The marketing funnel or sales funnel can assist in bringing in potential customers and building loyalty - A measurable method to growing your business!
10th January, 2021
12 min read
Your brand has been writing about your offerings, consistently promoting on social media, and reaching out to potential buyers - all in the hopes that one, if not all, of these channels, will bring you solid sales. While this might work, it should definitely not be your overarching solution to bringing customers in.
Think about it this way, while you might know everything about the finest wines of Australia, a new connoisseur of wine might not know much. So if your vintage wine cellar company is only publishing in-depth articles or reviews of the best wines in Australia, it is likely that the new connoisseur would gain very little insights from it and hence might not even click on it, let alone read it. This would mean that you have lost the chance of convincing this person to read your article, explore your website, and ultimately buy your wine.
What you need in this case, is a marketing funnel. With this guide, we aim to give you all the information you need to empower your marketing funnel.
Marketing Funnel is the journey your customers will take right from discovering your brand to placing an order and becoming a customer. While the journey itself doesn't resemble a funnel, it is assumed to be in that shape as it is likely that more people enter the funnel, after which some tend to drop out at different stages until finally the few that reach the end are deemed as customers. Depending on the product or service you sell, the stages can vary amongst companies.
Let’s go back to the Vintage Wine Cellar company. Let's say, the new connoisseur was to come across your brand and ended up googling your website. Your marketing team needs to not only map him to the purchase journey stage but also need to move him through the funnel to finally convert him into a paying customer. Once they map him, they need to direct material and information towards him to move them along the journey. In this case, he would want to read educational articles on the wine making, wine tasting, etc rather than technical articles or in-depth information which might scare them off. Additionally, a salesperson would talk to him about the different products you have to offer, how the wine is made, price comparisons, etc. In comparison, if the salesperson were talking to an expert, he/she would consider giving them in depth information about one particular type of wine the expert is looking to purchase.
It is important to note that depending on the brand and the product and services you offered, some have more stages in the funnel while some have less. Typically, there are 4 stages. Below is a description of each.
Awareness: This is the uppermost (first) stage of the funnel. At this stage, your customers are just getting to know your brand. For example, a potential customer came across an article on your blog while surfing Google or they came across one of your paid ads on Facebook. Here, the potential consumer has learnt about the existence of your company and made a mental note of it. Usually, it is through blogs, webinars, events, and ad campaigns that awareness takes place.
Interest: This is the second stage of the funnel. Once a consumer is aware of your brand, they might take the effort to learn more. For example, he may visit your website and explore your product landing pages or sign up for your weekly newsletter to get more information of your product or service offerings.
Evaluation: In this stage of the funnel, the consumer is aware and interested in your brand and is in the stage of considering purchasing your product or service. However, your brand is not the only one in the running for the converting this lead. Your consumer has probably looked at your competitors to understand where they can get the best value for their time and money. More often than not, people in this stage visit your pricing page, talk to your sales people, or sign up for a free trial.
Adoption: We have a winner! Your lead has finally decided to purchase your product and a transaction has occurred. The one important point to keep in mind at this stage is that your customers exit the funnel with a positive experience.
A way to organise your marketing tasks
Understanding your funnel helps you categorise the content you want to put out in order to cater to all the customers no matter which stage of the funnel they are in. Organising your marketing tasks will help you segregate your audience into different stages and then accordingly guide them through. It is also a great way to gather data about your conversion rates and fix process to prevent your funnel from leaking. Besides marketing and sales, you can put the funnel to use to see how a visitor on your website is able to navigate from understanding your company to purchasing your product or service.
It connects sales and marketing channels...
Even it is called the MARKETING funnel, the sales and customer service team inherently own the funnel as well. While your marketing team might do all the work in attracting leads, it is the sales team that works towards converting them into paying customers. Post that, the customer service team ensure the positive experience continues by looking into after sales services. The funnel helps in connecting these three teams by, in a sense, allotting different stages in the funnel to each of them. Since every team has its place in the funnel, it really helps in nurturing the leads that come in and over time, enhances the quality of service you provide as well as reduces the number of leads that lack buying intent.
All the different processes in the marketing funnel are easier than ever to automate. If automation is the direction most companies are taking, then there is all the more reason to adopt the usage of a funnel and automate it. This saves you time and a lot of manual labour that would have gone into managing these marketing tasks. For example, with CRM softwares, it is easier than ever to store information about your clients, categories them into funnel stages, and keep track of the conversations you were having with them.
Yes, it does!
The people coming out of the bottom of the funnel have a major impact on the number of people that are going to enter your funnel. If a customer in the evaluation stage has had a negative experience, he might drop out and prevent new customers from entering the funnel thanks to word of mouth and negative reviews.
