in the definition of each term, they all ultimately refer to converting leads into customers. The major distinction lies in the objectives that the brand has.

The goal of a marketing funnel could be something like:

  • Selling a product or service (digital or physical).
  • Building a contact list.
  • Promoting a paid or free webinar.

Why are marketing funnels important?

With a marketing funnel report, you will see where you are losing customers. It will also help create useful and actionable key strategies to step up business growth.

Businesses who do not understand their funnel will not know how to optimise it. By fully understanding your marketing funnel, it helps the brand to influence how visitors move through the funnel and whether they eventually convert.

The best example is a basic SaaS business funnel:

  • Leads visit the site
  • Leads sign up for a trial 
  • Leads use the product
  • Leads upgraded to the paid version

The customers in this funnel do not need to pay to use the product, but it is really a good idea to track if the upgrading to the paid version is a roadblock. 

What types of businesses can benefit the most?

Many businesses can benefit from using a well-built marketing funnel. Digital marketing funnels help brands turn leads into customers, which is the aim of any business. Look at a few examples of businesses that could benefit from using marketing funnels and how they do it:

Local businesses

Local businesses can benefit from using a marketing funnel, for example, brands that offer a wedding planning service. 

At the top of the marketing funnel, brands will focus on generating traffic to a specific landing page, through Facebook ads, for instance. From there, brands can turn these visitors into leads by offering them content like a downloadable wedding preparation checklist. 

Once leads sign up, they enter an email sequence that comprises several messages, including ideas for a stress-free wedding. This is the middle of the funnel stage. 

After reading the content, the subscribers might realise that organising an amazing wedding will take a huge amount of time and effort, and they might not want to do all that on their own.

How you can maximise every stage of your marketing funnel
How you can maximise every stage of your marketing funnel
Source: Newscred

That’s why in the sequence, brands can generate an offer or the services that’ll make the customers feel like a guest at their own wedding. This stage is the bottom of the funnel. Whoever is interested in a grand and stress-free wedding can buy wedding plans packages right off the website or can reach out to the brand directly via email. 

Ecommerce business

Consider an eCommerce business that sells vegan food. 

Marketers can set the top of the marketing funnel to incorporate landing pages and lead magnets. The lead magnet can be an ebook of vegan recipes. The business can drive traffic to the funnel by using social media ads. 

In the middle of the funnel, a sequence of autoresponders with cooking tips and recipes is used to nurture leads.

At the bottom of the funnel, the brand can drive the email subscribers to a sales page where they can convert into paying customers. For those who haven’t converted right away, brands can send another offer several days later and amplify their campaign with social media ads. 

Coaching business

Coaching businesses who sell online memberships or courses can also benefit when using a marketing funnel. 

This is a marketing funnel explained for coaching business
Source: Medium

At the top of your funnel, marketers can set up a landing page featuring a lead magnet, for example, an ebook on how to land a customer. To generate traffic into the landing page, the brand can set up a social media ad campaign and reach out to a targeted audience. 

Once leads fill out the form, they will receive an ebook along with drip emails featuring additional tips on how they can get more customers. After several emails, it’s time to present the upsell offer, a paid course or a membership program.

This is the bottom of the funnel and the time that brands will drive traffic from your emails to the sales page. To improve the conversion rate, brands should include an exit-intent form and also track which users filled out the form and completed the order.

To complete, re-target those who haven’t committed–maybe they abandoned the page or haven’t clicked through to the sales page.

Driving traffic to the marketing funnel 

As shown in the examples above, the marketing funnel still plays a central role in any marketing campaign. It is the mechanism that converts the leads to actual paying customers. To make a really effective marketing campaign, it will be helpful if you have a full understanding of how to drive consumers into the funnel.

Awareness

Source: Oberlo

To have a successful conversion funnel, brands must pull (not pour) leads into it. Achieving this will make consumers aware of the company. Several well-known techniques are effective at this stage.

  • PPC campaigns–acquire consumers who are actively searching for a solution. A well-executed PPC campaign is a brilliant source of qualified traffic.
  • Social media–brands can find users who are already pre-determined to be likely interested in a product or service through this platform. It is one of the best ways for brands to reach out to potential targets.
  • Organic search–search engine ranking allows brands to offer products or services to users who are actively looking for a solution to their problems.
  • Influencer marketing–these people or organisations have an incredible way to make audiences know the brand. An influencer’s presentation and storytelling skills are the perfect vehicles to make consumers understand about the brand’s features and benefits.

Interest

Pulling prospects into the funnel is only the first step. Brands need to build their interest. The best tool for this phase is using a content-rich website. To show that you are an expert in this area, you can create content that will address the customer’s questions or needs. Use these tactics during the phase:

Source: GetResponse
  • Content marketing–online content is one of the best ways to keep consumers engaged because it is a valuable source of information. Useful tactics in content marketing include blog posts and articles, videos, and infographics.
  • Datasheets–provide leads with details that they are looking for analysis or information, such as cost-in-use, energy usage, size, etc.
  • Checklists–provide leads with helpful information by showing them the best way to do an action. 
  • Webinars–meeting the customers online will allow you to combine visual and audio in a very digestible way. It is the best chance to outline and educate leads to a new product or service. It can highlight why this brand is superior to the rest.

Desire

This is the perfect time to make leads interested in the product or service. Some of the best tactics to use in this stage are:

  • Email autoresponder–an email drip campaign can build the relationship between you and any potential customer. It can highlight specific problems that the brand can solve and focusing on how the solution differs from the competition will also help. At this stage, leads are often comparing multiple brands to see which offer is the best.
  • Comparison blogs–these types of blogs can help leads decide which brand offers better features and benefits.
  • Case studies-showcasing real-life examples of how a customer’s life improved when they used the brand’s products or services.
See how you can set up your email drip campaign
Source: Envato Tuts

Action

Last but also the most important part. In any marketing funnel, only a small percentage of leads will make it to this level. But using an improve marketing strategy, you should be able to maximise the number of leads and customers. 

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About James

James is the founder of Customer Devoted and was previously the managing director of customer engagement agency Ogilvy One and the strategy director for customer loyalty consultancy The Collinson Group.

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