In a perfect world, you build it, and they come. But business owners (and marketers) know all too well life isn't as easy as that. It takes time for a customer to move from the notion that they might want to buy something to the step of actually buying it. Brands need to make an ongoing, dedicated effort to courting customers in order to make that coveted sale. Enter the marketing funnel.
The Marketing Funnel (aka Your Conversion Factory)
The marketing funnel represents the many steps on the customer journey from first need through to closing the deal.
Although there are a few different variations out there, most representations of the sales funnel feature some variation of the following steps:
- Need. The initial recognition of a need, desire, or problem.
- Information search. The search for information about available solutions.
- Evaluation of alternatives. The assessment and comparison of different products or companies.
- Purchase. Closing the deal!
- Post-purchase. Where, ideally, satisfied customers become loyal ones.
So why does this matter? Because customers need different things at different points in the journey. By focusing their marketing efforts towards customers' needs at a particular stage, brands can ensure that they're chasing only the most qualified leads, and directing them towards conversions - and brand loyalty.
Pair Your Content Like It's a Fine Wine
To get the most bang for your marketing buck, it's vital to pair your content to a customer's needs at whatever stage of the marketing funnel they're in. If a customer is at the "need" stage, your job is to build brand awareness - not to do the hard sell. Equally, if a customer is ready to buy a car, don't risk the deal by providing extra information about other makes or manufacturers. Instead, get them on the phone with financing.
So what kind of marketing should you be doing at each point of the funnel?
Here's a quick overview:
- Need. Marketing and awareness activities such as ads, landing pages, videos, infographics, and checklists.
- Information search. Squeeze pages, opt-in offers, social media, podcasts, video content, reviews, guides, and how-tos.
- Evaluation of alternatives. Email follow-ups, offers, surveys, demonstrations, white papers, webinars.
- Purchase. Memberships, loyalty programs, and customer specials.
- Post-purchase. Support and help documents, special offers, emails, and outreach - and great product experience.
Note that customers spend different amounts of time at different stages of the funnel depending on the product or service in question. For big-ticket purchases such as international vacations or engagement rings, prospects may spend months browsing, researching, or comparing prices before pulling the trigger on a deal. On the other hand, if the product is a small item such as an ebook or a drink, they'll likely move more quickly towards purchasing intent.
The Evolution Towards Omnichannel
While marketers have traditionally viewed the sales funnel as a linear series of steps through which prospects are walked, today's sales funnel is more flexible and holistic than that. That's not to say that the concept of the funnel is outdated: it's still just as applicable today as when it was first proposed way back in the 1920s.
But brands need to be aware that customers can enter the funnel at any stage and via any of your marketing efforts. It's vital then, that your marketing takes this into consideration via what's called an omnichannel approach. Omnichannel marketing unites your various marketing channels - print, email, website, and social, for example - to deliver a cohesive and personalized user experience that adapts to meet the user where they are in the purchasing cycle. To make it work, brands need to combine deep customer knowledge with context and an integrated marketing stack.
Done right, omnichannel marketing delivers a seamless, impactful approach that captures prospects at any point along the marketing funnel and turns them into loyal customers.
Need help developing content for your marketing funnel? Get in touch!