For this very reason, some companies prefer using other shapes to measure the funnel. One of the most common one is the flywheel. Using the flywheel helps them visualise the purchase journey in a different way and might even shape their marketing and sales strategies. A typical flywheel has 3 stages:
Attract: Similar to the stage in the funnel, in this stage the customers become aware of your brand by either coming onto your website, searching on Google, or through paid ads.
Engage: In this stage, people are engaging with your company. Your salespeople are likely to start a conversation with customers and giving them more information about the company.
Delight: Leaving your customers delighted with their purchase experience, products, and other needs is the final stage of the flywheel. From here on, you can enhance their experience in the delight stage by offering them regular member discounts or including them in your loyalty program.
Unlike the funnel which would require your marketing and sales team to continuously add content and offers to essentially, add more people to the top of the funnel, the flywheel uses rotational energy to continuously spin and provide fuel for growth of the customer base. This would mean that even if a customer decided to drop out in between the buying journey, you continue to maintain contact and deliver a positive experience.
This does not mean that you should abandon the funnel. The flywheel used alone is not 100% effective. Since you want to maintain contact even with customers that don't buy your product, as more and more people enter the flywheel and less of them leave, it is difficult to maintain the quality of interactions and fully nurture the customer base. You are sometimes left with too many conversations which might take up a lot of time and resources.
When using the funnel on it's own, it is important to ensure that enough resources are allotted to each stage.
With the top of the funnel, you want to educate your customers about the industry you are in and about your company. This can include social media posts, podcasts, infographics, videos, etc. Make sure you choose platforms that make it easy to target your audience - this would be free platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Medium, etc. In order to measure success, track the number of visitors that come to your website and subsequently the bounce rate.
At the middle of the funnel, you want to make your customers more knowledgable about your products and why you, as a brand, are a better choice than your competitors. This can include releasing guides, PDFs, in-depth videos, starting sales conversations and offering free trials. The goal is to make your customers feel like they are not only in the process of buying your product, but also becoming a part of your brand community. Make sure to keep track of the conversation rate to understand how many people are moving through the funnel.
Towards the end of the funnel, it is safe to assume your consumer has a good idea about your product and your brand. At this point, you want to give them all the last bits of information that will encourage them to place an order. Last bits of information usually include testimonials, pricing pages and discounts. At this stage you want to measure revenue and conversion rate.
Another way to use the funnel would be to combine it with the flywheel. In this hybrid version, the flywheel focuses on the bigger picture. This would mean that the flywheel is used to gauge how many people are learning about your business, going through the other stages to end up as paying customers. On the other hand, the funnel is used to achieve your short term vision. Each stage has its own funnel, which gives you more in-depth information about each segment of the flywheel.
Now that you are well aware of what the marketing funnel is and how to build and use one for your company, we move onto another common practice, flipping the funnel.
You can have the perfect strategy to convert leads to followers and even have a high conversion rate, but it doesn't end there. You want your consumers coming back to reorder. Additionally, you also want them to spread positive word of mouth about your brand and bring more customers in. In order to build a strategy for this part of the process, you can use the flip the funnel strategy.
There are 3 stages in this part of the funnel:
Retargeting: There is no guarantee that your customers will come back after their first purchase. To increase the probability of them coming back for a second, third, and fourth purchase, retargeting is the way to go.
Retargeting can be done in several ways. Most companies rely on paid ads. They target customers who have been to their website before, this way the ads are not only reaching an audience that is already well aware of your brand and is more likely to click on the ad, but also ensuring that the money you put into paid ads gives you a solid ROI. Another way of retargeting would be to continue conversations with your customers after their purchase. Be sure not to spam them which might cause them avoid coming back. Instead support their next purchase with discounts and coupons or find creative ways to acknowledge them as members of your brand community.
Loyalty: In this stage, your customer has bought enough times to identify your brand easily and share personal experiences about using your products. Continue to keep in touch with them by sending out newsletters and regularly posting on social media. You can also introduce a loyalty program that introduces special offers and perks.
Referral / Advocacy: When you turn your loyal customers into advocates, they nurture more potential customers to become loyal ones as well. As an added bonus, making your customers feel like ambassadors of your brand, puts your brand in the limelight and on top of the list when these customers give out recommendations, write reviews, and discuss business referrals.
The best way to build advocacy is through social media. Social media is the only platform that brings together loyal buyers, potential and all the sellers. Ask your customers to be a part of your testimonial campaigns, case studies, and surveys. All this content also makes it easier to stay relevant while also putting your customers in the spotlight as advocates of your brand.
Every business can put a funnel to some degree, be it a small instagram business from your backyard, or a big ecommerce store. With this guide, you now have all the information to not only build your funnel, but also implement it in your marketing and sales strategies.