If you’re serious about undertaking any marketing effort you must be able to identify your customer’s pain points. This is vital to understand where people are losing interest in your product or service along the journey. After all, you can put your soul into building a website and fancy marketing materials, but if the end result is not something you are satisfied with, it’s you who needs to change, not your customers. However, a marketing funnel can help fix this.
That’s where the marketing funnel kicks in. It’s easier to come up with an alternative approach when you identify all the pain points. This makes it easier to assess whether the implemented changes are viable enough to shape the end result in a more satisfying way. A marketing funnel is a powerful tool. Therefore, when implemented right, it can significantly help you on your journey to success.
Read on, and you’ll learn the fundamentals of the marketing funnel, and how it works.
What is the marketing funnel?
In general, a marketing funnel is a visualization for understanding the process of turning new leads into customers. The basic idea is that as marketing people undertake efforts to capture leads, and slowly turn them into customers by leading them down through each stage of the funnel.
Not all customers reach the final stage of the funnel. Some customers inevitably drop off at some point in the marketing funnel. This is a normal occurrence for every business.
There are many versions of the marketing funnel. Some have fewer stages, some have more and there isn’t a single best definition of how many stages are right or wrong. In this blog post, we’ve covered the most commonly used stages, so you have an easier time implementing them in your daily routine.
Marketing funnel stages and conversions
In the section, we’ll go over through each stage of the funnel and cover some of the goals of each stage.
Firstly, awareness is the highest stage of the marketing funnel and it sits comfortably at the top of the funnel. This is the stage where customers first learn about your brand through market research, discovery, and targeted marketing campaigns. Lead generation is the main goal of this stage of the marketing funnel. Consequently, potential customers’ information will be used to push them down the marketing funnel. With this intention, leads are also placed in an LMS or Lead-Management-System for a closer assessment of their behavior.
The interest stage is where people learn more about the brand they’ve come in contact with. This is where brands start nurturing the leads collected in the previous step. The point is to try to establish a lasting connection with them. There are many practices that can be used to achieve this goal, such as e-mail marketing, newsletter, and content that is directly connected to their industry.
Consideration is the stage where previously gathered leads are starting to be treated as potential customers. At this stage, companies can continue targeting the leads with relevant content through newsletters, emails, and case studies with actionable intent. Therefore, actionable intent can include anything from free trials to access to exclusive content such as forums and webinars. This is the stage where the company should make a strong case for why potential customers should use their products or services.
In the evaluation stage the consumers are making the final decision regarding the company and whether they will choose to use their products and services. This stage is meant to convince the prospective customer that the company’s product or service is the right choice. Most of the focus is kept on positioning why their offer matches the needs of the customer.
This is the last stage of the marketing funnel. The purchase stage is where the potential customer turns into a paying customer and starts using the company’s products or services. At this point the sales team takes over to manage transactions.
B2B vs B2C.
There is a slight difference between B2B and B2C marketing funnels.
The most striking difference between the two models of marketing funnels are the people involved in the process and the degree of interactions between businesses and consumers.
- In most cases, B2C customers navigate the funnel alone or with a small group of trusted individuals, while B2B customers have a larger buying group.
- B2C customers in most cases may never directly come into contact with a company representative. This is most typical for eCommerce websites, whereas B2B consumers most often interact with a sales representative from the other end.
Nonlinear marketing funnel
And while the marketing funnel has been cone-shaped for decades now, some experts argue that the marketing funnel is outdated, because it has evolved to a non-linear buying experience. This is primarily due to the rise of the internet and the wide range of available information regarding pretty much every product in existence.
Due to the available information online, people are able to conduct their own research. Products are researched beforehand and customers jump into the marketing funnel at different stages. This has caused many companies to abandon the shape coned model of the marketing funnel. An approach that resembles an hourglass shape has become popular in turn.
One other alternative to the marketing funnel is McKinsey’s consumer decision journey, which implements a circular model to visualize how the buying process fuels itself.
However many experts argue that his approach doesn’t represent the customers’ true decision making process. While there still isn’t a perfect or exact approach, marketers continue to use both approaches. It all depends on the situation or their preference.
Flipped Marketing Funnel – Marketing and customer experience
A common practice for marketing, sales and customer experience managers is to flip the funnel into a so called customer experience funnel. This funnel visualises the process of turning a customer into a brand advocate. This in turn reinforces the lead generation and awareness at the top of the funnel.
Customer experience funnel stages
The next step after a customer makes a purchase is to turn them into repeat paying customers. The key point here is improving retention and nurturing customers to make bigger purchases.
This is the stage where a customer develops a preference for a brand and incorporates it into his/her daily life. Customers who take this step usually start identifying with the brand.
As soon as a customer becomes loyal to a brand, they are more likely to provide referrals and recommend brand products to other individuals.
This is the ultimate evolution of nurturing current customers. At this point in the funnel, the brand advocates write product reviews, post products, or services on social media. This directly helps drive new leads for the brand and company.
Having an external recommendation that comes from someone other than the company directly strongly influences future prospects.
In all forms of the marketing funnel, the goal is to drive bigger sales, fuel awareness, and referrals. Consequently, this reinforces the marketing funnel in fulfilling the goals of the company.