“Marketing funnel” is a term for the process through which a lead turns into a regular customer. It covers the journey from their first exposure to the brand or product to their conversion into a customer, and ends with them becoming fully engaged and loyal to your company and its products. A funnel is a fitting metaphor for the process of gaining loyal customers: there are many people who take the first steps, but fewer who complete the process to conversion or retention.
In this article, we’ll break down the six stages of the marketing funnel, explaining how they work together and each play a key part in customer acquisition and retention. When building a marketing strategy, the marketing funnel must be carefully planned and properly implemented to ensure you achieve successful results.
Exposure/Awareness: The Top of the Marketing Funnel
The first stage is creating awareness of the brand to the target audience, which requires a variety of marketing techniques, which may vary depending on the industry to which your business belongs. Some of the key tools to give your brand exposure include online marketing such as SEO, advertising, content marketing, direct mail and PR. You can also raise awareness effectively in person at events such as trade shows, or through direct marketing campaigns using leaflets or billboards. This stage is also known as lead generation.
Discovery refers to the potential customer’s phase of learning about the brand, prior to any interaction with it. Examples can include reading the company website’s ‘About’ page, casually browsing the products in an online store, or scanning social media accounts such as the brand’s official Twitter or Facebook page. This is your opportunity to pique their interest. In order to move this person along to the next part of the funnel, you need very strong website and social content. Skills required to achieve this include copywriting, web design, video editing and social media management.
This is the crucial stage where the potential customer is deciding whether to take the plunge and make a purchase, sign up, or whatever action counts as a conversion according to your company’s goals. Tactics for closing the deal include special offers, trial periods, automated email campaigns and case studies. A smart strategy is using web and social advertising to target people who have visited your website before-all it might take is a reminder to go back and finish what they started.
Conversion refers to the moment when a potential customer becomes a customer, completing the action around which you have constructed your marketing funnel, such as the checkout process for an e-commerce business, or an SaaS product being selected and purchased. It’s important that the conversion process is smooth, with no roadblocks such as website errors or unclear information. This stage of the funnel requires user testing and regular monitoring for bugs or out-of-date information.
Some people would see conversion as the end of the marketing funnel, but if you want to create repeat customers and loyal supporters of your brand, you need to keep up a strong relationship with them and nurture the relationship to grow. Popular methods include email marketing and social media. Make sure there’s an option to subscribe to your mailing list when making a purchase, and include the company social media links in the confirmation email. A strong PR campaign will also help to keep your brand in the minds of customers, even if they haven’t signed up to your mailing list or followed the company on Twitter.
Customer retention is vital for long-lasting business success. Convincing someone to make another purchase should be easy if you’ve kept them engaged by following the steps above, especially relationship building. Some of the most effective customer retention strategies include “surprise and delight” (an unexpected special offer or gift), emails timed to certain events such as birthdays, and using customer service interactions to capitalize on upsell opportunities. The personal touch makes the customer feel invested in your brand, so they prefer to stay loyal rather than try out competitors.
Understanding your marketing funnel as a new business, or an existing business is one of the core fundamentals in a business. Much like filling a funnel with water to fill a water bottle, if you have leaks at any stage of your marketing funnel, you’re losing the opportunity to gain a new customer, or increase your revenue. As you develop your marketing strategy and begin to select the proper tools to build your marketing funnel, ensure that each stage is carefully considered and monitored to ensure you are maximizing your chance for success. If you would like to set up a consultation with The Pony Group to discuss your marketing funnel, please get in touch and we can set up a time to chat.